Nonworking streetlights abound in Cleveland: Road Rant - our hero again henry Senyak

Submitted by Quest-News-Serv... on Sun, 01/17/2010 - 02:58.

 margaret-udovic-cleveland-streetlights-burned-out-road-rant.jpgThe streetlight in front of Margaret Udovic's home along Hamlet Avenue hasn't worked in about two years. It's one of an untold number of dark streetlights scattered around the city.

Nonworking streetlights abound in Cleveland: Road Rant

By John Horton, The Plain Dealer

January 16, 2010, 8:00PM

margaret-udovic-cleveland-streetlights-burned-out-road-rant.jpgLisa Dejong, The Plain Dealer The streetlight in front of Margaret Udovic's home along Hamlet Avenue hasn't worked in about two years. It's one of an untold number of dark streetlights scattered around the city. Sundown lured Margaret Udovic to the end of her Hamlet Avenue driveway. Darkness creeping over the East Side neighborhood usually drives her inside, but on this November night . . . well, she just couldn't stay away from the street.


She wanted to witness a rebirth.

An automated call from Cleveland Public Power earlier in the day promised new life in the long dead streetlight fronting Udovic's home. For two years, the inoperable overhead lamp spread little but worry about who or what lurked in the shadows. That would cease, though, once that bulb flickered and the filament glowed.

"I wanted to see it light up," said Udovic, 52. "I had waited so long."

Where to get help

Cleveland Public Power can't fix a nonglowing streetlight unless it knows about the problem -- and that's where you come in. Call the Streetlight Outage Hotline at 216-621-LITE (621-5483) to report a light out.

And she's still waiting. The light atop pole No. 04369 on Hamlet continues to offer no illumination, just like thousands of others in Cleveland.

The problem knows no boundary within the city limits. Inspect almost any neighborhood -- East Side, West Side or the heart of downtown -- and gaps mar sparkling lines of streetlights. Dim-and-dark pockets surround homes and businesses, museums and sporting venues, hospitals and schools and government offices.

A crusader for public radiance -- Henry Senyak, 46, a semiretired electrician -- personally reported to CPP more than 2,000 malfunctioning streetlights in and around his Tremont home last year. (He provided a detailed list, too.) The good news is that repair crews took care of roughly 1,400 of those as of last week. The bad news? That left about 600 fix-it projects just in his area.

Senyak's best guess is that upwards of 5,000 streetlights don't shine citywide, and he thinks the number grows daily: "It's cascading," he said.

But not in the eyes of CPP.

The utility's commissioner, Ivan Henderson, said he has hard facts showing the agency has shown "substantial improvement" in addressing illumination the past few years. In 2009, CPP stats indicate crews handled 14,000 repair requests -- about 1,000 more than the previous year -- and typically resolved problems within 16 to 17 days.

CPP estimates that only 2 percent of its roughly 65,000 streetlights don't work on any given evening. That equates to 1,300 no-shine lights. As of Friday, less than 1,000 active complaints existed in the CPP tracking system.

"Go out," Henderson challenged, "and take a look to see what's on."

Or more precisely, what's off.

On Wednesday night, Road Rant randomly zigged and zagged from east to west across Cleveland to search out do-nothing streetlights along a few main corridors. Twenty-five miles on the odometer brought a tally of nearly 300 out-of-order lights. (Note to City Hall: Take a look outside -- the streetlights are out on one side of Lakeside Avenue on the half-block from your home to East Ninth Street.)

Other lowlights include:


  • Two traffic camera locations where safety's obviously a priority -- Carnegie Avenue at East 55th Street and Chester Avenue at East 71st Street -- featured multiple outages at or near the intersections.



  • Every bulb on the short stretch of West 56th Street between Clark and Train avenues offered no glow.



  • Thirty dead streetlights turned Carnegie Avenue into a dark tunnel from Progressive Field to East 14th Street.


And the list goes on and on. It seems far more needs fixing than what CPP realizes.

