Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Hypocrisy abounds when council votes



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City Council's 6-3 vote last week to support a plan to widen Interstate-75 and add a light rail line to ease congestion was about as meaningless as the vote to change the order in which council members vote.

The 105-member Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments gets the final say on such things. The city's two representatives - John Cranley and Jim Tarbell - canceled each other out. Tarbell voted yes; Cranley no.

Cranley said he supports light rail in principle, but the voters have overwhelmingly rejected a tax to pay for it. And a plan without payment is no plan at all, he said. So Cranley said he was "voting my conscience," defying the majority will of City Council.

Voting one's conscience isn't always popular at City Hall. Cranley has been among the most vocal in insisting that city appointees to the housing and transit agencies, for example, follow the council's lead on policy matters.

Indeed, there's plenty of hypocrisy all around.

Councilwoman Minette Cooper, who supports OKI's I-75 plan, demanded to know if Cranley would support the council action.

"I'd like to ask you that question on the retirement board, Mrs. Cooper," Mayor Charlie Luken shot back.

He noted that Cooper, as a member of the Cincinnati Retirement System Board of Trustees, voted to sue City Council over health care premiums paid by city workers.

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Required reading: Cincinnati continues to get national attention as a laboratory for Richard Florida's "creative class" theory. Last week, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor picked up Cincinnati datelines.

Both stories note the candidacy of 25-year-old Charterite Nick Spencer, who has been most adept at capitalizing on the latest big idea in urban studies circles. He said young creative professionals are drawn to livable cities as much as they're drawn to specific jobs.

"They think, 'I'm going to have five jobs during the next 10 years,' and because of that, they're driven to cities where they know they're not going to have to move every time they change jobs," he told the Monitor in an Oct. 8 story by Ross Atkin.

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News from Elsewhere: Former Cincinnati Economic Development director Andi Udris has agreed to take a less active role in the Cincinnati Restaurant Group, which owns the Newport Hofbrauhaus and holds the franchise rights in seven states.

Udris is now the CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City, the equivalent of the new Cincinnati Center City Development Corp.

While Udris said he won't seek tax money to open a Hofbrauhaus in K.C., his board reportedly asked him to scale down his position in order to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest,.

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What's next? A Tarbell bobblehead? Tarbell, the Arts & Culture Committee chairman, likes to bribe people to attend committee meetings by offering entertainment and refreshments. Also, the fact that Tarbell almost single-handedly controls $2 million in arts spending each year might motivate some arts boosters to show up.

Tarbell is offering free passes to the Tall Stacks Music, Arts & Heritage Festival (retail value: $15) to the first 100 people to attend Thursday's meeting. The passes were donated, Tarbell said.

Thursday's meeting is at 4 p.m. at Ted Berry International Friendship Park, 1001 Eastern Ave, downtown.

E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com




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