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Councilman Dale Miller's Annual Ice Cream Social; 2016 Stonewall Democratic Club Freedom Fund Reception

On the evening of Monday, September 12th, we attended two events in Lakewood Ohio that took place only a few blocks from each other.

First we went to Cuyahoga County Councilman Dale Miller's annual ice cream social which was held at the Woman's Club Pavilion in Lakewood Park. We stayed there for a few minutes (we do not eat ice cream although we are IMG_4441 tempted to at times) visiting with old friends like Mr. Murray Evans, Mr. "Pep" Capasso, Ms. Jacki Capasso, Ms. Margot De La Rosa, and Ms. Caroline Paull.

Among the things that we talked about was the need to clear up misperceptions about refugees/immigrants being a drain on the localities in which they live because, in fact, they are actually an asset.

After a while we left to go to our next event which was the 2016 Stonewall Democratic Club Freedom Fund Reception which was held at the Sarita restaurant on Madison Avenue in Lakewood. We had never been there before so we introduced ourselves to Mr. Anthony Romano, its chef, and Ms. Halli Pryor, its manager. We were checked in Mr. Rob Rivera, Mr. Eric Meinhart, and Mr. Rob Rivera who are old friends of ours.

Pretty soon Judge Francine Goldberg, Ms. Meryl Johnson, and Mr. Steve Bennett who were also at the Dale Miller function arrived. Among the other prominent officials who came and stayed for at least part of the evening were Mayor Trevor Elkins of Newburgh Heights,  Ohio State Reps. Stephanie House and Kent Smith, and Judges Melody Stewart, Maureen Clancy and Diane Palos.

While we were eating the excellent pizza and vegetable rolls prepared by Chef Anthony Romano, we talked for a long to Cleveland City Councilperson Michael Polensek about what we have both heard people say about the U.S.IMG_4442 Presidential election and the issues connected with it including immigration reform. We then moved around the restaurant where we lighted at a table occupied by Lakewood Councilperson Cindy Marx and her husband, Mr. Jake Marx where further discussion ensued. Councilperson Marx assured us that us is committed to constructively helping immigrants and refugees settle in their new surroundings and this view was echoed by Councilpersons Dan O'Malley, Sam O'Leary and Thomas Bullock who we talked to at various times during the evening.

In addition, we talked for a few minutes with Ms. Anjali Mehta whose parent immigrated to the United States from India about 1977 and was familiar with the work of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. She liked it that we had been to the Sewa International Walk the previous day and was glad when we shared with her the website containing all sorts of international events.

Soon it was time to distribute the awards which went to Mr. John Farina for his dedication and service over the years to the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats (CSD); Mr. Mario Clopton (CSD Leadership Award) for his leadership as Co-Chair of the Cleveland Community Police Commission; and to Mayor Michael Summers and the Lakewood City Council for enacting a model human rights ordinance in June of 2016. CSD club member Anne Sweeney presented each recipient with a  IMG_4460beautiful photo of a Cleveland sky scape copied onto a metallic sheet by Ms. Jean Reinhold who teaches at Fernway Elementary School in Shaker Heights. They also received a proclamation from Ohio State Rep. Nickie Antonio who warmly congratulated all of the recipients.

When she presented the proclamation to Mr. Farina she told him that his work and dedication "surpassed what anyone could do" regarding service to the CSDand obtaining support for progressive political candidates. Mr. Farina, himself, was very pleased to be so honored by the CSD which he considered to be an "amazingly effective organization" and believed that there were "not too many like it"."

Then Mr. Kyle Weigand talked about the human rights ordinance that was passed by the Lakewood City Council and signed into law by the mayor last June that would expand protections for LGBT people in the areas of employment, housing and education. He noted that Lakewood was one of only 15 cities in all of Ohio to offer such protections and it was considered the most effective ordinance of its kind in the state. Awards were then presented to Mayor Summers as well as Councilpersons David W. Anderson, Sam O'Leary, John Litten, Dan O'Malley, Thomas Bullock, Cindy Marx, and IMG_4457Ryan Nowlin. Former Councilperson Monique Smith who was highly supportive of the ordinance came forward too.

Councilperson O'Malley said that the CSD was to be commended for effectively educating both the Lakewood City Council and the public about LGBT/human rights issues and lobbying successfully for the passage of this ordinance.

The award to Mr. Clopton was presented to him by CSD Club President Rob Rivera who teaches at Solon High School where Mr. Clopton was named "Comet of the Year" in 2005. Mr. Rivera praised Mr. Clopton for not being afraid to come forward and take the initiative when such action was necessary. He praised Mr. Clopton's work on the Police Commission.

IMG_4447Then Mr. Clopton gave an inspiring speech in he said that he believed that the work of the Police Commission was starting to produce worthwhile results and would continue to do so. Mr. Clopton, who is the director of choirs at Shaker Heights High School, then talked about how a young student came to seeking advice on a gender equality issue and he told the student not to be afraid to stand up for what he believed in. Mr. Clopton then pledged to us all that he would continue to do this himself.

Ohio State Rep. Antonio said that it was indeed an honor for her to be there with this inspirational young leader because the work that he does helps to save lives. She concluded by saying that "we are proud of you and look forward to seeing what else you can accomplish."


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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