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Coffee Contacts at Cintas; Mayor of Cleveland Debate; Michael Skindell fundraiser

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On Thursday, October 19th, the day after we witnessed the MC2 STEM school being recognized by the "Earth Day Coalition" for their efforts regarding making good use of recyled materials, we encounted another such instance when we visited the "Cintas Corporation" in Painesville for an Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce "Coffee Contacts" where we were told by Ms. Tymra Gerhart, Human Resources Manager, that, soon after our group was scheduled to leave, students from John Carroll University would arrive to investigate ways to make use of old, tattered uniforms in their ecological programs.

Later from Ms. Gerhart, we also learned the history of the "Cintas Corporation" which fulfills many functions but mainly provides uniforms to companies such as "Lubrizol", "Lincoln-Electric", and "Avery-Denison" and then collects and cleans them on a regular basis. It is one of the largest companies of its kind and employs approximately 35,000 people, 135 of which work out of the Painesville facility.

We spent about an hour and a half there and made some new contacts such as Ms. Ana Garcia, TV and Internet Host, of "The Ana Show" airing on Channel 3 WKYC on Sundays which highlights the local Hispanic community.

 

We certainly saw a lot of local news media at our next event for the day which was a Cleveland Mayoral Debate between Mayor Frank G. Jackson and his challenger, Cleveland City Councilperson Zack Reed (Ward 2) that took place at the City Club of Cleveland that noon. Mr. Rick Jackson of "Ideastream" acted as the moderator and we hadn't seen the City Club so crowded with people in a long time.

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Basically the format consisted of opening and closing statements, and questions asked by Mr. Jackson as well as those asked by a panel consisting of Mr. Russ Mitchell of "Ideastream"; Ms. Amy Eddings of "Morning Edition"; and Mr. Chris Quinn of "Advance Ohio". Then selected people read questions that had been submitted in advance by audience members and enough time was alloted for one question to be submitted via twitter.

Therefore, in the course of the debate, such subjects that we expected to be addressed actually got to be addressed like the potential for economic investment in struggling neighborhoods and the risk of gentrification; the consent decree and relations between the police and the citizenry; RTA operations in Public Square; the lead poisoning crisis; the state of the schools; and the decline of Cleveland's population. Along these lines, subjects that we didn't expect to be addressed but ended up being worked into the proceedings included immigration (a welcome surprise indeed); the proposed dirt bike trail (the Mayor accepted it as a reality because dirt biking will not go away and is quite an industry and the Councilperson vigorously opposed the trail's creation); and, alas because there are a lot of other things to talk about, Councilperson Reed's record for driving under the influence.

On that latter point, Mayor Jackson defended making it an issue in the campaign because signified a failure of the Councilperson's judgment and his unwillingness to take responsibility for his behavior. To this charge, Councilperson Reed sharply responded a touch of anger that he had very much taken responsibility for his actions by seeking treatment at the Cleveland Clinic and attending AA.

Basically, the tone for the debate was established in the opening comments as Mayor Jackson intelligently contended that he should be elected to an unprecedented fourth term because he worked very hard during his first three terms to lay the groundwork for positive things to be done in terms of such areas as education, safety and community development and his data showed that he was largely succeeding. If re-elected, he pledged to ensure that all of Cleveland's citizens share in the now growing prosperity of the city. On the flip side, Councilperson Reed countered by saying that he believed and his own data showed that conditions have not gotten that much better and, in some cases, things have gotten even worse. From the viewpoint of the Councilperson, a strong contributing factor towards these negatives that Mayor Jackson had not used the power of his office as effectively as he could have; therefore, it was a question of leadership and he, Councilperson Reed, promised to be a stronger leader than Mayor Jackson.

At times, the debate got a little raucous as when Mayor Jackson put forth the proposition that Councilperson Reed should look at the lack of economic development and consistently high crime rate in his own ward before he complained about the Mayor's performance in these areas. Councilperson Reed asked if he could respond to what was in his opinion a misleading assertion and the Mayor sharply interjected that he, himself, didn't get to respond when the Councilperson said misleading things about him so the Councilperson couldn't do it either. This drew a laugh and a minor round of applause from the Mayor's supporters, if not the audience as a whole.

It got even funnier at one point when Councilperson Reed was making a point about being able to get in touch with the police via the telephone when his own cell phone went off to much laughter from the audience. As a result of the interruption, the Councilperson smiled and neatly covered by saying that he frequently gave his cell phone number to his constituents.

On the immigration issue, the actual question (it was the one from twitter) concerned what Cleveland could do to provide protection to its immigrants and refugees during these troubling times when they are presumably under fire from the federal government. Mayor Jackson said that although Cleveland was not officially a sanctuary city, it certainly operated as if it were and upheld the work of "Global Cleveland" in terms of connecting the foreign-born to services and resources. Councilperson Reed seemed to agree with this but, nevertheless, he held firm to his belief that the Mayor could be doing more by noting his own participation in the airport rally to protest the travel ban and the march from Market Square to City Hall at the beginning of the year and contending that the Mayor should have been there too.

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On this day, we sat next to and talked with Ms. Heather Stoll, Vice President of External Affairs at the "Sisters of Charity Health System" and said hello to a lot of people that we knew including Ms. Claire Rosacco, Vice President of Government Relations and Community Outreach at Tri-C who we had met the previous evening at the "Earth Day Coalition" gathering. On both occasions, Ms. Rosacco wore a "Yes on Issue 61" button regarding the bond issue pertaining to Cuyahoga Community College that will be before the voters on November 7th. We assured Ms. Rosacco that we felt comfortable that this one should pass comfortably (see the Cleveland.com endorsement at http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/10/yes_on_issue_61_a_bond_issue_f.html) even though the Mayor's race could possibly prove to be close.

 

That evening we went to a fundraiser held at "Massimo's" on West 25th Street for our good friend Ohio State Senator Michael Skindell (Democrat-District 23) who will be termed out in 2018 and is therefore going to run for the seat he once occupied in the Ohio State House (District 13) which is now occupied by Rep. Nickie Antonio who will, in turn, run for the Ohio State Senate seat currently held by Senator Skindell.

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When it came time for brief speeches, Senator Skindell was introduced by Ms. Harriet Applegate, Executive Director of the North Shore Federation of Labor, who praised the Senator because he does his homework and reads all legislation, as complicated as it might be, before he votes on it. Privately, we asked Senator Skindell if there was anything coming up in Columbus pertaining to immigration that we needed to know about. He replied that he had a sense that the Ohio State Senate would not move on any legislation pertaining to immigration in the near future.

Before and after the speeches, we got to mingle with people and spend time talking about current political contests (like the Cleveland mayor's race) and those coming up in 2018 with such people as Mr. Steve Bennett from the "Stonewall Democrats" and Mr. Mike McIntyre from "Plumbers Union Local 55" in Cleveland.

In addition, we got to meet Ms. Adrienne A. Dziak who was a staff member of the "Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education" (NOCHE) when Ms. Margaret W. Wong was a board member. Ms. Dziak told us that she admires Ms. Wong very much and wanted us to be sure to say hello to her.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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