The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s (NEORSD) preferred plan regarding the Shaker Lakes, costing $28.3 million, removes the historic Shaker dam at Horseshoe Lake, built in 1852, and replaces the entire lake with stream paths and riparian channels. Lower Lake, built in 1837 and more vulnerable to flooding, would then be dredged and its dam rebuilt with wider and higher armoring. If the present dam and wooden walkway at Green Lake is any indication, the marvelous sandstone facing on the present Lower Lake bridge and spillway would most likely be reduced or removed entirely, as we are told the new dam will look significantly different. This plan also seriously limits and alters flourishing wildlife habitats.
When I began serving on Cleveland Heights City Council six years ago, I could not have predicted that I would be running to be the first elected mayor of our city. But I could see as soon as I joined council that we needed a change. Since then, I have worked hard to push my colleagues and the administration to be more proactive, responsive, transparent, and bold. My legislative work has successfully produced policy changes that have made our city stronger. The example I’ve set on council has led to positive changes in how our government works and responds. But there is more work to be done.
On Sept. 14, the residents of Cleveland Heights will go to the polls to vote [in a primary election] for our first mayor. My vote will be for the person who will make the Noble neighborhood and the Noble Road Corridor Planning Project a priority.
As a transplant from Omaha, Neb., I intentionally sought Cleveland Heights as a place to make home because of its heartbeat, eclectic vibe and diversity. In 2002, I chose the Noble neighborhood because of the commitment from city leaders to revitalize the area with its first effort, Greyton Court Townhouses, off of Noble Road between Greyton and Nelaview roads. I purchased a townhome, phase one of what was to be three phases—but two and three never happened. Fast forward to the housing crisis of 2008–09, and Noble neighborhood is one that has yet to recover.
In many ways, Kahlil Seren has the kind of background and career trajectory one might expect for someone running for Cleveland Heights mayor. He has lived most of his life in Cleveland’s eastside suburbs; he studied law and public policy at Cleveland State University’s (CSU) Levin College of Urban Affairs; he has accomplished years of public policy work, first at a progressive-leaning think tank, then for Cuyahoga County Council; he has served on Cleveland Heights City Council for the last six years; and he currently is the city’s vice mayor. A race for mayor seems the logical next step.
After robust debate and a definitive vote, we, the citizens of Cleveland Heights, have the opportunity to directly elect the chief executive who will guide our city. We are fortunate to have excellent candidates, each of whom brings different strengths to the contest, and we could be well served by any of them.
But, I think we would be best served by Cleveland City Council Vice President Kahlil Seren. Having served on council since 2015, Seren is thoroughly knowledgeable about Cleveland Heights government, policy, initiatives, planning and history, and will be able to govern as mayor from day one.
It's not an exaggeration to say that the report of the sale of Nighttown restaurant, in early January, shocked the community. What was already a trying year was underscored by the transition of a legendary and community-defining institution. Most of the community—of musicians and music lovers, diners, artists, students and former students, and residents who grew up matriculating in and through this distinguished institution—is worried.
Many things make Nighttown unique.
While the food was good, it wasn't the focus of the club (though most everyone had their favorite “signature'”dish). What Nighttown featured was atmosphere and ambience, emerging organically through the decades of its existence. Nighttown was the antithesis of the overproduced and overprocessed. It was a club, as in nightclub, as you imagine they were in the 1930s and ‘40s (or at least as they were in movies of the 1930s and ‘40s).
When my 26-year-old daughter progressed from the old Heights JCC preschool program to kindergarten at Canterbury Elementary School, she expected the teacher that she had for two years to follow her to her new school. Luckily for us, Canterbury needed an art teacher and hired Ida Bergson. This is really the middle of the story, so let me back up a few decades.
My mother and Ida’s mother were friends in elementary school; their relationship would last for over 70 years. My mother’s family moved to Cleveland Heights in time for her to enter high school. Our family moved back to Cleveland Heights when I was born, and it turned out that Ida’s family lived around the corner. So, Ida remembers babysitting me.
Since it became a city in 1921, Cleveland Heights has been run by a city manager. On Jan.1, 2022, a mayor will become the city’s first elected executive.
This change will be dramatic and difficult. An effective transition will require broad and deep executive leadership skills and experience. With a population of 44,000, a budget of $52.2 million, and more than 400 employees, Cleveland Heights is a sizable municipal operation.
