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Is Cleveland’s new Mayor delivering on promise of transparency?

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 8:14 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s access we haven’t gotten in years.

The Mayor of Cleveland recently sat down with six of our 19 News reporters, each ready with questions on topics that matter most to our viewers.

Investigator Hannah Catlett lead off the team, and she spoke with Mayor Justin Bibb about the transparency he promised residents during his campaign.

“One of the things I campaigned on all throughout the campaign last year is being committed to transparency,” Bibb said. “It’s important that we have a good productive working relationship with the press.”

In his first 100 days as Mayor of Cleveland, Bibb’s already taken a much different approach to leading the city than his predecessor. Sitting down with the mayor is something we haven’t gotten to do in a long time.

“I believe transparency is a key tenant to show residents that we’re listening, that we care, and that we have empathy to solve the problems,” Bibb said.

For years, the Jackson administration dodged our questions and our cameras-- oftentimes refusing to respond to the press at all.

“Unwinding 16 years of I think a mindset that was stuck on “it is what it is,” versus the promise that we can be it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Bibb said. “You can’t unwind that perspective overnight, but I think that we can show incremental progress over time and communicate that progress in a way that gives our residents confidence.”

Bibb’s hired a new chief of communications.

The city is also undergoing an audit of its communications processes and public information officers currently in place.

Can they get important information to Clevelanders quicker and more efficiently?

“It’s so critical that we operate with one voice as an administration because for far too long, we have not been doing that as a city,” Bibb said.

It's access we haven't gotten in years-- tonight we kick off our coverage of the mayor's first 100 days in office. I spoke with him about transparency, which he promised during his campaign. Here's the conversation we had on the topic in its entirety:

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Monday, April 11, 2022

Aside from making himself more accessible to us and the public, Bibb wants residents to note the revamp of the city’s website.

It’s part of what he calls “modernizing city hall.”

“I think it plays a large part of being transparent,” he said. “We wanted to start off with having a brand new landing page for the mayor’s office, and as you can see on that landing page not only do we have our 100-day tracker which outlines priorities we’ve been delivering on since January.”

Eventually, he wants the city to create updated pages for each department.

We asked if Bibb is happy with where he’s at right now, 100 days into his new position.

“I’m never happy as my cabinet will tell you,” he said. “I’m always, you know focused on how to be get better every single day.”

The Mayor will give his state of the city address on Wednesday night.

We have a team of reporters working on other stories with leading up to and after that speech.

Each story will air this week at 6 o’clock.

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