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Out & About in Cleveland

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Fairview Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln West High School, and CAMEO

Our first event for Wednesday, September 10th, was a luncheon at the Fairview Chamber of Commerce where we reconnected with several people that we had seen several times before like Mayor Eileen Patton who loves the Christmas cards that she receives each year from Margaret W. Wong but regrets never having met her. We assured Mayor Patton that we would make sure that she would receive an invite to this year's Holiday Gathering and sincerely hope that she will be able to make it this time. We made some new friends too like Ms. Mary Becka, Practice Manager with Fairview Eye Center who said that she used to work with the nursing home owner Mr. Mort Weisberg who had dealings with our office over the years. We met Ms. Sue Dunson, Administrator of Cancer Services at Fairview Hospital who believed that Ms. Wong might know one of several people in her family who are attorneys like her husband James Dunson, her brother-in-law Richard Dunson and/or her son Joseph Dunson.

We had met Ms. Brenda Rodriguez, Marketing and Operations Strategy Director of Brickhaus Partners but this was the first time that we had really spoken with her. To be sure, Ms. Rodriguez was very enthused, as she should be, about a 35-unit townhome project that her company is building at Lorain Avenue and Story Road. These townhomes will be very eco friendly and ideal for "young professionals and empty nesters."

The speaker today was Dr. Neil Smith who is the President of Fairview Hospital. Dr. Smith discussed the affordable care act and believes that "population health management" is the direction that health care is now going which means that the hospitals/clinics will receive a certain amount of money per patient and have to manage how they spend it. He is proud to be the President of Fairview Hospital and mentioned several things that the hospital is noted for like oncology, cardiac services, and women and children's health. He said that Fairview Park and Fairview Hospital "work together for the benefit of each other."

At the conclusion of today's luncheon, Mr. Michael Wagner, the new superintendent of the Fairview Park School system, was introduced. Mr. Wagner said that the people of Fairview Park have given him a wonderful welcome and he looks forward to working with them. Also present today was Mr. John Babel, who is Fairview Park's former School Superintendent and he also welcomed Mr. Wagner.

Before we left, we talked to a local architect who might be contacting our office because he has been asked to sponsor someone who wishes to immigrate to the United States.

In the early part of the evening, we accepted an invitation to the open house of Lincoln-West High School located on West 30th Street in Cleveland and serves approximately 1,000 students grades 9-12.

Margaret W. Wong is very much known and admired by the people who work there due to her community involvement/support and her commitment to education. We found this out when we first walked and received a terrific welcome from Dr. Irene G. Javier, Campus Administrator and Ms. Tish Henry, the Head Counselor.

They introduced us to Ms. Elizabeth Ramos-Torres who is the Site Coordinator at Lincoln-West which conducts surveys as to what is needed and, after she gets the results, brings new programs into the schools such as specialized tutoring for the young people. She said that she admires Ms. Wong but has never met her so we obtained her contact information and will invite her to the Holiday Party just as we will Mayor Patton.

Moreover, we were introduced to a very well-mannered young student named Bree Fox who took us on a tour of her school. Ms. Fox is proud to be a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. (JROTC) cadet and hopes to go into the army some day. She introduced us to her JROTC instructor, First Sergeant Edward Rising, who seemed to really enjoy working with the young people, as well as her geometry teacher Mr. Castleberry who is also the school athletic director.

Another math teacher that we met was Mr. Nathan Sarantopoulos who told us that back in 1997 Ms. Wong assisted his wife when she immigrated to the United States from Greece. Subsequently, under Ms. Wong's guidance the immigration process went very well.

Before we left we visited the cafeteria where several groups had literature tables. Ms. Javier encouraged us to put out some literature and so we did on the table belonging to "Esperanza" who had no problem with this at all. We left to go to our next event feeling uplifted over meeting such dedicated teachers, administrators and staff and a fine young person like Ms. Fox who gives us hope for the future.

Our last stop of the day was the monthly CAMEO meeting at the Holiday Inn in Independence. Tonight was finally endorsement night pertaining to the candidates running in the November, 2014 election. We really wanted to participate because we enjoy the spirit of democracy that CAMEO exudes and because our good friend Mr. Paul F. Marnecheck had been working for months sending out surveys to candidates and coordinating the proceedings. Mr. Marnecheck got a well-deserved round of applause towards the end of the evening.

As was stated earlier, in previous months surveys were sent to all candidates running in the general election and those seeking the endorsement of CAMEO filled them out and sent them in by a deadline date. The aforementioned candidates appeared before the CAMEO membership and gave brief speeches saying why they should be endorsed. Then a carefully selected board met and made recommendations as to who should be endorsed and on this evening the membership would vote for their choices and the winner would receive the CAMEO endorsement. The board recommendations need not be followed if the membership didn't want to. Thus, candidates for over thirty offices were in contention.

In the end, the membership decided to endorse both democrats and republicans. Among their final selections were Governor John Kasich, a republican, for a second term; and democrats Nina Turner, John Carney, and Connie Pillich for the statewide offices of Secretary of State, Auditor, and Treasurer. Other republicans receiving endorsements were State Representatives Marlene Anielski and Nan Baker and County Councilman Dave Greenspan. Other democrats endorsed included Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, State Rep. Nickie Antonio, candidate for County Executive Armond Budish and judicial candidates Sherrie Miday and Francine Goldberg.

A very intense debate occurred over whether or not Congresswoman Marcia Fudge should be endorsed because, by accident, an application was never submitted on her behalf. Congresswoman Fudge did speak to CAMEO President Pierre Bejjani and asked if she could still be considered and he said that he could only bring the matter up and let the CAMEO board and the membership decide. One factor that had to be taken into account was that Governor Kasich got his application in late but still received consideration and ultimately an endorsement.

The discussion grew very heated and Mr. Marnecheck faced a challenge to maintain civility and the sergeant-at-arms had to take control several times. In the end, however, the CAMEO membership voted to endorse Congresswoman Fudge.

We left that evening in a good mood because, even though we did not agree with all of the choices, the process was undeniably fair. What's more, even though the lively debate over the endorsement of Congresswoman Fudge made us feel uncomfortable at times while it was taking place, in retrospect it was a good thing because everyone expressed their thoughts and feelings and certainly remained friends afterwards. If more political meetings were like this one, people would be inspired to vote in every election.

Congratulations to CAMEO!

Out & Aboutimwong