Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Candidate for TWDC Board
Submitted by Claude Cornett on Tue, 12/15/2009 - 00:13.
I am considering running for a position on the TWDC Board, and here is my draft bio. Suggestions on how to improve it are encouraged. I also urge other members of our community to run for Board Positions. Whether or not we win, we can raise many important issues during the campaign.
CLAUDE CORNETT’S DRAFT BIO
At the November TWDC Board Meeting, the membership of TWDC was estimated to eventually drop from the approximately 900 members at the time to about 300. This was based on the assumption that (after they purge 300 from the current membership before the scheduled January 28, 2010 meeting in order to help achieve a quorum), TWDC’s remaining members will accept their proposed new bylaws and articles of incorporation. These proposals would turn TWDC into little more than a real estate agency, run from the top down -- rather than a mechanism by which the residents of Tremont can freely air their concerns and desires and organize effective action addressing them. As a result, only a fraction of its previous membership would participate.
I am running for a position on the TWDC Board to help prevent that from happening and to help inform, encourage and empower the residents of Tremont to preserve and improve our civil liberties, quality of life, and rights to the peaceful enjoyment of our property, homes, recreation, and neighborhoods. I intend to apply my knowledge, skills, time and experience to help bring that about.
I wrote the proposed Power to the People Amendments to TWDC’s Proposed Bylaws <http://www.tremonsters.com/ComPropTWDCBylaws.htm>, with help from my neighbors, for those same purposes. My campaign is also intended to encourage you read and evaluate TWDC’s proposed new bylaws and articles of incorporation, along with the proposed amendments, and to vote in accordance with your own conclusions. I proposed a ballot < http://www.tremonsters.com/TWDC%20Ballot.htm> on the proposed amendments so that you can you vote for or against them, one section at a time (except for a few sections that need to be taken together to be consistent). Please urge TWDC to use such a ballot.
Part of my campaign is to also urge you to vote against TWDC’s proposed new articles of incorporation because they strip TWDC of directly addressing humanitarian concerns other than those associated with real estate. Other 501 (C) (3) organizations can be too busy with their own agendas and interests to address all of the humanitarian and other concerns of residents and block clubs. The current Articles of Incorporation are very flexible and do not restrict TWDC to real-estate concerns and providing administrative support to other 501 (C) (3) s.
My History in Tremont:
I became active in the South of Jefferson neighborhood shortly after moving to Tremont in April 2006, when I attended a meeting at which the plans for the Hope VI project (now called Tremont Pointe) were presented. Tremont Pointe was physically designed to prevent residents from socializing outdoors in the immediate vicinity of their homes, and the associated plans for security were presented to reinforce that.
One of the main reasons why I choose to move into the section of West 6 St. between Marquardt and Jefferson (a section of road that looks like an alley) was because the people living there socialize with each other on their porches, lawns, driveways etc. Such community interaction helps make a neighborhood much safer than one with nearly deserted streets that are often overrun by criminal gangs. However, I was concerned about the fact that children often played basketball and other games in the street because they had no nearby parks. The plans for Tremont Pointe would make that problem worse. When I tried to get my concerns on the agenda of TWDC Committees and the South of Jefferson block club, no amount of support from my neighbors was adequate to do so, because they were run from the top down. Their leadership could easily ignore proposals brought up for consideration by residents.
Shortly after bringing up the issue at a block club meeting and at TWDC’s office (over three years ago), a housing inspector told my landlord that residents at my address were raising issues that made the powers that be uncomfortable. This was a clear threat that he would be harassed with nit-picking inspections if he did not shut us up. Fortunately, neither my landlord nor I intimidate easily; and I named the housing inspector and aired my complaint about this far and wide – which stopped this harassment. If it happened now, I would do the same and file a formal complaint with the Councilman and the FBI. I urge others to do the same if harassed by building inspectors who behave similarly.
When I presented a petition signed by 12 block club members at a block club meeting to have TWDC put a pocket park on the agenda three years later, Sammy Catania said that the proposal bordered on racism and fascism (a ridiculous charge). He also called me a troublemaker at a subsequent meeting on Thurman, when a drive through Turkish restaurant was being proposed between Thurman alley and Professor St near the middle of the block between Jefferson and Starkweather. (The restaurant is now being planned at the former location of Hotz café in the commercial area at the end of Professor near Starkweather, where it belongs). When Sammy said that the neighborhood is going to change anyway, he enraged the neighbors over the obvious plan to break up their residential neighborhood to facilitate the commercialization of the remaining residential area of Professor.
