Sunday, August 24, 2003

Lynch acts within theater of politics



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Suppose Damon Lynch III gets elected to Cincinnati City Council, and an angry mob shows up at a meeting and threatens to block the doors until they get what they want - just as he did.

"That would not frighten me at all," he said. "That's part of the theater of politics."

At City Hall, the "theater of politics" looks like Phantom of the Opera. The same boycott leader who has trashed the city now wants to run it. The same protester whosefiery words fueled the flames of riots in April 2001 now wants to sit behind the council table that his protesters danced on.

For some, "City Councilman Damon Lynch" sounds like a final warning: Grab the children, turn off the lights, stick a "For Sale" sign in the front yard.

Naturally, he doesn't see it that way at all.

"I am leading the boycott to better the city and bring about necessary changes," he said on Thursday, as he was collecting 4,000 signatures to meet the minimum of 500. "I never saw being part of the boycott as being in opposition to the city."

Some see Lynch as a hypocrite - a pastor who says he has a heart for the poor in Over-the-Rhine, but owns two houses, drives an expensive car and had to move back to the city to run for council.

"I'm not rich by any means, but you don't have to be poor to represent the poor," he replied.

Others call him a bigot. He admits he once called a radio station to say a "white boy" had no place on a black station. But he says it was the man's message that bothered him. "I've never been bigoted in my life towards anybody."

Lynch said he is running as an independent to represent "the most marginalized people in the community." He said, "There is a lack of real strong voices to advocate for the community that has been hurting for years and is only getting worse."

Well, not exactly. The council canoe is already overloaded with Democrats who paddle left-handed and throw tax dollars overboard. But Lynch is so far left he's on another pond, where cops are bad guys and looting and beatings are a justified "rebellion."

His most vocal rival among boycotters, Nate Livingston of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati, calls Lynch a sellout who lost control of his Black United Front. "He's a good guy for a photo-op or a press conference, but when it comes to hard work, you can't find him."

Livingston says his boycotters will protest at Lynch's council meetings.

Lynch refused to comment on Livingston's remarks, but said he would negotiate with him.

Now there's poetic justice: A destructive boycott leader trying to appease destructive boycott leaders. What goes around, comes around.

Lynch might get elected or he might not. Either way, I'd say this is a good thing.

As he says, "They were just gonna sleep through this election." Not now.

Cincinnati will actually get to vote on Lynch and all he represents. If he loses, good for Cincinnati. If he wins, good for Damon Lynch, because that is how America gets outsiders to quit throwing rocks at the "system" and do something to fix it.

It's the theater of politics.

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




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