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Scene & Heard

Friday, July 23, 2021

Holton-Wise to Justin Bibb: Come At Me, Bro

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2021 at 1:10 PM

The Justin Bibb campaign couldn't have scripted it any better themselves.

James Wise, the brash, bearded CEO of Parma real estate firm Holton-Wise, has taken to one of his several YouTube shows to criticize the mayoral candidate in response to his "eviction notice" earlier this week. (Video above.)

Bibb stood on the front steps of a Holton-Wise property on Cleveland's west side and said that if elected, companies like Holton-Wise would no longer operate with impunity in the city. Holton-Wise tends to target inexpensive properties in vulnerable neighborhoods and then gleefully evicts and mocks their low-income tenants en route to flipping the houses for profit. Bibb decried these practices and promoted his housing agenda, which included more rigorous enforcement of landlord-operated properties and support for Pay to Stay legislation that protects tenants from immediate eviction.

Wise, on his show, called Bibb a "socialist asshole" and said the 34-year-old executive's platform was nothing but "anti-cop, anti-safety" "socialist, communist" rhetoric. He showed a number of clips from Bibb's press conference and said the candidate was blaming landlords for existing urban problems. 

"Is it just my language that offends you, bro?" Wise asked. "Is it just because I don't show up to work in a fancy suit every day? Because I don't wear a tie every day? Hell, I don't even wear a shirt every day when I'm at work. Is it because I don't have your pedigree ... because I grew up in Old Brooklyn and went to Tri-C and stopped after a two-year degree, and I just happen to work fucking hard for my money? Is that what bothers you about me?" 

Wise leveled a number of accusations. He said the Scene story covering Bibb's press conference was inaccurate; — he was right: we inadvertently referred to Holton-Wise as a "predatory lender," and quickly corrected the mistake — he said that Bibb was hypocritical for criticizing out-of-state investment when his own campaign was funded in large part by out-of-state donations; and he tried to reframe Holton-Wise's love of evictions as a love of safety.

(Tenants who don't pay their rent are criminals, according to Wise's logic, and so evicting them means ridding communities of criminals, thereby promoting safety.)

Wise, who evokes the vibe of a Charlie Day Evil Twin, was sharp enough to note that Bibb was using opposition to Holton-Wise to "stir up controversy" and generate publicity for his campaign. This is no doubt true. But Wise's response only makes the Bibb press conference look like more of a master stroke. It reveals Wise even more luridly as a villain. As Bibb remarked at his press conference, Wise's videos were so offensive that he first assumed they were parodies.

Wise, though, seemed eager to extend the controversy.

"If you're going to come at me," he taunted, near the video's end, "come at me with facts. Come at me with something specific that explains what you think my company is doing that's predatory."

Given the contempt for Holton-Wise across Cleveland, that specificity will be in ample supply if the Bibb campaign chooses to pursue this battle further. 

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Titillating Tidbits: Tougher Inspection of Fair Rides in Ohio After Horrible Accident Has Some Operators Avoiding the Buckeye State

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2021 at 1:09 PM

A ride at the Trumbull County fair - GEORGE BANNISTER/FLICKRCC
  • George Bannister/FlickrCC
  • A ride at the Trumbull County fair

Our weekly roundup of interesting happenings, minor happenings, stuff you missed, stuff we missed, and assorted fun.

Ohio legislators pushed for tougher inspections of carnival and amusement park rides after the horrendous Ohio State Fair accident in 2017 that killed 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell and left four others with severe injuries.

The resulting bill, called "Tyler's Law," means more mandatory inspections and regulations that make ride owners keep records regarding repairs and travel.

Its passage was a big win, even in state that, according to the Associated Press, already had one of the most stringent inspection policies on the books.

Now, however, carnival ride owners and operators have complained that state inspectors are too meticulous, shutting down rides for rust that, they claim, is on handrails and not part of the ride itself.

The state disagrees with that contention. From the AP's coverage this week:

“We will have a history that comes with each ride, whether it be a kiddie ride or a roller coaster,” said Dorothy Pelanda, director of Ohio’s Agriculture Department, which oversees ride inspections.

The head of the state’s amusement ride safety office, David Miran, said the law emphasizes checking a ride's structural components and that inspectors are told to err on the side of caution.
The specter of getting shut down has nevertheless led some to avoid the Buckeye state altogether, instead trucking their rides to neighboring states like Indiana and West Virginia that have more lax policies.

And that's left some fair and carnival organizers struggling to find a company willing to set up rides.

