Claude Cornett's Presentation at the 8/17/09 Old South Side Community Coalition Meeting

Submitted by Claude Cornett on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 08:48.


Sorry I didn’t make it to the July meeting. I was camping at the time. However, I was pleased to hear that the issue of the need for a pocket park near Tremont Pointe was discussed. Other Tremont neighborhoods may have even worse problems, so I will try to be brief. Here are some of my experiences since June and some things we can do to address the many issues that concern us.
At the July <7/14/09>) South of Jefferson Block club meeting, I circulated a petition and introduced it as a resolution for voting; and it was seconded. The petition and proposed resolution read:
"We residents of the South of Jefferson neighborhood strongly urge the Tremont West Development Corporation, CHMA, the City of Cleveland, the developers of the Towpath Trail project, residents, and other stakeholders to cooperate and arrange for adequate, permanent recreational facilities and services in our immediate neighborhood to help serve the needs of our expanding population."
It also asked for monthly progress reports in Inside Tremont.
It was supposed be on the agenda and to be voted upon at the August <8/11/09> Meeting, but despite repeated efforts, it was not.
When I made this milquetoast proposal in July, Sammy Catania, the TWDC Development Director, immediately went ballistic. He strongly said that:
* My proposal bordered on racism and fascism (Making a real ass of himself )
* The Tremont Pointe Residents’ Association opposed any new recreational facilities on or near Tremont Pointe, and
* I need to be engaged with the residents of the area to have a better idea as to how to offer assistance.
As a result, I decided to perform a survey to document how residents of Tremont Pointe and throughout the nearby area actually feel about this.
Two days after returning from camping, I spent an hour and a half doing a door-to-door survey in Tremont Pointe.
* The results were:
   --12 Tremont Pointe residents wanted new recreational facilities in their immediate neighborhood
   -- 3 were against new recreational facilities
 --2 declined to answer
    One of whom said that she was on the Tremont Pointe Board, and, among other hostile things, ordered me to leave Tremont Pointe immediately or she would call security
Despite her intimidation, I continued the survey
Many signed the petition
* Immediately after I completed my survey, the police stopped and questioned me. When I showed them what I was doing, they went away.
As of Today (8/17/09), almost everyone < with only one exception (Michael DeNicola, who chairs South of Jefferson Block Club meetings) and another who had no opinion,> that I surveyed who lives outside of Tremont Pointe, along the vast majority of those surveyed within Tremont Pointe, have responded in favor of adequate, permanent, new recreational facilities and services in their immediate neighborhood. Furthermore, 67 people, mostly in this immediate area, signed the petition.
The Board Member’s attempt to intimidate me and calling the police, along with the results of the survey, clearly demonstrate that :
* The Tremont Pointe Resident’s Association does not represent the opinions of most of the residents
* At least one Tremont Pointe Board member is willing, able, and skilled at using intimidation against people in Tremont Pointe
Tremont Pointe residents are more vulnerable to such intimidation than most of us due, to a higher risk of it leading to eviction.
Many people that I have spoken with have expressed concerns about attending and voicing their opinions at block club and other public meetings due to their experience and/or fear of harassment, as well as having their efforts come to nothing.
At the risk of repeating what I said at the June Meeting, My own experience is that when I tried raised the issue of the need for more recreational facilities in the neighborhood at a South of Jefferson Block Club meeting about three years ago, my landlord was contacted by a building inspector that told him that his tenants at my address were raising questions that make the powers that be uncomfortable. This implied that (as had been done in the past when a real-estate company had an interest in some of his property) his property would be subjected to increased inspections and code enforcement if he did not shut us up.
I do not intimidate easily and, fortunately, neither does my landlord. I raised the issue of attempted intimidation at the next block club meeting, naming the inspector, and complained about it to various authorities. That put a stop to it. If it happens again, I will contact and provide the details to, among others, the FBI. The FBI is actively involved in an investigation of corruption in Cuyahoga County that has resulted in the indictment of housing inspectors and other government officials.
So called democratic institutions can be about as democratic and representative of their people as the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) if we don’t stand up for our rights, expose those who try to intimidate us, and change those institutions or create new ones that are free of such coercion and that genuinely represent the people.
Given the history and widespread perception of
* Harassment when people raise issues at block club meetings that are uncomfortable to the powers that be,
* Not having their issues seriously dealt with, or even put on the agenda, when they raise them
