Sunday, September 17, 2000

Drowning enters campaign for mayor

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — The drowning of a 6-year-old boy in a closed Latonia public pool has become an issue in the political race for Covington mayor, resulting in criticism of both candidates.

        Bernie Moorman, the candidate seeking to regain the seat he held in the early and mid-1980s, said the Aug. 30 drowning of Dylan Roberts is a sad but stark sign that the city's current administration pays too little attention to Covington's neighborhoods.

        “There has been inattention,” Mr. Moorman said last week, “and what happened at Rosedale Pool is very obviously a disastrous and shameful example of it.”

        Dylan drowned in 7 feet of stagnant water that had collected in the deep end of the pool, closed since 1997 when it was damaged by a Licking River flood.

        Neighbors and city staff members who had complained about the pool and called for the city to fill it in claim they were ignored.

        Butch Callery reacted with amazement and anger to Mr. Moorman using the issue in his campaign.

        “No one wanted this to happen,” Mr. Callery said.

        “Bernie is demagoging this issue. It's out of place for him to be doing this at all. He is so desperate he is responding to something like this.”

        Mr. Callery said he “made every effort” to resolve the problems at the pool. He recently released memos showing that in late 1997 he urged action on the pool.

        “I spent a lot of time on that issue,” Mr. Callery said.

        But Mr. Moorman said sending memos was not enough; Mr. Callery should have followed up memos with action.

        “If that was not a Pontius Pilate reenactment, I don't know what is,” Mr. Moorman said.

        One of Mr. Callery's staunchest supporters — Latonia neighborhood activist Barb Cook — was livid about Mr. Moorman's campaign tactic. When she was told of Mr. Moorman's comments, she said “Oh my God, he's not going to use that, is he?

        “I think that is sad. That is a tragedy, not something that is a political football.”

        Mrs. Cook also defended Mr. Callery's record for working in neighborhoods, particularly on anti-crime programs.

        “Where has Bernie been all these years while Butch was out in the neighborhoods working for people and getting things done?” she said.

        Mr. Moorman said there are many examples of neighborhoods being ignored, from vacant storefronts along Madison Avenue, to the lack of street repairs in South Covington, to decaying, empty buildings throughout the city.

        He also said the city has been too concerned about riverfront development.

        “The riverfront is important and what has been going on there needs to continue,” Mr. Moorman said. “But we have problems and concerns south of Fourth Street that aren't being addressed.”

        Former Covington police sergeant Ray Murphy, who finished fourth in the May mayoral primary, endorsed Mr. Moorman last week.

        “The tragedy at the Rosedale pool highlights the need for real change at city hall,” said Mr. Murphy, now a Kenton County deputy sheriff.


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