Cleveland Heights City Council meeting 2-22-22
FEBRUARY 22, 2022 - Regular Meeting
- Public comments
- Charter amendment
- Budget amendment
- Park Initiative
- Medicare for All
- Committee of the Whole
- Council member comments
Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., Josie Moore, and Davida Russell. Staff members attending included Susanna Niermann O’Neill, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council; and William Hanna, law director.
Four residents spoke on four topics:
Fran Mentch, spokesperson for the Lee Road-Tullamore Road-Meadowbrook Blvd. public square initiative petitioners, urged residents to approve the ordinance on the May 3 ballot that would create public space as part of the Lee-Meadowbrook development and described the amenities the space would include.
Catalina Wagers, co-founder of the Cleveland Heights Green Team, and another resident expressed approval of the environmental sustainability committee initiated by Ms. Moore.
A resident described an attempted car theft at Zagara’s Market, praised the police response, and urged the city to install security cameras in the area.
Lee Barbee, an applicant for the open city council seat, objected to the process being used to fill the seat. Mr. Barbee said he has filed a request with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate what he called “a true conspiracy to keep African Americans from holding positions on city council.” He added that he’d been told that Council Member Cuda had revealed council’s intention not to appoint an African American. Mr. Cuda called the allegation completely false.
Mr. Hanna swore in Gail Larson as a member of Council.
On a second reading/emergency, council unanimously agreed to place an amendment to the city charter on the May 3 ballot. If approved by voters, the amendment would permit council to hire a clerk of council and other employees or consultants. On a 5-2 vote (Mattox and Hart opposed), council removed from the proposed amendment the phrase identifying the council president or designee as the clerk’s supervisor.
On a first/emergency reading, council unanimously approved an amendment to the city’s 2022 budget, using a grant from the Older Americans Act to increase the budget of the Office on Aging
Council unanimously approved an ordinance to place a proposal on the May 3 ballot creating a public activity park as part of the Lee Road-Tullamore Road-Meadowbrook Boulevard lot. This also was an emergency vote on first reading. Ms. Hart noted that, as this is a certified citizen initiative, council is obligated to place it on the ballot.
Medicare for All
A resolution supporting the Medicare for All Act of 2021 and declaring that universal access to health care is a human right was presented on first reading.
Other council actions
Council recognized March 2022 as National Women’s History Month.
There was a first reading for a resolution establishing a Flexible Spending Account Fund to account for funds received from City employee payroll deductions for medical and dependent care flexible spending accounts.
Committee of the whole
As part of the discussion concerning the proposed Environment Sustainability Committee, Ms. Moore outlined the reasons for a city climate action plan and a citizens’ committee. She suggested changing the process for appointing Sustainability Committee liaisons to City Council committees and giving committee chairs more latitude to determine the role of each committee’s liaison.
Mayor Seren questioned whether a 25-member committee would be an effective method of addressing climate change and engaging citizens in the effort. Other Council members voiced concerns regarding the burden on staff for supporting a large committee with several subcommittees.
Ms. Hart announced that beginning in March Committee of the Whole meetings will take place the first and third weeks of the month, the same weeks as Council meetings.
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