Scene & Heard

Friday, January 20, 2017

Indicted Cleveland Rapper Lil Cray Films Music Video in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center Courtroom

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 1:27 PM

CUYAHOGA COUNTY SHERIFF
  • Cuyahoga County Sheriff
Even as he faces a litany of charges, local rapper Lil Cray was allowed to film part of his latest music video in a Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center courtroom. It was "probably not one of the better choices that I made,” Judge Michael Ryan said.

Crayshaun Bates — "Lil Cray" to his pals — was indicted last summer amid a wide-reaching gang sting in Glenville. He's a member of the LTB gang ("Loyal to Brothers"), and the charges he's facing stem in part from an early 2016 shootout with a rival gang connected to the Heartless Felons, according to Cory Shaffer's work at Cleveland.com.

He was free on bond last week when he drunkenly offered two sheriff's deputies $35,000 not to arrest him. (They arrested him.)

As far as the music video, Ryan says he let a music producer friend use his courtroom — and didn't initially realize that Cray would be involved.

“Last time I checked the Constitution, everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Ryan said. “I’m always about helping young people especially when I see that they have promise. They have talent.” The music video was for a song called "Indicted." (Scene in unsure that we'd use the word "promise"; it's a fairly basic rap tune.)

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Another Really Cool (Imaginary) Regional Transit Map for Northeast Ohio

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:53 AM

ETHAN CAMERON
  • Ethan Cameron
Ethan Cameron, who studies urban planning at at Newcastle University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, has been working for the past few years on an updated Cleveland transit system.

Using Google My Maps, Cameron created an imaginary system complete with bus lines, light rail, metro lines and even a commuter line from Canton. He envisioned zone-based fares, and even estimated construction costs.

It's a pretty elaborate project from an admitted hobbyist — and a young one; Cameron graduated from high school in Cleveland last year — but Cameron sent it to Scene following our publication of a popular Reddit image earlier this week. It was a map that envisioned a Metro railway for the city.

"My hope," Cameron wrote in an email, "is that the fact that multiple people are imagining these vastly better systems for Cleveland will work towards getting the point across to both local and state officials that Clevelanders want better public transport."

Check out Cameron's project, "Move Cleveland 2050," here.
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Two Suspected Overdoses, Four Assaults on Officers in Last Week at Cuyahoga County Jail

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 10:37 AM

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Two inmates were treated for suspected drug overdoses at the Cuyahoga County jail over the weekend, a county spokesperson confirmed yesterday, and investigations are underway on four assaults on corrections officers in the past week.

Such safety concerns are not a surprise to officers working in the facility, which has of late been the subject of a variety of troubling headlines. Two officers have spoken out publicly on Facebook about a variety of issues including understaffing (one officer supervising two pods/96 inmates at a time) and faulty doors in Jail II that inmates can unlock with spoons or magazines. Despite protestations from the county that those doors have been fixed, officers have filed grievances in recent weeks through their union arguing that the doors in fact have not been fixed and citing as evidence multiple incidents in which inmates have unlocked their doors during lockdown since December.

Further evidence that the officers are right and the county is full of it: An inmate popped a cell door last night in the 7A pod of Jail II.

Assistant warden Eric Ivey is well aware of that. He was at the facility yesterday evening and has taken to working a second-shift night schedule due to the recent string of safety and staffing incidents, a county spokesperson confirmed to Scene yesterday, though the county did add that Ivey typically works more than 40 hours a week and maintains a flexible schedule.

Still, the fact that safety issues and violent assaults have led  him to alter his schedule to be present in the evening, weeks after jail officials instituted a policy of assigning SRT (Special Response Team) officers to floors in the troubled Jail II facility, indicates the severity of the problem.

The union also recently filed a grievance suggesting that the general public — school tours, grand jury visits, social workers — should not be allowed in the facility given recent safety issues.

We'd relish the opportunity to ask Warden Ivey about that and other things happening in his jail but a county spokesperson declined, after repeated requests by Scene, to make Ivey or Associate Warden Victor McArthur available for an interview.

