Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Mayor: City might 'rethink' deal

City Council to vote to cap monitor team's contract

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

If costs for monitoring reforms in Cincinnati's police department exceed $5 million over the next five years, the city might “rethink” two historic legal settlements to improve police-community relations, Mayor Charlie Luken said Tuesday.

A week after the federally appointed monitor said costs could be more than $7 million, City Council members said they will vote today to cap the contract with Berkeley, Calif., lawyer Alan Kalmanoff and his 20-member team of legal and police experts.

Council members insisted that they had approved a maximum of $1 million a year for the next five years in agreements made with the Department of Justice and with a group of African-Americans who had filed a lawsuit against the city that accused police of racial profiling.

“If the agreement doesn't mean what we think it means, then we will have to rethink the agreement,” Mr. Luken said. “We reserve the right to reconsider what we are trying to do.”

For a frustrating hour on Tuesday, nearly every council member peppered Dr. Kalmanoff with questions about costs and details of his plan to oversee reforms, but all he gave them was a promise to follow the agreements “religiously.”

He repeatedly refused to speculate on his plans (“I am not really able to discuss the substance of the work I am doing.”), and he would not discuss costs (“I have never estimated costs, nor would I.”).

“I am very uncomfortable with the waffling that has gone on here today,” Councilman James Tarbell said. “This is the referee in this whole exercise, and I am uncomfortable with him.”

Last week, Dr. Kalmanoff told the Cincinnati Enquirer

that costs could be more than $7 million. He said the figures were taken directly out of the settlement agreements. He said it is not an “estimate” because he does not yet know how much it will actually cost.

Documents obtained Tuesday by the Enquirer show Dr. Kalmanoff's budget proposal for the monitor costs totals about $7.5 million.

The proposal, submitted by the institute for Law and Policy Planning — the nonprofit company headed by Dr. Kalmanoff — was part of an application for the monitor job. It breaks down costs in three different five-year summaries. It shows costs for overseeing the lawsuit, called the collaborative agreement, at $2.3 million; the Department of Justice agreement at $1.6 million; and a third budget for the monitor at $3.6 million.

“The spreadsheets that follow are a best preliminary effort,” a budget proposal letter states. “It is assumed that, after early discussions and meetings, a revised work plan and a revised budget will be presented for review.”

Dr. Kalmanoff was appointed this month by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott after she became convinced the parties involved in the settlements could not agree on one of 11 candidates for the job. Dr. Kalmanoff's team will be joined next year by retiring Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andrew Douglas.

The monitor's job is to enforce deadlines in settlements that ended this year's federal probe of the police department and suspended the lawsuit. The monitor will oversee the police department's overhaul of training, use-of-force policies and citizen complaint procedures. The monitor will also oversee community efforts to reduce crime through a new system of community-police relations.

Under terms of the two agreements, the city is responsible for paying the monitor costs. Dr. Kalmanoff began negotiating his contract with city attorneys last week.

With only a few days on the job, Dr. Kalmanoff has met with several city officials and community leaders. He has had meetings with the police chief, the mayor, council members, community activists, police union lawyers and he has taken a ride along with a police officer.

He told council members that he would “not feed into or play into anything that will stress this very, very important agreement.”

But with the city facing a possible $35 million budget shortfall next year, council members on all sides of the political spectrum said they still have concerns.

Councilman John Cranley reacted with surprise after Dr. Kalmanoff told him he would not interpret the agreement for the council.

“This is ridiculous,” Mr. Cranley said. “The judicial agreement appointing you monitor is not an ambiguous order.”

Council members Pat DeWine and Alicia Reece, who sponsored the motion to cap costs, said council needs to act right away.

“We have a huge ambiguity, which today did not clear up,” Mr. DeWine said, adding that he wants to make sure the city is protected. “This is something that can't wait until we get far down the road.”

Ms. Reece called it an issue of stewardship.

“If we go in and don't put the right contract together, it is on us,” she said. “As stewards of taxpayer money, we are held accountable.”


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