Protest co-organizer expresses support for Russell

As co-organizer of the Protest For Peace at city hall in June 2020, I support the re-election of CH City Council Member Russell.

She walked up to me before the march began and asked to march alongside me, then did. At this protest she promised a crowd of over 500 locals a town hall to express their concerns, and she delivered. She organized an audience with myself and [a peer] with the Cleveland Heights Chief of Police to discuss our concerns and next steps, then proceeded to plan and deliver on another town hall meeting where the police department and my peers were present. She even provided me and my colleagues an opportunity to sit down and talk history and change with Mr. William Lucy, a notable right-hand man for Nelson Mandela.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:44 AM, 10.05.2021

In CH mayor, we need a leaderónot another manager

As we venture into unfamiliar territory in local government, our choice for Cleveland Heights’ first elected mayor comes down to one question: Who can LEAD our city on this journey in a way that makes the most out of this opportunity?

My opponent will tell you that what’s important is having someone who would run government like a business, with experience answering to a board of directors. I think she’s setting the bar too low. If the answer to our challenges was just competent management, we could have stuck with a city manager. We deserve—and should expect—more from our mayor.

Being mayor isn’t just the technical job of managing public employees as a cautious corporate caretaker. Mayors have to LEAD. Leadership means standing in the vanguard and fighting for progress.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:02 PM, 10.01.2021

Danforth thanks CH voters

Thank you, Cleveland Heights voters, for your heartwarming support in the recent mayoral primary election!

Over the last few months, I knocked on thousands of doors. I’ve heard your hopes, dreams and frustrations. And I am more committed than ever to work to address them. 

Clearly, we must improve the delivery of city services, without raising taxes. Ensuring that we all feel safe and secure in our homes and businesses is essential. And, building on our reputation for equity and inclusion must continue as a top priority.  

Public safety and attacking crime: Safe neighborhoods are the foundation of a thriving community. That requires well-equipped, highly trained safety forces.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:01 PM, 10.01.2021

Why I'm running for UH mayor

My name is Phil Atkin. I am running for mayor of University Heights.

I have lived here 30 years amidst a sea of beautiful family homes. I am not a politician.

All those years I watched major issues remain unaddressed, only worsen. We have one of the highest property tax rates in the country. We support a failing public school system at a cost that is over twice the state average, and growing.

Miraculously, four years ago the state inaugurated the voucher program for failing school systems. Everything changed. People started moving here to take advantage of the program.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:49 AM, 10.01.2021

Sign the petition to put Cedar Lee park on the ballot

I am circulating a petition to put the Lee Meadowbrook park on the ballot.

As most residents know, a big development project is planned for Cedar Lee. Many of us would like to reduce this project by about 25% in order to preserve the vacant lot on Lee Road, between Tullamore and Meadowbrook. We want a park there. Over 900 people signed a petition appealing to the city to preserve this green space. Nonetheless, city council is moving forward quickly and, we believe, without sufficient consideration.

Putting the park initiative on the ballot gives us a voice. Even if you are not sure how you feel about the park, you may feel as I do: The citizens should have a say in this.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:43 AM, 10.01.2021

Why I'm running for school board

I am a graduate of Height High, and two daughters graduated from Heights.

In a recent news article, three career academic math scholars, from NYC, Georgia Tech and Princeton, gave a stern warning about the “deplorable” state of math education in the United States. They said U.S. schools prioritize social justice and diversity over merit, thereby allowing China to successfully advance as the world leader in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This is their opinion; I believe educating our students to compete in the 21st century should be the number one objective of this district. This is the reason I am running for the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE).

I previously wrote about the largess paid to the principals, administrators, treasurer and superintendent, only to witness the board penalize the teachers; not the administrators, treasurer or superintendent.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:27 AM, 10.01.2021

Lynn on why she is a candidate for BOE

I am seeking election for the CH-UH school board because I believe that our public schools and the students are essential for a strong, thriving and successful community.

As seen throughout the country, communities without strong public schools see the population decline, home values decrease, and poverty increase. No one wants to see this happen in CH-UH. I want to be a part of the school board to ensure that the schools are exceptional for children of all backgrounds and abilities. 

It is well known that the CH-UH school district is generously funded and has the highest tax rate in the entire state of Ohio. Many in the community have been asking the school board to [request] a state performance audit by Ohio’s state auditor.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:21 AM, 10.01.2021

'Top 10' reasons to support Cuda for CH City Council

10. Tony Cuda led the successful campaign in 2019 to change Cleveland Heights’ charter to an elected mayor form of government.

9. Tony is laser-focused on housing issues and will collaborate with the mayor, his fellow council members, and the community on a strategic plan to protect and expand our housing stock.

8. Tony’s experience teaching and working in government will be invaluable during this critical transition period.

7. Tony and his wife, Sandy, live on Fenley Road in the Oxford/Noble neighborhood. Council would certainly benefit from the perspective of another member who lives north of Mayfield Road (where, currently, only one council member lives).

