Sunday, June 04, 2000

Rites of Springer

Chair jokes greet speech on activism

By Mara H. Gottfried
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jerry Springer couldn't get away from the chair jokes Saturday during a speech on the power of the vote at Integrity Hall in Bond Hill.

        “It's great to be in a place where you actually sit on chairs,” said the former Cincinnati mayor, whose talk show has been known to include chair-throwing brawls.

Jerry Springer
        Later during Mr. Springer's speech to about 200 people, Jene Galvin, a longtime friend of Mr. Springer, faked throwing a chair into the audience. “Now I feel at home,” said Mr. Springer, punching his fist into the air.

        Mr. Springer's speech was billed as a portion of a conference to educate entrepreneurs on working with government officials. But the event proved to be more of a political rally, with a large number of Democratic politicians attending.

        Stephen Reece Sr. owns Integ rity Hall and sponsored the fourth annual conference for entrepreneurs. He spoke about bringing his daughter, Cincinnati Councilwoman Alicia Reece, to City Hall as a child in 1972 when Mr. Springer was a councilman.

        Mr. Springer, predicting that Ms. Reece will one day be mayor, quipped: “It's a good thing you didn't bring her to my show first. Today she'd be a transsexual.”

        Saturday night Mr. Springer was scheduled to speak at an AFL-CIO Labor Council dinner.

        The theme of Mr. Springer's speech at Integrity Hall was that lower- and middle-class people can make a difference by using their large numbers as an advantage in the polls.

        “We can't get more money, but we do have more numbers — that's the message that has to get to young people,” he said.

        Mr. Springer concluded by making reference to his own political history as councilman and mayor.

        “You've got to let the people know that you really give a damn about them,” he said. “And if you have that sense that the person running for office really wants your life to be better, you will forgive an enormous amount of sins. I stand here as living proof of that.”

        Mr. Springer, who had toyed with the idea of returning to Ohio politics last year, said it is still a possibility.

        “At this point it's legally impossible for me to do it because I'd spend the entire campaign in court because of my contracts,” Mr. Springer said after his speech.

        “But in a few years, when I'm done with the show, I might consider it.”


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