Nation/World


FRIDAY, OCT. 17, 1997

Geraghty Meets Many Of His Goals Mayor Wants Second Term To Complete Objectives

Four years ago, candidate Jack Geraghty launched his mayoral campaign with “an agenda for progress.”

The five-page document detailed what he considered the major challenges facing the city of Spokane and what he would do about them.

He proposed streamlining and reorganizing government, hiring more police officers and bringing City Hall closer to neighborhoods.

In speeches and debates, Geraghty vowed to thin middle-management ranks, cut fat from departmental spending and reorganize the police review panel.

Many of the candidate’s goals have been fulfilled, although not always through the methods he proposed. Several took a lot longer than he expected.

As for the objectives that remain unmet, those are the reasons he’s running for reelection, Geraghty said recently.

“I really feel you can’t do everything” in one term, Geraghty said.

In 1993 - before the controversies over the downtown River Park Square redevelopment, the Ronald property alongside the Spokane Falls and the rethinking of the Lincoln Street bridge proposal - candidates focused on city spending and public safety.

During his first mayoral campaign, Geraghty proposed cutting spending 3 percent in all departments and eliminating 25 middle-management jobs to trim away flabby spending and find money for more police.

Geraghty’s so-called management “hit list” included a planner, an accountant, a police sergeant and a mayor’s assistant. It won him fans - and a lot of flap from his opponent, Joel Crosby, who called the proposal irresponsible.

“I think the hard fact is that the way the budget has to be trimmed, unfortunately, is staff reduction,” Geraghty said during a debate with Crosby.

Days after taking office, Geraghty hired a secretary instead of an assistant, saving taxpayers $13,000. A week later, he backed away from plans for an immediate management shake-up, saying that cutting those 25 jobs would take at least a year through retirements, resignations and reorganization.

In 1995, shrinking sales tax revenues forced the council to offer employees a voluntary severance package to balance its budget.

Thirty-five positions - a mix of management, labor and clerical - were eliminated over two years.

In a 1996 speech to the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce, Geraghty lamented that the job cuts had been born of economic necessity and were not the end result of an all-out search for wasteful spending.

Talk of across-the-board cuts disappeared from Geraghty’s discourse after the election.

Earlier this week, Geraghty said he spoke too soon when he talked about 3 percent cuts from all departments.

“That was before I really got on the scene,” he said. “Any time you talk about across-the-board cuts, … it isn’t necessarily fair. You have to look at each department.”

Candidate Geraghty promised - and Mayor Geraghty delivered - program-based budgeting that ties dollars to specific programs such as street cleaning and snow and ice removal.

But another of his proposals - to switch to a two-year budgeting cycle - hasn’t happened.

Geraghty’s “agenda” called for a ratio of 1.7 police officers for every 1,000 residents by 1997. He wanted to hire 30 police officers in ‘94 and 15 more each in ‘95, ‘96 and ‘97.

In 1995, the city did add 26 police. Only a quarter of the money for the officers came from city budget shifts and increased revenues - 75 percent of it came from federal tax dollars.

The city must start paying the full tab - more than $1 million - next year.

Hiring still more officers no longer is Geraghty’s top budget priority. That distinction goes to fixing the streets - something Geraghty didn’t talk about during his 1993 campaign.

“When you’re outside, you don’t realize the magnitude of the problem,” he said, noting the street bond issue he and his colleagues pushed was defeated by voters last year.

What Geraghty did mention frequently during his first campaign was forming neighborhood councils to improve communication between residents and city government. The panels would serve as advisers to the City Council, recommending actions or policies on issues such as housing, land use, zoning and social problems.

“We’re not talking about another layer of government, just more involvement,” Geraghty said during the campaign.

Shortly after he arrived at City Hall, Geraghty set to work on the program. He and colleagues Chris Anderson and Phyllis Holmes spent several months talking to residents about the plan.

