Dirt Bikes Race
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The city's plan to spend $2.4 million to build a track complex for dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles has quickly become an issue in Cleveland's mayoral campaign, one that prompted a fiery exchange Tuesday.
Mayor Frank Jackson has championed the idea as a part of a comprehensive solution to getting bikers off city streets and engaged in a more productive - and lawful - activity. His challengers, including Councilman Zack Reed, have been critical, saying the money could be better spent elsewhere. Monday evening Reed called for public hearings on the plan.
Against that backdrop, Jackson on Tuesday took a swipe at Reed, suggesting the motivation for criticisms Reed has raised at City Council meetings have more to do with political gain that genuine concern for safety or the city's budget.
"He can say anything, whatever he thinks is to his advantage, " Jackson said, responding to a question at a news conference.
"There are pimps in every world, " the mayor said. "He's pimping this situation ... exploiting it for the purpose of his own interests."
Reed, in telephone interview afterward, said he was offended by the remark and that the mayor should apologize.
"Zach Reed may be a lot of things, but one thing Zack Reed is not is an exploiter of the issues, " the councilman said. "None of what I'm doing is for political gain. As I continue to say, when they break the law, we have people in place to enforce the laws.
"We can talk about using $2.4 million on a lot of things if you're talking about reducing violence in the city of Cleveland, " Reed said.
Councilman Jeff Johnson, who also is challenging Jackson's re-election, took to Twitter with his response.- Jeff Johnson (@VoteJeffJohnson)
Mayor Jackson has lost his way. He called @zachreed12 a pimp. A derogatory term that offends me. He disrespects us who disagree w/dirt bikes- Jeff Johnson (@VoteJeffJohnson)
Watching Mayor Jackson speak @ his news conference on dirt bikes. He is not leading on this. Very weak response. #noDirtBikesonCLEstreets- Jeff Johnson (@VoteJeffJohnson)
Jackson didn't back away from his comment when further questioned. He defended his approach to the issue - a multi-pronged effort that involves dialogue with those who are part of the dirt bike scene - as a better approach toward a long-term solution than just arresting people.
The effort involves relationship building, he said. And he was critical that Reed and others have referred to those on bikes as "thugs" and "terrorists."
"How can we work in a collaborative and cooperative way?" Jackson said. "We want to have a relationship with people involved in the activity."Follow @RobertVHiggs