Welcome! This free speech community journal was created so the Maple Heights African American community could share videos, photos, events, articles, posts, ideas, thoughts, and information.  We're now exclusively on Facebook, so don't forget to also check out our Facebook page.  Have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Dear Friend,
I am a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee and an advocate for all people to have equal access to a valuable education.  Part of my goal is to expose students to college entry requirements and the financial options available to them.  Earlier this month, I hosted a college fair and invited higher education institutions from around the country to participate.  Details about the event and other education-related stories are below, including a consumer advisory about student loans.  
Military Academy Appointments

Each year, I nominate talented high school students to a military academy of their choice after an extensive application and interviewing process. Thus far, five students have been offered an appointment by an academy. If they accept, the students will receive an exceptional education and dedicate five years of active duty service to our great nation. Please join me in congratulating:

Do You Have A Co-Signer For Your Student Loans?

Many college students must borrow money to pay for their higher education. The federal government offers several low interest rate loans, but too often students do not exhaust this option.  Instead, they obtain high interest rate loans from private lenders that bury clauses in the fine print.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a consumer alert for borrowers with private student loans, warning that they can be subject to default even if they have kept up with their payments.  These borrowers were in compliance with the loan requirements but had a co-signer on their loan who either passed away or went into bankruptcy.  Through no fault of their own, they were automatically forced into default or required to pay off the loan immediately.  To learn more about the report, please visit the CFPB website.
It is imperative to ask a private lender what co-signer rules are in the contract before borrowing money.  I encourage students to first seek loans from the federal government rather than private institutions since these loans provide flexible repayment plans and generally do not require a co-signer.  Students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive a federal loan. The deadline for Ohio is June 30, 2015.  However, some schools may have an earlier deadline, so students should check with the institution they are interested in attending.  As always, contact my office if you need assistance. 

Watch Rep. Fudge and Department of Education
 Secretary Arne Duncan discuss expanding Pell Grants for
students dually enrolled and in early college programs during
 an Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing.
Agriculture College and Career Fair

I hosted the district’s first Agriculture College and Career Fair on April 19, 2014 at Case Western Reserve University.  This free event was attended by high school and college-age students interested in furthering their education or exploring internships in agriculture or related fields.  I appreciate the many colleges, organizations and government agencies that participated in the fair: Case Western Reserve University; Central State University; Cuyahoga Community College, Division of Health Careers and Sciences; Florida A&M University; Kent State University; Kentucky State University; Langston University; Lincoln University; Lorain County Community College; The Ohio State University, The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; and Tuskegee University; Cleveland Botanical Garden, Green Corps Program; Community Greenhouse Partners; College Now of Greater Cleveland; Farm Credit, Mid-America; Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County Youth Advocacy & Leadership Program; USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach; and the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Marcia L. Fudge
Member of Congress

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Ohio Sate Auditor Dave Yost declared Maple Heights in fiscal watch; yet, no one can explain the true underlying causes that led to Maple Heights being placed in fiscal watch.  What I hear over and over again from some members of Maple Heights city council is, it made cuts.  Simply slashing (cutting here and there) with no insight as to what really caused the financial problems (because this isn't a recent new problem), or what these cuts might do long term, is not prudent.  There must be a clear, well thought out, financially sound, community viable/vibrant plan for the short term and long term.
Stated in the Neighborhood News, April 23, 2014  (Judith Goldworth).

"The city must submit a financial recovery plan to the state auditor's office by early June identifying ways to eliminate the fiscal watch conditions.

If the city fails to submit a feasible financial recovery plan within that time, Maple Heights will be placed in a state of fiscal emergency and a supervisory commission would be asked to review the city's finances."

Let's take a trip down Detroit memory lane.  Although Detroit was and is in far far worse financial circumstances, some similarities are there.

