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Devilish Details

By Gregory Flannery · December 28th, 2005 · All The News That Fits
  The Year In Review
The Year In Review

Maybe Simon Leis is onto something. Perhaps, as the Hamilton County Sheriff pronounced on Fountain Square last spring, we are suffering a "satanic pestilence." What else could explain some of the goings-on that defined 2005 in Cincinnati?

When the Southwest Ohio Regional Transportation Authority raised Metro bus fares to $1 at the beginning of the year, the outcry from city council was swift. But just a few months later, with gas prices exceeding $3 a gallon, the new fare suddenly seemed quite a bargain.

Paul Hackett became a virtual winner by losing his first campaign, a special election in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District. But Jean Schmidt, who won the election, soon showed herself a loser, booed into a retreat on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The Queen City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police aimed to help elect the Rev. Charlie Winburn mayor of Cincinnati. But the cops badly missed their target, with more than a few of their automated campaign calls going to Albany, N.Y., whose area code is different from Cincinnati by a single digit -- and some 700 miles.

The Maisonette went out of business -- an unfortunate development but more palatable than its desperate last-ditch effort to relocate in Kenwood.

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman decided something should be done. He rounded up three charter buses and opened them to waiting refugees, ready to bring about 150 home with him. Only 17 were willing to come.

When Sam Malone took office in 2003, he promised to help restore respect for law and order in a city bedeviled by violent crime. When he left office, he was still waiting to stand trial for beating his 14-year-old son. The FOP, in another ham-fisted political move, endorsed Malone even though one of its own members had arrested the councilman. Voters didn't like that endorsement any better than they did the FOP's mayoral pick.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft -- whose family name graces a major Cincinnati roadway and a renowned Cincinnati art museum -- joined another Cincinnati icon, Pete Rose, namesake for a downtown street, by being convicted of a criminal offense.

Not long after Taft was convicted, and with his administration under investigation in the Coingate scandal, voters overwhelmingly rejected four proposals to reform state politics.

The year started badly for police-community relations in Cincinnati, with a federal judge faulting the police chief for insulting a court-appointed reform monitor. The year ended badly for police-community relations in Cincinnati, with the FOP president threatening that cops will start using firearms more often if a review board doesn't like the way they use their stun guns.

Soldiers assigned to the 377th Military Police Co. of the Army Reserves, headquartered in Cincinnati, went to Afghanistan to help spread democracy. They came back to face charges of brutalizing prisoners of war, including two who died in an American-operated dungeon.

The city stumbled upon the reason throngs of people go anywhere but downtown to shop, dine and be entertained. It seems the fountain that makes Fountain Square is in the wrong spot. The square's redesign will cost $42 million, the vast majority of it private funds.

Adjudged ugly, the stage on Fountain Square will be removed. This might prove inconvenient for Leis, whose Police Memorial Day speech warned of "gay and lesbian coalitions, rabid feminist groups and the American Civil Liberties Union ... competing for power." He'll no doubt find a new stage. But this could be just the opportunity the city needs in its oft-thwarted effort to keep protesters off the square. Isn't that progress?

All The News That Fits: Leads, entrails and tales we couldn't get to.


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