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Scene & Heard

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

66 Positive for Covid-19 in Put-in-Bay's Mass Testing of Residents, Employees

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 2:37 PM

  • Doug Brown, Cleveland Scene

Sixty-six out of 984 Put-in-Bay residents or employees who participated in last weekend's mass testing effort were positive for COVID-19. The number could climb, as results were still pending on 33 tests.

The 7% positivity rate is higher than recent statewide data but lower than officials had predicted.

“We’re not going to have to shut anybody down,” the Ottawa County Health Department Commissioner told the Sandusky Register.

"I’m thrilled that so many negative results came back. It’s going to be a tool for employers to keep operating responsibly," mayor Jessica Dress told the paper.

Health officials will work on notifying those who tested positive first, asking them to isolate and then tracing for those who came in close contact with them.

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Courtney Gousman Will Replace Danita Harris as News 5's Evening Anchor

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 1:30 PM

Courtney Gousman, soon to be WEWS Channel 5's evening anchor. - COURTESY WEWS CHANNEL 5
  • Courtesy WEWS Channel 5
  • Courtney Gousman, soon to be WEWS Channel 5's evening anchor.

WEWS (News 5) has hired Courtney Gousman, currently an anchor and reporter with WGN in Chicago, to anchor it's 5, 6 and 11 p.m. news broadcasts. She'll officially begin on September 8.

Gousman is set to replace anchor Danita Harris, who will slide over to News 5's Good Morning Cleveland program. Gousman will anchor alongside Frank Wiley and meteorologist Mark Johnson during the 5 p.m. slot and alongside Rob Powers at 6 and 11 p.m.

“Courtney will be an outstanding addition to our team,” said Steve Weinstein, VP & General Manager at News 5, in a statement provided to the media. “It’s a bonus that she’s returning to our Scripps family, and thanks to her Midwest sensibilities she’ll connect with Northeast Ohioans right away."

Before working at WGN in Chicago, Gousman was the primary evening news anchor at a station in St. Louis. Prior to that, she reported and produced for stations in Evansville, Baltimore, Detroit and Jefferson City. She is a graduate of Hampton University.

"Getting a dream job like this in the midst of a pandemic confirms God's grace," Gousman wrote in an Instagram post announcing her hiring. "I am so grateful for this opportunity. If you know me, you know how much of a Chicago kid I am, so I'm really excited about being able to stay in the Midwest, just a few hours down the road. It's Lake Erie now instead of Lake Michigan."

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Report: Black Youths Less Likely to be Released from Detention

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 10:10 AM

  • AdobeStock

AKRON, Ohio — Across the country, the coronavirus has prompted juvenile-detention facilities to release kids at higher-than-usual rates. But a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds releases have now stalled, leaving many youths, disproportionately Black children, still living in pre-trial confinement and potentially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.

Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio said some courts are finding new ways to prevent kids from being admitted to detention centers.

"If we get a call here at our detention center that the police are bringing a youth to our center, we might ask them if we can't do a quick screen to see if they meet our hold criteria, and if they do not, we may ask the police to take them directly home," Teodosio said.

According to the report, as of June 1, the number of young people in detention nationwide is 27% below its pre-COVID-19 crisis level, but is no longer dropping month-by-month.

Teodosio pointed out the inability of courts to safety hold jury trials during the pandemic has contributed to the slowed pace of releasing detained young people.

"For example, for our youths that are being held in our detention center who have pending murder charges in the adult system, we hold them here, because they are still under the age of 18," she said.

Nate Balis, director of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said though nationwide detention admissions of Black youths shrank a bit more than admissions among white youths, race continues to be a major factor when it comes to releases.

"Racial disparities have actually gotten worse, because juvenile justice systems have been slower getting Black youth out of detention than their white peers," Balis said.

Research has shown holding kids in detention while they await a hearing, instead of allowing them to return home or enter an alternative supervision program, can lead to serious mental health problems, poor academic performance, and other potentially lifelong negative effects.

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Quicken IPO Shows It's Time We Stop Shaming Dan Gilbert, Billionaire Welfare Queen

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 9:56 AM

  • Photo by Jordan Buzzy

It’s time we stop shaming Dan Gilbert, billionaire welfare queen

Last week, Dan Gilbert lay bare how unfair we’ve been to him.

Indisputable evidence arrived when the humble merchant and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers chose to offer public stock in his parent company, Quicken Loans. The sale is expected to raise tens of billions of dollars, fueled by last year’s profits of $893 million, with Gilbert himself possibly collecting as much as $4 billion.

