Wednesday, August 3, 2016
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."