Don't buy the line the Cincinnati Police Department is peddling about the high number of Drop Inn Center clients being arrested. What appears to be happening is suspects are lying about their addresses, and the cops are falling for it. Either that, or the cops know better and are using bad data for purposes of intimidating the Drop Inn Center. A study by the center throws doubt on some of the conclusions about a recent police crackdown in Over-the-Rhine.
"According to Cincinnati Police Department records, 286 individuals with the Drop Inn Center address have been arrested this year so far," says Pat Clifford, general coordinator of the homeless shelter. "However, Drop Inn Center records show that only 93 of them had, in fact, been residents during that time period. Therefore over 67 percent of those arrested with our address were not really our residents."
Furthermore, analysis of arrest and shelter records from Jan. 1 to May 22 shows that 95 percent of Drop Inn Center residents haven't been arrested at any point during this year. Only those 93 individuals out of 1,767 total residents so far this year have been charged with any crime, Clifford says.
"Therefore, analysis of the data shows that Drop Inn Center residents are not significantly contributing to crime in the Washington Park area," he says.
"In fact, our stats show that the Drop Inn Center is committed to transforming people's lives and is working to minimize residents' length of stay. Forty percent of Drop Inn Center residents have an average stay of two weeks or less."
The center wants a hearing before city council's Law and Public Safety Committee to "highlight our partnership with law enforcement and the success of our programs," Clifford says.
Meanwhile the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) is blocking the Drop Inn Center's plan to transfer 18 units of transitional housing from 12th and Elm streets to the former Samuel L. Bell Home for the Sightless on the western side of the 1500 block of Elm Street. The move, under discussion for two years, was planned to accommodate a new School for the Creative and Performing Arts, according to Clifford. This is not an expansion of Drop Inn Center services, he says, but merely a transfer from one property — which the school district wants — to another.
"Now 3CDC comes in and says, 'That's not far enough,' " Clifford says. "It's very unhelpful. It's not an expansion. We could say, 'Hell, no, we won't go.' It's in limbo now. We have a purchase contract. We can't move without city support, and 3CDC has a lot of influence with the city. It's very frustrating."
By the way, we now know what kind of event is behind the big push to clear the homeless out of Washington Park and environs and make them safe for decent white folk. "Opera Dogs" is the name for a canine fashion parade in the park June 11, sponsored by iRhine (see CityBeat's Hot Issue section for details). Cute pooches can only be an improvement over those unsightly poor people.
MoveOn to Something Positive
While public support for the Bush administration continues to drop and many congressional Republicans are under investigation, MoveOn.Org is taking a positive approach in its field organizing. The organization orchestrated a web of Positive Agenda House Parties on May 25. One of the 578 house parties held nationwide was hosted by James Schlotman and Laura Read in Western Hills.
"Focus on positive goals, because these are the kinds of ideas everyone will rally around," Schlotman says. "Whether it be Democrats or Republicans in office, these are going to be the kinds of issues we are going to ask people in office to address because they're what voters are concerned about."
A Webcast conference call gave a brief overview for the house parties' agenda. Along with an estimated 10,000 other participants across the country, the 16 members attending the Western Hills party brainstormed and voted for the positive goals most critical to them: energy independence through the use of renewable resources, restoring and protecting civil liberties and universal healthcare for all.
"When I ask people what they care about instead of if they're liberal or conservative, these are the kinds of responses they give me," Read says.
The public last week got a detailed glimpse of plans for the proposed 46-acre Cincinnati Riverfront Park. Designers say the project has three main goals: creating a grand civic space, offering pedestrians river accessibility both visually and physically and setting aside specific areas to accommodate events and festivals.
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