Carefully Controlled: Mallory’s First Year
As Mark Mallory nears his first anniversary as Cincinnati’s mayor, many political observers are assessing how effective the former state lawmaker has been so far in his new job.
When a reporter for a local radio station broached the topic Tuesday during Mallory’s weekly press briefing and sought a self-assessment from the mayor, Mallory reverted to his usual style of trying never to have a truly spontaneous, unscripted moment in public and declined to answer. When a reporter from The Cincinnati Enquirer pushed the issue, Mallory assured him a press conference on that anniversary had been scheduled, and eventually agreed to an interview if the article’s release date could be embargoed until a time of his choosing.
While Mallory is reluctant to grade himself, at least one Cincinnati City Council member is all too eager. Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz wrote the guest editorial this month in Cincinnati Gentlemen magazine, decrying what she says is a lack of leadership on Mallory’s part.
Among other criticisms, Ghiz faults Mallory for not doing enough to reduce crime in the city or crafting a solution to the jail overcrowding problem. Also, she says Mallory has failed to use managed competition to reduce costs at City Hall and hasn’t reduced taxes or cracked down on blight.
In the article, Ghiz wrote, “Even though five members of council, in theory, can pass anything, no one (with the exception of a very few members of council) seems to be able to stand strong when pushed by the mayor. For the past 10 months, he has shown everyone his best skills: thwarting the efforts of council and being Teflon, stick-free with the press.”
Ghiz continued, “Oh, I don’t want to leave out his best skill — always having an entourage. He has threatened us. He has made deals with some of us against others. He has insulted us. Yet most of council seems to sit back and allow it to happen over and over again.”
Last week, a Channel 9 (WCPO) news crew tried to get Mallory’s reaction to the piece at a budget forum in Clifton after several unreturned telephone calls to his office. True to form, Mallory declined comment and relied on his entourage. Mallory’s bodyguard, Police Spec. Scotty Johnson, and his press secretary, Jason Barron, barricaded the mayor in a room and pushed the cameras away.
Critics allege Ghiz merely is trying to restore her credentials as a Republican after irritating local party leaders by endorsing a Democrat, her friend David Pepper, in the recent Hamilton County Commission race. Although regaining some GOP credibility might be a side benefit for Ghiz, she mostly has been consistent in positions on issues since taking office.
One substantive complaint against Ghiz is her lack of action on a campaign pledge to reduce council members’ salaries. When asked, Ghiz has said she’s waiting to introduce such a proposal until sometime in 2007, a council election year when she can leverage support from other members and have better odds at passage.
But as the behind the scenes grumbling about Mallory from other council members becomes more frequent, it appears 2007 might prove to be a much bumpier year for the mayor. The honeymoon is, indeed, over.
— Kevin Osborne