Monday, June 14, 1999

Voice mail's as hot as the weather

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Be careful when you open your voice mail. Everybody just may be a little crazy from the heat.

        Readers locked in on my phone like heat-seeking missiles to comment on recent columns. They left messages and sent faxes about the city of Cincinnati spending $20,000 for police courtesy training. They showed concern for Fred Cianciolo. The longtime grocer has been bothered by a string of early morning break-ins at his downtown store.

        The hottest responses sizzled over a column I wrote about a bad habit of some judges, including Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman. The judges in question tend to speak in court before their brains are in gear.

        Judge Ruehlman recently sentenced a woman for smothering her 2-month-old son. During the sentencing he told the mother that society's acceptance of abortion has made it easier for parents to murder their children.

        “It's our country's fault,” the judge said in court. “We have sanctioned the wholesale slaughter of unborn children.”

        Delivering personal opinions from the bench, I wrote, is inappropriate, wastes the taxpayers' money when it causes cases to be appealed and makes it possible for crooks to get off on technicalities.

        Some readers found me in contempt of court.

        “Hey hypocrite! Don't you ever think before you write?” —Bob Darling, Colerain Township.

        “Judge Ruehlman got it right, moron.” —Allen James, White Oak.

        The majority opinion ruled in favor of judges restricting their opinions to legal matters when they are serving justice.

        “Bravo! Too many judges think somebody died and made them God.” —Betsy Riggs, Lebanon.

        “There is no reason for him to berate people as they are sent off to prison, or to use the court's power as a sounding board for his personal agenda.” —Mike Shryock, Madeira.

        “After watching a number of the Hamilton County judges in action, I was prompted to conclude that I have never met the man I would want to be my judge.” —Dave Bootes, Mount Adams.

        Asking to remain nameless, a reader rendered the opinion that people wearing robes and wielding gavels for a living suffer from “judge-itis.” Symptoms include: “unnecessary interruptions during court proceedings and giving utterance to private thoughts far better left unspoken.”

Courteous cops
        Thanks to a $20,000 federal grant, the city of Cincinnati will develop a pilot program for police courtesy training. My “Follow-our-Money” column, part of a series tracking how tax monies are spent, questioned the wisdom of spending our tax dollars for a program whose plans are still a work in progress. Readers had questions, too.

        “Didn't their mamas teach them manners?” —Ann Parks, Roselawn.

        “$20,000? For a pilot program? That's only the beginning.” —Zev Gray, Blue Ash.

        “You've never had a real job in your life other than sitting behind a typewriter second-guessing everybody, have you?” —Joe (last name withheld), Delhi Township.

        Does installing drywall for four summers count?

Fred's plight
        Friday's column was about Fred Cianciolo and his downtown grocery. The store has been plagued by a string of six early morning break-ins.

        Thieves always take the same thing: $1,000 in cigarettes. That's it.

        Fred wants to put up a gate or security bars. But city rules frown on altering storefronts in historic districts. Fred's store is in the Main Street Historic District.

        Calls poured in supporting Fred and his battles with the crooks and city hall. “Has the city of Cincinnati lost its mind?” asked Yasna Hood of Mount Healthy.

        Bill Richards of B/R Security offered to sell Fred break-in activated sirens and window sensors “at cost. I'll install them for free. Fred's been ripped off enough.”

        Fred liked Bill's offer. “I need some kind of security set-up,” the shopkeeper told me on Friday. “I want to sleep again at night.”

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

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