Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Luken scolds Bedinghaus about Banks

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati's mayor is telling Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus to quit using The Banks as a political platform.

        In a terse letter Monday, Mayor Charlie Luken said efforts to renovate the riverfront are “not served by in flammatory language” and urged Mr. Bedinghaus to “put politics aside and do the right thing.”

        Those are the same words Mr. Bedinghaus has used in a letter and a series of press releases to describe Councilman Todd Portune's “lack of leadership” on creating a new port authority to lead the $250 million Banks development between the new stadiums.

        Mr. Bedinghaus, a Republican, and Mr. Portune, a Democrat, are vying for a county commission seat in the November election, and the port authority has become a campaign issue.

        In council meetings, Mr. Portune has questioned the county's motivation in pushing approval of the port authority, saying it's tied to a contract with the Bengals and providing parking for the new stadium.

        In a letter on county stationery, Mr. Bedinghaus accused Mr. Portune of “putting at risk the riverfront development that hundreds of people have worked on for the last three or four years.”

        The letter, dated Saturday, blames Mr. Portune for a “dysfunctional council” and challenges the councilman's voting record on other city issues, and over the parking issue.

        Mr. Luken, a Democrat, defended Mr. Portune, saying he voted in favor of a

        resolution supporting the port authority last week and is working hard to resolve the issue.

        Both the county and the city have a resolution supporting the authority, but officials from both jurisdictions have requested changes to an ordinance that would create the city-county board.

        Some of those changes were brought up Monday in the council's Community Development Committee, chaired by Mr. Portune.

        For two weeks, the ordinance has been talked about in committee, while council members have addressed concerns raised during two public hearings, primarily about the “economic inclusion” of minorities.

        Council members Monday discussed several changes requested by the county that would take away the authority's right of eminent domain over city and county-owned property and prohibit the port from interfering with deals the county already has in place.

        They also heard from members of the existing port — which is responsible for cleaning up contaminated industrial sites — who are concerned the new ordinance could derail plans to buy a blighted piece of property in Sharonville on Oct. 19.

        Mr. Portune said the committee should resolve all of these issues before Oct. 2, when the council is scheduled to vote on the port authority.


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