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:06 AM, 10.01.2021

Silverman cites experience in run for CH council

This November the city of Cleveland Heights will see big changes with the direct election of our mayor. In January, there will be at least three, maybe four, and possibly five new members of city council. I believe it is important for us to have at least one new member with previous elected experience. For this reason, I am running for the two-year unexpired term on council.

I firmly believe that experience matters. We have seen on a national level what happens when we elect those with ZERO experience. In this race, I am the only candidate with local elected experience, having been elected three times to the CH-UH school board (1993, 1997, 2013), as well as being appointed to a seven-year term on the CH-UH library board.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:03 AM, 10.01.2021

Danforth might discard essential housing preservation tools

Cleveland Heights’ first elected mayor will have to rebuild the city’s housing department and programs. The need is especially critical for those neighborhoods that have long suffered blight and disinvestment.

A candidates’ survey by the Greater Cleveland Congregations Cleveland Heights Housing Team (https://chhousingteam.wordpress.com) provides a useful glimpse into the thoughts of Barbara Danforth and Kahlil Seren on housing policy.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:00 AM, 10.01.2021

Resident grateful for public schools and their advocates

Despite Cleveland Heights’ many challenges, I often feel like I live in a utopia, especially when engaging in public-school activities.  

As a parent, I’ve been blessed to work with a vast array of wonderful people to support our schools and uplift all, advancing the common good.  

Those wonderful people include CH-UH Board of Education incumbents Malia Lewis, Jodi Sourini and Dan Heintz, and CH City Council candidate Josie Moore.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:59 AM, 10.01.2021

AFL-CIO, Sen. Brown endorse Russell in CH council race

The campaign to re-elect Davida Russell to Cleveland Heights City Council has received an extensive list of endorsements.

Already endorsed by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, state Rep. Janine Boyd, state Sen. Sandra Williams, Cuyahoga County Council Vice President Cheryl Stevens, the Cleveland Heights Democratic Club, and the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, Russell recently added the North Shore AFL-CIO to that list.

“Organized labor supports me because I’ve been a steward of labor and an advocate of the people my whole life,” Russell said. “Together, we will continue to work on community/neighborhood investments, work closely with our police force to increase safety, support our schools, and improve resources and programs provided to youth and senior populations.”

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:59 AM, 10.01.2021

Three BOE candidates have worked against public schools

All are welcome here. It's our city's slogan, and an ideal I believe in. We are a community whose residents represent a wide array of backgrounds, races, religions, socio-economic classes and lived experiences. We also have residents with varying political views, though it is clear we are predominantly a Democratic, progressive city. 

While all are welcome here, and all are welcome to share their views, argue for or against certain issues, and speak up in public forums, I strongly believe that when people seek to serve in an official capacity, where they are charged with making decisions and setting policy on behalf of other people, they should at least share those people’s values.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:58 AM, 10.01.2021

Our school district needs Sourini, Lewis and Heintz

Boards of education across the country have faced some of the toughest decisions they have ever faced over the last two years. When we think about what board members are needed for the decisions of today, and for the years to come, we believe in Jodi Sourini, Malia Lewis and Dan Heintz to do the work on behalf of our students. We have valued their advocacy to obtain fair funding for our district, which is work that will need to continue beyond this election. 

We have been in the CH-UH school district since our son, currently a junior, entered kindergarten at Boulevard Elementary School. Our daughter, a fourth-grader, is currently at Boulevard, with her four cousins.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:56 AM, 10.01.2021

Sen. Brown, others endorse Snodgrass for CH council

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has represented Ohio in the U.S. Senate since 2007, has endorsed Al Snodgrass for Cleveland Heights City Council.

"Al Snodgrass is a leader who will fight for affordable housing, economic development, and to expand vaccination efforts and help Cleveland Heights recover from this pandemic. A long-time community organizer, Al understands that the Dignity of Work is not just a slogan, it's how we govern—that's why I'm proud to endorse Al Snodgrass for Cleveland Heights City Council,” said Brown.

Snodgrass said of his candidacy, “We can’t wait another four years to elect next-generation council members who will work to drive economic growth, invest into our housing stock, and streamline council operations that help us better serve residents.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:56 AM, 10.01.2021

Lynn's divisive behavior makes her an unfit BOE candidate

I read with disbelief and disgust Maureen Lynn’s opinion in the September Heights Observer, "Parents question library's mask requirement." According to reports, she chose to ignore Heights Libraries’ COVID mask rules, and subsequently engaged in a loud and threatening confrontation with librarians so serious that police had to be summoned. Our Heights librarians are among the most laid-back, helpful and nicest people around. Bullying them as a publicity stunt is inexcusable.

