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Friday, May 29, 2020

Protest Over George Floyd's Death Planned in Cleveland for Saturday Afternoon

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 9:53 AM

TAMIR RICE PROTEST 2014/ PHOTO BY EMANUEL WALLACE
  • Tamir Rice Protest 2014/ Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Protestors will rally in Cleveland Saturday afternoon to demonstrate against the death of George Taylor at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The "I CAN'T BREATHE" JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD assembly is planned for 2 p.m. at the Free Stamp at Willard Park.

"Black Lives Matter Cleveland is joining the call for Justice, We are sick and tired of asking for Humanity, we are sick and tired of begging for our Freedom," the group said on the Facebook event page. "We are sick and tired of seeing Black bodies laying in the streets of America. We are sick and tired of video after video of our people being murdered, gunned down, stalked and hunted in the streets. WE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED."

Protests continue to grow in Minneapolis and elsewhere over the death of George Floyd, and in Louisville over Breonna Taylor's death at the hands of police.

Locally, Black Lives Matter Cleveland will "also be standing in solidarity with the Franklin family" for the death of Desmond Franklin, who was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer earlier this year.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Rail Announces North Olmsted and Canton Locations Permanently Closed

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 4:05 PM

SCENE ARCHIVES
  • Scene Archives
A couple of The Rail outposts can be added to the sad list of restaurants that will not be reopening their doors at all due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Started in Akron in 2011 by Mike Mariola, the concept expanded first to North Olmsted and then onward to Canton, Strongsville and Dublin.

The North Olmsted and Canton spots are unfortunate casualties of the current climate, the chain announced in a note on its website.

To our Valued Guests:

We have made the very difficult decision to close our Canton and North Olmsted locations. We are very grateful for the support our loyal guests have shown us at these locations over the years.

Employees from Canton and North Olmsted have all been offered a transfer to nearby locations.

Outstanding gift cards can be redeemed at any of our sister locations.

We sincerely thank you for dining with us at these locations and hope to see you again soon at The Rail in Fairlawn, Dublin, or Strongsville.

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Music Box Supper Club Readies for June 18th Re-Opening and Live Music

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 3:15 PM

PHOTO VIA MUSIC BOX SUPPER CLUB
  • Photo via Music Box Supper Club
Get ready Clevelanders, live music is coming back.

Music Box Supper Club (1148 Main Ave.) will re-open its doors for live music and events starting June 18th and they'll do it with safety and social distancing measures at the forefront.

Starting on June 18th, the Flats music venue will continue their Cleveland Stories Dinner Parties, a series now in its fourth year that features Clevelanders from wide-ranging backgrounds telling tales. Bob DiBiasio, longtime employee of the Indians currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, will be the speaker that night.

In addition to the Cleveland Stories series, Music Box is introducing 'Table for Two' which will be an intimate evening of music and dinner featuring mostly local solo artists and duos to accommodate social distancing on the stage. The dinner will be a three-course prix fixe meal with a choice of three entrees. The ticket price includes everything – the concert ticket, a full dinner, sales tax, and a tip for the server.

The series, which will take place in their smaller space downstairs, launches June 19th with singer-guitarist Chris Hatton and then the next night will feature local reggae legend Carlos Jones.

'Table for Two,' which went on sale this week, has had good momentum so far. The series will run Friday and Saturday nights and some Thursdays.

"Because of our ability to pre-sell tickets, we can really prepare for the night and know exactly how many people will be coming to the show," said General Manager Mike Miller.

The club is also spacing the tables at their events 12 feet apart, double the state-mandated six feet, in order to make sure everything is safe. In addition, they'll have staff designated as the 'health team' who'll be in charge of maintaining sanitary practices and enforcing social distancing rules. There'll be a minimum of two employees each night on the health team, who will be in charge of wiping down surfaces frequently throughout the night. While all employees will be wearing masks, the health team will have a different color of masks to designate their role. One member of the team will be standing at the door upon entrance to hand out masks, which won't be required for concertgoers but suggested at least until drinks/dinner is served.

"We're really doing everything we can think of. Clevelanders were clamoring for us to come back. They wanted us to open so they could see some live music. But right after asking us to come back, they'd ask us what we'd be doing to make sure everything is safe and we hope we're providing that level of safety and comfort for our customers," said Miller. "Staff will have their temperatures taken every day and they'll wash their hands every 30 minutes."

The venue will have hand sanitizing stations throughout the space. There will also be signs posted to remind customers of social distancing guidelines and other signs listing the symptoms of COVID-19 with a reminder to customers that they shouldn't be in public if they are symptomatic.

