CLEVELAND -- Mayor Frank Jackson has no plans to charge top officials and other employees who get free parking at City Hall, a perk that costs taxpayers about $330,000.
"It is the way we do what we do," Jackson said a day after the Investigator Tom Meyer reported that government big wigs earning six-figure salaries and members of their staffs are assigned free parking spaces.
The mayor called the special parking a valuable perk that helps City Hall employees do their job better. But he took exception to using the word "free."
"There is nothing free in the City of Cleveland," Jackson said. "There is a cost to it and someone winds up paying the cost."
That's funny. Clevelanders who work downtown and pay $9 or more to park agree, saying they are the ones footing the bill for the free spots for city workers.
"I think it's absolutely wrong," said Karen Laux. "Why does the taxpayer always have to pay and everyone else gets the freebies?"
The mayor says the 137 free spots all needed for city employees who come and go. But Channel 3 News found that some of those spots belong to secretaries, a receptionist and members of the Mayor's Action Center, who all have desk jobs.
"I pay to park -- you should pay to park," said Bonita Bell. "Out of your pocket, not out of mine."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is currently reviewing free city parking in the Windy City, which costs about $1 million a year. But Jackson said that Chicago hasn't managed its money as well as he's managed Cleveland's.
"I'm not reviewing it," Jackson said of the parking policy.
The mayor says inexpensive parking is available to city employees and other downtown workers at the Municipal Lot on the Shoreway where workers have to walk for blocks to get to their job.