Having a Democratic majority on Cincinnati City Council has meant nothing in terms of ensuring inclusiveness and openness in the process of developing The Banks. The Old Boys Network and the corporate power brokers have had a free hand from Mayor Mark Mallory and his team. But former Councilman Christopher Smitherman is taking up the fight. In a letter to supporters (below), he defends the progressive principles that the city’s “new” leadership seem to have forgotten.
— Gregory Flannery
Dear Smitherman Supporters,
There is a critical issue that has developed surrounding city council, the mayor, and The Banks project. The mayor cut a deal with Phil Heimlich by creating a five member board that will oversee a $700 million project called The Banks. The Cincinnati Enquirer called the Mayor’s political move a “winning compromise.” The Enquirer has indicated that council and the mayor are a great team.
The Reds CEO Robert Castellini was appointed the chair of the five member committee. County commissioners Phil Heimlich and Pat DeWine get a second appointment to the committee. 3CDC gets the third appointment. The fourth appointment was given to Castellini himself. The fifth appointment was the mayor of the city of Cincinnati. The mayor on 5-17-06 submitted Timothy H. Riordan to the Banks working group and it was approved by City Council. This last appointment sealed the fact that five white men, no African Americans, no Latinos and no women are part of the largest development that the region has seen in recent history. Having diverse boards is a major key to the success of our region.
The land that we are describing is between the Freedom Center and Paul Brown Stadium. Remember that when Paul Brown Stadium was built these same players promised that African Americans and women would get a piece of the action. Jeff Berding was a key architect of that deal. African American citizens in the last election went into the polls in large numbers and voted for the democrats in council right now and the democratic mayor. Now when $700 million are on the table council and the mayor did not find it fitting to include us in the deal. The mayor and council has recently stated they are not changing anything. These same politicians will come out to your churches and parades in 2007 and we will vote for them again ! and again We seem to not get it.
The city is 45% African American. The mayor and council will play like they are surprised when African Americans don’t support the project when it is complete. African Americans are not stakeholders and they have not been stakeholders on other projects. Why would we support the project?
The action item is to send out your own e-mail about this issue to your entire e-mail list. Please do something. These are the first baby steps to making change in our community. Whether you are white or black, these are your issues and these are the kinds of decisions that tear us apart as a community.
PS: Our focus should be on voting out the majority of council. The banks project is the back drop. The larger issue is who we elected in the last election. Council confirmed Tim Riordan as the appointment and you have verbally heard very little from the council members stating that this is wrong.