Letters To The Editor

Was the CRC process a democratic one?

To the Editor:

The Cleveland Heights Charter Review Commission (CRC) had a meeting on June 21. I believe it was at that meeting that the decision was made to keep our city manager form of government.

It was published in the Heights Observer that, at a meeting in April, 53 of the people who attended indicated that they were in favor of changing to an elected mayor, while 31 favored staying with our current city manager form of government.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:35 PM, 09.03.2018

Reduce, reuse and recycle CH trash

To the Editor:

Residents have submitted different opinions on trash collection to the Observer recently. I agree with Tom Diamond that we can do better.

As a dog walker, I am up close and personal with trash. It’s not a pretty site. Trash bags are ripped open every single week by cats, possums, skunks, raccoons and rats. Our hard-working trash collectors do not rake up the mess, and to make matters worse, neither do some residents. Garbage sits on tree lawns indefinitely. Plastics find their way to the sewers marked “Lake Erie starts here.”

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:34 PM, 09.03.2018

CH is a city of choice

To the Editor:

I read that Cleveland Heights will start a branding campaign, and I think I have a good tagline: City of Choice. Starting with the fact that many residents and newcomers make an active choice to live here (regardless of the high taxes), where others default to more generic communities, consider how many choices we have: School and education choices—private, public, parochial and home, both K–12 and college. Lifestyle choices. Housing choices. Religious choices. Entertainment and food choices. Transportation choices—bike, walk, bus and car. Access to a metropolitan job market for work choices.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:32 PM, 09.03.2018

CH doesn't need trash bins

To the Editor:

My response to Tom Diamond (“CH can do better with garbage,” Heights Observer June 2018) is NO—we do not want those huge bins littering our tree lawns all day on trash day. I, and most people on our street and nearby streets, don’t have tons of trash each week. In fact, I usually have two small bags, one with recyclables in it. The ugly huge bins are usually left out on people’s tree lawns all day, sometimes tipped over, looking messy because homeowners don’t return until late afternoon after work. If Mr. Diamond and others would not put tasty treats in their bags and set them out the night before pickup, rodents wouldn’t try to rip the bags open. Meat scraps can be put in [garbage] disposals and vegetable scraps can be put in a compost pile. If I have pieces of chicken skin or bones, I put them in a little bag in the freezer and then into the trash bag the morning of pickup. Frozen meat scraps don’t attract animals. The day I read Mr. Diamond’s tirade about trash pickup, I drove around our neighborhoods and didn’t see one ripped-open trash bag, but I did see lots of bins on neighboring cities’ tree lawns.

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Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 12:54 PM, 07.31.2018

Charter Review Commission happy with status quo

To the Editor:

The Charter Review Commission endorsed the status quo, deciding at-large council/hired city manager government is just fine. What a missed opportunity to create badly needed change for a better future.

After months of interviews and input, there was little discussion before voting. The few who wanted an elected mayor and possible council changes had no chance of turning this Titanic in a bathtub; the majority apparently came into the process with minds made up.

Maybe they think everything is fine.

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Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 6:09 PM, 07.09.2018

Pothole frustration

To the Editor:

In January we accidentally drove our car through a pothole in Severance Circle. Two tires were damaged. I called two council members to make them aware of the need for repair. The second council member acted swiftly; the hole was patched.

The community safety issue addressed, I then submitted paperwork to the city seeking reimbursement for tire replacement. I waited two months for my claim to be processed. On March 29, I received a letter from the assistant law director that stated that “their investigation was complete, and they are not liable for the damages.” First, he said Cleveland Heights was not responsible for damages because of jurisdiction (that it was Cleveland Water’s responsibility); then he said it was because Ohio Code 2744 states that “if the city is not aware of a pothole, they are not responsible for any damages incurred.”

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 3:57 PM, 06.01.2018

Medusa Building is not part of Forest Hill

To the Editor:

I’m writing in response to Mike Reilly’s opinion piece in the May issue of the Heights Observer (“Forest Hill can be the next Tremont”).

The Medusa Building has nothing to do with the Forest Hill Home Owners (FHHO) association.

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 4:01 PM, 06.01.2018

Ungar's remark muddies the waters

To the Editor:

At its April 2 meeting, Cleveland Heights City Council unanimously approved the creation of an Immigration Task Force. The measure was proposed by Mayor Carol Roe, in response to issues raised by the "civil immigration enforcement" legislation introduced last fall by Council Member Kahlil Seren. Seren’s ordinance would lay out what police and other city officials can and cannot do regarding undocumented immigrants. Those violating its strictures could be charged with a misdemeanor.

City Manager Tanisha Briley and Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg objected to that part of the legislation, and also preferred that the guidelines take the form of a departmental policy, rather than carry the force of law. Seren offered to remove the section criminalizing certain police actions. 

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 4:28 PM, 04.30.2018

Support 'one of our own' in county race

To the Editor:

I write this letter to ask my fellow Cuyahoga County District 10 residents to support Cheryl Stephens in her bid to be our Cuyahoga County Council representative. I believe Cheryl is the most qualified candidate for the job. Her record of accomplishments is unmatched and her dedication to our community is beyond reproach.

I have known Cheryl for over 30 years. When I first met her, we were members of the mayoral administration of George Voinovich. She was a dynamic and impassioned economic development officer. She was very knowledgeable about the city and what it would take to create lasting, sustainable businesses to grow our community. I could hardly believe she had only been in Cleveland a few years. Her love for our city was something I thought could only be found in a “home-towner.”

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 4:25 PM, 04.30.2018

Help, before my car falls apart or I have a collision!

To the Editor:

I'm talking about Coventry Road running north and south between Euclid Heights and Larchmere boulevards. General road surface degradation here, worsened by increasingly deep, invisible (till the last instant) new potholes, has converted this stretch of Coventry Road into a daily demolition derby for my expensive, vulnerable, late-model automobile.

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Volume 11, Issue 4, Posted 10:49 AM, 03.06.2018

An ode to Big Fun

To the Editor:

I wrote this poem in response to the article you published about Big Fun's closing:

BIG FUN

I heard that BIG FUN is done
So where will I get another potato gun?
Don't tell me that fun is over and done
Just tell me the good guys have won

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 1:55 PM, 03.01.2018

February letter contained misguided views about Citizens United

To the Editor:

Just when I thought my level of bewilderment has peaked in regard to the political beliefs of fellow citizens, I read Robert Schwab’s attempt at "educating" readers on his interpretation of Citizens United v. FEC. I’m not sure where his political or business interests lie, but to believe that this 2010 Supreme Court decision benefits democracy in our country for rank and file citizens? My amazement has reached a new level.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 1:53 PM, 03.01.2018

February letter is full of 'red herring'

To the Editor:

This letter is sent in response to a letter I read in the February 2018 issue, "Corporations should have free speech rights." The author is offensive in his introduction, calling some friends of many misguided and untrue. Frankly, the adage "people that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" strongly applies here.

Many congressmen, senators on both sides of the aisle, and the four dissenting judges involved in the case agree with Carla and Deborah [authors of the "Heights of Democracy" column]. Is everyone misguided and lying?

[The letter writer] says next that the ideologues on the opposite side of his ideology are trying to limit free speech. This is simply untrue, when you consider that their ideology  consistently states that corporations are not people, and money is not  speech.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 12:35 PM, 03.02.2018

CH should join in national discussion on gun violence

To the Editor:

In 1994 Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, a ban on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms defined as assault weapons and certain ammunition magazines. In 2004 the ban expired and was not renewed. In Ohio, some municipalities were able to withstand pressure from the NRA and the state of Ohio that was undermining local governments’ authority to continue the assault weapon ban until 2010, when the Supreme Court of Ohio and the attorney general were able to preempt and invalidate the local assault weapons ban.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 1:51 PM, 03.01.2018

Corporations should have free-speech rights

To the Editor:

I need to respond to the misguided or untruthful notions about the Citizens United case from Carla Rautenberg and Deborah Van Kleef in the [January] Heights of Democracy column.

Nothing is scarier to me for our democracy than left-wing ideologues trying to amend our Constitution to limit free speech. The Citizens United case involved a group that produced an anti-Hillary Clinton movie, and Democrat supporters sought to stop the film and/or punish the producers. The Supreme Court upheld the free speech rights of citizens, whether in a group organized for-profit, not-for-profit, labor, news, politics or anti-politics to express their opinions. When government uses its power to maintain useless or harmful regulations, to oppose reforms, to expand bureaucratic excess, and to quash new products, medicines, innovation and services, I want our corporations, representing millions of people and shareholders (including 401(k) and pension participants) to have a vigorous right to speech. The majority on the Supreme Court could not see why one corporation (say, Google, Yahoo, The New York Times, CBS or Koch Industries) for-profit or non-profit would have more free speech rights than another. But, I doubt your columnists have actually read the Supreme Court opinion. Unions and the Sierra Club are corporations, too.

