The 900-member Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis is going after Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, the city's police cuts and the mayor's gubernatorial ambitions.
Here's the audio of the ad and here's a transcript:
Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house.
Not a creature was sleeping, not even the mouse.
With rooms full of stockings and gifts all galore,
Our house was target for bad guys and more.
This Christmas is different and lacks any cheer,
Glad tidings replaced by a blanket of fear.
When Rybak fires cops it’s a big happy present,
For burglars and robbers and people unpleasant.
You might want to add burglar alarms and security cameras to your Christmas list, because Mayor R. T. Rybak is cutting 41 cops.
He hasn’t learned that fewer cops equals more crime. Even though that’s exactly what happened the last time Rybak cut cops.
Call Rybak today and tell him running for governor doesn’t mean you cut and run in the fight against crime.
R. T.’s not worried he has his campaign,
On polling, on speeches, glad–handing’s the game.
Rybak’s not thinking ‘bout crime here at all,
For he plans a future with a house in St. Paul.
Paid for by the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.
Although public safety is not Minnesotans top priority in the 2010 elections according to polling, the criticism, buoyed by a Republican Party chorus, will likely dog the mayor as he pitches himself as a gubernatorial candidate.
Rybak and the federation have had a troubled history. While the police union endorsed him over incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton in 2001, but during his re-election campaign the union ran radio ads against him. That 2005 radio spot said it's time Rybak "learns that mayors who ignore crime and cut cops suffer consequences." Rybak responded, that the union didn't join him in working against local aid cutbacks, which predicated the budget trimming. "When the city and police needed the union's help, they put partisan Republican politics ahead of the public safety of the citizens of Minneapolis," Rybak said at the time.
This time around, Rybak has responded to cops' criticism by saying that public safety is his top priority and he wants to find funding to re-hire as many cops as possible.
On Thursday, the Minneapolis police academy graduated 20 recruits -- all but one of them will be laid off next week.
This morning, after the police union's spot aired on WCCO radio just before Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's weekly radio show, Rybak gubernatorial campaign manager Tina Smith responded via Twitter:
"Minneapolis Police Federation puts politics before policing. The real story: Crime in Minneapolis is 20% lower than it was 10 years ago."
Here's Rybak's reaction to the ad --
"I have focused like a laser on making Minneapolis a safe place to call home, and we've had some great success: in the last three years, we've cut violent crime by 39%, violent crime by juveniles is down 47% and murders are at the lowest level in decades. The work of Chief Tim Dolan and officers of the Minneapolis Police Department, combined with that of neighbors across our city, have made Minneapolis safer by almost every measure. These facts are indisputable.
Unfortunately, the Federation's ad is about politics, not policing. I've made a practice of focusing on getting results for the people of Minneapolis and not focusing on predictably misleading ads from the Police Federation. That's not going to change.
Focusing on getting results includes managing our finances responsibly. Governor Pawlenty has made that challenge harder by refusing to solve the State’s chronic budget crisis and handing down $43 million in cuts to Minneapolis in the last 12 months. To address this financial reality, we've cut $100 million dollars in spending for next year. In this tough environment, no department is immune — but the Police Department has taken smaller cuts than most other departments.
The good news is that with the help of President Obama's economic-recovery package, we hope to rehire all six of the laid-off officers and at least seven of the 19 new recruits. In other words, we hope to hire back at least 13 — that is, over half — of the 25 laid-off officers and recruits.
I will keep working with Chief Dolan and the City Council to implement further effective reforms that keep people safe and keep crime — and costs — down."
And here's a reaction from the Minnesota Republican Party. Interestingly, it reacts in part to a tweet from Rybak campaign manager Tina Smith, posted above: