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Bringing Back the Force

Thursday, February 10, 2005 at 10:44 AM

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Hundreds of Cleveland safety workers were let go last year because of a $60 million budget deficit. Now, Mayor Jane Campbell says it's likely the city will rehire some of the laid off police officers. ideastream's Janet Babin reports.

Mayor Campbell says the city’s had a good year, that 2004 income tax revenue is up from 2003, for the first time since 2000 people made more money. She says the city can now afford to hire back 45 officers by April. But only if the Police keep overtime low, the state maintains its funding, and the mayor’s plan to catch wayward motorists running red lights with cameras becomes reality.

Jane Campbell: Those cameras and their investment and the resources that will flow through that up are slated to bring in six million dollars, and that will make sure that we have the solid budget that we need. So we do need Council to approve the budget as it is, we need council to authorize the installation of the red light cameras.

While Campbell was making her announcement at one end of City Hall, Cleveland City Council was holding budget hearings at the other end. Council President Frank Jackson says members were not informed of the mayor’s coup to bring back some laid off police officers. While Jackson says it’s his goal to get all of the hundreds of laid off safety personnel back to work, he wants to make sure they aren’t brought back only to be laid off a few months later.

Frank Jackson: So I have to ferret through this whole thing, get down to what’s really happening, get away from the pronouncements that people are making, put aside the political agendas and the hype that is put out there, so that I can pass a balanced budget that is fiscally sound and in the best interests of its people.

The political agendas Jackson refers to might include the Police Patrolmen’s Association desire to reduce the number of Cleveland council members while increasing Cleveland’s income tax, in order to recall more safety workers.

The Police Patrolmen’s association mounted an effort in December to place such an issue before voters this November. But Patrolmen Association President Bob Beck, who appeared at Campbell’s side during her press conference, told reporters that his only concern was the welfare of the association’s members:

Bob Beck: There is no quid pro quo so to speak, for the union being here today with the mayor. This is about return to work - issues of tax, of council, those are all issues for another day.

Most of Campbell’s plan would be paid for by a federal COPS grant, with the city picking up about one-third of the cost. The federal grant will only last three years. After that, the city would have to find a way to pay the rehired officers from local funds.

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