When a company that was to provide rides to for the Tusky Days festival in Tuscarawas pulled out, the city tried to make do, but didn't really pull it off.

All they could come up with were a few inflatable bounce houses and one kiddie ride.

“We were doing damage control all weekend,” said festival chairman Matt Ritenour. “Having a festival without rides is like having a beer garden without beer. You just can't have it.”

In neighboring Denison, only six of 11 rides were approved to operate during its four-day festival in June because inspectors had “zero tolerance for rust,” said Greg DiDonato, the town's mayor.

“I get that there was a tragedy. I get it, we want safety, but this is a huge overreach,” said DiDonato, a former state lawmaker. “I'm for ride safety, everybody is. But this will kill the small ride operators.”

Expect a big push by fair and festival associations in the statehouse to trim back portions of "Tyler's Law."

- Do you happen to be a fan of onetime Cleveland radio station 107.3 The Wave? A Redditor has built a Spotify station that includes instrumental songs, including some rare cuts, from the station's history (1998-2019).

- After Ayesha Bell-Hardaway decided to return to the Cleveland consent decree monitor team, more good news arrived on that front this week.

- You've probably heard by now that AOC and Bernie Sanders will be in Cleveland this Saturday and next Saturday, respectively, to rally for Nina Turner and get out the vote.

Today, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-1) announced she'll also be in town for the GOTV Rally featuring Sanders. (July 31 at the Agora. Doors open at 10:30 a.m., rally at 11:30 a.m., followed by a march to the polls at 2.)

“I am beyond excited to endorse my sister-in-service, a champion for regular, everyday people, Nina Turner. She has committed her entire life to thoughtful public service and advocating for policies that do the most for those who have the least,” Bush said in her endorsement for the OH-11 special election.

- It's not surprising who had the worst takes after the Indians announced they will be changing the team name to the Guardians. And naturally those people will be making the name change part of the race to succeed Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate.

- It's hard to get excited about the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame but the inductees this year go a long way toward changing that opinion.

They include Ben Curtis, Larry Nance Sr., Zydrunas Ilgauskas and the late Les Levine.

- Digit Widget:

1,229 — Traffic fatalities in Ohio in 2020, a record year. The state's on pace to near that record again in 2021.

4 — Kiosks being installed by the Cleveland housing court around the city so that people without broadband at home can attend hearings virtually.

$2.5 million — Amount ODOT gave toward planning and studies for the Browns/Cleveland lakefront park and mixed-use development this week.

1 - Rank of the Cleveland Clinic in a new study listing the hospital systems that devote the least resources to charity care and community investment. The Clinic was dead last.

- What's Scene dining editor Doug Trattner eating this week?

- Vintage photo of the week:

- New local music of the week: City of Invention, "Middletown Rd."

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Millions of Kids Have Missed Routine Vaccines Thanks to COVID-19

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2021 at 10:51 AM

A separate analysis from WHO and UNICEF, described in a July 15 press release, does find lower numbers, though millions of children are still missing crucial childhood vaccines. - ADOBESTOCK
  • AdobeStock
  • A separate analysis from WHO and UNICEF, described in a July 15 press release, does find lower numbers, though millions of children are still missing crucial childhood vaccines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of children around the world to miss out on important childhood vaccinations, increasing the risk of dangerous outbreaks of other infectious diseases, new research suggests.

Amid the spread of the coronavirus, an estimated 9 million more children than expected didn’t get a first dose of the measles vaccine in 2020, researchers report July 14 in a modelling study in the Lancet. Another 8.5 million children are projected to have missed a third dose of the DTP shot for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, or whooping cough.

The World Health Organization and other public health agencies warned last year that the COVID-19 pandemic would disrupt routine childhood vaccinations. Those missing vaccinations could put vulnerable children at risk during outbreaks of highly contagious diseases, like the 2014 measles outbreak at Disneyland in California (SN: 11/13/20). The news also comes as health officials in Tennessee plan to halt all outreach to get adolescents vaccinated to prevent not only COVID-19 but also other infectious diseases.

“We’ve lost over 4 million people to COVID,” says Suzette Oyeku, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, both located in New York City. “How many additional lives do we want to lose for not protecting people against stuff that we know we can protect?”

There is some uncertainty in the new Lancet estimates because vaccine data weren’t available for all countries, says global health researcher Kate Causey of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. The actual numbers for some regions could be lower or higher.

A separate analysis from WHO and UNICEF, described in a July 15 press release, does find lower numbers, though millions of children are still missing crucial childhood vaccines.

