BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Be careful when you open your voice mail. Someone may want to shout about school.
"I'd like to bop the people in the nose who want to cut Project Succeed's budget. It needs to be increased, not cut." -- D.J. Reilly, Lawrenceburg.
"Close it down. Now! That school's a waste." -- Ralph Tilden, downtown.
"Why should Project Succeed get any special treatment? All the public schools get millions in tax dollars already." -- Bill Barnes, Westwood.
"One hundred years from now, people are going to blame us for the fall of civilization because we ignored kids in schools like Project Succeed." -- Dave Himes, Westwood.
That's a sample of the one-two punches readers delivered in response to Friday's column protesting budget cuts for Project Succeed. The school for children with discipline problems is having its budget slashed by 35 percent, losing four teachers and half its counseling staff.
Critics on Cincinnati Public's Board of Education feel the school spends too much money per pupil and students' discipline problems could be solved by the community's social service agencies. I argued the money is well spent and should not be reduced.
"Typical Board of Education. First, they can't spend money to fix the school buildings. Now, they won't spend it to fix the kids." -- R.D. Watson, Oakley.
"Board members should have term limits. Scrimping on Project Succeed shows that these goofs don't know what they're doing." -- Molly Griffin, Mount Adams.
"Before anything's done to its budget, Project Succeed should be at least 5 years old." -- Glenn Madison, Montgomery.
"These budget cuts tell those struggling kids that no one cares." -- Charles Drury, Sharonville.
Jennifer McMahon lives in College Hill and teaches fifth grade at Project Succeed. She can understand board members being concerned about money. But she sees Project Succeed in terms of paying a little now or a lot more later.
"If we don't help these kids now in a place like Project Succeed," she said, "they're going to grow up and not be able to support themselves and be productive members of society. Then, what will that cost us?"
Bobbie Sterne's retirement and sudden departure from City Council prompted a column about her legacy.
In my mind, her 25-year council career was dedicated to doing what was best for the people of Cincinnati. Some readers agreed. Some thought I was out of my mind.
"I was appalled to see you say Bobbie Sterne spoke for "we, the people.' She's extremely liberal and does not represent the majority of Cincinnati residents." -- Steve Edwards, Loveland.
"Her compassion for others and the city came from her being a nurse in World War II." -- Grace Everson, College Hill.
"It's a little early to canonize Bobbie Sterne. You don't get re-elected in Cincinnati for 25 years without being some kind of a politician." -- Martha Bredestege, Delhi Township.
"For all she has done for the city, every member in council has a huge void to fill." -- Tim McDowell, Loveland.
Nancy Jackson of Paddock Hills believed Bobbie Sterne "was not a showboater. She quietly said what she believed in. And she had what politicians have lost. That can be summed up in one word: Integrity."
In Cheviot, the garbage men call themselves "G-men." A recent "Lunch with Cliff" column about the crewmen who collect trash in the small West-side town found them to be a contented bunch. The G-men's jobs may stink but they still like what they do for a living. To them, outside work makes them feel free.
"Good for the G-men," cheered Al Matthews of West Chester. "They showed us what garbage men all over have to go through to do their jobs."
J.C. Keys of Bevis noted: "The G-men reminded us that those people who put heavy cans of smelly garbage into trucks everyday are human beings with a lot on their minds."
Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.