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Two new shootings

By Stephanie Dunlap · October 13th, 2004 · All The News That Fits
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Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley tried making a good show of reacting decisively to two shootings that have alarmed denizens of his native Price Hill.

He introduced legislation to prevent council from doing something it had absolutely no intention of doing and falsely claimed that the legislation would add more police officers.

The police department is still 21 officers shy of the 75 extra officers council approved in 2001. If the city's income remains anemic, Cincinnati will be more than $11 million in the hole next year. Cranley wants a vote ensuring that recruit classes won't be among the expenses on the chopping block.

In fact, what Cranley called "Cranley's motion to add more police to the streets" on a news release actually just reaffirms council's previous motion to do just that.

"My reading is, it's not accurate to say we're adding officers," said Councilman David Pepper during an Oct. 11 Finance Committee meeting.

"Currently, there are no set plans to have two police recruit classes in 2005 and 2006," Cranley's statement said.

But during the committee meeting, he admitted Police Chief Thomas Streicher had told him that very morning that the city plans to have two recruit classes.

But anything's possible, was Cranley's point; council delayed one class this year.

"Obviously it's expensive," he said. "If council wants to cancel it and use (the money) for other things, then obviously that could come to a vote as well."

But council already promised not to cut public safety to balance the budget, as Vice Mayor Alicia Reece pointed out.

"It's a little disingenuous to say that if we don't pass this motion, we're supporting cutting recruit classes," Reece said. "You and I both know that the likelihood of city council legislating cutting recruit classes is not going to happen."

Councilman Christopher Smitherman wasn't buying it either, largely because he didn't know what was for sale. He said he'd gone to the Finance Committee to find out what Cranley was talking about. He wanted some numbers, maybe a presentation. So did Councilman David Crowley.

"Are you planning on bringing forward more specific numbers as we debate this today to help me figure this out?" Crowley asked.

"The issue is not how are we going to pay for it," Cranley said. "The issue is, are we going to stop paying for it?"

Activist Victoria Straughn railed against council's sudden attention to a couple of shootings in historically white, Catholic, conservative Price Hill.

"I find much of this offensive," she said. "Almost all of you ride on this crime-fighting ticket. Many other communities have been crying out like this for a long time."

Then she schooled Cranley.

"You are pandering to the police to get endorsements and you're playing games with the community to get votes, and you need to stop it," Straughn said.

What Cranley did instead was issue a press release in which he appropriated a phrase more often used to slam a fellow Democrat, Sen. John Kerry: "Will Council flip-flop on commitment to add more cops to the streets?"

At least this time Cranley avoided claiming to add police, saying only that his motion would "reaffirm" council's 2001 decision.



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