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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Running a town like East Cleveland can be like walking a minefield, and outgoing mayor Eric Brewer says he’s willing to help his successor, Gary Norton, navigate the treacherous territory.

Brewer sent Norton a letter after Election Day, saying he wants the passage of power to go smoothly. Brewer arranged for Norton to meet with several city directors to discuss pressing administrative issues. “From my perspective as Mayor, there are some areas that will require your immediate attention after you are sworn in,” Brewer writes.

It’s quite the gesture, considering the, uh … tense nature of East Cleveland politics. Brewer found a noose on his desk on his first day as mayor in 2006. The campaign between Brewer and Norton blew up after someone leaked photos of Brewer wearing women’s clothing (Norton denied having anything to do with the leak).

To no one’s surprise, Brewer doesn’t mince words in his letter. Some of the problems Brewer addresses — limited financial audits and certain city contracts — were created by a council Norton sat on, he says.

Brewer also raises serious questions about the police department and police union he so often clashed with during his tenure (Brewer blamed police, who supported Norton, for making the cross-dressing photos public). Brewer says he’s gone to the Justice Department and the NAACP to “investigate the East Cleveland police department for its mishandling of internal affairs complaints from citizens.” He says residents have complained about brutality, theft, racial profiling and harassment.

“The [Fraternal Order of Police] has done all within its power to thwart me in my attempt to have its members investigated and brought to justice,” writes Brewer. “I will turn over the records and information I have to the Justice Department prior to the conclusion of my administration.”

Is Brewer’s revelation about the police political payback? Is Norton ready to walk the minefield? Brewer told Scene in an e-mail this week that Norton hasn’t responded to his offer. We tried to reach Norton by telephone, but we couldn’t leave him a message because his voicemail was full. He might be thinking he doesn’t need Brewer's help. All we can say is god speed, Mayor Norton. East Cleveland belongs to you now. — Damian Guevara


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