It took nearly two years, but the council approved the program in September 1995. Currently, 10 neighborhood councils are up and running, and as many as 45 are expected to be formed across the city.

A public relations consultant, candidate Geraghty talked a lot about increased communications with the public.

He takes monthly walks through the city’s neighborhoods. Largely due to his push, the city hired a $45,622-a-year communications director earlier this year.

Since taking office, Geraghty has made other pledges.

In a 1996 speech to Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce members, Geraghty called for a complete overhaul of city government.

“There’s going to be no individuals, no departments that won’t be a part of that” restructuring, he said.

He admits his plan to reorganize government never took off.

Last year, the council directed a citizens volunteer group known as the Community Partners to study a few aspects of the city charter for possible changes. The committee came back with several suggested amendments, including one that would have allowed contracting out civil service jobs.

But the council - particularly Geraghty - wasn’t satisfied and tabled the recommendations.

“I don’t think Community Partners went far enough,” said Geraghty - despite the fact it was the council that had limited the group’s search.

In spring 1995, Geraghty appointed a committee to restructure the citizens review panel, which served as a police oversight board.

The committee came back with plans for a smaller review commission, but the group lay dormant for two years because Geraghty didn’t appoint anyone to it.

“It took awhile to get the right people interested in serving,” he said recently. “That’s a very sensitive commission, and one that I am pledged to continue.”

Last February, Geraghty launched a campaign for improved race relations throughout the city, sending out letters asking 23,000 groups and businesses to make a commitment to racial equity. In May, he helped organize a Community Congress on Race Relations.

After nearly four years as mayor, Geraghty said he’s learned that everything takes longer than expected.

He pointed to issues such as downtown revitalization - and his avid support of the River Park Square project - as proof that he has accomplished plenty during his term.

“Everything has to be done with persuasion and policy direction,” he said. “I take credit for initiating discussions and getting the council to agree.

“But it has been a full council effort.”

, DataTimes MEMO: These sidebars appeared with the story: POLL INQUIRY If you’ve been contacted recently for a poll involving Spokane’s mayor’s race or other municipal elections, we’d like to hear from you for an upcoming story on polling. Call Cityline at 458-8800 on a Touch-Tone phone, then press 9864 to leave a message about the poll.

THEN AND NOW In 1993, candidate Geraghty proposed 3 percent spending cuts in all departments, eliminating 25 middle-management jobs. Mayor Geraghty in 1997: “That was before I really got on the scene. Any time you talk about acrossthe-board cuts, … it isn’t necessarily fair. You have to look at each department.”

Mayor’s race This is the first of two stories on the city government records of the Spokane mayoral candidates. Saturday: He hasn’t held an elected office, but challenger John Talbott has a long history of involvement with City Hall. Sunday: Geraghty and Talbott square off in a Spokesman-Review debate. On the Internet: Published articles and additional election coverage can be read by logging on to the newspaper Web site, Virtually Northwest, at www.virtuallynw.com, and clicking on Election Central.

These sidebars appeared with the story: POLL INQUIRY If you’ve been contacted recently for a poll involving Spokane’s mayor’s race or other municipal elections, we’d like to hear from you for an upcoming story on polling. Call Cityline at 458-8800 on a Touch-Tone phone, then press 9864 to leave a message about the poll.

THEN AND NOW In 1993, candidate Geraghty proposed 3 percent spending cuts in all departments, eliminating 25 middle-management jobs. Mayor Geraghty in 1997: “That was before I really got on the scene. Any time you talk about acrossthe-board cuts, … it isn’t necessarily fair. You have to look at each department.”

Mayor’s race This is the first of two stories on the city government records of the Spokane mayoral candidates. Saturday: He hasn’t held an elected office, but challenger John Talbott has a long history of involvement with City Hall. Sunday: Geraghty and Talbott square off in a Spokesman-Review debate. On the Internet: Published articles and additional election coverage can be read by logging on to the newspaper Web site, Virtually Northwest, at www.virtuallynw.com, and clicking on Election Central.



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