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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

It's That Time of Year When Clevelanders Can Enjoy a Purple Glow Over the City Thanks to Green City Growers

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 at 1:59 PM

That magical purple glow over the city of Cleveland is, sadly, not a vortex opened to deliver us all peacefully and safely to a more just, happier dimension.

But, on the upside, the light show is also not a byproduct of pollution from the Sweetums factory.

Yes, it's that time of year when the late sunrise, certain atmospheric conditions on certain days, and the operations at the Green City Growers in Cleveland's Central neighborhood combine to give Clevelanders a purple sky show.

Since 2018 when it installed energy-efficient LED lamps, the worker-owned greenhouse and urban farm's magenta lamps that give life to its crops also provide a little razzle dazzle for early-morning commuters from about 4 a.m. to sunrise when the weather is just right.

Green City Growers is under the Evergreen umbrella of companies, which also just helped Phoenix Coffee transition to an employee-owned cooperative model.

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Zodiac Features and CSU’s School of Film & Media Arts Team Up for New Documentary Film About Exonerated Prisoner Rickey Jackson

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 at 1:14 PM

  • Courtesy of Brokaw
Founded in Cleveland, Ohio by Jillian Wolstein, the mission of H.E.L.P. is to "provide hope, education, love and protection to people facing seemingly insurmountable circumstances by way of human injustices and challenges." H.E.L.P. also owns and operates the Flats East Bank restaurant Truman’s 216. All the profits from Truman’s 216 go towards helping people in need, and the restaurant also provides meals to local alternative housing shelters.

Now, H.E.L.P. has funded Lovely Jackson, a new film from Zodiac Features, the Cleveland and Los Angeles-based production company behind the 2019 thriller I See You, and Cleveland State University’s School of Film and Media Arts.

Slated to begin production this month in Northeast and Central Ohio, the film centers on Clevelander Rickey Jackson and his struggle to survive a wrongful 1975 murder conviction, death row, and 39 years in Ohio’s most dangerous prisons, something former Scene writer Kyle Swenson has written about extensively, both in articles for Scene and in his book, Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America.

Clevelander Matt Waldeck will produce for Zodiac Features alongside Jackson, and Frederic Lahey will oversee CSU film students’ involvement with the production.

Next month, H.E.L.P. will host a small fundraiser (either virtually or at Truman’s 216), which will include a meet-and-greet with Jackson to benefit the film and Innocent Prisoner Advocates, a program led by H.E.L.P. and Jackson which provides funding to newly released exonerated prisoners for basic necessities as they begin their new lives.

“We have been working to find Rickey a platform to tell his story his way since 2017,” says Waldeck in a press release about the film. “He’s an important figure to Cleveland’s past and future, and even though Rickey’s journey is one of real-life horror, he is a living example of our capacity as men and women to find hope, survive, love and forgive even through darker than imaginable experiences."

Waldeck says H.E.L.P.'s assistance has been crucial to getting the project up and running.

"For H.E.L.P. to step up and fund the project now, especially during a year where economics have been particularly volatile, speaks volumes about their commitment to the community and its organizational mandate," he says. "Being able to offer CSU film students the opportunity to help tell a powerful and important story like Rickey’s would be a boon to Cleveland’s burgeoning film community anytime, but is an even bigger win during an otherwise limiting semester due to COVID-19, and we look forward to working with Frederic and the School of Film and Media Arts in the coming months.”

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Rock Hall Announces Laundry List of Special Guests for Virtual 2020 Inductions on Nov. 7

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 at 12:29 PM

  • Courtesy the Rock Hall

The Rock Hall's 2020 Induction Ceremony, originally slated for May in Cleveland and then pushed back to a virtual event on Nov. 7th because of the pandemic, will air live on HBO that night, in a departure from the delayed, taped airings of the past, and will include a whole roster of special guests to induct and celebrate Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G., T. Rex and Ahmet Ertegun Award winners Jon Landau and Irving Azoff.

