Monday, April 19, 1999

It's last day to apply for review panel

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        One more day. That's all the time that's left to put your name in the hat for Cincinnati's new seven-member Citizens Police Review Panel.

        The number of applicants keeps growing. It's up to 95. And, there's room for more. But you have to hurry.

        Deadline is 5 p.m. today. Walk-ins are accepted. Applicants must be 18 or older and residents of the city. Drop off a resume, plus a letter stating why you want to be on the panel and two letters of recommendation, at Room 115 in City Hall, the office of Safety Director Kent Ryan.

        “We are taking this panel and its selection process very seriously,” City Manager John Shirey told me. “We want the best people from the largest number of applicants.”

        The panel approach was recommended by a federal mediator and approved by city council in January in response to the 1997 shooting of Lorenzo Collins. Once established, the panel will review official investigations of controversial police actions. Plans are to have it up and running by fall.

        Thankfully, the number of applicants is growing. Four weeks ago, the city had received only 24 applications. After a column noting my disappointment at the community's underwhelming response, the number rose to 47. Two weeks later, a second column explained how the panel could reduce community tensions when incidents happen such as the shooting death of Michael Carpenter. The number of applicants is now 95.

        To those who have taken the time to apply, thanks for taking the city to heart. To those who are thinking about applying, do it today. There's still time to make a difference.

Tornado gawkers
        The phone rang with a fury over my column knocking gawkers sightseeing amid the tragic destruction of the April 9 tornado. More than 150 readers called or faxed, with comments split into two camps.

        Camp No. 1 — Journalists are gawkers. Everybody has a right to look.

        “You got your nerve. You're a gawker. Your newspaper is a gawker. You used this tragedy to make money.” — John Braun, Amelia.

        “People are driving past to see something they are unable to understand or control. I don't have a fear of tornadoes. Maybe this would change my mind.” — Tina Murawski, Mason. Camp No. 2 — Gawkers should stay away.

        “Our house was not hit. But we spent Sunday cleaning up debris. The gawkers had the time to drive by three and four times. But they didn't have the compassion to assist.” — Pat McDonnell, Hamilton Township.

        Hank Rodrick splices lines for Cincinnati Bell. Three hours after the tornado struck, he was at the site of the destruction “trying to get emergency lines up. Not only did the gawkers show no respect for the occupants of those homes, they were constantly in our way. They created more of a hazard than the debris.”

School bucks
        Since writing about the $20 million in budget cuts recommended for Cincinnati Public Schools, I have heard from parents, teachers and taxpayers suggesting where the budget-cutting ax should fall.

        “Start with (Superintendent Steven) Adamowski's salary. He's making humongous bucks.” — Beth Danner, Westwood.

        “Where have we gone wrong? We spend all this money on crappy stadiums. But not enough on schools.” — Joe Gorman, Roselawn.

        “Middle-class citizens need to quit criticizing these schools from the sidelines, put their children back in them and work to improve them.” — Cindy Carlton-Ford, Hyde Park.

        Joseph Morris of Madisonville said take it out on the teachers. “Teachers should have their pay cut. Name me one group of people that has so consistently failed in its mission to help kids. Bet you can't.”

        Joseph, meet Sue. She lives in Oakley and teaches in the public schools. She asked me not to use her last name because she's afraid what she told me might tick off her boss.

        “As a Cincinnati Public School teacher, I face $1,000 in pay cuts. I spend $1,000 a year on classroom supplies. Where am I supposed to get the money to buy paper and pens for my students?”

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

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