We have been very lucky weather wise and let’s hope it stays that way. As you know, along with Winter comes ice and snow. Hazardous road conditions should be called into (216) 664-2510 along with any potholes. Drive carefully and be pro-active.
The Division of Water Pollution Control recently met with businesses and property owners along East 185th Street regarding to ongoing issues and detours regarding to the Marcella Road / East 185th Street Strom Sewer Project. Obviously, this much-needed improvement is affecting vehicular traffic and commerce on the street. I cannot stress enough the importance of patronizing and supporting the businesses along the street during this construction process. The contractor is now working on 24-hour shifts in an effort to move this project along. I wish to thank all for their patience and understanding. Like root canal, this project is critical to rebuilding the infrastructure of our commercial corridor and beyond.
There are two major issues on the horizon which we, in the community, MUST be well informed about. First, the issue of Cleveland City Council reduction, and, the U.S. Census. Each are critical for the well-being of our city, in general, and specifically, our Collinwood community.
On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, St Patrick’s Day , nonetheless, will be the a Primary Election to vote “for” or “nay” on the reduction of Cleveland City Council from the present seventeen (17) members to nine (9). It is listed as ISSUE 3 with its companion piece, ISSUE 4, to reduce the pay of City Council members. Many are asking who is behind this since, as we all know, there has been no groundswell of support for these issues. The main driver is a businessman from Westlake, who has been upset over CPP and other issues, which he believes has impacted his businesses. The law is clear, anyone can circulate Council Reduction Petitions, regardless of where you live, and you can pay Petition Circulators, as he did.
However, the real concern and question that should be asked is, “how does this impact the present seventeen wards?” Should this pass, the council will have to hire an outside consultant to redraw the ward boundaries to nine (9) no later than ninety (90) days after the election results are certified; that should be by July 1, 2020. That redraw will be based off the 2010 Census. Is this insane using figures that are ten years old? So therefore, after the 2020 Census data is certified by January 1, 2021, the Council will have to hire a consultant, and redraw the ward boundaries, once again, based on the new census figures, by Law.
In my time in City Council I have dealt with some screwy proposals, but this right up there with the worst. What this means to our residents that in less than one year, you could find yourself living in two different wards. How is that for good government? What is even more frightening is that based on current Census Data, there might be only four (4) wards constructed on the entire east side. Present Ward 8, which I represent, could possibly entail, under the new redraw, everything from Eddy Road east to the corporate lines with Euclid, South Euclid, Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland or, however the Council Leadership cares to draw the lines.
We all know what happened with the last redistricting in 2012/2013 where there was an effort to tear up the entire eastside and specifically, the northeast side. We went from Ward 11 to Ward 8 and to punish the Ward 10 community, the lines were drawn from East 200th Street west to East 40th Street. If you think that was insane and an effort to suppress voting, just wait. Should the council be reduced to nine wards, you will see wards drawn that make no sense or respect the present communities. In general, the ward as you know it now, will be doubled in size and population and will lose all identity.
It is clear to me that there is a group of individuals with fat checkbooks who do not live in our city who wish to control Cleveland City Council and who the ward representative will be. I find the whole situation disgusting. It is, quite frankly, insulting to those of us who have worked diligently to maintain and support our neighborhoods. As you know, during my tenure in public office I have never told anyone how to vote. I have far more respect for our citizens than that. However, you should all know the implications and results of what will take place should Issue 3 pass.
Issue 4, regarding the reduction of salary for members of City Council, is a completely different issue. You have to ask yourself, in your job or profession, if you were being asked to do more work with more responsibility, would you or could you do this with a substantial pay cut? I don’t think so. My fear is that those who will remain after the reduction, will become part time representatives. I do this job full time, as I always have. I am accountable and accessible. That is what I expect of all my public officials; nothing more and nothing less.
At the end of the day, these issues are meant to punish our citizens. Councilmembers come and go. The wards, remain. The question, we all have to ask is how will our citizens be represented and in what capacity. On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Primary Election Day, please vote with your heart and vote in your best interest and that of your community. I plan to do just that.
By the way, since Election Day is March 17, St Patrick’s Day, a special day in our community and in my own life, I urge everyone to seek and vote, if you can, by ABSENTEE BALLOT. You can do so calling the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections at (216) 443-8683 or by going on line to https://boe.cuyahogacounty.us and request a VOTE-BY-MAIL Absentee Ballot application. This way you can still enjoy St Patrick’s Day with friends and family and know that you have done your civic duty.
In my next Observer article I will talk about the importance of the 2020 Census. As always, you can reach me at my office at (216) 664-4236 or by email at email@example.com.
Michael D. Polensek