Paying for the Mayor’s Bodyguard
Cincinnati City Council began the process today to make Mayor Mark Mallory’s office pick up the tab for Mallory’s bodyguard.
Council’s Finance Committee voted 4-2 this afternoon to recommend shifting the expense for Police Spec. Scotty Johnson, Mallory’s bodyguard, from the police department’s budget to the mayor’s administrative budget. From April through June, the Police Department paid more than $5,300 for 126 hours of overtime lodged by Johnson in his duties. At that pace, the department would be paying almost $30,000 in overtime to Johnson by year’s end, in addition to his $58,000 annual salary.
The full city council will vote on the proposal Wednesday.
Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz introduced the proposal to shift the expense, stating that the expense shouldn’t be borne by the police department at a time when it’s trying to add new equipment to help reduce crime and when budget planners say the city is facing an $84 million deficit in the general fund unless cuts are made.
Besides Ghiz, others who supported the proposal were John Cranley, Jeff Berding and Chris Bortz. Opposed were David Crowley and Cecil Thomas. Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell abstained from the vote.
Crowley and Thomas wanted to delay voting on the proposal for two weeks and allow Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. to testify before the committee about the arrangement. But noting that the proposal was introduced July 31 and today’s vote has been scheduled since that time, Ghiz said further delay was unwarranted.
Mallory specifically requested Johnson as his bodyguard in April, after activist Kabaka Oba was shot outside City Hall upon leaving a council meeting. Mallory and council members could hear the gunshots through the window, quickly adjourned the meeting and fled the room. In that incident, however, Oba knew the perpetrator, Howard Beatty, and the pair was involved in a personal feud. Beatty has since been sentenced to 13 years in prison for manslaughter.
Since that time no specific death threats against Mallory or council members have been reported.
Johnson’s new assignment comes with perks. He accompanied Mallory over the weekend to attend the Bengals-Steelers football game in Pittsburgh. Johnson joined the mayor and others in watching the game from a private luxury suite at Heinz Field.
— Kevin Osborne