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Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 11:21 AM, 01.31.2018

Seeking clarity on statement in December column

To the Editor:

Your "About the Observer" column states that "If you're writing a news article it should be clear and factual." That is the basis for my question regarding the "Heights of Democracy" article [in the December issue].

Regarding the proposed legislation, the article contains the statement: The ordinance would not violate state or federal laws.

Although this article is on the Opinion page, the above statement seems to be stating a fact. Neither of the authors is a lawyer or a judge, so what is the basis for the statement?

 

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Volume 11, Issue 1, Posted 11:52 AM, 12.18.2017

HRRC looks ahead to 2018 programs

To the Editor:

As we come to the end of another year at Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC), and prepare for our 47th one, I wanted to give our neighbors a report on what we’ve been doing, and what we’re planning for 2018.

HRRC just concluded a series of classes in Old Brooklyn as we teamed with Old Brooklyn Community Development. Suffice it to say that all the participants were jealous of what we do here at our Noble Road offices.

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Volume 10, Issue 12, Posted 11:25 AM, 11.30.2017

Incumbents should run on their records

To the Editor:

As a resident of the Boulevard area, I noted the recent article by Diane Hallum, and specifically her remarks about the responsiveness (or lack thereof) of members of [Cleveland Heights City] Council. While her point is well taken, a related issue from my perspective is accountability.

In the case of incumbents, one might imagine they would focus less on their apparent vision, and speak to what they have actually accomplished during their tenures. As election day approaches we will hopefully hear more from the candidates in this regard. However, let it suffice to say that at present, the picture is less than impressive.

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Volume 10, Issue 11, Posted 2:31 PM, 11.01.2017

Take the time to research candidates—and vote

To the Editor:

Hey Cleveland Heights neighbors, are you electorally aware of the candidates who have been and will be knocking at your doors? Have you read their campaign literature, noticed the signs bearing their names proliferating [on] lawns and [in] shop windows? Did you attend candidate forums?
 
The opening of our new high school, holidays, and calamitous world news may have relegated your awareness of and interest in our city's local elections to the back shelves of your daily lives, but it's time to begin thinking about the election scheduled for Nov. 7.

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Volume 10, Issue 11, Posted 2:29 PM, 11.01.2017

School district's Career Technical Education programs are essential

To the Editor:

Ari Klein’s September column, Needed: more students taking career technical classes, has a lot to say about the current status of the Career Technical Education (CTE) Consortium, and skilled labor in general. CH-UH is the host district of the consortium, so CH-UH has both the need and responsibility to guide the CTE program. With the completion of renovation to Heights High there is a new energy about CTE.

Here are some of the things that I believe the participating school districts got right in creating that positive energy:

They got it right when they listened three to four years ago when the community wanted to be involved in the planning of the new high school for CH-UH. This led to the formation of several working groups during the 2013–14 school year. One of these working groups was to support CTE. This group held monthly meetings as well as other sessions and, in the 2014–15 school year, produced a document that was submitted to the superintendent and the Board of Education. It was a revised hierarchy and flow chart for the entire CTE program.

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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 10:56 AM, 10.23.2017

Thanks to all who volunteered to maintain Coventry playground

To the Editor:

Saturday, July 29—one of the four days of activity showcasing the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus—was well attended by volunteers who were there to clean up and make repairs to the playground. The busy volunteers were from all walks of Cleveland Heights and University Heights, and included kids, parents, grandparents, neighbors, and just plain concerned folks.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 2:02 PM, 09.01.2017

Practice electoral awareness

To the Editor: 

Cities, towns, and all other forms of community organizations depend upon their elected officials to guide their futures through good and bad times. Residents expect competent leadership, practical solutions to ordinary issues, and the development and promotion of cultural and philosophical attitudes that define the quality of life which they seek for themselves and their families.

Over the many years that Cleveland Heights transitioned from a bucolic suburb just up the hill from Cleveland to "an inner ring suburb" with all the connotations that phrase infers, our city has had to deal with a variety of significant social and economic issues. It has done so successfully primarily because its voters have chosen sensitive, thinking, and intelligent members of the community to lead and guide the destiny of their city.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 1:23 PM, 08.07.2017

Thanks to all the supporters of Coventry School tenants

To the Editor:

I am the board president of ARTFUL, the newest tenant of Coventry School.

