Friday, November 18, 2016
Justice and Jobs in Greater Cleveland -
On November 17, 2016, 1,300 GCC members and guests packed Olivet Institutional Baptist Church to make major progress for Justice and Jobs in Greater Cleveland. County Prosecutor-elect O'Malley announced his plans on how he will address overcharging, institute a civil rights division in his office, carry out independent investigation/prosecution in police lethal force cases, and expand drug court. In addition, he and Presiding Judge Russo agreed to spearhead a team to build two mental health crisis triage centers in Greater Cleveland to keep our mentally ill in treatment, not jail. Many public officials were there Thursday who committed to join this team. We also announced our goal of created 1,000 living wage jobs in Cleveland over the next three years by working with public and corporate leaders.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
GCC PUTS JUSTICE SYSTEM ON TRIAL -
MEDIA ROUNDUP: Our Anger to Action: the Justice System on Trial- GCC Criminal Justice Action- February 16, 2016
“Though it is not widely known, the prosecutor is the most powerful law enforcement official in the criminal justice system. One might think that judges are the most powerful, or even the police, but in reality the prosecutor holds the cards. It is the prosecutor, far more than any other criminal justice official, who holds the keys to the jailhouse door.” -Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
IDEASTREAM: Greater Cleveland Congregations Puts County Justice System on "Trial"
CLEVELAND.COM: Faith group puts justice system 'on trial' ahead of Cuyahoga County prosecutor election: Five Takeaways
CLEVELAND JEWISH NEWS: 1,000 advocate for criminal justice system reform
Less than 24 hours after GCC presented its demands, Prosecutor McGinty announced that the case of Tanisha Anderson would be sent to the Ohio Attorney general.
COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE: Ohio A.G. Takes Over Tanisha Anderson Case
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Media Roundup: Greater Cleveland Unite: We Can't Wait! -
Friday, March 6, 2015
GCC Leads Pressure on Mayor Jackson -Plain Dealer
Momentum appears to be building toward meaningful police reform in Cleveland: editorial
For all the anger and mistrust swirling around the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and the release of a critical U.S. Department of Justice report on the use of excessive force by Cleveland police, voices are being raised in clear expectation that meaningful change can be achieved.
These voices come from within the community and from City Hall, where Mayor Frank Jackson has become increasingly forthright about his determination to negotiate a meaningful and -- from his perspective -- fair consent decree with the Justice Department.
The public's input is equally important, and it is heartening to see the Greater Cleveland Congregations, a collection of faith communities, join the dialogue over police reform. They've made a number of recommendations they would like included in a consent decree.
"We see a chance to seize an opportunity, an opportunity to shape changes within the Cleveland police department," Louise McKinney of the Greater Cleveland Congregations said last month during a gathering at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, where her organization handed over its proposals to Jackson and U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.
Many of the GCC's suggestions make sense, including a greater push toward bias-free policing, more diversity on the police force, improved hiring practices and a commitment from both the Justice Department and the city to help pay for the much-needed reforms.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Over 1,000 Present Consent Decree Recommendations to Mayor, Dept of Justice -
On February 3, Over 1100 GCC members and guests presented our recommendations for the Consent Decree to Mayor Frank Jackson, US Attorney Steve Dettelbach, and Department of Justice Civil Rights Section Chief Jonathan Smith. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty also spoke on addressing racial disparities in the juvenile system. GCC's recommendations were: I. Constitutional Policing. II. Internal Accountability. III. Community Engagement: Permanence, Transparancy, Accountability, and IV. Financial Sustainability.
Please see Media Roundup below
Sunday, January 11, 2015
An Unprecedented Opportunity to Transform the Criminal Justice System -Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A broad-based coalition of religious groups is taking action to play a leading role in reform of Cuyahoga County's criminal justice system.
Greater Cleveland Congregations, a nonpartisan coalition representing more than 40 congregations and 20,000 people, will begin a series of meetings on Tuesday to develop and press its recommendations on police reform.
