The Cincinnatus Association welcomes new members who are interested in our mission. New members are recommended to the executive committee by existing members. Typically, a candidate is asked to submit a resume as a first step. Most candidates are recommended by our existing members but you also can initiate the process yourself by contacting us. Send us an email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our expectations for members include:

  • Demostrated personal involvment in the Greater Cincinnati community.
  • Willingness to participate actively in a Cincinnatus panel or committee, or to serve the organization in some other meaningful way.
  • Civic awareness and a reasonable level of knowledge of issues facing the area.
  • Demonstrated leadership qualities and potential for leadership in the community.

 

 CINCINANTI'S CITIZEN CRUSADERS

 By Rick Pender

More than two millennia ago, when what is today Cincinnati was nothing more than a bend in the Ohio River, surrounded by verdant forests and wildlife, empires flourished elsewhere. In Rome, five centuries before Christ was born — in 458 BC, to be precise — a retired consul of the Roman Empire named Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus had returned to farming. However, as an army of barbarian tribes threatened from the East, the Roman Senate gave Cincinnatus the powers of dictator so he could protect the nation, relieve weary troops and eradicate the enemy. He did so – in 16 days’ time, so legend has it. Thereupon he relinquished his powers and returned to his farm. To this day, he is held up as a model leader and citizen – a man who neither sought power nor held on to it when his duties had been fulfilled.

In American history, George Washington has been called an American Cincinnatus because he held his command only until the British were defeated. He could easily have seized political power and ruled the newfound nation. After the Revolutionary War, a group of former officers formed The Society of Cincinnati, recalling the Roman legend. The city on the Ohio River was named after this organization, and The Cincinnatus Association derives its name from those same roots. There is a statue of Cincinnatus at Sawyer Point near the river, of course. You can also see a representation of Cincinnatus in the 1983 trompe l’oeil painting of a Roman temple by Richard Haas at on a building façade at Central Parkway and Vine Street.

About a century after Washington’s presidency, Cincinnati was a booming 19th-century metropolis. In the late 1880s a strong Republican machine, established by a man who came to be know as “Boss” George Cox controlled the city and the county – manipulating everything from City Council and the police to the courts. After three decades Boss Cox was succeeded by Rudolph Hynicka in 1914. Through the Republican Central Committee, which was constituted of ward and township captains, Hynicka maintained tight control over the city, although he spent most of his time in New York City, where he managed a chain of 40 burlesque theaters throughout the United States and Canada.

By 1920 even the Republican-dominated newspaper, The Times Star, was calling for Hynicka’s ouster, and many citizens wanted a change in the way the city did business. An unassuming man Victor Heintz was the catalyst who brought that change. His German immigrant parents moved to the “big city” of Cincinnati from rural Illinois in 1880 when Heintz was four years old. He graduated from Hughes High School (1892) and the University of Cincinnati (1896); he attended the law school at UC, where William Howard Taft was the dean. (Taft was also the presiding judge of the Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals at the time.)

Heintz became a successful attorney, entered politics and was elected to Congress in 1917. But just three months after he took office, he relinquished his seat to serve in the National Guard. Then, following World War I, he resumed his law career, but before long he was enticed to become a political organizer for the Republican National Committee. Heintz traveled all over the Eastern United States, so he got to see how many cities operated politically. He was especially troubled by the corruption he saw in his hometown. He urged a group of Cincinnati leaders to address this issue and brought them together in a series of meetings in February 1920. That group soon began to call itself The Cincinnatus Association. So it would not be suggested he was doing this for personal gain, Heintz voluntarily refrained from leadership.

All the members of the Cincinnatus Association were white businessmen in 1920. Most (although not all) were Republicans, many from the party’s committee structure, which sorely needed to be changed. In the early 1920s, the Association expected its members to examine an assigned area, and then reported back to the rest of the group. The Association defined four related purposes, which still pertain:

  • Regular meetings would provide a forum to discuss civic and public questions.
  • Speakers would be invited to address the Association and the public.
  • Information would be widely disseminated to support or oppose particular movements or projects.
  • The Association could initiate its own projects after thorough investigation.

