´ If you ask a fellow smoker for a light in Cincinnati, you can get a ticket from the police. No, this doesn't have anything to do with the new smoking ban in Ohio; the problem is the city's panhandling laws. The ordinance is written so broadly that asking for anything, not just money, can be interpreted as panhandling, according to Jeff Gamso, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio. (Issue of Feb. 14)
´ Most intriguing unconfirmed rumor of the week: George Clooney buys The Cincinnati Post and hires his father, Post columnist Nick Clooney, as publisher.
This enables George to save a dying daily with a proud history and enables Nick to keep writing about politics and his late sister's glory days. (March 7)
´ A string of break-ins at bars in Northside are particularly galling to the owners of a business that's a one-minute drive from the area's police station. It took officers more than 15 minutes to respond after their burglar alarm was activated -- longer than it would take for police to walk there if they had responded immediately. "It's a crock," said the owner of one bar. "It's a seven-minute walk from my bar to District 5. I know, I've done it. There's just no excuse."
According to police, there was -- albeit an unsatisfying one. The break-in occurred shortly after a shift change for officers, who were in roll call at the time. (March 21)
´ It must have been a moment of pride for all Ohioans last week -- and especially for the new Democratic governor -- when Christopher Newton was slowly executed at the state prison in Lucasville. The poison didn't take effect until one hour and 53 minutes after the procedure began; the executioners reportedly had difficulty finding an effective vein. The condemned man was stuck with a needle 10 times before success was achieved. (May 30)
´ Three CityBeat employees were smoking in front of the building June 8 when a disheveled man walked up, pronounced himself hungry and asked for some money. When he got it, he sat down on the sidewalk and started talking about a history of seizures. The man appeared to be drunk. His face was bruised. Asked if he were diabetic, the man said yes, prompting one of us to go inside in search of food and another to call 911 for an ambulance. That's when we screwed up.
Seeing a police officer on a bicycle at Race and Ninth streets, one of us got his attention and pointed out the distressed man on the sidewalk. Walking up behind the man, the officer yelled, "Jackson!" This startled the distressed man. The officer then pronounced Jackson drunk and ordered him to get up and move along.
We heard an ambulance approaching. To our surprise, the officer used his police radio to cancel the ambulance call. Jackson again said he needed to go to the hospital. The officer, perhaps motivated by a zeal for the plight of taxpayers, announced, "We're not taking you there. If you want to go to the hospital, call a cab or take the bus." (June 13)
´ Asked about the sheriff's behavior during the campaign for a sales tax to build a new jail, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune issued this lofty statement of support: "Yes, he's probably maybe overly aggressive about getting it done. I don't really fault him for that." (Sept. 19)
´ The newly published Cincinnati Police History contains this multi-layered whopper: "The CPD faced disorder in the fall of 2000 when the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, an international business group, met in Cincinnati. Protesters from across the country came, many intent on violence. The CPD met the large disorderly crowds with a new technology: bean bag shotguns. This less-lethal tool stopped the rioters without causing serious, permanent injuries to the suspects."
The protests against the globalization conference were marred by violence, all right -- but it was all initiated by the police. Not a single weapon was found in the dozens of arrests they made, and not a single protester was charged with an act of violence. Nor was any property damage noted after the three-day protest downtown. (Oct. 17)
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