The call to action represents "an unprecedented opportunity for Greater Cleveland Congregations to have an influence on the direction of the criminal justice system in Cleveland for years to come," organizers said.
The meetings are being held on a tighter schedule than originally was planned, to ensure that recommendations can be made while the city and U.S. Department of Justice negotiate a consent decree to cure systemic deficiencies found by the DOJ in the police department.
"This is a way of making sure our voices are heard," said co-chair Rabbi Joshua Caruso of the Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple.
Formed 3-1/2 years ago to "build power for social justice," GCC includes some of Northeast Ohio's most prominent faith communities. It has worked for school reform, to expand Medicaid in Ohio and to reduce gun violence.
Nearly 1,000 people from the group gathered three years ago in a meeting to support criminal justice reform, working with the governor's office and General Assembly.
A general assembly on Feb. 3, expected to draw well over 1,000, will present the GCC position on police reforms to U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, Department of Justice officials and the city of Cleveland. The assembly will be at 7 p.m. at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, 8712 Quincy Ave.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
GCC Leader Marcia Levine Receives Jewish Federation Award -Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Jewish Federation of Cleveland has named Marcia W. Levine of Shaker Heights the 2014 recipient of the organization's Gries Family Award for Community Leadership.
The award recognizes individuals who have made a lasting impression on the federation, the Jewish community and the broader Greater Cleveland community. It is named after the Gries family, one of the first Jewish families to settle in Cleveland.
Outside of the federation, Levine's work includes serving as a board member of Fairmount Temple, as well as Greater Cleveland Congregations. She is board president of the Cleveland Public Theatre.
"I feel very flattered to be included among the group of people who have received this award before me," Levine said in a telephone interview, noting that her continued service to various organizations "is my retirement career."
The Gries Family Award includes a donation to a charitable cause chosen by the recipient. Levine has designated a gift to the Greater Cleveland Congregations.
"I singled them out because it's the youngest organization with which I am involved, and they have a unique approach to solving problems," said Levine. "They are the most integrated, with people from the east and west sides, people of all ages, and people of all faiths."
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
WKYC: GCC Gun Violence Action -WKYC
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Hundreds turned out at the Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights to stop gun violence.
The room was filled with people touched by the pain of gun violence. Each one had a story to share, like Mayor Dennis Wilcox of Cleveland Heights, who was moved to tears as he talked about losing police officer Jason West seven years ago. "That event, which happened in our city, was a shock," Wilcox said as he paused to take a breath.
In the back of the room sat a father who lost his son in the Sandy Hook shooting. Romy Adams lost her cousin to carjackers."It's senseless. Why are we preying on each other? We should be loving one another," said Adams.
Their stories have prompted action, getting all walks of faith, economics and professions to come together to form the Greater Cleveland Congregations, or GCC.
They want gun manufactures to set standards that stop the flow of guns to criminals. They also want them to develop technology that personalizes guns so that only authorized users can fire them. Additionally, they want the manufactures to cooperate more with law enforcement to trace firearms used in crimes.
Since U.S. government agencies buy almost half of guns in this country, the GCC is using local cities and law enforcement to pressure manufactures into making the changes."It's economic leverage. We are saying we have these people who want safer, smarter guns, and they should have the opportunity to do so," said Donna Weinberger, co-chair of the GCC.
It won't bring back the victims of gun violence, but it might prevent more from happening.The GCC has visited some of the biggest manufactures in the world to share the changes they want. They have also sent off more than 700 letters to manufacturers demanding the changes.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
GCC in Plain Dealer Op-Ed on Illegal Guns -The Plain Dealer
Gun-trace data is essential to unlock the DNA of the epidemic of illegal guns in our cities. There is no better way to stop the illicit trafficking in weapons than to make those who manufacture, buy and sell weapons more accountable and those transactions more transparent. How?
