Candidates On: Budget Showdown (Part One)

Oct 22, 2009 at 2:34 pm

CityBeat’s ongoing coverage of the non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council continues with a question on council’s recent budget dispute, about where reductions should be made and whether police officers should face possible layoffs.

In the first part of a two-part question, we ask, “During the recent budget showdown on City Council, what — if anything — could’ve been done differently?”—-

Anitra Brockman (Green): “The budget should have been forecasted at least 5-10 years in advance. There should have been constant evaluation of programs, procedures and policies to find out if they are or are not being effectively utilized. It is completely unacceptable that the city continues to pay for redundant services, and underutilized programs and services. We must trim the fat so that the city can get out of this rut, and progress.  Also, there must be accountability and responsibility when taxpayer dollars are concerned and that has not been occurring. I definitely feel that the budget issues should be addressed immediately, and not wait until after the November election.”

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “I believe any negotiation should be approached with a spirit of partnership and should be conducted with the focus on reaching common goals rather than an adversarial approach. It’s been well documented within the literature of negotiation theory that a mutual gains bargaining approach produces the most benefits.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “City Council, all nine members, should have worked together towards the common goal of finding workable solutions to the problem instead of drawing political lines and falsely labeling one side as anti-police and the other as pro-police. That type of rhetoric doesn’t move the conversation forward to find a measurable result. It is important to note that ultimately, the majority of council was able to balance the budget by providing a plan that would have prevented any layoffs.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “I don’t want to over simplify this but we need to be less reactive and do a much better job at forecasting, budgeting and priority setting. Our planning and forecasting horizons must be pushed further out and the process for dealing with shortfalls and issues must be well established and clear to all. More and better information sooner and clear priorities would have made this a very different event. Lastly, we need to be more open in the priority setting process. Let’s reach out to our business, non-profit and academic partners and make the process transparent.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “I believe we need council members with the training, experience and tenacity to research important and complex issues like the budget, way ahead of “deadlines”…before we’re in a crisis. This budget deficit should not have surprised anyone in leadership. We need people capable of doing independent research and planning, people with great communication skills who can earn the trust of all the involved parties (unions, employees, citizens).”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “I believe the final budget approved was for the best with no layoffs and allowed us to continue to provide quality public services to the city of Cincinnati. Putting employees in a position to make very difficult decisions, the possibility of city services being cut, should have been more of a consideration and not become a fight about who had the best plan. We must remember majority rules and that is the process. As we move forward, elected council members should work on solutions that will bring all members together, compromise, do what is best for the residents of the city and make decisions that benefit the entire city and not always constituent based. My wisdom and experience will add to this type of process.”

George Zamary (Republican): “Better communication between the two sides. Mayor Mallory and five members of council excluded the other members from their discussions and kept calling for the minority to find other solutions. This caused increased tensions as both sides argued publicly over who was right and wrong. The mayor should have taken the reigns working with all members of council and allowing for transparency in the process.”