This may sound like serious money in impoverished countries like Alabama or Canada. But here in the high-flying American Heartland, where a Miller Lite at Rocket Mortgage Field House costs approximately $120, it’s barely enough to launch a tipsy monologue about how your high school sweetheart dumped you for a vegetarian mathlete.

Take away a few zeroes here and there, and Gilbert is practically broke. Don’t be surprised if he shows up in an off-the-rack suit at a charity gala in Aspen this summer.

Cleveland should be ashamed.

Recall the year 2017, when Dan desperately needed our help. He wanted to refurbish the city’s “living room,” then known as Quicken Loans Arena. So he offered a win-win proposition. Residents of Cuyahoga County and Cleveland would kick up $70 million plus interest to pay for it. In exchange, we would be given a chance to not afford tickets to the greatest event in defense-optional sport, the NBA All-Star game.

It was more than fair. Gilbert was simply following that grand county government tradition, where the guy with the least amount of money always picks up the check. Yet some citizens balked.

Our loutish refusal was led by Greater Cleveland Congregations, a religious group remarkably unaware of Jesus’ teachings on charity. They castigated Gilbert’s move as a money grab. He was the richest man in Michigan, they noted, worth $7.3 billion. Cuyahoga County, by contrast, had a net valuation of $427.50, a figure expected to precipitously drop if that guy Bobby from Collinwood finally moved in with his girlfriend in Canton.

Besides, if the county was handing out money, they reasoned, it should also fund mental health crisis centers, workforce training, and neighborhood improvements — none of which would be remotely useful to a backup center making $6 million a year.

Then came an even greater affront: These so-called men and women of the cloth wanted to put the matter to a vote. It was the ultimate act of entitlement. They never stopped to ask the obvious – What Would Jesus Do? – knowing full well He would have just put Dan’s tab on his MasterCard and watched the All-Star game at Aunt Marcy’s, who still has cable.

At that moment, Cleveland lost its soul, deciding it was okay to hold welfare queens up for public contempt. The Apostles wept. As did many of the bigger names in the Koran and Torah.

We had forgotten the historical trauma faced by the least of our citizens, the mega-rich. Unlike their small business brethren, they cannot build a factory, rebab a stadium, run a hotel or locate new offices without public largesse. They’re as helpless as baby ducks crossing the freeway. Or your 29-year-old cousin who quit his job at the model train store to devote more time to his incel support group.

The big hearts of Washington understand this. That’s why Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Why Amazon, Netflix, Delta, Ely Lilly, and Halliburton paid no federal taxes at all last year. You can’t expect a baby duck to just cross a freeway on its own. It needs nurturing, guidance, and checks starting in the seven figures.

Our friends in Michigan recognize this. When Dan was speculating in real estate in downtown Detroit, the state approved a series of welfare packages worth up to $1 billion. They were collectively known as the “Gilbert bills” to ensure he felt special.

President Trump can also be counted among the more-beneficent-than-us. After Dan donated $750,000 to his inauguration party, Trump responded by designating Dan’s Detroit land an “opportunity zone,” which provide tax breaks to disadvantaged owners of boutique hotels. Trump knew what it’s like to struggle. New York has given him $123 million in welfare. Without it, he’d be working the drive-thru at Arby’s. The cost in misplaced curly fries alone is too horrific to quantify.

There was a day when Cleveland’s heart was so large it included a snack bar and IMAX theater. But our public shaming of Dan exposed its corrosion. The snack bar has closed. The IMAX only offers showings of “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.”

If it is ever to invigorate again, we need to apologize to Dan. Then write him a very large check.

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Monday, July 13, 2020

Consent Decree Monitor Says McGrath was Consistently Too Lenient with Police Discipline

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 4:27 PM

(from left to right): Euclid mayor Bill Cervenik, county prosecutor Tim McGinty, Mike McGrath, FBI special agent Stephen Anthony, Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area director Derek Siegle - DOUG BROWN/CLEVELAND SCENE
  • Doug Brown/Cleveland Scene
  • (from left to right): Euclid mayor Bill Cervenik, county prosecutor Tim McGinty, Mike McGrath, FBI special agent Stephen Anthony, Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area director Derek Siegle

In a memo to U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver Monday, the Cleveland Consent Decree Monitor said that former Safety Director Michael McGrath had been too lenient in doling out punishment for police misconduct.

