Then: At the time of CityBeat's debut issue, Roxanne Qualls was mayor of Cincinnati and presiding over a messy debate: how to ensure the economic revitalization of Over-the-Rhine. During her tenure, city council gave nearly $600,000 for the Recovery Hotel, a home for reforming alcoholics and drug addicts. Restoc advocates were thrilled, but business owners in the area saw the move as one that would increase problems in O-T-R. (Issue of Nov. 17, 1994)
Now: Qualls has been living in Boston and last year finished her master's degree in public administration at Harvard University. She just took a teaching position at Northern Kentucky University and says she'll maintain residences both here and in Boston.
As for O-T-R, Qualls remembers the issue and the council meetings well. "I think I actually had to threaten Jim Tarbell with ejection if he didn't sit down," she recalls, laughing. Qualls acknowledges that she isn't as up to speed on the current O-T-R situation as she'd like to be, but after a long, pregnant pause she offers a comment.
"What's pathetic about the whole situation," she says, "is that Over-the-Rhine is big enough for everyone to exist there. Everyone's going to have to give something up to make it work. People will have to give up their ideological notions, which make it impossible for them to see the other side and compromise. If people don't stop this pathetic dance they're engaged in, Over-the-Rhine will fall down around their ears."
Sounds like the words of a politician ready to re-enter the ring. Qualls laughs and says, "Right now, I'm focused on preparing for teaching and working with the wonderful people at NKU. I'm open to other possibilities, but right now my priority is NKU."
She thinks for a minute and adds, "That, and to learn more clearly and with much more depth what's going on in the city."
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