Friday, July 20, 2001

Protesters want 'Family Council' out

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEW MIAMI — Nearly a dozen protesters showed up for a village council meeting Thursday, bearing signs that called for members of what they call “the Family Council” to resign because of “mistreatment” of the village police department.

        The signs referred to four members of the six-seat council who are relatives: Patricia Lipscomb and Edith Cook, who are sisters; Mike Cook, Mrs. Cook's brother-in-law; and Paul Newton, Ms. Lipscomb's son.

        But the meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum after Ms. Lipscomb, Mrs. Cook and Mr. Cook didn't show up. Mr. Cook suffered a stroke and remained hospitalized Thursday. The two women said they missed the meeting because another family emergency cropped up.

        The protesters, however, thought the absences — at least of Mrs. Cook and Ms. Lipscomb — happened because “they don't want to face us,” protester Linda Burns, 60, said.

        Mayor Ronald Williams, who tentatively rescheduled the meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday, said, “I've been here 36 years, and I have never seen the public as agitated at council as they are now.”

        Ms. Lipscomb and her sister said the people who are upset have jumped to conclusions and haven't listened to facts.

        Earlier this year, council discussed disbanding the police department and contracting with the Butler County Sheriff's Office for police coverage in the village of about 2,500.

        The women say they considered that move because they believed it would be more economical for the financially strapped village to allow the sheriff's office to pay for vehicle maintenance, employee insurance and other rising costs.

        They denied that they and their relatives are meeting secretly to decide council business. “We don't agree on everything. Sometimes we have voted against each other,” Mrs. Cook said.

        Last month, council voted to place a 10-mill police levy on the November ballot to retain and expand the village police department.

        Protesters say council purposely made the millage large so voters would defeat it, leading to the police department's eventual demise.


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