What happened with CH government?
To the Editor:
A column by Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg in the May 2019 Heights Observer called for changing from a city manager form of government to an elected full-time mayor for Cleveland Heights. The motivation for this call is stated as a poorly working city manager form of government. They state that CH City Manager Robert Downey "left a mess" and had a "sudden departure," in 2012.
They and others call for changing the form of government partly because they think council members are overwhelmed. They think that the city manager was less than forthright about doing his job and our elected council members were too tuckered out to keep tabs on him. To my knowledge, there has been no investigation into former city manager Downey's suspicious behavior. Apparently, the people in authority in CH government have no idea what happened and haven’t had an idea in the seven years since his departure.
It appears that instead of determining how the city manager form of government in Cleveland Heights went off the rails—without learning what happened—some citizens simply want to change the form of government instead.
There were two opinion stories in the June 2019 Heights Observer describing the advantages of a city manager form of government. And I agree that city manager government is better than a politicized strong mayor government, given that things are working properly, which apparently is not the case in Cleveland Heights. What is missing is an analysis as to what happened with city manager government as practiced in Cleveland Heights.
Is it really because city council members are so overloaded with work that major issues are left unaddressed? Is it because council doesn't use a checklist to make sure all issues are attended to, and something like maintenance of the water system [is] forgotten for decades?
What happened? What can we improve?