East Cleveland mayor under fire for offensive comments - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

East Cleveland mayor under fire for offensive comments

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton under fire for comments (Source: WOIO) East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton under fire for comments (Source: WOIO)
EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The mayor of East Cleveland is coming under fire after he uttered some offensive words. 

It began innocently enough. Mayor Gary Norton spelled out reasons why he thinks a Cleveland-East Cleveland merger is a good thing.

"East Cleveland does still generate millions of dollars in taxes and grant revenue that would become Cleveland's." said Mayor Norton.

Norton underscored the explosive growth at University Circle, calling it the second fastest job growth center in Ohio.

But where can it grow? Norton pointed out the fact that it is landlocked, and with the need for as many as 3,000 units of housing on the horizon that East Cleveland is a logical place for the housing to be built.

This is where the comments that offended some came.

"We offer immediate and accessible, low cost, shaky ownership, tax delinquent, all sorts of things, land. All the good stuff that you guys like, right? Black folks don't get this. I'm kidding by the way. No, I'm not really kidding," said Norton.

"He attempted to say it was a joke, it was a tasteless attempt at a joke. We as black citizens of the City of East Cleveland don't appreciate it," said East Clevelander Chris Harden, and he is not alone.

Angela Jacobs believes Mayor Norton is playing to developers to curry favor.

"He knows where all the property is, the land parcels, the taxes, the abatement.  So what they're doing their hiring him basically," said Jacobs.

The question has to be asked: why would Cleveland want to absorb East Cleveland? Two reasons, one is that with a higher population the level of federal funding will go up.  Second, East Cleveland's funding will then flow to Cleveland.

Mayor Norton has said that the remark was a joke and that people are being overly sensitive.  

No one answered our calls to the mayor's office, but he did release this statement:

"I apologize to anyone who was offended by what I said. In March of 2015, I did a speech at a networking event. During that speech, I made a couple of jokes, which I often do in speeches like that. One of the jokes was not funny at all. It was in poor taste. It was offensive. I did not intend to insult or offend anyone. I apologize to anyone and everyone I offended. While posts of this nature typically don't go viral on the internet, Facebook and Instagram, I ask you to repost this message so people will see my apology. Thanks and God bless you."

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