East Cleveland not being intimidated by Sherwin-Williams

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 11/18/2006 - 15:50.

I was very pleased to be joined by the new Director of Development for East Cleveland, Tim Goler, last Monday, November 13, 2006, at the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC) Steering Committee meeting. Tim has an undergraduate degree in early child development, and has taught kindergarten and 4th grade, and he has a master's degree in urban planning from Cleveland State University, and has been active in that field, nationwide, including working in environmentalism in NEO. So, he is an excellent addition to the team in East Cleveland, and to the war against lead poisoning in our region. Short story, he has assured me East Cleveland is not intimidated by Sherwin-Williams suing them for suing the paint industry over the public nuisance of lead poisoning in that community, nor efforts of State Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, who hopes to tweak previously passed legislation that would prevent cities or anybody else from using the state’s public nuisance law to sue the lead pigment manufacturers - Tim Goler is in step with East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer and their law department in pursuing due process and justice and they will drive an aggressive battle against lead poisoning in this region.

Tim and I had a follow-up meeting yesterday, 11/17/06, with GCLAC Outreach and Advocacy Sub-Committee co-chair and Concerned Citizens Organized Against Lead (CCOAL) founder Robin Brown, and we have begun mapping the next steps to eradicate lead poisoning in East Cleveland by 2010, making the community a model of excellence for the world. Over the next few months, through a variety of vehicles, every East Cleveland  resident will be educated about the health crisis in their midst, and will identify every poisoned site requiring clean-up, and each and every person at risk and harmed by lead. and all that will be saved. Tim also intends to be personally active in regional eradication initiatives, including joining the Infrastructure and Sustainability Sub Committee of the GCLAC.

The lead eradication process in East Cleveland will accelerate in December with two community education sessions provided by CCOAL, creating 50-60 new, well informed community lead eradication activists. There will be two more such sessions in January, bringing the number of activists to over 100. These sessions will be held at the Helen S. Brown Senior Services Center, City Hall, a public school and a community center - more sessions will follow throughout 2007... they will be open to people outside East Cleveland - contact me at realneo [at] inbox [dot] com if you would like to attend. The activists created will be empowered and expected to spread word about the lead crisis in their community to all residents, and identify likely lead hazards, and organize all people at risk, so the resources available to help address the crisis may be provided everywhere there is need. The education session at the Helen S. Brown Center will also be recorded and broadcast on the East Cleveland cable television station, to further expand awareness.

Eradicating lead poisoning in East Cleveland will focus on prevention of contamination. That required identifying all at risk children, pregnant women, and teens and women who may become pregnant in the future, as most at risk of harm. But it is clear lead poisoning also impacts adults and senior citizens, so all possible sources of lead poisoning will be identified and eliminated. Further, all children already poisoned will be identified and provided health and human services, relcoated from contaminated properties, and other sources of their poisoning will be identified and eliminated - such sources may include in daycare and public spaces. All this necessitates remediation in 1,000s of properties and lots of land in East Cleveland.

Sources of lead poisoning include pre 1979 buildings with interior or exterior lead paint and the ground surrounding them, and other bare dirt that may be contaminated from paint in the vicinity and from prior years of leaded gasoline emissions. Eradication will include demolition and removal of properties beyond restoration, restoration of buildings that may be saved, and removal or cover of contaminated soil and planting of grass and ground cover on all exposed dirt in general. Building renovations typically require interior and exterior paint removal and restoration, and window and door replacement. Eradication will also involve workforce development, training lead-safe painters, and enhanced inspection, code and enforcement practices.

In many cases, such restoration work also leads to better energy efficiency, and community renewal, so there are multiple benefits to this initiative. The most important benefit is a community of healthy, mentally strong and able people who are successful in learning and life.

When I learned Akron had been intimidated by Sherwin-Williams to drop their suit against the paint companies over their lead crisis, I was naturally concerned other cities in Ohio would likewise be intimidated. I am very excited to learn East Cleveland has more insight, constitution and vision for the future of our regional economy and human rights of citizens. Go Tim Gower, Mayor Brewer and East Cleveland!