"The HBO special on November 7th will feature guests including Luke Bryan, Sean 'Diddy' Combs, Miley Cyrus, Billy Gibbons, Don Henley, Jennifer Hudson, Bill Idol, Iggy Pop, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Chris Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Brad Paisley, Bruce Springsteen, St. Vincent, Ringo Starr, Gwen Stefani, Charlize Theron, Nancy Wilson and more, all highlighting the importance and influence of the 2020 Inductees," the Rock Hall announced this week. "Dave Grohl kicks off the show with a heartfelt introduction to this year’s class of Inductees, and the special guests will speak further on how the 2020 Inductees impacted their personal and professional careers."

The Rock Hall's 2020 Inductee exhibit is currently on view at the museum and the induction ceremonies return to Cleveland next fall.

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The Cuyahoga County Recorder's Office Is Dealing With a Bed Bug Infestation, If You're Wondering Why Things Are Taking Longer Than Normal There

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 at 11:33 AM

  • Google Maps

Lawyers, title agencies and the rest of the assorted professionals that depend upon the Cuyahoga County Recorder's Office to do the people's business have been frustrated in recent weeks as things have taken longer than normal to get processed.

There's a reason for that: bed bugs.

The County confirmed that the office has been dealing with an infestation, per spokesperson Mary Louise Madigan.

And it's so bad that pest control companies have been out at least a dozen times.

A. Dozen. Times.

An internal email to county employees read:

The County's Environmental Health & Safety Manager is working with the Director of Real Estate Services and building management to exterminate the bugs found on the fourth floor. We know you have been patient; please bear with us as we continue to work on this.

Here's what we've done so far:

* General Pest, Inc. and Orkin technicians have been here at least a dozen times. They have: placed "monitoring stations" (traps) and used heat treatments up to 130f for 3 hours on surfaces in the affected areas. That is beyond the standard heat treatment.
* General Pest used chemicals on all affected areas from ceiling to carpet.
* Specially trained dogs have been in the building four separate times, most recently on October 12th. Despite these efforts, we've had two sightings in the same area on the fourth floor, room 4-100. Therefore, we are going to provide a more aggressive treatment tonight, Friday, 10/16 and again next Friday, 10/23.

The building will be monitored and inspected in between these scheduled treatments. Thank you for your continued patience - we are working to get this done.
Those who work in the industry already seemed to know this.

On one listserv dedicated to the process of deed and title recording throughout Ohio, for example, someone recently asked why Cuyahoga County's turnaround time had been slower than usual.

Here was the reply, from someone at a local title agency:
Someone sent a box of bedbugs to the recorder about 3 weeks ago. They were closed, fumigated, reopened and closed again when the second generation hatched.

So only a day or so of in person filings in last 3 weeks. Doubt if many mailed filings happened 
Madigan, for what it's worth, denied that anyone mailed bed bugs to the office. Then again, the spokesperson wasn't aware of the infestation when contacted last week by Scene.

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Nine Ohio Counties Cut Ties With Midwest Direct, the Cleveland Company Behind Repeated Delays in Mailing Absentee Ballots

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 at 10:26 AM

  • Google Maps

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose last night provided a few updates on Midwest Direct, the Cleveland company that has recently been in the news for being woefully behind on printing and mailing out absentee ballots for the 16 Ohio county board of elections that contracted with the company this year.

The problems date back about two weeks, when reports out of Summit County and Lorain County noted that Midwest Direct was behind on the process from the very first batch, blaming a malfunctioning printing machine.

The problems continued. In Summit County, for example, Midwest Direct "botched the first 95,000 Summit County absentee ballots earlier this month — mailing them out up to six days late — botched a second batch of 14,000-15,000 ballots that were supposed to be mailed last week," the Akron Beacon Journal reported yesterday.