This is how I will accomplish this monumental transition, if elected mayor:
- Staff interaction: I will approach staff with full respect for them and the work they do. I will meet with every employee to learn about their expertise and challenges. Those with significant competencies, I will give them room to work; others may need support or resources to maximize their effectiveness. My years in executive search position me well to recruit, vet, and on-board the most talented professionals available. I will search for a city administrator who will work by my side to accomplish the city’s goals.
When we moved here in 2005, we looked for a walkable, bikeable town, with a diverse population and restaurants, shops, parks, trees, and mass transit. We found all of that in Cleveland Heights.
We still have all of that, but other forces have hurt our city. The mortgage foreclosure crisis impacted the north end, particularly harshly. Currently, non-local investors snap up properties online and flip or rent them without repair. The unconstitutional funding of schools causes increased taxes, driving some residents out, and creating declining population and higher taxes for those of us who stay. We have a 100-year-old sewer system that the EPA is requiring us to repair.
These are all challenges we face now and challenges that we will face into the future.
But the bones of greatness are still here, and I would build on those bones.
The purpose of this message is to address the Top of the Hill (TOH) development project, and its impact on The Buckingham residential building that it surrounds, from both a financial and quality-of-life standpoint. Obviously, we are well beyond the question of the propriety of such a massive project, and it is not my intention to subvert the process or undermine the development.
What I would like to address, however, is the promise, made by the developer in public meetings, that there would be green spaces created that would be a benefit to the public. Instead, what we see being created at the very entrance to The Buckingham is an artificial-turf dog park which, in the view of Buckingham residents, is a slap in the face and a cynical effort to fulfill a promise made to the community. We hardly view this artificial turf installation as a “green space,” and regard it as an affront to the unit owners and, ultimately, as a nuisance. Additionally, it will be locked and gated for use by only TOH residents, not for the public at all, as was promised.
As a candidate for Cleveland Heights City Council, I hear you loud and clear; you want our government to be more accountable, responsive, collaborative, efficient, transparent, inclusive and environmentally aware. In other words, you are looking for change.
Well, we are electing the first mayor in our 100-year history this year. There are also four council seats up for election (those held by Cobb, Russell, Stein and Ungar). This is arguably the most consequential CH election in decades because there is a new governmental structure and a mandate for change.
That change needs to begin with our housing department.
I moved to Cleveland Heights in 1972. Looking back over 49 years, I’ve had the opportunity to reap the benefits of living in an integrated community that celebrates its diversity, and a community that has supported its public schools by (usually) passing levies. (Full disclosure: I worked on three of those levies.)
Over that half century, I watched East Cleveland become a “minority-majority” city overnight, due to blockbusting—and I saw how the Heights Community Congress stopped real estate agents from doing the same thing here. I also saw our police department evolve from being an “occupying army,” with little civilian oversight, to a department run in a more progressive manner.
Certainly, there are still flaws and challenges. As a Black male, I’m well-aware of the fact that there are unwritten regulations governing DWB, and, like so many other families of all colors, I’ve had family members who’ve met police officers under circumstances that were warranted and unwarranted.
I support the candidacy of Barbara Danforth because she will make an excellent mayor of Cleveland Heights.
Competent city managers kept Cleveland Heights financially solvent, physically intact, and well protected by safety forces. Hopefully, mayors will do the same. But the first mayor chosen under a new system will have neither experience nor history as a guide. Our city will require especially talented leadership during the initial transition period. Danforth is the candidate most likely to provide such leadership.
Danforth has experience managing large organizations. She has hired and supervised talented employees to operate them. The most important job of the new mayor will be to find a city administrator and other staff who can manage ably important day-to-day city operations. Danforth has credentials that prove her ready for this job.
My name is Danielle Dronet. I live and work in Cleveland Heights. I’m running in the 2022 election for the District 9 seat in the Ohio House of Representatives, and I’d like your help as I campaign and develop my plan of action.
For nearly a decade my professional life has been dedicated to serving District 9. In that time, I’ve become fluent in the language of our district: the optimism and growth potential witnessed here, the commonalities and civic pride of our citizenry, and the needs of our communities. My contributions to our district include:
- Operating a mental-health practice on the East Side for patients suffering from trauma;
- Advocating for economic education, blockchain-based transparency initiatives, improved delivery of social services, and community enrichment and outreach projects;
What a year this has been for educators. Teachers moved from virtual instruction to hybrid to in-person teaching. Educators were asked to adapt at a moment's notice. Some of our students lost their original teachers and had to build relationships with new ones. After all the chaos, the last thing any educator wanted to hear was that the Ohio state tests were required as usual.
