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Out & About in Cleveland

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12th annual State of The City Address

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On Thursday, March 9th, 2017 we went to the Cleveland Public Auditorium to hear Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson give his 12th annual State of the City address.

The mayor begin his speech by saying that Cleveland has indeed come a long way and thanks to such happenings as the CAVS championship, a successful RNC, and the Indians doing so well in the World Series, our image is definitely up. In short, it is no longer a "mistake" but instead an "example" for other cities. But Cleveland still has a ways to go before it can be regarded as a "great" city and to accomplish this, it must have the courage to overcome such challenges before us.

As noted by Mr. Bob Littman, President of the City Club Board of Directors, who introduced Mayor Jackson on this day, some of these challenges are crime, a 36% poverty rate, unequal distribution of prosperity, the opium epidemic, problems with lead poisoning, etc.

In order to help us realize our capabilities, the mayor said that the focus should be on just a few areas that had the potential to have lasting, positive ramifications and thus he chose to talk about the success of school reform and the importance of education; the community benefits agreement that came into being in 2013 which holds development projects accountable for creating a direct, local benefit; a partnership of government, private business, and philanthropic organizations aimed at increasing quality-of-life in designated neighborhoods; the opportunity of the consent decree to create "a blueprint for real reform"; and budget enhancements and their impact on safety (i.e. police, fire, emergency medical services, animal care and control); reducing violence and improving health; the impact on neighborhood investments; and governmental accountability.

Mayor Jackson concluded his address by saying that some people are satisfied with the growth that has taken place so far and are content to live in a "comfort zone" but a in order to have a great city we must be willing to endure the anxiety to "go beyond comfort and self-interests and focus on the people's best interests." Accordingly, all elected officials and community leaders need to get "uncomfortable" in order to go further.

During the Q and A, we told Mayor Jackson that we really liked the ambitions of the "Global Cleveland" meeting that the mayor, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, and Cleveland Chief of Police Calvin Williams all spoke at the previous week. We then asked Mayor Jackson to talk about Cleveland's status as an official "welcoming city." The mayor didn't believe that the designation of "welcoming city" was really important; what was important was that our actions were welcoming and served to increase opportunities for immigrants and refugees. He went on to praise the projects regarding housing and job education that Global Cleveland President Joe Cimperman and Cleveland City Councilperson Brian Cummins have initiated and, of course, the outstanding work of "Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy". Mayor Jackson readily acknowledged that times have indeed changed; it used to be that immigrants to Cleveland lived in ethnic enclaves and helped each other out but this is no longer generally the case; instead the City of Cleveland with the assistance of "Global Cleveland" must provide the infrastructure.

We arrived early and got to talk to a lot of people before we sat down including Professor Roland V. Anglin, Dean of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, and Miss Aleesha Wilson, a student of law and urban planning. We told Miss Wilson that the State of the City was an excellent event for her to attend.

A few minutes later we conversed with Mr. Derrick Kruty of "Third Federal Savings and Loan" about efforts that his organization is making to assist refugees. During lunch, we sat next to Ms. Min. LA Askew, CEO and Founder of "20 Second Intercessor" which does a lot to help immigrants by directing them to places where they can obtain services.

And, we would like to add, we got to thank Mr. Sam Umina and Ms. Nicole Sidoti of "Executive Caterers" for their help the previous evening when we discovered that we forgot to pack our tie AFTER we arrived for the "Elite Women Around the World" celebration. Subsequently, a lack of professionalism was averted because Mr. Umina and Ms. Sidoti (and we think a few others) were able to locate and loan us a tie that matched what we were wearing. We went on to tell this story to Mr. Harlan Diamond, CEO of "Executive Caterers", who smiled, gave a little shrug and said that "we have a whole wardrobe" for such situations.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC