After 37 years of service to the Lakewood Police Department, retired Sgt. Edward Favre is talking less about SWAT teams and hostage negotiations and more about school district budgets and, perhaps, a run for mayor.
Favre became an Lakewood policeman in the fall of 1973. He carried a revolver and a wooden nightstick, drove an AMC Ambassador sedan and eyed his opportunities on the force, he said.
In 1986, he became a crisis negotiator for the Westshore Enforcement Bureau (WEB), which is comprised of specially trained officers from six west side suburbs who mobilize on a moment’s notice to handle hostage and crisis situations, bomb threats and high risk emergencies.
He talked people down off bridges, convinced hostage takers to give themselves up and helped to mentor and train incoming recruits, said Bay Village Lieutenant and WEB commander Mark Spaetzel.
“When Eddie retired, he was undoubtedly our most experienced crisis negotiator,” he said. “I certainly relied on his knowledge, experience and opinion a great deal. He’s just that kind of guy that will always give you an honest appraisal of what’s going on and that’s what you look for.”
Yet with this chapter closed, Favre, who's a moderate, hinted at the idea of running for mayor saying only, “I’m thinking about it. I’m in an exploratory stage.”
In the mean time, he said he’s most concerned with Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget and the losses in revenue that will hit the district during the 2012-13 school year.
He vented his frustrations about Kasich’s budget and the $3.1 billion in proposed state cuts in school funding, calling it a “joke” and saying that politicians pander too much to their respective parties to further their political interests. In doing so, long term fiscal opportunities are compromised by unsustainable, short term strategies, he said.
“The latest round of tax cuts that would kick in Jan. 1 is about $4 billion,” he said. “Well, you’re talking about an $8 billion budget deficit (for the state’s 2012 fiscal year). it’s the same thing as me telling you that I can’t afford to pay you the $10 I owe you when $5 of it I just did something else with.”
“And how sympathetic would you be to that? Well, it’s the same thing here. They’re crying poor mouth to the tune of $8 billion dollars, $4 billion of which was an elective decision. You can’t hide behind the economy in total on this.”
In regard to the local impact of the budget come next school year, Favre, the board, Superintendent Dr. Joe Madak and treasurer Rick Berdine have been working steadily for the better part of a decade to help ensure the district’s fiscal sustainability.
It started with the Long Range Master Facilities plan that worked to either renovate or rebuild seven schools in Lakewood. This plan greatly reduced overall expenditures and it’s one of the reasons why Lakewood isn’t currently asking for a 9 or 10 mill levy, like some other nearby districts who never consolidated their structural operations, he said.
The next step was cutting $8 million from the district’s $70 million over the last two and a half years. This has given the district time to maneuver financially over the next school year, but Favre stated that the 2012-13 school year will be a “tough time” for the district as it’ll face potentially millions in budget deficits.
He noted that despite looming budget woes, the district is holding up better than many others in the state and he’s confident that incoming Superintendent Jeff Patterson and Assistant Superintendent Kevin Bright are the right people to lead the board in regard to the tasks that lie ahead.