Letters To The Editor

Traffic safety is not about crime

To the Editor:

It was very disturbing to read former CH council member Alan Rapaport’s opinion, "Politics shouldn’t interfere with CHPD." Recalling his discussion with former CH police chief Lentz, Rapoport recounted Lentz’s views on law enforcement: Lentz referred to what he called the “felon community,” [believed] "people who break big laws frequently break small ones,” and "drivers stopped sometimes were leaving the scene of a crime or had outstanding felony warrants” and “could be armed.” 

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 10:24 AM, 04.02.2023

Transportation committee supports lower CH speed limits

To the Editor:

As members of the Cleveland Heights Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), we support the reduction of speed limits on residential portions of certain streets as proposed by Mayor Seren, recommended by city council’s Public Safety and Health Committee (chaired by Council Member Larson), and passed by council.

This action by the mayor and council is consistent with the city’s Complete and Green Streets Policy, approved by council in 2018, and Council Resolution 96-2021, adopting and supporting the ideals, principles, and concepts of Vision Zero for the city.

The city’s lowering of speed limits is also consistent with policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:58 AM, 01.31.2023

Larson thanks CH voters; looks ahead

To the Editor:

Happy New Year, Cleveland Heights!

2023 is a new year for your CH City Council members. This will be my first year as an elected member of city council. To get here, I have many to thank.

My family and friends supported and encouraged me during the campaign, reminding me that I am not alone in this venture. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for those who gathered petition signatures, donated to [my] campaign, put up yard signs and distributed door hangers. Finally, thank you to all Cleveland Heights citizens who voted for me.

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 10:36 AM, 01.02.2023

Thank you Zagara's

To the Editor:

It was good to read Dean Seick’s description and praise of Zagara’s Marketplace [Heights Observer, December 2022]. I have a similar account.

Several years ago, I asked John Zagara if he would consider filling some of the “bare walls” in his marketplace with original art created by my art students. I stated that I taught art to senior citizens at Tri-C and the Cleveland Heights Pavillion. I must have conveyed appropriate enthusiasm for this beautiful art, because John Zagara accepted!  He told me, because of insurance requirements, he and his staff would hang the art.   

Soon, the Zagara Marketplace aisles and shelves displayed glorious, colorful art created by more than 20 artists—more than 100 pieces altogether.  When we first walked through Zagara’s Marketplace to see the art, my seniors were astonished. Their creations were finally getting great exposure!

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 10:34 AM, 01.02.2023

Celebrate Susanna Niermann O'Neil

To the Editor:

The celebration that was held at Cleveland Heights City Hall on May 2 honored Susanna Niermann O’Neil for her 45 years of service to Cleveland Heights. 

The atrium at City Hall now bears her name. Over the years, Susanna worked with and supported many citizens, city employees and city councils.  She was always present at council meetings, and made sure all the details were well planned. 

One word describes her throughout all of those relationships with so many in Cleveland Heights—that word is grace.

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Volume 15, Issue 6, Posted 2:53 PM, 05.27.2022

Looking beyond Lee and Meadowbrook

To the Editor:

Lee-Meadowbrook is not the only possible site for public space in the Cedar Lee district. It just happens to be vacant.

Walk, drive, or roll through the district and take a good look at what is there. A few old buildings are structually solid and do have some charm, but most are not architecturally significant, energy efficient, or ideal for tenants.

Every decade or so, a new streetscaping plan is implemented and the facades get a face-lift. Inevitably, some buildings will be removed or replaced as they become too costly to maintain.

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Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 11:12 AM, 04.29.2022

Ensure better design in developments like Lee and Meadowbrook

To the Editor:

Lost at the center of the debate about whether a 1.07-acre parcel of land at Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard should be developed or retained as a public park is how the city can ensure a bit of both happens as a matter of due course.

The city can add to its arsenal on development with design standards. Design standards can ensure the provision of public space and functional green space.

In my research on best practices on sustainability for Cuyahoga County, Lakewood stood out as a city that has design standards for development that does just this: The city requires the provision of “green infrastructure” such as trees and rain gardens.

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Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 11:14 AM, 04.29.2022

Book provides counterpoint to '1619'

To the Editor:

A March 2022 Heights Observer opinion by Cynthia Lehman (“Telling the truth to our children”) stated: “Every day, our children enter classrooms where we should be committed to ensure they are learning the full truth of history.”

If that is the case, our children deserve to know Nikole Hannah-Jones did not tell the full truth when she wrote “The 1619 Project.”

