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Greater Cleveland drug recovery agency anchors presence in next epidemic neighborhoods

NORA CEO Anita Bradley's bold plan to deliver information, treatment and preventive resources to neighborhoods where opioid addiction is growing

CLEVELAND, OH – Anita Bradley’s request to her board chairman to purchase a permanent location for the Northern Ohio Recovery Agency (NORA) was met with an immediate “yes.” 

Carolyn Cleveland knew the plans the agency’s chief executive officer was implementing to provide assistant to greater Clevelanders seeking addiction recovery help.  A permanent location between two interstates and within access to several major public transportation routes made sense.  The price of the building was even better. 

Instead of paying rent NORA would become a property owner with room to grow.  People experiencing addiction and seeking help would always know where to go to find it.

NORA board Chairwoman Carolyn Cleveland and Judge Emmanuella Groves discuss ways the agency and court will work together when citizens brought to court with addictions are seeking help. [Photo by Eric Jonathan Brewer].
Bradley knows her agency’s clients and their stories all too well since she and Cleveland founded the non-profit 14 years ago.  Many, Bradley said, started off taking pain medications. 

Ohio’s drug statistics show a correlation between the terms in office and political perspective shifts between Richard Cordray and Richard Michael DeWine as the state’s attorney generals.  Cordray didn’t target Ohio’s physicians and call them drug dealers.  DeWine did shortly after he took office in January 2011.  

84 Ohioans died of heroin and fentanyl overdoses between Cordray’s last year in office and 2013 before DeWine targeted  61 doctors he called “drug dealers” without proof and pressured them out of business.  No federal or state prosecutor backed DeWine’s claim against them.  Only one lost his medical license, James Lundeen, after a hearing before the state’s medical board he wasn’t allowed to attend.  The board’s members were legally-advied by one of DeWine’s assistant attorney generals.

With doctors too fearful to prescribe pain medications to people who needed it their patients went to the streets.  There they found cheaper heroin and other narcotic drugs along with fentanyl. 

The narcotic death toll jumped to 504 by 2014.  It didn’t stop as DeWine’s war against doctors continued.  Overdose deaths from fentanyl grew to 1155 in 2015 to 2357 in 2016.  Overdose deaths overall in Ohio topped 4854 in 2017 for a total of 20,000 dead Ohioans since DeWine’s attack on the state’s pain management physicians began in 2011.

Cleveland Mayor Jackson discusses the growing collaboration between the city and NORA. [Photo by Eric Jonathan Brewer].
DeWine, now the state’s governor, seemed to lament his role in the deadly problem he created with a writer for a newsletter published by the Ohio Task Force Commanders Association.  The February 16, 2015 newsletter featured a story headlined, “Ohio state, local officials working to prevent ‘pill mills’.”  

In the story DeWine acknowledged the role he was playing in feeding the need for street narcotics by creating fear among physicians who prescribed medications for pain to stop it.

“We certainly don’t want to deny these pain medications to anybody who really needs them, but they can be very addicting.  Many times, these people who were addicted to pain medication would switch to heroin because heroin is cheaper. Babies are born to addicted mothers.” DeWine said.  

Cuyahoga County’s addiction problem grew worse when Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals sent over 50 million doses of fentanyl to it … alone.   That’s 50 doses for each of the county’s 1 million residents.  The use of it became so routine Cleveland’s Louis Stokes Veterans Administration Hospital uses it for routine procedures like colonoscopies.  [NOTE: This writer recently rejected being injected with fentanyl during a colonoscopy at the Louis Stokes VAH and remained conscious during the procedure.]

Cleveland’s political leadership expresses their commitment to battling addition with NORA. [Photo by Eric Jonathan Brewer].
It’s the aftermath of decisions similar to those like DeWine made, and the executives of Johnson & Johnson, that were unknown to Ohio’s residents and how it would affect them that are now being struggled with by agencies like NORA and the ADAMS Board.  It’s behind much of the misery Cleveland and its county’s elected officials have had to deal with over the past 8 years.

Bradley extended “strategic” invitations to key political figures in Cleveland to join her for the September 20, 2019 grand opening of NORA’s headquarters at 1400 55th Street.  Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson made his presence felt knowing it would be his health department, EMS workers and police responding to the emergencies and crime residents and visitors of the city using and trafficking in narcotics would bring to the neighborhoods he protected.

Bradley’s guest list included County Councilwoman Yvonne  Conwell and State Rep. Terrence Upchurch.  Cleveland Municipal Court judges Emmanuella Groves and Lauren Moore attended.  William Denihan, the ADAMS Board’s retired chairman, blessed the event  Denihan reminded Bradley not to relent in pursuing every available dollar needed to help the agency’s clients.

By collaborating with front line elected and appointed public officials who fund and oversee bureaucracies that interact with citizens struggling with addiction or recovery, Bradley sees them as organizing to use NORA as a “command center” like presence in the city for strategy and community meetings. 

Anyone who knows Bradley as a professional manager understands she’s already thinking in terms of the “programs” she can use the space to create.  NORA’s equipped with a professional kitchen.  There are few limits in NORA’s new headquarter’s ability to serve people in recovery; including those needing temporary housing.

The intentional distribution of legal and illegal narcotics to Ohio and Cuyahoga County, along with bad public policies from publicity-motivated elected officials, hace created a “predicted” epidemic for the people living around NORA’s new E. 55th Street headquarters “inside” the City of Cleveland. 

What those experiencing addiction and needing help will know is that when they’re ready to change their lives 1400 E. 55th Street is open for business to help them.

Eric Jonathan Brewer
Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more. Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings. As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national. Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year. Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.

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