When ARTFUL chose the space we now occupy at Coventry School, we were excited by the fact that we were going to be surrounded by such wonderful and experienced organizations. As a start-up nonprofit, we felt our proximity to these other tenants would be a huge benefit as we grew. But we could never have imagined how truly significant this would be.

In a few short months we built our walls, leased our studios to many wonderful artists, and formed partnerships with several of these extraordinary groups. The brainpower housed under this roof is an invaluable resource, not only to us, but to the entire Cleveland Heights community, and beyond.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 1:09 PM, 08.01.2017

Why I'm running for municipal court judge

To the Editor:

I am running for Judge of Cleveland Heights Municipal Court to inspire people to reach their greatest potential.

The court serves as a mechanism to dispense justice with firmness and fairness. However, I believe the court should have a role in uplifting and empowering the community as well. I would institute these programs to ensure people are receiving services that empower them to lead productive lives, stay out the legal system and make the community safer and stronger:

I would establish a drug and mental health court or build partnerships with other local courts that offer programming and treatment to address those with substance abuse and other issues.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 10:41 AM, 07.17.2017

CTDA supports FutureHeights as CDC

To the Editor:

As president of the Cedar Taylor Development Association Board of Directors, I want to offer my full support for recognizing FutureHeights as the official Community Development Corporation (CDC) of Cleveland Heights. 

All of the strong neighborhoods of the city of Cleveland have CDCs, and as an inner-ring suburb, we share similar issues with our neighbor to the west (deteriorating housing stock, exurban flight, challenging business climate, etc.).

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Volume 10, Issue 7, Posted 12:49 PM, 06.29.2017

Why we chose ARTFUL at the Coventry School building

To the Editor:

When we moved (back) to Cleveland after 15 years in Florida and a six-month artist residency in Italy, our search for permanent studio space in Cleveland was influenced by two unexpected factors: gentrification and accessibility.

Many Cleveland buildings that had been homes to artists' studios were being converted to "upscale" locations for "respectable" tenants. And 27 years after the ADA, it was still impossible to find a studio space that would work for a wheelchair-using artist. 

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Volume 10, Issue 7, Posted 12:04 PM, 06.29.2017

Exploring cohousing in the Heights

To the Editor:

A Cleveland Heights group is looking into starting a cohousing community. Cohousing offers a way to downsize, live actively engaged, and raise children in a safe, supportive neighborhood.  

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Volume 10, Issue 7, Posted 12:02 PM, 06.29.2017

It is time for FutureHeights to be the CDC for Cleveland Heights

To the Editor:

As an architect, and an involved and concerned resident of Cleveland Heights, I fully support the efforts of FutureHeights to serve as the city’s Community Development Corporation (CDC). The creation of a CDC for Cleveland Heights is long overdue.

In the work of my firm, City Architecture, the involvement of a CDC is paramount. We have worked in many Cleveland neighborhoods (Detroit Shoreway, Ohio City, Downtown, Glenville, MidTown, St. Clair Superior, etc.), the inner-ring suburb of Lakewood, and Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine neighborhood. In each case, a strong CDC has aided the city or neighborhood in realizing impactful economic development projects.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 1:21 PM, 05.31.2017

Letter: Heights Arts urges support for FutureHeights as CH's CDC

To the Editor:

Just after the turn of the millennium, two grassroots organizations formed in Cleveland Heights, each with a mission to help the Heights area thrive by making the most of the unique attributes of our area. One of those groups was Heights Arts (of which I am the second executive director); the other FutureHeights.

While Heights Arts set about leveraging the community’s unusually rich resources in the arts to enhance the quality of life here, FutureHeights concerned itself with promoting a vibrant and sustainable future for Cleveland Heights and University Heights through innovative ideas and civic engagement, with special attention to commercial and residential districts and community planning. Our two organizations have often worked closely together on projects ranging from public art, to neighborhood music offerings, to streetscape design, even a pop-up holiday store featuring local artists—an idea which would evolve into the current Heights Arts Gallery.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 10:36 AM, 05.30.2017

Letter: County re-values demolished Heights property

To the Editor,

My letter to the Observer, published in the January 2017 issue, helped get the County to correct its error in valuing a demolished property on Desota Avenue at $97,200.

The County Fiscal Officer's website now shows that the property, 3249 Desota Ave., is valued at $21,200, for the 2016 and 2017 tax years. I met with Fiscal Officer Dennis Kennedy about this matter in late November. Mr Kennedy, I believe, also helped right the wrong.