Ohio state testing was not optional for our district. Parents could opt out for their children, but schools were still required to administer these tests. This seems especially misguided considering that some students lost access to their regular learning opportunities due to circumstances beyond their control. Why these tests were deemed necessary remains a mystery, but we do know that the scores will be used to judge and rank our schools and our teachers.
Severance Town Center is a shell of its former self. Its troubles are obvious to anyone who visits the property and sees the vacant storefronts, the closed Regal Cinema and I-Hop, the massive empty building that once housed a Walmart, and expanses of asphalt that were once filled with the cars of shoppers.
The question now facing Cleveland Heights is this: How can Severance Town Center be redeveloped so that it again becomes a productive asset for Cleveland Heights—providing needed services and generating tax dollars to help relieve the tax burden on residents?
As Cleveland Heights prepares to elect its first mayor, it is my hope that its citizens will demand that all candidates for mayor, and for city council, address this issue.
The following is a shortened version of the testimony I gave to the Ohio State Senate’s K–12 Education Committee on May 5, in support of HB-1:
Like you, I think my community is pretty amazing. We in the Heights pride ourselves on our racial, economic and religious diversity. We believe that diversity is our strength. Yet, when you [talk to] someone who has looked for a home here, the most common [comment] is, “I love Cleveland Heights and University Heights, but the taxes are so high.” Residents agree, and some may think it is because their tax dollars aren’t used well.
I love the gardeners market sponsored by Noble Neighbors at the Roanoke park. I have found new homes there for my crowded native perennials.
The park that finally occupies that space, after years of begging the city to allow citizens to create it, is wonderful and charming, all initiated by the early work of Noble Neighbors’ Beautification Committee.
Noble Neighbors’ May event is also tremendous, but I do wonder who actually plans it, since members never discuss [the plans].
Cleveland Heights City Council has ceased to function in a productive manner. Come Jan. 1, 2022, its duties will be drastically minimized by the change to a mayor-council form of government.
"City council" is both the rules under which it operates, and the people whose duty it is to carry out those rules. It's hard to define the exact date, but some of the people on the current council stopped carrying out the rules in good faith at least six years ago.
The hypocrisy and mendacity of these council members, including Ungar, Dunbar and Stein, is undeniable.
Cleveland Heights soon will elect a mayor for the first time since the 1920s. As former CH City Council president with the official title of mayor, I worked closely with city managers. I understand the wide scope of activities conducted by local government. I know the important role a new mayor will play. An entirely new system of government must be created for our city without guidance from tradition or experience. At stake is nothing less than the health, welfare and safety of all Cleveland Heights residents.
Our community must choose wisely. It must elect the candidate to lead a municipal corporation with a $50-million budget, and hundreds of employees. That choice should be based on credentials. It should not be based simply on the usual vague political statements about hopes and dreams.
As a former Ohio state representative (1985–1997) and Cuyahoga County commissioner (1997–2001) I worked with a lot of mayors. Serving as mayor of Cleveland (2001–2005) was the highest honor and hardest and most important work of my life. Soon, Cleveland Heights will directly elect a mayor for the first time in almost 100 years. I appreciate from my own experience how difficult this job will be.
There’s no ducking responsibility when you’re the mayor. Cleveland Heights has an almost $45-million budget and nearly 400 employees. The new mayor must inspire the existing workforce to serve with excellence, and bring in talented leadership to manage the city.
The buck always stops with the mayor.
A mayoral campaign is all about leadership, this time within the context of the Cleveland Heights community. Effective city leadership involves a three-legged stool, and our city’s first elected mayor needs to have strengths in three areas—civic engagement, experience in city government, and executive finance and managerial skills.
Civic engagement: My years of involvement with Greater Cleveland Congregations Cleveland Heights Housing Committee includes direct engagement with the neighborhoods most affected by the housing crisis, and advocacy for housing equity and reform. A longtime supporter of Heights Friends of Immigrants, I have sponsored a Haitian immigrant who is now a working, productive member of our community. Serving as a board member and treasurer for the past three years, I have been a member of Cleveland Heights Democrats since 2005.