Worse, her statement that masks “impede oxygen to the brain” would be laughable if not so deadly serious. Virtually every medical expert agrees that wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of COVID, especially among the most vulnerable—children too young to be vaccinated. Ignoring science and endangering children to make a political point is unconscionable. (Thank you, Sheryl Banks, for your article in the September Heights Observer, "Library's mask policy protects visitors," quoting evidence-based guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.)

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:55 AM, 10.01.2021

Heintz, Lewis and Sourini deserve four more years on school board

In the upcoming CH-UH Board of Education election, I’m voting to re-elect Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis and Jodi Sourini for many reasons. Here are three:

First, they are committed to running the district in a fiscally sustainable manner while maintaining educational quality. Reasonable public-school advocates recognize that the desire to fund our schools must be balanced against the high tax burden we face in CH-UH. Heintz, Lewis and Sourini each have real-world business experience, know how to balance a budget, and will get us the most educational bang for our property tax buck.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:53 AM, 10.01.2021

A MAGA school board coup is afoot in the Heights

If you voted for Donald Trump in 2020, chances are your core values do not align well with the 80% of CH-UH residents who voted for Joe Biden. The Trump/Biden choice was stark. So far as I can tell, Maureen Lynn, Mordechai Rennert, and Charles Drake, the GOP slate running for CH-UH school board, are three red peas in a Trump-loving MAGA pod. 

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:52 AM, 10.01.2021

Why not a lake and a brook at Horseshoe?

The discussion around Horseshoe Lake has been presented as a binary choice: either fix the old dam and refill the lake for $20.7 million, billed to Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, or get rid of the lake altogether and transform that part of the park into a riparian brook environment. Why only two options?

The cost-benefit issue for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) is that repairing the dam would not improve flood control at the critical “pinch point” of University Circle, because the watershed draining into that one lake is quite small. However, NEORSD would fund the creation of a brook designed to help slow down and absorb stormwater runoff.  

Right now, the drained, man-made lake is filling itself in with wildflowers and other vegetation. It looks lovely and is attracting some wildlife, but its current state is likely temporary. Left alone for 20 or 30 years, it would fill in with trees and look much like the rest of the shallow wooded valley downstream and upstream of it.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:34 AM, 09.28.2021

How a CH council appointment became an election

Mary Dunbar resigned from Cleveland Heights City Council on Aug. 16, effective immediately.

That was about 78 days before the upcoming general election on Nov. 2, where a mayor and four council members will be elected.

The very next day, the city issued a press release announcing that applications were being accepted to be considered for appointment to the remaining two years (plus a little more) of the term.

I saw that press release on FaceBook, and decided to read the city's charter to see if that was correct. I've read that paragraph previously, so already had my doubts.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:13 AM, 09.16.2021

Moore announces run for vacant CH council seat

I’m excited to announce my candidacy for the unexpired term of the vacant CH City Council seat.

But let’s begin with the elephant in the room: I ran for mayor. While I am proud of my campaign—that I focused on my own message, ideas and vision, and did my best to raise the level of dialogue—I reached a point when I knew I had gone as far as I could in the race for mayor. Because I want the results of that election to accurately reflect what Cleveland Heights residents want for our city, I felt that the right thing to do was to pull out of the race.

One could say that—in running for such a high-profile office before living here long enough to create the kind of community network needed for a successful campaign—I had put the cart before the horse. Or perhaps my mayoral campaign created a horse for a future cart. Little did I know that the cart would pull up so soon.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:12 AM, 09.16.2021

Good lake, bad lake

We have two well-loved lakes in the Heights—Lower Lake and Upper Lake (Horseshoe Lake) of Doan Brook.

They were created in the early 1800s as mill ponds for the Shaker Societies’ water-powered mills. By the early 1900s the land, renamed Shaker Heights Parkland, became the property of Cleveland, but only on the condition it be reserved and protected continuously for public use.

Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights embraced the land’s beauty and unique recreational value, and gained responsibility for it by lease agreement. Caretakers and visitors over time seemed to agree that the two lakes are the crowning glory of this parkland.

Fast forward to 2021. Horseshoe Lake has suddenly been taken from us, and we deserve to have it back. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) drained it quickly a few years ago, without warning, saying it was to fix the dam, and would be temporary. But the water is still missing.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:44 AM, 09.14.2021

Seren should be CH's first elected mayor

Kahlil Seren wants every street in Cleveland Heights to see the street sweepers, not just the ones lined with mansions. 

The mayoral candidate unveiled this “radical” position at a backyard meet-and-greet, after an attendee noted disparities in street services between affluent and less-affluent neighborhoods. She wanted to know what he would do about it if elected mayor.

Kahlil had an answer. He almost always has a well-thought-out answer, and when he doesn’t, he is ready to listen and learn. 

Kahlil honed a simple strategy for governance at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, at Policy Matters Ohio, as an advisor to Cuyahoga County Council, and serving on Cleveland Heights City Council.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 9:56 AM, 09.09.2021

Moore endorses Seren for CH mayor

On a personal level, I really like all three candidates for mayor. I have spoken with Barbara, Melody, and Kahlil, and each cares deeply for this community, has their own distinct leadership style, boasts an impressive résumé that will be useful to our incoming administration, and presents a compelling vision for the future of our city.

