CityBeat Blogs - History <![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

City Council yesterday expressed support for a barebones parking plan that would upgrade all meters to accept credit card payments and increase enforcement around the city, which should boost annual revenues. The plan does not increase rates or hours at meters, as Mayor John Cranley originally called for. It also doesn’t allow people to pay for parking meters through smartphones. The plan ultimately means death for the parking privatization plan, which faced widespread criticism after the previous city administration and council passed it as a means to jumpstart new investments and help fix the city’s operating budget and pension system.

Councilman Christopher Smitherman plans to pursue changes to the city’s political structure to give more power to the mayor and less to the city manager. Smitherman says the current system is broken because it doesn’t clearly define the role of the mayor. Under Smitherman’s system, the mayor would run the city and hire department heads; the city manager, who currently runs the city and handles hiring, would primarily preside over budget issues; and City Council would pass legislation and act as a check to the mayor. Smitherman aims to put the plan to voters this November.

Commentary: “WCPO’s Sloppy Streetcar Reporting Misses Real Concerns.”

The Cincinnati Art Museum maintains five political cartoons from the famed Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel), but none are currently on public display. The cartoons call back to the history before World War II, when most of the world played ignorant to the horrors of the Holocaust and Americans had yet to enter the war. Dr. Seuss loathed the villains on the world stage, and his cartoons promoted a message of interventionism that would eventually lead him to join the Army to help in the fight against the Axis powers. When he returned home, he would write the famous stories and books he’s now so well known for.

Mayor Cranley and some council members appear reluctant to accept a routine grant application that would allow the Cincinnati Health Department to open two more clinics because of the potential effect the clinics could have on the city’s budget. Cranley and other council members also seem concerned that the Health Department played a role in the recent closing of Neighborhood Health Care, which shut down four clinics and three school-based programs after it lost federal funding.

Ohio legislators approved a bill that forces absentee voters to submit more information and reduces the amount of time provisional voters have to confirm their identities from 10 days to one week. For Democrats, the bill adds to previous concerns that Republicans are attempting to suppress voters. The bill now goes to Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who’s expected to sign the measure into law.

The Ohio legislature continues wrangling over how to give schools more snow days.

More than 175,000 claims have been filed over winter damage, potentially making this winter one of the costliest in decades.

Robot suits could make mixed martial arts blood-free.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Six out of nine City Council members signed a motion to use money from the city’s parking lease to conduct a disparity study that would gauge whether minority- and women-owned businesses should be favorably targeted by the city’s contracting policies. Democrats Roxanne Qualls, Yvette Simpson, Wendell Young, Chris Seelbach, Pam Thomas and P.G. Sittenfeld signed the motion. The study, which could cost between $500,000 and $1 million, is required to change city contracting policies after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that governments must prove there is a racial or gender-based disparity before changing rules to favor any specific race or gender. CityBeat first covered a disparity study in further detail here. Council members will hold a press conference about the issue at noon today.

Petitioners pushing to reform Cincinnati’s public retirement system with a controversial city charter amendment turned in almost 16,000 signatures to City Hall yesterday. Of those signatures, 7,443 have to be validated by the Hamilton County Board of Elections. The plan would put future city workers in individual retirement accounts similar to 401K plans used in the private sector. But city officials argue that, unlike private workers, public employees don’t get Social Security benefits on top of their pensions, which means public workers could get considerably less retirement money under the amendment than someone would in the private sector. Supporters of the amendment point to the citys struggles with properly funding its pension system, which led to a bond rating downgrade from credit rating agency Moody’s. Opponents of the amendment plan to hold a press conference in front of City Hall at 3 p.m. today or after today’s Council meeting, whichever is later.

A majority of City Council on Tuesday sided with the Windholtz family, who will now be able to sell and demolish the old Lenhardt’s restaurant building — also known as the Goetz House — in Clifton Heights. Only Councilwoman Yvette Simpson sided with community members who argued that the building should be declared a historical landmark and preserved. “If I were counting votes, I would go with the community. There are a whole bunch of you and a very few people named Windholtz,” Councilman Wendell Young said. “I believe that the courage to do what’s right this time is to side with the family.”

