Latest News

Cleveland Heights voters opt for change

Voters approved Cleveland Heights Issue 26, the charter amendment that will allow residents to directly elect the city's mayor, with a vote of 6,922 (64.10 percent) to 3,877 (35.9 percent).

In Cleveland Heights City Council races, five candidates vied for three 4-year term seats, while two candidates vied for a single 2-year term, to fill the seat vacated by former council member Cheryl Stephens and serve out the remainder of her unexpired term.

In the 4-year term race, Melody Joy Hart garnered the most votes, with 6,358 (25.56 percent), followed by incumbents Kahlil Seren, with 5,644 votes (22.69 percent), and Mary Dunbar, with 4,670 (18.77 percent).

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 10:53 AM, 11.06.2019

Latest News Releases

Statement from Mayor Roe on CH vote to change form of government to directly elect full-time mayor
- City of Cleveland Heights, November 6, 2019 Read More
Citizens for an Elected Mayor statement on the approval of Issue 26
- Citizens for an Elected Mayor, November 6, 2019 Read More
CH Fire Fighters Local 402 opposes Issue 26
- Non-Profit & Groups, September 26, 2019 Read More
Rep. Boyd to hold Sept. 5 event to help rebuild uprooted CH community garden
- State Rep. Janine Boyd, September 4, 2019 Read More
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union And CH-UH City School District Restricted To One-Year Contract Due To State Voucher Expansion
- CH-UH Schools, August 29, 2019 Read More

View more news releases

Kreuz to host Nov. 13 University Heights Civic Awards

Gabriella Kreuz

Cleveland Indians in-stadium host and John Carroll University (JCU) graduate Gabriella Kreuz will return to University Heights to host the city’s Civic Awards on Nov. 13. The awards dinner will honor several individuals whose efforts are making the city an even better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

Named one of 2019’s “Most Interesting People” by Cleveland Magazine, Kreuz was an All-American cross-country runner at JCU. She is an on-air personality for Fox Sports Ohio and WOIO Channel 19.

The event will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m., at the Lombardo Student Center’s Jardine Room on the campus of JCU. Tickets are $25 and are on sale now at Prior to the awards ceremony, the Mal Barron Quartet will perform live jazz.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:20 PM, 11.04.2019

2019 Heights Observer Holiday Gift Guide

For the past 12 years, the Heights Observer has published its Holiday Gift Guide to inspire residents to shop locally for the December holidays. Cleveland Heights and University Heights abound with independent businesses—boutiques, salons, restaurants and artist collaboratives—which enhance our local character and anchor our business districts. 

Research shows that these establishments are good for local economies: they keep dollars in communities, provide employment to residents, and establish a tax base that's less volatile than big box retailers.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 3:20 PM, 11.01.2019

Six good reasons to shop local for the holidays—and every day

Here are six good reasons to shop local this holiday season:

  1. If you like the Heights for its walkable access to lively, interesting business districts, the way to keep these districts healthy is to spend money in them—for special occasions and everyday life. 
  2. I value the process of finding thoughtful, unique gifts in shops run by people I know as friends. When I give such a gift, it comes along with a little story about the great shop where I got it.
  3. All the money we spend on the Internet and most of what we spend at national chain stores leaves the community forever. But most of the money spent with an independent local merchant stays in the community, where it recirculates and supports the local economy.
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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:12 AM, 11.03.2019

All-night walk and talks

One of my three concurrent high school bands. This one was called the Streets. Within a few years, two or three of us would be living on the streets. I’m on the right. The person whose name isn’t John is one of these other guys.

I grew up in houses on Belmar Road, near Mayfield. It seems like one house, but there were two. I spent my first 15 years in half of a two-family up-and-down duplex; the first house after the apartment building on Mayfield, on the east side of the street. Then, in the summer between my 9th- and 10th-grade years, 1964, we moved next door, to a house with the exact same layout. So it seems like I lived in one house. Until I picture the main difference.

In the second house—where I stayed until I was 18—we lived downstairs. That was a big change. No more 20-stair climb (four steps from the ground to the front porch, then 16 more steps to our half of the house). What I also discovered, that first summer in the new place, was that the land it was built on sloped toward the street. So while there were a few steps up to the front porch, the windows in the back bedroom, where I lived, were only four to five feet off the ground.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:38 PM, 11.01.2019

Workshop will cover social-media basics for businesses

Social media plays a huge role in how consumers seek out goods and services, but knowing how to navigate those waters can sometimes be daunting for small-business owners. FutureHeights, in partnership with US Bank, is offering a free workshop that will teach the basics of how to “Socialize Local,” with two opportunities to attend: Friday, Nov. 8, 3–4:30 p.m., at Christopher’s Pub (1318 Warrensville Center Road), or Friday, Nov. 15, 3–4:30 p.m., at CLE Urban Winery (2180 Lee Road).