Based on health care data, the WHO reports that in 2020, at least 3.5 million more children missed their first DTP dose than in 2019. Another 3 million more children missed their first measles vaccine in 2020 than in 2019. Many children in Southeast Asia, for example, missed their shots. India had the largest increase in missed vaccines, according to the WHO study. There, more than an estimated 3 million children didn’t get a first dose of the DTP vaccine in 2020 compared with around 1.4 million in 2019.

In the Lancet study, Causey and colleagues estimated global measles and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine coverage in 2020 by analyzing public health data as well as mobility patterns. Had the pandemic not happened, an estimated 83.3 percent of children would have been vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and 85.9 percent against measles in 2020, the researchers’ models suggest. Instead, an estimated 76.7 percent of children received the DTP vaccine, the lowest rate since 2008, meaning 30 million children — 8.5 million more than expected — missed the shot, the team found. Only an estimated 78.9 percent were vaccinated against measles, meaning 27.2 million children, or 8.9 million more than expected, missed doses. Experts haven’t seen a level of measles vaccination in kids that low since 2006 (SN: 4/24/19).

That decline is troubling, particularly given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Oyeku says. “The concern that we’re going to start to see clusters of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease” as well as outbreaks of COVID-19 in children, which could cause problems.

As seen in the WHO analysis, regions like South Asia had the largest decline, with administered DTP doses dropping nearly 60 percent below what was expected, the Lancet study suggests. Measles doses declined by 40 percent in that region. Sub-Saharan Africa had the smallest decline — around 4 percent for both shots.

High-income countries including the United States had an estimated 6 percent drop in DTP vaccinations and an 8 percent drop for measles, the team found. A separate study released in the June 11 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report focused on the United States showed that vaccination rates for these vaccines dropped across 10 states, including Idaho, Iowa and Washington, from March to September 2020 compared with the same period in 2018 and 2019.

Originally published by Science News, a nonprofit newsroom. Republished here with permission.

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Cleveland Launches Opt-In Recycling Program

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2021 at 10:24 AM

Recycling is back in Cleveland! Sort of! - CITY OF CLEVELAND
  • City of Cleveland
  • Recycling is back in Cleveland! Sort of!

The city of Cleveland yesterday announced it will begin an opt-in recycling program with biweekly pickup.

This follows a long stretch when the city didn't actually recycle anything collected in recycling bins and a confirmation in the spring of 2020 by Mayor Frank Jackson that everything in the blue bins was dumped at the landfill along with regular trash. Cleveland, like other cities, dealt with residents who improperly recycled and a changing marketplace overseas. When its contract ran out with one vendor and it sought bids, only one applied.

"It came in at around $200 per ton," Jackson last year. "For [Cleveland], that's about $7 million."

This week's announcement is welcome news, if only because the city is actually doing something on the issue, though it's just a first step.

To begin with, residents will have to opt-in with the city online or by calling 216-664-3030, and will have to abide by a pledge to recycle properly.

Here's what that means in terms of what can and can't be put in the blue bins.


And, the city doesn't even have a contract with a vendor yet.

From the press announcement:

The City will begin meeting with potential recycling processing companies while the opt-in process is open. The number of current participants will be used to help define a new partnership with the vendor. The City intends to secure a recycling contract as soon as possible.

“For more than a decade, my administration has worked to build and solidify Cleveland’s reputation as a ‘green City on a blue lake’” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson in a press release, ostensibly with a straight face. “This opt in recycling program will help us to work alongside residents to establish a more efficient and sustainable waste and recycling collection process.”

Residents who don't opt in during the initial 90-day period will have their blue bins removed by the city.

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The Cleveland Baseball Team Will Become the Cleveland Guardians

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2021 at 9:49 AM

In a Tom Hanks-narrated video posted to social media this morning, the Cleveland baseball team has formally announced what had been rumored earlier this week: They will become the Cleveland Guardians.

After an extensive, opaque, process involving community engagement with local stakeholders and the purported consideration of more than 1,100 names, the team settled on one of the more popular options among fans. It is a name that references both the Guardians of Traffic statues on the Lorain-Carnegie bridge and pays homage to Cleveland's blue-collar history.

"We are loyal and proud and resilient," Hanks intones in the announcement video (above). "We protect what we've earned and always defend it. Together we stand with all who understand what it means to be born and built from the Land."

The video concludes with what is presumably the new wordmark and logos for the team.



