Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for the ‘growing an economy’ Category

Please Bring Clarity to this “Class Divide” article

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Channel 19 shared Stephen Ohlemacher’s Associated Press article Report: SOcial Security overpaid nearly half on disability. citing a government study which says Social Security overpaid nearly half of those on disability.

The copyright says : Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.  Therefore, I am not sharing, but you can find it most anywhere-ABC NEWS, CNN, AOL just Google Stephen Ohlemeyer social security.

Here are my questions: Who was overpaid, why were they overpaid and how has this been corrected?  From personal experience I am flummoxed to see that these overpayments seem to be made year after year.  In my opinion, this kind of reporting does little else expect put fuel on the fire of “class divide” between those who fund and those who receive. Where is the outrage for those charged with administering these funds? Why are corrections not placed into the programming to “catch” these mistakes?

In my mind, this type of article does more to promote a "class divide" instead of shedding light on how a government agency with so much technology at its beck and call cannot figure out the "right" benefit to give. Making it so funders and recipients alike are left with inadequate data.

For a short time in 2009, I received disability payments. It took just 6 months to get approval on what I would receive, when I would receive it and how long I would receive it. The government wanted to divide it into 3 payments. I asked to have it in two since I had already waited six months. After submitting expenses for those six months, I received the first of two payments. It was cut and dried. I have a friend who receives payments as well. Each year adjustments are made- the first in January when her check is increased- this year it was $10. In July, her rent is recalculated-it will go up $2; therefore, she will be able to use the $8 to pay the increase in her phone bill because she is still forced to keep a land line for life line (the discount has expired because supposedly soon she will be able to have a cell phone instead). With this kind of micromanaging which is neither here nor there, I just want to know HOW the government has overpaid these people for supposedly years.

A study is cited but I have been unable to find a link to that specifically. The article says ”according to a government watchdog”.   The next sentence says “in all, Social Security overpaid beneficiaries by nearly $17 billion, according to a 10-year study be the agency’s inspector general.  Who is the government agency and who is the inspector general?  Lots of questions, few answers. 

 

This link is provided: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 7th, 2015 at 12:44 pm

PUBLIC MEETING: Aragon Ballroom

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PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE

ZONING APPEAL

Aragon Ballroom

3179 West 25th Street

Thursday, January 22nd at 6:00 pm

At Lincoln West High School 3202 West 30th Street

Park and enter from the NORTH parking lot

The owner of Aragon Ballroom (Ali Faraj) would like to renovate the historic building as an event/conference center. The use will be allowed if it doesn’t negatively impact the neighborhood.

 

I would suggest anyone living near the West 25th corridor, whether it is close to the Aragon Ballroom or not, should attend this IMPORTANT meeting. Since this will be the FIRST MAJOR renovation along a street where MANY upgrades and changes are planned, we need to do this right and the COMMUNITY should be included.

Among other things to be considered is a PARKING variance. Rumor has it that already an agreement with Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the owners has already been struck. My question why isn’t the vacant lot on West 25th Street very close to the venue considered for parking? When the corridor booms a well placed parking lot should be in the mix, correct? The area surrounding the ARAGON is VERY residential and how will on street parking be handled?

If the seminars and business activities do not meet expectations, what type of “entertainment” will the venue book? What type of liquor permits will be requested? A lot of questions need to be asked and answered. Solutions need to be found for the community’s concerns.

An historic preservation of a building is only ONE of things to be considered here and should not be used as a smoke screen for the very real impact on the surrounding community.

Please consider taking the time out of your very busy lives to attend.

 

Written by Gloria Ferris

January 21st, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Talking Points for First Energy PUCO Hearing January 20, 2015