Instead of searching online resources to investigate claims of veracity, I recommend just one: Peter Wood’s 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project.

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Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 11:13 AM, 04.29.2022

CH's point-of-sale inspection is essential tool

To the Editor:

I strongly disagree with Alan Rapoport that our city should consider eliminating the Point-of-Sale (POS) Inspection program because, as he stated in his February 2022 Heights Observer opinion, “Private inspection at buyer expense now is standard practice, regardless of whether brokers are involved.” 

I do not believe obtaining a private inspection is a standard practice of investors—yet investors continue to purchase significant numbers of properties in our city’s most at-risk neighborhoods.

For example, in June 2021 the Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) Cleveland Heights Housing Team that I chair researched the 120 most recent title transfers in the Caledonia section of the Noble neighborhood.

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Volume 15, Issue 4, Posted 2:10 PM, 04.01.2022

Issue 9 is more anti-development than pro-park

To the Editor:

Don’t be fooled that Issue 9 is about creating a park. It’s about stopping progress in Cleveland Heights by killing new housing, retail, and vibrancy for Cedar Lee. That’s why I’m voting “no on 9.”

Consider two facts:

1. A top Issue 9 proponent posted this reply on NextDoor when I asked if they’d support development if the city had not provided economic incentives: “If the developers paid for their development, no subsidies, I would have no objection.”

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Volume 15, Issue 4, Posted 2:08 PM, 04.01.2022

Support equitable spending, vote 'no' on Issue 9

To the Editor:

Proponents of Issue 9 want the city to spend millions, that’s millions, constructing a new 1-acre public space at Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard, even as a developer has agreed to pay for and build a one-third-acre public space in conjunction with plans for new housing and retail.

As a matter of fairness and equity, shouldn’t the city spend money on neighborhoods that are currently struggling to attract new investment, like the Noble and Taylor road neighborhoods? Doesn’t it make more sense for the city to focus efforts and resources making overdue improvements, and offering incentives in underserved neighborhoods to catalyze private investments, like the private investment currently occurring in Cedar Lee and Cedar Fairmount?  

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Volume 15, Issue 4, Posted 2:05 PM, 04.01.2022

Vote 'yes' on Issue 9 to ensure public green space

To the Editor:

I've seen a lot of proposals from developers in Cleveland Heights and Cuyahoga County. They always show lots of pretty drawings and lots of amazing financial projections. In general, these stories about the future are fantasies.

I've read and heard some of our neighbors' concerns about the developer's so-called "commitment" at the Top Of The Hill to build certain walls out of bricks, in order to match the neighborhood's historic look and feel. And according to these neighbors—including architects and engineers—all we got was some brick-colored paint, not even as thin as a playing card. I guess it was in the fine print.

Joe Pesci's character, Vinny Gambini, in “My Cousin Vinnie” offers this sage advice about the prosecution to the two “yutes”:

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Volume 15, Issue 4, Posted 2:04 PM, 04.01.2022

In support of Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development project

To the Editor:

I strongly support the CH City Council-approved mixed-use development at Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook (the CLM project). This project is the single most promising initiative I've seen in my 29 years as a Cleveland Heights resident. I strongly urge our city council to continue to pursue this development project with all due speed.

As the incoming president of the Heights Arts Board of Directors, and as a concerned citizen, I welcome the revitalization this project would bring to the entire CLM community of residents, service providers, and local businesses.

In addition, I find the current ballot initiative proposing that the entire vacant acreage be used for creation of a public space to be both short-sighted and legally irrelevant: Short-sighted, because the approved project already includes provision for inclusion of a public space; legally irrelevant, in light of the city law director's opinion that passage of this initiative ordinance would be rendered moot by existing constitutional provisions barring laws that result in "retroactive impairment of a contract."

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Volume 15, Issue 3, Posted 1:50 PM, 02.28.2022

Russell will continue to enact positive change

To the Editor:

As a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, I have seen our community undergo some wonderful changes in the past year and a half, because of Davida Russell’s service on city council. That is why I am urging voters to re-elect her on Nov. 2.

Davida is helping to create stronger neighborhoods that attract young families and retain retirees, as well as targeting investment to our commercial corridors.

I am confident Davida will follow through on her promise to keep Cleveland Heights moving forward.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:47 AM, 10.05.2021

Electing Clopton-Zymler to BOE is a win for arts and diversity

To the Editor:

I have known Mario Clopton-Zymler for 10 years, as a fellow musician, a colleague in the Heights schools, and as a friend. His breadth of experience will serve all stakeholders in our school district—above all, our children.

