White Men in Charge, As Usual

Are five grey-haired, middle-aged, affluent white men the best qualified people to make decisions about the long-planned Banks riverfront neighborhood, particularly when it involves issues about workforce development and including minority contractors in the multimillion-dollar project?

That’s the question on the mind of some community activists — and a few Cincinnati City Council members — after Mayor Mark Mallory this week nominated his sole appointee to the five-person Banks Working Group.

Mallory nominated Tim Riordan, a retired city of Cincinnati employee who served in numerous roles at City Hall over his long career, including finance director and interim city manager. Although the entire city council praised Riordan’s administrative talents May 17, the group voted 6-3 to confirm his appointment.

Council members who voted against the appointment were Democrats Laketa Cole, John Cranley and David Crowley. The trio was concerned about the lack of diversity on The Banks advisory panel.

Other appointees to the Banks Working Group are Robert Castellini, Reds owner and board member of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC), who was jointly appointed by Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials; Tom Gabelman, a local attorney appointed by the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners; 3CDC President Stephen Leeper, appointed by 3CDC; and Robert Rhein, a local developer appointed by Castellini.

Some black candidates also applied for spots on the panel, including NAACP President Edith Thrower and Steve Love of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce.

Some city and county officials dislike that The Banks Working Group doesn’t have to comply with Ohio’s open meeting laws and could make major decisions behind closed doors, such as drafting a policy for minority inclusion in contracting and hiring. The local NAACP has submitted a proposed policy, but it’s unclear whether The Banks group will consider it.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials created The Banks Working Group last month as a method to quicken the process of selecting a Banks developer. Proposed in 1999, the project has stalled over funding and jurisdictional issues. Planned for the area between the Reds and Bengals stadiums, the project envisions a mix of condominiums, offices, retail space and a hotel and would entail about $200 million in taxpayer funds supplementing private investment.

— Kevin Osborne

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One Comment on “White Men in Charge, As Usual”

  1. David Gallaher Says:

    “Are five grey-haired, middle-aged, affluent white men the best qualified people to make decisions about the long-planned Banks riverfront neighborhood…?”

    Yes, because they are the only ones wanting The Banks and the only ones who might have the slightest interest in putting in an appearance at The Banks, if it ever gets completed.

    Even though I’m grey-haired and middle-aged, I estimate I’ll be there even less often than I am up at what I call Gucci Gulch–that fairly new shopping center off I-71 at Edwards Road. In other words, next to never.

    As residents of OTR, we are convenient to both.

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