Manchester Alderman Patrick Arnold is trying really hard to run for mayor. He can’t quite seem to get the hang of it, though. In his latest effort to gain the attention of voters, he has taken to scaring city residents about crime. He claims the city is experiencing an “epidemic” of rising crime, despite knowing that city police crime data reveal no such thing. His proposed solution requires an equally heroic dismissal of facts.
Arnold says he will fight crime by hiring 3-4 new police officers in each of the next five years. “This can be done within the confines of the tax cap,” he claims. How? He won’t say, exactly. He says, simply, “priorities.” This is typical of Arnold’s concept of leadership. Rather than go through the city budget and show voters what he would cut to fund these new hires, he issues a vague non-answer.
Then, he suggests the usual easy way out: Get Washington to pay for it. Arnold suggested last week that he would apply for federal grants to pay for the new officers. The city has done this in the past, to mixed effect. Federal policing grants expire after a few years. But one condition of receiving the grants is that the city keep the officers on the payroll after the federal money runs out. This, of course, requires the city to come up with its own funds, either by cutting elsewhere in the budget or raising taxes.
That is why Mayor Gatsas wisely opposed the last federal offer of this sort. The city did not have the money to pay for the officers after the grant expired. It still does not. But to Patrick Arnold, details do not matter. City police data show no rise in crime last year? Just claim otherwise. The city cannot pay for new police officers? Just assert that it can. These are hardly the marks of a strong leader for New Hampshire’s largest city.