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 11:08 AM, 05.03.2017

Teachers deserve to be well-paid

To the Editor:

I attended the school board meeting March 7 to clarify some information I had read. I asked for confirmation of the contracts offered to Superintendent Dixon and Treasurer Gainer. These contracts total $2.5 million for the next 5 years. No one could or would answer my question. [Board of Education President] Register replied that he did not have the figures in front of him, and asked for me to contact him further. I did the next day. He responded with a phone call requesting me to put my request in writing and submit it to Mr. Gainer. I did this also. I left a letter for Mr. Gainer on Monday, March 13. No response as of yet.

[Editor’s note: This letter was submitted on March 14; as of March 23, the letter writer said she had not received a response. On March 23, Scott Gainer said in an e-mail that a response was sent “to her home address by mail earlier this week.”]

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 7:21 PM, 03.30.2017

Letter writer was 'nauseated and surprised'

To the Editor:

No thanks for the letter you printed titled "Democracy Day was entertaining, and informative" [March 2017 issue]. It was mean-spirited from the start. The writer began by slinging mud on the good intentions of good people. He stated that they were there [at the annual Democracy Day hearing] to restrict the first amendment. Untrue.

He follows this with two bad analogies. One about the inner workings of the minds of the judges. At the same time insulting the intelligence of anyone there by doubting that any of them had read the decision. Maybe he read it maybe not.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 7:19 PM, 03.30.2017

Letter: Bodega is a hidden gem

To the Editor:

Several years ago we first ate at the Bodega restaurant on Coventry to take advantage of the Tuesday night offer of half-price tapas, a variety of small plate dishes. We discovered outstanding cuisine.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 2:52 PM, 02.28.2017

Letter: Democracy Day hearing was entertaining and informative

To the Editor:

I was both entertained and informed by the Democracy Day at CH City Hall on Jan. 25. Underlying this event are the modified-free speech activists of Move to Amend, [who want] to restrict the First Amendment because even a court of nine Bader Ginsburgs would never agree with their objective. I didn't ask, but I doubt anyone there has actually read the Citizens United (itself a nonprofit) decision, because even the justices in the minority agree that corporations are an assembly of people and have First Amendment rights. The minority could not convince another justice why General Electric would have free speech by virtue of owning NBC, but not the media-light Ford Motor Company, for example.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 2:42 PM, 02.28.2017

Letter: Top of the Hill is a tremendous opportunity worthy of discussion

To the Editor:

By now, most of us who live, work, or recreate in the City of Cleveland Heights are probably aware of the redevelopment proposal for the Top of the Hill property in the Cedar Fairmount District. A developer has been selected, negotiations are underway, and highly anticipated planning and economic development details should soon be available for public view.

FutureHeights supports a mixed-use development project at Top of the Hill. Development of underutilized properties in Cleveland Heights will increase population, add to the tax base, and decrease the tax burden among current residents. A high-quality mixed-use development at the top of Cedar Hill will also enhance the reputation of the city, appropriately increase density to support existing businesses, and improve the quality of life for existing residents by providing goods and services that they need, including the addition of new for-rent and for-sale housing options.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 1:10 PM, 02.06.2017

Suggestion for a conversation to have with your kids

To the Editor:

Have you ever had little conversations with your kids about perspective on life? Have you ever shared the realization that their K–12 education is the largest free gift they will ever receive in life, other than perhaps from their family?

You can have any number of perspectives on how good or bad the education is, but the dollars spent and the number of people spending lots of hours caring about them will never happen again in their life.

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Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 6:10 PM, 01.31.2017

County values demolished CH residence at $97,200

To the Editor:

The Cuyahoga County Board of Revision recently valued the property at 3249 Desota Ave. at $97,200. The property had been improved with a two-family home that was demolished in the summer of 2015, after having been declared a nuisance by the city [of Cleveland Heights].

In so valuing the property, the board of revision ignored an Ohio Supreme Court decision directing the county to value the property in light of its decision that an adjacent property should be valued at $5,000. The board of revision also ignored its own appraisal of the property valuing same at $30,000.

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 11:53 AM, 01.03.2017

Shop local this holiday season

To the Editor:

2016 has been a very unusual year. The grim reaper has unfortunately taken so many from us. The uncertainty following the presidential election continues to twist and turn, almost on a daily basis. The economy is not robust. A first snow storm wreaked havoc on local businesses, during what is, normally, the second-busiest retail sales weekend of the year. And then there is online sales.