Music Box will also be hosting their annual Father's Day brunch on June 20th with a Beatles' cover band. The event will follow their same safety guidelines but will be held in their larger space upstairs and feature a full band that will be spaced at least six-feet apart from each other and fifteen-feet from the audience.

“I feel we have to get going here with music again as part of this whole pandemic,” he said. “Music is one of those eternal joys in life. Ans so yes, smaller crowds, but we can do it safely.”

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Destination Cleveland Launches #Undefeated Campaign for Reopening Economy

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 1:59 PM

COURTESY DESTINATION CLEVELAND
  • Courtesy Destination Cleveland
Destination Cleveland President & CEO David Gilbert, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, County Executive Armond Budish and representatives from the major local hospitals announced a new campaign Wednesday to help resuscitate the region's travel and tourism industries with buy-in from residents and businesses.

The #Undefeated campaign will first invite restaurants and hotels to agree to a uniform set of safety and cleanliness standards. These "CLEan Committed"  businesses will get signage to display in their establishments and "clean kits," complete with hand sanitizer, paper masks and safety materials, to distribute to patrons.

Once the businesses sign on, Destination Cleveland will then invite residents to share stories on social media about their own efforts to keep Cleveland safe as it re-opens. In July, residents will be encouraged to "rediscover and reconnect" with their city.

Gilbert said in a press call Wednesday that this collaborative effort was pulled together in the past 5-6 weeks, during a time when the travel and tourism bureau has furloughed more than half of its staff in light of their dramatically reduced revenue.

"Right now, there is no tourism economy, to put it bluntly," Gilbert said. "Hotel occupancy, which is usually around 60 percent this time of year, is at about 10 percent. We're starting to see that first thaw of people who are starting to consider travel, but it will be a slow and steady rise."

Gilbert said that hotels nationwide aren't projecting a return to 2019 occupancy levels until at least 2023. And Destination Cleveland, which is funded largely by the hotel bed tax, will be adjusting its belt as finances modulate. 

The loss in local entertainment taxes and sales taxes are affecting municipal budgets as well. Both Jackson and Budish said they were proud to be working alongside Destination Cleveland and eager to continue supporting local small businesses. Both the city and county have dedicated resources for small business loans. 

"We have to do this," said Budish. "Otherwise we won't have much of an economy to re-open." 

Gilbert stressed that the #Undefeated initiative was based on national research and motivated by a belief that "undefeated optimism defines Clevelanders." The campaign will focus first and foremost on residents, not outside travelers.

"We need that community focus," Gilbert said. "This is designed to help lead the community out of the initial phase of the crisis." 

Doctors from Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals noted that it was important for residents to know that health was being prioritized. The "CLEan Committed" campaign will begin on June 3, and local companies will be able to purchase cleaning products from Supply Side USA at reasonable rates. Every restaurant in the county will be eligible to participate and will receive 50 clean kits when they sign on.

Cuyahoga County has committed $700,000 in funding from its federal CARES Act dollars to support the program. Those funds will go toward the production and distribution of roughly 300,000 clean kits across the region.

Frank Jackson, to his credit, continued to note that the pandemic is not over. He said that while re-opening the economy was a necessity, the sustainability of the effort will be based on how seriously people take safety precautions.

On June 10, Destination Clevleand will launch the #MyWordMyCLE effort, which will ask residents to share their stories on social media, to promote safe practices, make commitments on an individual level. 

Gilbert said that even with a sustained publicity effort to communicate safe and healthy practices, "there are no guarantees" that there won't be a second wave of the coronavirus. 

"What we really want is a community wide movement where people are going to make public commitments," he said. "We think this has a real chance to be seen as a model around the country." 

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Art for Ohio Fundraiser Features New Work From Several of Cleveland's Best Artists

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 1:09 PM

mockup-8e577f15.jpg
Local artist Justin Lipsky has just launched Art for Ohio, a fundraiser that features new work from notable local artists such as Bob Peck, OK Pants, Vada Azeem, Justin Hustle, Glen Infante, Corey Forde, Shawn Coss, Churkh and more.

All profits will be donated to the Children's Hunger Alliance. The local nonprofit has helped feed children who have lost access to meals as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Last year, the agency partnered with schools, child care providers, and faith and community-based organizations to reportedly provide more than 9.5 million meals to those in need.

The prints will set you back $40 plus shipping. Eight dollars of the print price will go towards offsetting the costs for printing and packaging.

All apparel and stickers on Art for Ohio are printed on demand as orders are placed. Nine dollars of those product prices will go towards offsetting the cost of printing, apparel and packaging.