We are Cleveland Heights and University Heights residents with a vision for a healthy environment within our own political boundaries and beyond. We are requesting that mayoral, council, and school board candidates incorporate environmental policies in their platforms.
We are looking for elected leaders who are knowledgeable about, embrace, and apply an environmental overlay to all policy proposals and actions. Each decision affecting the people and lands of our cities should have a documented and transparent review of how this overlay is applied. The overlay should include the impact on natural resources, environmental equity, and climate change.
Our cities are an integral component of Greater Cleveland’s ecosystem.
The CH-UH school district is officially back to in-person teaching. It’s been a long time coming.
Staying remote for as long as we did was the safest choice for our staff, students, and families. The decisions the district made became more controversial as the year progressed, but it made no sense to return in-person when COVID numbers were on the rise and a vaccine was months away.
[There is] a landslide of support to have a dog park in Cleveland Heights.
I have been in contact with the director of Heights Libraries, which oversees Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park. I have laid out to her reasons why Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park is where I believe the dog park should be, but she has turned me down flatly, saying that this area is used for picnics, sledding, and other activities.
I would like to tell you why I think she has made a mistake, and why I have not given up and am appealing to Cleveland Heights residents and the powers-that-be to support a dog park at Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park.
A leader does not wait to be appointed or elected. What have you [the candidate] already been leading? Where will you lead us?
We need to move forward into the 21st century, toward a brighter future for Cleveland Heights. Think of an unlimited future, attracting and retaining people, meeting crises, overcoming challenges. Too often I hear people talk in terms of the limits of current problems, shrinking population, and the restrictive framework of our current state and local governments. I never again want to hear someone say, "It is what it is." How will you lead us beyond these issues?
We are diverse even within our neighborhoods. Get to know something about us, not our "type." We do not fit into the pollster’s stereotypes. Don't take a group’s support for granted; you have to earn it.
The 2020 survey of Cleveland Heights residents found that, of all the services provided by City Hall, respondents were least satisfied with "enforcement of city codes and ordinances." (Safety services topped the ranking.) I wasn't surveyed, but I agree. Many, many properties do not look good. That's the number one issue for candidates.
It seems that past officials, over decades, never really appreciated just how critical inspection and enforcement are once structures lose their newness. Cleveland Heights is the third-oldest suburb in the county (behind East Cleveland and Lakewood). Half of our homes are 100 years old. Because officials failed to address adequately what was becoming old housing, shoddiness became an acceptable standard.
The worse the condition of housing, the more negatives occur.
The below-signed merchants in the Cedar Lee Business District strongly support a mixed-use development at the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook (CLM) site (the vacant land on the east side of Lee Road at Meadowbrook Boulevard, and on the municipal parking lot between Tullamore and Cedar roads). As Cleveland Heights City Council reviews and evaluates two proposals for CLM development, we strongly support the selection of a developer who can minimize the impact of construction disruption on our businesses by shortening and maximizing the construction period with a single phase of development for the entire project. We are excited about the catalytic possibilities of the CLM project, just as the Top of the Hill project is bringing to Cedar Fairmount.
I am excited to share with you that I am running for Cleveland Heights City Council. I hope to earn your vote this November.
I am honored to have earned the early support of Ohio State Sen. Sandra Williams; Ohio Senate Assistant Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio; Ohio State Rep. Janine Boyd; Ohio State Rep. Terrence Upchurch; Cuyahoga County Council Vice President Cheryl Stephens; business owners Quintin Jones (Rudy’s Pub) and Tommy Fello (Tommy’s); community leaders Earl Pike, Sue Dean, Marquez Brown, Rhonda Davis Lovejoy, Jennifer Holland, and George Sample. I am also honored to receive the endorsement of surrounding local elected officials, including Mayor Annette Blackwell (Maple Heights), Mayor Georgine Welo (South Euclid), Shaker Heights Council Member Carmella Williams, and Bratenahl Council President Pro Tem Keith Benjamin.
At Heights Community Congress (HCC), we believe an open and fair housing market results in inclusive communities and neighborhoods. Since the passage of the Federal Fair Housing Act in 1968, fair housing practices in renting and selling homes has been the law, but we know it is not always practice.
The law must be constantly monitored, upheld and protected. April is Fair Housing Month, and a perfect opportunity for the city of Cleveland Heights and its residents to recommit to upholding fair housing in our community.
