Friday, November 21, 1997
Splitting hairs over stadium,
smokers, polls

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be careful when you open your voice mail. Somebody may be wheeling in with a used ballpark.

A recent column on Marge Schott's offer to accept a renovated Cinergy Field argued that despite the savings, renovating the old bowl by the river would be building our future on the cheap. Readers had plenty to say about Cinergy and Marge.

''A reconditioned Cinergy Field would represent a missed opportunity to future generations.'' - Arnold Betz, Clifton.

''Marge doesn't give a damn about saving the taxpayers' money. She just wants to write a smaller check for her share of a new stadium.'' - Will Thompson, Harrison.

''Cheap is the order of the day for Marge.'' - Bea Carter, Blue Ash.

''Make Marge sell the team. Build the stadium on Broadway Commons. Stop the bickering.'' - T. A. Wakefield, White Oak.

A few readers were willing to kick the tires on this overhauled model and test-drive Marge's idea.

''Why can't anyone ever give Marge any credit?'' - Chuck Davidson, Finneytown.

''Shame on you! Why don't you want to save money? Spare that old stadium from the wrecking ball.'' - Sylvia Horton, Westwood.

''The high price tag on a brand-new stadium is no assurance to the fans that we will like the sound system better.'' - Howard Hawkins, Mount Auburn.

The column also took issue with the way this plot twist in the stadium saga was hatched - during closed sessions between Marge, Carl Lindner and county officials. We, the taxpayers, are footing the bill. So, these meetings should be out in the open.

''Stop worrying. Mrs. Schott and Mr. Lindner know best.'' - Warren Lane, Oakley.

''Marge and Carl don't own us. We have a say where this thing goes.'' - Sam Wilburn, Reading.

''I fear that the present mania for 'spending ourselves rich' will prove to be as unfortunate as common sense suggests it might be.'' - Ann Reid, Indian Hill.

Work the polls

Poll workers are an endangered species. A column about the shortage of people willing to hand out and collect ballots - and a proposal to have companies encourage workers to volunteer on Election Day - brought a landslide of comments.

''Break the 14-hour day into two seven-hour shifts. That'll get volunteers.'' - Sally Hoyer, Milford.

''Hold elections on Sunday, like they do in Europe. That'll take away the excuses for not voting and make it easier to find poll workers.'' - Les Ness, Anderson Township.

In response to my proposal for volunteers to work the polls, as in for free, Bob Bens of Finneytown wrote: ''You are completely out of touch with reality.''

Don't tell that to Sally Riffle of University Heights. ''I'd work the polls and donate my pay to my Neighbor-to-Neighbor program,'' she said. ''It could feed a needy family for a month. Who should I call?''

To work the polls, call the following counties: Hamilton (632-7000); Butler (887-3700); Clermont (732-7275); Warren (925-1358); Kenton (491-4780); Campbell (292-3885) or Dearborn (812) 537-8869.

Cough, hack, wheeze

The Tristate leads the nation in a dubious race: Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio rank first, second and third with the highest rates of adult smokers. A recent column said winning this race makes losers of us all.

Paul Stratman of Oakley saw the victory as ''no surprise.'' He's been to the ''gambling boats in Indiana and saw so much smoking, the people working there ought to file a class-action suit like the flight attendants.''

Jim Higgins called from Wilmington with concerns about smoking's effects on Tristate kids. He sees child abuse ''when parents smoke when their kids are in the car.''

From the smokey side of the aisle, Jake Watson phoned from Price Hill to say:

''From your picture in the paper, you don't look like a smoker. You don't look like much of anything but one of those know-it-all yuppies. Just remember, Mr. Smarty-Pants, there are people out there who never smoked - and they died, too.''

Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.