Election results from yesterday: The Norwood tax levy failed, the Arlington Heights levy failed with a tie vote and the Cleves tax levy passed.

Gov. John Kasich says there’s no need to change oversight over JobsOhio, the privatized development agency that has been mired in controversy in the past few weeks. Most recently, a story in the Dayton Daily News found six of nine members on the JobsOhio board had direct financial ties to companies receiving state aid. Republicans argue JobsOhio’s privatized nature allows it to move quickly with deals that bring in businesses and jobs to the state, but Democrats say the secretive agency is too difficult to hold accountable and could be wasting taxpayer dollars.

Former Gov. Ted Strickland is calling on Ohioans to act now and reduce the effects of global warming. Strickland is apparently siding with the near-unanimous scientific consent that global warming is real and man-made. Scientists generally want to reduce carbon and other greenhouse-gas emissions enough so global warming doesn’t exceed two degrees Celsius, but the planet is currently on a path to warm by five degrees Celsius. If that trend continues, there could be devastating effects, including more drought and other extraordinary weather events.

The second phase of The Banks might include a grocery store.

Procter & Gamble plans to move 50 customer service jobs from Cincinnati to San Jose, Costa Rica.

The house of Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who held captive and raped three women for more than a decade, was demolished today. The neighborhood is still celebrating the capture of Castro, who was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years last week, but many in the area are wondering how the man got away with his crimes for so long.

Entrepreneurs were more likely to cause trouble than teenagers, according to a new study.

<![CDATA[Environmentalists Adding Green Luster to Bob Taft’s Dull Image]]> When Bob Taft left the governor’s office in 2007, he was seen as little more than a pompous bumbler. His two terms ended with a conviction on a misdemeanor ethics crime for failing to report free golf outings. He was the epitome of a country club Republican, a patrician who played but didn’t pay, a rajah who blamed his aides for failing to mention on ethics filings that his greens fees were gifts. Meanwhile, a major scandal involving rare coin investment contracts with a well-connected supporter from Toledo was roiling the state workers’ compensation insurance fund. That crime smelled like like pay to play in the Taft Administration. And Taft’s poll numbers were deep in the pits — he was rated the most unpopular governor in the United States. Many Ohioans viewed Taft as a pol who was at his best only when the going was good. Now he’s on the road to a comeback of sorts.  The Taft years are getting a second look, and out of it emerge a different image, that of a governor with a sensible environmental policy. For example, who noticed that he tried to stop Asian carp from invading our waterways nearly a decade ago — an invasion that has come true.

Next month, the state’s most important environmental/conservation organization plans to give Taft its award for lifetime achievement as a consistent backer of policies and programs for clean air and water. So the governor who skipped his green fees is being recognized as Mr. Green. The Ohio Environmental Council says it will bestow the honor Nov. 10 at its annual “Green Gala” in Columbus.

Taft is being seen in hindsight as the kind of R who wasn’t afraid of standing up for the environment. That is a rarity in today’s GOP, where Rush Limbaugh routinely denounces tree-huggers as enviro-fascists, and the EPA is widely portrayed as a jobs-killing hydra. Of course, few remember that Republican President Richard Nixon created the EPA. Nor do they seem to recollect that Teddy Roosevelt — when he wasn’t hunting elephants or elk — is the patriarch of the national park system.

Taft gets credit for taking on his own party, which recently considered tapping water from the Great Lakes. He had supported strict limits on withdrawing water from Great Lakes feeder streams for industrial and mining purposes — those streams replenished Lake Erie. Taft believed the Great Lakes were resources that needed more protection from special interests; they did not need more abuse and exploitation.

Taft also favored reauthorization of the federal Clean Water Act, and he wanted Superfund legislation fixed to add so-called “brown fields,” which were old industrial sites that could be cleaned and put back into use as commercial real estate. He supported an energy policy that would have 25 percent of all U.S. energy coming from renewable sources by 2025. He pushed natural gas companies to set aside funds to help low income families pay their heating bills.

As far back as 2003, Taft was urging governors and Congress to take drastic action to stop the spread of the Asian carp, the giant jumping fish that now are in the Ohio River near Cincinnati. He called such invasive species “perhaps the most serious and potentially destructive threat” to Ohio’s natural ecosystem. His warning about all the invaders came too true. Since then, Emerald Ash Borers have appeared and destroyed too much of Ohio’s forestland. And Asian longhorn beetles are on the march in Clermont County, where the Department of Natural Resources and Forest Service have drawn battle lines against the pest. Taft worried about water pollution, too. He said too many beaches were closed from bacteria and sewage, and he saw the solution as “not better information about when to close the beach, it’s not having to close the beach in the first place.”

So Taft is getting a thoughtful reappraisal. He may have been comfortable at play on the country clubs. But his reputation is coming back from low ebb.  

<![CDATA[Historic Burial Records Placed Online]]>

Newly restored digital copies of 73-year-old maps detailing where U.S military veterans are buried throughout Hamilton County will be unveiled Wednesday.


The Hamilton County Recorder’s Office recently received map books dating to 1939 that were thought to have been destroyed. Created by the Works Progress Administration, the map books register the burial location of every veteran in the county who had served dating back to the Revolutionary War.


The maps list details about area veterans who served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the War with Mexico, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World War I.


Eventually, the records were transferred to microfiche between the 1950s and ‘70s, and the map books were given to a local resident. The filmed copies began degrading over time and are of poor quality, causing problems for historians, genealogical researchers and others who tried to use them.


A member of the Ohio Genealogical Society ultimately acquired the original copies of the map books and presented them to the Recorder’s Office in February. Since that time, the office has worked to transfer the images to a digital format and enhance their quality. All of the images now are available on the Recorder’s Office website.


County Recorder Wayne Coates will unveil the newly restored records at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The event will be held in Room 205 of the County Administration Building, located at 138 E. Court St., downtown.

<![CDATA[Kerry Kennedy To Visit Cincinnati Friday]]>

Human rights activist and author Kerry Kennedy, one of the late Robert F. Kennedy’s daughters, will be in Cincinnati Friday to speak about women who create social change.

Kennedy will appear at an event sponsored by the Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati. The speech will begin at 7:30 p.m.
at the Millennium Hotel, 150 W. Fifth St., in downtown Cincinnati.

Tickets to the event cost $25 for the lecture or $125 for the lecture and a reception with the speaker afterward, and are available online in advance or at the door.

She will present a speech entitled, “The Power of One: Stories of Inspiration 
from Women on the Cutting-Edge of Social Change.”

Kennedy, 52, is president of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Justice and Human Rights in Washington, D.C. Also, she is chairwoman of the Amnesty International USA Leadership Council.

Kennedy is author of the best-selling books, Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk about Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning, along with Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World.

She is the seventh of Robert F. Kennedy’s 11 children. From 1990-2005, she was married to Andrew Cuomo, the current New York governor and son of Mario Cuomo.

Founded in 1915, Woman’s City Club has worked to foster civic reform and social justice in Cincinnati. Among its many activities, the club helped establish the city’s first race relations committee and held study circles on various issues to encourage greater civic participation.

<![CDATA[Recorder Accepting Griffin Yeatman Award Nominations]]>

If you know an individual or group that volunteers their time to preserve and promote historic documents or sites in Hamilton County, you can nominate them for an award.

The Hamilton County Recorder’s Office is accepting nominations for its annual Griffin Yeatman Award. Created in 1994, the award recognizes people who work to help others understand historic preservation and promote public interest in the topic.

Application forms may be accessed here.

Past winners include Gorman Heritage Farm, Cincinnati Police Museum, Indian Hill Historical Society, the Cincinnati Observatory and American Jewish Archives, among many others.

The award is presented for excellence in historical preservation, research or achievement that has contributed to the preservation of buildings, sites, structures and objects pertaining to Hamilton County's history.

Deadline for submissions is March 31.

Griffin Yeatman was a Cincinnati pioneer and the Hamilton County recorder from 1828-35. He ran the Square and Compass Tavern, which was visited by famous guests including George Roger Clark, Andrew Jackson and Aaron Burr. Also, Yeatman was the first recorder elected to the position by Hamilton County citizens.

