Standing in front of a crane on Theodore Berry Way across from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, where The Banks was supposed to be under construction, Mayor Mark Mallory gathered an impressive group April 24 to talk about the lack of construction. His purpose was to call on the Hamilton County Commissioners to agree to mediation. Bishop E. Lynn Brown of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Paul Brown Jr. of the Bengals, Phil Castellini of the Reds, Greg Landsman of the Freedom Center, Steve Love of the African-American Chamber of Commerce, Bill Moran of Fifth Third Bancorp, Jim Orr of 3CDC and John Taylor of PNC Bank were among the people standing behind Mallory and cited as "totally committed to making sure The Banks not only gets off the ground but gets off the ground in the right way."
Mallory said he wants mediation to develop a sound financing plan, ensure a transparent and competitive developer-selection process and create shared oversight. He said he spoke with Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich about mediation and said, "He's open to the concept."
Apparently Heimlich wants to be seen with Mallory in public talking about city/county collaboration only when it serves his purposes. He praised Mallory for being present in 2005 after Corporex pulled out of negotiations and earlier this year when the city held a special council meeting to present the county's position. Yet Heimlich wasn't present at this press conference.
"I thought it was necessary, along with the members of council, to make this declaration public and to move forward with the plan we have for mediating an end to the stalemate," Mallory said.
When asked what would happen if the county doesn't participate, he said, "I can't predict the future."
Maybe he can't, but we'll take a whack at it. The commissioners will choose a developer team, including Eagle Realty, without input from the city and will attempt to get the project up and running, but it'll stall again when the phantom funding promised by the county doesn't materialize.
Bodyguards, Snitches and Eco-Transit
Two weeks after activist Kabaka Oba was shot outside City Hall, Mallory has quietly made changes to his personal security, getting Spec. Scotty Johnson transferred from the police department's investigations section to serve as his bodyguard during the business day. Johnson, who is getting a desk alongside the mayor's staff, has been a constant presence at Mallory's side during public appearances in the past week. Still, Mallory is reluctant to talk about the arrangement. During his weekly press conference April 25, he wouldn't provide specifics about Johnson's new role.
"We have had a security review, which is an ongoing process," Mallory said, as Johnson sat quietly in the back of the room. "I'm not going to give details about the security because it might compromise the security."
When Mallory was elected, one of his first actions as mayor involved getting rid of metal detectors at City Hall's main entrance and unlocking the doors to the mayor's office, allowing visitors to talk to his receptionist without using a telephone in a waiting area.
Two Cincinnati officials are introducing a proposal this week that they say will make it easier for area youth to anonymously report crime tips to police. Republican Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz and Democratic Councilwoman Laketa Cole want the city to contract with the Crime Stoppers program to create a Web page where informants can post tips on the Internet.
Crimestoppers offers a telephone line for anonymous tips, but Ghiz and Cole believe youth would be more comfortable using the Internet. The pair want the site to gather tips and give them to the Cincinnati Police Department, which would route them to neighboring law enforcement agencies as needed.
Hoping to cut its fuel costs, the Metro bus system this month will begin using a 50 percent blend of biodiesel and regular diesel fuel on all its vehicles. The usual blend in public transit is 20 percent biodiesel to 80 percent diesel, but the vehicles can operate on any proportion of biodiesel up to 100 percent, according to Sallie Hilvers, a Metro spokeswoman. Metro will use the 50 percent blend during the warm weather months, between April and October, and switch back to the 20 percent blend in colder months.
The biodiesel fuel is made using Ohio soybeans. Metro's 390 buses use about 3.6 million gallons of fuel annually. The increase will make Metro one of the largest biodiesel fuel users in the nation, consuming about 1.3 million gallons a year.
The word "diversity" usually denotes a member of a racial minority, but this year it could apply in a different way to the race for state representative from Ohio's 32nd District. For many years the seat has been held by African Americans, often named Mallory, and it could be once more.
Dale Mallory, embattled past president of the West End Community Council, and Eve Bolton, former county recorder, are the presumptive frontrunners in the Democratic primary. Mallory, who is black, is the son of former State Rep. William Mallory and brother of Mayor Mark Mallory, both of whom preceded incumbent State Rep. Catherine Barnett, who is losing her job to term limits. Bolton is white. The district includes downtown, Over-the-Rhine, the West End, Clifton, Avondale and College Hill.
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