A key element of Cleveland Heights’ commitment to fair housing is testing, which organizations such as HCC do for the city. Testing consists of sending two people, matched on factors such as age and gender, to inquire [separately] about renting or buying a home.
We share so much—schools, libraries, friends, and more. Why can’t we also share our pools? Wouldn’t it be nice to double our communities’ swimming pools without the effort and expense of building?
Wouldn’t it be nice for your kids to go to the pool with their school friends? Wouldn’t it be nice to have more single-sex swimming nights, and also to have another pool to use as a family on the nights designated for single-sex use? All this, and more, is possible.
Both the Cumberland and Purvis pools have amenities that benefit all residents. For example, Cumberland offers an established summer synchronized swimming team that might appeal to many UH residents. Purvis has 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards, which might attract a diving team.
We all want to use the city-owned land at Meadowbrook Boulevard and Lee Road to help our city do better. We all share the same concerns about our community: high taxes, schools, keeping our wonderful local businesses, supporting the arts and our brand as an arts community, and having housing that will attract and keep residents.
Cleveland Heights city officials have tried, unsuccessfully, four times before—in 2011, 2013, 2018 and 2019—to have the Meadowbrook-Lee land developed as some sort of apartments/mixed-use project. They are now trying for the fifth time with the same kind of project.
Isn’t it time for the city to try something new?
On the first Earth Day, 51 years ago, our eyes were opened to the realization that we are part of the Earth, not just visitors roaming the surface. Everything we do, every decision we make, affects everyone and everything on this planet, our home.
The world is in crisis—environmental, social, economic, and healthwise. We can act to resolve this crisis, or we can worsen it. Cleveland Heights has the opportunity to improve, rather than further degrade, our world. As we look at candidates for our first elected mayor, we need to ask how they will lead us in doing our part locally in solving this crisis.
Severance Forest is a rare treasure, a mile-long corridor of woods and wetlands at the headwaters of Dugway Brook.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that our housing stock is our main asset. Without good housing we would not be able to afford schools. City government could be diminished by 25 percent. To maintain city services, we must maintain or increase property values.
I walked the Noble area twice with Greater Cleveland Congregations. We picked Noble because that was the neighborhood hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. We looked for vacant and blighted houses because on any block where there is such a house the values of homes on the block diminish.
Don’t get me wrong—Noble is a wonderful neighborhood. The city contains solid housing. We are not in imminent danger of [not] having enough funds to provide services.
Your opinions shape the narrative about your public schools. Maybe you’ve read an article, or heard a story, about a student attending a local public school. And maybe you then shared that story with your neighbor. Good news about inspiring teachers and successful students is expected and quickly forgotten, but bad news travels fast and lingers long.
Rick Hanson, psychologist and author, explains that “negative experiences tend to have more urgency and impact than positive ones,” and that human beings are “naturally designed to internalize them.” Our brains have a “negativity bias” to help us survive.
Cleveland Heights City Council members, speakers and virtual viewers called January’s 8th annual Democracy Day public hearing “inspiring,” “informative,” and “enlightening”—hardly the “waste of time” claimed by Robert Shwab in a letter published in the March issue of the Heights Observer.
Federal and state court decisions, and laws created by the president, governor, U.S. Congress, and state legislature directly impact our city government and residents. Those decisions and policies are increasingly influenced by, and disproportionately benefit, the super-rich and corporations.
FutureHeights has become aware of a request by some in the community that all or most of the Cedar/Lee/Meadowbrook development site become green space or a public park, rather than a mixed-use development. FutureHeights fully understands and appreciates the value of public parks in our community as significant contributors to our quality of life, and believes that both the need for economic development and public access to green space can be accommodated in either of the two development proposals that are currently before the city.
The CH-UH library has sponsored and promoted a [series of programs about] The 1619 Project, a collection of essays compiled by a New York Times staffer about the role and impact of slavery in the U.S.
Shortly after the program [about the project] was distributed to schools and libraries in 2019, [some] prominent American history scholars condemned The 1619 Project for its bias and falsehoods about America’s founding and the role of slavery. Mary Grabar of the Alexander Hamilton Institute called it a "jumble of lies, half-lies, bad history and bad faith." Historian Robert Paquette of Hamilton College called it "dangerous rubbish."
The materials on the library’s 1619 Web page do not include any of the criticisms, and exclude the views of dissenting Black intellectuals. Kay Coles James, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, said that the dubious history of The 1619 Project hurts the cause of racial reconciliation by creating a "false narrative".