For most of us, Amazon is our arch nemesis. It's like an Evil Empire that continues to grow and suck the life out of local independent businesses. It's our Kryptonite. Amazon has made it so easy for you to stay at home and shop. Free shipping . . . 2-day delivery . . . generous return policy . . . thousands of items and, did I forget to mention, great prices. How can you not like it?

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 6:40 PM, 12.19.2016

Why I'm voting 'no' on Issue 109

To the Editor:

The following facts are reported on the Ohio Dept. of Education website at http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Finance-and-Funding/Finance-Related-Data/Education-Fiscal-Data-Project which measures the CH-UH school district versus the other districts in Cuyahoga County (and statewide averages):

  1. Total expenditure per pupil: CH-UH $19,671.49 vs. $14,445 average for all other districts in Cuyahoga county;
  2. Classroom teachers average salary: CH-UH is $73,708 vs. $68,848 for other Cuyahoga County districts;
  3. K–12 pupil-to-teacher ratio: CH-UH 11.6 vs. Cuyahoga County average of 14.7 pupils per teacher.


What emerges from this report is a picture of a school system plagued by out-of-control spending, excessive overstaffing, and overpaid faculty.

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Volume 9, Issue 12, Posted 2:53 PM, 11.07.2016

CH-UH superintendent thanks community for passing Issue 109

To the Editor:

I first want to say a heartfelt thank you to the CH-UH community for supporting our schools. We are obviously thrilled with the result of Issue 109, and we appreciate the trust that the voters have in our public schools.

The work doesn't stop here, however. We must continue to earn the support and the trust of our community and strive toward our goal of academic excellence for each and every student. Our five-year strategic plan clearly sets us on this path to success—we have seen improvements in district operations already and expect to realize even more positive results moving forward.

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Volume 9, Issue 12, Posted 6:08 PM, 12.01.2016

Steering committee member thanks community for supporting schools

To the Editor:

I would like to personally thank every single person who volunteered their time and energy to campaign with Citizens for Our Heights Schools on behalf of the school levy. Your passion and your faith in our district made an enormous difference to residents.

And I would like to thank every single person who voted in favor of Issue 109. This victory allows the district to continue offering a high-quality, well-rounded education to our community's children, and sends a clear message about the value we place on opportunity and access. 

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Volume 9, Issue 12, Posted 6:07 PM, 12.01.2016

Taking ownership of what schools don't do well enough

To the Editor:

I was at a joint meeting of University Heights City Council and the CH-UH school board on Sept. 14. Superintendent Dixon said at the meeting (paraphrased):

  1. Our district's administration owns up to the reality that too many of our students are not achieving to a level essential for their future life success.
  2. Teaching for mastery in each subject is the way for us to change that, no matter what state tests look like.

I have seen no school leader openly state this strategic awareness in my 30-plus years of watching our district. I can only take my hat off to such clarity.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 1:09 PM, 11.01.2016

Private school families support CH-UH schools and Issue 109

To the Editor:

We are writing as parents of school-aged children living in Cleveland Heights or University Heights. As East Siders, we are blessed with a wealth of options in deciding where our children will be educated. While each of us has chosen to send our own children to independent or parochial schools (or to home-school)—for reasons that include instilling religious values, maintaining family traditions or meeting the specific social or educational needs of our children—we nonetheless recognize the vital role a strong public school system plays in our community.

Heights schools have a challenging mission—to provide enriching academic, artistic and athletic programs for all students, regardless of background or ability; to provide a meaningful learning experience for students with disabilities; and to provide effective interventions and appropriate programming to maximize the potential of an at-risk population.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 1:06 PM, 11.01.2016

Reasons not to vote for school levy

To the Editor:

Recently an article in the Heights Observer explain[ed] a new food giveaway program for Heights residen[ts]. Evidently a substantial [number] of friends and neighbors can’t afford to feed their own families.  

There are an increasing number of residents who are becoming tax delinquent because of our increasingly higher tax rate.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to sell homes in the area for fair market value.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 12:43 PM, 11.01.2016

Parent wants all children to have more opportunities

To the Editor:

It’s one of those parenting clichés that we all want our children to have better lives and greater opportunities than we had ourselves. My children already have.

