Neighbors Defending the Hood

State Sen. Mark Mallory (D-West End) is calling on the city of Cincinnati to take responsibility for the debacle of Rockford Woods, the 2001 CiTiRAMA development. At a press conference May 5 in th

May 11, 2005 at 2:06 pm
Matt Borgerding

State Sen. Mark Mallory (far right) meets with residents of Rockford Woods, saying the city of Cincinnati should get involved in their dispute.

State Sen. Mark Mallory (D-West End) is calling on the city of Cincinnati to take responsibility for the debacle of Rockford Woods, the 2001 CiTiRAMA development. At a press conference May 5 in the Northside neighborhood, Mallory refuted an assertion by City Councilman David Pepper that the city would set a dangerous precedent if it stepped in to clean up the mess left by a developer.

"The city set the precedent when it failed to follow its own policies," Mallory said. "This all started with a failure at the city level."

It appears as though the city and developer have found a renewed will to address the four-year-old problems, including undedicated streets and delinquent taxes on unfinished greenspace (see "Wary About CitiRAMA," issue of April 27-May 3). City officials met with developer Jerry Honerlaw on May 6 and with residents May 9. Della Caldwell, a Rockford Woods homeowner, attended the meeting and said she's cautiously optimistic.

"I think for the first time the city was interested in trying to facilitate a meaningful discussion," she says. "We made some progress today. However, we've kind of been here before."

Unwilling to share the specific proposals made by the city, Caldwell said the city will next meet with all the residents. Mallory secured a commitment from the Ohio Attorney General's office to serve as mediator if an agreement can't be reached.

Mallory is quick to jump on any issue that will underscore the difference between him and Pepper, a fellow Democratic candidate for mayor. So when incumbent Mayor Charlie Luken couldn't get enough votes on council for a proposal that would give tax breaks to all companies that create 10 or more jobs, Mallory quickly shot off a May 3 press release supporting Luken and chastising council.

"It is a sad day for economic development in the city of Cincinnati," Mallory began.

Then he aimed his derision at one council member in particular.

"Mayor Luken also called the council 'one of the most do-nothing councils in memory,' " he wrote. "As chair of the Finance Committee which rejected Luken's proposal, David Pepper should be singled out for that distinction."

But maybe the man who would be mayor needs to slow down and get the layout of his city government straight before using it to earn electoral points. Councilman John Cranley, not Pepper, is chair of the Finance Committee. Pepper chairs the Law and Public Safety Committee, which surely has also done something — or nothing — that Mallory can criticize.

A group called Friends of Clifton hope their neighbors will pack a public hearing on a proposal to develop a former funeral home at 3412 Clifton Ave. Jack Brand, who owns the property, wants to build a four-story structure that will house a restaurant and 12 two-bedroom apartments.

Some residents oppose the plan, saying it would expand the Clifton business district into the neighborhood's residential area. They'd like to raise funds to buy the property from Brand and use it for a town hall and headquarters of a new Clifton Historical Society. The hearing is at 9 a.m. Thursday before Steven Kurtz, zoning hearing examiner for the city of Cincinnati, at the city's Business Development and Permit Center, 3300 Central Pkwy. For more information or to volunteer to help with fund-raising, call 513-284-4192.

Maybe War Offers Job Security
Sunday is Count the Costs Day, a national observance sponsored by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in protest of the rising death toll and the ongoing U.S. occupation of Iraq. Participants will wear numbers symbolizing the 100,000-plus civilians and soldiers who have died since the beginning of the war. Placards are available for $10 via www.Countingthe

The initiative began in Philadelphia and has spurred rallies in Boston and other cities. Organizers hope people across the country will spend the day wearing a number and talking to neighbors about it.

Peace supporters who don't want to wait until Sunday can make their views known Wednesday when former Secretary of State Colin Powell visits Cincinnati. Often cast as a moderate in the Bush administration, Powell told the United Nations that he had evidence that Iraq possessed illegal weapons of mass destruction — an allegation now known to have been false but used to justify the conquest of Iraq. Powell speaks at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Downtown.

As if the notion of a warmonger raising money for a hospital weren't ironic enough, consider the title of Powell's speech: "Diplomacy: Persuasion, Trust and Values." The Bethesda Lyceum, as the annual event is called, seems to specialize in right-wing keynote speakers. Previous guests have included Gen. Tommy Franks, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 138)