Make it easier to trace guns, via technology (serial numbers that can't be erased, for example) and federal laws mandating that gun-trace data be shared with local jurisdictions and, where it won't compromise an ongoing criminal investigation, with the public.
Was a weapon recovered at the crime scene? What type of weapon? Was a gun trace initiated? Did the trace lead to a source – a gun show, a pawnshop, a federally licensed dealer – or did it dead-end in a home burglary or an off-the-books transaction?
"In order to deal with the crisis of gun violence strategically, we have to know where are the guns coming from," Donna Weinberger wrote in an email. Weinberger, a psychotherapist, is co-chair of the Gun Violence Reduction Team of the Greater Cleveland Congregations, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 40 churches, synagogues and faith communities that has targeted illegal gun traffickers.......
Friday, June 20, 2014
GCC Calls for Action as Cuyahoga County Gun Deaths Reaches 52 -The Plain Dealer
A total of 52 deaths have been attributed to firearms in the first five months of 2014 – 33 homicides, 19 suicides. The victims – 47 males, five females – range in age from 5 to 97. They lived in 21 of Cuyahoga County's 59 municipalities – from Beachwood on the east side to Lakewood on the west side.
No community, and no one, is immune. It is not an urban issue. It is not a race issue. It is not a class issue. It demands a collaborative response from law enforcement, politicians, educators, faith leaders, gun manufacturers, gun dealers and gun owners.
Greater Cleveland Congregations -- a nonpartisan coalition of religious institutions -- met with representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, the Cleveland police department and other agencies.
The religious delegation asked law enforcement officials for a coordinated and consistent investigation and prosecution of those who violate gun laws.
Friday, May 30, 2014
May 29 Action on Overcharging and Illegal Guns -WKYC
CLEVELAND -- Their rallying phrase: Our united power builds a Greater Cleveland. It's strength in numbers. It's getting loud enough to get something done. The Greater Cleveland Congregations pulls people from more than 30 faith groups to make change from the ground up with one new goal: stopping illegal guns.
There've been more than 40 shooting deaths already this year across Cuyahoga County. GCC is suggesting a county-wide initiative that pull federal, county and city leaders together to squeeze the pipeline of illegal guns and hold people accountable.
GCC also addressed what they call Cuyahoga County's "felon factory" Thursday. They urged prosecutors to save prison time for violent criminals and seek misdeameanor charges and other methods, like rehabilitation for drug crimes.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty spoke in response to these requests, saying the focus of his office will be "serious offenders," and the office has tripled the number of drug cases it sends to diversion programs. He said those changes could help filter down to create a stronger and more attractive region."When we have better justice, this will be a better place to raise our families and the exodus will end," said McGinty.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Exciting News in Do Not Stand Idly By! -Plain Dealer
On Monday, March 3, 11 Metro IAF representatives travelled to Europe to deliver a message to gun manufacturers there: Help solve America’s gun violence problem, and you will reap a larger share of the American firearms market.
Among this group were GCC’s very own Donna Weinberger (Kol HaLev), and
Pastor Richard Gibson (Elizabeth Baptist Church).
The delegation will carry the backing of key public officials responsible for purchasing weapons in their jurisdictions, including Cleveland Public Safety Director Mike McGrath, who just agreed to join GCC in calling for the request of information about safer technology from gun manufacturers.
Philip Morris of the Plain Dealer highlighted this trip and Donna’s work in an article on Friday. Read it HERE.
The group will be exhibiting at the world’s largest gun show for law enforcement in Nuremberg, Germany, bringing requests from several US cities seeking information about manufacturers’ practices and capabilities in key areas related to public safety.
Metro IAF is seeking manufacturers that innovate in two key areas:
DISTRIBUTION: Creating first-rate dealer networks in the United States that work closely with law enforcement to limit gun trafficking. Limiting the flow of guns to the unregulated “private” market.
