Scene & Heard

Friday, December 15, 2017

Charlottesville Killer James Alex Fields Now Faces First-Degree Murder Charge

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 11:25 AM

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James Alex Fields, the Ohio man who drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville this summer, now faces a first-degree murder charge for the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

A Charlottesville district court Judge announced the new, upgraded charge at a hearing yesterday. Many of Heyer's family, friends and supporters were in attendance. 

Fields has said that he drove to Charlottesville by himself from Ohio and wanted to hear a speaker at the rally — he was revealed to have had Nazi sympathies in high school.

The "Unite the Right" rally was organized by white nationalists after the city of Charlottesville decided to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a popular city park.

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Treading Dangerously: Lax Safety Inside Goodyear’s Tire Plants

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 10:18 AM

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This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, at revealnews.org/podcast.

As daylight faded, Matthew Smith and Kerrybeth Hall were in rural West Texas headed to college when the left rear tire of Smith’s black Ford pickup failed.

The truck skidded sideways on the busy highway, smashing through a wire fence before rolling over in the parched plains, killing them both.

Police listed the Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor tire – among more than 40,000 the company later recalled – as a cause of the crash that August day in 2011.

The fatal accident is a stark example of the deadly consequences of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s lax approach to safety, contributing to deaths of motorists on the road and workers in its plants, a six-month investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found. Tires involved in the accidents were manufactured in Goodyear plants in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Danville, Virginia, where intense production demands and leaks in the roof during storms have endangered both workers and consumers for years.

Reveal interviewed dozens of current and former Goodyear workers and analyzed hundreds of federal and state agency documents and court records from seven states. In interviews, several former employees said they felt pressure to put production before workplace safety. Others recalled a quota-driven motto invoked on the shop floor: “Round and black and out the back.”

“The pressure to get the job done was very intense,” said Joel Burdette, who worked as an area manager at the company’s Union City, Tennessee, plant before it closed in 2011. Burdette then took a similar job at the Danville plant, leaving in 2014.

“That was a motto: Anything goes as long as it goes onto the truck and gets shipped out,” he said.

About seven months after Smith and Hall were killed, Goodyear sent out recall notices.

“Use of these tires in severe conditions could result in partial tread separation which could lead to vehicle damage or a motor vehicle crash,” the company stated in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Goodyear noted it had been monitoring problems with the SilentArmor tires since at least May 2010, 15 months before the deaths of Smith and Hall.

The tire in Smith and Hall’s crash was made in Fayetteville, but at least two others died in accidents over the last five years after tires made at Goodyear’s Danville plant failed. Another motorist, Harry Patel of Michigan, became a partial quadriplegic in 2012 when a tire on his Nissan Pathfinder separated, causing the SUV to flip and land in a ditch. That tire was made at Goodyear’s Fayetteville plant.

After hearing arguments from Patel’s lawyers that Goodyear had ramped up production, compromising the quality of its tires, a jury awarded him $16 million, one of the largest product liability awards in Michigan’s history. The 2015 award, which Goodyear has appealed, was cut nearly in half because of state liability caps.

“The shocking collapse of safety controls at Goodyear’s plants has inflicted immeasurable losses on the many families of Goodyear customers killed in avoidable tragedies,” said John Gsanger, an attorney for the families of Patel and Hall.

A deadly record

Manufacturing tires is a hazardous process requiring a vigilant approach to safety. In plants that can stretch over 50 football fields, workers use massive machines to fashion rubber and steel into tens of thousands of tires for everyday motorists and clients ranging from NASCAR to FedEx.

The plants can be grimy. Machines that grind rubber spew fine dust over workers’ clothes and faces. Even after showering, they ooze black residue from their pores, leaving imprints of their bodies on their bedsheets.

“It’s like working in a coal mine,” said Bo Rosas, a former maintenance manager at Goodyear’s Danville plant. “When you blow your nose, you see black film.”

But even among its peers, Goodyear stands out. The tire giant is among the deadliest manufacturers in the nation for workers, Reveal’s analysis of data from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows. Since August 2015, five Goodyear workers have been killed – four at the Virginia plant in one year alone.

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Ellis Jones, Goodyear’s senior director of global environmental health, safety and sustainability, called the company’s workplace deaths “an unusual situation.”