Calling me a troublemaker and telling the neighbors on Thurman that the neighborhood would change despite their objections inspired me to:
* Start a Tremonsters e-mail list and a Tremonsters.com web domain and to seriously engage in door to door petitioning and organizing to help empower the residents of Tremont to preserve and improve our civil liberties, quality of life, and rights to the peaceful enjoyment of our property, homes, recreation, and neighborhoods, and to
* Encourage Thurman residents to attend block club meetings, become voting members, and help vote in new leadership.
I also initiated a survey and petition drive within Tremont Pointe and in the surrounding blocks. The survey indicated that 98% of the residents in the blocks adjacent to Tremont Pointe and over 2/3 of those in Tremont Pointe wanted a pocket park in their immediate vicinity to help address the need for safe and appropriate recreational facilities nearby. This got Councilman Cimperman’s attention and support for investigating the possibility of creating a pocket park in this neighborhood.
The South of Jefferson Block Club subsequently passed Roberts Rules of Order as its operating procedure. However, even after Robert’s Rules were passed and the proposal concerning a pocket park was formally proposed and seconded, it was not put on the agenda -- calling into question the legitimacy of the entire block club -- until block club members voted in new leadership and voted for the proposal on September 8, 2009.
At this time, I began to review and analyze what the TWDC Bylaws Committee was proposing. It is a top town structure designed, among other things (according to at least one committee member) to prevent residents of neighborhoods from becoming members of TWDC committees in sufficient numbers to prevent their neighborhoods from being sacrificed for what some committee members considered to be the greater good of Tremont. As a result, I drafted, with input from neighbors, the proposed Power to the People Amendments to TWDC’s proposed new bylaws. Our proposal is designed to help prevent such abuses of power and to turn TWDC back into something like what it was originally intended to be. Among other things, TWDC was designed to be a mechanism by which residents can address their needs and concerns on a wide variety of matters and organize effective action to address them.
My Other Qualifications
What else do I bring to the picture? As an environmental engineer, I bring over 37 years of experience assessing and mitigating adverse environmental impacts of institutions, contaminated land, and planned changes to roads, highways, mass transit system, utilities, industries, commercial and residential developments, etc. I worked my way up from supervising all ambient air pollution monitoring for the City of Cleveland, when it worked closely with NASA concerning the causes and environmental impacts of Cleveland's air pollution to:
* Institutional analysis of the National Institutes of Health,
* Writing key sections of environmental impact statements,
* Writing US Department of Transportation guidelines for air pollution and noise analysis
* Writing key sections of US EPA regulations,
* Performing and supervising EPA Superfund remedial investigations and feasibility studies
* Supervising an EPA Technical Assistance team, responsible for emergency response planning and program evaluation
to the point when I became the principal investigator responsible for human health impact assessment for a programmatic environmental impact statement for all of the US Department of Energy’s nuclear and hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal and environmental restoration.
I have never sold out, even when offered tens of thousands of dollars and highly paid positions to become a lackey of polluters and big business interests -- and even when it cost me my job. I am the first person who won back pay under the Department of Energy's Contractor Employee Protection Program when fired for addressing real threats to public health posed by US Department of Energy facilities and plans <http://www.oha.doe.gov/cases/whistle/vwa0008.htm >. My settlement was garnished from the CIA that bankrolled the intended cover-up when it was trying to get the US to import, process and dispose of the nuclear waste from the former Soviet Union and other nations.
Between 1998 and 2005, I organized the Collinwood Environmental Taskforce, a coalition of the Collinwood and Nottingham Village Development Corporation, the Collinwood Residents Association, and other organizations that successfully prevented an extremely dangerous colbalt-60 processing facility from resuming operations and forced the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Ohio Department of Health to make the owners clean it up. I gained much experience on what development corporations do, how they are organized, funded and operate, and how they and commercial, residential, and regulatory organizations, and politicians can work together to successfully address shared concerns. After this experience, as well as writing bylaws for and serving on the board of other organizations (including coalitions of Pagans -- something like herding cats), I believe that I am well qualified to serve on the TWDC Board.
