LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS / Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights

OCTOBER 16, 2023 - regular meeting

  • Public comment
  • Mayor’s report
  • City administrator’s report
  • Racial Justice Task Force
  • Council actions
  • First readings, no vote
  • Committee reports 
  • Committee of the whole

Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Janine Boyd, Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox Jr., and Davida Russell. Also present was Addie Balester, clerk of council. The meeting ran about two and one half hours.

Public comment

Five students and 13 other residents urged the city to repair Cumberland Pool without disrupting the swimming seasons. Mayor Seren said there was no intention of closing the pool and that every effort would be made to minimize disruptions of the swimming season.

Two residents thanked the city for its condemnation of the Hamas attack on Israel and its support of the local Jewish community; two other residents opposed the resolution as racist and complicit in dehumanizing the Palestinian people.

A resident thanked the city for its support of the LGBTQIA+ community and urged adoption of the resolutions expressing support for the Ohio Fairness Act (Ohio Senate Bill 132) and opposition to Ohio House Bill 245. He also supported the proposed agreement with Bellefaire JCB for law enforcement training and services for LGBTQIA+ youth.

A resident urged the city to pay for lifeguards and swim programs that would allow residents to use the indoor pool at Heights High School and asked for more transparency and community input in recreation decisions.

A resident urged the community to welcome and sponsor immigrants.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Seren confirmed his condemnation of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

City administrator’s report

Danny Williams thanked council for adding time for the city administrator’s report to meeting agendas. He had no report at this time but would use the time to advise and report on significant developments.

Racial Justice Task Force

Rhonda Davis Lovejoy remotely summarized the final report of the Racial Justice Task Force, including recommendations regarding economic opportunity, health and education, housing and economic mobility, and public safety. The presentation slides will be available on the city’s website. 

Council actions

Council adopted several items on first reading as emergency including:

  • Amending the 2023 budget to increase expenses. This includes $672,901 for repair of Community Center frozen pipes (reimbursed by insurance), Coventry Road repairs (shifted from the 2022 budget), and additional expenses that were offset by grants. An additional $160,000 pays for flooring around the ice rink.
  • Authorizing three Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. easements to relocate power lines for the Cedar Lee Meadowbrook development (aka The Marquee).
  • Accepting a $63,215.50 grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Ohio Traffic Safety Office to support traffic enforcement. The funds will support police overtime for targeted enforcement of traffic violations.
  • Increasing the clerk of council’s compensation by 3 percent to $59,480.74, effective Sept. 1, 2023.
  • Appointing John Barber to the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee for a term ending December 31, 2024.
  • Expressing support for Ohio House Bill 420, the Protecting Youth from Conversion Therapy Act, which would ban conversion therapy statewide. July 2022, council banned conversion therapy for minors in Cleveland Heights.
  • Expressing support of Ohio Senate Bill 132, the Ohio Fairness Act, which will extend Ohio’s antidiscrimination protections to members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2014, council banned discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community in Cleveland Heights.
  • Expressing opposition to Ohio House Bill 245 as suppressing freedom of speech and expression among the LGBTQIA+ community and performance artists. 
  • Expressing support of Israel’s self-defense in the war launched by Hamas terrorists and condemnation of the attacks by Hamas. The resolution also offered support for Cleveland Heights’ Jewish residents and an increased police presence in Jewish neighborhoods, schools, and synagogues.

On second reading, as an emergency, council renewed a two-year agreement, at a cost not to exceed $691,008, with the Cuyahoga County General Health District for public health services (beginning Jan 1, 2024) to the city and its residents, including school, community, and family health services and environmental health and sanitation services. 

Council declared Nov. 25 as Small Business Saturday, October as National Community Planning Month, and Oct. 24 as Climate Action Day in Cleveland Heights.

First readings, no vote

Council heard readings (no vote) of two resolutions for 1) a two-year agreement with the Journey Center for Healing and Safety, cost not to exceed $300,000, for a victim advocate in the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court and services for domestic violence victims, and 2) a two-year agreement with Bellefaire JCB, cost not to exceed $25,000, for law enforcement training and updating of the youth diversion and mentoring program to better serve transgender and other LGBTQIA+ youth. 

Committee reports 

For the Public Safety and Health Committee, Ms. Boyd said there would be a hearing on the domestic violence and youth engagement legislation introduced at today’s meeting.

Mr. Mattox said the Planning and Development Committee is working on legislation related to the city’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), the shared spaces ordinance, use of shipping containers in parks, and a Noble Road merchants’ association.

Mr. Cobb said the Oct. 4 Administrative Services Committee hearing on the proposed arts commission had clarified many issues. The Committee of the Whole will discuss the matter at a future meeting.

Ms. Russell announced a new program, East Side Rainbow Pioneers, for LGBTQ seniors, to begin at the Community Center Oct. 25. The next Pathway to Home Ownership Program will be Nov. 11. Free CPR and first aid classes begin Nov. 11 at the Lee Road Library.

Ms. Larson said the Municipal Services and Environmental Sustainability Committee will draft legislation to separate the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee into the Transportation Mobility Committee and the Climate and Environmental Sustainability Committee.

Mr. Cuda said the Housing Committee continues work on regulating short-term rentals.

Committee of the whole

Linda Striefsky, Charter Review Commission chair, requested hiring of a facilitator to improve the commission’s effectiveness by providing experience on charter and municipal law and assistance with public communication. She also requested extension of the commission’s deadline to the end of May 2024.

An executive session was held to consider the terms of sale or lease of city-owned real or personal property.

LWV Observer: Jill Tatem. 

Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.clevelandheights.com/1142/2021-Agendas-and-Minutes.

Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of Cleveland Heights, OH” YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ClevelandHeightsOH.

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 16, Issue 12, Posted 10:02 AM, 11.28.2023