CH-UH is, or ought to be, THE destination district for the arts. Having Mario on the CH-UH Board of Education can only strengthen that position. Why the arts? Its education teaches the whole child and is demonstrably linked to better outcomes in the traditionally academic subjects. It is a strength of our community that we are home to so many arts professionals, from poets to playwrights, painters, and musicians.

Clopton-Zymler is also the only Black candidate for school board in a district that is over 70% African American.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:15 PM, 10.01.2021

Don't waste any school board votes

In this year’s school board election, you will be asked to vote for your top three candidates from a pool of seven, and the top three “winners” will take the three open school board seats.

As a 13-year Heights resident and father of a Noble Elementary School fourth-grader, I implore you to vote your entire ballot in the school board election; please vote for three pro-school candidates.

This seems like an inherently odd request. Vote for three pro-school candidates for school board? Who wouldn’t? But in this election, in my view as a dedicated parent and resident, there are four “pro-public school” candidates and three “anti-public school” candidates.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:13 PM, 10.01.2021

CH's future depends on maintaining city's existing homes

To the Editor:

For those who say new construction, such as Top of the Hill, is “building the tax base of Cleveland Heights,” I offer a bit of perspective. The value of the city’s property tax base is roughly $2.4 billion. Top of the Hill is adding $83 million, or 0.036% of what exists. Change in the income tax base will also be minor. 

In spite of the scant impact new construction has on our tax bases, Cleveland Heights needs all the new construction it can get in order to add new residents and patrons for local businesses. The strength of our tax bases is entirely dependent on the condition and attractiveness of the city’s massive quantity of existing homes and apartments. The more they deteriorate, the more tax revenues suffer.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:11 PM, 10.01.2021

CH boutique owner praises Russell's support for business

To the Editor:

As owner of Chemistry 11 on Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights, please join me in voting for Davida Russell, sitting CH council member.

Davida has worked collaboratively with others to keep Cleveland Heights moving in the right direction. As a result of her leadership, my business and others now have access to grants and resources to help our businesses thrive. In addition, federal dollars are being directed to the Noble and Taylor areas, to help stabilize these business districts.

Davida has achieved so much for our businesses in her short time; that is why I am voting for her in the upcoming council election.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:54 AM, 10.01.2021

Resident supports BOE incumbents

To the Editor: 

Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, and Jodi Sourini have my endorsement for the three seats in the CH-UH Board of Education election.

As a team, they have represented our district in the fair-school-funding debate, which will improve funding for our district while reducing our property tax burden.

As a parent who has sent children through CH-UH schools, I trust them to make decisions that are in the best interest of students and taxpayers.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:52 AM, 10.01.2021

Moore will value sustainability on CH City Council

To the Editor:

Cleveland Heights residents are privileged that Josie Moore wants to represent us on city council with her talent for building civilized discussion and her embracing understanding of sustainability.

Moore listens masterfully, creating respectful, inclusive conversation to address diverse needs that leads to encompassing solutions.

Moore will work to ensure principles of sustainability are built into the decision-making process at City Hall. These principles will guide every plan and every action to be greener and more equitable.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:45 AM, 10.01.2021

Clopton-Zymler will move CH-UH school district forward

To the Editor:

I first met Mario Clopton-Zymler through our shared love of performing. His beautiful voice, warm smile, and strong work ethic made him a perfect castmate. His talent is only rivaled by his commitment to making positive change.

He’s done just that as a community organizer, an arts educator in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District and beyond, and as an activist.

His lived experience and professional career give him a unique perspective into how CH-UH can truly support all teachers, families and students. His heart is sincere, and his hands are ready to work.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:32 AM, 10.01.2021

Russell gives CH residents a voice

To the Editor:

I urge Cleveland Heights voters to re-elect Davida Russell to city council this November.

Council Member Russell created “You Talk, I Listen” forums, several of which I attended, giving residents a voice. Topics included affordable housing for seniors, racial equality, and safety in our neighborhoods.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:53 AM, 10.01.2021

Hart thanks Cleveland Heights residents

To the Editor:

The votes in the Cleveland Heights mayoral primary election have been counted, and I will not be moving on to the general election. 

While the voter turnout was extremely low and the results were not what I had hoped for, I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the faith many of you placed in me during my campaign. 

