Cleveland Heights Charter Review panel nixes Sunshine Law proposal

From The Plain Dealer

Unable to concur on a "prescriptive" or "aspirational" approach to open government, the Charter Review Commission has set aside a proposal to add a "Sunshine Law" provision to the city's home-rule constitution.

Also finding its way to the scrap heap was an earlier proposal to assign each of the seven at-large City Council members separate geographic districts to deal directly with residents in their neighborhoods, initially seen as a compromise to any possible ward representation.

Introducing her revised open meetings provision on Aug. 16, CRC member Carla Rautenberg noted that the charter, adopted in 1921, has been referred to as the "DNA" of the city.

"That's why I think it's so important to have the Sunshine Law in the charter," Rautenberg said of draft language proposing that the city "meet and exceed" state requirements for open meetings that date back to the post-Watergate era.

This would have included keeping minutes of all "committee-of-the-whole" meetings, although it was noted that council now recordsthem, even after the "home-rule" charter withstood a Sunshine law challenge and appeal that the Ohio Supreme Court has declined to hear.

Arguing that the city already has a "boatload of transparency," CRC Chairman Jack Newman questioned whether Rautenberg's proposal needed to be embedded in the charter.

"What conspiracies have succeeded because of the system we have?" Newman asked.

Continue Reading>>