By utilizing Facebook business pages, Instagram, and Twitter, small businesses can get the word out about everything they have to offer. Small business owners in Cleveland Heights and University Heights are invited to attend “Socialize Local” to unlock the mysteries of hashtags, learn how to write effective posts, decide which platforms make the most sense for them to utilize, and learn how to use these social-media platforms in tandem with one another, enabling them to reach the widest possible audience.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:36 PM, 11.01.2019

Heights Arts to host Nov. 7 networking open house for business owners

On Nov. 7, 6–8 p.m., Heights Arts and FutureHeights invite Heights business owners to attend an open house and networking event in the Heights Arts gallery.

Attendees will have an opportunity to meet other members of the local business community, as well as Heights Arts and FutureHeights board members, and share ideas, problems and solutions.

This event is free and will include light fare and a cash bar.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:39 AM, 11.03.2019

Church presents 'Requiem' for victims of mass shootings

The Fairmount Choir of Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights will present the Ohio premiere of the short work Requiem by Joshua Clausen on Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. The work was written to honor the victims of American mass shootings and their families and friends. The piece was inspired by the work of Sophie Cho, a journalist who took data about mass shootings and turned it into sound form to illustrate gun violence in America. What resulted was a recorded data sonification (series of piano notes) where each piano note represents the day of an American mass shooting, from January 2013 to November 2017. The louder the note, the more people were killed on that particular day.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:32 PM, 11.01.2019

Popular '1619 Project' discussion prompts further conversations

On Sept. 30, Heights Libraries hosted a “1619 Project” discussion group. It was so popular that the library system is planning additional discussions, in November and January.

The 1619 Project is an initiative by The New York Times that re-examines the history, and lasting influence, of American slavery on our society. The New York Times published a special edition of its Sunday magazine devoted to essays that re-frame economics, medical care, popular culture, and the legacy of racism. The essays served as a launching point for the discussion.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:21 PM, 11.01.2019

Library display gives kids a voice

Youth Services Associate Talia Linina with her Question of the Week display at the Lee Road branch

Talia Linina, a youth services associate at Heights Libraries, wants to know what kids are thinking, and she has a fun, creative way of finding out.

Every Monday, she creates a display by the Lee Road branch children’s reference desk called Question of the Week. She sets out a sign with a question, slips of paper for writing down the answers, colorful pens, and something she calls “the rainbow box of mystery,” a multi-colored box with a hole in the top where kids submit their answers.

“I wanted to create an interactive display that would get kids to practice reading and writing,” said Linina. “And I also wanted to get to know the kids that come to our library and see what was on their minds.”

Linina plans questions months ahead of time and alternates simpler questions, like "What's your favorite color?" with ones that require a little more thinking, such as "How do you show your family members that you love them?" Then, at the end of the week, she collects the answers and displays as many as she can fit on the Question of the Week board. “The wider variety of questions I ask, the more kids I can engage,” she said. “And the kids like seeing if their answer from the previous week made it on the board.”

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:25 PM, 11.01.2019

WRC presents holiday concert Dec. 8

The Western Reserve Chorale's (WRC) first concert of the 2019–20 season, featuring Respighi’s rarely performed masterpiece Lauda per la Natività del Signore, will take place on Sunday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m., at Church of the Gesu (2470 Miramar Blvd., University Heights). 

This year’s holiday season concert, featuring the 100-voice chorale, will offer a variety of works highlighting the winter season, including traditional and not-so-traditional arrangements of songs for Hanukah and Christmas by Gustav Holst, David Willcocks, Susan LaBarr, John Rutter, Dan Forrest, Stephen Schwartz, David Chase and others.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:33 PM, 11.01.2019

What’s going on at your library?

Coventry Village Library
1925 Coventry Road, 216-321-3400

Thursday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.

Step Out of Time: Develop Your Spiritual Intuition. Spiritual intuitive Kathy Pickett will help participants identify their sensitivity to spiritual experiences, discover their intuitive abilities, and inspire a belief in one's own spiritual power.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:16 AM, 11.03.2019

Ghanaian artist finds success in library gallery

Ansah stands in front of works displayed in the Lee Road art gallery.

From Sept. 3 through Sept. 13, Ghanaian artist Nana Kwesi Agyare Ansah shook up the art scene with his Cleveland Heights debut at Heights Libraries’ Lee Road art gallery, selling 10 of his vibrant acrylic paintings, ranging from the figurative to the abstract, along with three handmade African masks.

Ansah’s display was just one of dozens of exhibits the library’s gallery has hosted over the past six years. Being an accessible community gathering place, it is an ideal public venue for displaying art, and artists of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to apply for the opportunity to exhibit their work.

