EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The State of Ohio has been keeping any eye on East Cleveland's books. That city is nearly $6 million in the hole. Now, the latest round of fighting has surfaced over a pay cut imposed on the Mayor.
"For him to give a ruling like that he must be an idiot, a damn idiot" says East Cleveland City Council member Nathaniel Martin. He's fighting mad about a ruling the Law Director made. Martin thinks it skirts the law in favor of Mayor Gary Norton.
"Until the people vote on this referendum or whatever the case may be he is truly in violation of the law and he set himself above the law" says Martin.
Mayor Norton, who had his salary cut in half by council, still gets full pay as mayor and $45,000 more as Safety Director. Last year, city council voted to eliminate the Safety Director position, or at least they thought they did. The people of East Cleveland gathered enough signatures to stop the city council action for now. So, if the action is stopped, the salary cut doesn't take effect.
Mayor Norton says city council has thirty days from January 18th to gather enough valid signatures to put his pay cut on the ballot. If they don't get the signatures then they can't impose the salary cut.
But wait, there's more!
East Cleveland resident Gerald Crothers has also accused the Mayor of giving himself an illegal raise. "He gave himself money he shouldn't have got. He stole money from the city" says Crothers.
It's an allegation Mayor Norton strongly denies. Mayor Norton says is "stayed at what it was before" and says there was no bump. In fact, Mayor Norton tells 19 Action News "what we did do overall as a city, we had employees overall on a 10-percent salary reduction… and effective January 1st we ended that salary reduction."
Mayor Norton says, apparently, East Cleveland City council members nor Gerald Crothers understand the law. He advises them to read the City Charter.