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The science of a city merger

Kevin Chill Heard | 5/7/2014, 2:40 p.m.
Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell has taken on an analysis matrix style of assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (S.W.O.T.) ...
Glenville area Cleveland City Councilmen Jeff Johnson and Kevin Conwell, with East Cleveland Councilman (center) Nathaniel Martin. Photo by Kevin Chill Heard

Discussion in Glenville about a possible merger with its E.C. neighbor

By KEVIN CHILL HEARD

Managing Editor

@houseofchill

The realities of East Cleveland’s annexation into Cleveland are moving into its next phase of possibilities and discussion.

Last week, Ward 9 Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell and his wife Cuyahoga County District 7 Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell hosted a shared meeting of Cleveland and East Cleveland residents to discuss information and ideas concerning a much talked about “merger” between the two cities.

The meeting was held at the Glenville Recreation Center. Much of the Glenville area runs alongside that of East Cleveland and would be one of the main Cleveland neighborhoods impacted if a merging takes place.

Cleveland Councilman Conwell has taken on an analysis matrix style of assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (S.W.O.T.) of merging the two municipalities. In stating why he decided to conduct this type of forum, Conwell remarked “Cleveland and East Cleveland residents should be able to voice their issues and concerns to create a S.W.O.T. analysis, whether the discussion is to increase the sharing of resources or the merging of the two cities.”

Conwell went on to say that the most important thing these community forums will bring to the topic beyond politics and personal agenda is intelligent data.

Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson, who’s Ward 10 includes part of Glenville and the South Collinwood area, has already come out publicly for the merger. The proximity of his ward to East Cleveland’s boundary would also have bearing on Johnson’s ward.

“What happens in East Cleveland directly impacts the surrounding neighborhoods of Cleveland,” said Johnson, who spoke to the residents. “We cannot stand by and do nothing while East Cleveland slides into a deeper state of distress.”

Members of East Cleveland political leadership in attendance included East Cleveland City Council President Barbara Thomas and council members Nate Martin and Mansell Baker. East Cleveland Judge William Dawson also participated in the discussion.

The S.W.O.T. strategy that Conwell says should be considered when talking about a merger are as follows: Strengths – incorporate an investigation into the characteristics of a merger that give it an advantage over others. Weaknesses – the characteristics that place the merger at a disadvantage relative to others. Opportunities – the elements that the project could exploit to its advantage. Threats – the elements in the environment that could cause trouble for such a merger.

Conwell went on to agree that shared government is the key and that he would continue to sponsor the forums and to work with his neighborhood in understanding what a merger would mean for both areas.

Many longtime proponents of annexing East Cleveland agree that part of the reason it hadn't happened earlier was that the decision making had not included the East Cleveland residents. Kevin Conwell agrees. “I found it very important to listen to East Cleveland residents and Cleveland residents and ask them about their issues and concerns instead of telling them that they should merge. I believe that the people are the true owners of government,” said Conwell.