Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 9-8-2020
SEPTEMBER 8, 2020
- Public comments
- Recycling agreement
- Police technology equipment
- Consent agenda
- City manager report
- Chief of police report
- Liquor notice
- Council member comments
Council members present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael Ungar. Also present were Acting City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neill, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting, held virtually online, lasted from 8:30 to 9:27 p.m.
A resident expressed disappointment that the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board swiftly and unanimously rejected the Cleveland Heights city manager’s letter of intent proposing to purchase the Milliken school property. The writer concluded that the school board was wasting money when asking for a levy at the same time.
Ms. Dunbar introduced, on first reading, an ordinance authorizing the city manager to enter into an agreement for recycling services between Cleveland Heights and Kimble Company. This would be a collaboration among larger suburbs.
Police technology equipment
Council amended a prior resolution authorizing an agreement with Motorola Solutions, Inc. for purchase of upgraded police-worn body cameras and associated software, to be purchased through the Ohio Department of Administrative Services Cooperative Purchasing Program. The amendment would instead authorize a Municipal Lease for lease-purchase of the equipment.
Council approved a consent agenda containing legislation that includes resolutions proclaiming Sept. 11-18, as Welcoming Week and Sept. 2020 as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and National Preparedness Month, and an ordinance authorizing the sale of K-9 Officer Jax to his handler for the sum of one dollar.
City manager report
Ms. O’Neil is creating a protocol for residents to use on the city’s website for submitting public comment for city council meetings. It will most likely address length of time to read or a word count limit (probably 500 or less) for written submissions. This process will avoid the paraphrasing of resident comments, which has occurred during the COVID-19 virtual council meetings.
All Are Welcome will be rolling out a video next week highlighting the city’s diversity of race, socio-economic status, and religion.
Ms. O’Neill thanked the Parks and Recreation Department for their work during difficult times. City tennis courts and fields will be rented to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District for sports practice and events. The recreation center will remain closed following CDC guidelines. The closed status will be reviewed once a month. Virtual classes offered by Parks and Recreation have been very popular. It was necessary to lay off more than 100 seasonal workers.
Ms. O’Neil complimented Police Chief Mecklenburg on the police reforms implemented with more to come from a collaboration with Dr. Ronnie Dunn at Cleveland State University.
Proposals for a redevelopment plan for the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook site and a preliminary neighborhood redevelopment program will be discussed at the Sept. 14 committee of the whole meeting.
Chief of police report
Chief Mecklenburg is developing a training curriculum proposal to incorporate services from Dr. Ronnie Dunn and the Diversity Institute at Cleveland State University. Services include:
- Eight hours of cultural competence and implicit bias training for police officers to be offered in November and December with further training offered in January, February, and March.
- Policy analysis and community engagement recommendations.
- Analysis of use-of-force, vehicle pursuit, bias, and trust building policies.
- Data analysis of traffic ticketing, with data to come from Judge J.J. Costello’s Municipal Court.
- Establishment of a civilian review board.
The information about the various activities will be posted on the city’s website.
Ms. Himmelein notified council the Ohio Department of Liquor Control has sent a notice advising that Greater Heights Institute, Inc., 3492 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118, has applied for a new D1 and D3 permit.
Council member comments
Mr. Seren announced a Safer Heights Forum to be held virtually on September 6, 8 p.m. and open to the public. He will be on the panel to discuss current and future police reforms. He advised Chief Mecklenburg that he would prefer the civilian review board to be called “Community Review Board.” Mr. Seren said council is working hard on appointing another council member.
Ms. Russell thanked Parks and Recreation Director Joe McRae for his efforts during these difficult times. September 5, she attended a concert at Severance Center, registering voters and advocating for the Census. Look for movie nights in the near future at Severance. Russell will be holding her last 2020 listening session Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. She has invited City Manager O’Neil, the Heights Youth Council, and Safer Heights members to join her. Cleveland Heights won the Census challenge against University Heights.
Ms. Hart announced a forum, co-sponsored by FutureHeights, to be held Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. to discuss the transition to a directly elected mayor form of government. The panel will consist of three participants who are currently mayors in local municipalities. Ms. Hart commented that her remarks have been misrepresented and that council is close to announcing a new council member.
Ms. Dunbar invited council to send her questions regarding the proposed recycling ordinance so she can answer them in full before they vote. She thanked Ms. O’Neil for accepting the challenge of functioning as acting city manager.
Mr. Ungar reiterated that the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook and Neighborhood Redevelopment RFPs will be discussed at the Sept. 14 committee of the whole meeting. Tim Boland, economic development director, and Richard Wong, planning director, have been working on these proposals. He also said it should not be suggested that council is not working hard to appoint a replacement council member.
Mr. Ungar thanked Ms. Russell and Ms. Hart for their work on establishing a Task Force for Police Reform. He said a questionnaire is being developed that will go out to citizens after it is approved by the law department. Input will be taken from council as well. Applications for citizens who want to serve on the task force will be forthcoming and available on the city’s website.
Upcoming meetings include two committee of the whole meetings, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m., and a council meeting, Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m.
LWV Observers: Gail Larson and Blanche Valancy.
Access to all council meeting materials including the agenda, legislation, the meeting packet, and video of past meetings, including the committee of the whole, can be accessed on the city’s website: clevelandheights.com/1142/2020-Agendas-and-Minutes.