CH Council Member Kahlil Seren to introduce legislation to restrict the city’s use of executive session
Editor’s note: The Heights Observer received the following news release from Cleveland Heights Council Member and candidate Kahlil Seren, regarding legislation he plans to introduce. The initial discussion is scheduled to take place at the Sept. 30 Council Committee of the Whole meeting; the legislation is slated to be introduced at council’s Oct. 5 meeting. Both meetings are open to the public.
City Councilman Kahlil Seren has drafted and distributed legislation which would eliminate the local code section designed to allow Council to circumvent Ohio sunshine law and meet in executive session to discuss general matters. Currently, Chapter 107 of the Codified Ordinances of Cleveland Heights deviates from state law by providing that “[n]ot more than four (4) times during each calendar year, Council or a board or commission of the City may meet in retreat to discuss general plans for the future, or general issues before the City.“
Councilman Seren was appointed in February to fill the seat left vacant when former Councilwoman Janine Boyd began her term in the Ohio House of Representatives; since that time City Council has held one such meeting in June, in executive session as described in Section 107.01(c)(9).
Councilman Seren articulated his desire to work in a transparent way that invites residents to engage in city governance. “We are fortunate to have very talented, insightful people living in Cleveland Heights; we should be making efforts to encourage more well-informed input from that important human capital resource. If there are any benefits to be had from the current departure from state policy, I don’t believe they outweigh the benefits of further incorporating an open and welcoming culture into how we perform the business of the city.”
The draft legislation will be circulated among Council members, the City Manager, and the Law Director for discussion. According to the City’s Codified Ordinances, legislation not drafted by the Law Director must be legally reviewed and approved prior to adoption. Regarding the process of introducing the legislation, Councilman Seren articulated his hope that this review can be done swiftly. “This is a very simple fix, and a relatively small step in the right direction. I believe that we can quickly make this change and move on to more substantive ways to improve the City’s proactive engagement of the public.”
The first chance for Council to discuss the change in policy will be at Council’s next Committee of the Whole meeting, scheduled for 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. The first chance for introduction will be during the Oct. 5 Council meeting.
Kahlil Seren is a member of Cleveland Heights City Council. He was appointed to fill a vacancy on the council in February 2015, and is running for election in November.