Saturday, September 18, 1999

Paul Moloney

p. B5.

Mayor considers police board seat Jakobek covets

City budget chief has questioned force's spending decisions

Mayor Mel Lastman is considering taking the police services board seat likely to be vacated by Councillor Judy Sgro, who has served as his police board stand-in for nearly two years.

Such a move would dash the aspirations of Councillor Tom Jakobek, who revealed yesterday he covets Sgro's seat on the board that provides civilian oversight of Toronto police.

Local politicians consider a spot on the police board to be among the most prestigious of appointments to city council's many agencies, boards and commissions.

Sgro is the Liberal candidate in the federal riding of York West, one of the safest grit seats in the country. If she wins a by-election expected in November, she will give up her police board duties and council seat.

"Should a vacancy arise, the mayor is considering going on the board himself, which is his right," a source close to the mayor's office said yesterday.

Lastman won't make a final decision until after the York West by-election. The mayor has taken a personal interest in policing.

He's been critical of police chases and was instrumental in the decision to pay officers overtime to patrol high-priority neighbourhoods.

During the 1997 city election, Jakobek was one of Lastman's election lieutenants and played a key role in helping him win votes in the east end. Lastman later pegged Jakobek for the important job of city budget chief.

But relations between the two have grown fractious, with Jakobek questioning the mayor's spending priorities and Lastman complaining the budget chief is a bully to city staff.

Jakobek said the decision is the mayor's to make, but believes he deserves serious consideration for the police board.

"Realizing that it might be a possibility, and trying not to be too presumptuous, I've sent a note to the mayor asking him to consider me when and if that vacancy occurs."

Jakobek said the force's senior command is overdue for an overhaul. He believes the 7,000-member organization can get by with two deputy chiefs instead of the five it has now.

As budget chief, Jakobek has locked horns with top brass over spending priorities. Sources say senior police managers are vehemently opposed to Jakobek sitting at the table, exerting a strong influence over budget issues and management structures.

Jakobek is against putting helicopters in the air — a particular pet project of police brass.

"There are a number of financial and administrative issues which I've been very critical of and which I'd focus my attention on," he said.

Jakobek added he's less interested in police policy issues, and isn't seeking to unseat Councillor Norm Gardner as police board chairperson.

Jakobek's tight-fisted style would be an asset, said Councillor Olivia Chow, a police board member.

Chow said the police have overspent this year's $523 million budget by $9.3 million and are expected to ask for $570 million next year.

Gardner said Jakobek would have to be prepared to devote six hours a week to the job.

"You've got to be interested in police policy issues because those are what you're going to be dealing with a heck of a lot more than restructuring. It's the policy issues that drive policing."

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 9, 2000
Last modified: October 9, 2000
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