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The Merle of Free Sandwich: How Beachwood Mayor Merle Gorden and His City Council Pals Created the Worst Suburb in Northeast Ohio



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Ironically enough, in a Sun News story from May 23, Beachwood City Council was scheduled to discuss the Mayor's salary at a May 20 meeting, but Council President Mel Jacobs announced before the proceedings that Gorden was out of town at a family function (a wedding in Arizona). May 20 was a Thursday.

Via email, David Pfaff indicated that Gorden has used 2 ½ days or 20 hours of vacation so far in 2013—his first time off ever, it would seem.

Underscoring (and dramatizing) Naymik's critiques were the active discussions in City Council about increases to the Mayor's salary, which believe it or not were actually happening. For context, when Gorden was elected mayor in 1995, his salary was $48,000. In 2012, his base salary was $175,000.

Councilman Brian Linick, the newest and youngest member of city council, has been the only member to publicly question Gorden's extravagant pay, especially in light of the city's other budgetary issues (more on that fun stuff in a moment). To reiterate—for perfect clarity—Gorden currently makes an annual base salary of $175,000. That includes compensation for both the position of Mayor and Safety Director (which is of course standard among suburban mayors). Gorden also collects $122,000 in retirement benefits and $34,500 in social security, not to mention additional fees for performing wedding ceremonies and his fat vacation bonus. He is far and away the most lavishly paid elected official in the state.

Via Naymik:

"Council President Melvin Jacobs announced [Monday, June 17] that council will freeze the mayor's salary. He almost sounded sad about doing so. Jacobs credited Gorden for making the request to save the city..."

In further heroics, Gorden "self imposed" an ordinance passed by council which will take effect next year, cutting the mayor's cashable vacation time from five weeks to three. Gorden announced his decision to adopt that policy this year  -- he's up for re-election after all—and did so with all the imagined solemnity of a man donating a limb or infant grandson.


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