Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Method to the Madness?

I often wonder how independently the county administrator (Patrick Thompson) operates from the elected county commissioners. And the recent wrangling over the county's public safety budget makes me wonder even more.

Last week, Thompson made public a series of proposed budget cuts, including one requiring townships to pay for the deputies that patrol their streets. At the time, it seemed to be taken for granted that in the wake of the defeat of Issue 27, the county would discontinue funding for the patrols in Over-the-Rhine.

Yesterday, following a public meeting attended by several HamCo sheriff's deputies, we get this statement from Todd Portune:

"I expect the balanced budget will include Over-the-Rhine patrols. I expect it
will include no changes for township deputies. I don't know what we'll do to get
there, but I believe strongly we will accomplish our goals."

Here's my point: by raising the issue of county-subsidized policing for the townships, Thompson may have made it politically impossible for the OTR patrols to be de-funded. The average City resident, prior to last week's news reports, probably didn't realize the extent to which places like Greene, Colerain, Anderson, and other townships rely on the county for the provision of police services. How could the commissioners (particularly Portune and Pepper) have justified to City residents the expenditure of funds for public safety in the suburbs at the same time county funds for public safety in the City would be cut off entirely? The backlash from City residents would have been enormous (and perhaps rightly so).

So I wonder--was the issue of the township patrol budget floated intentionally, to ensure the commissioners would have political cover when they found money for the OTR patrols, or is that giving our local leaders credit for too much guile and foresight?

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