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Scene & Heard

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Path to Adulthood Paved with Obstacles for Ohio Foster Youth

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 10:16 AM

(PEXELS/PIXABAY)
  • (Pexels/Pixabay)

COLUMBUS, Ohio - New research uncovers the instability faced by Ohio youth in foster care, and the resulting negative outcomes experienced during their transition to adulthood.

Fostering Youth Transitions, a data brief released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, showed that moving in and out of foster care placements, unstable placement settings, and leaving foster care without finding a permanent family can create barriers to well-being for young people. Brandi Slaughter, chief executive with Voices for Ohio's Children, said that includes difficulties securing education, employment and housing.

"Foster care, it had been practiced, at 18 years old you're sent off with your trash bag and said, 'Good luck,'" Slaughter said. "Without having some additional guidance, someone to help you navigate the transition to adulthood, the outcomes for years have been negative."

According to the data, 43 percent of Ohio foster youths obtain a high school diploma or GED, compared with 76 percent nationally. And about half of the U.S. foster-care population is employed, while in Ohio it's only 36 percent.

Leslie Gross is director of the foundation's Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, which works specifically to improve outcomes for foster youth ages 14 and over. She said better data, policies and practices can give foster youth their best shot at life.

"All young people regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code deserve the relationships, resources and opportunities to ensure their well-being and success," Gross said. "And so we know that we must work with communities and other stakeholders to change what is happening for youth of color."

Slaughter noted the data is the first of its kind, and she's hopeful it will spark a conversation about the need to advance policies and practices that can give foster youths their best shot at life.

"So we appreciate Annie E. Casey and their efforts to release this," Slaughter said. "And we hope that as we continue to collect this data, the data itself will improve and then the policies that we make in response to the data can also improve."

She added that Ohio has made investments in the BRIDGES Program, which provides guidance and support for young adults up to age 21 aging out of foster care as they transition to adulthood.

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Organic Certifications Climb for Ohio Farms

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 9:51 AM

US DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE
  • US Dept. of Agriculture

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The end of the harvest signals the start of prep work for the next planting season.

And an increasing number of farmers and producers in Ohio also are preparing for a transition to organic certification.

Kim Bayer operates a mixed vegetable operation, and recently became certified as an organic producer. She says the process is a bit tedious, but well worth it.

Bayer was already doing some outreach to community members about what it takes to bring food to the table, and she sees becoming organic as part of creating a sustainable future.

"It's kind of a shorthand way of communicating that this food was grown with the highest standards of promoting health for the environment, for the community and for individuals," she states. "When people know the farm that they're buying the food from, they care more about the place where they live."

According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data, there are 575 certified organic operations in Ohio - a number that rose 24 percent between 2015 and 2016.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association currently certifies more than 1,300 organic farms and food operations in Ohio and eight other states in the region, and it offers resources to farmers who want to make the transition.

Bayer says one of the educators there helped her feel less intimidated by the process, which can take more than three years.

"Honestly, I was scared to death at the beginning of it, but she really helped me understand step-by-step what was needed," Bayer relates. "So, she really provided a lot of guidance and made me see that it was really, really doable. "

At Bayer's farm, people can pick their own produce, which she says allows them to see, smell, touch, and better understand local foods.

"It gives people a different and a deeper experience of the incredible range of flavors and colors, and shapes and sizes, and people start thinking about how little choice there is in a grocery store," she states. "We don't even know the names of the varieties in the grocery store that were grown to travel well instead of taste good."

Ohio ranks seventh among states for its number of organic farms, with more than 54,000 acres of certified cropland.

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RTA CEO Search Should be Public, Candidate Should be Committed to Equity, Advocates Say

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 9:32 AM

PHOTO BY SAM ALLARD
  • Photo by Sam Allard
In a letter to RTA's board of trustees, Clevelanders for Public Transit's Chris Stocking, Cleveland City Council's Kerry McCormack and Cuyahoga County Council's Dale Miller have asked for an open and transparent process in hiring the agency's next CEO. The letter, which outlined desired qualifications for the candidate ultimately selected, is being delivered at Tuesday morning's board meeting. 

"This is a chance to develop and execute a holistic, positive vision for GCRTA and to highlight the ability of transit to make a positive contribution to our region," the letter said. "Under the right leadership, we believe GCRTA will improve the physical and social mobility of thousands and ultimately the economic, social and environmental health of Cuyahoga County."

The letter is attached below.