Stopping in Cleveland for part of his United States tour, Ansah discovered Heights Libraries’ Lee Road branch and happened upon the library gallery, which is located on the first floor of the library's HKIC building.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:29 PM, 11.01.2019

Beaumont team wins back Golden Racquet

Beaumont Girls Varsity Tennis Team holds the Golden Racquet after defeating Heights High, 4-1.  

The Beaumont School Varsity Tennis Team took home the coveted “Golden Racquet” on Sept. 23, triumphing 4-1 over the Cleveland Heights High School Girls Tennis Team in a match at Purvis Park in University Heights.

Beaumont Tennis Coach Mike Pellechia created the Golden Racquet competition in 2013. The trophy is an actual racquet painted gold which goes to the winner of the annual Beaumont-Heights High match.

This year, Heights senior Ruby Kauffman defeated Beaumont senior Amanda Desamito in two sets; Beaumont senior Nicolette Kelley defeated Heights junior Sophia Mita in three sets; and Beaumont senior Gianna Velotta defeated Heights senior Madeleine Nicol in two sets.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:15 PM, 11.01.2019

CH filmmaker explores a region once ruled by rail

For the film, J.T. Waldman, one of the last illustrators to collaborate with Harvey Pekar, drew a street scene common to working class neighborhoods in 1890s Cleveland. With no parks, children had no choice but to play in streets made increasingly dangerous by electric streetcars—a conflict explored in "Streetcar City."

Northern Ohio was an epicenter of electric rail in the early 20th century. Cleveland had one of the largest streetcar networks in the country, and was a key national center of streetcar innovation and manufacturing. Ohio once boasted the largest inter-urban electric rail system in the Midwest, connecting cities and small towns across the state.

What happened to those elegant systems? Was it a mistake to abandon them? What does history teach us about sustainable transportation choices?

Cleveland Heights filmmaker Brad Masi addresses these questions in his film "Streetcar City," which will have a free screening at the Bottlehouse Brewery & Meadery (2050 Lee Road) on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:58 AM, 11.01.2019

What happens after the Issue 26 vote?

My wife and I moved to Cleveland Heights in August 2016, returning to Greater Cleveland after moving back and forth to Toronto on and off for about five years. (The company I work for moved me to Toronto several times on expat assignments.) This was difficult for my wife and I, but we made it work. When we moved back the last time, we were ready to settle down, find a home, and raise a family. We had several ideas of where we wanted to be but didn’t know exactly where that was. We wanted to be within the inner-ring suburbs of Cleveland as we both work in the city, but more importantly, we wanted to move somewhere that was conducive to raising a family, where you could feel the history when you drove through the city, somewhere that was walkable, and into a community that shared similar values.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 11:01 AM, 11.01.2019

Issue 26 is about competing in an ever-faster-paced future

Did you hear about that one guy who moved to Cleveland Heights because he wanted to live under a council-manager government? You didn’t because he doesn’t exist. There are lots of things that make Cleveland Heights special. Our plodding and dour system of municipal governance is the least of our appeal.

Cleveland Heights is blessed with innate advantages in terms of layout, housing stock and location. And yet we continue to be saddled with a seemingly incurable case of hidden-gem status, living in a self-imposed state of suspended animation, paralyzed at times by denial, fear and nostalgia. A “no” vote on Issue 26 is a vote to continue waiting around to be discovered.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:54 AM, 11.01.2019

TOH doesn't meet city's own stated goals

After many months of presentations, discussion and review, the developer, Flaherty & Collins (F&C), has revealed the fundamental architectural failure of the now-approved Top of the Hill (TOH) design.

From the TOH page of the city’s website, dated July 2, 2019:

“Goals Established for the Project: The Developer and the City seek to collaboratively create a signature mixed use destination district that serves as a gateway to the City and a link between the City and the adjacent University Circle area of Cleveland. The City’s goal is that the development of the Project Site shall, at a minimum:

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:44 AM, 11.01.2019

City fails community on TOH

Concerns expressed at Top of the Hill (TOH) Architectural Board of Review (ABR)  meetings have been ignored. At the Feb. 6 meeting, I represented the Historic Resources Committee of the American Institute of Architects Cleveland Chapter (AIACLE) and observed that the project, as designed, fails to follow any of the guidelines for new construction in a historic district. The project is fundamentally unchanged from that original design.

The U.S. Department of the Interior states that new construction in a historic district should “be differentiated from the old and will be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment.”

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:42 AM, 11.01.2019

TOH process demonstrates city's lack of leadership and response

A change in the structure of Cleveland Heights city government is urgently needed for three reasons: the current council-manager structure does not provide leadership, transparency, or responsiveness to the citizens of Cleveland Heights.