An excerpt:
"Detroit is broke, but it didn’t have to be. An in-depth Free Press analysis of the city’s financial history back to the 1950s shows that its elected officials and others charged with managing its finances repeatedly failed — or refused — to make the tough economic and political decisions that might have saved the city from financial ruin."

"“Detroit got into a trap of doing a lot of borrowing for cash flow purposes and then trying to figure out how to push costs (out) as much as possible,” said Bettie Buss, a former city budget staffer who spent years analyzing city finances for the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “That was the whole culture — how do we get what we want and not pay for it until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow?”
Read entire article

Now listen to Finance Director Irene Crowell (and remember she's only been director for a couple of months)

Did and does anyone audit the city's 10 departments?  I mean a real in-depth audit. 
[My worry is that even if Maple Heights public officials did an audit, they still wouldn't be able to come up with creative cost efficient ways of managing those departments or streamlining/
modernizing department personnel/responsibilities/activities. 

Maple Heights city government: 
  • needs to circulate more money within the community
  • come up with plans to help people keep their homes, and ways to attract new neighborhood conscious homeowners (both are huge problems for Maple Heights)
  • needs more smart, solution oriented, resource conscious, business intelligent,  tech savvy people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s
  • needs to downsize the police department, and make a major shift toward more local auxiliary police ( who will actually live in the community in which they serve), who will engage in neighborhood policing
  • needs more age and racial diversity in all departments 
  • needs to change the type of outdated city government it currently has, and 
  • Maple Heights taxpayers/residents need to become more engaged in their city; and desperately need to become more financially literate. 

You (residents/council) need to be able to look back in order to go forward (to make an analysis) so you don't make the same mistakes.  That means you need access to public records and information which unfortunately [obtaining records/information] seems to be a problem for Maple Heights government.  You also need to post public records online.
--------------------          -------------------------       -------------------
And yes,  the statement made by a Maple Heights resident regarding the cost of the [Maple Heights]  swimming  pool was a fair statement (watch 20 minutes into video).  Maple Heights was/is losing population, and people were/are still losing their homes and jobs.  Was the swimming pool repair a wise decision?


"State places Maple Hts. on fiscal watch; Needs plan to keep it from fiscal emergency" This edition of the Neighborhood News will only be available until next Tuesday, April 29, 2014; thereafter, watch council and committee meeting videos @  http://www.youtube.com/user/MapleHeightsNews/videos

Green for All
18 Things a New Homeowner Should Do Immediately to Save Money

The 15 tools every homeowner should own

Neighborhood Housing Services

Friday, April 25, 2014


Today I received a large postcard that said Mayor Lansky supports Issue 15, and  urging people to support Issue 15 (a tax hike).  This is the same mayor who blamed a lot of political figures for a lot of Maple Heights financial woes.  Some members of council ( at a recent public forum) pretty much did the same and added various groups of residents.  These people mind you, are they themselves [say it with me] politicians.
Over a month ago, to help me decide if I was going to support a tax hike, I asked for various Maple Heights public records.  I needed those records to assess whether I trusted the leadership to set Maple Heights on steady financial ground.   Well, I'm still waiting for those records; but this is not new.  I've almost always had problems obtaining public records from these folks [Hint], and on one occasion I even had to call the NAACP for assistance in obtaining public records.
So I will not support the tax hike, because all they've really said is to trust them.  Trust must be earned and for me personally, they have not earned that trust.  Maple Heights population has declined, unemployment is around 10% (as of 2012).  According to Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost, we've had deficits for a number of years and I don't see things getting any better with the present leadership (which, except for 3 newly elected and one jr, have been Maple Heights politicians for at least (what?) 6+ years).  The mayor himself is a career politician.
In some circles they say past performance is not indicative of future performance; however, where's the expertise, the financial education, the urban planners, the creativity?  Did these politicians visit other communities or call other leaders whose cities are doing well, and ask them how they turned things around without asking for a tax hike?  Call the mayor and members of council and ask them.  I'm told a tax hike will not solve Maple Heights financial problems.  You ask them.  Hopefully, you get a real comprehensive, well thought out, well researched, and  well written viable and financially sound  plan  that is provided to you and not just talk.


