The sign turned out to be an advertisement paid for by the Service Employees International Union, a partner of Raise Up Cleveland, the group that's organizing for an increased minimum wage.
The "mobile billboard" was intended to "hold Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley accountable for not supporting working people in our movement who deserve a living wage," Raise Up Cleveland said on its Facebook page
Kelley has spoken out in opposition to a Cleveland-only wage increase. Raise Up Cleveland secured enough signatures to present the issue to city council, asking that the wage in Cleveland go from the statewide $8.10 to $15. That raise would represent the largest single increase in the country, and Kelley (along with Mayor Frank Jackson) has said such a move would put the city at a competitive disadvantage and that many companies would flee or close.
Some council members have proposed alternatives
. Councilman Brian Cummins has suggested raising the wage to $12 by 2022. Jeff Johnson has suggested raising the wage to $15 incrementally.
Kelley was sportingly unfazed by the billboard Tuesday morning, posing for pictures by himself and with his council colleagues.
The trolley tour was part of an effort organized by Councilman Terrell Pruitt, in conjunction with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, to get city council out of the committee room and into each other's neighborhoods. Council members took turns at the microphone highlighting the positives and negatives of the areas they represent. (Note: The word politicians use to describe negatives is "challenges;" the phrase that neighborhood nonprofit executives use is "opportunities for future success.") Tuesday's tour was the first of three such outings and covered most of the city's northeast side.
The mobile billboard followed Lolly for at least an hour and a half, through Phyllis Cleveland's Ward 5 and Mamie Mitchell's Ward 6. It finally trailed off somewhere around Saint Luke's Manor at Shaker and MLK.
When Cleveland City Council members arrived at City Hall Tuesday morning for a Lolly the Trolley tour of the East Side, a truck with a huge "Fire Kevin Kelley" sign was parked behind the trolley.