Until recently, I thought our council-manager form of government was working fine. However, participating in the public meetings about Top of the Hill (TOH) changed my mind. After attending several meetings, I decided that the proposed TOH apartment project was ill-conceived, unattractive, and inappropriate to the Cedar-Fairmount neighborhood. But I was more dismayed by how the city related to the public during these meetings.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:49 AM, 11.01.2019

Noble corridor plan presented to city councils

On Sept. 16 and 17, FutureHeights and Bill James, of the consulting firm Camiros LTD, presented a proposal to bolster the Noble Road corridor to the city councils of Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland, respectively. 

Plans include improving the roadway, adding specified bike lanes, beautifying the neighborhood, and revitalizing the business districts. (Watch James’ presentation to Cleveland Heights City Council on the city's YouTube channel at

Noble Road is the most significant street in the northeast section of Cleveland Heights, giving its name to an area known as “Noble neighborhood.”

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:39 AM, 11.01.2019

Noble corridor plan is not noble

The Noble Road Corridor Plan focuses not on Noble Road but instead functions as an extension of the city of Cleveland Heights’ Mayfield Road Corridor Plan.

For more than 50 years city leaders have not invested in or allocated city resources in an equitable way to the north side of the city. Numerous past city plans imply this, beginning with the 1976 Nine-Point Plan, which, among other goals, aimed to prevent re-segregation.

This time city leaders state Noble Road will not receive any city resources or investment until the area “stabilizes.”

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:28 AM, 11.01.2019

State funding results in losses for CH-UH

I am trying to understand how schools in Ohio are funded, and it seems about as easy as teaching advanced calculus to a toddler who doesn’t speak English. Public school districts in Ohio are funded by state and local dollars, with federal monies for some programs that support students with disabilities. But the bulk of school funding comes from local property taxes.

In 2018–19 the state of Ohio arrived at $6,020 per student as the base amount to educate a child. The state adjusts this amount based on several considerations.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:15 AM, 11.01.2019

View from the bench: Bail reform

The Cleveland Heights Municipal Court is making dramatic changes to its bond schedule based on recommendations from a task force created by the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. The new schedule gives me more discretion in setting cash bail, putting fewer non-violent defendants in jail while awaiting trial. It's fairer and saves taxpayers money.

A person arrested will now be released on personal bond (a signed promise they will show up in court) unless charged with certain offenses, or where the prosecutor or police request a bond.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:09 AM, 11.01.2019

I don't want to be first

Being number one is typically a coveted status, but not when it comes to ranking school districts by their unfunded voucher costs.

The Cleveland Heights–University Heights City School District has the heartbreaking distinction of subsidizing vouchers at the largest dollar amount per student of any district in the state. Being number one is undercutting educational opportunities for public school students and putting pressure on our community to solve a school-funding crisis not of our making.

In fiscal year 2019, the 5,111 public school students in the CH-UH district lost $851 apiece so 1,300 other students could attend private schools.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:52 AM, 11.01.2019

Decisions . . . and transitions

Regardless of how the Issue 26 vote goes on Nov. 5, we, the people of Cleveland Heights, will be called upon to help our city make a transition to more effective and accountable city government.

As residents, citizens and, most of all, as neighbors, it will be up to us to heal the rifts of a bruising campaign. We either will or will not have a charter amendment changing our municipal government from a council/manager to a mayor/council form; but certainly there will be disappointed and worried people on whichever is the losing side.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:49 AM, 11.01.2019

CH Warrant Amnesty Day is Nov. 14

The Cleveland Heights Municipal Court will host Warrant Amnesty Day on Thursday, Nov. 14, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On that day, individuals with misdemeanor traffic or criminal arrest warrants will be allowed to return to court without being arrested in exchange for an agreement to complete and comply with any court orders. 

Representatives from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and Ohio Means Jobs will assist with driver’s license reinstatement, expungement navigation, workforce development, job training referrals, and applying for financial, food, medical and childcare assistance.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:45 AM, 11.01.2019

FutureHeights awards fall mini-grants

FutureHeights awarded $3,585 in grants to support five projects in Cleveland Heights in the fall round of its 2019 Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program:

Bradford Road Neighbors received $1,000 for the Bradford Road Pollinator Path (BPP) project, an expansion of a current project to rehabilitate a WPA-era pathway constructed as a safe walkway for children en route to Canterbury Elementary School. The goal is to bring sustainable plant life to the pathway to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the path as well as support indigenous growth, replacing invasive plants. Phase 1 of the project will focus on the area between South Taylor and Queenston roads.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:41 AM, 11.01.2019

CH Senior Center News

Medicare health and drug plans change every year. Are you keeping up? The open enrollment period for Medicare is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, and it’s time to review your coverage.

