Thursday, January 06, 2000

Mayor to visit Avondale, leaders

Crime vexes business district

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The crime-ridden Burnet Avenue business district in Avondale is getting some attention from City Hall.

        Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken will tour the Burnet Avenue area Saturday with business owners and community leaders who are trying to revitalize the once-booming district.

        “This is something I plan to do in many neighborhoods over the next couple of years,” Mr. Luken said. “It has always helped me to get on the ground and walk around with people who are trying to improve their business district or their neighborhood to see how I can help.

        “I hope that we can do some constructive things to help those business owners be successful,” said the mayor, who added that some City Council members may attend the 10 a.m. tour.

        Two days after a Dec. 18 shooting on Burnet Avenue, nine business owners met with police to discuss installing a surveillance camera at Burnet and Rockdale avenues and hiring police to patrol the area to deter loitering and crime. They said they would seek help from city officials to solve the problems.

        On Tuesday, a grand jury heard the case of the man police say is the shooter, Damin Warner, 21, of Bond Hill. Mr. Warner was arrested in the shooting in which three people received non-life-threatening injuries, said neighborhood Officer Ron Avant.

        Lorna Thompson, owner of It's All Dat Hair Salon in the 3400 block of Burnet Avenue, said she hopes the mayor's visit will have an impact if it spurs interest from city officials to help improve the business district.

        “What's the point in coming if you're just going to come and look and don't do anything?” she asked. “We need people down in City Hall who are going to stand up and say, "Avondale isn't a bad place,' and speak about all the good things that go on around here.”

        Tom Jones, executive director of the Community Public Safety Advocate Group, said he wants the mayor to see the problems in Avondale, then help do something about them.

        “To take the time to actually come to the neighborhood and see firsthand what the concerns and problems are will raise the community's confidence level in this administration,” Mr. Jones said, “because for so long the people have felt that politicians are unreachable, except at election time.”

        Roscoe Fultz, president of the Avondale Community Council, said the mayor's scheduled visit “shows he's interested in the community and he wants what's best for the community.”

        But crime fighting isn't the only battle taking place in Avondale.

        Attorney Wilton E. Blake II, on behalf of Mr. Jones, filed a lawsuit this week against the Avondale Community Council, three members and its former president, Bernadette Watson. The suit, filed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, claims members of the community council forged Mr. Jones' signature on two checks totaling about $1,700.

        Mr. Jones said the alleged forgery occurred in July 1999, a month after he resigned as the council's treasurer due to disagreements with board members. Mr. Fultz said he doesn't want to discuss the lawsuit, and prefers to settle the matter in court.

        Last year, a judge forced Mr. Jones to change the name of the Avondale Public Safety Task Force Inc., which was borne out of the Avondale Community Council. The judge fined Mr. Jones for violating a preliminary injunction.

        The community council said in its pending lawsuit against Mr. Jones and the task force that he led businesses and residents to think the task force was a part of the community council because Avondale was in its name.


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