Having reviewed 39 cases of officer discipline from March, 2018, through May, 2020, Monitor Hassan Aden said that not only did McGrath consistently impose punishments on the low end of the s0-called "disciplinary matrix," he failed to sufficiently document his rationale for these decisions, even after being instructed to do by the monitoring team.

The report found that McGrath's failure to consistently impose proper discipline, and to do so in a timely manner, was preventing the reestablishment of trust between the police and the community, one of the central goals of the Consent Decree. 

McGrath resigned abruptly last month due to what he called "personal and unavoidable circumstances." He has been replaced, in an interim capacity, by Karrie Howard, formerly a city prosecutor who retains close ties to Mayor Frank Jackson.

The report was the first review of officer discipline as meted out by the Safety Director. It focused on McGrath, as opposed to Chief Calvin Williams, because in Cleveland, serious discipline (anything more than a 10-day suspension), must be authorized by the Safety Director.

The findings, in aggregate, were serious indictments of McGrath's judgement and performance. They included McGrath's abiding preference for suspensions over terminations, even when terminations were advised in the court-approved disciplinary matrix. They also featured a systematic failure to impose serious discipline for integrity-related offenses.

Fully 50 percent of the cases reviewed involved deception, the report stated, yet in only three of them was an officer terminated. In all 23 of these cases, officers "either knowingly and intentionally lied to or withheld information from" Internal Affairs, the Office of Professional Standards, police command staff or a judge. In the Consent Decree's revised disciplinary matrix, untruthfulness now carries a presumption of termination.

"Going forward," the memo stated, "the issues raised by these cases suggest that substantial progress must still be made by the City to achieve compliance with the Settlement Agreement with respect to accountability, transparency and officer discipline." 

Accountability has long been an issue for the police department Michael McGrath oversaw as Chief and then as Safety Director. Mayor Frank Jackson, however, recently defended his promotion of McGrath in 2014, insisting that without McGrath, in the aftermath of #137shots, there would have been no police accountability at all.

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'I Never Felt Honored': A Response to the Indians from Someone Who Grew up Native in Cleveland

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 1:13 PM

  • Sam Allard / Scene
As the Cleveland baseball team considers changing its name and identity, I find myself reflecting on my experiences growing up and living in Cleveland as a Native American. No two Native American experiences in Cleveland are the same. With more than 500 tribes in the United States, we are not a monolithic people. I am half Salvadoran and half Native American, Anishinaabe of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. My grandma and my dad are the products of Michigan Indian boarding schools — Mt. Pleasant Indian School and Holy Childhood, respectively. I am a born-and-raised proud Clevelander who grew up and went to school in the Slavic Village neighborhood. This is the first time I've openly discussed my experiences as a Native person in Cleveland.

Years ago, when the American Psychological Association released its statement denouncing American Indian mascots for a variety of reasons but especially because of how they affect Native youth, I finally found official validation for my experiences. My memories around the team are not all terrible, but there are certainly more traumatic things that stand out to me, some more overtly racist than others. I'd like to think, believing in the inherent goodness of people, that if people knew what Native people have had to go through in Cleveland as a result of the team name, they'd see there is no honor in it. In fact, for me, it created complicated feelings about my identity that I am still resolving as an adult.

As a child, I went to a few games with my school and church. My dad took us to protest the team a few times, too. So on one hand, I had school and church tacitly giving their approval of the team and, on the other, my dad raising me to hate the name.

I remember one instance at school in particular. It was a dress down day if you wore baseball gear. I was excited as a child about the team, which was understandable in those years, since the lineup included Hall of Famer Jim Thome, as well as All-Stars Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle and my girlhood crush, Omar Vizquel. And as is the case for many fellow proud Clevelanders, I felt a win for the team was a win for all of us in the city. The reason I remember this particular day is because a group of students started whooping in a stereotypical rapid hand-to-mouth motion I had seen before. Only this time, they were circling me and laughing.

Another time, I was shoved by a group of boys into a cupboard as I cried because they thought it would be funny to put an Indian in the cupboard. (You know? Like the book.) On yet another occasion, a girl I grew up with told me she didn't like Indians. Before I could stop myself, because I was always longing to make friends and belong, I denied my heritage. I said something to the effect of, “I’m not that Indian.” I regret and am so angry at myself to this day for saying such a thing.

When my dad was asked to speak about woodlands tribes to my eighth grade class, I begged him not to because I was terrified some Chief Wahoo-related teasing would ensue. Luckily, it didn't, but I think it hurt my dad's feelings a bit. The one time I recall standing up for myself was when someone said my dad looked like Chief Wahoo and, though I couldn't have been older than a fourth grader, I told them he couldn't look like Chief Wahoo because it's a cartoon and my dad is not. These are just a few experiences that stand out to me amongst a life of them.