Thank you to all of my hard-working volunteers, all of my contributors and endorsers. And thank you to everyone who placed their trust in me with your vote at the primary election.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 2:41 PM, 09.16.2021

GCC asks CH mayoral candidates about housing

To the Editor:

Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) Cleveland Heights Housing Team [of which the author is a member] has developed a new website to assist Cleveland Heights voters in choosing the city’s first elected mayor: chhousingteam.wordpress.com.

The CH Housing Team is focused on issues of housing and economic development in underserved areas of Cleveland Heights. Since 2016, its members have been building knowledge and expertise for new approaches to the housing problems that plague the health of the city. 

The new website provides responses from the three CH mayoral candidates to four questions about the current state of housing and economic development in underserved areas in our city, including blighted and investor-owned (not maintained) properties.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 3:02 PM, 08.23.2021

FutureHeights supports Cedar Lee development

To the Editor:

The following statement was presented to Cleveland Heights City Council at its Aug. 2 meeting:

FutureHeights supports the proposed mixed-use development at the Cedar Lee Meadowbrook site and urges Council to move forward with the project.

  • The proposed project fills a large gap in the Cedar Lee Business District by strengthening the “retail/building wall,” which will increase pedestrian foot traffic and consumer spending at our locally owned businesses. 
  • New housing will add more residents to increase our tax base.
  • The proposed green space at Lee and Meadowbrook and the Cedar Lee Mini-Park will enhance the district and meet residents’ needs for green space.
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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:55 AM, 09.02.2021

Danforth will help arts and business

To the Editor:

We love music and enjoy sharing it with our neighbors. This summer, we were fortunate enough to host a front-yard concert with Moises Borges and Dylan Moffitt. It is a privilege to live in an area that supports live music and to invite neighbors to come and listen to a free concert. We enjoy living in a community where people value the arts. With Cain Park, Dobama Theatre, the Grog Shop, the Cedar Lee Theatre, Nighttown and so many other community treasures, Cleveland Heights has always been a regional leader for arts appreciation. For decades this community has provided a forum and venues for artists.

Yet, as a community we have not focused on telling our story and the story of the wonderful arts opportunities in the Heights.

Electing a mayor gives us the opportunity to look to one executive for leadership in maintaining and strengthening our arts community.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:59 AM, 09.02.2021

Hart has my vote

To the Editor:

Why is Melody Hart the best choice for mayor of Cleveland Heights? 

She believes in responsiveness. She returns phone calls and insists those who work under her do the same. She listens to all sides of an issue, but she’s not afraid to make a decision: these are character traits that are most important to me in choosing a mayor.

And, of course, experience and deep knowledge of Cleveland Heights are my next two values. Remember when MetroHealth [announced] plans to build a mental health facility [at its Severance facility]? Some staunch environmentalists in Cleveland Heights were opposed to the location of this project because many old trees would have to be sacrificed.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:56 AM, 09.02.2021

Hart is ready to be CH's mayor

To the Editor:

I am writing to endorse Melody Hart for mayor of Cleveland Heights. My reasons are simple and straightforward: She is ready!

Melody spent four years following every council meeting to gather information and to research the issues that were and were not being addressed. Following that period of time, she took a leap of faith to run for an open council position. She won that race with a landslide.

Melody is not afraid to quietly speak up and stand her ground on important decisions.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 10:08 AM, 09.02.2021

In praise of David Budin

To the Editor:

David Budin is a Cleveland Heights gem. His articles are the first thing I read when I open my Heights Observer.

I know that you realize how lucky you are to have him writing for you. Thank you!

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:44 PM, 07.01.2021

Elected officials must protect CH's green assets

To the Editor:

A recent stroll by the Top of the Hill project led me to also check out what has been called the "collegiate edition" of Top of the Hill, on Euclid Heights Boulevard. This is a student-housing project located directly across from Buckingham condominiums, to be marketed to Case Western Reserve University students.

Both the Planning Commission and Architectural Board of Review seem to have mandated the preservation and incorporation of an existing 5,200-square-foot house and adjoining carriage house into the project, due to their historical significance. An excellent decision, which stands in stark contrast to the elimination of virtually every mature tree—literally anything green—between Overlook Park apartments and Margaret Wagner House. It would seem green space holds no historical significance.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:58 AM, 05.27.2021

CH resident urges voters to stay informed; endorses Danforth

To the Editor:

After more than four years of waiting for political noise to subside, three major political races come to our backyard. The 11th District U.S. Congressional race to replace Marcia Fudge, the Cleveland mayor's race to replace 16-year incumbent Frank Jackson and, most significant to Cleveland Heights residents, the first directly elected mayor's race in the city's 100-year history.

