Sunday, August 24, 2003

Blueprint to end boycott offered


Coalition's plan similar to one mayor already rejected

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

For the second time in two years, the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati has offered Mayor Charlie Luken a blueprint for ending the economic boycott against the city.

Coalition leaders on Friday proposed talks to resolve the boycott that would include the mayor, city manager, Hamilton County commissioners, the Cincinnati Business Committee and the Cincinnati Boycott Council. The group sent a three-page proposal to the mayor and City Council outlining how negotiations might take place.

The proposal is similar to a plan the CJC gave to Luken in May 2002, which the mayor referred to as "a road map for going over a cliff."

The Coalition's overture came three days after the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP demanded that the mayor conduct negotiations with the groups leading the 2-year-old boycott.

Luken said he would be willing to talk to anyone interested in moving the city forward, but he would not negotiate demands, adding that he plans to meet with NAACP President Dr. Calvert Smith in the coming days to discuss the matter.

Amanda Mayes, co-chair of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati, said she was disheartened by the mayor's snub of the NAACP's request.

"What we want to do is get some demands met and that requires some negotiation," Mayes said.

Mayes criticized the mayor for his statement that "one boycott group still threatens to intensify 'their' boycott if we so much as talk to the other group."

"This proposal should make it clear that is not the CJC's position," she said. "We are prepared to do whatever we have to, to see that our demands are met. That includes continuing the boycott."

Luken said Saturday that he hasn't seen the proposal, but said it sounds like the group is trying to bring in others who could help affect change the CJC is demanding.

"Most of their demands are outside of the city's control," Luken said. "Maybe they're trying to broaden discussions with people who can affect some of this stuff. But I've never seen anything from the coalition that suggests they want to talk.

"They just want us to accept their demands, and that is a total nonstarter."

The CJC's proposal calls for the negotiating parties to agree on a mediator. Four work groups of representatives from each of the negotiating parties would address demands in the areas of economic apartheid, police accountability, civil and human rights, and reform of government and elections.

A steering committee would be formed to resolve disputes or deadlocks among the work groups. All decisions reached by the steering committee must come about by an 85 percent majority vote.

All negotiation meetings would be open to the public.

For a list of CJC's demands, go online (www.boycottcincinnati.org) .

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Reporter Dan Klepal contributed. E-mail kaldridge@enquirer.com




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