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New Council, New Controversy

By Margo Pierce · December 7th, 2005 · All The News That Fits
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  Now it's official: Mallory is Mayor
Jon Hughes/photopresse.com

Now it's official: Mallory is Mayor



Cincinnati City Council could have easily been mistaken for a high school graduation Nov. 30. Members of the public and council members reminisced about accomplishments and offered compliments along with good wishes to outgoing Mayor Charlie Luken and council members Sam Malone, David Pepper, Alicia Reece and Christopher Smitherman during their last council session.

By the time it was over, even Luken seemed to have had enough.

"I think we've all been eulogized and we should the have the decency to die, I guess," he said.

· · ·

In the final vote of the session, council unanimously approved the renaming of part of Vine Street between Second Street and Ted Berry Way -- next to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center -- as Rosa Parks Street.

The U.S. House and Senate unanimously passed legislation Nov.

18 making Parks the first African-American woman to be permanently honored in the National Statuary Hall. Reece said she'll take a copy of the ordinance naming Rosa Parks Street to the White House.

"I've been invited to the White House, and I'm certainly happy to let them know that Cincinnati has done its part to make sure that Rosa Parks never dies," Reece said.

In stark contrast to whatever good feelings the new street name generated, an old controversy resurfaced. Roger Owensby Sr. addressed council about the court-ordered reinstatement of former Police Officer Patrick Caton, who was fired for his role in the death of Roger Owensby Jr. in police custody in 2000 (see "Piling On," issue of Oct. 3-9, 2002).

"This man should not be back on the police force, not just for the sake of our family but for the sake of our city," Owensby Sr. said.

In his final act, Smitherman asked council to appeal the order to reinstate Caton. The motion passed unanimously.

· · ·

The next day, Dec. 1, three standing ovations ushered Mark Mallory into his role as the first directly elected African-American mayor of Cincinnati. Surrounded by his family and before being sworn in by his brother, Hamilton County Municipal Judge William Mallory Jr., the mayor-elect had to endure a few jabs from his older sibling. The judge informed everyone assembled that he, not the new mayor, is "the best dressed Mallory."

Mayor Mallory thanked voters for entrusting him with the future of the city.

"We are going to face those challenges with pride, with civility, with dignity and with openness," he said. "The council that's assembled is committed to working for change. We're going to reform our house so that we can do the things people really want us to do."

After the council members were individually sworn in, most made remarks that were as positive and appreciative as those the day before. Thanking parents, family, friends, staff and their higher power, none were as self-deprecating as new Councilman Chris Bortz.

"I stumbled through the oath of office, and I can't figure out the intricacies of the microphone," he said. "I can only get better from here."

As if to underscore that remark, Councilman David Crowley voiced disgust with a special council meeting held "behind closed doors" the day before.

"I raised objections to a number of the proposed committee rules that I thought would dramatically affect how citizens could learn about the actions of their elected leaders," Crowley said. "As a result, I was stripped of my committee chairmanship. At that point I left the room, given there was no more to be discussed. I felt I was left in the position of not knowing how to protect the citizens. I feel bad about that because there's been such a note of optimism this week and today."



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