While federal-level officials can impact issues that affect American lives, city mayors can make executive changes that affect residents' daily lives. For that reason, the Cleveland Heights mayor's race is a rare opportunity for residents to have a say in the future of our city.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:56 AM, 05.27.2021

Hart is the leader we need for CH

To the Editor:

I urge my fellow residents to join me in supporting Melody Hart for mayor because she has demonstrated the kind of leadership Cleveland Heights urgently needs, to address a range of challenges and opportunities we face.

As a Cleveland Heights council member, Melody has made it a priority to really listen to residents’ concerns; respond, and actually get things done; and do that by helping bring people together to solve problems we all care about.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:50 AM, 05.27.2021

Buckingham residents endorse Hart for mayor

To the Editor:

We’re sending this letter to announce our endorsement of Melody Hart for mayor of Cleveland Heights. In the information regarding her announcement to run, she emphasizes characteristics such as “responsive,” taking into account “citizens’ complaints,” and “transparency.” From our perspective as residents of the Buckingham Condominium—the lone, four-story, circa 1925 building in the very center of the Top of the Hill (TOH) project—Melody has been the one member of council who has consistently reached out to us in our many concerns.

Last May, just as ground was breaking for TOH, Melody and Davida Russell, another CH council member, went out of their ways on a Sunday afternoon to meet with [Buckingham] residents and listen to our concerns.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:47 AM, 04.30.2021

CH mixes messages on tree canopy

To the Editor:

Reading recently of Shaker Heights’ application for a Cuyahoga County Healthy Urban Tree Canopy grant, to plant nearly 150 trees in their community, I'm reminded that Cleveland Heights received the same grant in 2019. At that time, we received a $50,000 grant for an ash tree mitigation program. The plan was to replace about 150 mature ash trees affected by the emerald ash borer.

It’s becoming increasingly evident that the tree canopy is shrinking across our region. In 2011, Cuyahoga County’s tree canopy stood at 37%. Six years later, in 2017, it fell to 35%.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 9:56 AM, 04.01.2021

Join Monticello Middle School in honoring community members

To the Editor:

Monticello Middle School has been selected to participate in the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) with Johns Hopkins University.

As part of this partnership program, Monticello is kicking off its "It Takes a Village" initiative, honoring the school’s families, children, local businesses and the entire community—from churches to nonprofit organizations, and more.

As we continue to rise above recent challenges, what better way to honor and celebrate one another than through recognition.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 9:54 AM, 04.01.2021

Cleveland Heights is home to sports

To the Editor:

With COVID-19 finally slowing down, it is important to remember that Cleveland Heights is the home of sports in Northeast Ohio. With locations such as Forest Hill Park, Denison Park, Cain Park, Cumberland Park, Barbara Boyd Park, many smaller parks, and the community center, we are second to none.

We have nine excellent ballfields; 18 lighted tennis courts; five outdoor full-court basketball courts; two high-school-size full-court indoor basketball courts; numerous indoor and [outdoor] pickleball courts; an indoor volleyball court; two indoor ice rinks, for hockey, figure skating, speed skating and open skating; numerous indoor and outdoor running and walking trails and tracks; a fitness center, Jazzercize and martial arts programs; and the largest outdoor swimming pool in Northeast Ohio.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 9:53 AM, 04.01.2021

Court dismisses civil complaint against CH City Council

To the Editor:

The complaint I filed in January with the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas has been dismissed.

The city had filed a motion to dismiss my writ of mandamus, which asked the court to compel city council to fill the council vacancy that had existed since March 2, 2020.

The court agreed with city council that, absent a deadline, council had no obligation to perform an act the CH Charter specifically says they "shall" do.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 9:51 AM, 04.01.2021

Library appreciates 1619 Project interest and concern

To the Editor:

In a “request for reconsideration” in January, Robert Shwab asked that Heights Libraries’ 1619 Project program be balanced by information from “critical scholars and other Black voices.” He asked that the program’s moderator be removed, and that the program include 1776unites.com curricula. Heights Libraries’ Board of Trustees discussed the request during its Feb. 1 board meeting. The board and library responded by e-mailing Mr. Shwab:

  1. A report by the originator of the program that included a program overview, rationale for the discussion group, and historical sources consulted.
  2. A three-page bibliography of the works the program moderator has studied to prepare for the 1619 Project programs. These are works by scholars who are recognized in their fields. The program moderator has worked hard to put together a scholarly and thought-provoking program that has been very popular with our community.
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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 1:18 PM, 03.24.2021

Resident files new complaint against CH City Council

To the Editor:

For years, Cleveland Heights City Council has been abusing Ohio's laws regarding executive session—holding meetings in private.

