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Turn Wishes into Reality

By · September 19th, 2007 · Letters
Congratulations to John Fox on a brilliant piece of writing about the state of our local arts ("How the Arts Saved Cincinnati," issue of Aug. 29). Not only imaginative, but written with great wit -- in short supply in print media.

But the amazing part is that it is truly the right answer to the city's future. Even all the characters are the right ones to make it real (well, Bunning Arts Center...). Now who has the vision and leadership to turn it into reality?

-- David C Herriman, Covington

Supporting the Arts Is Necessary
Thank you not only for the recent State of the Arts issue (Aug. 29) but also for CityBeat's year-round attention to the arts in Cincinnati. In the optimistic can-do spirit of John Fox's article "How the Arts Saved Cincinnati" -- "borrowed" from a 2019 issue of CityBeat -- we'd like to join him in 2019 and look back on some of those contributions that guaranteed that our new facilities were part of a diverse, exciting, arts-loving community where creative people could live, work and thrive.

So let's not forget the in-the-trenches contributions of time, labor and vision provided by individual artists and small arts organizations that reminded us that a city needs to sustain people and programs as well as its buildings and stages. Let's not forget those citizen arts advocates who week after week petitioned, badgered and lobbied city council and the county commissioners until permanent arts funding policies removed the arts from the annual political budget circus.

Let us never forget the fall of 2007, when Cincinnati residents demanded that city council adopt the 2 percent for public art ordinance requiring that the budget for every public building project in the city include funding for innovative public art for all to enjoy, along with the staff to run the program and a nest egg to maintain the city's investment. (Note to voters of 2007: When you meet council candidates, ask them where they stand on this ordinance and vote accordingly.)

And most of all, let's not forget all those who worked collaboratively and found a way to keep the public as an equal player in the new public/private partnership to fund Cincinnati arts.

Those were the real heroes who made sure that the arts were accessible to all citizens -- they preserved a funding process that was transparent, fair and open to all. And they convinced us that supporting the arts is a basic mandate of citizenship.

-- Kate Kern and Kristin Dietsche

Members, Cincinnati Arts Allocation Committee

Co-Chairs, Cincinnati Recreation Commission Public Art Committee

Finding Solutions to Violence
I want to thank and honor Margo Pierce for her fantastic article on family violence ("Home Is Where the Hurt Is," issue of Sept. 5). Sometimes men are the forgotten family members, especially when talking about family violence.

I live in Canada, but the situation is similar. Statistics Canada is a federal department that recently released the following information: 7 percent of women and 6 percent of men have experienced abuse by their partner in the past five years, but there are 553 shelters for women funded with $333 million while men receive nothing.

Richard Gelles, one of the original researchers in family violence, stated, "It is independent of the statistics -- if there is only one man who is a victim, he too is deserving of services and facilities."

Family violence is a social issue and not a gender issue. Pierce's article is supportive to find solutions and not blame.

-- Earl Silverman, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

What's the Jail Plan?
Kevin Osborne's summary of positions on the jail tax issue in Hamilton County ("Tax Fight," issue of Sept. 12) ended with Commissioner David Pepper's claim, "This is the only plan that addresses recidivism." This should not be the last word in CityBeat about the jail tax.

What plan? For months now, a brochure and a power-point have been up on the Hamilton County government Web site with a promise to develop a more detailed plan. It's a plan to have a plan.

The details we do know that can be gleaned from the brochure, power-point and statements made by Pepper, Commissioner Todd Portune and Sheriff Simon Leis include jail expansion; housing still more federal prisoners; requiring video arraignments and video visits at the proposed more-distant new jail; closing treatment facilities and moving treatment into the new jail; and adding money to Leis' budget for more militaristic sheriff's patrols in Over-the-Rhine and other Cincinnati areas. The counter-argument offered by Pepper and Portune seems to be, "This will happen anyway. Trust us, we're Democrats, and so with the money we raise beyond what it costs to do those objectionable things we'll do something good, too. And by the way, if the tax doesn't pass, there will be 'severe cuts' (Portune's words as quoted in the article) to build this jail."

The last time Hamilton County voters passed a sales tax in response to an ultimatum, the stadium tax was passed, and it seems that many now regret that vote. Portune has been the one liberal light in local politics for some years and has done significant good trying to ameliorate the area's attacks on the poor. But this doesn't mean he's not wrong about jail expansion and this jail tax.

CityBeat could do the electorate a huge service by investigating and reporting the numbers behind arrests and jail occupancy in Hamilton County today. How many arrests for vagrancy and homelessness? How many for jay-walking? How many for spitting on the sidewalk? And how many caused by Cincinnati's ridiculous marijuana ordinance? How many of these arrests are made by sheriff's patrols and not Cincinnati Police?

This chilling fact was reported in the Vera Institute of Justice's Assessment, a report commissioned by Hamilton County: In 2004, 81 percent of total "jail bed days" were occupied by those between booking and court review, while this figure was only 37 percent in 1999. These are people who should be out on bail but can't afford a minimal bond.

Is the Hamilton County jail really the Hamilton County Poorhouse? Why not alleviate this alleged overcrowding problem first by not warehousing the poor and, second, by guaranteeing a speedy trial for those who are arrested? And does that require more jail beds or, instead, more public defenders and judges?

Only with such an assessment of how the system currently operates can the voters reasonably decide if they really want to give the same government more money to do more of the same.

-- Linda Newman,

Cincinnati Progressive Action and No Jail Tax PAC



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