Cincinnati Mayor Does About Face on Competition

Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken abandoned the city’s two-year experiment in “managed competition” Monday, declaring that he would not support further privatizing city services. Republican Councilman Pat DeWine suggested that the mayor is essentially signaling that the city [is] “not going to make reforms that other cities have made to save taxpayers money and make services more efficient.” Just two years ago, Luken used the annual speech to embrace the concept of privatization saying, “We are not afraid, and we will, look to the private sector to perform services traditionally done by government,” he said in 2002. This is despite nearly a $1 million in savings from subjecting the city’s street sweeping operations to competition last year. Additionally, the city had just hired a “managed competition czar.” Under the new plan the managed competition czar will be renamed to “efficiency czar.” DeWine added that officials are predicting a $60 million budget deficit by 2008, as well as that “Communist Russia had a lot of people who were efficiency czars, but the services didn’t get any better because there was no competition.”