The value of the city of Cleveland Heights should not be measured by the beautiful parks, historic buildings, easily accessible business districts or the unparalleled city servants which exist in this town. The true value of Cleveland Heights is its residents.
Our city is made up of some of the most dedicated and committed individuals I have ever been privileged to meet. I am currently in my second term on as a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee in Cleveland Heights. The committee’s primary focus is reviewing proposals and making recommendations to city council regarding the allocation of city development block grant funds. Through this process there was a light shined upon the many needs which are being addressed by the community for the community, such as food pantries, youth programming, minority women’s education, cultural preservation, and economic development. I know that given more resources in the form of volunteers and additional funding, these programs can provide for some of the basic needs of the members of the city and we need to do everything we can to help sustain and grow these efforts. In the past two years I have helped develop and grow a tutoring partnership between some of the Greek Life organizations at Case Western Reserve University and one of the Elementary/Middle schools. This is the type of programming I would like to continue to encourage and support as councilman.
Communication & Accountability
There have been great strides taken in the past years within city hall to address budgetary concerns and infrastructure needs. However as our taxes are increasing and the city is more secure financially, now is the time when it is most important to implement more transparency measures to help empower residents to have access to relevant information. Increased transparency coupled with applicable operational data metrics is paramount to the continued sustainment of the city’s success.
Urban renewal is not a new theme for communities as long lasting as Cleveland Heights. When operating on an infrastructure which is over a hundred years old issues will arise. Our goal as residents of the community is to focus on the foundation on which this city was built.
We all know that there has been a water crisis which was addressed. However now we need to be strategic and holistic in how we address the problem moving forward. Digging up streets today for water to then dig them up tomorrow for a different issue is costly and short sighted. We need to bring all the utilities and road services to the table and put together a life-cycle for how we will fix then sustain all our basic needs moving forward. This is our opportunity to bond together as a community and as a city administration to ensure that the city will be here for another 100 years to come!
Many opportunities exist to eliminate redundancy and reduce waste. Finding inefficiencies and opportunities within our organization is paramount to achieving any of our additional goals of addressing infrastructure needs and realizing development initiatives. These goals can be achieved through addressing existing process issues as well as looking outside of our municipality to identify ways we can continue partnering with our neighbors. This can also be achieved through shared services or even joining larger regional efforts like bringing our water utility into the city of Cleveland's umbrella.
We should not immediately be looking at throwing more money at a problem (a.k.a raising taxes) if that is not the root cause of budgetary issues. Through my experience the biggest barriers to continuous improvement efforts are data integrity and change management. Being armed with the right tools in regards to data collection and technology is paramount to driving success. Having transparency throughout city hall and identifying appropriate driving metrics will drive the accountability and change we need to run as efficiently as possible and continue to remain attractive to businesses and residents alike.
What is municipal broadband? It is broadband internet access which is provided fully or partially by local governments. OneCommunity, a local non-profit, has been spearheading this initiative by building out a backbone across the region. This network already runs directly through our city just waiting for us to harness the prospects that can give our residents and businesses.
The benefit to the City of Cleveland Heights are immeasurable as the technology industry continues to grow leaps and bounds. Our community is already poised on the cusp of of this growth, bordering leading institutions focused on engineering, technology, and healthcare. Implementing this would put us at the forefront for businesses of all sizes competing in a global economy to be successful in our city.
Other advantages to the community aside from economic development includes:
- Increased productivity for city services by providing ease of access to necessary data
- Helping close the digital divide, bridging the gap to provide all our citizens public access to the internet within our schools and libraries
- Providing stable internet access in a community which is otherwise monopolized by private internet service providers
Charles Stack, a resident of Cleveland Heights and a internet pioneer, stated that efforts to bring in municipal broadband is the single most important thing that is occurring in Northeast Ohio. His words cannot be overstated. When looking at how we as a community can be on the leading edge of technology and economic development, the concept of municipal broadband is one we need to embrace.