Regarding the editorial "Hyde Park Living" (issue of June 15-21), nobody could have written it better than Kathy Y. Wilson! Lord how I miss her!
I reside in Madisonville, and I hear about so many deaths on television and on the radio that it's literally getting on my nerves. As the single mother of an 18-year-old son who is different from what the media likes to capitalize on, it pissed me off to see all the empathy about the child who killed his brother in Hyde Park. Call it what you want, but somebody got beaten to death by a baseball bat.
The first thing is, as my mother likes to say, a black person has a hard time walking in Hyde Park period, let alone going to the fountain on the square and washing off blood. There would be 20 police cars surrounding the individual and at least two officers would get out of their cars with hands on weapons.
Cincinnati is a trip. Don't let me get up on a soap box about disparity of treatment. What, white folks don't kill?
Only blacks do? Somebody needs to get a clue. And it needs to be real soon.
I see houses being refurbished or reconstructed and sold to the highest bidder. Black folks never stand a chance, even if we have cash money. It appears to me that blacks aren't wanted around here.
I know we do some things that even I don't like and, believe me, it pisses me off. But that doesn't mean white folks are angels. Y'all got me stuck.
Please don't misunderstand me — there are some nice white folks, just as there are some nice black folks. It's just that black folks get categorized and white folks don't. What's up with that?
— Jana M. Johnson, Madisonville
It's Class, Not Race
Concerning the editorial "Hyde Park Living" by the usually insightful and sometimes brilliant Kathy Y. Wilson (issue of June 15-21), I believe she has missed the obvious point! She's tried to compare the proverbial apple and orange, as her observations about race have nothing to do with the cases she cites.
Her editorial compares so-called poor blacks and middle class whites. If you compare poor blacks to poor whites, I think you would have a similar outcome. Just as if you were to compare the crimes of middle class blacks and whites.
The unfortunate reality is that what's so shocking about the Hyde Park case is the fact that these things don't occur on a daily or even weekly basis in middle class neighborhoods, black or white — Wilson had to go back several years to mention another Hyde Park crime — but they do in poor black and white neighborhoods. Anyone who is being intellectually honest was stunned by the events that unfolded in Hyde Park. In Price Hill, Avondale, Westwood or Over-the-Rhine, these events have become so commonplace as to be almost expected.
In Forest Park, you could lay in the center of a busy intersection at 2 in the afternoon and middle class blacks and whites would more often than not step over or around you. If you happen to be a 23-year-old mother living in Over-the-Rhine, you can't stop on a public street in the middle of the afternoon to chat with your neighbors without wondering if you'll take a bullet in the head!
This is the tragic, ugly truth!
— Eric L. Noak, Amelia
City to Blame for Impasse
As a homeowner in Rockford Woods, I am grateful to CityBeat for keeping alive the issue of our dispute with the CiTiRAMA developer who built our houses ("Rocky Road," issue of June 15-21).
The situation isn't complicated at all. The city of Cincinnati failed to abide by the terms of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) Agreement and issued permits before the articles in that agreement were met by the developer. Had that been done, the Homeowner Association and the "restrictions, covenants and agreements" would have been properly attached to deeds, everyone would have been clear about them and we wouldn't be wasting time and energy on the issue. The situation could quickly and easily be resolved if city administration had the moral will to do so and if city council actually attempted to exercise some leadership.
The city chose to bypass the PUD agreement. Why? Well, in a memo dated Jan. 13, 2004, William Langevin, director of building and inspections, states that the failure to record the necessary documents was "an oversight in the permitting process." However, if you read a memo from Valerie Lemmie dated March 2, 2005, she said, "At the time that Building and Inspections issued the building permits ... (they) were aware that the conditions were not recorded." City administration is so incompetent it can't even get its story straight!
There are many elephants in Cincinnati's living room. Until those elephants are confronted head on, this city will continue its steady decline as more and more people and more and more businesses decide to go elsewhere.
— Michael J. Smith, Northside
City Really to Blame
Readers of CityBeat might wonder why the residents of Rockford Woods don't simply take the $50,000 in seed money the city of Cincinnati is offering from the Homeowner Association (HOA) and put the problem behind them ("Rocky Road," issue of June 15-21).
Under the original Rockford Woods Planned Development, 58 homes were planned. The developer was to operate the HOA until a minimum of 75 percent of the homes were occupied, per Chapter 1429 of the Municipal Code. Currently, there are only 16 occupied homes, one of which is operated by Hamilton County MRDD. To ask 15 households to agree to share the costs originally meant for 44 households (75 percent of 58) is unrealistic.
Then there is the issue of the unpaid delinquent property taxes and Cinergy bills. In her letter to the editor "Homeowners Let Emotions Rule" (issue of May 4-10), Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati Executive Director Elda Marshall asserts, "(Developers Jerry Honerlaw and Robert Etherington) have also agreed to pay the Cinergy bill and the tax bill cited in the CityBeat story. Both bills would have been paid immediately if sent to the developers' correct address. As soon as the developers learned of these outstanding bills, they agreed to assume responsibility. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and irresponsible."
To date, neither delinquent bill has been paid. In fact, on June 6 Mayor Charlie Luken wrote an e-mail to me and stated, "I would also be willing to agree to the payment of back taxes and electric bills." This concession is in contrast the city's written proposal just days earlier, which stated the developer would pay the delinquent bills only if the residents agree to form the HOA. Why Honerlaw and Etherington seem to need residents' permission or taxpayer money committed by the mayor to pay their bills is anybody's guess.
The significance of the unpaid property taxes on the undeveloped land can't be understated. This land was originally earmarked for Phase Two of the Rockford Woods development. Simply paying the taxes does not mean Phase Two can resume right away. The plan expires after two years; even if taxes are paid, a new plan must be submitted to the City Planning Commission for approval, and the process begins all over again.
At present, foreclosure and a Sheriff's sale auction could occur in only a few months. The city has correctly pointed out that if the undeveloped land falls into the hands of a speculator there will be no Phase Two. Fifteen homeowners in the Rockford Woods Planned Development are very unlikely to form an HOA under those conditions. At that point, the developer could conceivably walk away from the development, dissolve the LLC and stick the city and its taxpayers with the remaining financial mess.
This situation has gone on long enough. The resolution falls squarely upon the city or, more specifically, politicians who need to muster the political will to solve it. If it's not done soon — and if the undeveloped land changes hands to the wrong person — the Rockford Woods Planned Development is a doomed enterprise.
With due respect to Mayor Luken, the city bears legal responsibility. It broke its own laws and wronged its citizens. If it can't be accountable to itself, then what's the point? Really, what purpose do elected leaders then serve?
— Matt Appenzeller, Northside
In Kathy Y. Wilson's editorial "Hyde Park Living" (issue of June 15-21), the story with an unattributed claim that convicted murderer David Harris had a $500-per-week marijuana habit actually ran in The Cincinnati Post.