“We reacted after every incident,” he said, referring to the company’s rash of workplace accidents. “We did have to take a step back and say, ‘Let’s look at the system within Danville and identify the gaps in the system, and let’s close those gaps.’ ”

While acknowledging those safety lapses, Jones said the company’s tires are safe for consumers.

“Each stage of the process, that raw material, that component is tested, and that finished tire is tested for quality,” he said. “So we’re very confident about the quality of our product.”

After serious workplace accidents, the company’s managers have both clashed with investigators and admitted to regulators that they ignored workplace safety lapses, Reveal found. In one instance, a manager admitted to an accumulation of oil over a period of days due to a reduction in personnel in the cleaning crew.

Since October 2008, Goodyear has been fined more than $1.9 million for nearly 200 health and workplace safety violations, far more than its four major competitors combined.

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But its deadly track record has received scant national attention, and the publicly traded company has continued to profit from clients ranging from Boeing to the U.S. military and took in $1.3 billion in net income last year.

Shifting politics in Washington stand to further insulate companies such as Goodyear from accountability. Reinvigorating manufacturing and job growth is at the core of President Donald Trump’s economic agenda.

Yet protections for factory workers, who overwhelmingly supported Trump, are being dismantled. The administration is rolling back and postponing Obama-era protections in keeping with goals laid out by the National Association of Manufacturers, a prominent Washington industry group.

Richard Kramer, Goodyear’s chairman, chief executive officer and president, serves on the association’s board. A Goodyear spokeswoman said Kramer was unavailable for an interview but made Jones available instead.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. – a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – said lobbyists for dangerous companies should not be permitted to dismantle workplace protections.

“President Trump and Republicans in Congress have taken one whack after another at regulations that make sure workers are safe on the job,” Warren said in a statement to Reveal. “Washington is supposed to work for hardworking Americans, not for the trade associations for the companies that make their profit by taking shortcuts on worker safety.”

In the pit

Just before midnight on April 11, 2016, Charles “Greg” Cooper, a maintenance mechanic on the graveyard shift, descended alone into a machine pit in the dimly lit basement of the tire plant in Danville.

He set to work replacing a broken rope that wicked oil from wastewater swirling in a huge vat. Rubber, hooks and wires lay strewn around him on the floor near the pit, where steam rose from the boiling water.

Federal rules require a safety guard or cover on any openings in the floor. But about six months earlier, an electric pump had broken, and “there was still a huge hole left directly over the pit,” records show.

Several hours passed before a manager noticed that Cooper was gone and dispatched his co-workers to search the plant. Finally, one of their flashlights sliced through the darkness, its beam illuminating his body, floating face down in the pit. Then came the official call: “Man down!”

It was far too late. Cooper had been boiled alive.

Cooper was the third of four workers to die at the company’s Danville plant over one year ending in August 2016.

A Virginia workplace safety investigator who arrived to scour the area where the 52-year-old died noted it was slippery. The floor around the gaping hole atop the pit was “covered with oil, grease, water and rubber due to lack of housekeeping and it simulated a condition like working on ice,” the investigator wrote.

The hole had been in plain view of a maintenance manager who was required to inspect the area on each shift, records show. Investigators found two other holes nearby.

After the accident, Greg Kerr, the plant’s manufacturing director, told a local newspaper that Goodyear would “work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the local authorities to fully investigate the incident.”

Yet Goodyear’s conduct after the investigation proved quite the opposite.

“Employer difficult to deal with,” an investigator from the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program noted. “Slow to respond to any request, encouraging employees to not cooperate.”

Some Goodyear workers told local police, on condition of anonymity, that Cooper never should have been working alone that night. They said the plant’s policy had required maintenance employees in the area to work in pairs since 2007, when a worker in the same part of the plant was severely burned and later died.

“At no time were maintenance workers to work in that area alone, as it is one of the most dangerous areas of the plant,” police investigators wrote. Nevertheless, Cooper was assigned to make the repair by himself, police records show.

In near darkness, giant machines resembling egg beaters thrash bales of rubber into flat sheets, drowning out workers’ voices. So even if Cooper had screamed for help, “there’s no way you could get in touch,” Wayne Barber, his longtime work partner and close friend, told Reveal.

“What gets me is him being in the pit for so long and nobody going to look for him,” he said. “The supervisor should have found out where he was after that long.”

Barber wrestles with how things might have been different if he had been at Cooper’s side that night instead of at home mourning the recent death of his wife.