In between, the company was the subject of a New York Times article that reported on a Trump flag that had flown, until recently, in front of the company's headquarters in the Cudell neighborhood and the political leanings of its owners, brothers Richard and James Gebbie.

“We have freedom to vote for who we want and support who we want,” Richard Gebbie told the New York Times. “We fly a flag because my brother and I own the company and we support President Trump.”

While the article made clear that experts say there's basically nothing a vendor can do to fudge with the integrity of a ballot, and that there's no evidence the brothers intentionally delayed the process, readers nevertheless attempted to connect dots and ascribe sinister motives.

The Gebbies, meanwhile, claimed they weren't to blame.

“It is fair to say today that no one — not the various boards of elections, not Ohio’s secretary of state, not our company — anticipated the staggering volume of mail-in ballot requests that has actually occurred,” they told the Times. “The estimates provided to us from the counties were not what ended up as the reality.”

Asserting that despite expectations of record voter turnout and a yearlong focus on mail-in balloting during a pandemic when the prospect of in-person voting has been a worry since spring is certainly something. But political affiliations aside, the easiest explanation for all of this is that Midwest Direct was simply and astoundingly bad at the core business it sold to clients.

And, according to Frank LaRose, it has fewer of them as of this week.

Nine of the 16 Ohio counties that had been using Midwest Direct have now "discontinued their relationship" and will begin fulfilling absentee ballot requests in-house, LaRose said last night, though he declined to mention the company by name.

"Many of you have heard that there's a vendor in Northeast Ohio that had failed to really meet expectations on getting absentee ballots out on time," LaRose said. "It's truly unfortunate and unacceptable that they over-promised and under-delivered."

While Midwest Direct, as of last night, told the state that it's all caught up, "nine have decided to process ballots in house," LaRose said.

Those counties are Butler, Clinton, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Mahoning, Miami and Williams.

"I want you to know that as soon as we became aware, we worked with all 16 counties to put contingency plans in place," he said.

Absentee ballot requests should be made by Oct. 27th to ensure you receive one in time, though the official deadline is Oct. 31st. You can return your completed ballot by mail (two stamps! postmarked by Nov. 2) or by dropping it off in person at your local county board of election site.


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Monday, October 19, 2020

How Did Cleveland Come to Love Clambakes So Much?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2020 at 5:13 PM

Chef John Comella of the Euclid Fish Company has assistance sorting clams for a catered clambake in 1964 - CLEVELAND MEMORY PROJECT
  • Cleveland Memory Project
  • Chef John Comella of the Euclid Fish Company has assistance sorting clams for a catered clambake in 1964

"I don't think any other part of the country has a fall clambake season like ours," Bill Gullo, director of purchasing at Catanese Classic Seafood in the Flats, told us last year. "I had a clam supplier tell me a couple years back that more clams were being shipped to Northeast Ohio during September and October than the rest of the country combined. I would think that that was still true today."

It's clear that Cleveland loves its clambakes. What's less clear is why and how the typically New England feast became so entrenched in our regional foodways.

Some draw a straight line back to the well-heeled industrialists of the early 20th century who summered in Northeast Ohio, often hosting elaborate feasts with fresh seafood shipped directly from the East Coast. For decades, clambakes have served as the ideal vehicle for political fundraisers, a delicious way to replenish the campaign coffers on the backs of bivalves. Gullo, who's been in the local fish business for 40 years, posits that the practice was promoted by retailers like him who were tasked with selling fish.

Everyone has a theory, and there are overlaps and plausible partial-explanations everywhere.

Edible Cleveland has a great attempt at buttoning down an answer, though naturally, there's no firm resolution. The Rockefellers and other society crowd members of Cleveland loved a party and clams proved social fare, but some argue "that Northeast Ohio got its taste for clams not from New England transplants, but instead from more recent groups of European immigrants who had a taste for the bivalves. As for the fall timing, Tom [McIntyre of Kate's Fish ]says that is born of logistics. Clams were shipped to Cleveland by rail in unrefrigerated cars, and cool weather ensured minimal degradation in quality."

