News: Queen City Quirks.

A Progressive's Guide to Cincinnati

Nov 16, 2000 at 2:06 pm
Sean Hughes/

Warning: Simon Leis Jr. lives here.

If you didn't see the movie about Leis' war on pornography (Woody Harrelson played Larry Flynt, remember?), consider this: Leis once had Rev. Maurice McCrackin jailed for 111 days for refusing to testify against his own kidnappers.

Leis, the sheriff of Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is located, ran unopposed in last week's election. That's the kind of town this is. But McCrackin also lived here, so Cincinnati is not without its heroes.

McCrackin was, to our knowledge, the only 79-year-old minister ever arrested for scaling a White House fence to protest the U.S. war machine.

This is also the home of The Cincinnati Enquirer, whose former publisher, Francis L. Dale, went on to greater things as head of CREEP, the Committee to Reelect the President — the organization whose creative tactics helped Richard Nixon's 1972 campaign.

If you're too young to remember Watergate, perhaps you saw the 1989 60 Minutes report on illegal wiretapping by Cincinnati Bell personnel and Cincinnati Police officers.

If any city is in need of a strong progressive voice, it's Cincinnati. Here, then, is a brief guide to local political landmarks.

Chiquita Brands International (below, right): The last time a Cincinnati newspaper reported that Chiquita used the Honduran army to destroy Tacamiche, a village of 600, that Chiquita quashed banana workers' unions and that Chiquita endangered workers by exposing them to pesticides, the newspaper ended up paying the banana company $10 million and a reporter was charged with a felony.

So we're not saying Chiquita used the Honduran army to destroy Tacamiche, that Chiquita quashed unions or that Chiquita endangered workers by exposing them to pesticides. The head of Chiquita, Carl Lindner, also owns the Cincinnati Reds, a local bank, a local insurance company and a big chunk of the Republican National Committee.

Washington Park (below): This is where the cops didn't want you to rally Friday. The park is in Over-the-Rhine, a neighborhood torn between groups working for affordable housing and groups working for economic development. (Can you say "gentrification?" Can you say "political gridlock?") Food Not Bombs is organizing food distribution at Washington Park for N16 participants.

Fountain Square (above): Often called the "Heart of Cincinnati," Fountain Square is the site the Ku Klux Klan uses to erect a cross during the winter holidays. People of decent sensibility knock it down. The KKK puts it back. It's an ugly little game we play.

Death Row Tunnel: A direct route beginning at the Hamilton County Courthouse leading to Death Row. OK, not really. But Hamilton County has sent more people to Death Row than any other county in Ohio.

Issue 3: The 1993 law passed by city voters that distinguishes Cincinnati as the only U.S. city formally allowing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Paul Brown Stadium: The new $450 million home of the Bengals doesn't offer much in the way of professional football, but its huge cost overruns were the reason a Democrat won a seat on the county commission last week for the first time in 36 years.

Procter & Gamble (right): That's not the oldest church west of the Alleghenies you're looking at. It used to be there, but P&G tore it down to make room for its new twin-towered corporate headquarters.

Cincinnati Police Memorial (below): Look, three Cincinnati Police officers have died in the line of duty in the past three years. Give the officers the respect they deserve, even while standing up for your rights.

Union Terminal: Depression Era murals honoring workers make this historic train station-turned-museum an ironic site for the TABD's dinner on Friday.

Underground Railroad Freedom Center: Perhaps the best sign of hope for Cincinnati, the center will honor a time when African-Americans associated Cincinnati with the promise of freedom. (They really did; we're not making this up.) The center is scheduled to open in 2004. ©