Inspired by similar fundraisers in Baltimore, MD and Elmhurst, NY that have raised over one million dollars for their communities, Lipsky hopes his fundraiser will be as successfully in “rallying our creative community to come together for neighbors who desperately need our help.”

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Cleveland: My Friend Who’s Also Kind of a Mess

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 12:19 PM

click image ERIK DROST/FLICKRCC
  • Erik Drost/FlickrCC
It’s been almost three months since I’ve been to Playhouse Square, and I really miss it.

Yes, fine, I’m a normie who likes that incredibly bougie section of Cleveland with a chandelier in the middle of it. You caught me. For what it’s worth, it’s also the section of the city where universities, media organizations, businesses and nonprofits all exist together within a quarter mile radius but sure, it’s definitely more than a bit pretentious.

I’ve spent many of my most precious moments over the past six years in the space between the Scene office next to the baseball stadium and the western edge of the Cleveland State campus on East 18th. Between Scene, the County building, the City Club, the United Way, Starbucks, the Center for Community Solutions, IdeaStream, and the Urban College, that slice of downtown pretty much represents most of my Cleveland experience. And if I had the money and the confidence (or perhaps the opposite of that), I’d get rid of the chandelier and replace it with a no-frills sign that simply says, “Do Better.”

It’s not an effort to call out anyone. That’s really not my style. Instead, it would be an attempt to call in folks. To remind our leaders and our lay people that Cleveland deserves their hard work and that, when you do give it all you have, you can actually make a difference in this city.

I know that sounds too fluffy and sentimental. Cheesy, even. But it’s objectively true, and often not in a positive way. From TownHall to City Hall, this city enables people who would be nobodys in other places. Some lawyer from an outlying suburban community probably would not be given free rein to lead an expensive, yet entirely empty and unplanned, effort to bring a massive tech industry into the city. And though many of the same names and faces continue to hold onto tremendous amounts of power in every city, Cleveland’s whos-who can be simultaneously too small time to be impactful yet too big to fail.

And what happens, because Cleveland is such a big small town, is that so many people are so interconnected that not only do the select few have outsized influence but those who aren’t inside that circle of influence face disdain or backlash when they offer any critique.

So today, I’m going to address my good friend, Cleveland. Not because I’m leaving, though I am. The “blow things up and don't look back” thing is reserved specifically for bad action movies. I try to avoid burning bridges when I can and I like Cleveland enough to never want to do that to her. But the city deserves a Do Better agenda and I’ll spell it out as best as I can.

Talk is Cheap but Accountability is Worth its Weight in Gold

We need to stop letting people talk about things without explaining exactly what they mean and what specific actionable steps they will take to achieve it (cough, cough, equity). How? By changing the ways they communicate with us and forcing them to, at some point, produce a clear plan that they can be held accountable to.

If I could add anything to the City Club and League of Women Voters forums from local speakers, it would be a standard presentation requirement that SMART goals be included with every presentation, for example. Each speaker should present the audience with Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound examples of how anyone might actualize the subject of their talk. The plan should be visualized and posted publicly. Similarly, when candidates seek out endorsements, they should be asked for SMART plans, not 150-word blurbs. People will fill all of that space with the aspirational crap they think you love. We don't love it. We know its nonsense. Stop letting them do that.

Those are small easy fixes.

For those in the media who get a chance to control conversations with city leaders, please remember that we’re relying on you to be our intermediaries.

You have direct access to many of the city’s most powerful actors. Ask the hard questions. Keep doing it. Press them for better answers. Say things like, “That thing you mentioned. How will you do that?” Repeat the answers. I know you all do this already. And some of you do an amazing job. I’m just pushing you to do it more, and more clearly, and in ways that only the press can. Make it easier for us to understand what we need to keep track of, which promises have and have not been fulfilled.

And those city and civic leaders — the Kevin Kelleys, the Augie Napolis, the Armond Budishes, the Dan Bradys, etc. etc. etc.

I’ve met each of you at least once. You’re all incredibly powerful actors in this city/region. You know this; I don't have to remind you. You have incredibly large constituencies and thousands of people who are relying on you to move the needle in this city towards enriching the lives of all of its citizens. But some of you seem to be incapable of admitting that there’s more to be done. Every critique is met with a rehashing of your entire record of dedication to the city. We don't need that. What Clevelanders need you to do is be vulnerable, humble, and — at times — apologetic. Don’t just tell us how you’re going to fix it, admit that you’ve messed up. That kind of talk is never cheap. In fact, it's worth even more than you can imagine. Because it creates a real relationship with this city that goes beyond your performance straight to your heart and soul — what makes you truly worthy of leading.

