Dear Friends -
What a summer! I, like most of you, would like to forget 2020. It has become a bad dream. Who would have imagined in early February we would be dealing with over 175,000 Americans dead as a result of COVIC-19 and their families devastated? What about the economy with massive unemployment, hours cut, and social distancing invoked to a point where many businesses city-wide have gone under or are about to go under?
It has been a perfect storm so far this summer. Now, we see city wide and nationally a major increase in criminal activity, especially homicides, felonious assaults and robberies. I find it interesting that my office was bombarded weeks ago with emails by individuals demanding the defunding of the Cleveland police department and yet, out of the hundreds of emails, only four (4) were from the northeast side of the city. It is unbelievable that someone living in Pepper Pike, Waite Hill, or some other affluent suburb, has the audacity and ignorance to suggest that we should disband or defund the Cleveland Police Department. Do I believe that CPD is operating as efficiently as it can or has a command staff in place that “really gets it?” My response would be, “No.” There is no doubt in my mind that the Cleveland Police Department has to regroup and better understand the severity of the problems and the social issues we are really dealing with today. In the city, we really need to see community policing as we once had with the mini-station program. It is 2020 and CPD is operating in a time warp. This has to change. However, defunding or eliminating the police department will only lead to more division or more violence in our city.
On that note, I always look forward to hearing from our ward residents. I certainly miss our community meetings, which I hope that someday soon we can get back up and running again.
Getting back to COVID-19 pandemic, please continue to social distance, utilize personal protective equipment and stress the need for personal hygiene. We should all discourage mass gatherings, whenever possible; yet, we need to support local restaurants and businesses. By all means, wear a mask when near others especially in public places and retail establishments. I myself believe that wearing a mask is Patriotic and protecting my fellow citizens. Had our National Leaders pressed to take these steps initially, who is to say how many lives could have been saved and possibly avoided this economic meltdown. The countries able to get a handle on this pandemic have emphasized massive testing, treatment and social distancing. They have shown it will work. Yet, for some reasons the whole pandemic has become a political football. Let us hope that common sense and science prevails instead of ignorance and more stupidity.
I believe voting is a duty as an American citizen. Every one of us of legal age and an American citizen, should exercise their right to VOTE. We owe that to those who were denied the right to vote, who lost their lives defending this country, whether it be in the military, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Labor Movement or the fight for Civil Rights. I have stressed to my own children, exercise your Constitutional Right and don’t let your father find out that you didn’t vote. What else can I say? This upcoming Presidential Election will have a profound effect on our country for decades to come.
Those wishing to vote by Absentee Ballot, which I encourage, please call the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections at (216) 443-3200 to request a ballot. If you are concerned about voting by mail, you can always drop your completed ballot off at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. It is very disturbing that there seems to be an effort coming out of Washington to mess with the US Postal Service just before this Presidential Election. It is quite frankly, disgusting and un-American. Apply for your ballot early. Ballots will be mailed out October 6 and must be returned by November 2. Don’t take a chance; get your ballot back as soon as possible or drop it off at the Board of Elections.
Another critical issue which effects all of us is the 2020 CENSUS. The response to the Census on the eastside of the city, so far, is only 40%, on the average. I know we all get a lot of junk mail. However, the CENSUS is not junk. If you don’t respond, it is like someone taking money out of your wallet and that of your family. Every Federal program and every Federal dollar that comes into the State of Ohio, Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland is based on population and need. If we don’t get an accurate count the city will suffer dearly. In addition, your representation in Congress, the State, and in City Council WILL be affected. We all know what we went through in the last Council redistricting based on population. Collinwood and the Glenville neighborhoods were cut up; I would hate to imagine what would happen next year if we do not get an accurate count. Please fill out your forms and return them if you haven’t done so.
Let me update you on a few other critical projects. The East 185th Street Storm Sewer Project is ahead of schedule. The contractor is tying-in the side streets into the main sewer, below grade, which has already been completed. I don’t have to tell anyone how difficult this project has been on the community. However, I want to thank everyone, especially the businesses along East 185th Street, for their patience and understanding. We are in the homestretch, finally. The work on the Historic LaSalle Theatre parking lot should start shortly and I have committed additional ward funds towards the installation of a kitchen in the complex, which had been value-engineered out of the original project plans. I can tell you that there were poor decisions made by those no longer associated with the project but we are on a much better path to making the LaSalle Theatre a viable non-profit entertainment venue for our community.
Mayor Jackson has extended the City’s Civil Emergency now again till September 30th. This will effect public gatherings, events and public access to city facilities, services, parks & playgrounds, etc. Please pay special attention to public announcements and notices. For, I like you, have to read a news release to find out what the next course of action will be on behalf of the City. We know that there are many outstanding issues that need to be addressed such as the growing concern over CPP, Waste Collection and Recycling, abandoned properties and obviously, the ongoing concerns over public safety in our neighborhoods.
Stay safe and stay well.
Councilman Michael D. Polensek