Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-6-2020

JANUARY 6, 2020


  • Swearing in council members
  • Swearing in mayor and vice mayor
  • Council committees
  • Council member comments
  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Property easement
  • Mayor’s report


Council members present were Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein, Michael N. Ungar and Melissa Yasinow.

The meeting lasted from 7:40—9:07 p.m. The swearing in and other organizing procedures lasted 50 minutes; public comment, 33 minutes; and other business, approximately four minutes.

Swearing in council members

After the “Star Spangled Banner” was sung, the clerk of council reported the results of the 2019 council election, where Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, Melody Joy Hart, and Davida Russell were elected. All four swore their oaths of office.

Swearing in mayor and vice mayor

President of Council/Mayor Jason Stein was elected unanimously by his peers. Vice President/Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren was elected by a vote of four to three, with Dunbar, Ungar, and Yasinow voting no. County Council Member Cheryl Stevens administered the oath of office to each.

Council committee structure

Council passed a resolution to appoint council standing committees’ membership and outline the general responsibilities of each committee. Details of may be found here:

The chairs are as follows:

  • Administrative Services - Seren
  • Community Relations and Recreation - Russell
  • Finance - Hart
  • Municipal Services - Dunbar
  • Planning and Development - Ungar
  • Public Safety and Health - Yasinow

Council member comments

Each council member elected in the 2019 election made brief comments. Of note, Ms. Hart announced the first of the listening sessions she promised will be on January 30. Among other items, Ms. Russell mentioned the importance of the 2020 Census and counting each resident of Cleveland Heights to leverage federal funds. Mayor Stein summed up with his confidence in the diversity of expertise and opinion among the members.

Public comment

Eleven residents spoke about a wide variety of concerns. 

Top of the Hill: Joan Mallick asked all council members to listen and take the concerns of residents seriously, especially regarding revenue bonds and school funds. Mary Kelsey said there is no market study for Top of the Hill (TOH) financing that “holds water,” and that the revenue bonds as proposed will “mortgage our future.” She urged that the city “do it right or don’t do it at all.” Joyce Rajke stated the project is “dreadful” and has diminished with each set of drawings. She hopes the new council will be more transparent. Mayor Stein noted that next Monday’s committee of the whole meeting will concentrate on TOH. Richard Bozik said he cannot understand the financing despite many meetings.

Medusa Cement building: Rodger Bliss of Madison OH, a former Cleveland Heights resident, is involved in the Medusa Cement Building and Severance Center projects. He introduced himself to council and explained that partners on the Medusa development “got cold feet.” He projected optimism, stating he is looking for new partners and a possible restructuring.

Transportation: Sam Bell from the Transportation Advisory Committee thanked and congratulated the city for the Complete and Green Streets Policy, credited the Heights Tree People for their hard work planting trees, and welcomed new members.

County council candidate: Mansell Baker, a former Cleveland Heights resident, introduced himself as a candidate for the District 10 seat on Cuyahoga County Council.

Overnight parking: Scott Weber, a landlord, complained that a tenant has purchased a permit to park on the street overnight in an area where the parking code is suspended. Despite this, the tenant has repeatedly received tickets and must contact city hall each time to correct them. The mayor connected him with Police Chief Mecklenberg to solve the problem.

Issue 26 concerns: Garry Kanter congratulated the president and vice president of council. He called again for the resignation of three council members, because he feels they were not impartial and violated their oath of office by campaigning against Issue 26 and making donations. He has been demanding this since July 2019 and stated the law director excused their conduct.

Environment: Marietta Applegate urged the city to aspire for carbon neutrality in the future.

Charter change: Tony Cuda, chair of Citizens for an Elected Mayor, said that the campaigning was “a joy,” and that the people voted to change a charter that had stood unchallenged for 100 years. He praised this example of democracy in action and said he is looking beyond the many troubling incidents that occurred when citizens were out petitioning and the committees were negotiating ballot language.

City manager’s report

Ms. Briley’s detailed update may be found on pages 2-10 of the council meeting packet, which can be accessed through the city website under Government/Archived Agendas and Minutes.

Council authorized issuance of request for proposals (RFP) to upgrade the Cumberland Park Playground. Highlights for this are in Ms. Briley’s update.

She congratulated all council members and new leaders.

Property easement

Council authorized the city manager to allow the owners of 2217 Tudor Drive to expand their easement on Nottinghill Lane to extend their parking and porch areas.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Stein announced that the Democracy Day hearing will take place in council chambers on January 30 at 7 p.m. Full information about this annual event is available on page 2 of the packet. 

The next regular council meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 3:40 PM, 01.31.2020