TECHNOLOGY: Bringing “smart gun” technologies to market, to prevent children or other unauthorized users from firing a gun. Incorporating bullet microstamping capabilities to give law enforcement a powerful tool for ballistics tracing.
Friday, February 28, 2014
GCC's Gun Violence Reduction Campaign Highlighted in Plain Dealer -Plain Dealer
Perhaps We Can Reduce the Violence By Making the Guns Smarter Than the Criminals: Philip Morris
Is it possible to make a safer gun when humans remain as unpredictable and violent as ever?
That’s a question that Donna Weinberger, a psychotherapist from Cleveland, hopes to explore when she travels to the world’s second largest annual gun show in Nuremberg, Germany next week.
They want to help create a drumbeat for technologically safer guns. They want more weapons manufacturers to at least consider making and marketing biometrically advanced guns that will only fire in the hand of the registered owner – a move they believe would drastically reduce the volume of stolen firearms on the market.
“We’re not going over there as anti-gun people. We’re hoping to position ourselves as an emerging market of people, who simply want gun manufacturers to think about an economic model where they can make money by producing guns that are less likely to end up in the underground market,” said Weinberger.
“We’re not going to Nuremberg to point finger or lecture. We’re simply trying to advance a conversation about safer guns that result in fewer murders, while allowing for a business that can still produce a strong bottom line,” she told me Wednesday.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Medicaid Expansion OK Marks a Long-Awaited Victory for Supporters -Cleveland.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Depending on who you talk to, Monday’s vote by the Ohio Controlling Board to approve $2.5 billion for Medicaid expansion was either a landmark victory for thousands in need of health care or an unconstitutional and unaffordable ballooning of big government.
Either way, the fight over whether Ohio should accept billions of federal dollars to extend health care to low-income residents is likely to continue, either in court or at the polls.
The 5-2 Controlling Board vote marked a culmination of a months-long push, led by Gov. John Kasich, to have the state accept the first chunk of an estimated $13 billion offered to it for Medicaid expansion under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
When GOP lawmakers resisted taking the funding, Kasich instead turned to the little-known board to appropriate the money – at least, until legislators draw up a new state budget in two years. By accepting the money, 275,000 additional Ohioans will be eligible for Medicaid benefits starting Jan. 1, 2014, according to administration estimates. Currently 2.35 million people -- or about one out of every five Ohioans – are enrolled in Medicaid.
Supporters said the decision to make Ohio the 25th state to accept the federal funding was a signal achievement that, with a single blow, will help to improve the lives of poor Ohioans.
“There’s moments that we can walk with history -- as citizens, help make history -- and this is one step in doing that,” said Rob English, lead organizer of Greater Cleveland Congregations, an interfaith group representing 40 religious and community organizations.
Friday, October 18, 2013
The Rev. Tracey Lind, of Trinity Cathedral, makes a plea for expanding Medicaid insurance. -The Plain Dealer
By October 19, 2013 at 7:44 AM
on October 18, 2013 at 3:00 PM, updated
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich says he’s optimistic that the state Controlling Board will approve the expansion of Medicaid to an additional 275,000 Ohioans when it meets Monday.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” Kasich told about 100 people who gathered at the Cleveland Clinic for a Friday morning news conference on the controversial expansion, which Kasich has been stumping for since February.
“This is not a program designed to encourage dependency,” Kasich said of the government-funded insurance for the poor.
“It is a program designed to construct a bridge so that people can be functioning in a way where they can contribute.”
When Kasich finished, six others stepped up, one-by-one, to a lectern emblazoned with the words “Now is the Time. Show Ohio Cares.”
They included an uninsured woman with bipolar disorder, a Marine veteran who had no health insurance and sick daughter when he was discharged and the Rev. Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland and the co-chair of Greater Cleveland Congregations, a supporter of the expansion.