Now bulbs do burn out. That's a fact of life, as every homeowner who's stubbed a toe on a chair in a suddenly dark room understands. But the worry is that CPP simply can't keep up with the never-ending troubles of Cleveland's expansive streetlight system: "The system and the process is overwhelmed," Senyak said.

In 2008, the city purchased 18,000 streetlights from FirstEnergy and took on the added maintenance responsibility. CPP added crews, Henderson said. Three teams work at night to replace bulbs. Four crews fan out during daylight hours to deal with circuits and fixture issues.

Last year, the agency also debuted a new Complaints and Tracking System (CATS) to better manage phoned-in repair requests.

So CPP's trying, it really is.

But more is needed.

The CATS system -- as Udovic learned -- seems prone to reporting repairs that never took place. Senyak's log sheet shows more than 200 instances where CPP notified him of a phantom fix and forced him to re-report a malfunctioning light to get the job done. Several other callers and e-mailers relayed similar stories.

Henderson said an inaccurate fix call is an exception rather than the norm. However, he acknowledged that the CATS system "hasn't met every expectation" and needs to be upgraded.

More than that needs tweaking, though.

Councilman Joe Cimperman said streetlights needs to be a focal point for the city this year. He called for an "all-hands-on-deck" approach to understand the full extent of the problem. Every eye in the city needs to be looking. Every dead bulb needs to be on someone's radar.

But that's just the start. The city needs a more user-friendly system to report outages and encourage participation, the councilman said. Tracking also should be improved to ensure complaints truly get handled. New lights need to find their way onto the streets, too, in order to eliminate deteriorating equipment that's making a tough job even tougher.

This city can shine brighter. It needs to. Well-lit streets deter crime and make people feel safer. Every glowing bulb adds a vitality to the street. It's welcoming. It's comforting.

"We know this is an issue," Cimperman said. "We just need the will to address it. It's on us to do it."

Yes, it is.

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Posted by clevee1
January 16, 2010, 9:05PM

It's a shame that it has to get to this.Streetlights have been a problem in Cleveland since I can remember.The lights are dim in Cleveland even when they are on!! Cleveland doesn't maintain their infrastructure good enough,they let things go too long and when it gets to a crisis situation,then they try to act.Just look at all of the street projects that Cleveland has to complete.They let them go bad for so long and then thay HAD to do something and it's costing Cleveland millions!! The lighting has to be upgraded but it won't get done, the burned out lights won't be replaced and the citizens will still get excuses why something hasn't been done about them.Cimperman mentioned having the will to get something done,what a crock!! Will has nothing to do with it,this is the city's job to provide a safe and secure street environment for it's citizens.Get it done or put somebody in office that can.

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Posted by dave
January 16, 2010, 10:31PM

As far as street lights in Cleveland, CPP is responsible whether or not they supply the power to the specific neighborhood. I found this out the hard way last year when I reported a light out to CEI. After emailing them, I received a response the next day that CPP had taken over all Cleveland lights as of 2008, even the ones with power from CEI.
So, I reported the light our to CPP, one month later I got a voice mail that the repair was complete. Only problem was that the light still wasn't working. My theory is that CPP has a metric to do all street light repairs within 4 weeks or so. And, someone is assigned to close out all open work orders prior to the deadline - whether or not the work is complete.
About a month later, I finally saw a CPP crew working on streetlights, so I stopped and gave them the address. To their credit, they did make the repair that day.
Good luck getting service out of CPP.

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Posted by CatchEmIfUCan
January 17, 2010, 12:09AM

REMEMBER last year when two young men were shot in their heads execution style-- one fatally -- at the Ralph J. Perk Park [near Reserve Square, and the Chesterfield], a pitch-dark pocket with MORE THAN A DOZEN INOPERATIVE STREET LIGHTS! Cleveland's preditory criminal element exists in the darkness that INACTION JACKSON allows to exist downtown, and both east and west of the Cuyahoga River with LIGHTS OUT!

