Friday, March 17, 2000

Tournament gets name back

Mayor yields after uproar over change

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPRINGDALE — The Ray Manis Memorial Softball Tournament will keep its name.

        Mayor Doyle Webster, who caused an uproar by changing the name of the 25-year-old event named after the late father of a political rival, reversed his decision Wednesday.

        He also apologized to former Councilwoman Peggy Manis and her family for not notifying them of the name change in the first place.

        “Ms. Manis and I served eight years together, and over those eight years, Ms. Manis and I have failed very miserably to develop any lines of communication,” he said at a council meeting packed with Manis family supporters. “But as mayor of this city and as chief executive officer, I should have risen above my personal feelings for Ms. Manis.”

        Ms. Manis accepted the apology, saying her family was “elated” the tournament — scheduled this year for July 14-16 - would continue to bear her father's name.

        She also urged the City Council to pass a resolution requesting that events, parks, streets and other honorariums named after prominent citizens keep those names.

        Council members tabled the resolution, however, saying the issue already had caused enough dissent among residents and elected officials.

        The decision to change the name of the Ray Manis Memorial Softball Tournament to the Springdale Memorial Invitational Men's Tournament was made Dec. 7 by Springdale's recreation commission.

        Mayor Webster has said he decided to change the name, not to hurt Ms. Manis but to honor several citizens active with youth sports who died recently. He did not notify the Manis family of the change, and they found out about it this month.

        Since the change became public, Mayor Webster said, he has received phone calls, e-mails and letters from residents — many of them angry.

        He decided to change the tournament's name back.

        “I'm doing this because I've heard the people, and I think it's extremely important that we don't let issues like this divide this government,” he said.

        Later Wednesday evening, council considered a resolution brought by Councilman Steve Galster that requested events, streets and other landmarks named after citizens stay that way.

        But the more council members discussed it, the more they began to disagree. Tom Vanover, for example, said he was reluctant about seeming to dictate what future councils could do. Marjorie Pollitt said she couldn't vote for the reso lution because she hadn't had any input in its drafting. And James Squires wondered why a resolution was being passed at all, because it isn't binding like an ordinance would be.

        Just as political divisions were beginning to show, Mr. Webster spoke.

        “Had I not did what I did, you wouldn't be talking about this,” he said. “I've made my peace and made my apologies and moved on, and I'm urging council to do the same — show some unity and let's get on with it.”

        Mr. Galster quickly moved to table to resolution. He later said he didn't foresee the issue coming up again.


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