<![CDATA[Group Upset at Gamble Neglect]]>

A group that supports preserving the historic Gamble House in Westwood is angry that Cincinnati building inspectors aren't enforcing the law at the property, which is allowing heavy rainfall to damage it while a court battle drags on about whether to save the mansion from demolition.

Bob Prokop, of Save the Historic Gamble Estate Now, said the city's inaction about securing the house contradicts what a building inspector told him would be done at the property in an email from last spring.---

Prokop cites the April email, from Ed Cunningham, manager of Cincinnati's Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Division, which stated, “The attorney for the owner was informed by our office that even though there is litigation on the proposed demolition, measures must still be taken to preserve the property pending a decision on the demolition permit … if work does not start as indicated, the case will be sent to the prosecutor for review.”

But eight months later, that work remains undone.

Meanwhile, the area has had a record-breaking amount of rainfall this year, more than 70 inches since January, with more expected this week.

Prokop noted that the Greenacres Foundation, owner of the Gamble House, isn't in compliance with the 13 conditions of its Vacated Building Maintenance License (VBML).

“When a property owner violates the city's municipal code regarding something as mundane as not mowing their lawn, that property owner will be cited multiple times. If no response is received by the city, they mow the lawn themselves and send the owner the bill,” Prokop said. “Many of us feel the same approach should be taken regarding historic properties that are in danger of suffering prolonged exposure to the elements if their owner refuses to comply with orders from the Building & Inspections Department or the Urban Conservator/Historic Conservation Board.”

Meg Olberding, a city spokeswoman, said inspectors are holding off until they see if an appeal is successful of a magistrate's ruling from July that allows demolition to proceed.

“Therefore, there is a pending appeal directly related to the condition of the building and it doesn’t make sense to prosecute the owners for failure to comply with the VBML when there is a magistrate’s decision on a demolition permit,” Olberding said.

The city's stance is illogical, replied Prokop and others who want to save the house, which is more than 140 years old.

“The thing I find most interesting about (the) response is that the city seems to now be waving the white flag and saying that the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas can now tell it how to operate,” Prokop said. “That's odd since the city's contention from the beginning has been that the county court has no business in dictating how it enforces its own laws.”

He added, “Representatives of the Greenacres Foundation and the city of Cincinnati met on-location at the property in the spring of this year. At that time the owners agreed to perform some bare-bones stabilization of the property, like tarping the roof. As of today, nothing has been done.”

Groups trying to save the house include the Cincinnati Preservation Association, the Westwood Historical Society and Westwood Civic Association

According to preservationists, the house has faulty box gutters and a metal roof in need of repair, both of which Westwood residents have offered for years to fix at their expense, to no avail. Also, some neighbors allege downspouts were intentionally disconnected.

“We know from Judge (Norbert) Nadel's visit in 2010 (and Ed Cunningham's follow-up visit in January of this year) that the interior has been stripped of its architectural features,” Prokop said. “Water, electricity, and gas lines have been disconnected. Plumbing has been removed. All without a permit or approval of any kind. What would the consequences be if an 'average Joe' such as myself did the same thing to our own home?”

Meanwhile, Greenacres is planning on investing $14 million in another historic Gamble property located in Ponce Inlet, Fla., near Daytona Beach. The foundation will spend $1.2 million on a dock and boat and $800,000 on renovating the house. Additionally, it will established a $12 million endowment to run the property as a maritime museum, which is expected to cost about $600,000 annually to operate.

“I wonder how Cincinnati city leaders feel about the foundation investing $14 million in what is a similar structure — but architecturally a bit less interesting — rather than here in Westwood,” Prokop said.

The Gamble House is believed to have been built in the 1830s or 1840s, and it served as the home of James Norris Gamble from 1875 until his death in 1932. Gamble was the son of Proctor & Gamble Co. co-founder James Gamble, and reportedly invented the formula for Ivory Soap at the property.

Also, James N. Gamble was a philanthropist, entrepreneur and the first mayor of the village of Westwood, before the neighborhood became a part of the city of Cincinnati.

The 13-room, 2,600-square-foot High Victorian Italianate house is located on a 22-acre parcel owned by Indian-Hill-based Greenacres. It has said renovating and maintaining the house isn't economically feasible, and instead wants to demolish it and develop a youth education center and nature preserve.