My daughter Amber, a senior at Heights High, is currently taking a full course load at Cleveland State University while simultaneously attending classes at Heights. She will finish high school with her entire freshman year of college under her belt. I cannot even begin to describe what this means to me financially and emotionally. For her to start college without the worry of being burdened by crippling debt is a huge weight off my shoulders.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 12:35 PM, 11.01.2016

Vote 'yes' to invest in our community

To the Editor,

By now, readers are likely to be aware of these basic facts about the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school budget and levy: The requested tax increase is the smallest ask in about 30 years; our district has lost about 33 percent of its state funding due to EdChoice and charter school programs, and this loss has been increasing every year; once inflation is taken into account, teachers are working for less pay than they did five years ago; the district has not gone this long without a levy passing for at least 20 years; the district cut more than 50 teaching positions this spring.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 12:32 PM, 11.01.2016

How we chose the public schools

To the Editor:

In 2012, choosing an elementary school for our daughter felt like a matter of subtraction. We aren't Catholic, so we crossed religious schools off our list. I was working part time as a community college English professor, so we crossed the more expensive private schools off our list. I knew my patience limit enough to know that home-schooling was never on the list. After all of these subtractions, the local public school was the only one left.

But school choice isn't a subtraction problem where the public school is the last answer. After four years in the public schools, I understand that our choice was actually a matter of addition.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 12:30 PM, 11.01.2016

Fourth-generation Heights family supports school levy

To the Editor:

I am voting for the CH-UH school levy this November.

In the past few months, I visited two schools, including the high school, and met with a variety of school administrators and teachers. I witnessed schools that were well-run even after years of cuts in operating expenses, limited payroll increases, teacher layoffs and the elimination of teacher and staff positions.  

One of the primary concerns for me and for many in the community is the graduation rate.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 12:28 PM, 11.01.2016

This parent will vote with pride for Issue 109

To the Editor:

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district spends a lot of money on its students. Some people point to this as a reason not to support public education. I actually think it’s a fact about which we should all be proud.

We spend this money because our community values opportunity, equity and access. We believe that children should be introduced to foreign languages in elementary school. We believe that fourth-graders should have the chance to learn musical instruments, regardless of their parents’ ability to afford private lessons.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 12:25 PM, 11.01.2016

Clarifying the amount of school levy, Issue 109

To the editor:

We have gotten some questions from voters about the amount of the Issue 109 CH-UH levy and we want to clear up some confusion caused by an oddity of Ohio law. The ballot describes the levy as "5.5 mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to 55 cents for each one hundred dollars of valuation." What the ballot does NOT explain, however, is that in Ohio, the "valuation" applied to tax levies is only 35 percent of the market value of your home--the law requires this.

The Cuyahoga County treasurer explains it like this:

"Property tax bills are calculated on the assessed value of property, which equals 35 percent of the Fiscal Officer's appraised value. For instance, a home with an appraised value of $100,000 will be taxed on a value of $35,000."

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 1:23 PM, 10.25.2016

Please vote against the school levy, excess and opaqueness

To the Editor,

Cleveland Heights, University Heights and South Euclid voters should vote against the school levy that will be on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2016.

I support this statement with the following data from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District Comprehensive Annual Financial Report For The Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2015.

The district and the levy campaign will fail to mention these, as they are, as always, putting all responsibility for another tax increase on HB 920:

  • Between 2006 and 2015
    • General Fund Expenditures increased by 32.3 percent.
    • Student Enrollment decreased 13.5 percent.
    • The Cost per Student per Year increased 53 percent, to $20,534.
  • Between 2006 and 2013, the Graduation Rate decreased by 17 percent.
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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 11:53 AM, 09.30.2016

Voting yes for the CH-UH school levy makes 'cents'

To the Editor:

In November, there will be a levy on the ballot for Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools. As opposed to the school levy passed in 2013, which can only be used for renovations, this levy is only for school operations. 

It is a fair question to ask why the CH-UH Board [of Education] periodically turns to voters asking for more money for our schools’ operating expenses. In 1976, HB 920 was passed in Ohio. Under this law, the dollar amount of taxes collected by a school district can only increase with the passage of a levy. When a levy passes, the dollar amount (NOT the tax rate) is frozen until a new levy is approved.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 11:42 AM, 09.01.2016

Zagara's thanks the community for its support after power outage

To the Editor:

Thank you to those who helped organize this unforgettable day. Thank you to everyone who visited, shopped and offered hugs and good luck wishes to me, my family and my employees. Thank you to my employees who work hard every day to make sure Zagara’s Marketplace serves our community as best it can.