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First Energy PUCO Hearings – Talking Points
• Roughly one in three Ohio households, 1.4 million in all, are considered cost burdened by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards, paying more than 30 percent of their annual income on housing and utilities combined. Ohio families can’t afford a monopoly power plant bailout.
• According to the 2013 Home Energy Affordability Gap Report, more than 300,000 Ohio households pay over 30 percent of their annual income just on their home energy bills alone.
• FirstEnergy is asking the PUCO to permit its subsidiaries, Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison, and Cleveland Illuminating Company, to buy from FirstEnergy’s own power plants, at a premium, instead of from the PJM wholesale market where they are required to buy – as part of the deregulation FirstEnergy itself petitioned for.
• If this bailout goes through, consumers will be on the hook for FirstEnergy’s bad business decisions – at a projected cost of over $3 billion over fifteen years.
• If the ESP is approved, FirstEnergy would realize a revenue surplus of around $2 billion over operating costs for the fifteen year arrangement.
• FirstEnergy is fudging the numbers. To get an Electric Security Plan instead of a Market Rate Offer, FirstEnergy has to show a cost savings for customers. But even though they’re asking for a three year ESP, they’re claiming customer savings not over three years, but over the life of the 15 year power purchase agreement bailout they want. And even those numbers are wild speculation.
• When FirstEnergy’s own projections are limited to the 3 year span of the actual ESP, instead of the 15 year extended rider they’re seeking, FirstEnergy’s own projections indicate a $400 million net ratepayer loss.
• FirstEnergy’s proposal is anticompetitive. Getting this bail out would mean that FirstEnergy can undercut more efficient producers in the wholesale electricity market. Driving out those producers will limit energy choice.
• FirstEnergy says efficiency upgrades are costly, but they want these subsidies because they are losing out in the wholesale market – to wind and natural gas.
• Because with this rider, FirstEnergy recovers its full “cost” of generation, the rider would create an incentive for FirstEnergy to inflate its costs, which are not totally transparent to the PUCO.
• FirstEnergy is saying this plan will save customers money in the long run – but if that’s true, why don’t they want to take the risk and realize those cost savings for themselves? They’re asking PUCO to force customers to take a risk they’re not willing to take themselves.
• FirstEnergy has successfully petitioned the PUCO not to release cost and revenue figures so the public can learn the full story. If this plan really will benefit consumers, then what do they have to hide?
• FirstEnergy is asking the government to enforce a monopoly. Even though customers may want to choose a different supplier, those served by FirstEnergy power lines would still have to pay the surcharge – even though this surcharge is for subsidizing unprofitable plants, not for grid maintenance.

Written by Gloria Ferris

January 6th, 2015 at 9:26 pm

Reframing the Money Dialogue

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Recently, I told someone that I think we do not discuss the poverty rate and the day to day reality in our neighborhoods in a way that causes any real action on how to change it.

This comment was in response to yet again another discussion about the yearly “go around” when the City and the Cleveland City Council takes on the subject of Community Development Block Grant funds and how the ever shrinking pot will be dispensed. You might wonder why this would be a topic of conversation for me on a daily basis at this time of year. I serve as the Chair for the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton and Brooklyn Centre Community Advisory Council, and that is the reason.

Disclaimer:  This blog post is strictly my own thoughts and views on the subject and does not in any way represent an official viewpoint of said Council or anyone else for that matter.

Our economic strategy is based on scarcity rather than abundance. in essence “the haves and the have nots”. It doesn’t matter what commodity the discussion is about: food, oil and gas, money, transportation, water, land,  you name it,  and what it boils down to  is who has it and who doesn’t. In the case of CDBG funds who holds the purse strings and how it is dispensed is the topic of discussion.

Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900’s built libraries instead of soup kitchens based on the premise that people’s minds should be fed as well as their bodies. Kind of a “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” philosophy. Cleveland Public Library’s “The People’s University” comes to mind.

Last year, I had the opportunity to hear Peter Block, one of the authors of “The Abundant Community” and Dr. Olivia Saunders, an economist from the Bahamas at an all day seminar hosted by River’s Edge.  Since I was in college, I have always had an avid interest in economics, but their discussion about The Economics of Abundance turned everything I thought I knew  upside down and has had me looking at things differently ever since that day. Dr. Saunders held up a tomato and asked this question “ How many seeds does this tomato have?” Then, in small groups, we were to figure out how many seeds were in that tomato. The answers varied from the hundreds to the tens of thousands.  Her answer: “enough”.

As long as we see “getting the money” as the end rather than the means, we will continue to believe “there is not enough”.  Collaboration, partnering, and developing “new” ways of doing things is how we transform our ability to “do more good with fewer dollars” because we have the skill set to do it within each community in Cleveland.   Peter Block voiced how we are taught that the answers are “out there” and “somewhere else” instead of right there within a community itself.

This article “Is It Taboo for You Too?” by Richard Wagner on www. worth living.com  asks some good questions on how we could reframe the dialogue into some meaningful discussions . How we could ask some questions that could actually begin to change our mindset about money as the tool it is rather than the end goal. Put it all in perspective as it were.

My letter to Councilman Cummins and others about the “State of the Art” Scoreboard

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Dear Councilman/Councilwoman –

The Cleveland Browns needs to share revenue with the City of Cleveland  to the extent that football is supported by the public purse.

I do not favor giving the Browns any more money for the stadium unless we the people become full and mutual partners in the revenue–not necessarily, just in the profits.