What can we do to overcome these problems and increase participation?
I have some ideas on this:
The value of a survey and petitioning process was demonstrated by how the results of this effort
* Successfully shot down Sammy Catania and discredited the Tremont Pointe Residents Association when Sammy presented their letter opposing new recreational faculties to the TWDC long range planning committee a couple of weeks ago (8/6/09)
* Helped to get Councilman Cimperman’s attention and support
To continue my summary of what has been happening, at the July 7/14/09 South of Jefferson Block Club Meeting, previously proposed South of Jefferson Block Club Bylaws were:
* Updated in general accordance with concerns stated at the previous meeting and presented in writing
* I proposed one amendment to the proposed revised bylaws, reading:
Roberts Rules of Order will be used to resolve procedural issues, unless specific alternative procedures are approved as part of the bylaws.
* This amendment was approved, and the amended block club bylaws were then approved
What happened at the August meeting is an example of how the democratic process is ignored.
The bylaws that were distributed at that meeting as final read:
Any organizational procedure disputes will be decided upon according to Robert’s Rules of orders. In the event that Robert’s Rules contradict these by-laws, Roberts Rules will take precedent unless otherwise decided upon by the block club.
This is very different from the bylaws that were passed at the previous block club meeting
Furthermore, my proposal concerning recreational facilities was not on the agenda, and I was unable to put it on the agenda.
Apparently, Mr. DeNicola’s change in the bylaws from the version approved at the July meeting enables him to break anything in Roberts Rules of Order at will (or so he thinks) and to continue to prevent items from being put on the agenda and block any vote on matters that he does not approve of.
I am, by far, not the first person who has been harassed and not had their issues and proposals considered at block club meetings. It is a common practice.
We can do something about it, by reaching out to our neighbors with surveys, petitions and information that can help mobilize them to stand up for their rights.
Politicians with the power to legislate, budget and make changes in our community have to take us seriously when we do this.
Jarlene and I had a very productive meeting with Councilman Cimperman concerning this and other matters last week. Among other things, he said that he will be exploring creating a pocket park in the South of Jefferson neighborhood and will oppose zoning change to accommodate a restaurant between Starkweather and Jefferson, off Professor and Thurman. I look forward to hearing progress reports from him concerning these efforts. (and we discussed parking issues and how to fight harassment, etc.)
We can go to the press, create our own media, and build genuinely democratic organizations that can take the grants away from TWDC and associated block clubs and apply them properly if TWDC and its block clubs continue to refuse to hear and represent the residents of Tremont. We can investigate and report harassment and how money is spent, and report any associated corruption to the mass media and to law enforcement agencies. We can go door-to -door with surveys and petitions, exchange information, and mobilize neighbors to help.
Among other tactics, we can hold rallies that quickly transition into door-to-door surveying, petitioning, etc. in specific neighborhoods. These can be followed by cultural events with music, poetry, dancing, etc. in the neighborhood that same evening, to which we invite people that we surveyed. We can recruit more active members in the process. This tactic has proven to be very effective in anti-war and other campaigns, and it can work here.
Who is with me on this?
A sign up sheet is circulating for those of us who are willing to take the time to work out the gory details. For those willing to put in the effort, let’s meet outside at the end of this meeting, and decide when and where we will meet next so that we can make and report progress by the next meeting of the coalition as a whole. <six people subsequently joined the action planning group>
I am also distributing a handout with information on how we can respond effectively to harassment, along with some information on how to assure that people’s concerns are heard and acted upon by organizations. Please read this information, especially the guidance on how to deal with harassment. We need to get this type of information out to our neighbors, and to create an effective organization that will discourage and stomp out harassment and help empower the people to actually control the organizations that supposedly represent them.
On the other side is information about a proposed new publication called Tremonsters, focusing on the issues and actions that concern us. I am also distributing a description of a new e-mail list, called Tremonsters [at] yahoogroups [dot] com, with information on its purposes, rules and how to subscribe. One of its key purposes is to have its communications break out of cyberspace and reach our neighbors that are not on-line. The proposed Tremonsters publication is one of the many ways that it can do so.
It also includes a link to Tremont Truths, the e-mail list that Jarlene moderates.
Now, let’s hear from some other folks here who have issues and ideas to share.
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If you are unsure of the

