Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 7-6-2020

JULY 6, 2020


  • Public comments
  • Racism as a public health crisis
  • Council member recusal
  • Nonconsensual dissemination of private images
  • Ohio CROWN bill
  • 5G wireless
  • Consent agenda
  • Council member comments
  • City manager report
  • Chief of police report


Council members present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell and Michael Ungar. Also present were City Manager Tanisha BrileyClerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting began at 8:09 p.m. and adjourned at 10 p.m.

Public comments

Two residents emailed, opposing the 5G Small Cell Installation Legislation. Their concerns addressed location of the facilities, effects of the 5G technology on health, and a request to hold the 5G rollout until research on health considerations are done.

A resident requested repairs on damage to the street, sidewalks, and resident lawns at the intersection of Cleveland Heights Blvd. and Glenwood Road, incurred in May when a city fire truck got stuck in a sink hole.

Racism as a public health crisis

Council approved an amended resolution (78) condemning the murder of George Floyd and declaring racism a public health crisis. The amendment, introduced by Council Member Dunbar, changed paragraph three to read “including 91 [killings] in Cleveland itself since records have been kept.”

Council member recusal

On third reading, council approved an ordinance allowing members to recuse themselves from voting due to a conflict of interest. An amendment that Councilmember Hart introduced to clarify the procedure failed as Stein, Dunbar, and Ungar voted "no." [In the committee of the whole meeting these council members said the language was unnecessary.]

Nonconsensual dissemination of private images

On third reading, council approved amending Chapter 749, “Fair Practices,” to include prohibition of discrimination based on nonconsensual dissemination of a person’s private sexual images.

Ohio CROWN bill

Council approved a resolution supporting Ohio House Bill 535, also known as the CROWN (“Creating A Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair”) Act.

5G wireless

On third reading, council approved the use of public ways for 5G Wireless facilities. Councilmember Dunbar wanted citizens to know that federal and state legislation is already in place to regulate 5G installations. This ordinance adds updated, defensible liability language to protect the city and its residents.

Consent agenda

Council approved a consent agenda including the following: 

  • An ordinance for issuing $1,105,000 in bonds for expenses incurred by the city’s departments in performing their functions.
  • A resolution proclaiming July 2020 National Parks and Recreation Month.
  • An ordinance suspending admissions taxes under Chapter 155 of the Administrative Code.
  • Authorization to establish a temporary permit program for outdoor dining facilities.
  • A resolution, on first reading, approving the adoption of the 2021 Tax Report.
  • Authorization of an agreement with Cleveland Housing Network Housing Partners to use Community Development Block Grant funds for rental assistance for residents needing help due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

Councilmember Seren requested that a resolution objecting to renewal of the current liquor permits for Zoos Limited be removed from the consent agenda. [Council members received a letter from the attorney for Zoos Limited, doing business as City and East Hookah Bar, and agreed during the committee of the whole that they wanted more time to consider the attorney’s concerns.]

Council member comments

Mayor Stein thanked Chief Mecklenburg and Council Member Russell for their work listening to the youth of Cleveland Heights regarding policing reform.

Ms. Russell thanked the chief for the outreach to young adults. She reported COVID-19 testing on June 25 was a success, mostly due to the hard work of Joe McRae, Parks and Recreation director. The city will sponsor additional test dates soon. 

Mr. Ungar thanked Ms. Hart and Ms. Russell for their help writing the resolution declaring racism as a public health issue and said it was a great step forward for Cleveland Heights. A task force will be formed to implement the words of the legislation. 

Mr. Ungar expressed concern about the transition to an elected mayor and reiterated that he wants it to be on the agenda every council meeting. He also wants the major work on the transition to come out of the law department, as other cities have done during their transitions, and encouraged the city to hire consultants as needed.

Mr. Seren complimented his colleagues regarding Resolution 78. He appreciates the changes that have been and will be made as a result of the legislation and the task force. 

Ms. Hart spoke about her June 29 Finance Committee meeting. She asked Ms. Briley what the timelines are for introducing the revised 2020 budget and the proposed 2021 budget to council.

Ms. Dunbar acknowledged citizen concerns about 5G installations, but said the legislation provides additional protections to the city and its residents. She announced that findings from the Refuse and Recycling Task Force will be discussed at her Municipal Services Committee meeting on July 13.

City manager report

Ms. Briley’s report is available to the public on pages 3-7 of the council meeting packet on the city’s website: Government/2020 Agendas and Minutes.

She declared the COVID-19 testing of 200 people on June 25 a success. The city will offer more testing in the future. Ms. Briley said there will be a special council meeting to discuss mandating wearing masks in public. She said Cuyahoga County will decide on their position soon.

The Senior Center donation drive and the Meet the Police event were successful.

Many residents ignited fireworks prior to the Fourth of July. If the police were able to find the source, those residents were cited.

Chief of police report

Chief Mecklenburg is negotiating a contract with Lexipol to assist with policy writing and training in areas that, at times, are overwhelming. Lexipol will help write policies that are legally defensible.

Chief Mecklenburg has amended current policy to include a ban on chokeholds, de-escalation techniques, intervention by officers when they observe other officers using excessive force, and complete reporting of incidents when an officer pulls their gun. She is also reviewing policies of: Accountability, Transparency, Hiring and Recruitment, Mental Health, and Training for the entire department.

Note: An executive session lasting one hour and 10 minutes was held during the Committee of the Whole “to consider the appointment of a public official.”

Next council meeting will be July 20, 7:30 p.m.

LWV Observer: Gail Larson.

Meeting documents and video can be accessed from

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 7:42 AM, 07.28.2020