Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 9-21-20
SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
- Public comments
- City manager’s report
- Police chief’s report
- Recycling agreement
- Mayor and administration compensation
- Transfer of properties
- Council member comments
Present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell and Michael Ungar. Also present were Acting City Manager Susanna O’Neil, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting lasted 40 minutes.
Public comments are accepted as emails.
Rhonda Davis Lovejoy and Susan Efroymson, representing Taylor Neighbors Association, eloquently lamented the recent fatal shooting on South Taylor in front of a school building. They expressed the community’s “raw helplessness” and urged that this never be accepted as all right, and looked forward to improvements, prevention, and resolution.
Susan Miller requested more transparency and community notification regarding CDC partners that are rehabilitating houses. Clerk of Council Himmelein responded that staff will prepare a report this week to answer her many questions.
City manager’s report
Acting City Manager O’Neil reviewed some high points of the report, which can be found on pages 2 to 7 of the meeting packet.
- The request for qualifications and proposals for a neighborhood redevelopment program has been withdrawn from tonight’s agenda.
- City personnel with increased job roles or reassignments due to COVID-19 will be identified so that salaries and benefits can be properly allocated to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
- The “All Are Welcome” program has been launched. Mary Trupo and staff were commended for this.
- Parks and Recreation is working on “slow openings of facilities, ” being mindful of COVID precautions.
- A petition was received for a stop sign at Hereford and Stewart Roads. It was determined to go forward with installing a sign.
- Ms. O’Neil praised the incredible work of the CHPD chief and investigators on the recent murders. She called attention to Chief Mecklenberg’s leadership and her statement on the police department page. Residents should be vigilant and say something, she urged. Involvement can always be anonymous.
Police chief’s report
Annette Mecklenberg, chief of the Cleveland Heights Police Department (CHPD), updated council on three fatal shootings occurring in the previous two weeks. The full text of a news conference given earlier is on the city website.
In summary, Malik Moore was killed Sept. 12, walking on Oakdale Road; detectives are working on leads. Travon Powell was killed Sept. 16 in his apartment building on Noble Road after an altercation with two known assailants, both of whom have been arrested. Reginald Thomas Jr. was shot while riding in a car on South Taylor Road; the shooters apparently confused the car with another.
These events shocked the community, happening in a short period and being uncommon in Cleveland Heights. The chief said these crimes were apparently unrelated She solicited all tips, large and small, which can be anonymous, through the CHPD or Crimestoppers: [Cleveland Heights Police Department at 216-321-1234 or tip line 216-291-5010; Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County: firstname.lastname@example.org or tip line (216) 252-7463].
Reward money is offered. CHPD is doing everything it can to solve and prevent such violence. Safety is a priority and she will release plans soon on the city website. Meanwhile patrols are more frequent, planning is constant, and there is cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.
Council authorized an agreement with Kimble Company for recycling processing. This is a joint effort with several other, mostly eastside, communities.
Mayor and administration compensation
A first reading of an ordinance providing annual compensation of ($115,000) for the mayor to be inaugurated January 2022, set a compromise figure based on deliberations over collected data and recommendations. Compensation for the new city administrator will be decided soon.
Transfer of properties
In passing a consent agenda, council transferred four properties no longer needed for a public purpose from the Cleveland Heights Land Reutilization Program to FutureHeights:
- 826 Caledonia Avenue
- 1043 Elbon Road
- 890 Nelaview Road,
- 1062 Yellowstone Road
Council member comments
Mayor Stein commented that the recent shootings have been scary and unprecedented. His heart goes out to the victims’ families and the top priority is safety for all.
Vice Mayor Seren expressed sincerest condolences to the families of the recently murdered men, adding that the city is hurting, too. He echoed Chief Mecklenberg’s sentiments, asking that people report any information that will bring perpetrators to justice and address dangerous people in the community. He urged residents to reach out to their neighbors and to try to find other ways to resolve disputes than with a gun. He spoke about violence interruption and efforts to address the desperation that leads to violence.
Mary Dunbar noted that unheralded activity such as street repairs and tree work are ongoing and city staff is gearing up for winter.
Melody Hart has organized a forum on the mayoral transition Oct. 8 at 7 pm. Three neighboring mayors will speak and there will be a question and answer period. Registration is on her council Facebook site.
Davida Russell thanked all city officials and staff who presented and residents who attended her recent listening session. She will schedule another session soon for the Jewish and Taylor Road communities. She praised Joe McCrae and the Parks and Recreation staff for the careful slow reopening.
Michael Ungar thanked Ms. Efroymson and Ms. Lovejoy and others who wrote about the recent violence, which he termed “abhorrent and unacceptable.” He seconded the city manager’s praise of Mary Trupo and her team. He said that police training will be starting soon.
LWV Observers: Blanche Valancy, Gail Larson.