Thursday, January 5, 2017

Recall of Mayor and City Council President

After the Mayor of East Cleveland was recalled by the voters, an attempt was made to appoint new members of City Council on December 29, 2016.  In a legal opinion issued on January 3. 2017, the law director declared the appointments illegal.

The City of East Cleveland

January 3, 2017 
East Cleveland City Council 
From: Willa Hemmons, Law Director
Legal Opinion on Legality of Thursday, December 29, 2016, City Council Meeting
Mayor Gary A. Norton, Jr. and City Council President Thomas J. Wheeler, were
recalled, as certified on Monday, December 19, 2016, by the Cuyahoga Board of 
Elections. The certification was based upon the results of the City of East 
Cleveland Special Election held Tuesday, December 6, 2016. Due to those
election result certifications, then City Council Vice President Brandon L.
King was sworn in as Mayor of the City of East Cleveland on December 20, 2016 
as provided by East Cleveland  City Charter Section 114. At a Special Council
Meeting on, December 29, 2016, the Agenda, in part, read: Dismiss Community
For Executive Session; City Council Candidate Interviews; Reconvene Meeting
During that alleged ‘reconvened’ meeting, Councilor Nathaniel Martin and Councilor
Barbara J. Thomas attempted to: 1) appoint two individuals to fill Council 
vacancies; then, 2) ‘call’ an unannounced, nonposted (See Ohio R.C. §121.22)
‘Organizational Meeting’ at which he proceeded to be ‘elected’ Council
President and Councilor Thomas, ‘elected’ Vice-President by themselves and the 
two new ‘appointees,’ Kelvin Earby and Devin Branch; and, immediately that
evening; 3) fire the City Council Clerk, Dr. Khadijah Guy, and hire former City
Council Clerk, Ms. Tracy Udrija-Peters. All of the above actions are unlawful 
inasmuch as the December 29, 2016 meeting was illegal.
Thus, each of the actions deriving therefrom are ineffective; and, therefore the
above “appointees” cannot be recognized as such for the reasons set forth below:
…In the absence of both the President and Vice President of the Council, the
senior most member of Council shall be chairperson of the meeting provided a 
quorum is present. At the December 29, 2016, Councilor Martin only served as 
Chair not as President of Council;  and, as shown below, there were only two 
Councilors present as Councilor Joie N. Graham, left..
The election of a President and Vice President of the Council and conduct of
the organization meeting required by Charter or ordinance shall be in accordance
with the following provisions:
14340 Euclid Avenue  East Cleveland, Ohio 44112 Law Dept.: Phone (216) 681-2169


Fax (216) 681-2199

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Merger With Cleveland Update

Another Step Toward Merger

The Plain Dealer reported on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 that Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley said Monday that he must figure out how to go about studying the pros and cons of annexing impoverished neighbor East Cleveland -- without locking Cleveland into a plan to do so.
During a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, Kelley told his colleagues that the city must be certain it wants to move forward with a merger before formally expressing that interest through legislation, because after that, Cleveland can no longer opt out.
Here is what you need to know about where the two cities stand on the annexation question:
East Cleveland hits reset button
East Cleveland City Council last month hit the reset button on its so-far botched attempt at initiating a merger with Cleveland.
During an emergency council meeting, members voted to adopt new legislation appointing three representatives to a commission empaneled to negotiate the annexation. The ordinance replaces one passed earlier this summer, which was tied to an ill-advised list of conditions that Kelley rejected out of hand as "a non-starter."
What happens next?
After a brief public notice and comment period, East Cleveland will deliver the legislation to Cleveland City Council.
Per the Ohio Revised Code, council members then will have 30 days to decide if they also will pass legislation appointing three panelists to the commission. If the 30 days lapse, the initiative must start over with the circulation of new signature petitions.
If council does act, however, the cities are locked in – committed to submitting some kind of plan for annexation. Failure to do so would warrant a judge's intervention, Kelley told his colleagues Monday.
The commission would have 120 days to draft the terms of the merger that East Cleveland voters would consider. Cleveland City Council members would then either vote to adopt the plan or send the issue to the ballot.
What's the hold-up?
Kelley said three principles will guide Cleveland in its decision on whether to pursue the merger:
  • There must be a funding source available – preferably from the state -- to cover East Cleveland's capital needs.
  • The suburb's millions of dollars in liabilities – which include debt, court judgments and settlements – must be resolved.
  • The merger must not harm Cleveland's current residents, or the level of service they receive, in any way.
So far, Kelley said, he has received no reassurances on any of those concerns.
How will Cleveland figure it out?
Kelley said he does not believe 30 days – or even 120 days, for that matter – will be enough time to determine the cost of addressing East Cleveland's problems with infrastructure or who would pay for them. So it's likely that Cleveland will let the 30 days lapse and revisit the idea when the questions are answered.
In the meantime, Kelley said, he would like to assemble a committee made up of engineers, lawyers and municipal finance experts to dive into East Cleveland's assets and liabilities before council formally appoints commission members and commits the city to an annexation plan.
How do other council members feel about where the issue stands?
Some members present at Monday's meeting said they still support annexation and see the benefit to both cities.
Others, including Councilmen Michael Polensek and TJ Dow, passed along constituents' concerns that a merger would siphon resources and services from Cleveland neighborhoods.
Councilman Matt Zone said council should be "laser-focused" on the November election and a ballot that includes a school levy renewal, a proposed city income tax increase and a City Charter amendment related to police reform.
All agreed that council should take its time exploring the merger.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Plain Dealer Reports On Another Step Toward Merger With Cleveland

