Wednesday, December 05, 2001

On the line

City's hope focuses on leadership

        In Cincinnati, where there's chili, there's hope.

        There's hope the Cincinnati CAN commission survives the canning of co-chairman the Rev. Damon Lynch III.

        There's hope the city does not suffer too much from a boycott-Cincinnati letter — signed by Rev. Lynch — that called police officers rapists and murderers.

        There's hope Cincinnati CAN can still heal the city's racial wounds and not be labeled “Cincinnati CAN'T.”

        There's hope strong Mayor Charlie Luken will keep exercising his office's new powers to improve Cincinnati and not stop with Monday's sacking of Rev. Lynch.

        There's hope City Council can stop feuding and start working together to make Cincinnati even better.

        Hope centers today on City Hall. At 2 p.m., the new City Council holds its first regularly scheduled Wednesday afternoon session.

        Here's hoping council's nine members become a positive force in the city. They can do that by riding the momentum generated from the expressions of hope heard in the corridors of City Hall during Saturday's post-swearing-in party.

Party planners

        An estimated 400 people attended the party. They buttonholed their elected officials and chowed down on free food — ice cream, cake, soft drinks and Skyline chili.

        The line for cheese coneys started at the mayor's office and stretched half the length of City Hall.

        The people I spoke with in line wanted more than cheese on their chili. They wanted change in their city.

        “Positive change!” emphasized Terry Williams, a downtown resident and marketing executive.

        “I told Charlie Luken I didn't vote for him” Terry said as he wiped a spot of mustard from his lips.

        “But I can work with him.”

        Cooperation and change must take place in “the city's white and black power structures,” said the African-American businessman.

        “I've had enough complaining and getting mad at my city,” he added. “I want to bring about some change.”

        He believes Cincinnati can change for the better “because so many people love this town and the city has become so diverse.”

Diverse city

        Standing in the chili line, Avtar Gill — a native of Malaysia — and Anna McClain — just back from her hometown of Bombay, India — proved Terry's point.

        “I gave a hat I made to the mayor,” Avtar said. “Before I caught my bus from Delhi, I wrote on his cap: "Charlie Luken, First Strong Mayor.' Hope it helps him make something good come out of City Hall. We need it.”

        Anna drove from Finneytown to tell the mayor: “This is a great city. I know you can make it even better.”

        Buzz Scannella left his North Avondale home to munch on cheese coneys and tell council members about Prospect House. The Price Hill halfway house helps men with drug problems.

        “We have a great long-term success rate,” said Buzz, a longtime board member.

        “After 10 years, 69 percent of our former residents have turned their lives around and are still sober.”

        He wanted to deliver that news to the new council.

        “Maybe they'll remember us in their budget.”

        His timing was impeccable.

        After all, this is the season of hope.

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340; e-mail


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