Monday, June 23, 1997
Moms, taxes, lost lizards

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be careful when you open your voice mail. Mothers may be calling.

"You creep!"

"You made my stay-at-home day."

"I thought male chauvinist pigs like you were all dead."

"You're right. Quitting your job to stay at home and raise your kids is a higher calling."

So went the messages from Diane Hagmann of Norwood, Ann Byrnes of Green Township, Gail Bonzell of White Oak and Abby Paxton of Symmes Township.

They called about a "Lunch with Cliff" column in which I shared a midday meal and the thoughts of four stay-at-home moms. The four women left their careers to raise their children. Callers were either very angry or blissfully happy.

"Calling them the banker, the marketing manager, the CPA and the child psychologist is wrong," protested Edith Barnes of Mount Washington. "They aren't those things any more. They're housewives. Period."

"If staying at home is a higher calling than supporting your family by working outside the home, why don't men answer that higher calling more often?" wondered "devoted mother" Susan Hopkins via her employer's fax machine in Blue Ash.

"Everything those stay-at-home moms who used to be on the career track said applies to stay-at-home dads," reported Ted Gale of Fort Thomas. "I practiced law for seven years, and now I'm home full time with our daughter. To have your 1-year-old gaze up at you adoringly before she takes her afternoon nap is more fun than I ever had being a lawyer."

Paula Jordanson of Fort Mitchell left her "high-paying, power-suit job" to stay at home with her children. "Being at home is the hardest work I've ever done. And, I'm the happiest I've ever been."

Frances Livingston is happy as a "single working mother of two beautiful children" from Price Hill. In her fax, she said she never misses "anything that happens" in her children's lives. "I can have my cake and eat it, too. Even if I do have to take a little of the icing off the top, the cake is just as sweet."

Taxing tickets

Opposing sides in the admissions tax debate have some unlikely teammates.

Former stadium tax enemies Mike Brown and Tim Mara are united in opposing the ticket tax increase.

Dwight Tillery, Phil Heimlich and Roxanne Qualls - who all want to be mayor after November's election - favor raising the tax.

A recent column argued that until someone comes up with a better plan, the tax increase is the only way city council can honor its pledge to pay $5 million a year for 20 years to help fix the Cincinnati's run-down public schools.

"Mike Brown's crying crocodile tears," said Art Lewis of Springfield Township. "How can anyone like him raise Cain about a little increase in ticket prices? The people who go to the games and shows can afford to help pay to fix up the schools."

"The schools never set aside enough money for repairs," said Jerry Morrissey of Mount Lookout. "If a business were to act in such a manner, it would no longer be in business."

"Why does this tax just favor Cincinnati Public Schools?" asked Bill Steiden of Miami Township. "There are 22 separate public school districts in Hamilton County. Cincinnati is not alone. Every one of them is struggling."

Krohn-plated iguanas

As was first reported here, the Krohn Conservatory's iguana population is exploding. Not naturally, but courtesy of donations and unwanted late-night drop-offs. And the hungry lizards are eating the Krohn's collection of exotic plants.

The day after my column about the Conservatory's pesky iguanas, "people lined up with little cages wanting to take the extra iguanas off our hands," said Krohn manager Ruth Ann Spears. "Four have found a new home."

The Krohn now has a waiting list of 50 iguana lovers seeking a pet.

And two more unwanted iguanas.

"We've spotted two new ones that don't belong," she said. They're slithering somewhere around the conservatory.

Even with the two newcomers, Ruth Ann thinks they have the iguana invasion under control. "At least they're going out the door faster than they are coming in."

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.