Monday, March 13, 2017

Disabled Veteran Alleges Ongoing Harassment by Cleveland Police in Anti-Panhandling Lawsuit

Posted By on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 3:57 PM

PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Photo via Wikimedia Commons
John Mancini, a disabled veteran and the named plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city of Cleveland and its anti-panhandling laws, filed an affidavit over the weekend that alleges continued harassment from police officers. (See the original story and the signed affidavit below.)

Mancini asserts that he was panhandling March 11 on Euclid Avenue near Playhouse Square. An officer identified as "Officer Jordan" saw him and pointed at him from a passing car before ultimately asking him to come over. At the car, the officer began questioning Mancini and his role in the lawsuit. "Does the ACLU know you're sitting in front of the Playhouse?" he asked Mancini.

According to the affidavit, Mancini said that "he was in front of a closed business," referring to Moko Coffee.

Mancini wrote that he felt "so shaken up and felt so intimidated" that he immediately got on the next bus to pass by Euclid. It happened to be the wrong line, so he rode needlessly out of the city on the No. 90, rather than the No. 15. He walked three hours home to Garfield Heights in the cold, he wrote.

"I am even more afraid of panhandling in Cleveland now, because the police are acting angry that I filed my lawsuit," Mancini wrote. "They are stalking me and harassing me to intimidate me. I feel they are retaliating against me."

***
Originally published Feb. 28

With the backing of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the ACLU of Ohio, local disabled veteran John Mancini filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Cleveland over its anti-panhandling laws.

(Read the full civil complaint here.)

At issue are two Cleveland ordinances that restrict solicitation on sidewalks and roadways. "Solicitation" is defined as speech that "request[s] an immediate
donation of money or other thing of value from another person, regardless of the solicitor’s purpose or intended use of the money or other thing of value. The solicitation may be, without limitation, by the spoken, written, or printed word, by gesture or by other means of communication.”

Mancini states that in December 2016 and January 2017, he "was ticketed four times and convicted once for violating Cleveland’s Anti-Panhandling Ordinances. During this time, and since, he has also been repeatedly told to leave areas where he has panhandled, and threatened with arrest....Since his tickets, the police threats and harassment against [him] have escalated, and he is now too afraid to panhandle in downtown Cleveland."

Recently, according to the lawsuit, Mancini has posted up on Euclid Avenue near East 14th Street, with a sign that reads: "wartime vet; can you please help a vet trying to get by; your help appreciated.”

According to NEOCH and Mancini, the Cleveland Police Department issued more than 5,800 tickets for violations of the Anti-Panhandling Ordinances between 2007 and 2015. Currently, violation of the ordinance comes with a $55 fine. Ballparking the hypothetical impact of those violations — assuming the tickets weren't nullified in court or not paid — that's more than $319,000 in revenue off the backs of Cleveland's homeless population in that time span.

On top of fines, there are court costs, which tend to grow as quickly as criminal dockets in Cleveland Municipal Court. NEOCH points out that homeless men and women often don't have reliable transportation and, in all honesty, can't even afford the fine in the first place; many people tend not to show up to court hearings. At that point, Cleveland police identify and jail the no-show defendants.

“In addition to being unconstitutional, anti-panhandling ordinances are bad public policy,” Mike Brickner, senior policy director at the ACLU of Ohio, said in a public statement today. “Homelessness and poverty are distressing issues, and being confronted with them can make us feel uncomfortable. But criminalizing poverty—especially by ticketing or jailing individuals in violation of the First Amendment—is not a solution.”

As Mancini and NEOCH claim in the complaint, "These restrictions criminalize certain types of speech based on the content of the message conveyed. The Anti-Panhandling Ordinances further stigmatize and demean individuals who are homeless and very poor in Cleveland."

***

March 11 affidavit:

Plaintiff John Mancini affidavit by sandyatscene on Scribd


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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

FiveOne Experimental Orchestra at Market Garden and Five More Classical Music Events to Hit This Week

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 3:04 PM

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All three of the operas Mozart wrote on libretti by Lorenzo Da Ponte will hit area stages this spring. First up is the Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Theater’s production of Così fan tutte, which plays at 7:30 pm from Wednesday, March 1 through Saturday, March 4 in Kulas Hall at CIM. Director David Bamberger has moved the setting from 18th century Naples, Italy to 1970s Naples, Florida. Harry Davidson conducts the CIM Orchestra, and the show will feature two different casts in rotation. Read a preview here. You can reserve tickets online.

