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A Lesson in the Lessers

By Kathy Y. Wilson · August 7th, 2013 · Kathy Y. Wilson
Election Day may seem like a long ways off, but the Sept. 10 primary pitting the only two viable mayoral candidates is barely more than one month away.

Libertarian Jim Berns dropped out and re-entered without much affect, and Sandra Queen Noble, the mayoral candidate most like an annoying sweat bee, lingers but, as per usual, is never taken seriously.

Already and for quite awhile in the race, former councilman (2000-2009) and practicing attorney John Cranley is the only one among the two-horse frontrunners acting like he really really wants the job.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, Cranley’s only competitor and former Mayor (1993-1999) and councilwoman (appointed by the Charter Committee to fill Jim Tarbell’s seat in 2007; elected to council that year and again in 2009 and 2011) is not exactly behaving like she wants the job.

Qualls is only acting entitled to the job.

And she is being outraised and outspent by Cranley in what could be record-breaking campaign finances if Cranley hits his $1 million dream goal and Qualls reaches her $750,000 mark. 

Qualls’ lagging finances could be attributed to misogyny and/or homophobia because, as we saw with Mitt Romney, white men love to write checks to other white men to build the war chest that will defeat The Other.

(Cue booming action-flick music here.)

What’s so far hilarious and makes me itch a little is watching how each courts the black vote.

When Cranley was a guest on the July 13 broadcast of attorney Rob Richardson, Jr.’s show on 1230 AM WDBZ “The Buzz” — the blackface version of 700 AM WLW — the smack down turned nearly into a shouting match about — what else? — streetcars, parking meters and Qualls’ fiscal management. Then Cranley started spouting his black credibility because his campaign staffers are a diverse bunch and therefore he is more inclusive.

It’s true former Councilwoman Laketa Cole, who is black, sat on the back of Cranley’s Northside Fourth of July parade float, warbling something indiscernible through a bullhorn to parade revelers.

Cole’s lackluster council stint was marred by a 2007 near-street fight with her boyfriend’s ex and a 2009 traffic stop for minor infractions; this doesn’t exactly catapult her to the spot of Most Trustworthy Negress To Help Win a Mayoral Election On Black Votes.

Neither, Roxanne Qualls, does merely showing up places on cat feet where you know black folks frequent to demonstrate to them/us whatever it is you’re trying to show them/us.

That you’re down?

Renting President Barack Obama’s Walnut Hills campaign re-election headquarters will not imbue yours with any mojo, juju, black winningness or black respect. Sadly, there aren’t any black magnets left behind within its walls to attract the throngs of thirsty black voters who showed up for Obama in Cincinnati’s neighborhoods similarly colored like Walnut Hills.

What each of you should do is pay attention.

Cityfolk are talking.

At Northside’s Take the Cake, where a counter seat is like a front-row bleacher to the best eavesdropping and gossip to the left and right, a white man whose opinion and insight I like to hear told me frankly last week that Cranley is so far “the candidate of no.”

“No streetcar. No privatized parking (meters). No this, no that. I’d like for him to tell us what we can do.”

I never thought about it like that but I think I agree.

The week before that, a black man whose opinion and insight I value told me he’s likely voting for Qualls because “anybody who agrees with (Councilman Christopher) Smitherman and COAST (Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes),” he paused for dramatic effect, “can’t be for the right thing,” he finished, referring to Cranley’s vehement and vocal oppositions to the streetcar. (That’s two votes for Qualls, if you’re counting.)

I’ve thought about that and I think I mostly agree. The streetcar’s visage as the city’s go-nowhere white whale is more complicated than the absolute and divisive issue it’s made out to be.

If it’s built, some will feel hoodwinked; if it’s not, we’ll look like losers.

I am squeamish around anyone returning repeatedly to different posts in elected city government; it’s like the penultimate busman’s holiday.

One day you’re gonna have to stop riding that bus on your day off and find another way to get around, one that does not give you so much perpetually unfulfilled access to attention, control and what is familiar.

Most of our city council people and mayors are recycled names from family or political dynasties who sometimes go away only temporarily but return to eventually sniff us out and see if they can get back into City Hall.

Doesn’t this trouble you at all? In the least little bit?

Don’t you get tired of seeing the same names on the ballot, like Smitherman and Charles Winburn? And don’t you have idea fatigue that plagues you from hearing the same stale ideas twisted slightly into seemingly new ways?

These people are shape shifters; yet, I am waiting for someone on council to actually be a leader and to address this city’s shooting deaths in a way that doesn’t simply mean hiring more officers — only later to have to lay them off — or for someone to take an interest in our homeless and indigent populations in a humane way that doesn’t merely sweep them under the rug in some distant part of town so the shiny, happy downtown revelers won’t have to lay eyes or quarters on them.

Give someone else a chance, for God’s sake.

Can we get a city worker to change the locks on all the doors at City Hall? How about voters educating themselves? You know you do not have to expend your maximum number of council votes, right? 

If only politicians were cicadas.

At least we’d have a longer cycle of silence before the commencement of incessant droning and that annoying buzzing about.

The only difference is cicadas, while butt-ugly, die after they mate.

CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: letters@citybeat.com



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