Monday, January 17, 2000

Readers irked by pre-election politics as usual

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Be careful when you open your voice mail. A strange, advance strain of the ticked-off bug is going around. Ten months before the election, voters are already sick of politics as usual in the race for Hamilton County commissioner.

        “I'm queasy from politicians calling themselves names. Bob Bedinghaus was silly to call Todd Portune a "liberal.' And, Todd Portune should stop running against the Bengals' new stadium.” — Patty Dischler, Westwood.

        “Tell Commissioner Bedinghaus to run the county and keep his thoughts on abortion to himself.” — Sue Atwood, Oakley.

        “Candidates for county commissioner should not mess with national issues. Talk about what matters to running the county.” — Carolyn Knox, Bridgetown.

        “Sure, the Bengals' stadium costs too much. But it's being built. Todd Portune needs another issue.” — Marv Reinhart, Loveland.

        These comments came in response to a recent column in which I objected to the early round of name-calling by Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus and Cincinnati City Councilman Todd Portune as they began their campaigns for one of the county's three commissioner seats.

        Commissioner Bedinghaus called the councilman a “liberal” and wanted to debate him on abortion, gun control and managed competition. Councilman Portune kept attacking the commissioner for the high cost of Paul Brown Stadium. Instead, I believe, they should discuss real issues now facing the county, such as light rail and a sewer system that keeps overflowing.

        The councilman and the commissioner also picked up the phone to voice their complaints.

        “I have discussed other issues — sewers, regional mass transportation, etc. — but your colleagues in the media just reported on the stadium issue. As for Bob Bedinghaus calling me a "liberal,' I'm surprised he hasn't asked for my views on nuclear proliferation or checked to see if I wanted to save the whales when I was a college student.” — Todd Portune, Westwood.

        “We're going to talk about the issues. Those were just easy shots coming out of the gate. Don't judge the whole campaign just on what was said on filing day.” — Bob Bedinghaus, Delhi Township.

Cosmo grrrrrrrrrs
        In a column Friday, I went shopping at Kroger with a Cosmo woman. Michelle Roberts is an accountant and an avid Cosmo reader as well as a divorced mother of three living with a “significant other.” She shared her thoughts on the grocery store chain's decision to put black plastic blinders over the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine at checkout counters.

        Kroger put up the blinders after receiving complaints from around the country about the sexually suggestive headlines on Cosmo's covers.

        Michelle termed the grocery store chain's decision “ridiculous.” She objected to seeing the lurid headlines in the tabloids and called for more choices in life, not fewer.

        Readers called to applaud and attack her.

        “This is censorship. She's right, Kroger is ridiculous.” — J.L. Light, Roselawn.

        “She sounds like a typical Cosmo reader. She's made the wrong choices in life. But she does not want to be embarrassed or ashamed by them.” — Jo Kelly, Mount Carmel.

        “Covering up Cosmo is nuts. I'm a vegetarian. I object to Kroger showing slabs of beef. I want all vegetarians to complain and Kroger to cover all those bloody flanks of meat with a big, black tarp.” — Karen Kratz-Miller, College Hill.

        “How can Kroger put blinders on Cosmo but show the covers of tabloids with headlines like "Monica's Sex Secrets' and "JFK's Secret Lover'?” — Jill Ford, Fort Thomas.

        “I want to thank Kroger for what they are doing. Headlines about sex before marriage are not OK for kids to read at the checkout counter.” — Jason Michaels, Anderson Township.

        “What Kroger is doing is crazy,” said Judy Yeager of Bellevue. “This magazine is about fun. Even people in their 50s can enjoy Cosmo. My husband and I both read the magazine. You can guess why.”

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