One of Russia’s great orchestras will visit E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron on Wednesday, March 1 at 7:30 pm when Tuesday Musical presents a concert by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Nikolai Alexeev, conducts, and Nikolai Lugansky will be featured in Johannes Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Also on the docket: Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10. Pianist Caroline Oltmanns will talk about the program in a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 pm. Book your tickets online.

Music by American composers Leonard Bernstein, Augusta Read Thomas, and Aaron Copland will be featured on this week’s Cleveland Orchestra concerts at Severance Hall. Concertmaster William Preucil will take the solo role in Thomas’s Violin Concerto No. 3 (”Juggler in Paradise”), and associate conductor Brett Mitchell will lead the Orchestra in Bernstein’s Symphonic Suite from “On the Waterfront” (adapted from the Marlon Brando film), and Copland’s Symphony No. 3 (where the brass suddenly break out in an episode that later became the Fanfare for the Common Man). Performances run from March 2-4 (Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday at 7:00 pm, Saturday at 8:00 pm). The Friday performance is part of the Orchestra’s Fridays@7 series (no Bernstein, but food, drink, and entertainment before and after). Tickets available online.

The venerable Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival — now an octogenarian — continues to evolve in new directions. This year the emphasis is on how Bach influenced the music of Johannes Brahms. For the first event, BW will take over the 78th Street Studios near the Shoreway on Cleveland’s West Side for a Friday evening event on March 3 featuring Verb Ballets and duo-pianists Pierre and Sophié van der Westhuizen, vocalists Nancy Maultsby, Sara Masterson and Chris McCarrell and an alumni choir. “Out of the Bachs” includes Johannes Brahms’s love songs, music by Cole Porter and songs by Ira Gershwin, with food and spirits. You can reserve tickets online.

Cleveland’s “modern music chamber band” 51XO (a.k.a. the FiveOne Experimental Orchestra), will present “Homebrew” at the Market Garden Production Brewery behind the West Side Market on Saturday, March 4 at 9:00 pm. New and recent works by Buck McDaniel, Jonathan Sokol, Christopher Lee, Kevin Krumenauer, Tracy Mortimore, Jeremy Allen are on the playlist, plus a 51XO improvisation — and, of course, beer. Reserve your places online.

Here’s a latecomer to the calendar: the Czech Republic’s famous chamber ensemble, the Pražák Quartet, had two unscheduled days during their American tour this month, so they arranged through their old friend Karel Paukert to give a free concert on Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30 pm at St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Heights. Violinists Jana Vonášková and Vlastimil Holek, violist, Josef Kluson, and cellist Michal Kanka will play Joseph Haydn’s Quartet in B-flat, Op. 71, No. 1, and two works by Czech composers: Leoš Janáček’s Quartet No. 2 (”Intimate Letters”), and Antonín Dvořák’s Quartet in E-flat, Op. 51. As we noted before, it’s free.

For details of these and many other events, visit the ClevelandClassical.com Concert Listings page.
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In the Fight to Outlaw Marital Rape Exemptions, Ohio Republicans Go Silent

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 12:25 PM

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Despite marital rape being illegal in most cases across most of the U.S., the Ohio Revised Code allows for several gaps where a spouse may not be charged with rape in the event of what otherwise seems exactly like rape. In Ohio, there must be some “force or threat of force” in order to warrant prosecution. The codified exemptions remain a legal problem for those fighting against domestic and sexual abuse.

For example, a man may drug his wife and rape her — and there is no state law through which to press charges (unless they live apart).

Now, two state legislators are mounting a challenge. Reps. Greta Johnson (Akron) and Kristin Boggs (Columbus) introduced HB 97 last week, which would put an end to those exemptions. No Republican representative has signed on as a co-sponsor.

“We must modernize Ohio’s laws and eradicate unacceptable policy that allows someone to commit violence against their spouse,” Boggs said in a public statement. “Women and men experiencing sexual violence at the hands of their spouses should not be denied the right to seek justice just because they happen to be married to the offender.”