While I see the strengths of each candidate, I am endorsing Kahlil for two reasons. First, his values and vision most closely align with what I believe in and want for our city, and second, of these three candidates, he has the most experience working in government.

Voting one’s values is important because, as 2020 showed us, we can’t predict what the future will bring. When we elect people whose values are most like our own, we can rest assured that, when the unexpected happens, they will make decisions we can feel good about. I am confident that Kahlil’s progressive values will serve us well, come what may.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 9:54 AM, 09.08.2021

Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook plan includes green space

Pedestrian-oriented retail districts work best when they are continuous, encouraging shoppers to walk from storefront to storefront, from block to block. Lee Road, south of Cedar Road, is one of those vibrant, walkable retail and restaurant districts.

Placing a wide, block-long park in the middle of the Lee Road retail district would interrupt the flow of shoppers and diners walking along Lee Road and would, therefore, detract from the vibrancy of our retail district.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:08 AM, 09.03.2021

In support of mayoral candidate Hart

I am writing to vigorously support Melody Hart for our first [elected mayor]. This enthusiasm comes from my perspective and experience working with her on the Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) Cleveland Heights Housing Team for seven years.

[Others] who endorse Melody have spoken [of] her solid fiscal management skills, her executive skills set, and her contextual knowledge of Cleveland Heights. I am focusing on the way I know her best: As a person for others.

Melody is a person for neighborhoods. Long before this campaign, Melody walked every street in the Noble neighborhood. In doing this she demonstrated empathy for neighbors who were seeing their housing values deteriorate. She collaborated with neighbors [on a] badly neglected, vacant, investor-owned property that had been so since 2009. Her research efforts significantly led to resolving this case.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:16 AM, 09.03.2021

Make Horseshoe Lake more like nature center

I am excited to hear about an option to replace the dam at Horseshoe Lake, because I feel it represents a serious effort to mitigate climate change and the impact of extreme weather events that we’re seeing with more regularity, such as flooding of our local watersheds.

By removing the dam, we open up the possibility of Doan Brook supporting a more diverse ecosystem, along with more stormwater capture and a more equitable use of limited resources.

The city will need the $34 million that is estimated [as the cost] to replace the dam if we are to address the nearly $1 billion of infrastructure work ahead to meet the stormwater and sewer separation goals in the EPA consent decree signed by the city.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:15 AM, 09.03.2021

Resident recommends book on deniers of climate-change

The following is a letter that I sent to the candidates for the Cleveland Heights mayoralty:

As you develop your policies on climate change and the carbon "footprint," please read The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

A colleague who saw me reading this book inquired if it is about the ignorant, and I had to correct him: they are not at all ignorant; they are, or were, highly trained, educated, experienced, published professionals.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:13 AM, 09.03.2021

Cedar Lee resident and business owner supports development

I support Flaherty & Collins plan for the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development project. I own CLE Urban Winery in the Cedar Lee Business District, and I own a home within the district as well. My life and my life savings are both, literally, invested in Cedar Lee, so I have a great deal of personal and professional skin in this game. I am making this statement on my own, but I have discussed this with other district merchants who share and support this opinion.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:12 AM, 09.03.2021

Library's mask policy protects visitors

Heights Libraries and its Board of Trustees, along with the Cuyahoga County Public Library System, the Cleveland Public Library System, and Shaker Heights Public Library, recently reinstated a face-mask requirement for all visitors over the age of 2. The decision was made for the following reasons:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is prevalent in all 50 states;
  • According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, Cuyahoga County has a substantial rate of COVID transmission, and county cases have increased by 23.84% in the last seven days (as of Aug. 23);
  • The CDC has been recommending that people who have not received a COVID vaccine wear a mask at all times; it is now also recommending, in areas of “substantial” or high risk of transmission, that even fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors. This includes people older than 2.
  • Children under the age of 12 cannot yet receive the vaccine. Masking in the library helps keep young visitors safe.
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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:41 AM, 09.02.2021

The Heights need Horseshoe

Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights are poised to lose Horseshoe Lake, a precious and beloved historical, natural and recreational landmark.

In the late 1960s, citizens protested and rallied to save the Shaker Lakes from freeway construction. Some 2,000 Heights residents crowded into a public meeting at Byron Junior High on a cold January day in 1970 to demand a stop to Albert Porter’s freeway plans. Gov. Rhodes saw the writing on the wall and scrapped the project.