A couple of weeks ago, the Council Committee of the Whole went into executive session to discuss who will be appointed to the 25-member Racial Justice Task Force.

[According to Ohio law,] they can only do that when they're discussing appointing "a public employee or official".

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:22 AM, 02.26.2021

CH's Issue 32 is a waste of time

To the Editor:

Since Cleveland Heights voters passed the Issue 32 ballot referendum [in 2013], every year the Cleveland Heights City Council must set aside [time] to consider citizens' views on a federal constitutional issue far outside the interests or purview of our local government. 

Various pro-government and anti-business radicals harangue our part-time, busy council with irrelevant complaints. Then, council is required to submit an Issue 32 report on the meeting to our elected representatives. At best, this is a waste of time, but it also sends a radical anti-business message to prospective commercial employers and taxpayers.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:23 AM, 02.26.2021

New CH mayor should have say in police contract

To the Editor:

The union representing Cleveland Heights police officers is currently negotiating their contract, which expires on March 31. The negotiations are handled by the city manager and outside counsel the manager hires to represent the city. Though the current contract term is three years, members of Safer Heights urge the city to negotiate a one-year agreement.

The new mayor [to be elected on Nov. 2], as the new director of public safety, will have direct responsibility over police operations, but this may be limited if contract provisions are locked in for another three years.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:26 AM, 02.26.2021

Resident files civil complaint against CH City Council

To the Editor:

On Jan. 8, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas accepted my complaint—a writ of mandamus—requesting the court to compel the six members of Cleveland Heights City Council to appoint someone to the seat vacated by Melissa Yasinow's resignation on March 2, 2020.

The CH City Charter requires them to do so. It's been over 10 months, and, quite simply, they have quit trying.

There is something seriously wrong with this city council.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:50 AM, 01.29.2021

School board should save Millikin wetlands

To the Editor:

I have seen the rooftop of the stable of the old Severance estate from Severance Circle for years now, so last month I decided to take a drive by Millikin school to see firsthand the property over which there has been so much controversy. What I found was possibly the last little hidden gem left in Cleveland Heights. (Michael Morse’s and Jim Miller's opinions in the December 2020 Heights Observer gave me even more insight into this little oasis. Check out Jim Miller's YouTube videos on Dugway Brook!) The stable has a fairly new roof and appears to be structurally sound.

While I have no objection to new development in the Heights, we can all see from the architecturally unattractive and inappropriate development of the Top of the Hill project that the city hasn't the ability to do the job correctly. 

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:59 AM, 01.29.2021

CH-UH schools and teachers union announce agreement

To the Editor:

After months of contract negotiations culminating in an all-night session, the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) and the CH-UH City School District reached a tentative agreement on the morning of Dec. 2. The union ratified it with 94% approval. On Dec. 8, the agreement will be presented to the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) for a vote. We are happy to be able to move forward united and, above all else, we are relieved that our teachers are exactly where they’re needed most—with their students.

The battle we continue to fight together is one against our district’s common enemy: the impact of disastrous EdChoice legislation and inequitable school funding. The CH-UH schools lost $7 million last year, and we expect to lose more than $9 million this school year, due to the way EdChoice vouchers are funded in Ohio.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 9:33 AM, 12.08.2020

Leave Meadowbrook and Lee space to the dogs

To the Editor:

The open green space. The designated boundaries. A contradiction? Not to four-legged friends having somewhere to share their daily news with one another, as they bark and freely leap and bound. 

What space? Why, [the intersection of] Meadowbrook and Lee! When dogs freely join together, they all have a lot to say. Whatever their dialect, their raucous cacophony brings joy to their ears and satisfaction to their biped companions. 

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:47 PM, 11.01.2020

Support for school levy is part of social-justice conversation

To the Editor:

I am a recently retired woman with lots of time on my hands. I spend a certain amount of it walking around our city. We have lovely areas in which to live in Cleveland Heights—I am fortunate to live in one of them—and I take great enjoyment in these walks. Cleveland Heights has some beautiful old homes—homes that would cost far more in other cities. The low property values compared to other suburbs balance out our somewhat higher tax rate.

