Tuesday, April 27, 1999

Historic charter decision one week away


Cincinnati voters to decide on electing mayor

BY HOWARD WILKINSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It has been generations since Cincinnatians made a fundamental change in the way their city is governed.

        Calvin Coolidge was president when voters approved a city charter calling for a council-manager form of government to replace a corrupt and incompetent Republican political machine.

        One week from today, Cincinnati voters will be asked to make major changes in the charter again.

        Issue 4 would redefine the role of the mayor. For more than 70 years, the mayor has had no particular power to wield; he or she has been just another member of council.

        Under the charter amend ment, the mayor would:

        • Be directly elected through a nonpartisan primary followed by a runoff between the top two vote-getters.

        • Not be a member of the nine-member council, but would have veto power over council legislation, subject to override by six council members.

        • Appoint all council committee chairmen and initiate the hiring and firing of the city manager, subject to approval by council.

        Zane Miller, a history professor at the University of Cincinnati who has written exten sively on Cincinnati's political history, said proponents' best argument is that politics in Cincinnati has become “more chaotic and less disciplined” in recent decades.

        “Party discipline doesn't exist anymore, either with the voters on the politicians,” Mr. Miller said. “The question then becomes if this is the way to fix it.”

        On Monday, Coming Together For Cincinnati, the pro-Issue 4 committee, began a week- long, $80,000 TV ad campaign with a 30-second spot on news broadcasts.

        The anti-Issue 4 campaign doesn't have enough money for a TV ad campaign, but is targeting African-American voters with a radio ad featuring Councilwoman Minette Cooper and the Rev. Donald Jones of the Baptist Ministers Conference that will run on one black-oriented station.

- Historic charter decision one week away
Issue 4: The good and the bad
Questions and answers on Issue 4



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