Thursday, August 02, 2001

Council approves spending

Police overtime, job program funded

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved measures spending $250,000 for police overtime and $240,000 for a program providing youths summer jobs.

        Last week Councilman Pat DeWine proposed spending another $250,000 for overtime to allow the police division to pay officers on a new violent crimes task force and for additional hours of beat coverage.

        Mr. DeWine argued that the $3.4 million budgeted for police overtime was drained by the April rioting and the violence in Cincinnati neighborhoods since then.

        The money, he said, will provide overtime pay for about two months.

        Councilwoman Alicia Reece was the only one on the nine-member council to vote against Mr. DeWine's proposal, saying she is not convinced that spending more money on overtime will do anything to keep the streets safe.

        “There are about 850 police officers assigned to the streets of Cincinnati and this isn't going to mean there will be any more,” Ms. Reece said.

        She wanted to amend the DeWine proposal by adding another $250,000 in overtime for firefighters.

        Mayor Charlie Luken told her to come back to council with a separate motion. The Reece amendment was defeated.

        The $240,000 given to a summer jobs program at the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority also passed on an 8-1 vote.

        Councilman Phil Heimlich objected, saying he wants a complete accounting of how $2.9 million in public and private funds has been spent on the Summer Employment Youth Initiative announced by Mr. Luken and Cincinnati business leaders after the April riots.

        Mr. Heimlich argued that the plan was originally supposed to provide about 3,000 summer jobs for youths, but has fallen short of the goal. Program organizers say about 2,000 young people have gotten jobs.

        CMHA has hired 63 young people to work in construction and administrative jobs through the summer, but the housing agency needed the $240,000 from the city to pay them.

        The Rev. Damon Lynch III, co-chairman of Cincinnati Community Action Now (CAN), brought about two dozen of the young workers to city council Wednesday and argued that the council should approve the funding, despite Mr. Heimlich's objections that the jobs program has failed.

        “The city made a commitment,” Mr. Lynch said.

        Mr. Heimlich said that he wants an accounting of how the $2.9 million is being spent - even if most of it is private money from companies and foundations.

        “Just because you are against wasteful spending, doesn't mean you are against kids,” Mr. Heimlich said.


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