After winning a tumultuous election earlier this year to become president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, Christopher Smitherman is now turning his attention to a possible return to Cincinnati City Council. During a press conference June 30 at his North Avondale home, Smitherman announced he's running with the backing of the Southwest Ohio Green Party. He previously served one term on council as a Charterite before being defeated in his re-election bid in 2005.
"I hope people will give me another look for council and give me a fair shake to let me make my case about why I should be elected," he said.
Smitherman's first term was marked by controversy when he challenged Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. on some issues and demanded greater accountability from the city's police department. Critics pegged Smitherman as overzealous or "anti-police," which he vehemently denied. Instead, Smitherman said he was trying to make the department more professional by insisting it fully comply with provisions of a settlement of a lawsuit over racial profiling, tightening up its lax overtime policies and attempting unsuccessfully to pass a policy to prevent the use of Tasers on young children.
The stance angered some conservatives and prompted then-Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen — a former cop — to call Smitherman "a smart-mouthed little punk" on a radio talk show.
More recently, Smitherman pushed Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials to appoint two African Americans to an advisory panel that's negotiating the deal with a developer to build The Banks, a riverfront housing and shopping district. He's also leading the petition drive to force a referendum on a sales tax increase approved to build a new county jail.
If elected to council, Smitherman says he'll focus on shoring up funding for the city's health clinics, swimming pools and recreation centers, all of which were targeted for cuts last winter by the current council until a public outcry.
"I think all of those things are preventative measures that can help stop young people from turning to a life of crime," he said.
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is less than halfway through his first four-year term in office, but he's already raising money for the next election. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will be the special guest at a fundraiser for Mallory at the Westin Hotel July 11. Admission is $125, with "gold sponsors" paying $500 and "platinum sponsors" paying $1,000 each. Barbara Gould of Indian Hill, Stan "Master of Disaster" Chesley and Hamilton County Coroner O'dell Owens are the fundraiser hosts.
Mercy for Porkers
Members of Mercy for Animals gathered June 28 outside the annual Kroger shareholders meeting at Music Hall to protest the company's purchase of food animals from suppliers that allegedly subject them to inhumane treatment. Mercy for Animals, an advocacy group based in Columbus, wanted "to draw attention to the fact that Kroger's purchases meat from suppliers who torture animals," said Nathan Runkle, the group's executive director.
"We're urging shareholders to stop covering their eyes and ears from the atrocities and cruelty that is occurring to these animals," he said.
Protesters carried placards showing pigs trapped in "gestation crates," where they can't sit down; hens that have their beaks cut off; and "chickens that have less breathing space than a piece of paper," Runkle said. One man wore an electronic "body screen" TV attached to his chest that played documentary footage showing the inhumane treatment of animals.
Alongside the 11 protesters were as many as seven off-duty police officers who, according to the sergeant on call, were hired by Kroger for the shareholders meeting. The protesters weren't allowed within 100 feet of the entrances and had almost no direct contact with the shareholders.
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