Cleveland's preditory criminals understand that darkness conceals their movements... as darkness hides roaches and rats! Light... street lights... working street lights... force the thugs to scurry for cover... and they must move elsewhere to find darker areas to intimidate, assault, rob and murder our citizens and visitors.
2,000 LIGHTS OUT... on just the near west side. And many more LIGHTS OUT throughout Cleveland. And we were informed, "We're out of money to purchase repair parts... and even BULBS!
IN-Action Jackson... "YOU ARE IN THE DARK! and that is not because of the lack of operating street lights.

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Posted by Jim
January 17, 2010, 12:12AM

How many city workers does it take to change a light bulb

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Posted by directprof
January 17, 2010, 12:52AM

What I hate about traffic lights in this area is the utter lack of synchronization. It is *so* wasteful to drive a block and have to stop again on major thoroughfares. Surely to go the area could make sure that streetlights are syncrhonized on major streets. It saves money, stress, and people wouldn't be compelled to run red lights as much as they do here.

Coming from DC, if you went the speed limit on major streets (not side streets) you would hit them all green. Everyone knew that. Everyone drove the speed limit except the occasional idiot.

Why don't we do that here? Studies have shown that stopping every block (like what seems to happen to me all the time) is hugely wasteful of gas, bad for the environment, and just bad public service.

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Congrats Superman Henry

Quietly exposing the truth everyday--with the most basic metaphor for exposing the truth--Let there be LIGHT!

Congrats, too, to Norm--who is always ahead of the story--Steven Litt picked up the 50th year anniversary of the ASM headquarters in Geauga County and recent National Historic Register status.  Chesler Group of Cleveland remarked that the dome needs no work.  Here's an interesting icon you will now see if you try to research older articles at the Plain Dealer site:

Newsbank will allow you to access the archive for a fee--but please also remember that you have already paid for this access and can retrieve older, archived articles on line via your local library.  How many doors do you have to pass through to get information?  It's a question we should explore as libraries and the Plain Dealer explore "free" content versus paid content access.

Henry Senyak is no hero.



It is my hope that Henry spends more and more time chasing burned out light bulbs and less time intruding into the daily business of local establishments that work hard to bring people AND money into our community. His "crusade" for quality of life has cost local business owners thousands of dollars while his efforts (night-vision cameras) seem like a James Bond wanna-be who neither owns property or a business in Tremont or even the county.


How much tax revenue does his online beer can auctions bring in for our city?


How can he run for offices in TWDC when he actively tries to drive business OUT of Tremont?


Does being a voice for the "meek" mean you turn a blind eye to the engine that drives economic recovery of a neighborhood? His application for TWDC does not once mention a plan to bring new business into our neighborhood. If he has problems with the enforcement of codes that govern certain activities, what other businesses would he support in his vision for our neighborhood?


Please remember that without the "nightclubs" and restaurants, Tremont might still be a crime-ridden, drug infested neighborhood. How is that for quality of life?


Speaking of code enforcement, why does the crazy garage at 10th and Jefferson never get cited for anything? I was out for a walk a while back and they had a mini-van parked on the sidewalk! They were not bar patrons parked there, the mechanics were out there with the vehicle. Plus, who wants to walk by and see a parking lot full of radiator hoses and empty beer bottles?


What businesses do you want in Tremont

Tremont has a nice mix of businesses, heavy on upscale dining and elitist fluff, which will probably shift to Detroit Shoreway now. Northeast Ohio can only support so many SIIs and Tremont is old news... the Casino will suck you dry. So what else is desirable in Tremont for Tremont? What businesses and engines of employment would best be added to the mix - make a list and pursue that.

As for streetlights - I hate streetlights and the fewer the better - I asked East Cleveland not to put one near my house because I hate the light pollution.

Considering Cleveland has lost more than half its population and has many areas that are near wasteland, and that taxpayers pay the utilities for electricity and services to light those wastelands for nobody, I propose we eliminate at least 10,000 streetlights each year, shift all costs for streetlights only serving commercial wastelands like the Flats to the property owners, and thin out all other wasted public electricity we may, forever.

