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Left Meets Right to Stop Jail Tax

By Gregory Flannery · June 12th, 2007 · Porkopolis
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  Go figure: This time it's a Republican defending elections.
Jymi Bolden

Go figure: This time it's a Republican defending elections.



The jail tax imposed last week by the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners seems to be one of those rare causes that pull in both progressives and conservatives. That's because the board did the one thing that free citizens of any political bent most despise: They overruled an election.

Yes, the new jail tax differs in some of its details from the jail tax that voters rejected just seven months ago. But by refusing to accept the voters' decision on the larger issue, Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper have managed to link in common cause the likes of Cincinnati Progressive Action (CPA) on the left and Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) on the right.

A coalition of groups opposed to the tax, approved 2-1 last week over the objections of Commissioner Pat DeWine, is now rushing to collect enough signatures to place a repeal initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot. Organizers need to collect nearly 30,000 valid signatures from registered Hamilton County voters by June 29. The NAACP and the Libertarian Party are working with the repeal effort. To learn more, visit wedemandavote.com.

The tax hike, which will take effect Oct.

1 unless the petition drive succeeds, will increase the county's sales tax by a half-cent, from 6.5 percent to 7 percent, for eight years, then be scaled back by a quarter cent, to 6.75 percent, for seven years. After 15 years the sales tax increase would expire. It would generate a projected $736 million during that period.

The tax hike will pay for building a $198 million, 1,800-bed adult jail in Cincinnati's Camp Washington neighborhood at the site of a former Kahn's meatpacking factory. It also will pay for efforts to better coordinate substance abuse treatment, counseling and probation programs for offenders in order to reduce recidivism, along with generating operating funds for the jail and money to help operate Hamilton County's emergency communications system.

Stereotyping of Conservatives Is Encouraged
We now return to our normal posture of sneering at conservatives -- in this case, the Freedom Alliance Concert at Kings Island later this summer. For a mere $70, nationalists and other right-wingers can ride roller coasters and listen to the perfervid rantings of talk show hosts Sean Hannity and Oliver North -- yes, that Oliver North, convicted in 1989 of lying to Congress to protect the Reagan administration's illegal Iran-Contra scheme. He now works hard to build support for yet another misguided U.S. military venture.

Visitors can also endure a live performance by Country artist Lee Greenwood, who still is singing "God Bless the U.S.A.," penned in Reagan's first term.

The groups that got together to demand removal of racist billboards put up by WLW (700 AM) a few weeks ago are making good on their promise to help local media become better informed about Latino culture. The groups' first effort was ending the "Big Juan" campaign, with its offensive stereotyping of Mexicans; WLW took down dozens of billboards. The second effort comes June 21, when Bridges for a Just Cincinnati, the Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA and the Cincinnati Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens offer training to media.

So-called immigration reform now under consideration in the U.S. Senate doesn't have the support of the Coalition for the Rights and Dignity of Immigrants (CODEDI), a three-year-old Cincinnati-based organization made up of Latino immigrants.

"The Senate's bill is not acceptable to Latino immigrants," says Sylvia Castellanos, spokeswoman for the group. "While the bill would legalize nearly all immigrants now here, it imposes high economic penalties amounting to at least $5,000 for each immigrant, long waiting periods to achieve permanent residence and citizenship and includes guest worker programs that would keep hundreds of thousands in conditions of virtual servitude. Worst of all, the Senate bill would not unify families but instead introduce a so-called merit system. For all of these reasons, this bill is unacceptable."

The Cincinnati Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recently held elections. New officers are Hagit Limor of WCPO (Channel 9), president; Felix Winternitz of Cincy Business, vice president; Josh Rinaldi of The Journal-News, secretary; and Alexander Coolidge of The Cincinnati Enquirer, treasurer.

For breaking news about local politics, commentary on national issues and poignant questions for discussion, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at blogs.citybeat.com/porkopolis.



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