The marital exemptions in Ohio exist elsewhere too; in Maryland, for instance, the same "use of force" qualifier gets spouses out of trouble in the event of drugging or mental/physical impairment.

This is an extremely archaic framing of law, of course: English common law maintained for centuries that it was impossible for a husband to rape his wife. The concept, back then, was a legal non-issue. Still, such exemptions persist in large swaths of the U.S.

In 2015, the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law published a report on the injustices behind Ohio's marital rape exemption.

"Undoubtedly, the government could have prosecuted the husband with a crime other than a sexual offense, such as assault, felonious assault, or corrupting another with drugs," the report states, illustrating how rape exemptions could be alternatively prosecuted in Ohio. "However, these offenses do not vindicate the same social harms as the sexual offenses, most importantly a person's sexual autonomy - the right to choose whether to engage in sexual conduct or contact with another person."

It's a point that Johnson and Boggs may help vet in future hearings on their bill. But even that — the conversation — is a long shot; Ohio Republicans have a history of stonewalling this sort of legislation.

In 2015, Johnson introduced a similar bill, which languished on committee agendas before dying quietly. (Only Rep. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, signed on as a co-sponsor that time.) As the Akron Beacon Journal's Doug Livingston points out, that bill also sought a repeal of the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault cases. Republican lawmakers pushed back, and, ultimately, Johnson dropped that provision from the new bill.

“I am appalled that there is not a larger discussion in our state about this issue," Johnson said. "I am deeply disappointed that none of my Republican colleagues signed on as co-sponsors to this bill – protecting victims of sexual assault and rape should have nothing to do with partisan affiliation.”

The CSU report sticks its landing: "Ohio's partially abolished marital exemption cannot be justified under any coherent theory of justice, appears to survive merely due to inertia, and certainly does not serve the best interests of Ohio residents."

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Culture of Rampant Sexism, Wild Parties Revealed at Akron-Based Sterling Jewelers

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 12:09 PM

TWITTER: @KAYJEWELERS
  • Twitter: @KayJewelers
In a scorching report from the Washington Post, unsealed statements and other arbitration documents from a class-action suit against Akron-based Sterling Jewelers revealed a corporate culture that "fostered rampant sexual harassment and discrimination."

At Sterling's subsidiary jewelry stores across the country — Kay Jewelers, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry among them — managers groped and insulted female employees and openly discussed their sexual exploits. Mandatory annual "Managers Meetings" were described as "sex-fests," replete with boozy pool parties and cigar-smoking executives expecting or demanding entertainment by female underlings.

Documents from the 2008 class-action suit, which is still ongoing, were only released Sunday on the condition that names of Sterling executives be redacted. But 44,000 female employees initially signed on, with that number growing to more than 69,000. The suit alleged that "preying" on female employees was done out in the open, and that the company culture encouraged such behavior.

Mark Light, the CEO of Sterling's parent company, Signet Jewelers, was directly implicated in the report.

Sterling, the Washington Post reports, disputes the allegations, and says it has created "strong career opportunities for many thousands of women" and has “multiple processes in place to receive and investigate allegations of misconduct."

But several statements from the women suggest otherwise. One, from a nine-year Sterling manager, did so directly.

Sterling "did not have an effective or serious mechanism by which female employees could complain about their mistreatment," she said.

WaPo reported that the former and current employees are seeking punitive damages and years of back pay, but that no estimate of the potential damages has been provided. A hearing with witness testimony won't take place for some time, currently scheduled for early next year.

Sterling Jewelers is a multi-billion dollar conglomerate with headquarters on Ghent Road in Fairlawn.
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Bilingual Features, Arts Activism Showcased in New Edition of 'CAN Journal'

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 12:03 PM

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Each issue of CAN Journal, Northeast Ohio’s premiere visual arts quarterly magazine, seems to get bigger and better. Be the first to pick up a copy of the latest CAN Journal during a Spring Issue Launch Party at MOCA Cleveland from 6 to 8 p.m. this Friday, March 3. The night includes free admission to MOCA Cleveland’s current exhibitions, and features a Cuban theme thanks to the Cleveland Foundation’s new Creative Fusion international resident artists (check out the new issue of CAN for more information). Enjoy mojitos, beer, wine and food, as well as live Afro Cuban music from the Neil Chastain trio.

