But if the arsonists had political motivations, it's not a given that they lean left. On July 19, the Westboro Baptist Church -- whose philosophy is summed up by the name of its Web site (www.godhatesfags.com) -- issued a press release titled, "Thank God for IEDs," promising to picket Hines' funeral. The church claims God is killing U.S. soldiers to punish this country for the "sin" of homosexuality.
"In his retaliatory wrath, God is killing Americans with IEDs in Iraq," the press release said.
Asked if the church had anything to with the fire, Shirley Phelps-Roper, its attorney, reacts vehemently.
"It's words that we use, and if we don't persuade you of the rightness and we don't persuade you that the terror of the Lord and the wrath of the God is abiding upon this country and that your sins -- flagrant adultery, fornication, sodomy and otherwise, thumbing your nose at God -- and if we can't convince you of the wrongness of that with our words, the result of that is that you go to hell," she says.
Lt. Ken Colburn, spokesman for the Fairfield Police Department, says the church probably isn't a suspect.
"We're obviously following up any leads and any possibilities but in reality it's probably just a couple of kids acting stupid," he says.
Cincinnati City Councilman Sam Malone has made pretty clear his lack of remorse for whipping his 14-year-old son with a leather belt May 13, for which he's been charged with domestic violence. But he apparently felt the need to reiterate his position on child rearing during Republican mayoral candidate Charlie Winburn's press conference on, of all things, reducing crime.
"We need to say we're going to take our homes back and not let our kids punk us out," Malone told the crowd, earning a slight swell of applause.
Commit crime to reduce it? Sounds like Bush logic. A pre-trial hearing for Malone is scheduled Thursday.
MoveOn, the national grassroots lobby that mobilized support for the John Kerry presidential campaign last year, continues its active opposition to the Bush administration. Volunteers on July 21 circulated petitions on Fountain Square, calling on the U.S. Senate to reject John Roberts, Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court.
"President Bush has nominated a far right-wing candidate instead of a consensus jurist who will protect the rights of the American people," said Amy Teitelman, MoveOn activist in Cincinnati.
The petition text is simple: "The Senate must not appoint right-wing corporate lawyer John Roberts to the Supreme Court." Cincinnati is one of 268 cities in which MoveOn is waging a petition drive against Roberts, according to Teitelman. For more information on Roberts, see firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maisonette Bows Out, the Greenwich Steps Up
Not sure whether it was the heat, but the owners of the Maisonette have decided to do more than get out of the kitchen. In fact, they shut it down -- along with the entire legendary restaurant and its more casual downstairs partner, La Normandie. In April owner Nat Comisar announced plans to relocate the five-star French restaurant to Sycamore Township, opening late in 2006. He said then that the Maisonette would remain open downtown for the duration, but on July 25 announced it was closing its doors. Despite delays in zoning approval that have caused the construction schedule to be stretched out, Comisar maintains he will open in the new location. But with the staff dispersed, it's unlikely the new restaurant will immediately win five-star status from the Mobil Dining Guide. (The Maisonette held the five-star rating for 41 years, longer than any restaurant in the country.) It's too bad the owners couldn't sustain the same faith in downtown that Maisonette's former chef, Jean-Robert de Cavel, has shown and succeeded with in his two popular downtown eateries, the upscale Jean-Robert's at Pigall's and the casual Jean-Ro Bistro. Diners have voted with their feet, it appears, marching down to Fourth Street. Even if you never frequented the Maisonette, you have to sigh that another downtown icon is gone because it couldn't keep up with changing times. Now would be a good moment for the 3CDC brain trust to tell us what's going to bring everyone back to the center of the city.
The Greenwich, in conjunction with the Walnut Hills Area Council, hosts a debate by candidates for mayor of Cincinnati at 8 p.m. Aug. 13. Democratic candidates State Sen. Mark Mallory, Vice Mayor Alicia Reece and City Councilman David Pepper and Republican candidate the Rev. Charles Winburn have agreed to participate, according to Mark Yates, co-owner of the Greenwich. CityBeat Senior Writer Kathy Y. Wilson will moderate the debate. Admission is free. To submit questions to the candidates, write WalnutHillsMayorDebate@yahoo.com by Aug. 5
Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 138)