Monday, December 16, 1996
Keeping Klan in Christmas gets tiresome

BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be careful when you open your voice mail. Someone may be lobbing lumps of coal.

''Get it through your thick head,'' thundered Ralph Sands of Walnut Hills. ''Writing about the Klan just gives them free publicity.

''So, stop it.''

Mr. Sands subscribes to the ''leave them alone and they'll go home'' method of confrontation. He called about a recent column on the Ku Klux Klan's annual attempt to put a cross on Fountain Square during Christmas.

The column proposed other groups should just book the square before the Klan. There are only three spots available each holiday season for not-for-profit organizations' temporary displays. They're handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. So, book 'em early and beat 'em at their own game. End of problem.

''I'm an atheist,'' confessed Steve Lowery of Anderson Township. ''But I'm thinking about joining a church so I can get a non-profit group's display on the square and keep those creeps off.''

''Someday, the Klan will answer for its deeds in a place that's much, much warmer than Fountain Square on the hottest day of the summer.'' - Curtis Jackson, Evanston.

''What's wrong with the Klan?'' asked Todd B., who requested that his last name and subdivision not be printed. ''It's needed. The Klan keeps people in line.''

''The Klan has a cross on the square?'' wondered Sandra Becher of Springdale. ''We just moved here from Denver. What kind of city is Cincinnati? Isn't it a nice place? Help! I'm confused.''

Rosanne M. Thomas of Anderson Township faxed in her ''take up the cross'' proposal.

Here's her idea: Pledge a dollar a day and sponsor the Klan's cross. Collect the bucks and give the money ''to charities which benefit the very people the KKK has selected as targets of their hostility ... Imagine the Klan raising money to help Jews, blacks and Catholics!''

Her idea of good destroying evil goes by many names.

''Call it political judo, or call it returning good for evil, or call it defending the cross and all it means to those who venerate it in a manner befitting its holiness.''

Home needed

At the School for Creative and Performing Arts, the show will go on - but it'll be off campus. Again.

A recent column about repairs that still must be made to the school's fire-damaged auditorium produced offers for alternate sites to house - rent-free - a Jan. 16-19 series of concert tributes to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The sites' and the series' schedules did not mesh. So, the school settled on a reduced-rate deal from Old St. George, the Corryville church turned multipurpose hall.

With no end in sight for the auditorium's repairs, the school has started looking for a free home to perform its Feb. 7-8 jazz concerts.

Have a theater that seats 500? Call: 632-5912.

Nikki update

Contributions continue to pour in for Nikki Johnston. She's the 11-year-old with cerebral palsy who put the city in a giving mood. In the wake of a Dec. 11 column on someone swiping her voice computer, donations went to the Nikki Fund (in care of: United Cerebral Palsy of Cincinnati, 3601 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati 45229). At the close of business Saturday, the total stood at $4,435.

Donations were still coming even after Fluor Daniel, the firm cleaning up Fernald, promised to cover the entire $7,500 for a new voice computer and have it delivered to the Cheviot girl by Christmas.

''After that happened, I just assumed things were going to calm down,'' said Nikki's mother, Toni Grothaus. ''But they haven't.''

She keeps receiving calls at home and work ''from people who want to give money just to Nikki.''

She thanks them for their generosity and lets them know their kindness is not wasted or unwelcome.

Then she tells them of the waiting list at United Cerebral Palsy of Cincinnati. It's for other children, like her daughter, who cannot speak.

''There are 12 other kids on that waiting list for a voice computer. They need it just as much as Nikki.''

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.