What the public has invested now needs to be calculated honestly, and what the owners have invested now needs to be stated transparently and completely. From that point on, further capital contributions can be tracked, and concessions and incentives can be tallied. Revenues should then be divided. Profits come after that.

Let them move the team if businesslike terms aren’t palatable. This extortion must end. Living with a lease negotiated while Mayor Jackson was President of Council, surely, does not mean we should continue to give and give more than necessary.

As one of our elected officials meant to counterbalance the City Administration, please do your due diligence and remember those who believe in your ability to stand up to bullies.

Also, I believe support of the team should be regional, not merely shouldered solely by the City of Cleveland.

Sincerely,

 

Gloria Ferris

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 25th, 2013 at 5:28 pm

“Trash To Energy” Just Keeps on Giving

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But, not to the people of Cleveland. We just keep on paying.

Correct me if I am wrong. It is my understanding that Cleveland Public Power is owned by the public who buy electricity from the company. Therefore, Ms. Harper Hall ‘s assertion that taxpayer’s money is not used for the settlement may be technically correct, but the fact that Cleveland residents “own” the utility means that it is their money used to pay Mr. Tein. Just another pocket is used.

Tein agreed to a $250,000 settlement City Hall spokeswoman Maureen Harper Hall said. None of that money comes out of taxpayers pocket, she noted.  It is paid by revenue generated by Cleveland Public Power.”  Wednesday, 18 September 2013 Cleveland Plain Dealer Cleveland’s Settlement on trash plant stinks editorial Page E02

 

Read the whole editorial here.

Written by Gloria Ferris

September 18th, 2013 at 11:05 am

Ward 14 Meet The Candidates Citizen’s Questions

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Recently we had two forums in Ward 14 with the candidates for Cleveland City Council.  Questions were submitted in writing by audience members.

 

I find it quite interesting the broad range of question asked by two different audience.  I will compare the topics again in a later post but right now, I am so proud of my friends and neighbors,  The are informed, knowledgeable and engaged in their neighborhoods and community.

We can learn a lot from them on how democracy works.

Ward 14 citizen questions focused on the following topics:

  • Attracting residents
  • Community development investment
  • Youth programs
  • Civility
  • Local organization collaboration
  • Senior citizen low-income assistance programs
  • "Green" sustainability program development
  • Hispanic Village development
  • Residency of government officials
  • Universal local representation
  • Clark Avenue strategic planning
  • Council and police collaboration

Ward 14 Citizen Questions Meet The Candidates Forum No. 2 by The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open)

Meet The Candidates

Ward 14 citizen questions focused on the following topics:

  • Jobs
  • Neighborhood safety
  • Faith-based economic development
  • City Dumping
  • Recycling
  • Civic engagement to inform strategic planning
  • Code enforcement
  • Street maintenance
  • Senior citizen service programs
  • Thoroughfare improvements

Ward 14 Citizen Questions Meet The Candidates Forum No. 1 by The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open)

Written by Gloria Ferris

September 4th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Freakonomics » Should We All Just Give Cash Directly to the Poor?

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Soon, we’ll hear the cry of the secular nonprofits, in one voice, shrieking, “What about us?”

To paraphrase Niehaus, is it fair to say, “A typical poor person is poor not because he is irresponsible, but because he was born in a ghetto in Cleveland”?

Perhaps it would be better to give directly. Certainly, it should be better than funneling funds through the city government, the city council, and the local councilperson.

Silicon Valley heavyweights like Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and Google have a new favorite charity: GiveDirectly, an organization that makes direct transfers (via M-Pesa) to poor people in the developing world. From Forbes:

“Instead of building hospitals, why don’t we just give poor people money? Research shows it’s effective,” [Hughes] said. Hughes, who purchased The New Republic magazine in early 2012 and serves as publisher, also joined the board of GiveDirectly.

Backing up Hughes’s point was Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Giving at Google. She told the crowd Thursday night that one of her superiors at Google was extremely skeptical when Fuller first suggested that Google back GiveDirectly. “I was told, ‘You must be smoking crack,’ ” Fuller recalled. But GiveDirectly had exactly what Google wanted: lots of data on how the recipients of cash used it to improve their nutrition, their health and their children’s education. After looking at the data, Google donated $2.5 million to GiveDirectly.

GiveDirectly stems from economist Paul Niehaus‘s research in India, where to limit corruption the government  makes direct cash transfers via mobile phones.  “A typical poor person is poor not because he is irresponsible, but because he was born in Africa,” says Niehaus, adding that GiveDirectly’s transfers have had positive impacts on nutrition, education, land, and livestock — and haven’t increased alcohol consumption.  The charity is also No. 2 on Givewell’s list of recommended charities.

