Council has advantage on posturing

BY HOWARD WILKINSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Council has an advantage on posturing

No one believes there is an even playing field in a Cincinnati City Council campaign.

The incumbents hold the home-field advantage; and probably always will.

We know they control the money - 87 percent of the dollars raised through the first reporting period was in their pockets. Plus, they get most of the attention because, on Wednesday afternoons at City Hall, they have a televised forum in which to draw attention to themselves, commonly known as the "council session."

Non-incumbents have no council session. Maybe they should, even if it is just pretend.

No difference

Maybe the non-incumbentsshould just get a big chunk of local TV time once a week where they sit around a big table, make speeches, introduce motions, call each other names, and generally behave like real-life incumbents.

It wouldn't make any difference; nothing they would do or say would change the state of public affairs in Cincinnati one iota. But, then, neither does much of what goes on in the real council meetings at 801 Plum St.

Take, for instance, the resolution offered this past week by Councilman Dwight Tillery. He asked that council send a resolution to Acting Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig insisting that Cincinnati's own Pete Rose be "reinstated to the game of baseball and immediately made eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame."

It passed, of course, on a 9-0 vote.

We don't think that this forceful statement in support of Western Hills High's favorite son will make Mr. Selig shake in his Rockports. But there are still a lot of voters on the West Side of Cincinnati who believe baseball's all-time hit king was wronged. Mr. Tillery, who hopes to be mayor again, needs every one of those West Side votes he can get. A pointless resolution would do nicely.

Defining moment

The week before, when it was clear there was considerable public outrage over the escalating cost of building the Bengals a new stadium and trepidation over what a Reds ballpark might cost, Councilman Charles Winburn suggested in council that renovating Cinergy Field for the Reds is the fastest, cheapest option.

He has been using the line in stump speeches around the city; and, no doubt, many voters, fed up with the wrangling over stadiums, will respond to it. The problem, though, is that city council hasnothing to say about it; it is a problem for the Hamilton County commissioners.

Then there was Councilman Phil Heimlich, who came up with a proposed ordinance last week to regulate nude dancing in the city of Cincinnati.

What nude dancing, you ask? Well, there isn't any, but Mr. Heimlich would apparently rather be safe than sorry - so he came up with a nine-page ordinance detailing exactly what naughty bits can't be flashed around.

By far, the most interesting part of the proposed ordinance is the 335-word legal definition of the word "buttocks," written, presumably so those nude dancers - who should be arriving in town any day now - will know exactly what has to be covered up.

The definition section goes on about "tensor fasciae latae muscles," "gluteal folds," and other things you really don't want to know about.

We read it; and couldn't help think that there was some poor assistant city solicitor who had to write this, all the time wondering if this was why he or she spent all those years in college to become a lawyer.

If Mr. Heimlich really needed a definition of this particular part of the anatomy, there are probably a lot of Cincinnati voters who could have offered a simpler one:

That area that many politicians could not find with both hands and a mirror.

Howard Wilkinson covers politics for the Enquirer. His column appears on Sundays.

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