Now that state auditors have flagged fiscal trouble ahead, East Cleveland’s warring politicians must start acting like leaders instead of litigants. The petty personal politics between Mayor Gary Norton and City Council President Joy Jordan must stop and serious collaboration begin to prevent the financially troubled suburb from falling into a state of fiscal emergency.
Under the state’s “fiscal caution” for East Cleveland, Norton and Jordan have 60 days to propose an improvement plan.
Still, Yost told Plain Dealer reporter James Ewinger that he was so impressed with the city’s leadership that he issued what amounts to a yellow flag for East Cleveland’s economic woes, by putting the suburb on the lowest level of financial distress instead of a tougher status.
Norton, who took office in 2010, has been aggressive about developing new sources of tax revenue. He recently cut deals with University Circle Inc. and a private developer to build a new apartment complex in East Cleveland. Last fall, he worked with the Cuyahoga Land Bank to demolish 24 apartment buildings and 31 homes as part of a major commercial and residential redevelopment project. He persuaded voters, over the objections of some council members, to approve traffic cameras both as a safety measure and a revenue stream.
It was also Norton, not City Council, who negotiated a $20 million deal to soften the financial blow when the Cleveland Clinic closed Huron Hospital.
Yost praised that deal, which helped erase a $5.8 million deficit that was left over from a previous administration.
The time for power plays is over. The future of the city is at stake.