“To the members of the Ohio State Controlling Board, this is your moment,” Lind said. “Please use your power to love your neighbors, to love us, to love the great state of Ohio.”
The state Controlling Board is expected to vote on Medicaid expansion when it meets at the Senate office building in Columbus at 1:30 Monday afternoon.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Charter school recruiting "gimmicks" draw fire from church leaders who declare, "Our children are not for sale." -Cleveland Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio – A new charter school that parked an ice cream truck behind a Cleveland school district school this summer to attract students has angered neighborhood parents and a regional coalition of churches.
Officials of the Greater Cleveland Congregations and parents of students at Case Elementary School on the near East Side gathered Monday to call that recruiting effort unacceptable and to seek assurances from the new East Preparatory Academy charter school that it aims to provide quality education and not just make profits off students.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Could Medicaid expansion decrease drug court costs, save local taxpayer dollars? Cleveland judge says yes. -Cleveland Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge David Matia estimates that area residents could save millions in local taxes if the offenders he sees in drug court had health insurance. And if Ohio were to expand Medicaid, as being debated by state legislators, many of the defendants in his court would qualify for the state and federal health insurance program for the poor.... As the clock ticks on a decision, local lobbying for expansion has stepped up: On Monday, community activists held a rally at the Neighborhood Family Practice Center, a federally qualified community health center on Cleveland's West Side. In addition, Greater Cleveland Congregations announced that dozens of volunteers from area religious organizations and neighborhood groups will go door to door in the legislative swing districts of Rocky River, Berea and Solon this week to urge people to contact their legislators.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Ohio House keeps Medicaid discussion going -Cleveland Plain Dealer
COLUMBUS, Ohio --Ohio's Medicaid expansion is down, but not out. House Republicans kept alive the possibility that Ohio may expand its Medicaid program to cover the working poor, approving an amendment to its budget that could open the door to changes later this year.... The amendment drew praise from Greater Cleveland Congregations, one of several groups that organized a rally outside the Statehouse last week urging lawmakers to support extending Medicaid. "The fact that this amendment passed with in a near-unanimous bipartisan vote shows that the legislature listened to the overwhelming outpouring of public support from Ohioans over the past 10 days, and wants to keep the conversation moving forward," Ari Lipman, lead organizer for the coalition, said in a statement. "Our diverse coalition will continue to work with House leadership, the Senate, and Governor Kasich through the budget process to achieve the best outcome for Ohio."
Friday, April 19, 2013
Cleveland's Jewish Community Rallies for Medicaid Expansion -Cleveland Jewish News
Thousands of demonstrators made their voices heard on the afternoon of April 11 at the Ohio Statehouse as they rallied in support of extended Medicaid coverage under the federal health-care law. The rally was sparked by House Republicans’ April 9 decision to strip from the state budget a proposal to provide health coverage to the state’s working poor.
The rally brought together doctors, nurses, groups representing the poor and disabled, along with members of the Jewish community, to pressure lawmakers into approving the expansion. Greater Cleveland Congregations, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 20,000 members of 40 churches, synagogues and mosques, organized bus trips to send advocates of the Medicaid expansion to Columbus. More than 200 people from Greater Cleveland region went to participate in the rally, including members of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike, The Temple Tifereth-Israel in Beachwood and Cleveland, Temple Emanu El in Orange, Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Beachwood and 12 members of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Advocates of Ohio Medicaid expansion decry reports of plan being nixed -Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Northeast Ohio Medicaid Expansion Coalition was dismayed by reports the governor's plan may be dead. "We are extremely disappointed that legislators are seeing expansion through a political lens rather than thinking first about the people of Ohio," Ari Lipman, a spokesperson for the coalition, said in a statement. Supporters are organizing a bus trip to Columbus Thursday to urge lawmakers to accept the expansion. The Rev. Gayle Catinella of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Berea, spokeswoman for the Greater Cleveland Congregations, said in a statement that rejecting the expansion would be a "terrible blow. . . to our region's economy, health, families, and ability to grow jobs."