Today, however, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) and “environmentalists” have found just the right triggers to inspire citizens to go along with destroying the lake and “remeandering” the stream: It’ll be“natural, the way it was thousands of years ago;” saving Horseshoe will cost more than Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights can possibly afford; “rich folks” who live there will be the ones who benefit.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 10:02 AM, 09.02.2021

County council's Stephens endorses Seren

In August 2019 I encouraged the residents of our city to vote to change our municipal charter so that the community could elect a mayor, not have one appointed by the members of city council. The issue to amend the charter was approved by more than 60% of the voters in that election. At that time, I wrote that I would not seek election to the office of mayor in 2021, and I haven’t.

It was my sincere hope that the rich diversity of people who are the residents of Cleveland Heights would encourage several members of the community who are smart, intelligent, hardworking, and strong leaders to run for the office of mayor. That came true, in that there were some incredibly positive discussions about who should run and what were good criteria for the evaluation and selection of a mayor.

Since the beginning of this year, I have been committed to supporting a vibrant election process.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:51 AM, 09.02.2021

Another life tragically lost

On Aug. 9, a 13-year-old boy from Wisconsin was shot and killed while visiting family in Cleveland Heights.  This tragic loss breaks my heart and I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends.  

According to Police Chief Mecklenburg, this was not a random or accidental event. A 14-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with this crime and a 16-year-old, who is also wanted, remains at large. 

Whenever there is the loss of a young life, several questions arise, but none have easy or simple answers.

First, we have to wonder, how did a 14-year-old gain access to a gun?

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:20 PM, 08.23.2021

Let's talk about the 'T' word

When I moved here, I was struck by two things. First—what a great town with walkable, bikeable streets; great housing; great business districts; a wonderful park system; and more. This was my dream city.

But then there is the T word—Taxes. Sticker shock! In Michigan and in Chicago, my property taxes were far less than my mortgage payment. I had no municipal income tax, and city services were comparable to Cleveland Heights services.

Here the property tax bill was greater than the mortgage payment, and I had to pay an income tax.

When the city increased the income taxes, I decided to move.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:19 PM, 08.23.2021

State Rep. Boyd endorses Seren

Long before and after Issue 26 passed in 2019, we all weighed in on what and who Cleveland Heights will and won’t need. The time has come now for us to choose who among us will lead our beloved, diverse, tattered but not torn, inner-ring suburb to the next phase of our reinvention. Our votes on Sept. 14 will represent who we know we can be and who we believe can effectively, knowledgeably, and unabashedly launch us and lead us on our journey. That is why I support Kahlil Seren’s candidacy.

When I left city council for the statehouse in 2015, I knew Cleveland Heights was in good and capable hands with Kahlil. Since that time, I’ve watched him grow into a conscientious leader and emerge a seasoned legislator with invaluable institutional knowledge. While I had hoped he’d consider succeeding me at the statehouse, I understand that his commitment to Cleveland Heights must take precedent at this time.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:21 PM, 08.23.2021

Parents question library's mask requirement

When did it become the norm for our library to dictate what medical device is appropriate and necessary for children? From where is this authority granted?

The CH-UH Library Board of Trustees has again decided to make decisions regarding the health of residents. Last year's mask requirement was made in consideration that, until a vaccine was available, rules needed to be in place to protect staff. Then and now, the board did not honor a portion of the governor’s executive order: allowances for medical exceptions and that the order did not apply to children under the 10. 

Currently, library policy requires all over the age of 2 to wear a mask. Isn’t this shockingly wrong to anyone else?  

Why is it acceptable for a board to tell you what medical devices are safe and necessary for your child?

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:15 PM, 08.23.2021

Sept. 14 is first of two important CH elections

We—Tony Cuda and Jack Newman—do not agree on much, but we are both passionate about the importance of Cleveland Heights voters getting to the polls on Sept. 14, to weigh in on the city's first-ever mayoral primary election.

You see, Newman is the former chair of the city's Charter Review Commission (CRC), and Cuda is the former campaign manager for Citizens For An Elected Mayor (CEM). The CRC was assembled in 2017 to review the Cleveland Heights charter and make recommendations to city council. After 18 months, the CRC voted, by an overwhelming margin, to keep the city manager form of government. CEM then turned around and put the issue [of changing the city’s form of government] on the ballot in November 2019. Cleveland Heights voters decided, with 64 percent voting yes, to change the charter to an elected mayor government. 

We do both agree, however, that in order for this new government to be successful, voters must make their voices heard.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:53 PM, 08.16.2021

Danforth rises above other candidates

Three candidates want to become mayor. With early voting underway and the Sept. 14 primary nearing, to narrow the field to two for the Nov. 2 general election, it’s time to compare their records, achievements and qualifications.

The mayor must bring together the administration, council, community and outside stakeholders, building consensus along the way whenever possible. Barbara Danforth has demonstrated she can collaborate and get things done. Kahlil Seren has brought an interesting and sometimes useful perspective to city council. But I have concerns how he could work effectively with council as mayor. He has a record of offering legislation without building support, which led council to take the unprecedented action of preventing anyone from introducing legislation without the support of at least two members.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:38 AM, 09.02.2021

Hart supports our public schools

Currently serving on CH City Council, Melody Joy Hart is experienced. As a certified public accountant, she understands finances. She has posted a platform that names the essential issues facing Cleveland Heights: strong housing, racial equity, fiscal responsibility, economic development, strong public schools, and transparent leadership.

