Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mayor pitches self as budget hound

"Cleveland is bucking the national trend," Mayor Frank Jackson says to start his State of the City speech.

That might sound surprising on a day when the New York Times Magazine is posting another story about the foreclosure crisis here, but Jackson mentions the ways Cleveland is doing better than most cities. Crime is down two years straight, he says. At a time when credit is tight, the city is investing in neighborhoods, he says. (Update: He later explains the city has provided development loans to businesses.)

He quickly nods to the deep recession, but says he got Cleveland ready for the tough times.

"The work I have done for the last three years has prepared us for this moment, " he says.

The city ended 2008 with a balanced budget and is "on track to balance the budget in 2009 without layoffs or reduction in services," he says, the first applause line of the day.

He lists a bunch of line-item budget-cutting he's worked on since taking office, from saving energy to a hiring freeze to collecting delinquent taxes. "Without this work, I'm convinced that Cleveland's future would be in doubt," he says.

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