Thrillist goes further down the historical rabbit hole in its tale, which gives a big nod to Chef John Comella of the Euclid Fish Company (pictured above) for formalizing what became the core of the Cleveland clambake menu.

Regardless how it began, the "Cleveland Clambake" is a beloved fall tradition.

While clams aren't considered a seasonal food product as they are generally available year-round, there are other factors that make autumn ideal for bakes. Customary accompaniments like sweet corn and potatoes are seasonal, with their harvests lining up with the events. Those thick and creamy chowders are well suited to sweater weather. And the act of wrangling a giant steamer pot over a roaring propane burner is made bearable by the cooler temps.

A traditional Cleveland clambake consists of a cup of chowder, a dozen clams, half a chicken, an ear of corn, one sweet or regular potato, coleslaw and rolls, but deviations abound. Some folks like to toss in links of kielbasa or andouille sausage, others opt to sub out the chicken for crab legs or whole lobster, and pretty much every single clam lover can easily devour an extra dozen or two of those briny bivalves.

"That's what makes the Cleveland clambake so unique," noted Gullo. "You talk to 10 different people, you'll get 10 different bakes."

Seafood retailers like Catanese Classic (1600 Merwin Ave., 216-696-0080) and Euclid Fish (7839 Enterprise Dr., Mentor, 440-951-6448) offer effortless just-add-water clambake kits, steamer pots pre-loaded with all the ingredients. For big boils, it's wise to rent, borrow or buy a propane-powered burner. DIYers simply can purchase the components themselves, layer them into a large pot with a steamer insert, and cook it inside or out.

It's prudent to cook the chicken separately so you don't wind up with overcooked seafood or under-cooked chicken. And for heaven's sake, don't overlook the broth, that flavorful elixir that forms below, which is delicious on its own or when used as a base for a future chowder or bisque.

Clambakes of 2020 certainly lack the social atmosphere of years past, but there's still plenty of time to do one on your own and some Cleveland restaurants have clambakes scheduled for takeout or socially-distanced in-person dining through the end of October if you're looking for someone else to take care of the work.

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With Financial Assistance from Evergreen, Phoenix Coffee Converts to Employee-Owned Cooperative

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2020 at 5:11 PM


Phoenix Coffee, a Cleveland-based company that employs 37 people across five Northeast Ohio coffee shops and one wholesale roastery, announced that it is transitioning to a worker-owned cooperative.

The wheels were set in motion a few years thanks to former minority partners Shane Hinde and Christopher Feran, both of whom remain as co-general managers of the newly formed worker cooperative.

The conversion to employee-ownership was financed by the Fund for Employee Ownership of the Evergreen Cooperatives, a Cleveland nonprofit dedicated to preserving jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods through collective ownership.

“Banks were skeptical about loaning to hospitality companies like restaurants or coffee shops – and that was before COVID-19,” explains Feran. “This new partnership with Evergreen positions us to not just survive the pandemic but to also grow and share profits with our employees, who are now also owners.”

Under the new cooperative structure, Phoenix’s existing and future employees will have a voice in operating policy, not to mention an ownership stake in the company, bestowing such rights as profit-sharing and representation on the board. This is a huge step toward creating a more democratic workplace while providing better growth opportunities for those in the regional coffee company.

In doing so, Phoenix becomes the first coffee company in Ohio to be structured as a worker cooperative.

This move is just the latest in a long line of sustainability and fairness measures advanced over the years by Hinde and Feran, including the switch to sustainably sourced coffee beans, providing employee healthcare benefits and significantly reducing waste.

“Our idea isn’t a radical one,” the managers said in a statement. “We want to create safe, sustainable, liveable middle-class jobs. We want to be part of our communities and contribute to those communities not only through our company’s presence but by being members: buying homes, starting families and living our values.”


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