For his part, the county's director of regional corrections Ken Mills will be doing an interview with Fox 8's Ed Gallek today. We also have a request in to speak with him. Someone, after all, should answer questions at this point, and that should probably be someone in charge of the jail, not a spokesperson sitting in an office at county headquarters.
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Cleveland Transit Group Reiterates Call to Open Public Square in Light of FTA Extension

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 9:40 AM

Transit advocates on Public Square Saturday. (Councilman Zack Reed and ATU Local 268 Prez Ron Jackson front and center.) - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • Transit advocates on Public Square Saturday. (Councilman Zack Reed and ATU Local 268 Prez Ron Jackson front and center.)
Clevelanders for Public Transit, the local coalition representing transit riders, has called once again for Public Square to be opened immediately.

In light of a Jan. 12 letter from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) granting RTA a 30-day extension on a $12-million debt, Clevelanders for Public Transit issued a press release reminding RTA of its only two options in the matter.

"If the specific breach was unclear before, it is crystal clear today," the release stated. It went on to cite the FTA letter, which presented RTA with two acceptable outcomes. RTA may: 1) Reopen Public Square to bus traffic... thereby repairing the breach of a 2004 funding agreement, or 2) Reimburse FTA for the "loss of the federal investment."

Though the FTA letter acknowledged "ongoing discussions," there was no mention of the city's and RTA's traffic study, which had been scheduled for completion on Jan. 18, one day before the original deadline (which was today). The deadline for repayment is now Feb. 21.

RTA did not immediately respond to a question regarding the traffic study's status. But Clevelanders for Public Transit argued in its press release that the study almost certainly will not affect FTA's position, which it has communicated explicitly on multiple occasions since August.

From the press release:

"The City of Cleveland is attempting to mitigate various impacts to bus service caused by the closure of Superior Avenue through an analysis of operational and financial impacts to GCRTA and is requiring GCRTA to create a safety mitigation plan before allowing bus service to resume on Superior Avenue. These address impacts of the closure of Superior and the City’s concerns, but fail to address the breach itself."

This is correct. The breach is the closure of Superior Avenue through Public Square.

Clevelanders for Public Transit has organized on behalf of riders, and the root of its opposition to the city's Public Square decision has always been a concern for them. Riders are often left out of discussions by city leaders, who reference "delays" and "operational impact" almost euphemistically, as factors somehow independent from the people who experience them.

"Regardless of delays and operating costs," read the statement, "closing Superior also introduces an additional million turns per year and increases the distance that many connecting riders have to walk between stops and between rail and bus service. The City’s plan fails to address these negative impacts to transit riders."

The group once again stated that Jackson's unilateral decision-making was out of order, in violation of an interagency agreement between RTA and the City. That claim, though Scene has brought it up to City Council, has yet to be meaningfully explored, even by those council members who have decried Jackson's maneuvers.

Though the next step is framed by FTA as an RTA decision — RTA was the recipient of the Federal dollars — the ultimate decision on Public Square will be Mayor Frank Jackson's. It was Jackson who insisted on closing the Square and Jackson who insisted on keeping it closed.

RTA has made it clear that it has no intention of paying the $12 million debt to FTA. Nor, the RTA legal team has written, is it legally obliged to. RTA board members (at least those not appointed by Jackson) are prepared to take injunctive action against the city.

The City will be forced to pay the debt — the full amount or an agreed-upon settlement — if Jackson sticks to his guns. That payment will come at roughly the same time that Jackson is forcing a $2+ million Motocross track down the gullet of City Council (via some very suspicious maneuvering and the apparent cooperation of Council leadership). That project, despite good intentions, tends to be viewed negatively by residents and certainly by some city councilmen, including new Mayoral candidate Jeff Johnson.

The Public Square debt. The motocross track. The publicly subsidized Q Transformation. All of these large, dubious expenditures were announced or mobilized in the immediate wake of the Cleveland income tax hike, which voters passed by a slim margin in November.

