Pictured are Ohio Governor John Kasich (wearing Black suit with no beard). Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson (wearing Black suit with beard), and Cleveland Ward 10 Councilman Jeff Johnson (wearing grey suit)
By Editor-in-Chief Kathy Wray Coleman, a-24-year journalist who trained at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio for 17 years, and who interviewed now President Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview,
CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, COLUMBUS, Ohio -Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Monday signed into law legislation that blocks efforts by union members and community activists for a special election that was set for next May on whether to up the minimum wage in Cleveland to $15 an hour.
The controversial measure follows efforts by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council President Kevin Kelley to secure the governor's support in quelling any minimum wage increase, both saying that limiting the wage increase to Cleveland and not surrounding areas is impractical and would run businesses out of the city.
Ohio Senate Bill 331 prohibits municipalities, villages and townships in the state from raising the minimum wage, currently set at $8.10 per hour statewide.
Any referendum or citizen initiated change in the minimum wage requires a statewide initiative, the new state law says.
State Senator Sandra Williams, the only Black state senator from Cleveland opposed SB 331.
A companion bill in the House of Representatives previously passed the hurdle, also along partisan lines, with Black state representatives of greater Cleveland, namely John Barnes Jr, Bill Patmon and Stephanie Howse, all of them Cleveland Democrats, and Janine Boyd of Cleveland Heights, also a Democrat, voting no.
Republicans control both the House and Senate in Ohio.
Raise Up Cleveland collected the signatures for the now defunct ballot initiative with the support of of the Service Employees International Union.
Also in support was outspoken Cleveland NAACP President Michael Nelson Sr., who blasted Mayor Jackson and Kelley over the issue at an Ohio Democratic Party meeting last week in Cleveland.
Proponents argue that a working wage increase is amenable and that Cleveland must set the tone for a living wage.
Home rule, they say, should govern.
Kelley and Jackson have said that economic recovery is crucial and that an arbitrary minimum wage increase would undermine such efforts.
The pro-minimum wage increase advocates have rallied repeatedly for the measure and enlisted the support of some Black leaders such as former state senator Nina Turner, who is Black, and Cleveland Ward 10 Councilman Jeff Johnson, who has vowed to unseat Jackson for mayor as the mayoral seat and all of the 17 city council seats are up for grabs in 2017.
A former state senator, Johnson, who, like Jackson, is Black, was the lone city council person that supported the $15 an hour minimum raise increase.
Johnson reportedly told community activists at the annual December birthday party of fellow councilman Kevin Conwell that he is running for mayor next year whether Jackson runs or not and that he is recommending Cuyahoga County Councilman Anthony Hairston, who is also Black, to be appointed to replace him on city council.
If appointed, Hairston would have to subsequently run for the Ward 10 east side council seat.
"Jeff Johnson told us he is running for mayor next year and asked us to support him at Councilman Conwell's birthday party," said community activist Frances Caldwell, also the executive director of the Cleveland African-American Museum.
City council held hearings on the wage increase matter, which missed a ballot initiative deadline previously, thus giving Kasich, a Republican and unsuccessful candidate for president in 2016, fodder to push SB 331.
Jackson, a three-term mayor, and all 17 city council members are Democrats.
The mayor has not said publicly if he intends to seek an unprecedented fourth term, though sources say that he will, in fact, do so.
The relatively popular Jackson, who is home grown and a former city council president, wants four more years, a source said, to further projects such as the Opportunity Corridor and to work on enhancing educational outcomes for the majority Black Cleveland schools that he controls under state law.
Voters, in November, renewed a 15 mill schools tax levy.