Saturday, January 09, 1999

New mayor finds rocky road

Predecessor complains of appointments

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CRESCENT SPRINGS — Mayor Claire Moriconi — facing an ethics complaint after less than a month in office — is hoping that a long-planned trip to see Pope John Paul II in St. Louis will provide a welcome distraction from city politics.

        Besides dealing with the ethics charge filed against her Dec. 30, Mrs. Moriconi also has come under fire from her predecessor for appointing new members to city boards.

        And on Monday, she is asking Crescent Springs Council to undo some controversial legislation passed by the old council. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the city building.

        “I was hoping that things would be quiet and boring, and that we could just get on with the business of the city,” Mrs. Moriconi said Friday.

        “The one thing I'm really looking forward to this month is getting to see the pope,” she said. “He's coming to St. Louis at the end of the month (for a Mass), and that should take my mind off the situation here.”

        Monday, council is expected to:

        • Repeal a political sign ordinance that was also adopted by a number of other Kenton County cities last year. Mrs. Moriconi said the city's regular sign law is adequate and the new legislation is unduly restrictive. It allows only one political sign per candidate per yard.

        • Repeal a section of the occupational license ordinance to return it to the original version. An amendment approved by the previous council exempted two-unit apartment buildings from the tax, contrary to a model ordinance adopted by 13 Kenton County cities.

        • Approve Mrs. Moriconi's appointments to a number of city boards. Crescent Springs' new mayor is naming new members to the city's board of adjustments and the fire authority board serving Crescent Springs and Villa Hills. She also is adding 10 new members to the seven-member ethics board.

        Former Mayor Ken Robinson accused his successor of trying to stack city boards with her supporters.

        “She'll appoint three people to the (board of adjustments) who are friendly to developers,” Mr. Robinson said. “I'm concerned about it.”

        Mrs. Moriconi, who had looked into disbanding the ethics board before finding out it wasn't legally possible, said she was changing the membership of city boards in response to a mandate from voters.

        In November, the council majority and Mr. Robinson — criticized by Mrs. Moriconi and others as being unresponsive to citizens' concerns — were defeated by a slate headed by Mrs. Moriconi.

        “I think the people sent us a message loud and clear,” she said. “After the election, I think they gave us a clear mandate that they wanted change.”

        Mr. Robinson filed an ethics complaint last month against Mrs. Moriconi and Dale Ramsey, who resigned his ethics board seat last year to make an unsuccessful run for city council.

        Mr. Robinson alleged that Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Moriconi discussed an ethics complaint filed last spring against former City Administrator George Stewart, before the investigation was completed, and conspired to decide Mr. Stewart's guilt before a hearing was held.

        The ethics board is to meet Jan. 20 to decide whether to proceed with Mr. Robinson's complaint.


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