What saddens me is to see the anti-school-levy signs at some of these lovely properties. Their message of “We love living in the Heights – keep the Heights affordable” rings selfish to me.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:15 PM, 10.23.2020

State recommends district undergo performance audit

To the Editor:

As many have noted, we should not approve a tax increase that many of our neighbors cannot afford in the midst of a deep recession with a still-uncertain outcome. Now, there is an additional reason to “Vote No” on Issue 69, the school tax levy.

Due to its “potential to incur a deficit during the first three years of the five-year period” [based on the district’s five-year forecast], the Ohio Department of Education has recommended the CH-UH City School District to the Auditor of State as one that should undergo a performance audit.

This will review the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and assets, and identify cost-saving options for the district. Voters should not approve additional funding increases until the district has addressed structural deficits.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:14 PM, 10.19.2020

Correcting the actual EdChoice costs to CH-UH district

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to Eric Silverman’s opinion, published [online at www.heightsobserver.org] on Oct 12.

I am not taking a position on the school levy vote, and I have not supported EdChoice vouchers in the past. I respect people making informed decisions for themselves. However, informed decisions need to be made with accurate information, and the cost of EdChoice vouchers as stated in Mr. Silverman’s opinion are absolutely incorrect.

Yes, the 2019–20 deduction for EdChoice vouchers was $7,074,113. In his piece, Mr. Silverman omitted the $4,286,412 the state of Ohio funded for EdChoice vouchers.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:13 PM, 10.19.2020

School levy defeat would defund our schools

To the Editor:

For those trying to cut through all the nonsense and figure out whether to vote for the school levy this fall, here’s a simple check to see if the levy request is reasonable:

  • In Ohio, the dollar amount raised from levies is fixed, so as prices (and hopefully home values) rise with inflation, the amount raised to fund the schools does not rise. That means if we don’t pass a levy every few years, we are effectively defunding public schools. 
  • With inflation hovering around 2 percent per year, prices rise about 8 percent every four years. 
  • The CH-UH district receives about $72 million per year in local property taxes; 8 percent of $72 million is about $6 million.
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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:17 AM, 10.01.2020

Why my family supports Issue 69

To the Editor:

My family and I have lived in Cleveland Heights since 2001. After beginning their education with wonderful years at Canterbury Elementary School, our daughters (now 20 and 17) switched to the private school where my husband worked. We continued to support every CH-UH levy during this time because we understand the value of strong public schools to the entire community.    

In 2018 our younger daughter, Lily, asked to tour Heights High. Coming from a small, high-touch private-school experience, I suspected we [might] receive an impersonal introduction. How wrong I was. Joy Henderson provided thoughtful, individualized support and guidance as Lily learned about Heights and considered making the change. Lily started Heights as a ninth-grader and has loved it from day one.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:19 AM, 10.01.2020

Another epidemic: elected officials interfering with free elections

To the Editor:

[In the] November 2019 election: Some CH City Council members create, fund and campaign with a ballot issue PAC against the citizens' Elected Mayor charter change referendum. The city manager's trade union donates $30,000 to defeat the ballot issue.

March 2020 election: CH-UH school district illegally spends $34,675 of taxpayer funds as an in-kind donation for the campaign committee's voter survey, then lies about it to the state auditor. The school board president and vice president are on the campaign's steering committee, with their school board titles prominently displayed. The vice president held the campaign kick-off fundraiser at his home before the issue was even on the ballot. A school board member takes part in the planned sabotage of the Vote No campaign kick-off fundraiser at the New Heights Grille.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 7:56 AM, 09.01.2020

Performance audit would make school district accountable

To the Editor:

What is wrong with accountability? What is wrong with asking how and why your tax dollars were spent in a particular fashion? Our school board has shown a complete lack of accountability toward how it spends our $130 million in taxes to run the school district.

We have asked [board members] for over seven months to have a performance audit done in the district. A performance audit is done by a neutral third party from the state auditor’s office to see if there are any cuts or savings to our budget that can be made, to allow our tax money to be spent in the best way, and to get the most for our tax dollars.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:53 PM, 08.31.2020

School levy will ensure student mental health services

To the Editor:

As a board-certified psychoanalyst, and a licensed clinical counselor, respectively, we have both worked with children, teens and adults experiencing mental health crises. Sometimes these crises arise from an acute trauma, such as a sudden death or unexpected divorce, and sometimes they come about over time from the ceaseless burden of daily living.  