CAN is a kind of mirror of the local arts community, and this issue is a great illustration of that,” says CAN Journal editor, publisher and executive director Michael Gill. “On the one hand, it previews dozens of shows coming up in the next three months: it's a reflection of all that activity. On the other, it has reported features that help connect dots and dig deeper.”

The cover of CAN’s Spring 2017 issue features a watercolor flower by renowned local artist and professor/former chair of Cleveland State University’s Art Department George Mauersberger. (And check out this week's Scene for more on his work, too.) The issue includes feature stories on Mauersberger by Douglas Max Utter, legendary gallerist William Busta’s advice for artists (first in a new series), Donald Black Jr. on individual artist grants, Henry Adams on William Robinson and Brittany Mariel Hudak on the national dialogue surrounding the NEA/NEH, as well as the first in a new series of stories about efforts to bring art patrons to Cleveland. The Spring 2017 issue also includes CAN’s Speak Up Guide to Arts Advocacy and 15 bilingual pages featuring the aforementioned Creative Fusion Cuban artists.

“We've included a cut-out guide to arts activism, which has contact info for administrators and elected officials at all levels—the county (CAC and county council reps, plus CPAC) the state (OAC, Ohio Citizens for the Arts, and state reps) and federal (NEA, Americans for the Arts, and House and Senate Reps),” says Gill. "CAN's SPEAK UP guide to arts activism is of course printed in every copy, and therefore will be distributed to more than 10,000 people.”

Shifting to discussing the magazine's first bilingual features, Gill says, “The Spanish-speaking writers include familiar artists Claudio Orso and Augusto Bordelois, among others. The section is supported with Spanish-language editing and translation by Damaris Punales Alpizar, who is a professor of Spanish and Caribbean culture at CWRU. Cleveland is going to see a whole lot of Cubanismo in the coming months, and the Spring issue of CAN provides a great overview.”

If you can’t make the Spring Issue Launch Party, CAN Journal will be distributed in the coming days to more than 200 locations throughout Cuyahoga County, such as member galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, as well as every Heinen’s location and select locations in Akron and Medina. For more information on CAN Journal, visit canjournal.org.

(MOCA Cleveland) 11400 Euclid Ave., 216-421-8671, mocacleveland.org

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Is Waiting In Line for a Paczki Today Worth It?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 11:12 AM

No.
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Alonzo Mitchell III Announces Ward 6 Cleveland City Council Run

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 10:30 AM



Cleveland promoter Alonzo Mitchell III, who is still most widely known for his short-lived "Ohio Homecoming" New Year's Eve celebrations, has announced that he will run for Cleveland City Council.

In a Facebook Live video Monday night, Mitchell succinctly declared that Cleveland was in desperate need of new leadership. He has been encouraging civic engagement, particularly among young people, for years, and in the past several months has helped organize seminars for those who wish to run for office. But now:

"I have to be the change I wish to see," he said, paraphrasing Gandhi.

He is collecting signatures, he said, for the Ward 6 council seat. Ward 6 is on the city's east side, and spans the Little Italy, Fairfax, Buckeye-Shaker and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.

Mitchell has kept a fairly low profile since an embarrassing moment in 2015 when he announced on Facebook that he'd been asked to select a restaurant in Cleveland to have dinner with President Barack Obama. The announcement turned out to be a publicity stunt.

But his rhetoric hasn't changed much. In fact, his comments then served as a teaser for his announcement Monday.

"I believe that WE are who the President and local leadership should be meeting with - the young, motivated, entrepreneurial - the future!" Mitchell wrote in a post admitting that his White House invitation had been a fiction. "Amidst corruption, systematic deficiencies in public safety, a poor economy, and educational system - the city is certainly in need of a LIFT. That Lift lies in the next generation. The future greatness of our city lies in US. We Are Running in 2017."

The 72-year-old Mamie Mitchell is currently the councilperson in Ward 6. She is completing the second of two four-year terms and will face at least four challengers in the September primaries.

Unlike most challengers citywide, Alonzo Mitchell III actually has a website. He has directed supporters to alonzoforthepeople.com, and suggested that he hopes to to raise $30,000 for his campaign.
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