Hart pledges to consider racial equity and the long impact of structural racism in every decision facing Cleveland Heights. She will help us continue to realize our long-held ideals of equity and inclusion.

The primary reason I will be voting for Hart for Cleveland Heights mayor, on Sept. 14, is her declared support for our public schools.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:35 AM, 09.02.2021

College senior endorses Danforth

Having been sent home from college in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had the opportunity to spend an unexpected amount of time in my hometown of Cleveland Heights. As a young adult, I have gained an increased appreciation for the unique offerings of this city: a diverse community; a vibrant arts scene (even in the time of pandemic); small businesses and restaurants within walking distance; and close proximity to big-city amenities at affordable prices, compared to what can be found in the areas surrounding Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Such factors are why I, at times, surprise those who ask the question, “Where will you live long-term following college graduation?” by answering that, although I hope to see the world outside of Ohio after 21 years in the state, I can easily imagine returning to Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, and continuing to call this city my home. 

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:31 AM, 09.02.2021

Maple Heights mayor endorses Seren

I enthusiastically endorse Kahlil Seren for mayor of Cleveland Heights because I believe that he is the most experienced and prepared mayoral candidate. He has the transferrable skills—in advocacy and research, budget and policy, and economic development—needed to be an effective and successful CEO.

During my time as Maple Heights mayor, all of my interactions with and observations of Kahlil have left me with an admiration of his impressive professionalism, a greater respect for his commitment to public service, his voice in leadership, and his courage to make important decisions.   

A strong mayor listens and lifts up the people in their city, and then acts to ensure a Return on Investment (ROI) for all the stakeholders in the city: residents, businesses and visitors.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:33 AM, 09.02.2021

CH council has problems with math

It would appear that Cleveland Heights City Council has a problem with math, which is not something you want to hear about those who handle tax dollars.

When I plot out all of the publicly available revenue numbers for Top of the Hill (TOH) for 33 years, I find how the city comes to the conclusion that the project will generate approximately $14.3 million, but that is the GROSS amount, not net.

When I deduct the lost parking revenue for 30 years combined with the cost of the $1.85 million “gift” to the developer, totaling approximately $3.95 million, this means the total NET revenue to the city is inflated by 38%, and the “annual” revenue (not the one-time construction-related monies) is inflated by 45%.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:33 PM, 07.30.2021

How CH's sewer system is like a boat

Ever hear the one about a boat? "A boat is a hole in the water you throw money into."

The on-land equivalent of that is a sewer system—especially when your city has neglected the sewer system for decades, and has finally entered into a $570 million consent decree with the EPA that will take decades to complete. (www.cleveland.com/community/2021/05/federal-consent-decree-on-cleveland-heights-sewer-overhaul-will-stretch-out-over-many-decades.html.)

The current Cleveland Heights City Council is strongly considering taking $28 million of the $38.8 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) windfall to apply toward that $570 million.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:31 PM, 07.30.2021

Where is the night in University Heights?

Used to be we could sit outside at night and see stars, maybe not the Milky Way, but still, lots of stars. Where did they go? Where did the dark sky go? Since the 1990s, our municipal governments have neglected to keep up with a looming problem facing most of the Heights, outdoor light pollution.

Our elected officials aren’t even aware of the growing dangers to health, safety and the environment of outdoor light pollution. This is an important quality-of-life issue for us.  

University Heights’ elected officials have a unique opportunity to ensure we will not contribute to growing health, safety and environmental problems. They can do this by writing outdoor lighting codes to protect us. Cities such as Flagstaff, Ariz., have codes already in place. Why not use them as models?

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:27 PM, 07.30.2021

Resident and former 'Coventry kid' endorses Seren

It is with pleasure that I am endorsing City Council Vice President Kahlil Seren to become the first mayor of the city of Cleveland Heights.

The future of Cleveland Heights is important to me. I grew up in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood, but I spent a lot of time in Cleveland Heights at my grandfather’s home; so my summers were spent catching frogs in the marshy fields that buttressed his street, and my winters were spent sledding with my sisters and cousins in Cain Park. In high school, when my family moved to the Superior and Coventry section of East Cleveland, I was one of the many kids dressed in black buying CDs at the Record Exchange and Record Revolution, or sitting for hours in the Arabica coffee shop on Coventry, or outside the Grog Shop. When I moved back to Greater Cleveland in 2020, after living primarily in NYC since 1999, I purchased a home on the very same street of my grandfather’s home.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:25 PM, 07.30.2021

'The time is now' to positively impact environment

I believe the science that our increasing carbon footprint is destroying the ecosystem of the earth, and that climate change is real. But trying to determine how, as individuals, we can develop an environmentally friendly lifestyle often seems overwhelming. 

