CH council members and mayor must 'play nicer'
I appreciate what it can be like for a city council president in Cleveland Heights to manage activities of seven council members. After all, I had four years’ experience performing a very similar job. Once I described it as being like herding cats. Given recent history, new CH City Council President Tony Cuda may find out what I meant.
City council members are equals. As their elected leader, the council president can set the tone and the agenda. But his effectiveness will depend on how much cooperation he gets. Hopefully, each member will put their ego aside and act constructively as part of a team.
The most important job of any city council member is to understand what the city is doing, to appreciate what else needs to be done, and to help articulate action plans in the form of resolutions and ordinances. Occasional public posturing is inevitable. Such is politics. In the end, a city council must be specific and directive in its collective statements. Members must cooperate to make that happen.
But recent history gives some cause for concern. The last city council failed to resolve a dispute with Mayor Seren about its right to have direct communications with city employees. Public meetings suffered from occasional rancor and rudeness. Respect was too often lacking. Resident observers have rightly criticized all of this.
Better conduct by council members is essential because so much of importance is at stake. There are a lot of vacant storefronts. The future of Severance Center has been ignored too long. There is too much turnover of city personnel. The city has lost population, making its tax base inadequate. Cleveland Heights should have a city council that functions well enough to solve such problems.
Political leadership must strive to provide the kind of governance our city needs. Mr. Cuda deserves great credit for his willingness to put himself in the political line of fire. He should now offer an agenda that will address the desires of a diverse and demanding citizenry. And I am sure that cooperation with an agenda from other council members and from Mayor Seren would be most welcomed by him.
City council members and the mayor should have one preliminary goal: They should learn to play nicer with each other. That would benefit everyone.
Alan Rapoport, a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, served on CH City Council (1980–87) and as council president/mayor (1982–87).