There have been ongoing debates over the years, which continue today, about the role of The Cincinnatus Association and how aggressively it should press its agenda. L. L. Tucker, in his 1965 Association history, asked: “Should the Association be an activist instrument, or function like a forum or sounding board?”

On October 9, 1923, the Association sponsored a debate regarding the merits of a proposed tax increase. Speaking against the increase was a young Republican lawyer: Murray Seasongood. Cincinnati was deeply in debt at the time. Of 43 American cities with populations over 150,000, Cincinnati had the highest per capita bonded indebtedness. More than half of the income generated by taxes was being consumed by the increasing debt. Even so, the city was in horrible physical disrepair, its streets so full of potholes it was almost impossible to navigate.

Despite the city’s financial woes, Seasongood delivered a scathing attack, subsequently dubbed “The Shot Heard Round the Wards,” on the proposed increase and the Republican organization supporting it. His arguments swayed many opinions, and the levy was roundly defeated in November 1923. That success inspired a resolution at the Cincinnatus meeting on November 13 of that year: “That the Cincinnatus Association make a comprehensive investigation of municipal government and confine its activities during the coming year to this one subject.”

Over the next decade, under the watchful oversight of Cincinnatus, the reform of the city’s government was undertaken and the political machine was disassembled. This period, sometimes referred to as the “era of good government,” saw a new City Charter which established the city manager form of government, a model that prevailed until just a few years ago when it was replaced by our present “strong mayor” mode presently in place. The Cincinnatus Association continues to play a role in the ongoing conversation about the revision of Cincinnati’s City Charter.

Over the years, Cincinnatus has addressed many essential civic issues. Education has repeatedly been a serious area of effort, as have community planning and urban development. Cultural issues also have occupied Cincinnatus members: the Association led the effort to create a home for the Natural History Museum (1957-58) on Gilbert Avenue, then spearheaded the development of the Cincinnati Museum Center (1990), converting the deteriorating Union Terminal into an attraction and community asset. In 2004, the Association stepped up to play a significant role in the passage of a Hamilton County property tax levy to bolster the Museum Center’s budget and provide time to build a necessary endowment. In 1960, the Association fostered the creation of a classical music non-commercial radio station, WGUC-FM.

Progress in the areas that the Association seeks to influence has often been frustrating and slow. In 1965, historian L. L. Tucker wrote: “Frequently there is an appreciable time lag before a Cincinnatus resolution achieves reality. For example, Cincinnatus has been urging some form of consolidation between the county and city governments since 1920, but as yet only an iota of progress has been recorded.”

Nevertheless, Cincinnatus has a remarkable track record of service to the city of Cincinnati and surrounding communities. Its presence has made a difference for nearly a century, and its endorsement and actions are respected: Each member has joined the Cincinnatus Association to make a difference, to create a better place to live. And that commendable legacy lives on in the 21st century.

Reflections on Cincinnatus by past presidents

Brief summary of accomplishments

Purpose

The Cincinnatus Association is an organization with a diverse membership that provides a non-partisan and independent perspective on issues affecting the Greater Cincinnati region. Members of Cincinnatus panels and committees work together to learn and reach conclusions about key issues and to take action to promote the organization’s positions. Primary areas of focus are government, education, community inclusion, arts and culture, and regional cooperation.

Internal Opportunities

How we intend to improve our organization

OPPORTUNITY 1

Be a non-partisan leader—an independent voice and honest broker.

  1. Establish a formal plan to ensure inclusion and broad diversity as well as increased participation and commitment in our general membership, panel membership, and internal project work.
  2. Build capacity through external collaborations and partnerships.

OPPORTUNITY 2

Educate first, then take a stand on an issue and, finally, lead the community toward support of that position (learn, decide, act).

  1. Develop specific goals, desired outcomes, and deliverable dates for the entire work plan.
  2. Document Cincinnatus positions on topics and share with leaders in the region.

