Saturday, July 18, 2015

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton collects enough signatures for merger talks with Cleveland, the initiative could hit the ballot soon for voter approval first in East Cleveland.....By Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton
By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News.Com, and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News, Ohio's most read digital Black newspaper and newspaper blog. 
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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton has submitted enough voter signatures for  merger  talks for a potential  annexation of the largely Black impoverished Cleveland suburb with the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Board of Elections officials said Friday. 

Plagued with poverty and a debilitating tax base, East Cleveland is on the verge of bankruptcy, Norton told Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news. And he said that financial problems have been brewing since he was a kid. 

The mayor's foes say that he is the problem.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and east side Cleveland councilmen Jeff Johnson and Kevin Conwell have said that they support a merger. 

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Friday verified the signatures that Norton submitted for the merger proposal, and said in a press release that at least 559 (or 51 percent) required signatures from registered voters were verified.

Norton handed in 1,613 signatures for which 827 were valid, board of elections officials said. 

Both East Cleveland and Cleveland now have 30 days to each appoint three commissioners to negotiate the terms of the annexation proposal. The commissioners will then have 120 days to come to a proposal agreement, with the majority vote of the six ruling.

If East Cleveland voters subsequently approve the proposal for a merger, Cleveland City Council members would either vote to adopt the terms, or submit the matter for a ballot initiative for Cleveland voters.

It will likely be March of next year before the issue hits the ballot for a vote on the actual merger, but it could be earlier, sources said Friday.

Cleveland is a major American city and  has a population of roughly 375,000 residents, and is about 58 percent Black. 

East Cleveland has a population of some 17,000 people, and is about 98 percent Black

Cleveland has a 17-member city council, and East Cleveland has a five- member city council. 

Both cities are governed by a charter, and both are steeped in poverty, though unlike Cleveland, East Cleveland is collapsing financially, and in a rapid fashion

"We are against any merger with Cleveland, all five city council members, including Council President Barbara Thomas, "  East Cleveland City Council member Mansell Baker told Cleveland Urban News.Com in a previous interview. 

Mayor Norton said that not all East Cleveland city council members are against the merger, but would not elaborate. 

East Cleveland Board of Education President Una H.R. Kennon, a retired East Cleveland judge and current president of the Black Women Political Action Committee of greater Cleveland, is also against the merger that Norton says will not include East Cleveland schools.