Counselors from the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) will be at the Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC) on Tuesday, Nov. 19, to help seniors review their insurance, and answer questions about Medicare coverage.

OSHIIP volunteers are also available to meet at SAC by appointment on other dates.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:33 AM, 11.01.2019

Learn how to help keep kids safe

Keeping children safe from abuse and neglect is the main focus of The Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), but the agency can’t do it alone—it relies on the support of the community to help keep children safe and families healthy.

To enable Heights residents to get to know DCFS—what it does, and how neighborhoods can work with the agency to help families—representatives will be in the Heights on Tuesday, Nov. 12, for an In Your Neighborhood event.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:31 AM, 11.01.2019

Preschool hosts bake sale and craft show

Heights Cooperative Preschool (formerly St. Paul’s Cooperative Preschool) is excited to host its annual combined bake sale and craft show on Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Church of the Redeemer, 2420 South Taylor Road.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the school so that it can continue to provide a fun, safe, and nurturing environment in which kids can learn and grow.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:27 AM, 11.01.2019

Rabbi to speak on human rights in Israel

Rabbi Arik Ascherman will speak on human rights in Israel at a Lunch and Learn on Saturday, Nov. 16, at Beth El - The Heights Synagogue. While the political climate in Israel has become increasingly conservative in recent years, there are still several groups promoting human rights for all. Among these groups is Rabbis for Human Rights, which Ascherman has led for many years. 

Ascherman has been involved in direct action to protect the olive groves of Palestinians from Israeli settlers and to protect the homes of Bedouin citizens in the Negev. In 2017, he founded Torat Tzedek (Torah of Justice).

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:25 AM, 11.01.2019

Reasons to fear a change

As an opponent of Issue 26, I fear what will happen if it passes and we lose our special system of local government.

I am afraid our current city manager will quit if she considers passage a vote of “no confidence.” City services have been good during her tenure. She deserves credit for that. During recent bad storms, she personally knocked on doors to make sure our fellow residents were safe. It would be good if she still is here when the next crisis happens.

I am afraid other high-level administrators will quit.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:58 PM, 10.30.2019

Reject the fear of voters

The current “NO on 26” campaign delivers a single message: “Don’t trust the voters.”

This distrust and fear of the voters was actually the genesis of the council-manager form of local government in the early 20th century, when establishment leaders reacted with horror to the prospect of universal suffrage.  It was a brilliant way to dilute the power of the electorate and keep those pesky voters away from government as much as possible.

I think a balance of power between the executive and legislative bodies in Cleveland Heights will be good for the city.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:53 PM, 10.30.2019

Yes on Issue 26 puts us in charge

Cleveland Heights is about to make history on Nov. 5. This is the first time in almost 100 years that our citizens have had the opportunity to decide how they want to be governed. This opportunity was provided by 10 ordinary citizens who formed a committee and started a petition drive by gathering 4,000 signatures (with a lot of help from volunteers) to put Issue 26 on the ballot.

Our committee of concerned citizens calls itself Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM); very simple, and self-explanatory. We wanted the voters of Cleveland Heights to be clear on two things:

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:51 PM, 10.30.2019

Whom should voters trust?

The campaign being waged in Cleveland Heights to discard our professional chief executive (city manager) in favor of a political mayor comes down to this: Trust us, it will be better. Why such a weak position? Because despite repeated challenges to make an evidence-based case, the proponents have never demonstrated that the daily circumstances of our residents would be safer, more prosperous, less taxed, or otherwise better under their replacement system. Hence there is only, "Trust Us."

Even if a position of this sort might ever work, it could only be when its proponents show worthiness of trust. Just the opposite has happened here. Here are two significant examples:  

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:41 PM, 10.30.2019

Power sharing is the opposite of power concentration

As a volunteer for Citizens for an Elected Mayor, I started out collecting signatures on the initiative petition and I now knock on doors—literally knock on them, because rare is the house with a working bell. I’m long retired, and while the walking is good for me, all this knocking is bad for my hands. But I keep doing it because I believe power sharing in government is a good thing, and the concentration of all political power in just one branch of government—as is currently the case in Cleveland Heights, where all power is vested in the legislative branch—is a not-so-good thing.

I have always thought of Issue 26 as a power-sharing ballot issue. Its passage would change our government so that political power is shared between the legislative branch (where all of it currently resides) and an executive branch.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:55 PM, 10.30.2019

If current form of government can solve CH's problems, why hasn't it?

To the Editor:

We have an opportunity Nov. 5 to adopt a form of government better suited to our success as a city than our current one. That choice is FOR an elected mayor.

