Saturday, February 12, 2011

Graffiti Busters - Community Action

 Graffiti Removal Action & Training

When:  12:00 Noon - 2:00 pm, Tomorrow, Sunday 2/13/2011
Where: Meet-up at "Gas USA" 3101 Scranton
What you need: 
  1. Energetic attitude (we'll provide the coffee!); 
  2. Comfortable layered work clothes;
  3. Supplies - we'll have what we need but you can also bring the following if you have it; safety glasses, work gloves, rags/cotton cloth, fine steel wool; acitone; paint scraper. 
Due to the high volume of graffiti tags over the last six-weeks and the difficulty of the weather (below freezing temps) we'll be taking a few hours tomorrow to try to remove as much graffiti in the neighborhoods of Tremont, Clark Fulton, Stockyards and Brooklyn Centre as we can.  The temperature is predicted to reach the high 30's tomorrow. 

Although locations have been reported to the City's Public Works Department, there is a long list for removal throughout the city and the below freezing temperatures have limited the City's ability to get the work done.   Over the last few weeks some of our block club leaders and members have expressed an interest in rolling up there sleeves and helping out, therefore the action planned for tomorrow.

We'll be fortunate to have our very own graffiti removal expert - Anthony Petti from the old Brooklyn neighborhood assisting us.  Anthony has been volunteering his services to several of our neighborhoods over the last few years and he'll help us out tomorrow by providing some hand-on training and of course removal and paint-overs.

Please RSVP by email or phone and feel free to join-in at anytime during the two hours planned (call me on my cell and we can direct you).  If we get enough folks to participate we'll plan on breaking up into groups and covering s much as we can during the two hours.  If you cannot make it tomorrow but are interested in receiving training and would like to participate in the future, please let us know and we'll add you to the "Graffiti Removal Team".

* UPDATE - 2/13/2011
Below are examples of the work done today as well as how it was done.  Even the worst case, as in the first storefront, only took about 15 minutes to complete.  The paint-over examples are temporary until the temperatures are higher and the owners of the buildings can re-paint properly.  Tags removed from metal surfaces can be done so with acetone or a few other types of products most of the time.

Thanks! to Anthony Petti for sharing his experience and lending a hand along with Eric Lutzo.  Thanks also to Jack and Ron Amburgey and their Name Brand Paint and Hardware Closeouts store for donating paint and supplies.  Their store is located at 4199 Pearl Road and features 5-gallon and 1-gallon name brand paints for as low as $39 and $2.  If you have a chance to purchase any product, please be sure to thank them.

Storefront, Scranton Road.  Paint-over, 1) spray paint partial cover over tags, 2) finished off with latex and roller.  Time, 15 min.
Utility box, Pearl Road.  Removal, using acetone and a scrunge/cotton cloth.  Time 10-min.
Storefront, Scranton Road.  Paint-over, 1) spray paint partial cover over tags, 2) finished off with latex and roller.  Time, 10 min.
Gas pump, Scranton Road.  Removal, using acetone and a scrunge/cotton cloth.  Time less than 5-min.


We'll continue to work with the City's Public Works Department's Graffiti Removal program as well as  assisting business and commercial property owners and ensuring they are more responsive in removing graffiti.

But, the work done today clearly shows that removing and painting over tags is an easy process that can be done quickly.  There are discussions to plan additional clean-ups like today.  Volunteers are welcome to contact the local development corporations or my office to sign-up to be notified of the next scheduled date.  A date in April is also being planned and more information for that will be forthcoming.  

There is no one easy solution to this problem and the multiple efforts and enforcements will all be needed to be able to more quickly eliminate graffiti, which is proved in discouraging taggers.

A word about the taggers -- In reviewing the over 70 tags we've inventoried over the past 6-weeks, it is clear that only three or four individuals are responsible for the majority of graffiti.  And, in working with the 2nd District Police, there is no evidence that the majority of the graffiti was the work of any gangs.  We are also aware that the graffiti being reported in Ward 17 in and around Lorain Ave. and W. 117th Street was done by several of the same taggers that have vandalized Ward 14.