Henry, how about studying how many streetlights NEO really needs and saving us $millions a year, and helping the environment... I'm sick of public policy accelerating climate change, and nobody considering that.

Shrink baby shrink

Disrupt IT

light pollution

Lighting makes it hard to catch chickens at night. Chickens should be  sleepy and calm at night, but if one is trying to rescue a feral chicken from the winter cold, and there is a lot of street lights, that chicken is frisky. Not too good for us humans too, we just rationalize it away.

Rhinestone Cowboy

If a business is in compliance with the same laws that apply to everyone else, there is not a thing to worry about, is there? If a business is a good neighbor, and in compliance, wow!

My graditude goes out to Henry. Keep your eye on the renagade businesses.


Light pollution

  I agree with Norm et al, that lighting is often unnecessary and should be eliminated.  But, Henry Senyak is enforcing a standard and a service that is paid for by taxpayers. 

If we pay for lighting, we should be getting it.  Eliminating unnecessary lighting would be great, but where lighting is specifically necessary*--to protect the welfare of citizen--it should be operational. 

Henry S.  just keep on saving the world--we need more superheroes like you in NEO.

*for example, pedestrian crosswalks...



hum........cowboy, you sound

hum........cowboy, you sound a lot like "Sammy says.'  With the opinion that people who don't actually own property or a business in Tremont are second class citizens.  Rent pays property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, provides money for property maintenance.  Renters also pay sales tax, fuel tax, buy auto insurance, license plates for their vehicles, etc.  Without renters a lot of property owners would be defunct.

As far as the street lights, I whole heartedly agree with Norm, cut em all out - I hate the street lights.  However, I also recognize the need for good lighting in the places where people need to feel safe.   As far as crime in Tremont - I don't know who is fooling who.  According to the spotcrime web site, Tremont ranks #4 from the top of the crime list.  From June, 2009 to December 2009, there were 183 reported crimes in Tremont - which does not count the drug bust or crimes that were not reported. 

Businesses - well I don't believe that anybody is anti-business.  Clearly these high-end business owners are going to create all the hype they can in their favor.  What I do not agree with is this propogated award winning speil.  Tremont does not have a monopoly on "award winning" chefs and restaurants/bars.  New York has award winning chefs, Chicago has award winning chefs, California has award winning chefs - as well as all these and many other major cities in the US have award winning restaurants - what we seem to have is a collection of "prima donnas" who have dropped into this area and expect the poor, less advantaged residents to bow down at their meer presence. 

A perfect example was last Saturday night - Dante's opened - it was nothing short of a parking nightmare to residents living on College and West 7th.  I also hear it was about the same on Literary and a couple of other streets, especially Professor.  The church lot was crammed packed full - more than 25 cars (with only 11 stripped off spaces), there were 3-4 valets actually running right down the middle of the street, engaging alarms as they turned the corner off Professor, spinning tires up the slick incline to the church lot, taking all the parking spaces on College and West 7th.  We were forced to put up with clappity-clop of runners, alarms, car doors slamming, valets yelling back and forth to each other, running engines, in and out of the church lot, one right after the other until 1:00am.  Residents found themselves sitting in the street up to 20 minutes, hoping a vehicle would move.  One resident came home from working 14 hours out in the cold (under trucks) and was so cold and tired he chose to go back to his garage and stay - he had to be back at work at 6am. 

We need someone to look out for the quality of life issues for the hooopla of bars and nightclubs just don't cut it.  If they can't comply with the simple task of obtaining the proper permits, obeying the noise laws, having consideration and respecting the rights of residents, property owners or not, we would  be better off with boarded up buildings and junk yards.  These business owners provide no monetary value to the poor meek residents.  They pay taxes into a general fund - according to a survey, Sammy says they employ 235 people, 90 of which are from Tremont (how many are paid under the table?).  At the end of the day, they bag their loot and go home. 

The City of Cleveland is as much to blame as anybody else.  When you drive by one of these swanky places (non-compliant) and espy a member of the Building and Housing Dept. perched on a bar stool or a member of the zoning board swaggering out the door, you gotta ask yourself a question - where are the free passes coming from?  A large number of the businesses renovated with the assistance of the Storefront Renovation Program. 

