Sunday, November 04, 2001

Suburbs watch

City voters get chance to show off

        Call it urban smug.

        We brag about Findlay Market, where the sophisticated shopper (that's us) can find bison sausage and Westphalian ham. We are pleased to note the cultural richness within the city limits — the Art Museum, the Public Library, the Mercantile Library, the Zoo, Music Hall, the Aronoff Center, the Taft.

        We will even claim the Bengals when they are winning. And the Reds belong to Cincinnati, win or lose. They play on our land.

        Those of us who live in the city like to remind our suburban cousins about regionalism. This is code for sharing the wealth. And, perhaps more to the point, for sharing the poverty.

A floral design

        We sincerely believe suburban prosperity depends on the success of the urban heart. Frankly, we think people in Warren County should drive right past nice, clean suburban malls to come downtown and buy something. And we ignore complaints from people in Anderson Township that downtown parking is expensive and not always available.

        We plant flowers in Over-the-Rhine and hope to erase the image of broken glass. We put up bigger parking signs. We hold eating and drinking festivals.

        Tuesday, we have a chance to do something more substantial.

        Not much is riding on the backs of voters in most Cincinnati suburbs this year. Deer Park, Montgomery, Mariemont, Forest Park, Silverton, Sharonville, Fairfax, Lockland, Golf Manor and Indian Hill residents appear satisfied with their governments. Candidates for their councils run unopposed.

        Voters in Butler and Warren counties will struggle with issues surrounding their boom. Cincinnatians will wrestle with our bust.

A no-brainer

        For instance, there's Issue 5. If voters pass this charter amendment, Cincinnati will be allowed to search nationally for police and fire chiefs and about 80 other city supervisors, including directors of economic development and neighborhood services. This is a no-brainer, which has only about an even chance of being passed.

        “Selecting a police chief from inside the agency gives that chief a good foundation, a solid base of operations,” says Tom Streicher, the current police chief. The same might be said of the superintendent of schools.

        So, in return for our insistence that all good things come from Cincinnati, our children would have been cheated of the brilliance of Steven Adamowski.

        For the first time since 1925, we will elect our own mayor. We even decided to entrust him with some power. But there, apparently, our capacity for critical thinking and reform ends. According to the latest poll, black people are planning to vote for the black candidate and white people for the white guy. One must assume that this trend may be repeated in our choices for councilpersons.

        On Tuesday, our suburban neighbors will be watching. So, will we be smug enough to declare that every key department chief must be found here? Will we decide that the compelling reason to vote for a candidate is the color of his skin?

        We have two more days to make sure we know what we're doing when we step into the voting booth. To choose thoughtfully. The suburbs need us. Right? That's what we believe.

        If we expect people to come here for the sophistication of urban life — maybe to live, maybe to work, maybe just to visit — we should try not to act like rubes.

        E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


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