I am running for city council to serve our community and give something back to the city that has given me so much. If elected, I want to seize this unique opportunity to work with my fellow council members, the new mayor, and the community to set a bold vision for all of Cleveland Heights.
My family moved here in 1960. My brother and I were raised on Desota Avenue, and later on Woodview Road, by the only single mom we knew of at that time. We went through the entire CH-UH school system and graduated from Heights High. I went on to become the first person in my family to graduate from college and get a master’s degree. Cleveland Heights, for me, is a place where dreams come true.
Now, I own a home on Fenley Road (in the Oxford neighborhood) with my wife, Sandy Moran. I have three stepchildren and eight grandchildren.
If you’d asked fourth-grade me in 1983 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have told you I wanted Phil Donahue’s job. I would have also considered taking over for Nev Chandler as voice of the Browns, or Peter Tomarken, the host of "Press Your Luck."
Nearly 40 years later, I’m finally ready to chase the dream. I’ve determined that my most logical path to becoming "Press Your Luck" host begins with a twice-monthly podcast devoted to the place that made me, Cleveland Heights, and to the brave souls who hope to earn your vote and become our first-ever elected mayor.
And you can always find it on the main menu of the Heights Observer website under "Podcasts".
The city of Cleveland Heights is in the process reviewing proposals to build a mixed-use development at the corner of Meadowbrook and Lee roads. Some previous developments had merit, and also have been a source of revenue for the city. However, the only consideration for the use of our city’s vacant land in the past decades has been residential development. Other uses of the land, such as improving the quality of life for residents, have not always been considered.
The one-acre parcel at Meadowbrook and Lee, in the middle of the Cedar Lee Business District, may be the last parcel of land to be developed. There has been conversation by the residents of Cedar Lee, on Nextdoor, about converting this piece of land into a park. I share their view.
In the last month I’ve heard people express the opinion that “Cleveland Heights used to be Home to the Arts” and “Cleveland Orchestra members used to live in Cleveland Heights.” I don’t know where this misperception comes from. We are still, and have been for decades, Home to the Arts! Cleveland Heights was a home to the arts before we claimed the title!
This past summer, there were socially distanced pop-up “porchestra” concerts presented by several resident orchestra members and their colleagues. There is the annual Donut Day put on by bassist Tom Sperl and his family. We have robust orchestra representation in our city, as well as musicians of every genre.
The relationship between Reaching Heights and the CH-UH City School District was referenced online recently, in questions and comments by community members.
Does Reaching Heights speak for the district at city council meetings? Is Reaching Heights a policy arm of the school district?
The answer is no to both of those questions. Reaching Heights is an independent nonprofit that facilitates meaningful parent and community engagement in the Heights public schools.
I’m a lifer. Save for a few years after college, Cleveland Heights has been home since I was born. We are far from perfect as a community, and we do love to squabble. But this past Christmas morning, I was reminded of why I cannot get enough of living in Cleveland Heights.
The snow was thick on the ground, the wind was harsh in the face, but I thought it a good idea to bundle the children, grab the sleds, and march over to Coventry P.E.A.C.E Park to flatten all that snow on the hill. We were alone at first, but gradually a small, hardy crowd gathered for the simple pleasure of sledding down a hill.
After much thought and 40 years of preparation, I am running to be mayor of Cleveland Heights. Between now and Election Day, I will share my vision and experience on a campaign platform I’m calling “Competence – Not Politics.”
I’m running because I love the Heights and I want to make a difference, which is the same philosophy that’s guided me over my entire career.
First, a little about me: Along with my husband, Obie Shelton, children, Hallie and Owen, and our dog, Onyx, I’ve lived on Bolton Road in Forest Hill for 16 years.
For 15 years, I served as CEO of the YWCA of Greater Cleveland.
I’m throwing my hat in.
It’s audacious, I know. We moved here four years ago to be near family. After moving around a lot—for my master’s degree work and my husband’s job—we needed to put down roots. We chose Cleveland Heights because we wanted community. From the moment we arrived, this has felt like home. For our family it is true that, here, all are welcome.
My professional work is in communications. But the work that fuels me is political activism. Back in Schenectady, N.Y., I helped build an organization to advocate for progressive issues, like universal healthcare, climate action, and a living wage. I led outreach: connecting with marginalized communities and increasing engagement.
