NAACP Ovation For Cincinnati Police
There are brief moments in a city’s history that live on to define it, in the minds of its people and in the minds of others. Like it or not, we have to live with images of the widespread violence following the death of Timothy Thomas in 2001.

It seems inconceivable that, seven years later, we would witness a much different image: Members of the NAACP, holding their national convention in a city boycotted by African-American groups for years, giving a standing ovation to the Cincinnati Police Department for its friendly service, beyond the call of duty, during the convention. (This moment comes in tandem with news that the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau is bringing the National Baptist Convention to town.)

Mayor Mark Mallory was giving his closing address to conventioneers when that amazing moment occurred. After thanking everyone imaginable, “the crowd just went crazy” when he praised the police for being so courteous and helpful.

Has everything changed for the better since then? No. But that convention moment tells us that “progress” doesn’t have to be an empty political slogan. City Hall and police leaders deserved this ovation — along with those cops on the street who were goodwill ambassadors for our town, helping people with their luggage, even driving some to find places to eat late at night.

Aside from what this suggests about race relations here, that moment reminds us how a city’s hospitality is good for convention business and the money it injects in our economy.
Some mayor’s courts in Greater Cincinnati may soon be outlawed, if a new piece of legislation passes through the Ohio Statehouse.

As first reported in Cincy a year ago (“Highway Robbery: The Top 10 Speed Traps in the Tristate,” May 2007), small towns can easily turn into speed traps when laws are enforced by the very government — the local police and mayors — who stand to benefit from income of speeding fines. Our analysis of some 50 towns showed drivers were much more likely to be pulled over in certain parts of the Tristate, notably Arlington Heights (where the village generates up to 25 percent of its annual income from speeding tickets), Addyston and Owensville.

The pending House Bill 154 would eliminate the mayor’s courts in these three communities. And, for other towns permitted to keep such courts, the mayor would have to step down from the judge’s bench and hire an independent magistrate.

The logic seems indisputable: As our investigation pointed out, it’s patently unfair for a mayor (or his representative) to be empowered to levy a fine that’s paid into the very budget he oversees. These unofficial road taxes encourage small municipalities and police departments to bolster revenue through ticket quotas. This bill places speeding courts, and the officials who run them, under the authority of the Ohio Supreme Court. That sounds like justice to us.
Gambling For Schools?
Now that Keno machine gambling can begin popping up at Ohio establishments licensed for on-site consumption of alcoholic beverages, expect the usual marketing barrage.
You won’t see or hear commercials about “crack Keno” (a common phrase in Michigan, referring to the particularly addictive allure of this game).

No, once again we’ll be told this is all about billions of dollars for education.

Spare us the sham.

Keno and lottery advertising are about blowing money on gambling. Period. If Ohio or Kentucky voters want to legalize casino gambling, so be it. But put an end to misleading marketing. Lottery revenues seldom produce the promised net gains in public education spending. Every “crack Keno” dollar that is allocated for schools means a general revenue dollar that should’ve been spent on education will probably be diverted elsewhere.