The CDC estimates that approximately 4.4 million children ages 3–17 suffer from anxiety, and approximately 1.9 million suffer from depression. We know, without question, that these and other mental conditions are being amplified by the COVID pandemic. These issues often remain invisible to the untrained eye, and can easily go undiagnosed and untreated. For many young people in our community, their crises are first spotted by concerned teachers, coaches, school counselors and social workers.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:51 PM, 08.31.2020

Parent volunteers urge support of school levy

To the Editor:

We would like to introduce ourselves to the public: We are Tiger Nation for Strong Schools, a group of district parents and community volunteers campaigning for the 4.8 mill operating levy on the November ballot. 

Formerly known as Citizens for Our Heights Schools, we opted to change our name after the anti-levy campaign co-opted “Tiger Nation,” despite the fact that [its members] do not send their children to public schools, do not volunteer their time within district buildings, and do not identify themselves in any way with Tiger Nation. They were instead trying to intentionally mislead and confuse the public; something they were unfortunately successful in doing.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:44 PM, 08.31.2020

Why is Heights Libraries a landlord?

To the Editor:

I am a taxpayer of the district and always support local library tax requests, for two simple reasons:

  • I am an ardent believer in the power of education and learning, and
  • Heights Libraries does an excellent job of fulfilling its mission.

It has recently come to my attention the CH-UH libraries are being asked to continue being a landlord for a group of nonprofit entities that are currently renting space in the former Coventry School building.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:40 PM, 08.31.2020

"Save Our Stages" now

To the Editor:

Ensemble Theatre, Greater Cleveland's home for modern American classics, culturally relevant plays, and significant new works, has been producing great theater with local talent for 40 great years. But, our doors have been closed to the public since March 1, and may continue to be for some time.

Like other arts, event, and theater organizations, Ensemble has faced, and continues to face, tens of thousands of dollars in losses due to the pandemic. There must be some type of industry-specific relief! 

Please help us #SaveOurStages by contacting Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman at www.saveourstages.com.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:39 AM, 08.11.2020

School levy would keep pace with inflation

The CH-UH school board has placed a 4.8 mill levy on the November 2020 ballot. Voting for the levy makes financial sense for our community.

CH-UH has placed a levy on the ballot simply to keep up with inflation. Due to Ohio law, even when the value of district homes rises, the amount of property tax collected is kept constant (estimated at around $72.25 million). With annual inflation of 2 percent, a levy is necessary to keep pace with inflation.

Another reason a levy is required is because our district has been uniquely harmed by how Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program is funded. Even though the state paid our district only $1,927 for each student, our district was required to send out $6,000 to private, charter and religious schools for each EdChoice voucher high school student—a loss of $4,073 per student.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:13 AM, 08.11.2020

Appointments donít reflect the voice of the people

To the Editor:

In last fall’s election, Cleveland Heights voters were clear that appointments don’t reflect the voice of the people. Residents rejected the most recent city council appointment by a large margin, with the challenger, Davida Russell, winning against the appointed council member, with more than 57 percent of the vote.

Just one year later, the council member rejected by the voters has somehow made it to city council’s top four applicants [for another open council seat], narrowed from a pool of 22. Hmmm, really? How did this happen?

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:36 AM, 08.10.2020

City council appointments hurt democracy

To the Editor:

Cleveland Heights residents overwhelmingly supported Issue 26 [on the November 2019 ballot] because it was a vote for change—a change that gave residents the ability to vote for mayor. We supported Issue 26 because we wanted more transparency, accountability, and say in who runs our city by democratically electing our representatives instead of relying on city council appointments. After 100 years without having an elected mayor accountable to residents, Issue 26 was a vote for change that residents wanted.

More appointments to Cleveland Heights City Council would be a step in the wrong direction. Appointments undermine democracy and allow people to appoint their friends and allies, opening the door for potential corruption, bribery and favoritism.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:24 AM, 08.10.2020

Hart states council has duty to select new member

To the Editor:

I have received a letter from 14 respected citizens regarding council having a duty to appoint a seventh council member. I agree with them.

I know the mayor said publicly that he thought we did not have to appoint someone, and at least one other council person has posted on Facebook that we might not appoint someone, but, in my view, making this decision is our duty.

Because the city manager resigned at our last meeting, we had to deal with her replacement and the transition to another executive leader. So we did not meet on the appointment, which we had intended to do, but will debate it in an August meeting. I only agreed to vote for an August recess when council agreed to have an August meeting to debate the appointment.

That said—there are four great candidates for the seat and only six current council members.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 4:09 PM, 07.24.2020