Thursday, May 30, 2002

Do you care?

Seven people could help save our city

        Two days to go. Today and tomorrow.

        At 5 p.m. Friday, Brendon Cull, Mayor Charlie Luken's press secretary, will accept the last application for the Citizen Complaint Authority — the seven-member board that could save Cincinnati by improving police-community relations.

        At 5:01 p.m., he'll lock the massive oak door to the mayor's corner office in City Hall.

        Then he'll count the applications. The stack of resumes and letters of recommendation for the authority charged with investigating citizen complaints against the police will be thinner than expected.

        The mayor hoped for 100 applicants. The authority's predecessor — the Citizens Police Review Panel — had 95 applicants.

        At the close of business Wednesday, there were 49 completed applications. Fifteen were incomplete.

        Those numbers have mushroomed. When I wrote a May 11 column about the shortage of applicants, they numbered 10.

        I'm sure there are more city dwellers itching to get involved. Under their conservative shells, Cincinnatians care. Maybe they're calmly waiting to turn in their resumes at the last minute.

Civic pride

        The number of applicants is modest. But the people applying are courageous and proud of their city.

        “It is my duty to help,” said Loyce Page. The Walnut Hills native and Courthouse employee added: “I want our city to be so much more.”

        Harold Schuler admitted: “I've never done anything like this.” The College Hill resident and water works retiree read my column asking for applicants. “Even though I'm not an outgoing person,” he said, “I'm so frustrated with what's been going on I had to answer the call.”

        Ten years ago, Edith Thrower left Portland, Ore., to be wed in Cincinnati.

        “I didn't get married,” said the Talbert House's court relations coordinator. “But I loved the city so much I decided to stay.” The Walnut Hills woman applied because “I want to be part of our city's healing process.”

        Rabbi Michael Zedek served as a police chaplin for 24 years in Kansas City, Mo. He also chaired that city's task force on race relations. Living in Mount Adams, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati's CEO has been in town 18 months. Already he calls Cincinnati “my city” and wants to be on the panel “to make Cincinnati better.”

        Dr. Walter T. Bowers II served on the Citizens Police Review Panel. A 32-year resident of Cincinnati, the Clifton physician wants to be a member of the new board “out of a sense of continuity.” While his years on the panel were stressful, he remains enthused. “Everyone — city officials, citizens, the police — appreciated what we were doing to make things work.”

Applause, applause

        These people are taking a hands-on approach to solve the city's problems.

        Others have their hands out. Boycotters demand dollars and other forms of appeasement.

        Both sides of the citizens vs. police confrontation are suing the city. Angela Leisure, Timothy Thomas' grieving mother, wants $10 million. Former Officer Robert Jorg, feeling wronged in the Roger Owensby case, seeks $30 million from city and county officials.

        Too many Cincinnatians simply sit on their hands and mutter: Tisk, tisk.

        The authority's applicants are a different breed. They're not asking what the city can do for them. They're asking what they can do for the city.

        Each applicant made me feel proud to be a Cincinnatian. They deserve the city's gratitude.

        They're trying to make things better.

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


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