Freakonomics » Should We All Just Give Cash Directly to the Poor?

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 4th, 2013 at 10:24 am

South Euclid Council says :Big Box Retail-It’s a Good Thing

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oakwood cfo image

may just have something to say about all that.

As more people opt for walkable bikeable communities with boutique commercial districts, South Euclid’s elected officials buy into an outmoded business model with the promise of it  “being green”.  You tell me how taking 144/54 acres of green space and replacing it with much less is  “being green”.  Obviously, someone is keeping South Euclid’s government occupied so they don’t see all the studies showing that those communities with parks for walking and biking are the ones where people are now settling.  I haven’t seen any studies lately on the hordes of people moving to be close to “big box retail”. I have seen a lot of news articles about the eyesores and blight left behind when “the big box” moves to the next community willing to sell its soul.

I am thankful for my friends Susan and Carla and so many others  willing to devote precious free time to combating Mitch Schneider’s latest venture to make his investors and himself rich and to make South Euclid/Cleveland Heights poorer.  Here is the link to their face book page:

 https://www.facebook.com/#!/citizensforoakwood

Here is an email I received from Susan earlier today.  I asked her if I could post it on my blog because I want her reasons for standing up against this development known.  Please sign her petition asking for sustainable land use and take the time to read what she has to say. It’s good stuff. Oh and those of you talking about “class warfare” shame on you.  We are into this together and when we allow what makes us all “rich”- the beauty of our land to be plundered- those “selling out”  for the short term are the ones who are waging class warfare. You are taking what made our area prosperous and selling us all into poverty.  

If you feel that we have enough big box retail in the Heights Hillcrest area and need not destroy precious green space to build more, you may wish to add your name to the petition linked here:

http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-ripping-up-green-space-to-build-shopping-centers-support-sustainable-land-use?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email

Here’s the long story of why I’ve directed so much time and attention to this:

You may or may not know that I have been involved with a group called Citizens for Oakwood. We’re trying to save 144/54 acres of green space – the former Oakwood Country Club. We’d like to see it become a public park (and improve it’s ability to be a sponge for stormwater by allowing it to be a passive park). First Interstate/Legacy Capital Partners would like it to be big box retail. Of course, Jane Goodman, city council person in South Euclid where he’s begun the rezoning for big box process, promises that this will be a green infrastructure exemplar. Since South Euclid is in such a fiscally dire situation, it is clear to most that it is not a lack of retail, but rather downward (economic) pressure that is driving this. I think most adults know that we can’t buy our way to prosperity. Some are still fooled I guess. What was that Bush said about fool me once, keep right on foolin’ me – I’m feelin’ foolish?

It has raised three issues for me and for many of us.

1) Golf clubs are dying – Landerhaven was first, Oakwood is now, Acacia is next (now that it’s out of litigation). Then which golf/country club private course will fall to a developer? Seneca just sold to Metroparks. Hmmm… Which golf course will go next? While the focus will undoubtedly be on our poor relation, the City of Cleveland, you are aware, I’m sure, that poverty is creeping outward, just as population has. Now it’s also the inner ring that’s feeling the pressure. Please consider the golf courses and work with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to help these clubs to stay green space. By the time all the planners have finished their studies and identified the "value" of green swathes to our Lake, big box retail may have ruled the day and the tiny municipal governments in South Euclid and Cleveland Heights despite our efforts. I have tried to make the argument that this is more valuable to South Euclid and Cleveland Heights as open green space from a water quality and quality of life standpoint, but I don’t have the metrics. Tacit knowledge is much harder to convey in a world where everything is a transaction. South Euclid just rewrote their entire comprehensive plan to accommodate this development. They did it in two weeks with two people. For golf courses, the WRLC exemplar is Orchard Hills – admittedly "out there", but still a good example of what could be "in here".

2) The downward pressure might be lessened if these balkanized municipalities had merged years ago. I’m going to keep exploring this for our future. It would be good to fold in the value of water absorbing green space when that muni mapping becomes a part of that discussion. The idea? What if Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, University Heights and South Euclid were one suburb? What white collar efficiencies might be gained? And could those efficiencies result in some greater resiliency and redundancy in our shared green space?