My purpose for running for a Board position and for proposing amendments to TWDC’s proposed new bylaws is to help Tremont Residents protect and improve our civil liberties, quality of life, and rights to the peaceful enjoyment of our property, homes, recreation, and neighborhoods – while facilitating appropriate new residential and commercial development. Tremont is a great place to live; and, by working together, we can make it better. I urge you to vote for me, for other progressive members of our community, and for appropriate amendments to the proposed bylaws; and we can make it so.
INTRODUCTION TO POWER TO THE PEOPLE AMENDMENTS TO
PROPOSED TWDC BYLAWS AND ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
by Claude Lawrence Cornett Jr, Ronnie Baker, and Robert Pinkerton
The officially proposed TWDC bylaws (Code of Regulations) presented for a vote on Thursday, January 28, 2010 specify that its board will appoint all voting members of its committees, along with their chairpersons. This top-down structure:
* Does not protect the rights of residents to protect their neighborhoods and to fully participate in TWDC committees and associated decisions
* Tends to isolate the board from community concerns by turning its committees into rubber stamps
* Detracts from the legitimate role of committee chairpersons to moderate discussions and facilitate decision making in a fair and even-handed manner and to not use bureaucratic maneuverings to favor their pre-set agenda
* Diverts the attention of Board members serving on committees from their legitimate role assuring
o Good communication between the board and its committees
o That committee actions do not endanger TWDC’s legal status or fiduciary responsibilities.
A reason presented for the top down structure was to:
* Help enable the TWDC to sacrifice of the welfare of selected neighborhoods for what it perceives to be “the greater good” of Tremont.
* By appointing all committee members and their leadership, the TWDC Board can prevent neighborhoods from packing committees to prevent such actions.
Clearly, this deprives Tremont residents of the right to defend their homes and neighborhoods within the structure of TWDC, when targeted by the commercial and other interests that often dominate TWDC concerns.
Another reason given for the proposed top down structure was that IRS 501 c (3) audit program and State rules require this type of structure. However, members of the bylaws committee admitted that the current code of regulations and articles of incorporation do not actually violate these requirements.
Other reasons given for appointing all committee members include:
* Protecting Board members because of their fiduciary responsibilities
* Preventing committees from going haywire and acting in a way that is not allowed by law or that violates TWDC’s interest in acting for the good of Tremont
These legitimate concerns can be addressed, without sacrificing the right of residents to fully participate in TWDC committees and chose their leadership, by having the TWDC Board
* Appoint all members of the Finance Committee and full members of the Executive Committee (other than the president), and leave full voting membership and the choice of the chairperson of other committees open to all Tremont residents who have participated often enough in such committees to qualify as voting members
* Appointing at least one person to attend and participate in each committee to:
o Facilitate communication and coordination with the board and other committees,
o Provide advice on TWDC’s legal obligations,
o Help assure that board concerns are heard, and to,
o As a last resort, veto committee decisions if they violate TWDC’s legal or fiduciary responsibilities (with such decisions appealable to the Board, and on to independent arbitrators if necessary)
The proposed bylaws specify that the TWDC Board selects the ex-officio representatives of block clubs and do not contain procedures help insure resident participation in block club agenda and decision-making.
The proposed bylaws do not include an enforceable bill of rights that would help protect the right of members to advocate and publish their observations and opinions without harassment or loss of voting rights or services that would otherwise be due to them.
The proposed bylaws do not include procedures to help ensure that poor, disabled and minority Tremont residents are adequately represented in the TWDC Board.
Finally, the proposed bylaws do not provide the access to and oversight of TWDC’s business and financial records necessary to help assure that available funding is well managed and spent and that any mismanagement of same is discovered and prevented.
Under the circumstances, the officially proposed TWDC Bylaws should be rejected by the membership, unless amended to appropriately address these concerns.
The new Articles of Incorporation proposed by TWDC delete sections of the existing articles explicitly covering humanitarian programs that TWDC has provided. Under the circumstances, the Proposed Articles of Incorporation should be amended to:
* Restore the humanitarian programs that are in the current Articles of Incorporation,
* Add a diversity clause to the Articles of Incorporation requiring the TWDC to have a minimum requirement for promoting diversity on its board,
* That Roberts Rules of Order Roberts apply and allow amendments to proposed new bylaws to be proposed from the floor and voted on if seconded, along with amendments to amendments, etc., and that
* The proposed amended bylaws are added to the Articles of Incorporation, unless proposed bylaws are allowed to be fully discussed and amended from the floor at this meeting.
For further details, contact me at (216) 583-0007 lcornett [at] en [dot] com