East Cleveland completed the first step in opening annexation discussions with Cleveland by appointing three commissioners to represent the city in negotiations with Cleveland. 
During a special council meeting Monday evening, a unanimous vote approved the ordinance that designated Andrew Jackson, Chris Glassburn and Sandra Morgan as commissioners and announced the city's intent to explore a merger. 
The choice now goes to Cleveland City Council to enter these discussions and to appoint three commissioners of their own. 
While Cleveland City Council considers the proposal, East Cleveland will use the time to provide its commissioners with all the information that they need, Mayor Gary Norton said.
What led to this? 
East Cleveland's leaders are pursuing a merger between the two cities  because of East Cleveland's poor finances.
An petition effort in 2015 to prod City Council to pass this kind of ordinance failed when Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo ruled that a technical error by the elections board made the petitions invalid. Petitioners started a second attempt to collect signatures in April. Petitioners in East Cleveland are making a second attempt to force City Council to explore a merger with Cleveland. They hope to get council to start a negotiation process with Cleveland. A previous attempt ended in court earlier this month.
So what's next? 
Cleveland City Council could choose not to move forward on the annexation discussion, or has 30 days to appoint its own commissioners, Council President Kevin Kelley said. After that, the joint commission would have 120 days to discuss a merger and provide a report.
Then the issue would go to both the voters of both East Cleveland and Cleveland. Cleveland City Council could choose to approve the ordinance themselves. However, Kelley said people seem to prefer giving Clevelanders a vote.
Kelley said he's very interested in keeping this discussion alive, but that the priority will be to make sure Cleveland is not put in financial harm.  "There are a lot of moving parts," Kelley said. "There are a lot of questions we have to answer, and we need to get started." 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Table of Contents


I have included this table of contents to make it easier for readers to find posts related to specific topics.  The name and date of each posting are included in this Table of Contents.  To go to the post you may click on the arrow next to the year of the post and then the specific date in the right hand column of the blog.

There are many interesting comments from my readers at the end of each post.  Please provide any comments you may have or share your East Cleveland memories with other readers of this blog.

Name of Post                                                              Date 
Introduction to Robert Dreifort                                              9/11/11

Introduction to East Cleveland                                               9/18/11

Government, Business, Neighborhoods
and Schools                                                                             9/26/11

My East Cleveland Story                                                       10/2/11

Prospect Elementary School                                                  10/21/11

Prospect Elementary School (Cont.)                                      11/7/11

Plymouth Place Neighborhood                                                8/1/12

My East Cleveland Neighborhood                                           8/6/12

My East Cleveland Neighborhood (Cont.)                             8/12/12

The Early Years                                                                       8/30/12

Life in East Cleveland 1940 – 1962
My lecture at Case Western Reserve University                      9/7/12                

Caledonia – My second East Cleveland Neighborhood           2/18/14

East Cleveland Today                                                               3/12/14

Cleveland/East Cleveland Merger                                            3/19/14

East Cleveland Public Library (Shaw High Shuttle Project)    3/23/15

Another Step toward Merger with Cleveland                            3/26/15

Shaw High School Shuttle Project Update                                5/14/15

Kirk Junior High School                                                           1/27/16

Shaw High School Shuttle Project Update 2                             4/8/16

Merger With Cleveland                                                             8/3/16

Merger With Cleveland Update                                                9/20/16

Recall of Mayor and City Council President                            1/5/17