Public Meetings (Feb 2014 to April 23, 2014)

Ohio puts Maple Heights on fiscal watch, mayor blames state and county, April 10, 2014



Tuesday, April 22, 2014


It's about time President Obama.  

President Obama is about to grant clemency for a large number of prisoners who are serving time for simple drug offenses.   

Liz Goodwin tells the story of a woman named Barbara Scrivner who has languished in prison for 20 years serving a 30 year sentence for selling a few ounces of methamphetamine.

Liz Goodwin says it plain and simple: "Thousands and thousands of people like Scrivner are serving punishingly long sentences in federal prison based on draconian policies that were a relic of the "tough on crime" anti-drug laws of the '80s and '90s. Thirty years after skyrocketing urban violence and drug use sparked politicians to impose longer and longer sentences for drug crimes, America now incarcerates a higher rate of its population than any other country in the world. This dubious record has finally provoked a bipartisan backlash against such stiff penalties. The old laws are slowly being repealed."   More

Attorney General Eric Holder's speech last year highlighted the horrible injustices that have been done to far too many people because of the "The War on Drugs"; and Michelle Alexander has been talking to audiences and writing about "The War on Drugs" for years now.

So again I say, ... It's about time President Obama!!!


Obama plans clemency for hundreds of drug offenders, by Liz Goodwin, April 21, 2014

2013: The Year the Prison System Changed?
2013: The Year the Prison System Changed?

 2013: The Year the Prison System Changed? December 3, 2013

Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow 

4 Industries Getting Rich Off the Drug War

 32 Reasons Why We Need To End The War On Drugs,  by Matthew Boesler, and Ashley Lutz, July 12, 2012


Sunday, April 20, 2014


On April 16th (and other occasions)  Councilman Brownlee voted "no" on several resolutions (most if not all non-binding).   Some or most of Maple Heights city council and perhaps the Maple Heights public really don't understand why he voted "no" even though he explained his reasons. 

For those who don't know what a non-binding resolution is, the wisegeek has provided.

"A non-binding resolution is a statement passed by a governing body that cannot be converted into legislation. It stands as a confirmation of the current position of the branch of government on a particular issue. Non-binding resolutions are often a source of serious controversy, particularly in upper levels of government; while some see them as important statements of support or a touch point for judging the officials positions on important issues, others find them an enormous waste of time that should be spent passing laws rather than debating legally useless statements."

continue reading

Oh, .. and Happy Easter!


Thursday, April 17, 2014


Some of you may have seen Pharrell Williams (who did the 24 hour HappyVideo) on Oprah.  Well I checked YouTube out yesterday and saw a lot of people’s version of “Happy” from all around the world.  Anyway, there are 4 minute videos, one hour videos, etc.


I decided to check out a whole host of them and this is my favorite that I exercised to yesterday.  So folks a day of “Wishing you Happiness” and feel free to start your day exercising to this or just enjoy.  The video is an hour long and watch or exercise as long as you want.  There are 6 or 7 people (a slight pause between each) doing their version of “Happy” in this video.


Monday, April 14, 2014


Those words are fascinating to me because I'm so aware of politicians giving something for something; but  what I see more often, is politicians who accept bribes or politicians  who   intimidate to get their way, or even wthdraw (ex.committee) appointments if they don't get their way.

"If you scratch my back I'll scratch yours" is so common in politics, politicians don't tend to worry about the consequences of engaging in this kind of practice, or can't recognize when an illegal quid pro quo occurs.

If you're a politician, I would tread carefully, because you just might get caught up in an illegal quid pro quo.

