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Niagara Foundation Luncheon

On Sunday, October 26th, we attended the annual Cleveland luncheon for the Niagara Foundation at the Turkish Cultural Center in Lakewood. The three speakers that were scheduled for the program were Dr. Mark Tausig, from the University of Akron; Dr. Scott C. Alexander from the Catholic Theological Union; and Dr. Mansoor Ahmed from the Cleveland Sleep Research Center. We immediately encountered our good friend Ms. Laura Fruscella who introduced us to her friend, Dr. Mary Sender who is on the faculty of the Art Therapy Program at Cuyahoga Community College. Dr. Sender promised to invite us to an art therapy program at the college on February 12th of next year.

We also talked with Ms. Alice Hinkel and Ms. Diane Obringer from St. Noel Church in Willoughby Hills. When they heard that we were from Margaret W. Wong and Associates, they told us that the choir director of their church is from Poland and that St. Noel has also aided refugees from Iraq and Bosnia.

Then we met up with Mr. Birkit Gibson who was one of the people who went with Ms. Wong to Turkey earlier in the year. Mr. Gibson asked if we were "representing the travelers" today.

The official introductions were made by Mr. Andrew Floor who is a first year law student at CWRU. Mr. Floor visited Turkey about two years ago. We could only stay to hear one speaker and that speaker was Dr. Tausig who talked about his recent visit to Turkey and how he came to understand the Hizmet/Gulen Movement which according to Wikipedia "has been characterized as a "moderate blend of Islam."[5][6] Gülen and the Gülen movement are technology-friendly, work within current market and commerce structures, and are savvy users of modern communications public relations." Dr. Tausig seemed very hopeful about it and believes that it might be a key to the future in the Middle East.

According to its website, the mission of the Niagara Foundation is to "strive to promote social cohesion by fostering civic conversations and sustained friendships between people of different cultures and faiths." This event was full of people of different cultures and faiths who were talking and getting along together very well so it seemed like the Niagara mission was being accomplished in Lakewood on this day.

On Monday night, October 27th, we attended a fundraiser for Dr. Pete Crossland who is the democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Ohio's 16th District. It was held at the Local Tavern (that is really the name of the place) on Pearl Road in Parma. We wanted to go there because we were very impressed with Dr. Crossland'd performance in the City Club debate against his opponent, incumbent U.S. Congressman Jim Renacci, a republican.

Unfortunately, Dr. Crossland's fundraising has not gone too well thus the money from this event will go towards a last-minute mailing that is aimed at 60,000 swing voters.

It was good to see a significant number of people turnout to show support for Dr. Crossland including the Mayor of Parma Tim DeGeeter, Mayor of Garfield Heights Vic Collova, Mayor of Newburgh Heights Trevor Elkins, Ohio State Rep. Nick Celebrezze, Ohio State Rep. Mike Foley, Parma Clerk of Courts Marty Vittardi, Parma City Council President Sean Brennan (an old friend of Ms. Wong's who wishes her well), South Euclid City Councilman Marty Gelfand, and Mr. Chris Redfern who is the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. Mr. Redfern called this event "a blue cocktail hour"; about 90 of these have been given this year and this would be the last one because the election is just over a week away.

We enjoyed visiting with our friends Mr. Vern Long, Ms. Jeanne Long, and Ms. Erika Pilsy all of whom we have seen at several events lately.

Three people who sent special regards to Ms. Margaret W. Wong were Mr. Thomas Weinrich, the former Parma Prosecutor who now works in Human Resources and Mr. Erik Greathouse, Finance Director of the Ohio Democratic Party. Former Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said that Ms. Wong was "one of his favorite people."

We remembered that in the City Club debate, Dr. Crossland said that he favored immigration reform so we took him aside and asked him to talk some more about this issue and he was more than happy to do so. Dr. Crossland said, "the primary thing is to make the path to citizenship workable. A person who is here and paying taxes should have the process expedited. It is foolish and wrong to penalize those who came here as children...Border security is probably overworked, a wall might be good in a limited way...The business community wants this cleaned up too...groups like the National Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers are behind immigration reform...It is time to act and we must work to overcome the just bad politics and the negative stuff. We must also work to overcome the fear, prejudice and even hatred that confronts us."

On October 16th, the "Akron Journal" published an editorial endorsing Dr. Crossland. It said in part, "the retired political science professor has had a long career in public life. He served as a state lawmaker, as part of administering a state agency and, most recently, as a member of the Summit County Council for two decades. He knows how government works, especially in the area of social services...Deserving attention is his record of practical governance, his grasp of how compromises are put together to advance a larger cause. He doesn't have the campaign money of his opponent. He is the better choice in this race." 0

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