For many years, Lakewood exempted students from filing a local income tax return, if they spent most of the year at college. Then, late in 2015, City Council voted to end that exemption beginning with filings for 2016.
This vote came up as a question at a candidate forum a couple of weeks ago, and I was surprised that all of the incumbent candidates struggled to remember it.
I was actually the only candidate familiar with the issue, and replied that I would have fought to keep this exemption for students. To be entirely fair, City Council holds a lot of votes, and I can’t say for certain that I would have recalled the details of this one almost two years later.
But the issue also came up again just this year, when people went to file 2016 taxes and began asking where the college student exemption went. People discussed it online, the Lakewood Observer published an article, and Lakewood’s Finance Director as well as Ward 4 Councilman Dan O’Malley all weighed in.
I noticed this, and the discussion convinced me that this was not a decision that I would have supported on council. While the city cited changes in state law as the reason for taking away the exemption, residents noticed that other Ohio cities have kept this filing exemption. The Director of Tax Policy at the Ohio Society of CPAs says that nothing in 2014 tax law changes prevented Lakewood from doing the same.
Based on that, I can say that I disagree with the choice made by City Council in 2015. It’s a relatively small thing in practical terms. But with so many people struggling to afford college, we should stand up for whatever support Lakewood can offer, not take it away in a vote that no one seemed to notice.
Our Pop-up Rally this morning was a hit. Lots of honks, waving, (beautiful weather!) and even positive comments from people I met while out knocking on doors later in the day.
Thank you to everyone who joined us!
I am honored to receive the endorsement of UAW, Northeast Ohio CAP Council. I'm also grateful for what this union has meant to generations of my family before me.
Thank you very much to Cleveland Action Democrats for honoring me with your support!
Tristan Rader is a young leader in Lakewood that we hope will play a major role in the future of Lakewood and Cuyahoga County politics. We believe that the future of Cuyahoga County must be a place that protects seniors, our environment, our public education, limits home vacancies, and is a place where working families and young people will want to call home. We believe Tristan has a great understanding of national issues and local issues.
With Lakewood Democratic Club President Grant Mackay. Thank you for your support!
Our public schools are important to Lakewood. They’re important to me, too; my wife and I look forward to sending our children to good Lakewood schools when we start a family.
So I want to share a few thoughts about Lakewood's “report card” which Ohio’s Department of Education released last week. This included three Cs, one D and an F.
I think the whole statewide report card system deserves an F, for fraud.
I met with some employees from our school district, shortly after the report card came out. They called Ohio’s report card system inconsistent, counterproductive, and fundamentally “bogus.” I have looked into it since, and all of their objections are substantive. The report card leaves out not only external factors that influence students’ performance, like income level, but ignores entire categories of student experience. In particular the diversity in Lakewood schools is not counted at all, yet preparing young people to deal with a diverse America has enormous, real value to them and to society.
The report card standards also shift, year after year, making the report cards unhelpful even for comparisons over time within one school district. The Department of Education acknowledges most of this, too. The Columbus Dispatch wrote that state officials have warned “Don’t make direct comparisons between these scores and past scores until the system has stabilized after a few years.” The state superintendent admits that report cards “aren’t the only gauge of a school’s or district’s achievement.”
So what’s even the point of these report cards? I tend to agree with critics who say they’re simply the product, intentional or otherwise, of a political agenda that objects to public education itself. Of course no measurement system is perfect—so why try to impose one system, on every school district in Ohio, and then attach simplistic letter-grades to the results? As one Lakewood teacher said to me, “the state report card is designed to make it look like we failed.”
It has been an amazing three days measured by response from the public (who are the point of this campaign).
This evening, I received another national endorsement from Working Families. This is a fantastic organization, rapidly growing beyond its base in the Northeast, which already has a strong track record fighting for working Americans: equal pay, predictable scheduling, paid sick leave, etc. I'm proud to be one of their endorsed candidates, and to help promote the Working Families mission here in Ohio.
At the same time, page 12 of this week's paper brings another citizen endorsement from here in Lakewood:
Tristan has been an active member of the community, and stood up for what he believes is right. As I have volunteered with him and gotten to know him over the past few years, I have no doubt that he will place the views of the community first, even if that means taking difficult positions when necessary. I hope that the people of Lakewood will take a closer look at the candidates and seriously consider Tristan Rader for city council.
Thank you, Sarah Kolberg!
I'm proud of the endorsements I have received from organizations, particularly Our Revolution, which carries on the national campaign for progressive change that Senator Bernie Sanders inspired last year.
But I am honored by the support from within our community. I'm running to represent the people of Lakewood, and the people will ultimately judge my candidacy. So I am deeply grateful for recent letters-to-the-editor from Lakewood residents.
…when I moved to Lakewood close to three years ago this October, there was one person I knew who respected people and got around issues and causes that people supported simply because he cares about the community he lives in. That person is Tristan Rader.
…When I went to a Town Hall meeting at Garfield School not too long ago, I mentioned that Cranford Ave has been slow to repair the street and repair the sidewalks. Tristan said that he would talk to the people currently tasked to see that through, and within a week of that promise, I saw construction workers working on the street which is now pot-hole free, and working on the sidewalks making them easier to walk on. I saw something get done.
…We need someone who will truly be a public servant for public service. That person is Tristan Rader, and he has my full support. I hope you consider him in the upcoming local election.
Two questions come up, repeatedly, as I’m talking with people in Lakewood:
- “Will you fight for the community?”
- “Will you be able to get anything done?”
I will fight for the community. I decided to run because I saw a lack of leadership. I have seen what happens when public servants let special interests and pride sway their decisions. It's clear something has to change.
I'm not bought, and I don't have connections to the political establishment. They know better than to try to buy me off; if they do I will let the public know what they’re up to. I do not accept corporate contributions. I will not be taking money or favors from our current city officials. If they send me a check, it will be returned.
I guarantee I will get more done than current incumbents. That's an easy promise to keep because I am already working hard to understand your needs, and plan to work even harder to implement positive changes that meet those needs.
Lakewood has a lead problem.
No surprise there, really. Cleveland has a serious lead problem, and Lakewood was built in the same era with the same methods. The United States only banned lead-based paint in 1978; most of Lakewood’s housing is nearly a century old.
Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the human body, and the effects are not only harmful, but can be lifelong when lead poisoning occurs in childhood. At a recent symposium in Cleveland, Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes noted that “those not treated early end up in an institution—often prison.”
There are two main reasons why lead remains a problem.
- Obvious symptoms of lead exposure often aren’t immediate. So early intervention requires ongoing, year-in year-out testing.
- The cost of lead-poisoning is high—special-needs education for children harmed by lead is more than double a school’s typical cost per student—but the costs aren’t immediate either. So it’s possible for one administration to cut safety programs and pass the costs to another.
That’s where Lakewood is now.