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Reformed High School Choir of Pecs Concert; Criminal Justice Reform: What's Next for Cuyahoga County?

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On Friday morning, August 18th, we went to the Hungarian Garden on East Blvd. to attend a 10am concert put on by the "Reformed High School Choir of Pecs" which was visiting Cleveland from Pecs, Hungary. 

The choir consisted of about 40 young people ages 14 to 18 under the direction of Mr. Pap Thomas who conducted them as they sang (all in Hungarian) a Psalm, a funeral song, and a variation of the Hungarian National Anthem. 

The choir was welcomed by Ms. Carolyn Balogh, President of the Hungarian Cultural Garden committee and perhaps 20 members of Cleveland's Hungarian community including Ms. Balogh's husband, Mr. Jim Balogh who grew up in Hungary in the area of Pecs. Also present was the Right Reverend Dr. Csaba Krasznai, Pastor of the "First Hungarian Reformed Church" in Walton Hills where the choir was scheduled to perform that evening. 

We spoke to Ms. Elaine Galgany who was accompanying the choir during their visit to Cleveland. She told us that the young people had arrived late on Wednesday night from Toronto and that on Thursday, they visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Hungarian Museum in the Galleria, and the "Hungarian Reformed Church" in Lorain where they gave a concert. On this day after their concert in the Hungarian Garden, they were scheduled to visit the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, tour University Circle and then have lunch at the Balaton Restaurant (Hungarian) in Shaker Heights before taking a tour of "St. Elizabeth's Magyar Roman Catholic Church" before their evening concert in Walton Hills. On Saturday, August 19th, they will return to Toronto for a couple of days before flying home to Pecs. 

Another person that we talked to was Mr. Tony Herrera who had been piloting the bus used to transport the choir on their Cleveland adventure. Mr. Herrera told us that he considered these teenagers to be, "very nice, very disciplined, and very talented too."

 

After we left the Hungarian Garden on Friday, we headed over the City Club of Cleveland for a program entitled "Criminal Justice Reform: What's Next for Cuyahoga County?" in which Mr. Russ Mitchell of WKYC conducted a conversation between Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley and The Honorable John J. Russo, Presiding and Administrative Judge in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. 

Both Mr. O'Malley and Judge Russo agreed that as much as reform is needed it must be thoughtful and sustainable and believed that a definite element must be for all aspects of law enforcement to work more closely together as well as our community institutions particularly those concerning mental health and substance abuse. As for themselves, their offices work more closely together than they have in the past which is for the benefit of all.

During the course of the discussion, a lot was said about the continued efforts to improve the bail system and make it more equitable, the need to move mental health treatment more to the forefront, and, most definitely, the necessity of restoring confidence in our criminal justice system. 

This City Club program had several sponsors so before it started Mr. Darrell Clay, President of the "Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association"; Mr. Chris Cole, Vice Chair of the board of "Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute"; Ms. Pamela Gill, President and CEO of "Recovery Resources"; and Mr. Bob Kirschner, Vice President of Development and Communications of "Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry" all got to speak for a couple of minutes about the role that their organization play or could play in the criminal justice system.

We were pleased to notice several people in the audience who were also present at either the Interfaith Prayer Vigil on the steps of Cleveland City Hall on Monday or the Happy Dog forum on Tuesday (which both dealt with the Charlottesville incident) like Ms. Rian Brown, Ms. Anita Gray, Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, and Bishop Tony Minor.

Afterwards, we talked to Mr. O'Malley about the need to educate immigrants and refugees about our criminal justice system so that it would be more accessible to them and he was more than open to hear what we had to say

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

 

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