Thoughts for Marge during convalescence

Sunday, April 12, 1998

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Pssst. Hey, Marge. Mrs. Schott. Hello? Are you there? You don't have to say anything.

I know the baseball guys don't want you to talk to the likes of me. I'm media. Naturally they are scared to death that we might repeat what you have to say, even if it makes sense. Especially if it makes sense.

We all remember what happened last November. Baseball socked you with a fine for saying the stadiums' price tags were getting out of hand.

Cuffed around and muzzled

"I'm a taxpayer, too. We'll be paying for it forever," you said. Which is just what everybody else was thinking, but, boy, did you get cuffed around and muzzled.

So don't say anything. I don't want to get you in trouble again. If you're listening, all you have to do is nod your head. Good. This will be just between us girls.

By the way, I hope you're feeling better. Hip fractures can be terrible. But you'll have plenty of time to think. So I hope you'll let me suggest some things to think about.

The riverfront belongs to Mike Brown now. It does. He has outflanked and outmaneuvered you. You probably thought because the Reds were here first, because they bring people to Cincinnati 81 times a year, because they have been world champions, that they'd be given the best accommodations.

I thought so too.

I couldn't figure out why we didn't build the football palace in some cornfield, on cheap land close enough to Cincinnati for bragging rights, easily accessible for the eight or 10 times a year it would be used. I never would have guessed our elected officials would be so thoroughly fleeced.

Now the county is trying to wedge you in or get you to remodel, while Mr. Brown sprawls all over the prime spot. It's a done deal. You'll always be an also-ran on the river.

But you could be top dog at Broadway Commons.

Have you noticed how much the Broadway Commons fans want you? Cincinnati City Council offered $20 million in incentives. Council members will abate taxes, waive permit fees, improve infrastructure, build a monument. Heck, Jim Tarbell will give you his vintage baseball cap. His heart is in what he is doing, just as yours is.

I don't believe people who say you are greedy. I think you have pride. And -- excuse me if I'm wrong about this -- but I think you are stubborn. You held on to car dealerships when women weren't welcome. You held on to Charlie's company after he left you a widow. Stubborn.

You said you wanted your Reds to be on the river, and you think you have to stick with it. Well, thanks to craven officials and -- again, excuse me if I'm wrong -- but your own dillydallying, it's a different riverfront. Do you really want to be wedged in there? And do you really want to be in the middle of the Fort Washington Way mess? That can't be good for business.

Forget the jail. Check with Si Leis. He'll tell you that block is one of the safest in the city. Besides, the jail looks like an office building. Tourists won't even notice it.

But they'd notice Mount Adams, gorgeous old buildings and restaurants and saloons owned by people with their livelihoods on the line. They are not subsidized by your tax dollars and nobody had to beg them to come here. You wouldn't mind sharing your crowds with them, would you?

Or you could share your crowds with Mr. Brown instead.

Trust your instincts. Don't you kind of like Todd Portune? (You'd love his kids.) And Roxanne Qualls. Isn't she a pistol? Don't you admire Jim Tarbell's gumption? He's almost as stubborn as you are. (I mean that in a good way.)

Haven't these people treated you with considerably more respect than some of the suits you've run into from the county or, certainly, from organized baseball? Not to mention organized football.

You can be the heroine here, Marge. They're begging you. And all you have to do is nod your head.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in the Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. E-mail her at laurapulfer@enquirer.com

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