Mallory's Test and Two Civil Rights Victories

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory will soon get his first real test of leadership if city council approves the new marijuana ordinance. Will he veto the bill? The ordinance, proposed by Councilman Cec

Graham Lienhart

Leah Hoechstetter holds a sign for the benefit of passing motorists during a March 19 anti-war rally at Burnet Woods.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory will soon get his first real test of leadership if city council approves the new marijuana ordinance. Will he veto the bill? The ordinance, proposed by Councilman Cecil Thomas, would take possession of a joint way beyond state law, which punishes it with a $100 citation, and turn it into an offense punishable by six months in jail. The measure won a 5-2 approval from the Law and Public Safety Committee last week, a margin sufficient for a council majority. That could make Mallory, who has questioned the need for the measure, the last hope to stop it.

The pot law might be a step backward, but council last week moved the city all the way into the late 20th century by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Employers, landlords and businesses in the city are now banned from discriminating against people because they're gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. The vote was 8-1, with only Republican Councilman Chris Monzel opposing it.

The city last week also dealt at last with the death of Roger Owensby Jr. in 2000, agreeing to pay $6.5 million to his family. Killed by manual asphyxiation in police custody, Owensby was unarmed when police stopped him, apparently mistaking him for someone wanted in connection with a drug investigation (see "Piling On," issue of Oct. 3-9, 2002). The settlement requires approval by council and U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel.

Paperwork, Political Décor and Predictions Coming True
Ohio's Public Records Act requires disclosure of the applications the city has received for the job of city manager. Mallory says he had no problem handing over the list of names. "We don't have anything to hide," he says, though he takes issue with the outcome.

After learning their names would be published, the top three candidates withdrew their applications, according to Mallory.

"To defend that paper for just a second, I would absolutely have the expectation that, if I were a city manager somewhere and I applied to be the city manager somewhere else, at some point in time my name would be in the newspaper somewhere," Mallory says. "I would not, however, expect that to happen three days after I submitted my resume. I mean, I think the reasonable expectation is, 'Hey, can you give me time to prime my boss? Can you give me time to talk to my spouse?'

"There's a point at which I think everybody involved in a manager's search expects that they'll be published in the newspaper. It's just that I thought that request was too early. ... Where I have a problem is where there are situations where the reporter is revealing information that is going to change something."

That's one way to look at it. Here's another: Publication of applicants' names gives them a foretaste of the scrutiny they'd face as city manager and spares the city the expense of interviewing people who evidently can't handle it.

Call it an excess of irony:
· The anti-war rally in Burnet Woods held March 19 was at a war memorial, replete with a cannon. The Lone Star Pavilion commemorates the gift of two cannons from Cincinnati donors for use in the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, which sealed Texas' independence from Mexico.

· Police officers monitoring the anti-war rally — for reasons that are themselves unclear — parked in the driveway at Hebrew Union College. Of course, some observers might see that as more fitting than ironic, given the persecution of Jews by authority figures throughout history.

· Signs urging drivers to "Honk for Peace" trumped Sister Alice Gerdeman's call for a moment of silence to remember the people killed in the U.S. war against Iraq. Judging by the number of horns sounded by passing motorists, the 200 people who gathered to protest the war have lots of support.

"How many more people need to die before the American troops are withdrawn?" said Kristen Barker, one of the event organizers. "We've already spent $250 billion on the war, but things in Iraq keep getting worse instead of better. Instead of approving another $72 billion for war, it's time for Congress to be figuring out how much money will be needed to bring our troops home, dismantle the bases, take care of veterans when they arrive and restore Iraq."

The mainstream media are now reporting an incipient effort to obtain public funding for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. But CityBeat media critic Ben L. Kaufman called the game almost a full year ago. In his April 6, 2005 column, Kaufman wrote, "What was the point of The Enquirer's page-one blowout on the Underground Railroad Freedom Center? Given the center's sour history with the news media in general but historic ties to Enquirer management, is this the first step in a joint public relations campaign for a tax levy to support the center?"

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