Thursday, April 11, 2002

Lack of respect

Latest flaps make city look stupid

        Cincinnati's latest crisis du jour is:

        Anonymous donors paying the legal fees of attorneys who filed the racial profiling suit against the city.


        Protesters rallying at the police memorial.

        Doesn't matter which one you pick.

        Both offer examples of how poor planning put us in another fine mess.

        Both give slimy naysayers more negativity to smear on the city's sullied reputation.

        Both waste time and set up roadblocks to progress.

        Both make Cincinnati look stupid.

Phone a friend

        The “Friends of the Collaborative” are on the line. They want money. A donation. It can be anonymous. City Council won't ante up. So, the “Friends” have been organized to help pay the lawyers — the plaintiffs' attorneys, in legal lingo — responsible for suing the city over racial profiling.

        Executed properly, this fund-raiser is a good idea. Beats sticking the city's taxpayers with the lawyers' $600,000 bill. Plus, quietly putting this issue to rest would help the city move on to tackle tougher issues.

        But problems exist with the fund-raiser's execution. It's neither idiot-proof nor bulletproof.

        More details should have been worked out before members of City Council and other citizens started picking up the phone and begging for dollars.

        Councilman David Pepper told me he placed “four or five” calls asking for donations. The donors he contacted chose to remain anonymous. Prior to placing his calls, the issue of anonymity was not discussed.

        Even in this age of soft money and seemingly unlimited campaign donations, these anonymous donations have led to hints of closed-door deals. Councilman Pepper assured me no one's asking for or receiving special favors.

        But that appearance should not be created. That gives more ammunition to the malcontents who would rather rant — on radio and the steps of City Hall — than solve Cincinnati's racial problems.

        Donors aren't even getting a thank-you note.

        “We haven't decided that yet,” said Brooke Hill, a “Friends” coordinator.

        First, there's the appearance of inside deals. Now, the fund raisers appear to be rude.

        Such appearances should never be allowed to arise. They raise issues that squander time and divert resources from more important matters.

Sacred ground

        Did Sunday's protesters show disrespect to the police memorial when they stood on the base of the Fraternal Order of Police-owned structure and acted like fist-shaking knuckleheads? Yes.

        Could the police and FOP have shown more respect for the fallen officers the memorial honors by making better plans to prevent disrespectful behavior? Yes.

        The memorial could have been cordoned off with bicycle racks. On-duty officers could have been assigned or off-duty members of the FOP could have been hired or volunteered to stand watch — quietly and at attention — within the ring of the racks.

        In this post 9-11 era, no one should have to think twice about protecting or respecting a memorial to officers who died in the line of duty.

        But, until everyone in Cincinnati — police and civilians alike — treats others with respect, plans must be formulated to protect such sacred symbols.

        There are 116 names on that memorial. One hundred fifteen officers and one police dog.

        Each name stands for a life lost protecting the people in this community.

        These officers did not die so Cincinnati could keep looking back in anger.

        They gave their lives so the city could look ahead in peace.

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


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