Most of the Men are Mediocre at Best and Badass Women Need More Respect

Do you see that list of people I just named? They’re all men. They’re all white. And that is a damn shame.

Cleveland, your women are leading the boardroom meeting and you act like they’re there to get the coffee. Stop it. It’s rude and sloppy but, more importantly, it means your pissing away so much potential.

I was going to name a bunch of women who are amazing and inspiring but the list would take up the rest of the space I have here. And yet, if you go to almost any meeting of the whos-who in Cleveland, any major governing event — heck, even just take a look at who’s on the commissions and boards — you’d think that there are maybe fifteen women in this city. That’s because Cleveland loves to give women ceremonious power and keep the substantive power for its men.

This is especially true in the marketing, arts, and creative industries in this city. There are dozens of women working four times as hard as men, with at least twice the talent and six times the level of out-of-office commitments, who are only vaguely referenced by their workplace or a brand that they cultivated for which they get zero credit. Those women are reimagining our city and some of y'all are salivating for a male architect or two.

In the public sector, there are a decent number of women in really good positions but very few in really great ones. I hope more women will run in 2021. We need to have competitive races with women candidates running to represent every single powerful institution here. And if we want to make sure that happens- we need other women and men to encourage them to do so. To hype up these insanely gifted and hardworking women to the point where they have the level of ambition of every mediocre white dude in this town.

Hard Working People Don’t Get Paid to Criticize, the Least You Can Do Is Listen

Many of Cleveland’s most ardent supporters have almost no ability to share their views on the city. People in media, public service, labor, nonprofits — folks who get paid a salary that would only be tolerated in this city, and one that’s only tolerated because it means you get to stay here and work in this region — are constantly maligned or silenced. It’s as if only if you have a private sector job and a home that’s on half an acre of suburban property can you speak openly about the city.

And that is so incredibly stupid. Because why on earth would you prioritize someone who seeks only potential private gain above the person who literally works on behalf of the public?

How about, instead of inviting them all into a room and telling them they need to spend three days only discussing what they love about Cleveland, just sit with them one-on-one and pick their brains. Buy them coffee, ask them what tiny thing you can change that might make the city better. Be honest with them and tell them what you can and can't do. And for God’s sake stop firing them. Or reporting their actions to their bosses. Or trying to see problems where there aren't any.

I love Cleveland. I will never root for your garbage football team but the city is amazing. And you know what makes it amazing? The people who dedicate every day to this city despite the fact that the talking heads ignore them and their jobs might be at stake if they dare to critique the Mayor’s cabinet members. These people spend every day giving their all to this city. They don't have time to relax in Playhouse Square and look at the chandelier. They’re doing the work. The rest of us need to Do Better.

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Heroic Ohio Senate Passes Bill Forbidding Local Plastic Bag Bans for One Year

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 12:08 PM

PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Photo via Wikimedia Commons
The Ohio Senate took yet another courageous stand Wednesday when it passed a bill which would forbid municipalities from banning or imposing special fees on plastic bags and other so-called auxiliary containers for one year.

House Bill 242 will now return to the Ohio House, whence it sprang. It was there conceived by legislators who are "bought and paid for" by manufacturers, the Ohio retail lobby and the state's chamber of commerce. Though initially designed as a permanent ban, cooler heads in the Ohio Senate dialed the legislation back to a one-year moratorium.

Local Republican state senator Matt Dolan told cleveland.com that he would've voted NO on a permanent ban, but that a temporary version would provide "consistency and stability" during the coronavirus. 

Consistency and stability are things that legislators love to provide for businesses in Ohio. An earlier version of HB242 was intended, its sponsor told Scene, to reduce the cost and complexity of regulations for businesses in the state. (That sponsor, George Lang, represents a district where a plastic bag manufacturer is located. Go figure.) 

But the legislation may have been a moot point locally, as Cuyahoga County — the largest and highest profile jurisdiction to consider a bag ban — already indicated that it would delay the enforcement of its ban back in April, citing coronavirus concerns.

Plastic manufacturers are of course overjoyed to trumpet the potential health risks of reusable bags, and are no doubt delighted that plastic bag bans have been lifted elsewhere, given the unknown nature of COVID-19's spread.

In Ohio, the legislation is merely the latest in a recurring series for the general assembly. The state body concerns itself foremost with meaningless bills to rile up their gerrymandered districts and bills like the current ban on plastic bag bans, which preempt cities from governing themselves at the behest of business interests.

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