And here's the statement from ownership on the change:

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Cleveland's Delante "Tiger" Johnson Could Win Boxing Gold in Tokyo

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2021 at 3:15 PM

Cleveland's own Delante "Tiger" Johnson will be representing Team USA in boxing at the Tokyo Olympics. The welterweight will face Argentina's Brian Arregui in a first-round match Saturday at 6:39 a.m.

Johnson, who took home gold at the 2016 Youth World Championships and bronze at the 2019 Pan American Games, trains at the DNA Level C boxing club in Lee-Harvard. 

Though few locals are probably aware, Cleveland has become a powerhouse talent farm for elite young boxers. A Clevelander has represented the United States on four consecutive Olympic teams: Johnson follows Raynell Williams in 2008, Terrell Gausha in 2012, and Charles Conwell in 2016. If Johnson takes home the gold, he would be the first Cleveland boxer to do so since 1952, when flyweight Nate Brooks won the top medal in Finland.

Former Plain Dealer sports writer Branson Wright told Johnson's story in The Undefeated this week. (The "Tiger" nickname comes from a birthmark on his butt, Wright wrote, and was corroborated by his ferocity in the ring at an early age.)

Johnson's coaches and peers are confident in his talent and boxing IQ. But Johnson will nevertheless have his work cut out for him in Japan. He could face both of the welterweight division's favorites: Russia's Andrey Zamkovoy and Great Britain's Pat McCormack.

Subsequent rounds will be held on July 27, July 29 and Aug. 1, with the welterweight final on Aug. 3.

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Cleveland Mayoral Candidates Fuzzy on Environmental Issues, But at Least They're Talking about Them

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2021 at 11:12 AM

Zack Reed wanted to make the city's department of sustainability as important as the department of public safety. Basheer Jones remarked upon the storms of July. Justin Bibb thought the city's 90-day "opt-in" recycling program was dumb. Ross DiBello wanted to "attack" car culture. Dennis Kucinich wanted to transform Burke Lakefront Airport into an urban park that would be the envy of the nation. Sandra Williams wanted more greenspace in which residents could relax. Kevin Kelley, before dashing off to the memorial vigil for fallen former firefighter Wilbert McCormick, said that restoring the city's tree canopy was "priority number one."

This was the Cleveland mayoral forum on the environment, moderated by Ideastream's Justin Glanville and sponsored by the Ohio Environmental Council and a host of area 501(c)3s. It was a bit of a mess. By the end of the brisk 85-minute program, the overwhelming impression was that very few of the candidates had more than a Cliff's Notes understanding of environmental issues. It might not have been fair to expect Ph.D level disquisitions on topics like particulate matter and water technology, but the scattershot answers were often only tangentially related to the questions posed. Buzzwords and broad strokes abounded.

Still, the candidates agreed that Cleveland's lapsed recycling program should be re-instituted, that streets should be made safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and that planting more trees, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, was imperative from an environmental justice perspective.

Basheer Jones, in a moment of candor, admitted that he really wasn't an expert on the environment — evident when, in response to a question about making water bills more affordable, he talked at length about lead pipes — but vowed to bring experts to the table if elected.

The environmentalists in the audience, at several live watch parties around town, were no doubt gladdened that the discussion was happening at all. Several candidates alluded to interesting ideas and policy changes. Justin Bibb, for example, said that Cleveland should explore alternative funding models for public transit. Dennis Kucinich teased an international competition to design a reimagined Burke Lakefront Park. He also said the city should promptly build 20,000 low- and moderate-income housing units. Bibb, Kucinich and Sandra Williams all mentioned extricating Cleveland Public Power from its 50-year purchasing contract that hurts consumers and limits the possibility of green alternatives. 

Zack Reed said that on weekends, he'd close MLK through the cultural gardens to vehicular traffic. Ross DiBello stumbled upon the idea that the city could plant trees kind of like it repaves streets — using a worst-first approach that would target neighborhoods with the highest temperatures. He said the "Urban Forester" should be a cabinet-level position. Kevin Kelley, who only answered two questions, presented a straightforward approach to addressing climate change from City Hall: increasing the tree canopy, decreasing vehicle emissions, making solar power standard at city-owned buildings and promoting multi-modal transportation.

Bibb, who grounded his remarks in environmental justice throughout the evening, got a dig in at Kucinich as well. Kucinich had announced earlier this week that on day one of his administration, he planned to lower rates for CPP customers and Cleveland Water customers in the city by 10% by dipping into the utilities' expanding surpluses. Bibb said that this pledge relied on "funny math" and that doing so would decrease the utilities' bonding capacity to increase power reserves in the future.

You can watch the forum in full above.

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