“He wouldn’t have stayed in that hole for four or five hours,” Barber said as he sat on his front stoop, adding quietly, “It could have been me. We might have both ended up in the hole.”

Chronic workplace safety hazards

While investigating an earlier incident at another Goodyear plant, federal workplace safety investigators found unguarded floor holes had long been a problem.

In February 2015, about a year before Cooper was killed, a worker at the Topeka, Kansas, plant suffered third-degree burns on the left side of his body as he worked on a tire-curing press.

Investigators wrote that the plant’s then–safety manager, Tim Washeck, told them that floor holes had been “observed for as long as they can recall and … covering them had not been considered in the past.” OSHA cited the plant for the violation.

The following month, a worker at the company’s plant in Gadsden, Alabama, fell from a platform, which lacked standard railings, onto a conveyor belt, breaking his left arm, shoulder, four ribs and collarbone. Oil leaking from a nearby milling machine covered the floor where he had been working. The plant’s safety manager, Charles Skaggs, was aware of the oil leak and open-sided platform, investigators noted.

Washeck and Skaggs did not return calls seeking comment. Jones, Goodyear’s senior safety director, declined to comment on specific cases but noted that Goodyear safety officials are expected to ensure that “every associate goes home safe.”

In settlements with the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program after lapses that included the four Danville deaths, Goodyear admitted it had violated workplace safety and health laws more than 100 times. The company agreed to a reduced fine of $1.75 million earlier this year.

And in a move that three former top federal safety officials called “highly unusual” and “outrageous,” Virginia regulators at the time invited the company to apply for the state’s so-called Voluntary Protection Program, which shields companies with exemplary safety programs and below-average injury rates from routine safety inspections.

Virginia is one of 28 states and U.S. territories that run their own workplace health and safety programs, covering private- or public-sector workers or both. Most of these states have adopted standards that are identical to those set by OSHA.

Soon after the Goodyear settlement, a 61-year-old contract worker was killed at the company’s Topeka, Kansas, plant when a falling object struck him in the head. He left behind a wife and daughter.

OSHA imposed a fine of $27,713 against Goodyear for the accident, which the company quickly contested.

“A firm in which five workers are killed over 18 months is clearly a firm in which the management is not adequately focused on worker safety,” said David Michaels, who led OSHA under President Barack Obama and now is a professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“It is also a sign of the absence of operational excellence, since worker fatalities and serious injuries do not occur when the production process is tightly controlled.”

‘Round and black and out the back’

Gerri Hall remembers the day his daughter, Kerrybeth, came home from school and told him she’d decided to become a paramedic. She was 14. The petite blonde with a piercing laugh learned that her father, a firefighter and EMT, had rescued her friend after a car accident.

“She thought that’s what she was here for, is to help people,” Hall said.

Two weeks before she was due to start a paramedic program at Victoria College in Texas, police found the 18-year-old’s mangled body still strapped into the passenger seat after the Goodyear tire failed.

“Disbelief,” said Hall, 51, who lives in Placedo, near the Texas Gulf Coast, a little more than an hour’s drive northeast of Corpus Christi. “I always wake up thinking I’ll see her.

“Kerrybeth was our rock, and we all leaned on her,” Hall added. “It has torn the foundation of our family apart.”

Since Kerrybeth’s death, Gerri Hall says he has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He quit his job as an EMT and firefighter, unable to face any more car accidents without picturing his daughter. In a safe at home, he keeps an old cellphone with a text his daughter sent him just before the wreck. “Love you too daddy,” she wrote.

A tire industry expert hired by John Gsanger, the Hall family’s lawyer, blamed design and manufacturing flaws for weakening the Goodyear tire before it failed, according to court records. Goodyear’s lawyers insisted the tires were safe and said the truck must have hit an object that caused the tire to separate.

A dozen former workers at the company’s Fayetteville and Danville plants gave sworn statements criticizing the plant’s practices, according to court filings. In interviews with Reveal, more than seven other former Goodyear workers blamed intense production demands and leaks in the plants’ roof during rainstorms for weakening some tires, potentially causing them to fail. In court records, some former workers have said managers expected them to meet production quotas, but it is unclear whether quotas still exist at Goodyear.

In a sworn statement, David Hyde, who worked as a tire builder at the Danville plant from 1977 to 2009, said the “round and black and out the back” motto was emblematic of the company’s operational failures.

