Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 2:14 AM
Beachwood Mayor Merle Gorden has served in his position for 18 years. Now he's facing a challenger in councilman Brian Linick, elected in 2009, who has seized upon the mayor's expenses to send a message that the city should cut back. idesatream's Nick Castele reports.
As mayor, Gorden has overseen some business expansion, like polymer company Omnova Solutions’ decision this year to move its headquarters to the city.
But reporters have begun to ask questions about Gorden’s more than $175,000 base pay and other perks of the job, like having lunches on the city’s tab and cashing in unused vacation days for extra pay. Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Mark Naymik has written extensively on the subject and called for Gorden’s ouster this election.
Gorden and Linick faced questions last night at a debate put on by the Cleveland Jewish News, which also streamed the event online, where we recorded it.
Gorden maintains that the lunch arrangement is approved by city council, and that receiving pay for unused vacation days is common practice.
As an example of his leadership, he pointed to city services.
“The services that we provide are second to none within any municipality,” Gorden said. “Whether it’s police, whether it’s fire, whether it’s rubbish removal. Snow removal is just superior within the city of Beachwood.”
Linick says if he were mayor, the city would spend less money. And he says he wouldn’t abide by the mantra that the city should be run like a business.
“The reality is the city isn’t a business,” Linick said. “We’re not a for-profit entity and we don’t enter this world to make money and get rich. But what we do is provide a service to the residents. And we should do that at the lowest cost to taxpayers.”
Gorden criticized Linick for breaking with other council members on some votes, and for having council meetings filmed on his own dime and posting them on his website. Linick said he’s being an advocate for residents, and that council meetings should be transparent.
Voters in Beachwood will decide between the two men on Nov. 5.
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