Has an ongoing dispute between Mayor Stephanie Miner and the Syracuse Common Council put public safety at risk?
On Tuesday afternoon, the Council put on hold a request by Police Chief Frank Fowler 34 police vehicles including unmarked cars that would be used in undercover investigations. Chief Fowler became visibly angry after the council meeting, accusing the lawmakers, in particular Lance Denno of being "irresponsible" and "putting public safety at risk."
Denno denied the accusation and pointed out that he had simply changed the Chief's request. Denno also pointed out that a number of officers have assigned cars that they drive to and from work that could be used. Chief Fowler called that a "lame excuse."
The police car controversy is seen by many as the latest example of a growing dispute between the Council and Mayor Stephanie Miner. The Mayor has had difficulty recently over her decisions to cut spending such as the closing of the Ida Benderson Senior Center.
"For us the problem has been, they say we don't like what you've decided and we say give us an alternative and they say we simply don't like that." Miner explained to reporters Tuesday.
Council Majority Leader Kathleen Joy says they're just being responsible to the voters who elected them by questioning the administration's decisions.
Mayor Miner says the City is facing a "fiscal crisis" which will get worse next year as the city deals with a $16 million deficit and the severe cuts that will come with it.
Her Chief of Staff, Bill Ryan has raised the possibility that if the situation worsens next year, the state could step in and appoint a Fiscal Control Board to handle the city's finances because local leaders are incapable of making tough decisions. Mayor Miner says she intends to avoid such a prospect. "Sometimes in a democracy, it gets a little messy before it gets effective. I think we're in the process right now where it's a little messy." Miner said.