Friday, February 22, 2013
Gov. Kasich invokes 'the Good Book' while urging Medicaid expansion -Cleveland Plain Dealer
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich touted expansion of Ohio’s Medicaid program in his State of the State address as the right and compassionate thing to do, invoking his personal faith and lessons from “the Good Book” as a guide in his decision.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Governors Fall Away in G.O.P. Opposition to More Medicaid -The New York Times
Under pressure from the health care industry and consumer advocates, seven Republican governors are cautiously moving to expand Medicaid, giving an unexpected boost to President Obama’s plan to insure some 30 million more Americans.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Ohio's Gov. John Kasich to seek Medicaid expansion -Cleveland Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Saying that an expansion of Medicaid will help some of the poorest Ohioans, Gov. John Kasich included the much-anticipated announcement in his two-year budget proposal Monday.... Greater Cleveland Congregations, a coalition of 40 religious groups and the lead organizer of the Northeast Ohio Medicaid Expansion Coalition, pledged Monday to do our part to make sure Ohio legislators understand that expanding Medicaid will keep Ohioans tax dollars here in our state, working to help our economy, our health and our state budget.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Cleveland area congregations call for state to expand Medicaid -ABC Channel 5
CLEVELAND - More than a thousand people filled Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland Thursday to demonstrate widespread community support for Ohio Medicaid expansion. "If people have medical insurance they're more likely to see a doctor, they're more likely to get preventative care, they're going to stay healthier," said Dr. Kristin Englund who came out for the rally.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Religious, community members rally to urge Gov. Kasich to expand Medicaid in Ohio -Cleveland Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio --- More than 1,000 rallied at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland on Thursday night to show their support for expanding Medicaid in Ohio. The assembly brought together members of religious congregations, community groups and major health care providers to demonstrate community support for expanding Medicaid.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Will Ohio Gov. John Kasich expand Medicaid? "Too important to leave hanging" -Cleveland Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio --
For Ohio’s health care industry and patient advocates, all eyes are on Gov. John Kasich and the two-year state budget he’s expected to propose on Feb. 4.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Supporters of Cleveland Schools levy rally voters ahead of November election -ABC News Channel 5
CLEVELAND - Supporters of the levy for Cleveland Public Schools are warning against laying off teachers, and a potential $50 million deficit.
Over the weekend in an east side church basement, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers and concerned citizens met up for a voter registration drive.
This group is part a coalition of local churches, synagogues and mosques in Cleveland trying to get voters to pass the Cleveland Municipal School District's levy on the November ballot.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
GCC hosts ceremonial signing of Collateral Sanctions Bill -Call and Post
CLEVELAND – Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) hosted Governor John Kasich, Senator Shirley Smith, and other sponsors of Senate Bill 337 (SB 337) for a ceremonial signing to highlight the importance of this new legislation.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Ohio Gov. John Kasich begins to win converts in unexpected places: Phillip Morris -Cleveland Plain Dealer
Gov. John Kasich had signed Senate Bill 337 into law days earlier, but he recognized the opportunity that came with a "ceremonial" signing in front of a Cleveland audience that until recently would have been unpredictable, if not hostile. Before Kasich re-enacted the signing of the criminal justice reform measure on Monday, he closely scanned the crowd crammed into the stifling gymnasium of Elizabeth Baptist Church. He needed a prop. Smiling politicians, staff and clergymen surrounded him, but he needed someone else.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Governor signs Collateral Sanction Reform Bill -WOIO
Governor John Kasich met with Greater Cleveland Congregations members Monday to discuss collateral sanctions reforms. "You don't want to look the other way when you have a human being that has a chance to realize their God given potential," Kasich said. With that realization, Kasich ceremonially signed into law the Collateral Sanction Reform Bill. It removes job barriers for nearly 2 million Ohioans with criminal records.