As in prior appeals — e.g., the recurring call to both Armond Budish and Frank Jackson to appoint transit riders to the board — this one reflects the hope that those who use the system, riders themselves, will factor into the process. The letter calls for a CEO who is willing to "elevate community voices" in decision-making and asks that final candidates participate in a community forum.

Among other desired qualifications for the CEO, the letter asks for a person who intends to make equity a "guiding principle" in transit planning, and one who — this may sound shocking — views public transit as a public good, "not a profit-driven business." 

The letter asks, additionally, that the CEO, General Manager and Secretary/Treasurer positions, which had all been performed by former CEO Joe Calabrese, be separated to improve accountability and job performance. 

Calabrese waded too deeply into hot water this summer after ongoing communication issues with the board and a suspicion that he'd been complicit in a years-long health insurance scandal which led to the resignation of former board chair George Dixon III and the dismissal of HR Director Bruce Hampton. Calabrese was gently and strategically booted from the top spot this summer. 

Dr. Floun'say Caver is currently serving as interim CEO.


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Monday, November 12, 2018

In Memory of Nikki Delamotte

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 6:38 PM

IG
  • IG
Like all of you who knew or had contact with Nikki, we're in shock at the news, as reported here by Cleveland.com, of her tragic death. We're devastated. We're angry.

To say that Nikki was special is obvious to anybody who met her or read her. What might be less obvious is the unrelenting way in which she attacked her work and made the jobs of everybody around her that much easier. She certainly had done that for me while working for two years as contributing dining editor here at Scene (and before that at Fresh Water Cleveland).

From the start, she maintained a level of professionalism well beyond her years and experience. Not only do so many aspiring writers fail to deliver on the basics, a good many of them fail to deliver at all, petering out after a few weeks or months when the bloom of a position that appeared so glamorous has faded.

The truth of the matter is that people so very often let you down. Not only did Nikki never let me down, I'm pretty certain she rarely let anybody else down.

She was curious and kind, an exceedingly talented and natural storyteller brimming with empathy that shone through in the stories that she told and in the friendships and relationships she built. She said yes, to new experiences, to new people, to new places, to new stories, to every single dog and cat, and in doing so became an intrinsic and universally beloved part of our lives. She was special, and the clearest way to confirm that was how she made everyone she came in contact with feel that way about themselves.

In 2016, she very deservedly landed a fulltime gig at Cleveland.com, which was a "chance to tell stories about so many Clevelanders that make me really proud to live here."

That pride was reciprocated.

The outpouring of condolences and grief in just the few hours since word of the tragic news spread this morning is a testament to her life, one ended far, far too soon. There are no words, at least none up to the task, to describe what has been taken from Cleveland in this senseless act of gun violence. If they existed, we'd need Nikki to find them.

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Snow is Probably Coming For Us Tonight, Because It's Cleveland

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 4:33 PM

PHOTO BY EMANUEL WALLACE
  • Photo by Emanuel Wallace
Last weekend, Cleveland and its surrounding areas were bombarded with a light sprinkling of snow. Starting late this evening and flowing into tomorrow, however, the National Weather Service of Cleveland is predicting the first major snowfall of the year. We're talking up to a couple inches in some areas, combined with temperatures in the 20s and 30s. 

Tuesday's forecast is calling for a chance of early morning snowfall running through the afternoon with winds as high of 17 miles per hour.

More snow could be headed our way Thursday and Friday as well.

Anyone familiar with Cleveland weather patterns shouldn't exactly be surprised at this news, this is Northeast Ohio in November after all. But Scene does advise staying in tonight with blankets, soup, tea and significant others to help fend off the cold.

Learn more about staying safe in winter temperatures right here.

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Is Sherrod Brown's Ohio Senate Win a Playbook for Democrats? He Seems to Think So

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 3:56 PM

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Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has been a surprisingly durable presence in Ohio's congressional delegation even as the state seems to trend further to the right. Despite vocal support for unabashedly progressive policies from healthcare to immigration to LGBTQ issues, voters in Ohio on Nov. 6 sent Brown back to the Senate for a third term even as they elected a Republican governor and filled statewide offices with candidates from the GOP.

But is Brown's winning streak in Ohio transferable — either to other Democrats across the country or to a potential presidential run for the gruff-voiced Senator? It's more complicated than it seems.