It makes for ghastly public relations in an election year.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Charges Filed Against Pee Wee Football Coach Accused of Punching 11-Year-Old Player

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 1:04 PM

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Update: A North Ridgeville assistant city prosecutor filed charges against a Pee Wee football coach accused of punching an 11-year-old boy during a game.

The incident went down back in October as the Elyria Mini Pioneers squared off against the North Ridgeville Rams. Keep in mind these are teams of 10 and 11-year-old boys.

One mother, Erica Kara, said one of the North Ridgeville assistant coaches punched her son during the game. The game itself got out of hand, as you can read in the original story below. Parents on the Elyria side said racial epithets were hurled by spectators and coaches on the North Ridgeville side.

The assistant coach, David R. Kelly of Elyria, had previously approached players on the field during the action. He was kicked out by the referee but returned from a parking lot to allegedly punch Devontae Armstrong, Kara's son. He was taken to a local hospital in pain and spitting up blood.

Kelly is charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct.

***

(Original story 11/4/16): Here's a really incredible story for you as we roll into the weekend. The Chronicle-Telegram's Lisa Roberson has done some fine work in sussing out the details of the controversial North Ridgeville Football League championship — a series of Nov. 5 games from which a handful of teams have already forfeited.

Here's the gist: The 8-0 Elyria Mini Pioneers have been practicing for the game at the end of their first season in this league. (The league is for 10- and 11-year-olds.) But every other team in the league has said it will refuse to play Elyria in the championship, essentially forcing the Mini Pioneers out of their chance to play tomorrow. “They just feel they are outmatched athletically and physically," North Ridgeville division director Chris Miscudo told Roberson.

But Elyria parents are alleging that racial epithets have followed them around all season, lofted across the field by the North Ridgeville players and parents. The tension boiled to a head last weekend, when an Oct. 29 game devolved into a pile-up on the field. According to Elyria parent Erica Kara, an assistant football coach from North Ridgeville leapt into the fray and punched her 11-year-old in the stomach. (He was taken to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center, where he was treated for a blunt-force abdomen injury. Kara said that he was spitting up blood on the field.)

From Roberson's report:
“I feel like they didn’t want us out here from the beginning, and it hit a boiling point on Saturday,” said John Dixon, program director for the Pioneers. “I have parents working the first down markers and those are the ones catching the racial slurs and remarks going on. Parents have told me about this all season, but we have remained focused on the game.”

The championship event would have pitted the Pioneers against two other teams, but without players willing to take the field, Miscudo said those teams will forfeit. The elimination of the junior tackle team from championship games comes two weeks after the senior tackle team also was eliminated from its championship game.

Miscudo said the Pioneers are still considered the Inter-league champions and will receive trophies. Games involving other teams in the league will be played Saturday.

“I think our kids deserve to play on Saturday,” Dixon said. “I love the people who run the league, but they have let this get carried away. I don’t think it’s fair that the best team out there doesn’t get to play on championship day. No one does that. It just doesn’t happen, especially with all the other teams playing.”

The decision has been devastating, said Pioneer parent Sabrina Bibby.

It's unclear if anything will change for the Mini Pioneers between now and tomorrow.

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If Cleveland Had a Bigger, Better Metro Railway, This is What it Might Look Like

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 10:47 AM

JAKE BERMAN, STUDIO COMPLUTENSE
  • Jake Berman, Studio Complutense
All credit to Jake Berman, who posted this imaginary map to reddit.

Given that Ohio can't be bothered to adequately fund public transit, and given RTA's menu of impending financial disasters, the above is merely a pipe dream. But imagine!

Mr. Berman left no stone unturned. In the "Special gameday service" box, he envisions the following promotion: "Show your ClemCard at Browns Stadium [sic] and get one free paper bag with every Browns ticket!"
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Here's Cleveland at Night as Seen From the International Space Station

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 9:19 AM

You can thank commander Shane Kimbrough for this gorgeous shot. Kimbrough's aboard the International Space Station as part of NASA's Expedition 50, which is conducting more than 250 experiments.


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