Saturday, May 11, 2002

Citizen board

Here's your chance to improve city

        Applications are now being accepted for seven thankless jobs that could save Cincinnati.

        Hundreds have inquired.

        But only 10 have applied since a request for resumes went out April 25.

        No wonder.

        The jobs involve serving on the seven-member Citizen Complaint Authority.

        That select septet will make up the New! and Improved! version of the old Citizens Police Review Panel. The formation of the Authority was called for in the federally sanctioned collaborative agreement aimed at changing the way police do business in Cincinnati.

        Even the guy in charge of appointing the Authority's seven civilians admits they are in for a rough time.

        “They will be working under a microscope,” Mayor Charlie Luken told me.

        “They are going to be criticized no matter what they do.”

        Serving on the committee, he added, “is like volunteering to put your head in a guillotine.”

Important part

        Granted, the seven members should not expect to be named Grand Marshals of Oktoberfest.

        Yet, they should be aware of the vital role they'll be playing. They will be serving their city in a time of need.

        They will have a chance to act together as a voice of reason in unreasonable times.

        They will demonstrate that citizen complaints about the police can be investigated and reported to the city manager in a manner that is timely, thorough and fair. Their recommendations will be heard and get results. Or else.

        “Investigated” is a key word here. The Authority's predecessor, the Citizens Police Review Panel, could only — as its name implied — “review” investigations. It did not have investigative powers. Or a staff. The Authority will have both.

        The results of the Authority's investigations and the city's response will be monitored by the parties that signed the collaborative agreement. If something breaks, it will be fixed.

        The Authority must work. The city's future depends on it.

        As the mayor told me: “The success of the collaborative is contingent upon the success of the Citizen Complaint Authority.”

        So, while their task is thankless, the Authority's seven members deserve some respect. They will be contributing mightly to the city's well-being.

        And they'll get paid, too.

        Six members of the Authority will make $100 per meeting. The chairman gets a whopping $125.

Your name here

        Sounds good, you say?

        How do I get in on this, you ask?

        Here's how:

        Live in Cincinnati. Submit to a background check (finalists only).

        Send a one-page resume, a one-page letter of intent — “It can be one sentence about what you want to do on the job,” the mayor said, “no need to blather on” — and two letters of reference.

        Destination: Citizen Complaint Authority, City Hall, 801 Plum St., Room 150, Cincinnati 45202.

        Deadline: 5 p.m. May 31.

        Start work: Aug. 9.

        FYI: Here's what the mayor's looking for and trying to avoid.

        Looking for: “Balance. East side, west side. White-black, male-female. Good people of good character and strong will.”

        Avoiding: “Demagogues. People out to make their own personal point about "fill in the blank.' ”

        The mayor expects 100 applications by May 31.

        Surprise him. Turn in 200.

        That shouldn't be too difficult.

        Ever since the riots of 2001, City Hall has received thousands of calls from well-meaning citizens asking:

        “What can I do to help?”

        Now's your chance.

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


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