“Goodyear talks the talk, but they don’t walk the (walk),” Hyde said. “They, you know, they say they want to build a quality product. … You just don’t understand the stuff I’ve seen out there. It’s not good.”

Jones, Goodyear’s senior safety director, acknowledged that some workers use that motto but said workers concerned about unsafe conditions are encouraged to speak up.

“I’ve worked in Danville, worked in many factories, so you hear that, but again, every worker has the right to stop the process,” he said.

Pressure to keep up production was intense, however, according to James Goggins, who worked at the Danville plant for more than 20 years before retiring in 2014.

Officials from Goodyear’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio, “would call down to Danville all the time, and all they would do is check the numbers,” Goggins said. “They were more interested in making the production numbers.”

Goggins and other former Goodyear workers in Danville recalled how water leaked through the roof and gushed through manholes when it rained. Workers are trained to avoid moisture in the production process because it can prompt tire treads to separate, causing a blowout.

“You can look down and see that water is shooting up from the floor like fire hydrants and flooding the department,” Goggins said.

When it rained, workers said they would call maintenance crews to drape tarps over the equipment, draining the water into dumpsters.

“If there is a roof leak in a facility – and I’m not going to say we don’t have roof leaks in a facility – that local management team will put a process in place to fix the roof leak,” Jones said. “There are also processes in place, safety systems in place, to make sure people are not in a hazardous situation.”

That claim means nothing to Gerri Hall, who visits his daughter’s grave every Sunday morning.

“Goodyear doesn’t care about life. They just want to make that money and let their CEOs get their big bonuses. Let’s just throw out as many tires as we can.” 


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Thursday, December 14, 2017

NBA Awards 2021 All-Star Game to ... Indianapolis, Local Officials "Hopeful" for Future

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 1:40 PM

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  • NBA.com/pacers
Ever since the lavish renovations to the Quicken Loans Arena were first sold to the public at a press unveiling in December, 2016, the promise of a future NBA All-Star game was part of the package.

In fact, other than a modest lease extension, which will keep the Cavaliers' in Cleveland until 2034, the All-Star game was the only perk for taxpayers. Later, a few provisions were tossed in, to persuade wishy-washy city councilpeople before a pivotal vote.

But Wednesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the 2021 NBA All-Star Game would be held at Bankers Like Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home of the Pacers. The announcement came one month after Chicago was selected as the host city for the 2020 event.

This news is being met with a shrug from city and team officials.

The initial promise, few may recall, was that Cleveland would host an All-Star game "within seven years," (by 2o23, presumably). But as opposition to the Q Deal grew more vocal through the early months of 2017 — and don't forget that the opposition won, and then voluntarily betrayed hundreds of activists who'd worked so tirelessly to topple the deal, for reasons that have yet to be publicized — the All-Star Games in either 2020 or 2021 were said to be securable if the arena renovations began right away. This came up explicitly at the Cuyahoga County Council hearings.

"[Councilman Jack] Schron noted, as he did last week, that it seems ludicrous to rush to authorize this project when we won’t know the effects of the state of Ohio’s budget until June," Scene reported on March 1. "To that concern, [Cavs CEO Len] Komoroski articulated the need for haste if Cleveland is to secure the all-important All-Star game in 2020."  (Italics added.)

Not only the deal, but its immediate ratification was required, pro-deal county and city councilpeople repeatedly argued throughout the proceedings. This was specifically for the purpose of hosting the earliest possible All-Star Game. The real reason for haste, of course, and for passing a very controversial piece of legislation as an "emergency ordinance," was to avoid, or at least to complicate, a voter referendum and to quash the opposition's momentum. But city leaders could never say that publicly. So their line — earnestly repeated by Cleveland.com and the Plain Dealer — was that urgent passage was necessary to secure an All-Star game. 

And indeed, to add fuel to that narrative, the NBA imposed a strict deadline for renovation construction. In a letter from the league's deputy commissioner, the Cavaliers were told that if renovations did not begin by Sep. 15, Cleveland would no longer be considered for the All-Star Games in 2020 or 2021.

As Scene noted at the time, the letter made no promise that beginning construction by the appointed date would guarantee Cleveland's selection. And sure enough, Cleveland hasn't been selected. LA is hosting the event in 2018. Charlotte will host in 2019. Chicago has 2020 and Indianapolis has 2021. The earliest possible date for Cleveland, now, is 2022.

