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Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin discusses collaboration between nation’s cities

Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin speaks at a news conference announcing crime statistics in August 2022.
Nick Castele
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin speaks at a news conference announcing crime statistics in August 2022.

More than 2,800 city leaders from across the country met in Washington, D.C. recently for the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. Attendees met with federal officials and discussed issues facing cities today. Those topics ranged from infrastructure to public safety to clean energy.

One of Cleveland's representatives was Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin, who is also the council member for Ward 6.

He recently joined Ideastream Public Media’s “Sound of Ideas” program to talk about the conference with host, Jenny Hamel.

Council President Griffin says rail safety was a major topic in the conference. A year ago, a Norfolk Southern cargo train derailed in Columbiana County in the village of East Palestine spilling toxic chemicals including vinyl chloride. Residents there are still concerned about their health and well-being and the health of the environment.

Griffin says Cleveland has what is considered the seventh worst rail intersection in the country on Bessemer between East 78th and East 80th streets. He points out that the majority of train derailments nationwide happen in inner city limits.

“If what happened in East Palestine would have happened here in Cleveland, it would have devastated Cleveland. Because we're so densely populated, it would have affected so many people. So rail safety is important,” said Griffin.

Griffin chairs the Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee for the National League of Cities.

“So we deal with the policies. One of the big policies that we were successful in advocating for by having a local voice, lobbying federal leaders, is when we just lobbied, Sherrod Brown's office. Unbeknownst to people, the IRS was going to make when you replace lead pipes, in your home, going to your home, even though it was a federal program, they were considering calling that taxable income, which you would have had to report that as income,” said Griffin. He was concerned such a move would push people out of the program and the FAIR Committee was able to advocate for the IRS to change that rule

Griffin says clean energy is a major priority for the National League of Cities.

“I'm a huge triple bottom line guy. Everything I do, I wanted to meet the social, environmental and economic impact.”

Griffin says what he loves about the league is that although Congress and the federal government is highly polarized, the National League of Cities operates in a non-partisan way.

“We get to say cities, don't care about that. All we care about is getting stuff done for our cities.”

You can listen to more of Council President Blaine Griffin’s interview with Jenny Hamel by clicking the listen button at the top of the page.

-Blaine Griffin, City Council President, Cleveland

Rachel is the supervising producer for Ideastream Public Media’s morning public affairs show, the “Sound of Ideas.”
Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."