Cincinnati is getting mugged. That was the 911 call from about 150 people from Price Hill and Westwood, who crowded into City Hall on Wednesday night to beg for more cops. Council voted 5-4 to look the other way.
"We're facing a net loss of officers on the street,'' said Councilman John Cranley, urging council to back up its earlier promises to add 75 cops. Failing to do so "in a year of record homicides is outrageously irresponsible,'' he said.
But council members whistled and stared at their shoes.
"I'm tired of hearing council does not support the police,'' said Laketa Cole. Then she voted to not support the police because paying for more cops would be "reacting to crime, not preventing crime.'' As if cops don't do both.
Jim Tarbell had an idea. Just invest $6 million in Price Hill and the problems would be fixed.
Alicia Reece chose the spite alibi. Council has not passed her demand for a murder task force, and her black-on-black crime initiative was "beat down,'' so she voted no.
David Crowley said, "I don't know if adding a few more police officers is worth closing a firehouse.'' So take your pick, citizens: Fire protection or police?
Crowley offered a motion to let the administration decide. That failed, too.
Chris Smitherman started talking and wound up preaching to his few fans in the crowd, ranting about "giveaway'' tax breaks to Convergys.
He said it's time to "pick up the trash.'' But he was talking about litter, not drug thugs.
It's not as if they didn't hear about the crime.
Speaker after speaker came to tell council they had been there before, two years ago, begging for help, and now the problem is worse.
"We are being terrorized, there's no other word for it,'' said Donna Reed of the Warsaw Merchants Association. "The middle class has moved out to Northern Kentucky and Indiana.''
Mark Jansen said his son was assaulted on their front porch in Price Hill. His wife's car was stolen. His window was broken. His lawn furniture was stolen. And he moved to Delhi.
But he worries that Elder students can't safely walk a half-mile to their athletic building.
Price Hill business owner Pete Witte pointed to the crowd behind him and said, "This is Cincinnati. To me, this is the eyes, faces and voices of the middle class that is fleeing the city. If council can't recognize this, we might as well chuck it.''
Janice Ludwig drew applause when she asked, "Why would anyone vote against something to prevent crime? I don't get it.''
She said the problem is lack of unity on council. And council members quickly proved it with personal attacks, irrelevant monologues and the bickering they do so well.
The crowd left angry.
"It was very discouraging,'' Ludwig said.
"All of a sudden, they are fiscally responsible. Amazing. Bizarre,'' Witte said. "What they did was say, 'Crime is not such an issue.' That was the wrong statement to send to this crowd tonight.''
It's the wrong statement to the whole region. The city's getting mugged. And council won't even send a cop.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 768-8301.
Bishop Woods in peril?
Seton High School details expansion plan
Officer graduates, loses job
County settles on stadium
Gay-rights sides target black vote
Bush, Kerry spar on domestic issues
Noonan: Kerry 'worst of party'
Kerry's plan, Bush's past declarations scrutinized
Xavier students gather, let own voices be heard
Transcript of Bush, Kerry debate
Taft: 'No' on same-sex issue
Insults fly in Senate race
Vote monitor optimistic
Lawyers rate candidates
Westwood and Groob square off tonight
Lawyer sues over lost form to vote
Middletown streets on ballot
Election 2004 page
IN THE TRISTATE
EPA, trash firm debate leak from closed landfill
Council rejects police plans
Fire union disputes cost-saving plan
Museum faces cutbacks
Frist: Doctors leaving Ohio
Two teenagers arrested in Royal Crown hotel fire
Witness: Mom not hysterical, though fire trapped her infant
Local news briefs
Mayor of Madeira retires, is moving to Warren County
Man ruled insane in murder of activist
Milford police chief resigns, halting property misuse case
State audit faults Morrow
Killer who blamed his victim is executed at Lucasville prison
Public safety briefs
Northwest Local Schools loses board president
Sierra Club pushes renewable energy
New drivers get look at real-life tragedies
OT for Bush rally covered
'Thirty Ghosts' uneven
Dancers make impact
Bronson: Council deaf to pleas for crime control
Good Things Happening
Alex C. Papas, 84, made candy
Towne Center should proceed with latest OK
River view the draw for condos
Losing weight inspired teacher to help others
State insurance plan outlined
N. Ky. news briefs
Dad, lawyer run from SUV after custody case; mom held
Most N.Ky. schools meeting state goals
House fire victim loses Fla. home, too
Fletcher blamed for flap