Saturday, April 21, 2001

Grading system suggested for city

But no more reports, members of panel say

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Four people involved in forming a race-relations panel after last week's riots say they want to grade businesses, housing programs, hiring practices and city services in Cincinnati.

        The four met with Mayor Charlie Luken on Friday and said that about the only thing that's been decided is what they don't want to do: Create another report.

        They say the city could fill a history book with the number of reports, recommendations, panels and committees formed to study race relations in the city. Instead, they will focus on grades that will be used to start a wave of economic and social improvements.

        “The end result will probably be new policies. But more importantly there will be action. The community will see Cincinnati rebuilding itself,” said Rev. Damon Lynch III, leader of the Black United Front. “This will involve a lot of money and it will involve hundreds of people.”

        Rev. Lynch, who is the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the city alleging racial profiling, said a big part of that effort involves getting corporate officers to buy in to the plan.

        “The response so far has all been positive,” he said.

        The idea of a panel was launched by Mr. Luken on Monday in response to an outbreak of violence and protest over the April 7 shooting death of Timothy Thomas, 19.

        “It's going to have to involve top-level businesspeople and involve bottom-level, grass-roots organizations,” Mr. Luken said Friday, adding that he is waiting to make final appointments until he is sure the community is represented.

        The four who met Friday are: Rev. Lynch; Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce President Michael Fisher; Blue Chip Broadcasting Chief Executive Officer Ross Love; and Urban League President Sheila Adams.

        Mr. Fisher said the panel's success will depend on getting broad-based community support.

        Mr. Love agreed.

        “It is very clear this will be different than anything that has gone before,” he said.

        Also Friday, City Manager John Shirey met for three hours with top police officials and Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C.

        Police Chief Tom Streicher said the meeting involved helping the city to recover after last week's violence. He said Mr. Williams offered a lot of ideas and support.

        When the meeting ended just after 7 p.m. Mr. Shirey and Mr. Williams would not discuss it. Mr. Williams said he was “just passing through.”

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