After empassioned citizens spoke before Akron City Council last week to discuss how fair hiring practices for citizens with felonies would aid the city in terms of its economic and social development, the city took another step forward to help returning citizens get back to becoming productive members of society.
Akron City Council passed an ordinance Monday night urging the Akron Civil Service Commission to review its policies and civil service rules regarding fair hiring practices to provide a chance for qualified convicted felons to seek employment in the city based on their own merit.
Returning citizen Raymond Greene this is a positive step for reformed people who are seeking a second chance.
"It finally gives returning citizens a chance at a lifestyle that gives them the resources to support their kids and their families," he explained.
"It finally gives them a place where they can feel like they are somebody again, not having to constantly pay for their mistakes."
DaMareo Cooper of Stand Up Ohio said that by the council body hearing from those who are and continue to be affected by the current policies in place when it comes to hiring practices in the city , it sparked the idea for change.
"I think it was very important that they got to see real people, real community folks come out and share their stories with city council," he said.
"When you give people a voice, it's a powerful tool."
Cooper says he appreciates the cooperation between the city and various organizations, including Stand Up Ohio that are fighting to see a change in hiring practices in Akron.
In other business, Council passed an ordinance 11-2 approving the appointment of at-large Councilman Jeff Fusco to the board of directors of the Coventry-Akron, Springfield-Akron, Bath Akron-Fairlawn, and Copley-Akron Joint Economic Development Districts. The two "no" votes came from Ward 2 Councilman Bruce Kilby and at-large councilwoman Linda Omobien, who felt she was more than prepared to serve on the board. Also passed were three resolutions congratulating Laraine Duncan, Ronnie Williamson, and Rick Merolla on their years of service to the City of Akron and wishing them well in their retirements. Merolla was the only one of the three retirees who were present during Monday night's meeting. Merolla thanked his wife, who was also present Monday, the city, Mayor Plusquellic, and the council body for their support and hard work during his tenure. The Mayor also took time to thank Merolla, as well as Williamson and Duncan for their dedication to the city as well.
Ward 4 Councilman Russel Neal, Jr along with Mayor Plusquellic and Council took a moment to recognize some brave young people who attempted to rescue an autistic boy from Akron's Mud Brook recently.
The heroic efforts of Kaila Watkins, Phil Watkins III, and Kameron Williams got a standing ovation from the crowd at Council Chambers as they were recognized for attempting to save 12-year-old Nicholas Shaffer, who died after being swept away in Mud Brook the day after torrential rains brought the normally quiet brook into a mini river with fast-moving current.