Akron Inclusion and the DeWine Administration

Akron Morning Buzz

On Friday, January 11th, we attended the monthly Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce “Morning Buzz” which took place, as always, at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Market Street.  On this occasion, Mr. Steve Millard (formerly of COSE), who became the President and CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber in June of 2018 was the main speaker.  He spoke of plans to move the chamber’s work forward and we were pleased to learn that one of its focuses will be more interaction with the area’s African-American community in order that they will “be positioned to engage in and share in the benefits of regional growth and prosperity.”

One of the ways that they plan to accomplish this will be by developing a comprehensive inclusion narrative and the capacity to integrate inclusion into all strategies for the region. They also plan to foster digital skills and provide connections to mid-tech jobs.

During the Q and A, we called to everyone’s attention the remarkable abilities of the Bhutanese immigrant/refugee community living in North Hill and how it has the potential to be a important player in the enhancement of prosperity in the region. Afterwards, we were heartened to be approached by a City Council candidate running in the Ward that takes in North Hill who told us that he recently attended a Nepalese New Year celebration and found it to be fascinating. We told him to put us on his list for notification about an upcoming fundraiser.

City Club

After we returned from Akron, we headed over to the City Club of Cleveland to attend its first program for 2019 which featured Mr. John R. Corlett, an individual we really respect, speaking about the what we might expect from the upcoming DeWine administration in terms of addressing challenges facing Ohio.

Among the posts that Mr. Corlett, dubbed “a public policy guru” in the City Club notes, has held are: Vice President for Government Relations and Community Affairs at the MetroHealth System and as the State of Ohio’s Medicaid Director in the tenure of Governor Ted Strickland in 2007-2011. Mr. Corlett is currently the President and the Executive Director for The Center for Community Solutions whose mission is to provide strategic leadership and to organize “community resources to improve health, social and economic conditions through applied demographic research, nonpartisan policy analysis and advocacy and communications.”

On this day, Mr. Corlett did devote some time to talking about issues like the budgetary process, but he centered around the need to improve our delivery of healthcare programs (especially those that pertain to children) and he considered the continuance of medicaid expansion to be vital. 

Mr. Corlett expressed optimism regarding the inclusive nature of incoming Governor DeWine’s appointments which include five African-Americans and quite a few women. He was especially buoyed by the selection of Ms. Lori Criss as director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Ms. Maureen Corcoran as the director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

He indicated that, in terms of services directed towards children, Mike DeWine, despite being quite conservative on other most other matters, has been quite a champion, as demonstrated by his record when he served in the United States Senate. Thus, we have reason to believe he will continue on this pathway. Along these lines, we spoke to Mr. Corlett privately about pending immigration issues, and he said one area that might come up and would have to be dealt with is how undocumented parents might be fearful of registering their children for programs that they might be eligible for.

Among the issues that Mr. Corlett addressed in his talk (which was all too brief) was the possibility that the Democrats serving in the legislature, although a minority, might have opportunities open to them due to the divisive nature of the fight for the position of Speaker among the republicans.

Accordingly, he hoped that the legislators (or any of us for that matter) would not succumb to partisanship and that not let the issues that divide them get in the way those where ground is shared.