Greenacres has a net worth of $249 million, tax filings indicate.

<![CDATA[A Teenager's Introduction to the Riots]]>

In following with Cincinnati tradition, I'll begin this story by telling you where I went to high school.

In April of 2001, I was senior at Lakota East High School in West Chester. I was deeply involved with the school's enthusiastic journalism program. Unlike many teen-agers, I did not suffer from indecision. I knew I wanted to be a photojournalist.---

Through family connections, I had met with a local Associated Press photographer a couple times for job shadowing opportunities. We got along pretty well, so he'd sometimes tip me off to news events that he thought I'd like to cover.

One weekend he called to ask if I wanted to cover the funeral of Timothy Thomas with him and other local media.

"So you want to come down and meet up with me to shoot the funeral," he said. "Things have been pretty calm lately. They'll be a lot of media and police around."

"Hell yeah," I confidently replied. "But I have ask my mom... Will you talk to her?"

I wasn't able to hear what he said to her, but he was either very convincing or she was a very irresponsible parent. Either way, I was soon in my car headed to downtown Cincinnati, trying to mentally prepare for what was going to happen.

The fear wasn't an issue. I was too stupid to realize how close to danger I was.

The scene seemed more like a festival than a funeral. A disparate and huge crowd had gathered around the church where the service was being held. I pointed my camera at everything, shooting with very little purpose and even less knowledge of what story I was trying to convey.

The Black Panthers left me alone, the bandana-clad groups of young black men didn't even notice me.

I was 17 and the thrill of being in a large crowd that was gathered for a reason other than a Thunderhawk basketball game was so foreign to me that I drifted along in auto-pilot.

My overwhelmed state was quickly sharpened when a police cruiser drove by. Officers were stationed several blocks away at the ready for any trouble. I later found out that the cruiser that breeched the neutral zone was most likely a scout vehicle to see if it was safe for Gov. Bob Taft to make an appearance.

The mood suddenly shifted. I can still recall the heat that rose up the back of my neck when I realized that this shit was serious.

Luckily, the rest of the day was relatively calm. I remember driving home that afternoon in silence, no radio. I had learned so much from talking to people and seeing the situation firsthand. I felt that I should be able to make an educated decision about whose fault this was. I should be able to return to West Chester and explain to my fellow students the root cause of why our prom was being moved away from a downtown venue.

But I couldn't. I even returned to cover the indictment of Officer Stephen Roach, which still turned up more questions than answers.


It took me years to realize that when you learn enough about both sides of a complicated issue, it's very hard to decide which side is right. And it took me even longer to realize that my job is not to decide.

As a journalist, I don't get to decide anything. I can only report. It's comforting to me that I don't have to choose sides. I'm just here to tell the story.

Journalistic neutrality isn't something most journalists fight to maintain within themselves, it's a state we retreat to in order that we stay sane.

The photos above were made at Timothy Thomas' funeral (top) and the indictment of Officer Stephen Roach (bottom) by the author.

<![CDATA[10th Anniversary of Bush v. Gore]]>

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that stopped the presidential election recount in Florida and handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush.

It's difficult to believe that was already 10 years ago. And it's amazing still that A) the Supreme Court acted in such a blatantly political manner to step in and resolve a state election issue, halting a legal recount, and B) that Americans didn't take to the streets to revolt against the power grab by Bush and his Republican cronies.---

Of course, the fact that Bush turned out to be one of the worst presidents in U.S. history makes the whole post-election fiasco even worse. But even if he'd been a halfway decent president, a bad taste lingers in the nation's mouth over the affair.

The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin makes the case that, besides the elevation of Bush to the presidency, the Supreme Court's decision has had a lasting effect on the court's political maneuverings.

"The echoes of Bush v. Gore are clearest when it comes to judicial activism," Toobin writes. "Judicial conservatism was once principally defined as a philosophy of deference to the democratically elected branches of government. But the signature of the Roberts Court has been its willingness, even its eagerness, to overturn the work of legislatures."

Bush appointed John Roberts Chief Justice in 2005. Like most conservative Republicans, Roberts dislikes "activist judges" ... except when he is one.

