CLE workforce committee not getting job done?

Posted at 10:53 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 22:53:50-05

Some Cleveland City Council members are reporting the city Workforce and Community Benefits Committee isn't getting the job done, not holding nearly enough meetings to fight for jobs for city residents.

Council members Zack Reed and Jeff Johnson are both on the workforce committee, and claim committee Chairwoman Phyllis Cleveland needs to be more active.

Johnson and Reed explained the committee is supposed to insure Cleveland residents, minorities and women get their fair share of jobs on millions of dollars in taxpayer funded city projects, but both say the committee isn't keeping watch well enough.

"There is no excuse for it, it's frustrating," said Johnson.  "I sent out an email asking for answers and no one has responded to me on this."

Reed pointed to the new Cleveland fire station, under construction near the intersection of E. 131 and Union Avenue.

Reed explained 20% of the workforce on the project should be made up of Cleveland residents.

"40% into the job, so far, and only 8% of Cleveland residents, 8% of the work hours for that job have gone to Cleveland residents," said Reed.

According to city records, Cleveland's Finance Committee has held 65 meetings since Jan. 2014, the Safety Committee has held 38 meetings in that time frame, while the Workforce Committee has held just 6 meetings in the past two years.

Councilwoman Cleveland issued the following statement in response to our story:

"Both Jeff Johnson and Zack Reed are on the Workforce Development & Community Benefits committee and at any time could have offered suggestions for committee hearing topics.

I don’t recall if Jeff or Zack made it to the Workforce & Community Benefits Committee hearing last year when the Opportunity Corridor Partnership came in to talk about the project, the schedule and the progress made with connecting Clevelander's from Wards 4, 5 and 6 with jobs, into training programs or with other job services.

In fact, I don’t recall if either attended any of the several hearings I held in 2014 or 2015. You’d have to ask them why.

As a member of the committee, either or both of them could have come to me and, if they had concerns, could have brought them up to me in a professional manner.  If for some reason they can’t talk to me, they could have brought them up with the council president.

They must have forgotten about the 10-year required review of the Fanny Lewis Law I told all committee members about. I’m putting that together and it will be presented this spring.  A December focus group of council members on the issue was canceled because of personal and scheduling issues.

Either of them can find me here in city hall, or out in my ward where I’m busy with organizations and agencies involved in many things, including the recent ground breaking for new housing and other developments that are underway."