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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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Perhaps it's time we take a few concerted moments to unpack a sampling of Mayor Gorden's official statement in response to what he has dismissively dubbed  "this distraction."

He submitted said statement last week via the Cleveland Jewish News, the only media outlet to which he granted an exclusive in-depth interview and is, by the way, a paper with a circulation in the 9,000-ish range.

For the sake of space, time and their mutual continuum, I'll limit this close reading to a single paragraph. (A PDF of Gorden's full statement can be found on the Cleveland Jewish News website).

Wrote Gorden: (or, more likely, Wrote Gorden's ghostwriter(s)):

"I am disappointed in some aspects of what has been reported, as it is my opinion—and I am not alone—that what you have read or heard has been incomplete and at times not entirely fair or accurate. We are not perfect, but want to point out to you as well that this is an election year, and we understand that this may be convenient material for those running or considering running for mayor or council. It's almost certainly not a coincidence that this is happening now."

An ill-conceived and flailing defense on first blush, granted. But let's take a closer look:

I am disappointed in some aspects of what has been reported...

"Some" aspects, eh? Foremost those that impugn his credentials, integrity and ethics, I'd wager; and "disappointed," in all likelihood, by the fact that he got caught at all.

...as it is my opinion—and I am not alone—

At least four of his buddies on the 7-member all-white-male Beachwood council share his "opinion." That's about it.

...that what you have read or heard has been incomplete...

True that. Only documents from the past few years have surfaced via public records requests, but Gorden has been Beachwood's mayor since 1995. It's reasonable to suspect that this type of outlandish excess has been a staple of his tenure since President Bill Clinton's first term.

...and at times not entirely fair or accurate...  

Once again, Gorden principally just sounds upset that he got caught. And it's worth noting that Beachwood government leaders are overly fond of calling statements inaccurate. That's like their go-to defense. But when pressed—what exactly isn't accurate?—they claim to be lacking key documents, proper files, etc. and tell you to email them about it. Note also above the "at times" without any indication as to which.

We are not perfect...

Go-to tactic for corrupt politicians everywhere. As if spending tax dollars with licentious abandon the way Gorden has is in any way tantamount to making difficult legislative decisions. Also, mark the shift to first-person plural. Suddenly, "we" are not perfect. It's customary for politicians to absolve themselves via deflection, but what's comical is how predictably Gorden asserts his authority and responsibility when it's profitable and pleads ignorance and/or impotence otherwise.   

...but want to point out to you as well that this is an election year...

Aha! (Immediately pointing fingers, serving up limp, circumstantial rationalizations).

...and we understand that this may be convenient material...

More like "slam-dunk opposition ammo."     

...for those running...

Gorden is the only mayoral candidate to have filed a petition.

...or considering running for Mayor or council. It's almost certainly not a coincidence that this is happening now."

Come on, Merle! What a preposterous assumption. Gorden has been the focal point of all media scrutiny, and seeing as no other candidates have begun campaigning (or even announced campaigns), the orchestration of a public thrashing this far in advance of the November race would presuppose an extremely long and unorthodox con. This is the type of dirt people dig up during campaigns, not before.

And to implicate all those considering running for Beachwood political office represents what is probably the most fundamental misunderstanding of the current situation. It's not as if qualified, civically minded Beachwood residents are digging up Gorden's improprieties to bolster their own fledgling campaigns. If they're considering running at all, it will be largely because of Gorden's improprieties.

Not only ill conceived and flailing, it would seem; but also utterly backwards.

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