Zagara’s Marketplace experienced an unforgettable day on Saturday, Aug. 20. The sun shone bright. Customers smiled wide. Big hugs were offered. Hearty handshakes were given. And a few tears welled up in some eyes, including mine.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 10:07 AM, 08.23.2016

Teachers need leaders in tough times

To the Editor:

In the June Heights Observer, Ari Klein (“We must retain and attract school district employees”) and Susie Kaeser (“Intrinsic motivation, not accountability, produces excellence”) spoke to difficulties facing teachers. While I am inclined to their perspective, the helpless tone was discouraging to me.

Both articles concerned themselves with a portrayal of what is happening to teachers as though they were unwilling or unable to do anything to influence their own future. The authors wrote from the perspective “this is what is happening to us,” as though constraints and requirements fully explained teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom, and determined their satisfaction with work.

By omission, the authors implied that teachers either cannot or will not work to influence outcomes in the classroom, and that they have little responsibility for results.

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 6:42 PM, 07.28.2016

Democracy (not!) in Cleveland Heights

To the Editor:

For 90 years, Cleveland Heights council elections were open affairs. That changed four years ago. Since then, [CH City] Council chose three of our council representatives using a now-abused section of our city charter that empowers it to fill empty council seats. Intriguingly, all three appointees are close friends and/or cohorts of [Mayor] Cheryl Stephens.

It is no surprise [to] this observer of council activities that these appointments took place behind closed doors—no meeting minutes reflect any discussion or weeding out of applicants who would be our representative.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:46 AM, 05.30.2016

A CH-UH district parent's view of Ohio EdChoice

To the Editor:

In the ongoing dialogue concerning the use of public funds for private education, incoming FutureHeights board member Matthew Wilson recently argued in favor of this practice. Mr. Wilson contends that there are many private-public partnerships for which taxpayer dollars are allocated. While this may be true, that does not necessarily make it right. I object to the use of public funds for private education on several grounds. However, here is my main objection: private schools are not obliged to enroll everyone.

Private schools admit and dismiss children from their schools based on behavioral issues, academic ability and special needs. Public schools cannot do so. Public schools must educate everyone.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:45 AM, 05.30.2016

Parent advocates for school choice

To the Editor:

We're lucky to have people like [Ari] Klein in our city and in our school system. His passion for education is evident. However, as a parent who opted out of the public system, I see a few details differently.

My view is that, in general, parents are the best advocates for their children. Parents that opt out are not draining resources, or "starving children," in Mr. Klein's dramatic words [Heights Observer April 2016 issue]. They're being conscientious parents! Without these [opt-out] programs, when parents aren't satisfied, the only other choice might be to move away.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 5:06 PM, 04.29.2016

Retired teacher seeks answers from BOE

To the Editor:

I felt the need to write after attending the CH-UH school board meeting of April 5. The board was voting on proposed cuts for the next school year. 

I listened to all of the people who spoke before the board and thought each and every one of them spoke thoughtfully and with passion. The commitment of this community to its schools was on full display that evening.

That is why I was astonished that Superintendent Dixon did not take a minute to thank those who spoke [of] their concerns. This district has students who speak eloquently of their teachers and classes, teachers who live and work dedicatedly here for many years, and parents who value and want to safeguard their children's fine education.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 12:09 PM, 04.12.2016

CH should reject Vandemar rezoning application

To the Editor:

I write to urge that Cleveland Heights City Council reject Circle K’s application to rezone two residential properties on Vandemar Street to enable yet another gas station—this one with 16 pumps and a convenience store that will clearly encroach on a residential neighborhood, likely with lights and traffic well into evening hours. I have lived in this community long enough to remember when you could not come out of the parking lot with a rental movie and make a right hand turn onto Vandemar. It is a residential street after all. Let’s keep it that way!

My objection to this project goes beyond the obvious impact on the residential neighborhood. Cleveland Heights needs economic development, for sure, but a 16-pump gas station within feet of another gas station is not my idea of the kind of development that will jump-start this community and strengthen the area north of Mayfield Road, that suffered most from the predatory lending/foreclosure crisis which has resulted in vacant, deteriorated properties and deteriorating property values in these neighborhoods.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 11:59 AM, 03.01.2016

Those planning Severance's future should read book by Kunstler

To the Editor:

The people involved with planning the future of Severance Center might want to read The Geography of Nowhere: the Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape, by James Howard Kunstler.

To quote from the back of the paperback: the book ”traces America’s evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the cities are dead zones and the countryside is a wasteland of cartoon architecture and parking lots.”

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 11:19 AM, 01.29.2016