Thursday, April 9, 2009

Warner's crime figures don't parse

WELL, WE are just hours away from the day we've all been waiting for.  It's deadline day (sort of) for Akron Lawyer Warner Mendenhall to end his surge for 3,200 signatures on petitions to recall Don Plusquellic, the city's mayor since 1987.  (Actually, if Mendenhall doesn't achieve that goal, he will have 20 more days  to knock on more doors to come up with the minimum number for a recall election whose systemic costs to taxpayers could crash through $400,000.  Some deal for a crusader who wants to spare the city of what he believes to be a free-spending Edward Scissorhands at City Hall.

We might not know much more by day's end tomorrow. I won't speculate on whether the accuser has already passed the finish line. He claims he has, but the signatures will have to be carefully checked.    For all that I know, the valid numbers may be locked in a Swiss Bank. (Was it John McCain who said he only wanted change that he could believe in. Huh!  A lot of good that it did him.)

Mendenhall's self-drawn map to glory has had a strangely disorganized response to his critics.  He accused me of trying to create a fight between him and Plusquellic, asserting that is not really his purpose. But for the life of me I don't know anybody else he is trying to recall.  He has often accused the mayor of public corruption while his campaign material works to link Plusquellic to the corruption scandal in Cleveland.  But as early as 2003 when Plusquellic was engaged in a lightweight challenge from the GOP nominee, Bryan Williams, I was told by Republican operatives to be on the lookout for federal indictments of the mayor.  Those whispers have been hanging around with the mayor's opponents for six years.  You do the math. 

But of all of the charges and innuendo in the 47 page campaign document the one that stands out as the most egregiously wrong is the attempt to show the mayor as soft on crime in his city.  On Page 26 of the strangely crafted statistics,   Mendenhall  attempts to show that Akron is falling behind other Ohio cities in controlling property crime. Some examples, all undated:

   Although Akron  experienced only a one pct. decrease in property crimes, all of the other Ohio cities were much more successsful, with Toledo  having a 13 pct. decrease.  (For what period, who knows?)  And the same is true in other categories, with the greatest urban gap in arson, with Akron registering a 69 pct. increase and Cincinnati showing a 14 pct. decrease. Scary, right? Why isn't the mayor personally slinking down alleys by the light of the moon to hose down the arsonists' matches?

However, I can date some crime figures for Akron:  the latest FBI city crime rankings - this date is important, for 2007, the latest figures available - shows Akron to be in much better 
shape than  the cities quoted by Mendenhall in his report.  Cleveland ranked 11th nationally for the highest number of crimes; Youngstown, 15th; Dayton, 26th; Cincinnati, 28th; Columbus, 43rd;  Canton, 46th;  Toledo, 64th; and finally, Akron, 79th.   

Akron the greatest den of iniquity?  Not according to the FBI, only to Mendenhall.  I rest my case.  For now.  So what point is he trying to prove at such great expense to the city?  

But of 

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