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

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6 Comments on “Carefully Controlled: Mallory’s First Year”

  1. WestEnder Says:

    Shorter Leslie Ghiz: Mark Mallory is mayor and I’m not. But I should be.

  2. Pathetic Says:

    In other countries, any elected politician can face a no-confidence referendum (& many do) & get booted out of office. It’s time for this Hollyweird mayor to start putting his campaign rhetoric into action, send his cop toy back on the streets or get the hell out of office. He’s a real pain in the back.

    And his daffy billboards haven’t slowed the crime, but they have certainly slowed home sales.

    It’s put up or shut up & get out time, 3M!

  3. 4th Street Barrister Says:

    Isn’t interesting how Kevin carries water for Ghiz. I wonder if this has something to do with her strong support for gay rights and other liberal issues that make her a favorite among the so-called progressives and creative class. Either way, her republican credential is merely a ruse that allows her to get attention & praise for taking so-called courageous stands for liberal causes that must be so terribly hard for a republican to make. If she showed her true colors and admitted she was a democrat then the accolades would stop and the attention would be less lavished.

    But alas, dear Leslie can play the role of progressive & compassionate republican taking liberal positions and voting for issues that would, if she were a democrat, garner her not one iota of attention.

  4. Kevin Osborne Says:

    If by “carrying water” for Ghiz, you mean reporting on her, then consider me an aquifer.

    First, the mayor and certain council members either want to carefully control what they say to the media or won’t speak at all. Amazingly, this same group then complains when they don’t get the same level of coverage as others. Ghiz is what she is, good or bad, and will speak her mind to anyone at almost anytime.

    Secondly, anyone who has taken some of the positions that Ghiz has — not only on the gay rights stuff but more importantly in criticizing Mallory — would get coverage. The number of council members who will grumble privately about the mayor is legion, but they clam up when the notebook and pen comes out. Not exactly a courageous stance.

    Also, the Republican minority on council always has gotten attention by going against the grain. Winburn did it. Heimich did it. DeWine did it.

    Lastly, “4th Street Barrister,” I could make a whole set of assumptions about you based on your screen name but I will refrain. Please do the same with me. You don’t know me, so don’t presume you know my biases.

    And really, does this city need yet another “4th Street Barrister?” I think your kind has done enough over the past couple of decades, frankly, that I wouldn’t be so proud of that label.

  5. Every Cincinnatian Says:

    We wish our Mayor, our Council, and our revered business leaders would get back to the important business of: 1) transferring control of our public assets to quasi-/non-governmental entities; 2) spending our money providing superficial changes to public spaces; and 3) using our money to erect huge, strictly event-driven, cement structures on the most valuable, economically viable land in our city. City leaders, please, stop bickering among yourselves, do not let all those “for rent’ and “for sale” signs around our neighborhoods distract you, and get back to your very important business – afterall, you have friends and supporters who need to have the wealth extracted from us transferred to them.

  6. Westside John Says:

    It is sad that the new jail levy failed, it is sad that a man can get released from prison early so that he can rob and rape just in time for the holidays. It is sad that our leaders in city counsel don’t back the police. It is sad that the property values in the city’s neighborhoods are falling. But HEY CINCINNATI, you got your 43 million dollar fountain square renovation and as a bonus the city is going to build or renovate less schools but keep the extra money that was allocated. Today I heard the refreshing sound of the city school officials stating that they are going to have to CUT more programs due to the budget. The same ones that are grossly overpaid. I wonder why my family has moved out and is pressuring me to get out while I can get something for my house. I love this city and we need to SAVE it. If it takes a few more tax dollars so be it but assign an overseer that is independant and has power.


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