The opposition wants to carry on as things are. They claim the council-manager structure can solve the problems of a diminishing tax base, deteriorated housing, lack of future-oriented development, uneven distribution of services, etc. Its track record says otherwise. This form of governance was in place as these problems arose. If it can solve these problems, why hasn’t it?

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:38 PM, 10.30.2019

CH government 'ain't broke'

Today there is a push to change the form of government for Cleveland Heights. I have lived in Cleveland Heights since about 1967. While attending Case, I rented an apartment in Coventry. After getting married, my wife and I bought a house near Severance center. Our children went to the Heights schools and graduated from Heights High. I have seen a lot of changes in this area over the years. Most of the changes made by the government have been for the good. I am not in favor of making any changes in government. I do not see where a change will affect any of our problems.

With the idea of “If it ain't broke, don't fix it,” I have tried to think of what is broke. My trash gets picked up every Wednesday (not broke). The police do a good job of keeping us in line (not broke).

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:36 PM, 10.30.2019

Supporting Democracy by supporting Issue 26

Of late I’ve been re-reading The Federalist Papers, the essays written in 1787 and 1788 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay “to decide the important question, whether societies of men [sic] are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice.” I wanted to understand more deeply how our founders discussed the exercise in democracy they were launching—what they thought of its scope, its limitations, its benefits, its challenges.

We’re going through something like that original debate right now in Cleveland Heights. It’s not nearly as consequential as The Federalist Papers disputes, but our debate has been similarly passionate, widespread and fundamental.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:40 PM, 10.30.2019

Keep Cleveland Heights cooperative

If you ask folks what they like about Cleveland Heights, they almost always mention “the people.” We are a diverse, open, welcoming community.

At the core of that positive attitude is our form of government. About 100 years ago, the city chose to adopt a progressive, new form of government that was designed to prevent corruption and foster cooperation. It’s no coincidence its goodwill has spread throughout our community, like the trees that line our streets. That’s Cleveland Heights.

Our current council-manager form of government requires at least four members of our seven-person city council to agree with an idea before it moves forward to a professional city manager they control.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:31 PM, 10.30.2019

Does a campaign of "Say NO to Political Deals" build community?

A quorum of city council and the Washington D.C. city-manager lobby are spending $50,000 to promote "Say NO To Political Deals."

[They are doing so] for no reason other than to defeat the grassroots citizen-initiated (4,000+ petition signatures) Elected Mayor charter amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot.

  • Does that campaign make you proud of your city council and your community?
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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:48 PM, 10.30.2019

In response to Peggy Spaeth's opinion on Issue 26

To the Editor:

Peggy Spaeth is an engaged resident who has done much to enliven Cleveland Heights. Unfortunately, she does not understand Issue 26, and [in her recent opinion] incorrectly equates it with a loss of professional oversight of the city’s operations.

Importantly, in addition to an elected mayor, Issue 26’s proposed charter change includes a professionally trained city administrator to manage the city’s daily operations.

More distressing is Spaeth’s dismay “that this issue is on the ballot at all” and her question about what message it sends about Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:30 PM, 10.30.2019

CH can elect a mayor under current form of government

Issue 26 asks Cleveland Heights voters to choose between electing a mayor and retaining its current form of government. That doesn't need to be a choice. We could elect a mayor under our council/manager government. Why is no one talking about that? Why would we throw away the proverbial baby with the bathwater?

If I'm listening correctly, the desire in the community is for a mayor who is a strong and visible presence, who articulates the city's vision, represents the people to council and staff, champions Cleveland Heights locally and regionally, and, perhaps most importantly for a mayor elected by voters, [is] not appointed by council. But Issue 26 abolishes our whole system of government.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:28 PM, 10.30.2019

An elected mayor provides essential pro-active leadership

I moved to Cleveland Heights 22 years ago with my wife and our two children because it embodied a vibrant, diverse community. Our city was a leader in the country for its diversity, beautiful, walkable neighborhoods, and vibrant business districts. Our children attended Coventry Elementary School, known as the “peace school” for the values it taught. Coventry Village was bustling and Severance Center was thriving. We were thrilled to be a part of a city on the rise.

Over the last decade, Cleveland Heights has fallen from its leadership role and is struggling to keep pace. The housing foreclosure crisis hit our entire region, but our home values have not recovered at the pace of many of our surrounding communities.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:35 PM, 10.30.2019

An elected mayor will be accountable

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, I will vote "Yes" on Issue 26 in support of an elected mayor for Cleveland Heights.

A mayoral candidate will speak directly to our citizens, public and private stakeholders, and declare “as mayor I will . . . .” That candidate will be forced to listen to all segments of our community—demographically and geographically—hearing our joys and frustrations alike. A mayoral candidate will be charged with articulating a vision that speaks at once to young people we want to attract, elders we want to retain, and everybody in between. A mayoral candidate will have to listen to our businesses while they describe what the city can reasonably do so that they can be as productive as they know they can be.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:26 PM, 10.30.2019

Access to information is topic of school event

Participants brainstorm about ways to cooperate and find information at CH-UH public schools. 

