Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 7-20-2020
JULY 20, 2020
- Public comments
- Actions requested by city manager
- Objection to liquor permits
- Charter amendment
- Consent agenda
- Police report
- City manager resigns
- City manager’s report
- Council member comments
Present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart and Michael Ungar. Davida Russell was absent. Also present were City Manager Tanisha Briley, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The open meeting lasted one hour and 11 minutes. The meeting can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp2jCaNCQhc.
Council also held an executive session to discuss the appointment of a public official and the terms of a lease of city-owned property.
Clerk of Council Himmelein read email from several residents:
- Six individuals wrote with concerns about the 5G-cell equipment, requesting more discussion and protection of health and safety; one email included a video.
- A resident wrote to criticize mask wearing for being ineffective and possibly harmful, in their opinion.
- Resumption of bulk item trash pickup was urged, as such items are becoming an eyesore and a poor reflection of our city.
- A correspondent urged council to forego the usual August recess in view of important business including budget cuts, COVID, the vacant council seat, and the police.
- A writer stated the proposed city charter amendments on the November ballot must be clear and understandable in order to engage the populace.
- A resident discussed the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook project and the delays for two years while the developer was given extensions and a memorandum of understanding was not signed.
- The continuing vacancy on council concerned a resident.
Actions requested by city manager
Council granted approval to 1) issue a request for proposals for an affordability analysis for the Integrated Overflow Control Master Plan and 2) enter into a letter of intent with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District regarding the Milliken School property.
Objection to liquor permits
Council passed a resolution objecting to the renewal of all current liquor permits issued by the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control to Zooz Limited, doing business as City & East Hookah Bar, 2781 Euclid Heights Blvd. The resolution requests a hearing on this issue in a Cuyahoga County court. The objection is based on an overwhelming number of calls for criminal incidents, including a shooting, at this establishment.
On first reading council approved placing an amendment to the city charter on the November ballot relevant to the passage of Issue 26 last November, establishing an elected mayor. The amendment establishes the timeline for candidate qualifications. Also, the words “A mayoral election” will replace “The mayoral election,” referring to a primary election for mayor to be held on the second Tuesday following the first Monday in September.
Council approved a consent agenda, which includes the following legislation:
- Approval of the 2021 Tax Budget, on second reading.
- Authorization for the purchase of upgraded police-worn body cameras and associated software for the police department from Motorola Solutions, Inc. through the Ohio Department of Administrative Services Cooperative Purchasing Program.
- Appointment of an assessment equalization board to hear taxpayer’s objections relative to the estimated assessments for a portion of the expense of street improvement such as curb and street repairs, snow removal, and management of trees.
- Appointment of an assessment equalization board to hear objections relative to the estimated assessments for a portion of street lighting expenses.
- Authorization of an agreement with All City Management Services, Inc. for crossing guard services.
Police Chief Annette Mecklenberg presented highlights of police activities. Full reports and news can be accessed at: https://www.clevelandheights.com/Search?searchPhrase=Police%20Department
Progressive discipline, sexual assault, and domestic violence policies have been updated. Community feedback and questions are welcome. Many complaints and compliments have been received. Through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and by August 1, officers will complete online training on de-escalation and dealing with the mentally ill. Police are beginning to collaborate with other city departments to handle some calls and exploring regional resource sharing. Crime statistics have declined 21 percent for violent crime and 22 percent for property crime.
Questions from the June 25 special public forum will be answered soon at: https://www.clevelandheights.com/1309/Meet-Your-Police---Special-Forum
City manager resigns
City Manager Briley announced her resignation, effective September 1. She is leaving with mixed emotions. After seven years in her position, she will become city manager of Gaithersburg, Maryland. She thanked council and residents for the opportunity to serve. Cleveland is her home and she will miss “all of you.” She said that working at Cleveland Heights has been an honor and a privilege. She is working with staff on the transition, calling them a “most capable and excellent staff.”
She praised Ms. Niermann O’Neil’s unmatched spirit, grit, and commitment and thanked her for stepping up to serve again after giving so much, continuing the great work of managing the city.
City manager’s report
The full report may be accessed on the city’s website: clevelandheights.com/government/2020 Agendas and Minutes. [https://www.clevelandheights.com/1142/2020-Agendas-and-Minutes]
Some items include:
- Cleveland Heights zip codes are a coronavirus “hot spot” for spread. There is a mask mandate and a hot line to report mask-wearing issues.
- The city is working with merchants, and all parking meters and garages are free.
- Shredding day was a hit and will be done again Saturday, October 17, 9 a.m. to noon.
- Planning for busking and art in public spaces is under way.
- Marketing: “All Are Welcome” branding is ongoing. Free ads have been placed in Cleveland Magazine and a local relocation guide.
- The First Suburbs Housing Committee is working on an eviction help program and rent help is available through CHN Housing Partners: https://chnhousingpartners.org/rentalassistance/
- Reports on nuisance and foreclosed properties are presented.
- The Rudy’s Pub loan has closed; the owners will purchase the real estate they are currently leasing. The pub is minority owned.
- Storefront renovations, especially the Kensington-Meadowbrook building on Lee Road, were reviewed.
- Parks and Recreation is working on virtual and in-person programing including drive-in movies and parking lot concerts.
- A second COVID testing event is being planned with MetroHealth, with the date to be announced.
- Hearts go out to the Cotton family because of the recent murder/suicide. MetroHealth is offering mental health services to community members and first responders.
- The Sanitary sewer program is updated.
- Refuse and recycling planning is under way.
- There is an update on the solar panel project.
Council member comments
Mayor Stein announced, and council approved, the choice of Susanna Niermann O’Neil to fill the position of acting city manager effective September 2. He praised Ms. Briley’s exceptional leadership for seven years through ups and downs, saying it had been an honor to work with her.
He proposed, and council approved, suspension of regular council meetings for August, as no legislation is pending. Other committee meetings will take place, as will at least one committee of the whole to discuss the vacant seat. A special meeting can be called if needed.
Vice Mayor Seren congratulated Ms. Briley and wished her good luck. Responding to public comment, he noted that while regular council meetings are suspended, committee meetings will be held including at least one for administrative services.
He announced a Zoom forum “Building a Just and Safe Community for All - A Conversation with Kahlil Seren and Safer Heights” [held July 23] at FutureHeights regarding policing, police violence, accountability, and reform.
Ms. Dunbar, who was on council when Tanisha Briley was hired, said she first noted her qualifications in the areas of budgeting and finance, followed by how much she learned in the job and her professionalism. She pointed out Ms. Briley’s talent was first recognized in sixth grade when she was chosen for a special program at Ohio State University. She regrets losing Ms. Briley, will miss her, and predicts a great future for her.
Ms. Dunbar said the Municipal Services Committee met last Monday on sewers and garbage. She highlighted the ongoing maintenance of the city: streets, curbs, ramps, waterlines, and Safe Routes to School improvements.
Ms. Hart also congratulated Ms. Briley. She announced a Finance Committee meeting scheduled in August to discuss the budget. She said that FutureHeights is planning forums on the transition to a directly elected mayor.
Mr. Ungar congratulated Ms. Briley, saying it had been a privilege and an honor to work with her. He highlighted an ongoing request to the Law Department to begin the transition to an elected mayor, a high priority for council and professional staff.
Next regular council meeting will be Tuesday, September 8, 7:30 p.m.
LWV Observers: Blanche Valancy and Gail Larson.