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Out & About in Cleveland

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Mayor Frank Jackson Delivers His 11th State of The City Address; New Member Breakfast: Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce; Northern Ohio Human Resource Conference (NOHRC) Networking Event

 On Thursday, March 10th, we attended Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's 11th State of the City address which took place at Cleveland Public auditorium on Lakeside Avenue.We were greeted at the door by our friend Dr. Richard Crepage and got to say hello to a lot of our friendsIMG_8853 there at that time. During lunch we sat next to Mr. Harlan Diamond and Ms. Melissa Marik from Executive Caterers Landerhaven who we had seen just two days ago at the Elite Women Around the World event. Also at our table were Mr. Stuart Muszynski, Founder and CEO of Project Love who was very concerned about the nasty comments that the candidates for the U.S. Presidency have been making about each other this year; he believed that it was setting a bad example for young people. Mr. Steve Sanders and Mr. Robert Kilo from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes sat at our table too, and they agreed wholeheartedly with Mr. Muszynski. When it was time for the program to start, Mayor Jackson was introduced by Ms. Robyn Minter Smyers, board secretary of the City Club, who dubbed the mayor "a native son with a lifetime of service to this community."

During the mayor's speech we were writing as fast as we could to take down as much as we could but we were very grateful when notes containing the highlights of his speech were passed out as we were leaving for the day so we didn't have to worry about making a mistake on an important detail.

In the course of his speech Mayor Jackson talked about such things as improved community attitude, education, economic development, service delivery and public safety and the consent decree. We have printed below some of the things that he said about each subject.

On an improved community attitude:

"There is not just one thing that caused the change in attitude-it was gradual. Cleveland became the place where businesses IMG_8855wanted to locate, where people wanted to live and were some neighborhoods became destinations for food, entertainment and lifestyle. Cleveland became a place for movie-making, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, the Senior Games, the Gay Games and, this summer, hosting the Republican National Convention. This new, winning attitude has helped us overcome difficult times and make tough decisions."

On Cleveland School Reform: "There have been many tangible results so far, including expansion of high-quality early childhood education and the third grade guarantee, great strides with early literacy, strong improvement on the National Assessment of Education Progress and an increase of almost 14% in our graduation rate since 2011."

On economic development:

Unfortunately, the benefits of economic growth are not felt evenly across the city. The traditional model of economic development tools and programs simply does not work for every neighborhood. Thus we changed our investment model to help many of our neighborhoods achieve economic growth. We are working on a new model that will allow for public investment and better ensure that public investment will create economic growth that will not require perpetual subsidy...Our goal is to create a policy that leads to economic growth and wealth creation among those who are traditionally left out, and that encourages the private sector to take risks where it would not have done so before."

On service delivery: "Over the last 10 years, the city has demonstrated sound fiscal management and cost control through operational efficiency. This has carried us to this point, but going forward the city will need additional revenue, not only to maintain service but to increase our capacity to deliver more and better service...The choice is to either lay off employees and cut service, or generate additional revenues. This is why we are proposing a half-percent income tax increase, which will raise nearly $80 million-enough to cover the gap between revenues and costs and allow us to continue to provide quality services and position Cleveland for the future."

IMG_8854On safety and the consent decree:

"We are actively developing and implementing new policies, protocols and training to ensure bias-free policing, crisis intervention, improved handling and tracking of citizen complaints and much more. Our goal is a strong and safe community where both citizens and police officers receive the respect they expect and deserve."

And these words captured the overall tone of his speech:

"A great city will be measured by the conditions and well-being of its people, in particular, the least of us-not in terms of welfare and charity, but whether everyone is able to participate in the prosperity and quality of life that we create as a community. A place where children can live and play safely, receive a quality education and someday find a good job to make a living."

Over the years, Mayor Jackson has experimented with different formats in delivering this annual address. This year he delivered it without a podium or any transcript or notes that were visible; he reminded us of an accomplished thespian delivering a stirring monologue as he deftly occupied the stage.

When it came time for the Q and A, we asked the mayor what Cleveland could be doing to make immigrants feel honored and welcomed here, and what we could do to help the citizenry as a whole be more appreciative of immigrants?

IMG_8857Mayor Jackson replied that he believed that, despite recent political rhetoric, he believed that Cleveland really appreciates the talents of its recently arrived immigrants. He believed that it was great that many immigrant professionals had chosen to settle here in Cleveland. He went on to express concern over refugees who, unlike the professional class, had to flee their homes and were directed to settle in Cleveland so they did not choose to come here. Accordingly, the mayor wanted to make sure that they had every opportunity to be absorbed into our community and be accepted as equals. He expressed confidence in Global Cleveland particularly now that Councilman Joe Cimperman will soon be at its helm.

We also liked the answer Mayor Jackson gave to a question by a young person about what he learned in high school that helped make him the successful person that he is today. First of all, the mayor readily conceded that he was a poor student in high school; he didn't actually graduate until he was 19 1/2 years old and went into the U.S. Army directly after that. Finally, when he was 26-27 he started taking remedial courses to prepare himself for college and from there he went on to earn an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a law degree. Based on his own experience, he advised young people to make the most of their academic experience and but never to forget who they were or where they came from. In other words, use the academia as a "tool" to be made use of as a way of achieving one's own goals and dreams.

     Also on Thursday, we attended two networking events, one in Lake County and one, here, in Cuyahoga County. Our first event was at the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce's new member breakfast at Sammy K's Steak House in Perry.

We talked to COSE representatives Mr. Mark Nowak and Ms. Amanda Coffman about community/economic development and learned that there would be an Earth Day celebration coming up in April in Veterans Park in Mentor.

A copy of the  latest "Painesville Magazine" was available and in it there was an excellent article by Mr. Vince Guerrieri titled "Becoming a Blended Community"about how the cultural diversity of Painesville and how Hispanic businesses are becoming prominent there. We remember leaving some information materials for Margaret W. Wong and Associates at La Mexicana, a local Hispanic market.

We saw many of our old friend there and greeted about six new members who represented organizations that ranged from a non-profit to a government office (trying to stay in touch with what is taking place in the community) to private businesses. One of the new members was Ms. Mary Frances Burns who was joining as a private party. As a local librarian, she had represented the library at local chamber events in the past. Now Ms. Burns is retired but she joined up again on her own because the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce is an organization that she likes being a part of and she likes staying on top of things. When we retire (if we ever do) we hope that we are the same way.

That evening we went to the Northern Ohio Human Resource Conference (NOHRC) social that took place at the Union Depot Tavern in Berea. We got to meet many people involved with the Cleveland Society for Human Resource Management (CSHRM) including its president, Mr. Stephen P. Ligus. We saw several people there that we had seen before at other networking events and made about 20 new contacts all in the space of just over an hour. We look forward to representing Margaret W. Wong and Associates at several Society for Human Resource Management conferences that we plan to attend this year.

Written by:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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