Monday, March 25, 1996
No hang-ups about telling it like it is

BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be careful when you open your voice mail. It may be stuffed with people putting in their last 2 cents worth on the half-penny stadium tax.

''I voted for the half-cent tax because of your columns. If I run out of money, will you give me the pennies you've sawed in half?'' - Alice Lake, Westwood.

No can do, Alice. Defacing coins is a federal offense.

''I'm with you. The tax is about civic pride. I'm a native and I'm a rebel. This is a very backward place. It needs a push. The tax will do it.'' - Rosemarie Megrue, Eastgate.

''Dear Pissant: Where the hell do you get off calling me a CHEAPster because I opposed Issue 1 and voted against it? I probably spend more money subject to the sales tax in a year than you earn.'' - Paul G. Toms, Dillonvale.

Dear Mr. Toms: The Enquirer has instituted a policy of using courtesy titles. So, it's Mr. Pissant to you.

''Is Mr. (Mike) Brown going to build me a new house, pay me (a) $1 million salary or pay for anything I just want? No! . . . If I want a new house, I'll have to pay for it myself.'' - Signed, ''A single mother working two jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, going to school part time and not wanting to pay for other people's expenses.'' ''Don't give me the B.S. that downtown is going to die. It's already dead. Use your head! We need brains around here!'' - Grace Blake, West Chester.

From the ''I'm terribly sorry, but you must be mistaken'' department come these anonymous messages:

''You favor that tax because you've got a box at the stadium.''

''You have a communist view on everything . . . like that communist rag you write for.''

''After Tuesday's election, Cincinnati is no longer North America's Most Livable City. It's America's stupidest city.''

''Some of us can't afford tax after tax after tax. Some of us are going on a year and a half without a raise. Maybe you could bring this up in the paper. But I know you won't because you are so biased. You are only for the rich.'' - Signed, ''A concerned, single, white male citizen, struggling to make a house payment.''

Remember Dunblane

Reaction was swift and strong to Friday's column. It linked the tragic murders of 16 kindergartners in Dunblane, Scotland, by gunman Thomas Hamilton with a proposed bill in Ohio. Senate Bill 276 requires police to inform school officials when a convicted child molester moves into a neighborhood.

''These baby-rapers must be permanently kept out of circulation,'' insists Gene Chumbley of South Fairmount.

Liz Harms of Anderson Township wants schools made safer. ''In Ohio, fire and tornado drills are mandated. Plan now to prevent another Dunblane. When it comes to safety and security, Ohio's criminals have better protection! Should we accept anything less for our children?''

One dissenting opinion was voiced by a Westwood woman asking her name not be used:

''Leave Mr. Hamilton alone. He's had enough problems.''

Eric Snow update

In a Valentine's Day column, trucker Eric Snow talked about devoting his time and money to coaching 12 teen-agers on how to play basketball and excel at life. Since then, generous readers have contributed $895 to his team, the West Side Players.

The money was used to buy team uniforms and school clothes. ''One guy didn't want to go to school because he was always wearing the same jeans and two shirts. The day after he got the new clothes,'' the coach notes, ''he was up early for school and did homework for the first time in two years.''

Even though the team is in two recreation-center tournaments, one in Dayton and one in Cincinnati, the coach held an awards banquet Saturday.

''The biggest trophy went to the player with the best attitude,'' says Coach Snow. ''He wasn't the best player or even a starter. He got the trophy to show the guys how important it is to have a good attitude on life.''

Every member of the West Side Players received a trophy. Except the coach.

''I already have one,'' Coach Snow insists. ''Watching the guys get their trophies is a blessing enough for me.''

Cliff Radel's column appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.