Friday, March 14, 2003

Elastic ethics


Cop vote is a real stretch

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Hollywood is making a movie about my favorite comic-book superheroes, The Fantastic Four, and I have the perfect location: Cincinnati City Hall.

We have dozens of Human Flamers at council meetings. We have politicians who disappear when they smell trouble, just like The Invisible Girl. And several council members could play Mr. Fantastic, the rubber band man who can stretch in any direction.

On Wednesday, they stretched like boneless contortionists to get on both sides of an issue at the same time.

A few weeks ago, they voted for a hate-crime law that adds homosexuals to the list of special victims who get superhero protection. That's an obvious violation of Issue 3, passed by two thirds of voters in 1993 to prohibit special rights based on sexual orientation.

Double vision

But the liberal intellectualoids in politics and the media think two-thirds of Cincinnati voters are mud-head wrong. Some think we should even vote again on Issue 3 - until we get it politically correct.

But this week, the same incredibly flexible council members voted to reject a police contract, because it might contradict Issue 5 - barely passed by just 52 percent of the voters.

They even dislocated their own shoulders to pat themselves on the back for being "courageous'' enough to protect "the will of the voters'' who approved a new rule to put the police chiefs under the 10 thumbs of City Council.

An arbitrator said council should approve the contract and give the police brass their overdue raises. Lawyers say that would be legal, because Issue 5 is trumped by the union contract. "Two legal opinions have said this is unwinnable,'' Chris Monzel argued. "This fight is wasting city time and taxpayer money.''

Superhuman hypocrisy

But Monzel and JimTarbell were outvoted, 7-2. Council will fight on.

Let's see: 52 percent of the voters who passed Issue 5 have better instincts than Spiderman. But 62 percent who voted for Issue 3 are clumsy rock heads like The Thing.

So why not a re-vote on both? Bring it on. The Issue 3 ban on gay-rights laws would probably pass again. But Issue 5 to let council hire the next chief would get burned like a paper hat on the Human Torch.

Issue 5 was a poorly designed legal lemon, sold to the public by the now invisible CAN Commission, with extravagant promises of improved race relations. It was a political insurance payment to prevent more "unrest'' and show the world how eager we were to cave in to at least one boycott demand.

And what did we get? More boycotts, more meddling in the police division by a federal monitor and more trashing of Cincinnati by protesters who are so picket-happy they are even picketing each other.

True. On Wednesday, Kabaka Oba of the Black Fist said he led a protest to picket the home of Dwight Patton, vice president of the Black United Front, as payback for a shoving match at a meeting of the two groups. "We treated him just like we treat the police,'' Oba said.

As they say in the comics, "Aaargh.'' Trying to figure it all out makes me feel like Superman with a mouthful of green Kryptonite. But what a show.

Someone get Hollywood on the line. Who needs the Fantastic Four when we have the Stretchable Seven at City Hall?

E-mail pbronson@enquirer.com or call 768-8301.




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