What I find far more serious (in my opinion),  is the politician/public employee (usually the one with considerable power) who gets caught up in a deprivation of rights  under color of law case.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


A few days ago I watched, in utter disbelief, a councilman being (in my opinion)  viciously verbally attacked.  I don’t know what prompted (though I have my suspicions) the venomous verbal public attack.

One of the persons doing  the verbal attacking (I've been told, so research for yourself) was the same person who verbally attacked the mayor’s opponent in the 2011 Maple Heights mayoral race [HINT].


While some may have a problem with Councilman Brownlee’s style and his interpretation of “Robert’s Rules of Order” with regards to Maple Height’s council rules, I personally welcome his youthful enthusiasm, and I thank him and his wife Lynde for bringing more transparency and more “open government” to Maple Heights with the exceptionally well written, informational and organized “Maple Heights News(2) and the videotaping of public council meetings.  I’m sure the homebound and others welcome being able to see council meetings available on the Maple Heights News website and on YouTube.  The nonpartisan, nonprofit “SunlightFoundation” and organizations such as the nonpartisan, nonprofit “CommonCause I’m certain will welcome the Brownlee’s efforts in bringing more transparency to (esp. Maple Heights) government.


Hopefully very soon most Maple Heights public records will be online and available for inspection.  If you’ve been reading the Maple Heights AfricanAmerican Gazette (which is an online free speech journal), you know how difficult it has been for us to obtain public records and other information that is germane to creating a viable thriving community.


MapleHeights City Council, department heads, and the executive branch have a fiduciary duty (among other duties) to the residents in Maple Heights.  They are responsible for the viability of the community and not just  paying bills and safety issues.


While various members of council tout Maple Heights city government as being a non-profit entity, they actually create laws, policy, pass budgets (and ask you to pass levies) that greatly impact areas like  home ownership, jobs, business, whether you live paycheck to paycheck, and population (Maple Hts has declined to in 2012, less than 23,000 residents).


Sunday, April 6, 2014


2014 African-American Philanthropy Summit Presented by Medical Mutual

African-American Philanthropy Committee of the Cleveland Foundation

Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM (EDT), Warrensville Heights, OH

Event Details

This year’s African-American Philanthropy Summit “Inspiring 100 Acts of African-American Philanthropy,” will be a celebration of existing philanthropists and a call-to-action for aspiring philanthropists. In 2014, the Cleveland Foundation’s centennial year, we will encourage and document acts of African-American philanthropy leading up to the Summit. This half-day event will begin with an opening session and include an educational seminar culminating with a keynote luncheon. The opening session speaker will be Pastor R. A. Vernon of "THE WORD" Church. The keynote luncheon address will be delivered by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. The keynote will be moderated by Russ Mitchell, Lead Anchor, WKYC Channel 3.
The event will be held at Corporate College East, 4400 Richmond Road, Warrensville Heights, OH.
Honorary chairpersons:
  • Margot Copeland, Executive Vice President, KeyBank
  • Carole Hoover, President and CEO, Hoover Milstein
  • Debra Green, Director of Community Relations, Medical Mutual
  • Robert Madison, CEO, Robert Madison International
  • Steven Minter, Executive in Residence, Cleveland State University
  • Ronald B. Richard, President and CEO, the Cleveland Foundation
  • Dr. R. A. Vernon, Senior Pastor, "THE WORD" Church
  • Ernest Wilkerson, Jr., Managing Partner, Wilkerson & Associates