About 50 people from at least nine organizations joined Superintendent Liz Kirby and key members of her staff for Access to Information About the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Schools on Oct. 2.

The program used a format of three rounds of 20-minute conversations that enabled participants to ask more questions, and meet more people. It left Chris Ruma-Cullen, director of Bellefaire Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) begging for more. She met 17 people and said, “If there had been more rounds, I would have met even more new people!”

The first round focused on electronic and printed information, such as websites, e-newsletters, printed calendars, brochures and fliers. The second round moved into human connections and the communications/decision-making structure. The third round reviewed partnership scenarios and the process for realizing specific projects together.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:19 PM, 11.01.2019

Heights High senior wins Shining Star CLE

Kristen Lyons performing at the Ohio Theater.

The first time Kristen Lyons performed on stage was in a youth production of "The Pied Piper." She played a rat whose sole job was to scurry across the stage and steal a pot from a townsperson, who happened to be played by her sister. The Heights High senior has come a long way since then, and was recently named the grand-prize winner of Shining Star CLE, an annual singing competition, sponsored by Montefiore.

Lyons has been singing as long as she can remember, and hopes to study musical theater in college next year. According to her mother, Andrea Lyons, “She joined this competition as a way to give back to the community.” The money raised through admission tickets for the final event helps fund memory care units at Montefiore and The Weils.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 11:11 AM, 10.29.2019

Heights Arts keeps holiday focus local

Last year's Holiday Store window enlivened Lee Road

Holiday season is here, and Heights Arts celebrates with the opening of the 2019 Holiday Store. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 30, 100 local artists will fill the Heights Arts gallery with unique fine arts and crafts. The public opening is Friday, Nov. 1 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., with a members' special preview that evening from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Get a jump on holiday shopping with refreshments and other special treats. The 2019 Holiday Store is open seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

Heights Arts offers community partner events in the Holiday Store and throughout the year. Memberships start at $50 for individuals and $150 for businesses, and members are eligible to participate in community partner events for free. Heights Arts will promote the partnership, invite the partner to co-host the event, and provide a cash bar and complimentary food for attendees. In addition, Heights Arts’ 10-percent membership discount will be extended to partner attendees. Attendees who are already Heights Arts members will receive an additional 5-percent discount for purchases that evening. For more information, visit

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 11:17 AM, 10.29.2019

Novemberfest celebrates Swedish heritage Nov. 2

Novemberfest is Peace Lutheran Church’s annual celebration of its Swedish heritage. This year, the 46th Novemberfest event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Novemberfest features a home-cooked Swedish meal, the opportunity to purchase handmade crafts, a bake sale, a Swedish “coffee house,” a sale of attic treasures, and more.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 11:12 AM, 10.29.2019

There is no 'magic mayor'

The strong mayor advocates want you to believe that the mayor-council style of government is the elixir that will cure the supposed ills of our city. That is simply not true.

What will work and is working today in Cleveland Heights is hard work by our city council, our city manager and our citizens, collaboratively, professionally and passionately. We are proud of and greatly encouraged by the work that all of us, together, are doing.

All of us, council, city manager and staff, and residents alike, are working mightily to support good economic development and services in our community. Look around you: We have more current commercial projects than we have had in years.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:10 AM, 10.29.2019

Two sides on Issue 26 have similar goals; different paths

When debating between two propositions, sometimes it helps to consider similarities. Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM), which supports Issue 26, and Cleveland Heights Citizens for Good Government (CHCGG), opposing Issue 26, actually share several goals—we just believe in different paths to attain them:

Strong executive leadership: The current CH City Charter defines the city manager as “chief administrative officer.” The amended charter that was tabled by city council elevates that position to “chief executive officer,” as does the revised agreement with the current city manager that council approved this summer. Both sides agree on the need for strong executive leadership. Issue 26 supporters just don’t think it’s practical or effective for that leader to be an employee of, and subordinate to, seven part-time council members; a city’s chief executive should be directly chosen by and accountable to all the people.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:10 AM, 10.29.2019

East Cleveland, mayors and the rest of the story

The opposition to an elected mayor in Cleveland Heights, in their continued fear-mongering, negative campaign, raise the specter of East Cleveland as a reason to vote against Issue 26. They cite the fact that East Cleveland was once a city run by council-manager form of government, that switched to an elected mayor-council form of government in 1986, and then . . . well, you know, East Cleveland fell apart.