We have photographed and are inventorying the images of the tags.  We'll be sharing that information and ask that residents and business persons help in being vigilant in reporting graffiti as well as taking measures to quickly eliminate it.  The information needed to report graffiti is listed below.  We would also ask to please call our office at this time as well so we can assist with tracking until we can collectively catch-up once the weather is nicer.
  • On City-owned buildings: 216.420.8200 - Weekdays 7:00 am to 3:30 pm.
  • On other structures: 216.664.2510 - Weekdays 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
  • Cleveland City Council, Ward 14, 216.664.4238.
Also see:
By, Rachel Dissell, The Plain Dealer, Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2011 Mayor's Estimated Budget

2011 Mayors Estimate Bdgt CLE OH

Council receives 2011 Mayor's Estimate Budget

Cleveland City Council received today, Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Estimated Budget for 2011.

The submittal represents a general fund budget of $512 million and a total citywide budget of $1.29 billion.

2011 Revenue is projected at $505.9 million for the General Fund with projected expenses of $512.3 million.  A $6.4 million funding gap is proposed to be filled by a carry-over of the same amount from 2010.

See the complete file embedded above or download the complete file (22.2 MB pdf) here.

The budget takes into consideration the State of Ohio’s projected $8 billion or more budget deficit and measures that are expected to occur including a likely cut in the local government funding that the State provides and the loss of $5 million or more in Estate Taxes.  The Mayor estimates a potential shortfall of revenue in the amount of  $28 million.

The following measures are being recommended by Mayor Jackson to deal with the anticipated deficit: no cost of living increases for  2011; continuation of the current hiring freeze (began in 2006) of non-essential positions; elimination of most currently vacant positions; use of one-time revenue of $12 million from the sale of the convention center for the Medical Mart project; and a $3.7 million bed tax the City anticipates receiving annually as a result of the Medical Mart agreement.

Some of the measures taken in 2010 to deal with a budget of $498.5 million included: a 3.85% net pay reduction for non-union employees – this included Council; pay reductions or concessions from 23 out of 34 bargaining units; and, elimination for the year of longevity pay increases.

In addition to the continuing poor economy and shortfalls in State related funding there is also a serious risk of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and other federal funds being cut and lower anticipated revenues to the City from Property Taxes, Waste Collections and other grants.

The Mayor’s estimated budget relies on the following initiatives to help close the anticipated budget gap:  one-time revenues from the sale of property; costs savings due to restructuring Operations Clusters that merged the Departments of Public Service and Parks, Recreation & Properties; savings through employee attrition; continued energy reduction attributed to operation efficiency efforts; and, increased revenue that is anticipated from the results of a new fee study.

Total staffing for the City is estimated at 5,132.  This is compared to a high over the past 7-years of 5,317 in 2004 and a low of 4,854 for 2010 (un-audited), or a 5.7% increase over last year.

The General Fund budget of $512.3 million is being estimated at a 2.8% increase over last year’s amount of $498.4 million.

A quick look at the largest budget line item category – Public Safety at 59% of the estimated expenditures - shows a staffing amount of 3,267, or a 5.6% increase over last year’s number of 3,093 (aun-audited).  There are proposed increases in the number of staff in uniform and civilian police, uniform fire, EMS and Correction staff.

The City’s Rainy Day Reserve Fund was tapped for $7.5 million for the 2010 budget.  The City waits until as late in the year as possible to transfer these funds and the authorized allocation was not utilized for 2010.  The 2011 proposed budget again utilizes $7.5 million to assist with the gap in revenues to expenditures, which will bring the fund balance down to $1 million.

Council will begin hearing on the budget beginning February 22nd through March 4th.  Hearings regarding the budget for CDBG funding are being held from February 15th through the 17th.

I’ll be posting more regarding the 2011 budgets including links to more of the budget details.  Prior year budget information can be found at the Finance Department’s website here.