I am writing in response to the opinion piece by Eric J. Silverman, “Former BOE member feels Millikin déjà vu,” in the December 2020 Heights Observer. Although I have only been a resident of Cleveland Heights for the past six years, my husband’s family has lived here for almost 70 years! To say that we are a loyal Cleveland Heights family would be an understatement. I love the diversity of Cleveland Heights, and I thought the "All Are Welcome" initiative was a very fitting way to mark the city’s centennial celebration.
As a mother of four who also works full time, I admit that I do not have much spare time to closely follow local issues related to taxes or property development. However, when someone showed me Mr. Silverman’s article, I felt very hurt. I would like to give Mr. Silverman the benefit of the doubt, and I hope that he did not intend his words to come across the way they did. However, the tone of his article made me feel that perhaps the Orthodox Jewish community, which I am proud to be a part of, is actually NOT welcome in Cleveland Heights.
We have all had to adjust and re-examine how best to carry out our everyday activities this past year. This public health emergency has also impacted Ohio courts, including Cleveland Heights Municipal Court (CHMC). There have been many challenges, but CHMC has adapted and responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Our focus has been on protecting the health of the staff and all those who enter the courthouse, while serving our vital purpose of administrating justice without denial or delay.
Shortly after Gov. DeWine first declared a state of emergency, I issued a temporary order suspending nearly all in-person hearings, including arraignments, criminal and traffic trials, and evictions.
Before the pandemic, I changed the bond so that almost all non-violent misdemeanors received personal bonds. I have since modified the court’s non-monetary personal bond schedule to include all non-violent felonies of the 4th and 5th degrees.
Winter break is here, and this retired public-school teacher has time to reflect on being the home teacher for my granddaughter, a first-grader. I’ve had a Chromebook view of education in our diverse community during the pandemic. There’ve been conversations about the implications of educational inequality on a national scale, but educational inequality is also a problem here in the Heights.
Our district’s teachers are doing a remarkable job, under difficult conditions. But remote learning is fraught with problems—devices freeze, websites don’t work the way they are supposed to, and lesson plans that were triple-checked before class suddenly have issues. But the real reason I’m writing is to call attention to the glaring inequities I’ve observed.
Everyone is on the same device, but not everyone is in the same portal. At the beginning of the year, it was clear that some kids had more experience and greater ease with technology.
Greetings fellow Cleveland Heights residents, my name is Lee E. Barbee II. I would like to introduce myself as a candidate for Cleveland Heights City Council.
I was born in Cleveland. My family moved to the Forest Hill area of Cleveland Heights in 1970. My parents (Lee Barbee Sr. and his wife, Marlene) wanted to move from our home on 124th Street, off of St. Clair Avenue. The neighborhood was changing, and our home was robbed several times. I remember an incident as a child: We returned home and I saw the robber inside; he walked past the front window. My father became the protector he was and enacted his Second Amendment right and reached for a gun. He instructed us to go to his brother’s house around the corner while he secured the premises.
Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg’s November column in the Heights Observer, “Wanted: An Excellent Mayor for Cleveland Heights,” listing the qualities we should seek in a new mayor, was accurate and on-point.
Having worked in and around Cleveland Heights City Hall for 45 years, and serving a quarter-century on the faculty of the Leadership Academy at Cleveland State University, I can say from experience that the job of mayor of a large, diverse community, with a budget of $45 million per year, should not be held by anyone with a thin résumé.
I voted against the CH charter change to eliminate the city manager form of government because of my belief that the deficiencies of that form of government could be mitigated with a strong city council led by a strong council president. But nature abhors a vacuum.
As an opponent of privatizing city services, I had an interesting experience in mid-October, when I had a new driveway installed. I watched the crew pretty closely, and at one point I noticed a man approach them from my neighbor’s yard and hand one of them a piece of paper. He then turned and walked away. Curious about who he was, I watched him leave and saw that he got into a car with a Safebuilt logo on the door.
Safebuilt is the private, for-profit company that now handles all the duties of the former building department of the city of Cleveland Heights.
I worry about how the small retail businesses in our community are doing, and whether they will be able to survive this winter. Grocery stores seem to be leading the way in adapting to the pandemic environment; my wife just came back from Zagara’s Marketplace, where she was able to pick up six bags of pre-ordered groceries without entering the store.