3) At a forum sponsored by Future Heights on land use and Oakwood, Terry Schwarz mentioned that the metric for jobs and parkland is 1 job per acre. I realized that agricultural land has no metric. Why is this important? Because, growing food, farming in the city has no value. It may not now, but it will shortly. The day will come (sooner than later in my estimation) when refrigerated trucks from the valleys of California will not arrive in NEO. We will need to be reliant on what can be grown and raised locally. We may tear down buildings just to be able to farm. Impending doom – energy crisis? Yes. It is upon us. We may look back and say, "Boy! We sure wish we’d saved this land for growing food!" 154 acres is a substantial bit-o-farmland. I’ll be meeting with farmland and farming experts to discuss how to discover per-acre metrics for ag land so that local food can enter these planning discussions.

In an article in Ecowatch Journal, it is noted that new project efforts at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens will include this issue: "Based on existing work being done in the region and success stories in other cities, identify barriers to implementation of green infrastructure as targets for future action and develop strategies to overcome them." Funny. I asked NEORSD if there might be a land use aspect to their big stormwater plan. You know like, residents of municipalities that have retained green space would get a tiny automatic  credit. They said – no, NEORSD doesn’t get into land use. I guess NEORSD will be in these discussions though. Land use and such best management practices as downspout disconnects where appropriate (most places in NEO) are the low hanging fruit of addressing our water quality issues. Mother earth is a filter. We have abused her mightily, no doubt, but she is still there, still willing like any mother to help her children.

It may be too late for Oakwood unless we all come together to stop this madness. We’re not giving up, but South Euclid’s government seems to have. They’re in a deep hole at Cedar Center – $19 million deep. What could be another piece of Ginny Aveni’s County Greenprint – the Emerald Lace that connects our Emerald Necklace, the Cuyahoga River Valley and Lake Erie, may be paved to put up a parking lot. No pink hotel, no boutique – big box retail. We don’t plan to stop our arguments now and we hope you’ll raise your voice as well and participate in this democratic practice. We need to do everything we can to keep the bulldozers from rolling over Oakwood. At rallies for SB5 I heard the now familiar chant, "This is what democracy looks like!" Letting our elected officials know how we feel is democracy. Democracy isn’t just voting; it’s a state of being, a way of life.

My son has graduated from college and moved away to Seattle for work. There he can take public transportation, ride his bike, pay his college loan instead of a car loan and visit the wonderful parks that the city has protected. How I hope that someday he can move back to Cleveland Heights and appreciate similar amenities here – NEO – the region that woke up and got busy turning what seemed like a burden into a blessing! This  would be an even better story of how Cleveland beat Wall Street. That’s the story I want to hear when I’m passing into another world.

Currently we’re all feeling the downward pressure. It’s palpable in Cleveland and the region, in the state, in the nation. We just want our fellow citizens to look farther, longer and with an eye to water quality, air quality, quality of life. We want them to see that there is a world water crisis that will not bypass the Great Lakes. We want them to think not so much about the hardship they’re enduring, which will increase in the near term, but to consider the outcomes in the long term, however difficult that may be. We’d like to make a gift to future generations. As Ellie Strong said speaking of the "little old ladies in tennis shoes" who saved the Shaker Lakes, "to each generation there is something to save."

Susan

Taking Back the Land in Cleveland

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I just posted : “Impressive Stanard Farm Is a Must See” on Local Food Cleveland and I decided that this farm, greenhouse, and vineyard are things to celebrate about Cleveland.  All of these ventures were met with the usual naysayers in Cleveland but my friends preservered because they knew that had “an idea whoese time has come”.  These projects by people who love Cleveland, not because they think they can “get rich quick”, but because they believe in our community and they want to create jobs and offer excellent products to their fellow inhabitants of Northeast Ohio.  These people exemplify what “eonomic development” is.

Yesterday our local Cleveland Public Branch manager Mrs. Cheryl Diamond and I visited Stanard Farm for the first time.  Summer Sprout partnered with them this year to distribute the thousands of plants destined to feed Cleveland communities this summer and fall.  Since this was my first time to ever take part in this event, I have no comparisons but it was efficient, friendly and convenient- a good experience all the way around.

When you think about it, Superior Avenue seems a strange place for a farm, but is it?  Besides this farm, Community Greenhouse Partners has moved in to 6527 Superior Avenue, the original location of St. George’s Lithuanian Church and Blue Pike Farm is just up the road a piece.  I couldn’t resist using that phrase from my youth.  My grandfather and his pals ALWAYS  used that phrase to describe how far a lost traveler’s destination was.

If you are an "urban"  explorer on foot, by bike or car, you certainly should check out Stanard Farm, the other farms in the St. Clair-Superior area as well as Chateau Hough just a neighborhood away.