Several years ago, while visiting east and west Africa, I came to a fuller appreciation that clean water is a valuable and finite resource. When I returned home, I made a point of turning off the water while brushing my teeth and washing my hands, to save water. 

When my husband and I landscaped our backyard, we included a rain garden. We learned that rain gardens remove pollutants from stormwater, recharge the groundwater supply, and are a natural habitat for birds and pollinators.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:19 PM, 07.30.2021

Danforth's leadership is key skill for new mayor

There are four candidates vying to be Cleveland Heights’ first elected mayor. Each cites their particular expertise in civic engagement, government experience and managerial skills, all under the banner of “proven leadership.” While expertise and strong, relevant experience are absolutely required, expertise and experience are simply not enough. Much more is needed, particularly at this time of transition.

To be an effective mayor of a city with a $62-million budget and 440 employees, our first elected mayor must be able to truly lead and inspire our city staff and our community. In my experience, the most effective leadership approach for a local government leader is a focused combination of transformational and strategic leadership.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:17 PM, 07.30.2021

We need to embrace sustainability

Cleveland Heights is the tree city and is walkable and bikeable. Those things define us, and they are three of the things that attracted me to move here.

The housing density, mix of land uses, and walkability of Cleveland Heights—not to mention our location among so many amenities—makes it a great place to live. We must preserve and enhance these land-use advantages while making the city greener and helping everyone transition to renewable energy sources.

Sustainability needs to be ingrained in the culture of the government. Everything we all do as a city or as individuals affects our sustainability.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:15 PM, 07.30.2021

Hart has it all

I am supporting Melody Hart for Mayor of Cleveland Heights because she is the single candidate that checks all the boxes.

As part of my work on the Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) Transition Subcommittee, I worked with Council Member Hart, who brought neighboring mayors together [for a forum] to discuss what leadership should look like, and I saw firsthand how she got the job done in a collaborative manner. This is her strong point and why she's earned praise from city staff.

Rather than sounding off on an issue, she investigates and works behind the scenes to gather information and bring people together, a trait stressed at the forum.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:13 PM, 07.30.2021

Two candidates will prioritize sustainability and equity

I am writing to express my opinion about the upcoming Cleveland Heights mayoral race, the first in the city’s history. It is a historic moment that the city’s first executive leader will need to face with demonstrative skills, including no small amount of vision and creativity when it comes to governing a small inner-ring suburb with diverse demographics in age, race, and economic standing.

Cleveland Heights has a lot of strengths, as identified by the city’s brand study (trees, beautiful homes, walk- and bike-friendly streets), and “macro” challenges, such as a declining population in a region that has emphasized sprawl development and inequitable distribution of resources from the state to local governments and public schools.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:08 PM, 07.30.2021

Danforth has necessary practical experience

In November 2019, the voters of Cleveland Heights voted to amend the city charter and directly elect a mayor, to provide the city with more centralized management and focused accountability. At the same time, voters provided for hiring a city administrator reporting directly to the mayor.

These changes acknowledge the role of the mayor as manager of a city with $62.8 million in revenue (according to the 2019 Cleveland Heights Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), and as a leader of 433 employees (according to the same report) accountable for the effectiveness of the city’s programs and services.

Immediately upon election, our new mayor must embark upon the search for an administrator who must be identified, properly interviewed, vetted and hired. Beyond filling that key position, it’s critical that our new mayor bring to city hall a proven track record of leadership, with fluency in the language of business, fund accounting, politics and conciliation.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:01 PM, 07.30.2021

CH Historical Society urges NEORSD to preserve Shaker Lakes

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s (NEORSD) preferred plan regarding the Shaker Lakes, costing $28.3 million, removes the historic Shaker dam at Horseshoe Lake, built in 1852, and replaces the entire lake with stream paths and riparian channels. Lower Lake, built in 1837 and more vulnerable to flooding, would then be dredged and its dam rebuilt with wider and higher armoring. If the present dam and wooden walkway at Green Lake is any indication, the marvelous sandstone facing on the present Lower Lake bridge and spillway would most likely be reduced or removed entirely, as we are told the new dam will look significantly different. This plan also seriously limits and alters flourishing wildlife habitats.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:05 AM, 07.27.2021

Seren on his experience and path to mayoral candidacy

When I began serving on Cleveland Heights City Council six years ago, I could not have predicted that I would be running to be the first elected mayor of our city. But I could see as soon as I joined council that we needed a change. Since then, I have worked hard to push my colleagues and the administration to be more proactive, responsive, transparent, and bold. My legislative work has successfully produced policy changes that have made our city stronger. The example I’ve set on council has led to positive changes in how our government works and responds. But there is more work to be done.  