If you're interested in exploring the topic further, there are several interesting (and wonky) essays about the significance of Bush v. Gore on the Election Law Blog.

Ten years ago yesterday, Bush was elected president by one vote on the Supreme Court. It was far from democracy's finest hour.


<![CDATA[Remembering Soldiers on Veterans Day]]>

Today is Veterans Day, which began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I. President Eisenhower formally made it Veterans Day in 1954.

HBO airs a new documentary film tonight, Wartorn: 1861-2010, focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among U.S. soldiers as well as soldier suicides from the Civil War up through the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Actor James Gandolfini is the film's executive producer and conducts on-camera interviews. Watch a preview here.---

Greg Mitchell has written frequently about the fate of soldiers suffering from PTSD and has an excellent post on The Nation's web site about Wartorn, with links to recent government studies and other media coverage of the issue.

"Today, despite renewed efforts by the military to combat the problem," Mitchell writes, "the tragedy of soldier and veteran suicides has only escalated, with some calling it an epidemic."

Also tonight, local war veteran artists, musicians and writers offer perspectives on their experiences with military service, war and the return to civilian life in A Shared Window, which combines an art exhibition with a concert and reading. Starts at 5 p.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church, 3766 Clifton Ave., Clifton. Details here.

<![CDATA[Understanding Islam]]>

With all the blather about banning or restricting the construction of mosques in the United States because of Islam's alleged connections to terrorism, now is a good time to examine exactly what the religion is and what its central tenets are.---

The Community of the Good Shepherd Church is hosting a discussion this week entitled, A Teachable Moment: Islam Explained. It will be held from 7:30-9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday at the church, located between Montgomery and Loveland in northeastern Hamilton County.

The event is designed to promote cross-cultural awareness and goodwill, and will explore such questions as who is Mohammed, what is the Koran and how has Islam contributed to Western civilization.

Both sessions are free and open to the public.

The Catholic Church is located at 8815 E. Kemper Road, near Weller Park. For more information, call 513-489-8815, ext. 737 or e-mail

<![CDATA[Locals Going to Beck Counter-Demonstration]]>

Several dozen Cincinnati residents will participate in Saturday's “Reclaim the Dream” rally in Washington, D.C.

The rally was organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network after it was announced that conservative TV talk show host and self-described “rodeo clown” Glenn Beck was holding a demonstration on the mall in Washington, D.C., on the 47th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King's historic “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”---

The 1963 event ended with King's seminal “I have a dream” speech. About 250,000 people participated in the civil rights march.

Beck has been tight-lipped about what he's planned for his “Restoring Honor” event, which will be held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also is scheduled to speak.

Many civil rights and progressive organizations consider Beck's event to be an affront to King's legacy, based on Beck's many past comments about African-Americans including stating that President Obama “hates white people.”

The counter-demonstration will feature Sharpton, radio talk show host Tom Joyner, liberal TV talk show host Ed Schultz and leaders from 47 National Action Network chapters across the nation, along with heads of progressive organizations, unions and clergy.

Cincinnatians will board vans to travel to Washington at 9 p.m. Friday. They will depart from Jordan Crossing, 1740 Langdon Farm Road, in Bond Hill.

<![CDATA[March for Native Life Tonight]]>

A weekend-long Vigil for Native Life kicks off tonight downtown with a march starting at City Hall at 7 p.m. and proceeding to the William Henry Harrison monument in Piatt Park at Elm Street and Garfield Place. Participants will also visit the Hamilton County Courthouse before finishing at burial mound sites near Fountain Square.---

Participants are encouraged to bring glow sticks or flashlights and dress for the weather. "Men may wear long gowns," organizers say, "as the earlier Lenape did when standing for peace and community as 'the women.' Sheets around waist, decorated or plain, are great. A peaceful, pro-active vigil — feel free to decorate clothing as art, but please no signs."

The vigil and march are sponsored by ARCHE: Arts Restoring Culture for Healing Earth, the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission and The Hillside Trust.

The weekend is being held under the theme of "SOS: Sowing Our Seed and Restoring Our Sacred Web" and includes events Saturday (at The Evergreen Holistic Center in Winton Hills) and Sunday (at the John Heckwelder Memorial Moravian Church in Gnadenhutten, near New Philadelphia.

