OCCUPY PROTESTERS: As it turns out, the Occupy Cincinnati protesters who were arrested for camping overnight in downtown’s Piatt Park for nearly two weeks might not have violated any law. That’s the opinion of Municipal Court Judge David Stockdale, who sent a letter last week to city prosecutors and his fellow judges. Stockdale says his reading of the city’s charter reveals no section that codifies the breaking of park rules into a misdemeanor criminal violation. Further, he believes the city’s Park Board lacks the legislative authority to make the violations a criminal offense. Stockdale’s interpretation throws a crimp into the plan of city officials to crack down on the protest, which is a local version of a movement that’s seen similar demonstrations across the nation, most prominently in New York, Boston, Chicago and Oakland. It seems that some “law and order” types first need to get familiar with what the law actually says before they push for arrests.
PHIL BURRESS: CityBeat can understand Phil Burress’ fixation on battling pornography. The president of the Sharonville-based Citizens for Community Values has said that when he stumbled across a porn magazine when he was younger, it lit his loins ablaze with passion and became an all-consuming obsession until he asked his God for help.
So, because Phil can’t control his impulses, we should all be denied sexy photos. Got it. I don’t agree with it, but I see why he’s concerned. But Burress’ continual focus on gay people and their supposed “agenda” remains an enigma. In summer 2010, Burress sent an email warning to his followers about the Pride festival’s move to downtown: “If you decide to go, please be forewarned that you may be exposed to deviant behavior.” The latest incident occurred when Burress told The Enquirer that Chris Seelbach’s election to City Council as an openly gay man signals “why fewer people live in Cincinnati now.” Oh, just shut up and kiss him already, Phil.
MCNEIL RYAN: The owner of Mac’s Pizza Pub in Clifton Heights is to be commended for his strong commitment to protecting the environment. Ryan recently was given an award for the eatery’s recycling program. Begun last year, the program has resulted in reducing the pub’s trash pickup from five times per week to two times per week, and now Ryan — “Mac” to his pals — talks to other restaurants about following his example. He is also working to have the restaurant become LEED-certified, possibly making it the first restaurant in Cincinnati to win the designation, which is given to buildings that are energy efficient and use sustainable construction methods. Further, Ryan bought a Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric vehicle and is planning to set up charging stations in the back of the restaurant for patrons that will be powered by a small wind turbine. We all pay lip service to becoming greener, but it’s gratifying to see someone live his principles and incorporate them into a business.
TROY BLACKBURN: In a blatant attempt at intimidation, the attorney representing the Bengals (who also happens to be owner Mike Brown’s son-in-law) sent a letter to Hamilton County commissioners that tried to get them to scuttle a proposed ticket tax. Although the Bengals and Reds had sought a total of $23 million during the next few years for repairs to their respective stadiums, Blackburn indicated the football team might be satisfied with the much lower $6 million being offered by the county — if, that is, Commissioner Todd Portune drops his plan for a citizen initiative to create a city ticket tax. Blackburn called the idea “a misguided frolic,” adding that it would violate the team’s lease. The county’s stadium account is facing a $14 million deficit next year, which will jump to $25 million in a few years. Sorry, Mr. Blackburn: Hamilton County residents have been bullied enough by your family. We think Portune is on the right track.