BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Be careful when you open your voice mail. Somebody may think you're full of humbug.
"You're nuts. And so's that stupid lawyer." -- B.L. Smith, Lebanon.
"No "nice guy' would go after Christmas, Santa and Jesus." -- Brent Williams, Westwood.
"He is a nice guy and he's right." -- Helen Parks, Forest Park. "He's a sicko." -- Johnny Brothers, West Chester.
"Time's up! This guy's 15 minutes of fame are over." -- Jay Westermann, Deerfield Township.
"Merry Christmas, turkey!" -- Donna Jean, Covedale.
Callers got into the holiday spirit over Rick Ganulin. He's the 46-year-old Cincinnati lawyer and assistant city solicitor who's suing -- on his own time and with his own money -- to have Christmas stripped of its federal holiday designation.
He believes Dec. 25 shouldn't be an official off day for the U.S. government because Christmas is a day of great religious significance and the Constitution guarantees a separation of church and state. Curiosity over what kind of person -- a kook? a nice guy? a knucklehead? -- would file such a suit sent me to his house to meet him. After we talked on his front porch, I left liking the guy and struggling with my own feelings on the holiday issue. I kind of, well, agree with him. Most of all I like a country where people can speak up.
"If he's "Uncle Scrooge' like your column's headline said, then you must be Marley's ghost." -- Gladys Merchant, Mason.
"I go along with Rick and I'm a born-again Christian." -- Bill Worth, Union Township.
"Yet another late-60s high school graduate whose ideals are screwed up." -- J.A. Osborne, Hyde Park.
"He can say what he wants. When somebody like this goes after Christmas, he just doesn't want us to celebrate the birth of Jesus." -- Peggy Sappe, Colerain Township.
"Can't this guy go out and file pro bono lawsuits and help the poor? Why attack Christmas?" -- Chris Withrow, Avondale.
"When this case winds up in court, they should hold the hearings on Christmas." -- Mike Powers, Bridgetown.
"What did Santa Claus ever do to him?" -- Mary Edwards, Westwood. "It's up to the individual how to worship. Let it go at that. Keep the government out of Christmas." -- Mary Bishop, Finneytown. "Idiot! Where in the Constitution does it talk about the separation of church and state?" -- Larry Jacobs, Reading.
"The First Amendment keeps Congress away from any legislation dealing with religious matters. It may come down to just declaring that date a holiday with no allusion to any celebration. However it turns out, it'll be an interesting case." -- Bruce Conway, Oakley.
Ballots over Broadway
Give people the right to vote, and pretty soon they'll think they can tell elected officials how and where to spend their tax dollars. That was my position in last week's column on the petition drive that defied Hamilton County commissioners and will likely put the future location of the Reds stadium up for a vote this fall. An avowed Broadway Commons man, I was, in this case, more in favor of voter power when it comes to spending the voters' money. Many people agreed.
"If Broadway Commons goes down to defeat, I'll be sad. But, if nothing else, this issue will make more people vote in November. And the people will have spoken." -- Liz Frame, Groesbeck.
"Had we been able to vote on this from the very beginning, we would not be stuck with football practice fields on our precious riverfront." -- Danny Dell Jr., Downtown.
"To let the politicians do this was the epitome of arrogance, greed and selfishness. If Broadway loses after the people vote, we can live with it. That's called the democratic system." -- Greg Walden, College Hill.
"I am not in favor of having that ballpark on Broadway Commons. But any time you can take power away from the politicians and put it in the hands of the people, it is the right way to go." -- D.C. Lehmkuhl, Fairfield Township.
Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.