Why Don't You Understand?
I was surprised and disappointed by your article covering the Africano fest ("The People's Party," issue of June 30-July 6). I have had great admiration for CityBeat's coverage of the complex and painful racial conflicts plaguing our city during the past several years, but boy did you get this wrong.
Your reporter accused the organizers of this event of being naive about the complexities of race and coalition building. I can't believe that CityBeat, which has been in the forefront of the coverage of the events that have led to Cincinnati being called "ground zero for race relations in the United States," believes that leaders of that movement such as Damon Lynch III are naíve.
The article comments on the few number of Latino groups present but didn't take this opportunity to introduce your readers to the Coalition for Immigrant Rights, one of the cosponsoring groups. This group, which has had between 400 and 800 new immigrants attending its monthly meetings, brought hundreds of people to the event, most of whom had never explored our city and never even knew such a beautiful place as Eden Park was here. And the article barely mentioned the presence of 20 musical and dance groups who volunteered their afternoon to fill our lives with a vision of the benefits of the multicultural city Cincinnati could become.
This festival was an attempt to build a positive atmosphere where dance and music, the universal language, could build the optimist tone for what good race relations could mean for Cincinnati. The thousands of people who attended the festival seemed to understand that. Why didn't CityBeat?
Cover Story on Me
Your recent article on Mark Painter as a potential candidate for mayor of Cincinnati ("Cincinnati's Next Republican Mayor?," issue of June 30-July 6) reads more like a paid political freebie than a worthy cover story. You make him a "man of the people," but nowhere in the article do you describe why you give him such a lengthy title. You likewise never give us a clue to his views on important issues to the city.
You make much of his legalese, but you likewise fail to give us his views on civil rights issues, the death penalty, mandatory drug sentencing, rights of citizens/police, women's rights or gay rights, which are important to the city's quality of life.
I'm not a writer or a judge — and not a bartender — but a longtime civil servant and civil activist. I too am considering running for mayor, and I'd like equal time (article and photo op). I would feel it important to share with your readers my views on political issues for the city — i.e., race relations, the boycott, economic development and economic inclusion, low-income housing, market housing, the priority of downtown development, important environmental issues, quality of life issues, taxation and relations with surrounding communities. Further, I would share my administrative style on how to accomplish and resolve needs and issues.
CityBeat would better serve the community at large by explaining the kind of mayor needed to create a progressive city rather than promoting any specific candidates.
Tie the City's Shoelaces
We must look like an accident-prone child to the outside world. Fall down, get a boo-boo and slap a Band-Aid on it. Never look at why the kid keeps tripping. We have a problem, but don't look to the root — just cover it up, it'll go away. We've done this so many times in Cincinnati, and we just keep doing it.
We have racial tension and riots that destroy the forward momentum that neighborhoods have made, and one of our solutions is to plant flower boxes. Yeah, that'll heal the problem. Now I knew that one was a stretch when we did it, but I thought, "Give it a chance, maybe there's a higher motive — a plan for economic empowerment by paying folks to keep them up and giving them an incentive to taking ownership in the area." Well, the boxes that are now sitting empty or with dead plants hanging out of them pretty much answers that wondering. So let's move onto the next problem.
No one comes to Fountain Square at night? Let's tear it up and redo it! Yeah, that'll fix it. Plant trees, and they will come. Make it look nice, and the restaurants will fill the square — but didn't we learn anything from our nearby "bustling" Backstage Entertainment District? Instead of a theater brimming with exciting shows and neighboring streets teeming with post-show patrons, we have a hulking box that sits dark half the time — hell, they don't even light up the Aronoff Center's marquee if there's not a show going on — and a wonderful garbage alley for the businesses there to put their trash out.
Aesthetics are important, but there has to be a bigger plan. Instead of tearing out the Fountain Square performance stage in an effort to create an exciting, inviting space, why don't you actually put something on the performance stage to create an exciting, inviting space? Oh well, let's move on.
We need something exciting on the river, right? I know — casinos! What better way to retain our professional, creative base than to create a truly unique urban experience with styrofoam façades and neon signs on imitation riverboat-themed casinos? I know that's certainly the genuine urban interaction I as a creative professional am seeking.
Is our city leadership really this misguided? I really fight to change other people's ideas about this city and hope we can capture our true potential. But every day we languish under the leadership we have, that gets harder and harder to do.
All we do is chase after the next best thing, the better bandage, never looking down to see if we need to re-tie our shoelaces first.