East Cleveland backtracks on Cleveland merger requests

Will move forward with public input
Posted at 10:41 PM, Aug 29, 2016

The city of East Cleveland is moving forward with an ordinance toward annexation with Cleveland, but without  the list of recommendations that caused raised plenty of eyebrows.

At an emergency meeting Monday evening, Council President Thomas Wheeler said requests made in a memorandum of understanding had been misconstrued and blown out of proportion.

But, he added that he didn't fully support it to begin with. The memorandum passed unanimously earlier this month, with all five East Cleveland council members voting yes.

"When you make a mistake, you realize you make a mistake and you try to correct it. I think that's big of us and that's what we're going to try to do," Wheeler said.

Some of the recommendations for merger included keeping the city's municipal court, red light camera program, separate fire and police districts, and allowing current council members to retain their $4,500 annual salary and serve as an advisory council.

Last week, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley rejected the proposal outright.

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton, who did not attend Monday's emergency meeting, sent the following statement:

Tonight East Cleveland City Council reconsidered and passed an ordinance appointing three members to the Cleveland/East Cleveland merger commission.  East Cleveland City Council removed the list of discussion items that last week garnered much public attention. The new ordinance will be forwarded to Cleveland City Council.

I commend the members of our city council for accepting public input and doing what is right. Council president Tom Wheeler acted quickly to call a special meeting and urge the Council to change course. This type of action is not an easy thing for a city council. It is my hope that the merger discussions will move forward with a renewed spirit of cooperation between the two cities.

There will be a public meeting on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the East Cleveland Library for residents to weigh in before a new memorandum of understanding is drafted. Three commissioners that have been appointed as part of annexation negotiations will be present.