Most of the candidates running for the Board use the position to enhance their resume' - stay a couple of years and move on.  Why is it  looked on so unfavorably for a candidate to be from the poorer side or a long-time resident who might stay around for awhile.  Who better to know this community and/or it's needs than someone who has lived here all their life.   Makes better sense than someone who has only been here two or three years and don't have a clue.

While not everybody gets the street light thing, at least Henry is doing something - not like some of the TWDC committee people who sit on their ass and do absolutly nothing.  As far as pushing for compliance - inspectors will brow beat a resident into the ground, force them into the court system, take their last dollar for not being able to fix a porch, gutter or paint the house - and yet, find one business owner that has been hauled up to muster.  What we need is the FBI to start right in the Dept of Building and Housing, David Cooper's office.  Find out why he has no qualms in signing off on expired permits, etc., for these businesses.

 Palm-greasing sure has crossed my mind.








Wink, wink, nudge, nudge

Jerleen--the show of palm greasing that goes on was readily apparent at the B&H meeting I attended at City Hall on the behalf of a Tremont resident. 

Sadly, Pierre's, a family-owned ice cream business on Euclid Ave. was subjected to the same elbowing, wink, wink, nudge, nudge and told that they were not in compliance with building code standards for sprinklers. This was for a building kept at below freezing temperatures.  The system they had in place to detect fires used a minute change in temperature and did not involve a sprinkler system because the water would freeze! 

After witnessing the circus this company had to go through-- I have to wonder why anyone in their right mind would choose to run a business in the City of Cleveland.

nudge -- nudge

I remember an incident similar to Pierre's Icecream that happened several years ago.

Does anyone remember Bozak's Dairy on Fulton / West 38th area?

Numerous complaints were made against this family owned business that operated there for many years, I think they told me 50 years. The complaints were over delivery trucks that idled at all areas of the night and disturbed the neighboring homes.

Bozak,  I think I am spelling the name correctly, finally closed their family owned business after several failed attempts to solve the problem.

Has anyone been in this area lately?

What a shame,,,,,,

you forgot the eye rolling.

you forgot the eye rolling.



 FBI Special Agent C. Frank Figliuzzi, in charge of the Cleveland Field Office, gives his take on the county we live in.  Of course, we all know it's a trickle down modus operandi............all the way to the city depts. and officials.

 "Corruptahoga County:

Members of the venerable Tavern Club listened to some grave news Thursday from C. Frank Figliuzzi, special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland field office.

Having headed white-collar crime investigations for the FBI in Miami -- where corruption was rampant -- Figliuzzi told club members: "I thought I had seen the most corrupt operating environment I would ever see. But perhaps I was wrong."

Cuyahoga County could give Miami a run for its money and, apparently, New Orleans, too. Figliuzzi, the guest speaker at the club, said that an official from FBI headquarters -- upon seeing the scope of corruption here -- declared that Cuyahoga County could compare with the Big Easy.

He told the audience to keep an eye on the newspaper because there will be a whole lot of corruption news over the next three to six months."

Many Good Points. Let's Look At Them.

Each person who posted has several interesting points.


Norm – You are correct in your assessment that there are too many of the same types of business in Tremont. There can only be so many upscale restaurants and galleries before the whole concept seems kind of ridiculous. What there seems to be is a real shortage of usable retail within walking distance of the neighborhood. Steelyard is not walkable to elderly or physically challenged and frankly the selection of stores is pretty lame. Coventry has landed retailers like American Apparel and City Buddah which add nicely to their mix. Here are some ideas:


Trader Joe's

A Food Co-op or Natural Food Store

A decent convenient store that is not over-priced like the ones we have now.

More casual eateries like La Bodega (a nice Chinese Take-out would be great)

American Apparel

Urban Outfitters

A well run thrift/second hand store.