The Cavs' Len Komoroski is nevertheless "hopeful" that Cleveland will secure an All-Star game "in the near future." He issued a statement to that effect, saying that the Cavs were working closely with the league. Komoroski has every reason to be hopeful. The NBA issued a statement robotically acknowledging the strength of the local fan base and repeating what it has said since the beginning: that if the Q is renovated, Cleveland will get an All-Star game at some point down the road.   

In Cleveland.com's account of the Indianapolis announcement, Joe Vardon reported that his "sources said Cleveland officials were neither disappointed or really even surprised that the city would have to wait another year."

But is anyone surprised? They got their deal. Why should they care?
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Ohio Statehouse Approves Down Syndrome Abortion Ban

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 9:41 AM

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State lawmakers have passed a ban on abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign the bill into law.

Ohio would follow legislative luminaries like Indiana and North Dakota in advancing this cause. (A federal judge blocked Indiana's law, and an appeal remains pending.)

The Ohio bill would make it a fourth-degree felony to perform an abortion in cases of Down syndrome. A physician's medical board licensure would be revoked. Mothers would not be charged with any crime in these cases.

“Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, in praise of this bill.

The Cincinnati Enquirer provided a vital glimpse into the Down syndrome abortion ban debate:

Winton Hills' Anne Chasser told lawmakers she can't imagine life without her younger brother, Christopher, who has Down syndrome. Their family recently celebrated Christopher's 50th birthday with a big reunion near Lake Erie.

But Chasser, who previously worked as the University of Cincinnati's intellectual property leader and commissioner of trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., doesn't think state legislators should prohibit abortions based on the diagnosis.

"I believe that a pregnant woman must have the right to choose what is best for her and her family," Chasser told lawmakers at a hearing last month. "This decision should not be made by the government."

With a 20-12 vote, though, the Ohio state government has insisted that it wants to be part of that decision.

It's nothing new from a Republican-led Statehouse that has approved more than a dozen abortion restrictions with Kasich's signature. Nonetheless, here's State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) offering an argument that can't seem to find any traction in Columbus these days.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Here Are All The Addresses in Cleveland That Applied for a Marijuana Dispensary License

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 1:40 PM

BRIAN SHAMBLEN
  • BRIAN SHAMBLEN
Before going any further: Let's stress the headline and reiterate that that no dispensary licenses have yet been awarded in Ohio. Through a public records request with the city of Cleveland, though, we've obtained all the addresses that are attached to applications for medical marijuana dispensary licenses. Some will win those licenses, and most will not.

The state has 57 licenses to distribute across Ohio. Statewide, 370 businesses applied for those licenses. It's expected that the northeast part of the state, including Cuyahoga County, will receive 18 licenses before the medical marijuana law is officially active in September 2018.

Below, you'll find the addresses attached to applications filed from within the city of Cleveland. All told, 25 businesses filed zoning forms in Cleveland alongside their state license applications; most of them went on to to file state paperwork. (The forms represent a formality in the process, confirming only that the address is not located in a zoned area that prohibits marijuana businesses from setting up shop.)

4020 Payne Ave., Treat and Kure Dispensary
4002 Jennings Road, EC ALT PHARM Inc.
3865 Lakeside Ave., Greenleaf Apothecaries
3644 Steelyard Dr., Harvest of Ohio LLC
3540 West 140th St., The Releaf Center
300 Prospect Ave., GTI Ohio LLC
2775 S. Moreland Blvd., GTI Ohio LLC
2420 Hamilton Ave., The Harvest Foundation of Ohio
2418-22 Brookpark Rd. (x2), Ohio Wellness LLC
2338 Canal Rd., Debbie's Dispensary Ohio LLC
2302 Hamilton Ave., Black Diamond Investment LLC
2221 Hamilton Ave., Black Diamond Investment LLC
2020 St. Clair Ave., Glasshouse Farma*
2020 Lakeside Ave., Hanging Gardens OH LLC
1968 W. 3rd St., Glasshouse Retail LLC
1657 St. Clair Ave., Black Diamond Investment LLC
1647 St. Clair Ave., Black Diamond Investment LLC
1500 Brookpark Rd., The Harvest Foundation of Ohio
1267 West 9th St., The Forest Cleveland LLC
1222 Prospect Ave., GTI Ohio LLC

See an interactive map of these addresses here.