If you are unsure of the area where Claude Cornett and his neighbors have been requesting a pocket park, see the arrow added to the page from the Tremont Strategic Investment initiative below pointing to the general area in the eastern portion of the South of Jefferson Neighborhood where no potential greenspaces are shown. Consider the map below to be part of the proposal.


The population in this Tremont neighborhood is undergoing rapid growth, and children currently play in the streets unsupervised. Merrick House, Lincoln Park and Clark Field (while they provide important services) are too far away from residents homes for children to go to when they  play or for parents and grandparents to supervise them -- when they only have a short time available before dinner or curfew. A pocket park in this area is needed within a 5 minute walk of peoples homes to help meet  routine, day-to-day needs for a safe venue for such activities.
The purpose of the petition and proposal reading:
We residents of the South of Jefferson neighborhood strongly urge the Tremont West Development Corporation, CMHA, the City of Cleveland, the developers of  the Towpath Trail project, residents, and other stakeholders to cooperate and arrange for adequate, permanent recreational facilities and services in our immediate neighborhood to help serve the needs of our expanding population.  We also request that the Tremont West Development Corporation actively help facilitate the necessary actions and publish monthly reports in Inside Tremont summarizing associated progress, plans, problems, and recommendations.
is for the South of Jefferson Block club to request that the aforementioned parties:
*        Update the Strategic Investment Initiative to make this neglected area a priority location for a new pocket park and associated services,
*        Cooperate to bring it about, and
*        Provide monthly progress reports on this effort.
While the vast majority people surveyed in this area (including W 5 St, W 6St, W 7St, Jefferson, Marquat, and within Tremont Pointe) have requested such a pocket park in their immediate vicinity, it would be premature for the block club to specify the specific location at this time and impossible for it to try to micro-manage the details. 
Several locations may be possible that are consistent with the request of people living in this area. Currently, the field behind the CMHA housing south of Jefferson between W 5 St and W 6 St, running half way south behind the CMHA housing on W5 St and W 6 St appears to be the most likely location for such a pocket park. Councilman Cimperman is actively investigating this possibility. However:
*        An agreement between CMHA, the City of Cleveland Parks Department, and/or other entities. would be needed to transfer the property to the Parks Department,
*        A budget and detailed programs would need to be specified and approved to provide the necessary facilities and services.
*        Many other details would have to be worked out
Other possible locations may exist for such a pocket park in the Eastern South of Jefferson neighborhood that are consistent with the request by people in this neighborhood. They include several vacant lots at the corners of Marquat and W 6 St, the corner of Marquat and W 5 St, and along West 7 St between Starkweather and Jefferson, possibly along with locations that we are unaware of. The detailed plans for towpath trail project access routes, trailheads, bike paths, etc. are still being defined; and they might provide new options, or favor some options over others.
I doubt that the block club would want to be bogged down with sorting out the gory details of selecting and screening out alternative sites from the universe of possibilities and putting together a detailed proposal or set of detailed proposals.   IMHO, it is more appropriate for the block club to request that the organizations that have more information and experience than we have in such matters cooperate and work through the gory details to narrow down the alternatives and come back to the Block Club, etc with a very specific and realistic proposal (or set of proposals) that we could help sort out, and then make it happen. 
When a realistic location, plan and budget for such a park and associated access and services are developed, we can expect it to be presented at a future Block Club meeting for our consideration. It should also be presented to the people living adjacent to such a park, so they can participate in the process and volunteer to provide associated services.
Part of the proposal is a request that TWDC publish monthly progress reports in Inside Tremont.  The monthly reports request, if fulfilled, would help keep the pocket park project on the front burner and help keep us informed.  I certainly would expect such reports to summarize the alternatives that were identified, and how and why they are being narrowed down.