Brown said today he's thinking seriously about whether he'll throw his hat in the ring to be the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nominee after hearing "sort of a crescendo" of calls for him to do so. He and his family aren't close to making a decision about it yet, Brown says, but it marks the first time he's expressed serious interest in the prospect.

Beyond his unclear presidential ambitions, though, the long-time fixture in Ohio politics says other Democrats should pay attention to his campaign.

Brown beat Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who had the backing of President Donald Trump, by almost six-and-a-half points. That's a similar margin to his 2012 victory over then-Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

Brown was first elected in 2006, when he beat now-Governor Elect Mike DeWine by a bruising 12-point margin. Prior to that election, Brown had served in the U.S. House, as Ohio Secretary of State and in the Ohio House of Representatives.

According to Brown, the winning streak comes from focusing on working people in the state. That's been borne out by many of his policy moves, from efforts to restrict the amount payday lending companies can charge borrowers to his opposition to trade deals like NAFTA.

"As a progressive Democrat, you can fight for workers and respect the dignity of work as I do," Brown told MSNBC's Morning Joe today shortly after being mistakenly introduced as Ohio's governor. "I think that's what Washington forgets about. Voters will vote for a strong progressive — I don't compromise on civil rights, I don't compromise on LGBTQ rights. I don't compromise for worker rights. You can do that and stand up for what you believe. I think Ohio showed that on Tuesday."

Brown touted focus on health care issues, including efforts to lower drug prices, as well as support for middle-class tax cuts and more focus on education and infrastructure, as lessons the Democratic Party should take to heart, whether or not he's running in 2020.

"I'd go back to the winning campaigns around the country that helped us take back the House, and I'd look at my campaign in many ways as a blueprint not just to govern but to prepare for 2020, a blueprint where the focus is on workers, putting workers first and looking at what we do as a nation to support workers," he said on Morning Joe.

But Brown's win comes with some specific caveats. First, both Renacci and Mandel before him were uniquely weak candidates. Renacci jumped into the Senate race late from his original campaign in the Republican gubernatorial primary. His nearly-non-existent Senate bid mostly consisted of hitting Brown on domestic violence accusations based on court filings from his divorce in the 1980s. Brown's ex-wife came out in support of Brown, calling Renacci's claims false. Polling prior to the election had Brown up by double digits in some cases, and it's surprising the race was as close as it was.

Mandel, too, seemed ill-prepared to take on the popular liberal Senator in 2012. The Republican challenger, just 35 at the time, had difficulty fixing on an effective line of critique against Brown and was dinged repeatedly by fact checkers for outlandishly exaggerated or false claims on the campaign trail. Mandel initially geared up for a rematch against Brown this time around, but dropped out due to health concerns in his family.

A look at the election map also offers some tempering to the enthusiasm around Brown's popularity in deep-red Ohio. In rural counties like Coshocton, Meigs, Morrow, Pickaway and Union — places where Trump did especially well — Renacci grabbed 60 percent or more of the vote. That dynamic played out across the state, with Renacci winning 72 of Ohio's 88 counties. Brown did especially well in the state's much more populous urban counties and got close enough in some rural areas to rack up plenty of votes. He also won nine counties that voted for Trump in 2016. But the map shows that Brown isn't necessarily the absolute Trump-vote whisperer his victory may suggest.

On the other hand, the sheer math of his re-election — he won 100,000 more votes than Republican gubernatorial winner DeWine, for example, and grabbed 18,000 more votes than Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Cordray in Hamilton County — shows that Brown is doing something other candidates aren't. Look for national Democrats to try to figure out what that is and bottle it — either in the form of Brown as a presidential primary contender or via another populist candidate — in the coming months.

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GE’s Nela Park Holiday Lights Will Shine Again for 94th Year

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 12:45 PM

PHOTO COURTESY CLEVELAND MEMORY PROJECT
  • Photo courtesy Cleveland Memory Project

GE Lighting's Nela Park is once again brightening up the blocks along Noble Road with holiday lights this upcoming season. The official light switch ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 30.

Last year, for the first time since 1958, visitors were allowed to roll through the middle of the park campus to take in recreations of vintage light displays. However, with long wait times and backups cited as an issue, this year sees a return of the traditional display just outside of the gates.

In the works for months, more than 500,000 light bulbs are used to make the displays a reality. Expect to also see a replica of the National Tree, which GE has lit for the last 56 years in Washington, D.C.

While you're waiting for the festivities to begin, take a walk down memory lane with vintage Nela Park holiday lighting photos right here.

Light displays run through Jan. 2. 

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