My reluctance to go inside any building, with the second wave of the contagion raging in Cuyahoga County, has kept me from visiting S’Wonderful Gifts, a delightful little shop at 2254 Lee Road. I’ve purchased gifts there before, as have my wife and daughter. Curious about how the store is doing, I called the owner Bill Wort and had an enlightening conversation with him.
When I came across Jessica Cohen’s piece in the October Heights Observer [“BOE can no longer abdicate responsibility for Millikin”], I had a sense of déjà vu. Was it the late 1990s, when elements of Cleveland Heights City Council came to the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE), to do the bidding of Hebrew Academy, to get us (BOE members) to part with the property? Was it around 2010, when Jason Stein, then a library trustee (now a CH City Council member and ceremonial mayor), was a vocal advocate for the BOE to sell the property to Mosdos? Was it 2014, when CH City Council was encouraging us (BOE members) to sell the property to Mosdos, intimating that we might be denied the ability to use the property for uses other than as a school if we did not sell; and then council [was] exploring how to loan Mosdos the money to close the deal, when Mosdos couldn’t get financing?
I keep noticing a recurring theme here—that the BOE, for some reason, is apparently obligated to dispose of PUBLIC assets if someone wants them, regardless of the amount of the offer, or if the BOE wants to keep using the property.
The fate of the Millikin school—11 acres, mainly densely wooded wetlands bordering Severance Center—is far from settled. There is a chance, in the foreseeable future, that the land will be transferred by the Cleveland Heights-University City School District [to the city of Cleveland Heights, and then] to a private residential developer.
Losing these woodlands would also [mean losing] the only place in the Heights where we, and our wildlife, can experience the headwaters of a stream that is part of our local watersheds, Dugway, Shaw and Nine Mile. The other starting points of these ancient streams are mostly covered by the past century’s concrete, asphalt, houses and businesses.
People plan travel on weekends to see this type of view.
This photo was taken from Severance Circle, looking at the urban forest of the Millikin School property—the section some call the Severance Woods. These acres of wooded land clean our air, reduce stormwater runoff, protect the community against noise and light pollution, and provide beauty and tranquility. If this were a public park, no one would dare suggest these woods should be destroyed.
Stand on the same spot, and tilt the camera down. The foreground is one of the barren, sunbaked, windswept parking lots surrounding Severance Town Center.
These vast parking lots are a poor use of land. They provide no clean air. They are impermeable, so they contribute to stormwater-runoff problems. They contribute to noise and light pollution. They are ugly.
On Oct. 19, the city of Euclid, under the progressive leadership of Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer and city council, took a historic step towards a better future for its residents and the planet by passing a resolution to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Over the past several years, Euclid has shown its dedication to sustainability through several local projects. The city council created a sustainability committee to elevate these issues and create a venue for discussion among residents and local government leaders.
Euclid has been actively working toward a greener future with the installation of solar panels on top of the public library and city hall, to meet the energy needs of these government operations. The projects reduce carbon by 150 tons per year. The city has also partnered with the business community, building four wind turbines that make it a unique home to wind power.
In the most recent Heights Observer e-News, Mo Lynn contributed a letter regarding the compensation of CH-UH City School District Treasurer Scott Gainer. Lynn serves as treasurer for the TigerNation4LowerTaxes committee, which opposes the upcoming district levy.
In the letter, Lynn personally attacks Gainer as a “poor performer” who has “never submitted a balanced five-year forecast,” and is “grossly overcompensated.” She argues that Gainer benefits from the city’s “high taxes,” and thus is personally vested in the levy passing.
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland endorses passage of Issue 6 on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot.
This proposed amendment to the Cleveland Heights City Charter relates to time frames for candidates to qualify for election. The League supports passage of this amendment, as it will assist the city’s transition to an elected mayor form of government, which was approved by a substantial majority of the city’s voters in the November 2019 election.
When RBG passed away, I, like many women of my generation, felt a loss of my personal champion for women’s rights.
When I was 18, I entered into a very brief marriage. My parents gave me the down payment and we purchased a house in Conroe, Texas, where my husband had taken a job. I, too, was working and going to school. Our FHA loan carried a monthly payment of $125. After a year, we moved back to Illinois and got divorced. I decided I could afford the payment if I moved back. My employer was willing to rehire me. So, I notified FHA that I was going to take over the payments myself. They told me I was not permitted to own a house on my own because I was a single woman. They would foreclose on me even if I paid the payments. So, I was unable to own a home.