What does all of this have to do with the team name and why getting rid of it is long overdue? The people of this region essentially gave their seal of approval by not challenging the name and logo on a wider scale. White people and other people of color, including some family members, wore and defended the mascot in my presence. I do not resent them for it because they do not know what the team name and Chief Wahoo have meant to me. Still, that acceptance made it okay for those kids to treat me the way they did, whether it directly had to do with the team name and mascot or if it was discrimination enabled by complicity. In other words, based on personal experience, I endured what I did because Chief Wahoo and the team name gave people a pass to look at me through the same lens of dehumanization with which they looked at a racist caricature.

Fast forward to high school. I wanted to get far away from Cleveland and be among fellow Natives. I went to college in Nebraska where I found my circle of lifelong friends, women and men of color from various tribes and diverse backgrounds. That might seem to people from Cleveland like an unlikely place to go looking for oneself but I loved my time at Creighton University. I was able to advocate for Native issues and work and volunteer in Native communities. A year after graduating, I volunteered for two years via AmeriCorps on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota with Native youth, which has been one of my passions since. I also went on to serve on the board of the Native American Journalists Association and wrote for indigenous media such as RezNet and Vision Marker Media, previously known as Native American Public Telecommunications. I've lived in nine states for internships, school and work.

Still, my heart was in Cleveland. I met my husband, a non-Native person and we recently married in the neighborhood I grew up in. God willing, we will have kids someday, and they will be Native. I want them to be proud of their heritage and the city from which they come. I want their love of this city to not be clouded by the cognitive dissonance of loving one’s hometown and hating that its baseball team name is so racist. I never want them to feel like I did — like they have to reduce their indigenous-ness to get by in this town. I am tired of conversations, some evolving into heated debates, with friends and strangers about the team name and Chief Wahoo.

I do not, nor have I ever, felt honored by the team name. The strides toward phasing out Chief Wahoo were steps in the right direction. But there is still more to do. Please advocate in your own group of friends and relatives for the name change. I especially direct this toward my friends of color: if blackface offends you, as it should, then how can you excuse red face? You can't.

It’s time to change the name.

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City of Cleveland Says It'll Investigate Allegations of Discrimination, Toxic Culture in Department of Public Health

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 1:09 PM

  • Department of Public Health Director Merle Gordon, Photo by Rachel Dissell
The city of Cleveland in a late Friday afternoon email told Department of Public Health employees it had reopened an internal Equal Employment Opportunity investigation concerning allegations of discrimination and concerns that a generally toxic culture pervades the dysfunctional department.

It "received several emails and telephone calls from staff" that "center around questions and concerns on department moral, employee workplace complaints, workforce attrition and departmental management styles," the staff email said.

A reopened Equal Employment Opportunity investigation was broadly announced to be helmed by Nycole West from HR and Martin Flask, an executive assistant to Mayor Frank Jackson. Over the weekend, the city announced Tracy Martin Thompson, Chief of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Adults would join the team leading the investigation. Both West and Thompson are Black.

As the public now knows, current and former health department staffers had, for nearly a year, attempted to make their complaints heard to those in charge through official channels. The response from the city, and Public Heath Director Merle Gordon, was to ignore them. While the general culture and lack of support from leaders were two key problems, staffers also said Black and brown women were particularly targeted and sidelined.

For some of those reasons and oftentimes for many of them, more than a quarter (30) of the department's employees have either resigned or opted to work in other jobs for the city since 2017.

Those allegations were the subject of a months-long reporting project by Rachel Dissell and Jordyn Grzelewski, including interviews with staffers who chose to talk to reporters because their concerns were sidelined by superiors.

Dissell and Grzelewski presented the city and the health department with specific questions during that period, but received no response until late last week, after the city was informed the story would be published.

Days later, the email was sent to CDPH staffers and the city briefly mentioned the investigation in a Friday evening news release.

"The City of Cleveland today reached out to CDPH employees regarding concerns on department morale, employee workplace complaints, workforce attrition and departmental management styles. The Department of Human Resources issued several workforce improvement recommendations specific to Cleveland Department of Public Health," the city's press release said.

Scene has asked the city for clarification on the scope, timeframe and purpose of the investigation and whether its results would be released to the public. We'll update you if and when the city provides answers.

You can read the in-depth story that prodded the response here.

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