"We wish to set the date of the Gnadenhutten Massacre (March 8-9) as an Ohio lands time of mourning," the event press release states, "to reflect on all native losses and disregard for our rich and sacred life and to honor Tecumseh’s birth in the month
of March, to inspire our passions for return to such cogent relatedness as our cognate native way of humanhood.

"We are entering spring, a time of transition when we plant for our harvest. The newer peoples of our place have been receiving from native ancestors and life of place here since our last invasion. This weekend is to set the intention for receiving and giving in honor of our life of place rather than just taking in disregard.

"For seven generations our lineage has mingled with Ohio waters and dusts of our ancestors cycling through us, as are their ways — of mutual society with all life and responsible freedom. We are made also of native foods, like maize, anciently cultivated native plants. Our culture has more embraced native life over these generations again. We can be more intentional in this yet with others,
bringing in our Age of Reconciliation."

<![CDATA[Yoo Who?]]>

If you care about human rights, the mere mention of the name John Yoo probably is enough to get your blood boiling and make your stomach churn.---

Yoo, now 42, is an attorney who served in the Office of White House Counsel during President George W. Bush’s administration. While there, he wrote several infamous memorandums stating that the president has broad, nearly unlimitless powers during wartime and crisis. These include allowing the torture of detainees and depriving them of habeas corpus rights, allowing the survelillance of U.S. citizens without a court-issued warrant and undermining congressional oversight of how the president conducts foreign affairs.

Since the end of the Bush administration, many of the memos have been repudiated and withdrawn by Justice Department officials.

As part of the ongoing effort to whitewash the Bush era, Yoo granted an interview to The New York Times Magazine, which appeared Dec. 29. No doubt inspired by some hired image consultant who advised Yoo to present a warmer version of himself to the public and show he has a sense of humor, the bizarre interview actually results in being offensive due to the flippancy in which he discusses the deadly serious matters he took part in.

One question posed to Yoo asks when and why he became a conservative.

He replied, “I’ve been one since I was a kid. I was 9 when Jimmy Carter took office. I can remember him giving a speech in a funny sweater and asking people to turn down thermostats. And then there was the malaise speech. I thought they meant mayonnaise.”

Which just goes to prove Yoo’s slippery hold on the facts.

As someone who watched the speech in question, given in July 1979, Carter never once mentioned the word “maliase.” Connecting that term to the speech was a creation of the media and political spin machines. As modern GOP policies seem to be based almost exclusively on perception and emotion rather than substantive facts, I’m not surprised that a “young turk” Republican like Yoo doesn’t know better.

More importantly, the topics covered in Carter’s speech that night now ring truer than ever. Almost every single threat he outlined as harming the American psyche remains with us today and has gotten worse.

Yoo seems to be buying into Republican revisionist history, which maintains the speech was hated by the public and made Carter appear weak. In fact, the opposite was true.

As James Fallows notes in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly, the initial reaction was positive. Carter got an 11 percent uptick in his approval rating immediately after the speech.

Fallows wrote, “In his recent book about Jimmy Carter’s now-ridiculed ‘malaise’ speech in 1979, What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?, Kevin Mattson, of Ohio University, says that initially the speech was well received, as most jeremiads are ... the speech, which did not include the word ‘malaise,’ was officially called ‘A Crisis of Confidence’ and warned that Americans had lost their way.

Mattson continued, “The speech is shocking to read 30 years later, for how closely its diagnosis of American problems matches today’s bleak national self-assessment, from the dispiriting partisan gridlock of politics to the crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

What hurt Carter later was the mass firing of his Cabinet and his handling of the Iranian hostage crisis.

Modern Republicans, however, don’t like the type of self-analysis and adult-style politics represented by Carter’s speech. They would rather bask in the glow of a make-believe world and like the constant ego-boosting usually needed by insecure adolescents.

Better luck next time, Mr. Yoo.