Related news:

Council authorizes $2.5 million for turn-around of Division of Water

As reported in the Plain Dealer this morning, Council approved authorization for the Jackson Administration to enter into contract, for 2-years with a renewable 3rd-year option at $1.25/year, with a consultant/professional firm to “develop management strategies, and implement accepted recommendations” for the management of the Division of Water and the Public Utilities Department (oversees Water, Water Pollution Control and Cleveland Public Power).

See Ordinance No. 138-11 here.

See the Full Plain Dealer article here.

Cleveland hires outside consultants for $2.5 million to fix water department
By Mark Gillispie, The Plain Dealer, Tuesday, February 01, 2011
The following was posted as a comment to the article -- 

A few additional facts from yesterday's Finance Committee hearing -- The ordinance approving the consultancy (2-year plus one renewable year, with a not-to-exceed amount of $1.25 million per year, represents an acknowledgement that the Administration does not have, in-house, the management capacity sufficient to run the Division of Water’s operations.  The consultancy is expected to go further to address management issues that intersect the Division of Water Pollution Control as well as Cleveland Public Power. 

The  ordinance was brought to the Finance Committee and was passed as an emergency.  It did not go through the normal Committee process, i.e., read and discussed at a weekly scheduled Utilities Committee meeting.  The ordinance was introduced without any detailed scope of service or detailed narrative of what the consultancy would address and there was initially no funding amount specified.

There was a good amount of debate that included Councilwoman Brady commenting on the fact that in the private sector, the equivalent to the Director and Commissioner positions would be replaced with individuals that could get the job done.  Councilman Polensek and others expressed concerns about the lack of defined scope of service or process and the absence of a not-to-exceed amount in the contract.

There was some discussion that the Chief and Director will be developing a working group to manage and oversee the consultancy.  There is also currently an Acting Commissioner of the Division of Water and they reported that the permanent position will be filled within 90-days.

Council will need to be vigilant in overseeing the process.

To place the issue in some perspective, I mentioned the following issues prior to the vote in Chambers last night –

For over 150 years the City of Cleveland has supplied quality water service to the community.  The Division of Water supplies water to over 1.5 million people throughout 3 counties and 70 communities

The ordinance represents -- $1.25 million per year; 2 years w/ 1 yr renewable
Represents less than 1% of the annual combined budgets of the Dept and Divisions (Water, Water Pollution Control, CPP).

Half a billion dollars ($455) in operations w/ over 1,500 employees (Water, Water Pollution Control, CPP).
  • Department of Public Utilities, $2.5 million budget w/ some 25 employees
  • Division of Water, $260 million budget w/ over 1,000 employees
  • Division of Water Pollution Control, $23 million budget w/ over 150 employees
  • Cleveland Public Power. $170 million budget w/ over 350 employees
  • Division of Water has utilized the following funds for third-party consultancies, for studies, technical services and engineering and design:
    • Professional Services, averaged $5 million last three years.
    • Other Contractual Services, averaged $3 million
  • City of Cleveland should consider the development of a Water/Pollution Control Board to provide oversight to the Departments.  The Board could include participation from the private sector as well as regional/local governments outside of Cleveland.
    • Louisville Water Company (850,000); 7–member Board of Water Works, appointed by the Louisville Metro Mayor
    • The Water and Sewer Advisory Board (2.1 million), 9-member Water and Sewer Advisory Board.
    • Denver, 1.3 million customers; 5-member board
Although there has been substantial progress made, the Mayor's Administration has so far been unable to resolve chronic problems in the operations of the Division of Water. Those of us on City Council should be critical of ourselves as well for not demanding more, sooner.

Even in yesterday's actions, The Administration came to the table with too little information to ensure a successful process to engage a professional outside firm. There is a high degree of trust between the current Council and Mayor and when chronic problems such as this persist, Council needs to be stronger in our oversight role.

As to prove the point of needing to act more quickly the following was also reported this morning by the Plain Dealer -- 

13,000 Cleveland water customers didn't get their November bills
By Dave Davis, The Plain Dealer ,Tuesday, February 01, 2011