For those readers who are non-Clevelanders, I will explain the "Charm School" concept as I understand it.
Apparently the city receives many complaints, including phone calls to the police department, over what would be deemed nuisances. Loud music, unrestrained pets, neighbor kids running across flower beds, lawns being mowed at unreasonable hours...You get the picture. The folks who field these complaints noted many of them concerned renters who were unaware of the rules imposed by suburbanites to insure harmonious living. The people at City Hall also discovered that most people would comply once they understood the expectations.
The "Charm School" idea was a pro-active response, as opposed to simply reacting to annoying behavior.
The controversy arose when it was announced "Charm School" would be a requirement for Section 8 (low income) renters. An immediate cry of 'discrimination' erupted from members of the community. The poor were not the sole perpetrators of rude behavior. Bad manners cross all economic strata.
However, most of the nuisance calls involved renters, many of whom were receiving Section 8 subsidies. The City decided to make the classes a requirement since they noted the people who would benefit most from the information are the ones least likely to attend an optional program.
My response is this:
The idea of a proactive class is great. I don't have a problem with it being required
The Mayor blew it when he publicly referred to the classes as "Charm School". The implied connotation of bad manners is insulting. Had these classes been simply called Good Neighbor Information Sessions, they would have passed under the media radar and there would have been no public outcry.
It's all in the spin.
A reader commented that perhaps the "Charm School" moniker was created, not by Mayor Kelly, but rather by a creative Plain Dealer staffer. Upon further research, I could not substantiate a quote from the mayor labeling the Good Neighbor classes "Charm School". I did find a page from the newsletter Future Heights that may be of interest to anyone wanting more information, and lots of commentary on this subject.