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 9:26 AM, 07.20.2021

Danforth will prioritize Noble neighborhood

On Sept. 14, the residents of Cleveland Heights will go to the polls to vote [in a primary election] for our first mayor. My vote will be for the person who will make the Noble neighborhood and the Noble Road Corridor Planning Project a priority.  
As a transplant from Omaha, Neb., I intentionally sought Cleveland Heights as a place to make home because of its heartbeat, eclectic vibe and diversity. In 2002, I chose the Noble neighborhood because of the commitment from city leaders to revitalize the area with its first effort, Greyton Court Townhouses, off of Noble Road between Greyton and Nelaview roads. I purchased a townhome, phase one of what was to be three phases—but two and three never happened. Fast forward to the housing crisis of 2008–09, and Noble neighborhood is one that has yet to recover.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:46 AM, 07.30.2021

Seren stresses 'effective and efficient' leadership

In many ways, Kahlil Seren has the kind of background and career trajectory one might expect for someone running for Cleveland Heights mayor. He has lived most of his life in Cleveland’s eastside suburbs; he studied law and public policy at Cleveland State University’s (CSU) Levin College of Urban Affairs; he has accomplished years of public policy work, first at a progressive-leaning think tank, then for Cuyahoga County Council; he has served on Cleveland Heights City Council for the last six years; and he currently is the city’s vice mayor. A race for mayor seems the logical next step.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:44 AM, 07.30.2021

Seren has essential skills and vision to be mayor

After robust debate and a definitive vote, we, the citizens of Cleveland Heights, have the opportunity to directly elect the chief executive who will guide our city. We are fortunate to have excellent candidates, each of whom brings different strengths to the contest, and we could be well served by any of them.

But, I think we would be best served by Cleveland City Council Vice President Kahlil Seren. Having served on council since 2015, Seren is thoroughly knowledgeable about Cleveland Heights government, policy, initiatives, planning and history, and will be able to govern as mayor from day one.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:43 AM, 07.30.2021

Some thoughts on Nighttown: a love letter

It's not an exaggeration to say that the report of the sale of Nighttown restaurant, in early January, shocked the community. What was already a trying year was underscored by the transition of a legendary and community-defining institution. Most of the community—of musicians and music lovers, diners, artists, students and former students, and residents who grew up matriculating in and through this distinguished institution—is worried.

Many things make Nighttown unique.

While the food was good, it wasn't the focus of the club (though most everyone had their favorite “signature'”dish). What Nighttown featured was atmosphere and ambience, emerging organically through the decades of its existence. Nighttown was the antithesis of the overproduced and overprocessed. It was a club, as in nightclub, as you imagine they were in the 1930s and ‘40s (or at least as they were in movies of the 1930s and ‘40s).

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:42 PM, 07.01.2021

A tribute to Ida Bergson

When my 26-year-old daughter progressed from the old Heights JCC preschool program to kindergarten at Canterbury Elementary School, she expected the teacher that she had for two years to follow her to her new school. Luckily for us, Canterbury needed an art teacher and hired Ida Bergson. This is really the middle of the story, so let me back up a few decades. 

My mother and Ida’s mother were friends in elementary school; their relationship would last for over 70 years. My mother’s family moved to Cleveland Heights in time for her to enter high school. Our family moved back to Cleveland Heights when I was born, and it turned out that Ida’s family lived around the corner. So, Ida remembers babysitting me.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:36 PM, 07.01.2021

Danforth on leading CH's transition

Since it became a city in 1921, Cleveland Heights has been run by a city manager. On Jan.1, 2022, a mayor will become the city’s first elected executive. 

This change will be dramatic and difficult. An effective transition will require broad and deep executive leadership skills and experience. With a population of 44,000, a budget of $52.2 million, and more than 400 employees, Cleveland Heights is a sizable municipal operation. 

This is how I will accomplish this monumental transition, if elected mayor:

  • Staff interaction: I will approach staff with full respect for them and the work they do. I will meet with every employee to learn about their expertise and challenges. Those with significant competencies, I will give them room to work; others may need support or resources to maximize their effectiveness. My years in executive search position me well to recruit, vet, and on-board the most talented professionals available. I will search for a city administrator who will work by my side to accomplish the city’s goals.
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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:26 PM, 07.01.2021

Hart puts forth her vision for CH

When we moved here in 2005, we looked for a walkable, bikeable town, with a diverse population and restaurants, shops, parks, trees, and mass transit. We found all of that in Cleveland Heights.   

We still have all of that, but other forces have hurt our city. The mortgage foreclosure crisis impacted the north end, particularly harshly. Currently, non-local investors snap up properties online and flip or rent them without repair. The unconstitutional funding of schools causes increased taxes, driving some residents out, and creating declining population and higher taxes for those of us who stay. We have a 100-year-old sewer system that the EPA is requiring us to repair.

These are all challenges we face now and challenges that we will face into the future.

But the bones of greatness are still here, and I would build on those bones.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:24 PM, 07.01.2021