Summit Agenda:
8:00 a.m. – Registration
8:35 a.m. – Welcome & opening session by Pastor R. A. Vernon
9:30 a.m. – Group breakout sessions
11:45 a.m. – Lunch and keynote by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Summit Sessions (Scheduled concurrently, select one from each session):
Session 1: "Need to Know: What is Philanthropy?"
  • Understanding Giving for the Emerging Philanthropist
  • Philanthropic Individuals and Families
  • Organized Philanthropy for Small Businesses
  • Philanthropy from the Non-Profit Perspective
(Scheduled concurrently, select one from each session)
Session 2: "Ready to Give: Giving Vehicles"
  • Overview of Giving Vehicles
  • Contributing to an Existing Fund
  • Starting or Joining a Giving Circle
  • Starting Your Own Fund
About Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.:
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is the author of sixteen books and twelve documentaries, including the recent PBS series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. This latest series chronicles the full sweep of African American history, beginning with the origins of slavery on the African continent, through five centuries of remarkable historic events. He is the recipient of fifty-one honorary degrees and numerous awards, including the MacArthur "genius grant." He has been named to Time’s "25 Most Influential Americans" list, the AARP’s "The Influentials: 50 over 50" and to Ebony’s "Power 100" list for 2013. The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader, a collection of Professor Gates’ essays, was published in 2012.
More info HERE                          

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Congratulations to the Maple Heights News for its outstanding coverage of this meeting and other events and information related to Maple Heights.


Issue 72, March 27, 2014

This Week's Classic Podcast

Cosmic Queries: Viruses, Outbreaks and Pandemics

March 30, 2014, 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT
With the Ebola outbreak spreading through West African nations, our classic Cosmic Queries episode about viruses, outbreaks and pandemics couldn’t be more timely and relevant. Recorded during two recent outbreaks - H7N9 influenza, which killed 25% of its victims in China, and the MERS outbreak in the Middle East - the show features Infectious disease expert Laurie Garrett answering your questions about viruses. Laurie explains how viruses like Ebola and HIV jump from bats and primates to humans through “zoonosis” and why they’re so lethal when they do. She also describes a fungus that turns ants into zombies, pathogens that spread via rain, the dangers of the anti-vaccine movement and, unfortunately, so much more. Join us this Sunday, March 30 at 7:00 PM ET on our website, iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
Photo Credit: MGVP/UC Davis. All rights reserved.

Catch Up on Last Week's Podcast

A Conversation with Laurence Fishburne 

March 23, 2014
Red pill or blue pill? You get both when Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews Morpheus himself, actor Laurence Fishburne. They sat down while Neil was in New Mexico filming COSMOS and Laurence was filming The Signal, a new indie sci-fi film. You’ll get a healthy dose of reality, as they talk about Fishburne’s roles in The Matrix,Searching for Bobby Fischer, and CSI. And you’ll dive into the world of the imagination as the two sci-fi fans discuss why style can be more important than substance in sci-fi and geek out over Star Trek, Superman andWatchmen. They also talk about chess, planetariums and using math and science to explore the world. Laurence tells Neil how and why he became an actor at age 10, and discusses his future plans to produce, direct, write plays and return to Broadway. Listen now.
Photo Credit: Gregory Haynes. All rights reserved.

Best of the Blog

Anything interesting happen today?

Posted March 26, 2014
“So, anything interesting happen today?”
“Well, they announced the discovery of a new dwarf planet, 2012 VP113, that’s further away from the Sun than Pluto.”
“Wow. That must be the most exciting day for you space nuts in quite a while.”
"Not really. Last week they announced they discovered..." 
Read More.
Photo Credit: Scott Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science.

Have You Seen Our New "Behind the Scenes" Video?

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Best Planetary Destruction in a Movie

A fan wants to know what was the most scientifically accurate destruction of a planet on the big screen. To answer this Cosmic Query, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Eugene Mirman compare three of the most spectacular cinematic obliterations: the destruction of Alderaan by the Death Star in “Star Wars IV – A New Hope,” the destruction of Vulcan by a planet-eating black hole created from “red matter” in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot, and the destruction of Krypton from over-mining in the Superman reboot, “Man of Steel.” And the winner is… Watch now.
Don't miss any of our StarTalk Radio videos on YouTube. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel now.
The StarTalk Team


12th Annual Women of Color Executive Retreat begins Thursday at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights

This year's theme is "Connections, Community and Career 2014." Participants will learn strategies to create success in their careers and in their lives."