<![CDATA[Politics Needs More 'Aliveness']]> Like all young suburbanite kids who possessed little to no real athletic talent didn’t feel the desire to chase a ball up and down an expanse of grass, I took martial arts. Tae kwondo to be specific.---

There I learned how to pretend to ride a horse, how to yell really loud when I threw a punch at an imaginary opponent and how to run up and down the gym pretending to fight fictitious foes. I quit after a few weeks when I failed to earn my white belt with one yellow stripe.

Like many martial arts schools, mine lacked “aliveness.” That is, we did a whole lot of pretend fighting and man dancing, but not a whole lot of snot-knocking. There’s only so much you can learn and so prepared you can be if your training isn’t alive.

Aside from martial arts schools, there are many other areas in life that lack aliveness. Like politics.

Now I’m not knocking the process of enlightened debate that occurs in the U.S. Congress, but imagine how much more effective the political process would be if it were a little more “alive?” And I’m not talking about some pasty, overweight octogenarian member of the British Parliament calling another one a “sex-starved boa constrictor,” or shouting lewd suggestions about his mother, but fucking judo throws on the Senate floor.

Politics would be a lot more effective with judo throws. And maybe people would actually watch C-SPAN. Who wouldn’t want to see Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and Jean Schmidt throw down in a cage match? (Can you say, “sexy?”)

Now despite the softness, doughiness and occasional boniness of congressmen nowadays, the U.S. Congress wasn’t always full of pandering, spineless jackasses.

Andrew Jackson wasn’t called “Old Hickory” because of his wood-paneled hatchback. It was because he carried around a hickory cane with which he would beat the shit out of people he didn’t like. He was the first president to have an assassination attempt against him; an attempt in which both of his would-be assassin’s pistols misfired (probably because they were fucking scared of him). Jackson proceeded to beat the assailant within an inch of his life, and it took three of his aides to pull him off.

The mother of all alive “discussions” in Congress took place in 1856 and involved Democratic Sen. Preston Brooks speaking with his cane.

Charles Sumner gave a speech comparing slavery to a harlot, likening Sen. Andrew Butler (a kinsman of Brooks) to Don Quixote for supporting it and making fun of Brooks’ physical handicap — he walked with a limp after taking a bullet to the hip in a duel. I’m cool with A and B, but you do NOT make fun of a man who, for fun, stands in front of another man while they take turns shooting at each other.

Brooks consulted friend and fellow Sen. Laurence Keitt about challenging Sumner to a duel, but Keitt assured him that dueling was for gentlemen of equal social standing. Dueling Sumner would be like dueling a drunkard.

Taking Keitt’s words to heart, and not wanting to look like a pussy in front of his cronies, Brooks confronted Sumner two days later. He said, “Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine,” and proceeded to beat Sumner over the head with his cane until the cane broke. When other senators tried to intervene, Keitt pulled out his gun and told them to back the fuck off and let them handle it like men.

And it looks like we Cincinnatians got a little aliveness in us too. Tired of hearing Eric Deters talk shit on WLW, Sgt. Larry Shelton accepted an invitation to an MMA cage fight.

Now if we could only get Laketa Cole and Leslie Ghiz into the ring…

<![CDATA[Remembering the Unimaginable]]> Thursday will mark the 64th anniversary since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, obliterating most of the Japanese city and directly killing more than 80,000 people. Within a few months, another 50,000 would die from injuries or radiation poisoning.---

Three days after the initial strike, a second atomic bomb would be dropped on Nagasaki, ultimately killing roughly another 80,000 people. So far, the bombings represent the only use of nuclear weapons during warfare.

Using nuclear weapons is unconscionable to many people nowadays, and historians still debate whether their use was necessary to avoid the mass casualties that would occur if Allied Forces attempted a ground invasion, as claimed by President Truman.

A local remembrance ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park. After opening remarks, participants will follow a candlelit path through the park to commemorate the bombings and hope they aren’t repeated.

The International Justice and Peace Center sponsors the annual event to draw attention to the horrors associated with nuclear weapons.

“The nuclear threat is still with us,” said Sister Alice Gerdeman, a center official. “Humanity cannot afford to forget the suffering we are capable of inflicting. Each year we remember and pledge to work for world peace and a safe environment. We also recall the positive moves society makes. There are signs of hope.”

The park is located at 1101 Eastern Ave., along the Ohio River’s shore.