However, their narrative leaves out significant context and facts; facts and context which lead to the conclusion that if any lesson is to be learned from East Cleveland it’s that remaining with the status quo and ignoring issues is far riskier than taking bold, transformative action.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:10 AM, 10.22.2019

Vote No on Issue 26

The League of Women Voters forum on Issue 26 clarified my thinking on the topic. Here are some reasons that I will vote to retain the city manager form of government by voting no on Issue 26:

First of all, I am dismayed that this issue is on the ballot at all. What message does it send to residents when a recommendation by a wide majority of a committee is co-opted by a minority who disagree? Will this be the fate of the Recycling Task Force and future citizen task forces as well?

The Charter Review Commission met for 16 months. Because the city manager form of government was adopted almost 100 years ago, it was a great idea for a citizen committee to review this choice.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:05 AM, 10.22.2019

Kennedy is new University Heights finance director

Dennis Kennedy

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan has named Dennis G. Kennedy the city’s new finance director.

Beginning in March 2015, Kennedy served as fiscal officer for Cuyahoga County. His last day with the county was Oct. 18; he’ll begin work at University Heights City Hall on Oct. 23.

“Hiring a finance director with the experience and expertise of Dennis Kennedy reflects on the energy and enthusiasm of our city,” Brennan said. “University Heights has a bright future. We’re reaching new heights, and talented people want to be a part of our city’s success. I look forward to Dennis joining our team here at City Hall.”

Kennedy earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oho Government Finance Officers Association in 2016.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:13 AM, 10.22.2019

Noble Neighbors election forums cover candidates and elected-mayor issue

Noble Neighbors held well-attended, neighborhood-focused election forums on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 at Noble Road Presbyterian Church. The first of the two forums was for school board and Cleveland Heights City Council candidates; the second was on Issue 26, which, if it passes, will change the city’s form of government from a council-manager to a mayor-council arrangement.

At the candidates’ forum, school board incumbents Beverly Wright and Jim Posch, both running unopposed, talked about school district successes, including improved graduation rates and the three-quarters of Heights High graduates who go on to postsecondary education. A challenge they cited is the financial drain caused by diversion of funds to private schools through the state’s voucher programs.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:06 AM, 10.21.2019

CH City Council candidate Russell outlines her experience and priorities

Davida Russell

My name is Davida Russell and I am asking for your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5, for Cleveland Heights City Council. I have lived in Cleveland Heights for 37 years and this is where my family and I call home.

As a lifelong Democrat and labor leader at the national, state and local level, I have worked tirelessly on behalf of working men and women around this state, many of whom reside in Cleveland Heights. Now it is time that I bring my energy home. If elected, my top priorities as your next CH City Council representative will be to focus on:

  • Increasing the safety of our community
  • Attracting residential and business investment
  • Securing economic development opportunities
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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:05 AM, 10.21.2019

October food drive will benefit food bank

Shari Garzone, owner of Jamaican-Me Tan in University Heights.

Shari Garzone and the staff at Jamaican-Me Tan are hosting their annual food drive to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Throughout October, you can drop off food and non-perishable items at Jamaican-Me Tan (14488 Cedar Road). Needed food items include canned beef stew, canned soup, canned tuna, peanut butter, and cereal. In demand non-food items include deodorant, laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo, tooth brushes, and tooth paste.

In return for a contribution, those donating items will receive a 10-percent-off coupon.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:28 PM, 10.14.2019

Odd Dog Coffee sets up shop at The Walt

Michael Hancock of Odd Dog Coffee sets up for business in Walter Stinson Community Park.

If you need another incentive to get out of bed on a Saturday morning this fall, Odd Dog Coffee has one for you.

Odd Dog Coffee will set up a pop-up café every Saturday morning at Walter Stinson Community Park, from 8 a.m. until noon. Owners Michael Hancock and Mary-Elizabeth Fenn will serve up their Good Boy Blend, plus spiced blends including Pumpkin Spice, Cardamom & Clove, and Cacao, Cinnamon & Cayenne Pepper.

Odd Dog Coffee plans to run its pop-up café through December, weather permitting.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:26 PM, 10.14.2019

FutureHeights director to be WOVU radio guest on Oct. 15

FutureHeights Executive Director Deanna Bremer Fisher will be a guest on WOVU 95.9 FM Radio’s “Morning Inspiration,” a community roundtable discussion that covers local news events and topics. The show, which will air on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 9–10 a.m., is hosted by Jae Williams, general manager of WOVU.

WOVU is a community radio station broadcast by Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc. (BBC), the nonprofit community development corporation serving Cleveland’s Central and Kinsman neighborhoods. Similar to the Heights Observer, the mission of WOVU is “to provide an inclusive media platform that connects, engages, and informs the entire community to achieve ongoing social and economic progress for all.”

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 5:09 PM, 10.13.2019