Notes: For Glasshouse Farma, we're unable to confirm whether that business went on to apply in full for a state license. For Black Diamond Investment LLC, only two Northeast Ohio addresses were ultimately packaged in applications with the state; we're unable to confirm for this story which addresses were used in final applications.

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Each applicant paid a nonrefundable $5,000 fee for a shot at a dispensary license. GTI Ohio Inc., a company that lists local investor and businessman Bobby George as a contact, applied for licenses at 12 locations across the state, including three in Cleveland. Glasshouse Retail, which lists Saucy Brew Works partner and REspring co-founder Brent Zimmerman as a contact, applied for four licenses.

Recently, Cleveland City Council approved planning and zoning regulations that line up closely with how the state has regulated where a medical marijuana business could be located: namely, nowhere within 500 feet of schools, parks, churches and libraries.

There is no firm date set for when dispensary licenses will be approved and awarded.

Cultivation licenses have already been awarded; there will be no marijuana grow sites in the city of Cleveland for now. Eastlake and Parma will each house a cultivation business.

(Dec. 14 update: The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy will allow dispensary applicants to edit their forms from 8 a.m. Dec. 18 to 8 a.m. Dec. 20 due to technical problems with the state's online application process.)

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Car Menorahs Take to the Streets of Cleveland in 'Light of Hanukkah'

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 12:08 PM

PHOTO VIA CAR MENORAH PARADE EVENT/FACEBOOK
  • Photo via Car Menorah Parade Event/Facebook
Joining a growing tradition across the country, the Cleveland Menorah Parade will soon bring a procession of candle-topped cars from the Beachwood area to Public Square and back again. 

The police-escorted event, free and open to all, starts on the third night of Hanukkah (traditionally spelled Chanukah) this Thursday, and includes the large menorah lighting ceremony in Public Square.

This is the first official year of the Cleveland Menorah Parade, a practice originally invented in the 1970s in New York, although smaller events have run the last two years. Rabbi Yossi Freedman, co-director of Chabad of Downtown Cleveland, says the idea is to get the message out to the city that a little light dispels darkness.

"This is not a limited message, it's universal," Freedman says. "Unfortunately, light is most noticeable in times of darkness, including in America where a lot of things are bringing divisiveness. But with Hanukkah, we can put that all aside, at least for one night."

The full parade schedule is below:
5 p.m. - Meet at Green Road Synagogue (2437 S Green Rd.)
5:30 p.m. - Leave from GRS
6:30 p.m. - Arrive at Public Square for Chanukah Celebration with a free Menorah Lighting, Entertainment, and Refreshments
7:15 p.m. - Leave from Public Square
8 p.m. - Arrive back at GRS
All those wishing to participate in the car menorah parade must RSVP at CLEmenorahparade.com.
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Monday, December 11, 2017

NOACA Announces Multi-million Dollar Funding for Dedicated Bike Projects in Ohio City, Downtown

Posted By on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 1:28 PM

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In news you may have missed from late last week, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, a planning agency that delves out state and federal funding for regional transportation projects, announced major, multimillion dollar funding for two dedicated, protected bike lanes. It's yet another recent development giving hope to bike and transit advocates that Cleveland, whose long and storied history of ignoring or otherwise screwing up bike infrastructure has long been derided, might actually be making serious progress.

The details: $8.3 million for the first leg of a dedicated bike lane running down Superior Ave. from Public Square all the way to East 55th St. The "Midway" would eventually constitute a 50-mile series of bike-only pathways down the middle of some of Cleveland's most spacious streets. Construction is planned to begin in 2020.

$6.1 million for the Lorain Avenue Cycle Track, running along Lorain Ave. between West 20th and West 45th on the north side and then switching to the southern side of the street between West 45th and West 65th. Construction there is expected to begin in 2022.

Bike Cleveland and other groups have long sought dedicated bike lanes in the city, something Cleveland has been admittedly slow in adopting. While the NOACA funds won't cover the full costs of the projects, it's a major step that's been widely celebrated and welcomed, especially in the broader context of where NOACA is allocating funds. In Friday's announcement of $47 million for 21 projects, the agency has put more focus on equitable planning for non-car households — $33.5 million of that total is earmarked for projects oriented toward transit, bike and pedestrians

"We are just starting to catch up now," councilman Matt Zone told the Plain Dealer. "I appreciate the urgency that's starting to happen with thought leaders like [NOACA Director] Grace Gallucci and NOACA. Even Mayor Jackson is beginning to come around."
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