A nice music club (other than Pat's In The Flats)


These are just some basic ideas. Maybe with attention shifting to Detroit/Shoreway it is a good chance to focus on business ideas that are not eateries/galleries.


CJ points out that businesses in compliance have no worries, the problem then lies in the fact that enforcement cannot be selective to one neighborhood. The goal should be uniform enforcement from West Park to Collinwood. Be honest, in my example mentioned before about the auto garage; do you not think that if any of us dug deep enough we could not find some kind of violation there? But instead people are worried about a neon sign on a coffee shop or a girl with a martini glass painted on the side of a wine bar. Is the guy parking a mini van on the sidewalk a good neighbor? There seems to be as big a double standard here as with the people you feel get special treatment.


Dbra asks the question...”do we still live in a democracy?” The answer is: NO, we never have. We live in a Republic where the authority to make most policy decisions is delegated to elected citizens. If the “people” elect somebody you do not like or does not make decisions that you agree with, you have the right to voice your opinion, BUT, until the “people” change their mind and elect someone else, there is not much more you can do but to try and win others over to your point of view.


A nice example of true democracy in action recently in Tremont was the Sunday liquor initiative that was passed by the citizens of each precinct. The people of Tremont decided which course of policy they supported and voted accordingly. I personally think it will be nice to have a mimosa on a legal patio somewhere in our great neighborhood on a Sunday this summer and maybe we can all do it together to share the passion we have for our unique city.

watching particulate matter -and gorilla you contradict yourself

 and you failed to address my core point

which was - Henry advocates against selective enforcement and individuals pulling full permit and compliance by a call to their councilman's office. 

I don't mean to be rude, but I don't think you know what you are talking about.

and oh yes - I had my backdoor spotlight on last night and was watching particulate float about through the air. I can't wait to move out of polluted Tremont, its starting to make me nervous. btw - isn't that a councilman's job - to advocate for the health and well-being of his area? just asking....

  Dbra -  You are

  Dbra -  You are incorrect. 

I addresed your point in the paragraph where I responded to CJ.  If you want enforcement, the goal should be a citywide enforcement of the laws, not just in one neighborhood.  It would be like having one traffic camera in a city.  People will just go around it and travel somewhere else.

You are correct when you say that your councilman should have your back, but you also seem to have an unfliching love of democracy, the same one that put your councilman where he is right now.  If the "people" that so many users here seem to like to hide behind are uneducated enough to vote for him, therin lies a lot of your problem.  His track record is pretty well known.

My main point was originally that Henry does not represent MY vision for the the future of the neighborhood.  I expressed my opinion in a public forum as did other readers including yourself.  That is what is great about places like this.

If anybody wants to live in neighborhoods that do not have big mean chefs or steel mills in their lives, here are a few suggestion:

The Stockyards

Storer Ave.


Slavic Village

Please get back to us all with a "quality of life" report ASAP!








missing the big point

As Norm said, Tremont has run its course. New construction sits unfinished, the growth of the bar and restaurants can not be sustained, and pollution is all over the area. Detroit Shoreway is the hot spot now.  It is all over when the casino opens. It is not a good investment. Tremont will have vacant bars and restaurants in the next 1 to 1 1/2 years so it is good to think about diversifying businesses, good luck getting them to come. Poor planning has lead Tremont to where it is now, get out while you can if you are an investor.

The next BIG thing

  Thanks Orbit for reminding everyone that the development strategy in NEO has always been poach or be poached...

Any one remember the Flats??? Sadly, these are the great minds controlling the destiny of our communities....from their cul-de-sacs in the

Detroit-Shoreway to gain

 Per local news, the construction will start in the summer to change the west shoreway into the 35 mph boulevard with access streets to the lake and neighborhoods such as Detroit-Shoreway and also making it accessible to bikers and walkers. The bottom line is that the SII in the Detroit-Shoreway area may be a success while others wither on the proverbial vine.

Ed Hauser's take

Ed called the West Shoreway project "curbcuts for developers".

Wonder what happened with the St Ignatius boat house on the old river channel and other "nice touches" for the west side.