At the last TWDC Economic Development and Long Range Planning Committee meeting (8/6/09), I was invited to create a TWDC Long Range Planning Committee for Parks and Recreation. Subsequently, I have been invited to a private introductory meeting in mid September with representatives of most of the organizations mentioned in the pocket park proposal. These organizations have a lot more information readily available on potential locations and the complicating factors than the block club, or any individual, can easily assemble on their own.  
If I were to accept the position creating a TWDC Long Range Planning Committee for Parks and Recreation (something I am hesitant to do with an official TWDC title without a TWDC policy and program against harassment and promoting a democratic process that makes it easy for residents to have their proposals on the agenda and voted upon in block clubs, etc.) I could end up with the responsibility for drafting the progress reports.  I would probably write and publish much longer ones than the summaries that would end up in Inside Tremont.  If I don’t accept this role as an official  TWDC position, I will do my best to help create such a process without an official TWDC title, and to have it include plenty of opportunity for community involvement and plenty of detailed reports on its progress and findings.. I also expect that Councilman Cimperman will also take an active role helping to keep us informed.
By the way, the next TWDC Economic Development and Long Range Planning Committee meeting is September 3, at 6pm at the TWDC office on Professor. It meets the first Thursday of every month, and I hope people on this list attend and make their long-term concerns and ideas known. Be careful what you ask for, because it might happen; and you could end up doing much of the work.
As for more details on what such a park could include, so far, most CMHA residents in homes bordering the vacant field South of Jefferson  that I spoke with said that they would welcome the conversion of the field in their backyard into a city park if it were properly equipped, supervised, and maintained; and especially if it freed CHMA funds for repairing their homes.  Most that I discussed specifics with liked the idea of picnic tables, BBQs, bike racks, a jungle Jim, a shelter with electricity, trees, a drinking fountain, bathrooms, and a community garden. Several specifically said that it should include a basketball practice area, and some were strongly against it.   One suggested a basketball area with a low hoop elevation, so that young children could use it and adults avoid it.  Several people said they would help organize activities and help with security if this area were converted to a public park. One person that I talked to was against converting it to a park because her children might have problems with other children that would visit the park. 
I have not done a formal written survey of the people bordering this potential park yet because:
* It is premature, to target a specific location at this time, since other locations may prove to be more feasible, and
* Surveys and actions are needed addressing a more fundamental issue, harassment and undemocratic processes in organizations that pretend to  represent people in neighborhoods but that do not.
Many details would have to be worked out by the aforementioned parties to come up with a realistic plan. The purpose of the proposal is to make the creation of such a pocket park and providing the needed services a priority for the aforementioned parties, without trying to micro-manage the details.
Larry Cornett (AKA Claude Lawrence Cornett, Jr)

Pocket Park and outlets for the kids

  Dear Mr. Cornett--You are to be applauded for thinking of the kids and giving them an outlet for their energies--
I would like to team up with you in your efforts. 

Please give me a call or stop by the library 216-623-6920, 3706 Pearl Rd.  Regards, Laura McShane

Schools as neighborhood resources

  Mr. Cornett--I plan on visiting Lincoln West High School either tonight or tomorrow night--

Several basketball courts are nearby Tremont and should be made available to young folks in your neighborhood--
besides Merrick House, there is a court at the Scranton Rd./Baptist Church, also there is a court that the docs use behind MetroHospital, and
a court in the Firehouse at Archwood and Pearl.  There is also a gym at the Applewood Center.  I would like to see
all of these facilities available in a greater capacity to the kids in the neighborhood.  Pilgrim Church also has a gym and
I imagine there are other hidden recreational assets (besides the obvious places like Clark Field).

We need to coordinate a mapping project for our respective neighborhoods.

SNR program at LWHS

  See above post--the SNR program starts the week of Oct 19th and runs through April 2009-2010.  The program
is completely FREE, but requires participants to register during the first week of the program.