Thursday, April 22, 2004

Luken complains of 'bureaucratic nightmare'

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Frustrated by what he called a "bureaucratic nightmare" impairing efforts to clean up drug dealing in an Over-the-Rhine alley, Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken proposed Wednesday that the city lease the alley to a neighboring homeless shelter that has offered to help clean it up.

Luken's proposal would lease part of Doerr Alley, south of 12th Street, to Tender Mercies for $1. The shelter's CEO is Marcia Spaeth, Luken's ex-wife.

"This motion is actually filed out of exasperation," Luken told City Council. "It doesn't belong in council, I realize, but I don't know how else to get people to get off their collective behinds."

Luken's complaint: that the city's Real Estate Division is holding up the sale of the alley because an appraisal could take "months." No city departments or utilities have raised objections to the plan, which would allow the shelter to install lighting to discourage the open-air drug dealing police say is rampant in the neighborhood.

In an e-mail to Luken's office - sent directly to an aide - Spaeth said the Police Department and the neighborhood's Community Problem-Oriented Policing committee have approved the project.

Luken conceded his ex-wife "has great influence over me," but said the issue goes deeper.

"She has described this bureaucratic nightmare. I know her, and she wouldn't complain unless it was well-founded," Luken said after the meeting. "All she wants is control of the alley so she can light it - at her expense."


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