OPPORTUNITY 3

Prioritize key issues and focus on fewer of them in greater depth.

  1. Incorporate this operating principle into the development of the annual work plan.
  2. Develop formal relationships with Agenda 360 and Vision 2015 to link Cincinnatus members and  appropriate panels with the work teams of the two regional visioning organizations.

Key Community Initiatives

How we intend to improve our community

INITIATIVE 1

Be a catalyst for improving regional cooperation.

  1. Formalize collaboration on regional cooperation with Agenda 360 and Vision 2015.
  2. Convene a periodic Community Summit in partnership with government officials and community building organizations.
  3. Encourage public officials to engage in regional cooperation.
  4. Place Government Cooperation and Efficiency Project (GCEP)/Newfarmer report on Government Panel section of Web Page; analyze report for specific items we can push for implementation.  
  5. Implement a process for the Government Panel to decide on its focus and action items regarding regional cooperation.
  6. Develop public awareness around regional cooperation.
  7. Have members of the Panel appointed to key committees (e.g., GCEP) and task forces created in the region that deal with specific regional or local cooperation related issues.

INITIATIVE 2  

Be a catalyst for achieving effective governance throughout our region.

  1. Survey Panel and Cincinnatus members regarding advocacy issues and ideas.
  2. Expand circulation of information about collaborative activities.
  3. Become more visible in the region for promoting local effective government.
  4. Explore the possibility of securing an intern or co-op student to assist in panel activities.
  5. Support current GCEP initiatives.

INITIATIVE 3

Be a catalyst for improving public education in our region. 

  1. Continue to work with Strive, Agenda 360, Vision 2015 and other regional programs to identify specific issues that Cincinnatus could help drive.
  2. Continue our education awards. 
  3. Expand the Principal Mentoring Program.  
  4. Define “21st Century Education” and engage schools and other organizations in implementation.
  5. Research and convene dialogue about the role of unions on teacher quality within public education.

INITIATIVE 4

Be a catalyst for achieving inclusion throughout our region.

  1. Collaborate with HOME and the CHRC to promote public policies and industry practices that support stable, integrated communities in Hamilton County.  
  2. Continue to promote the Greater Cincinnati Commitment (GCC) within the GCC Alliance as the leading initiative for achieving inclusion within the region. 
  3. Expand the outreach of the GCC to high school and colleges students.  
  4. Continue to work with Agenda 360 and expand this cooperation to Vision 2015. 
  5. Research evidence-based juvenile justice practices that offer the prospect for reapplication in our region.

INITIATIVE 5 

Be a catalyst for sustaining arts and culture in our region

  1. Promote the key finding that a thriving arts sector creates "ripple effects" of benefits throughout the community, including a vibrant economy and a more connected population.  
  2. Work to position arts and culture as a public good in which all in the region have a stake. 
  3. Educated and nurture key elected officials at the state and local level to be proponents for the arts.
  4. Assist in the deployment of the Fine Arts Fund "Arts Ripple Effect" findings.

 

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01/15/09 Submitted by the Strategic Planning Committee

 

01/19/10 Approved by the Executive Committee

 

04/13/10 Approved by The Cincinnatus Association

 

 

 

 

 

Focus

Our panel is focused on improvement and support of public education in the Greater Cincinnati region. We develop task forces to address various public education issues and sponsor organizations and events that can impact public education performance.

Meeting Schedule

Third Monday of the month at noon at United Way of Greater Cincinnati. In January and February, we meet on the 4th Monday (due to national holidays).

Members

  • Dick Adams
  • Tony Aretz
  • Paul Bernheimer
  • Bob Buechner
  • Harry Blanton
  • Melody Dacey
  • Bob Driehaus
  • Ernie Eynon
  • Kent Friel
  • Barbara Glueck
  • Elliot Grossman
  • Grant Hesser
  • Gayle Hilleke
  • Larry Johnson
  • Jane Keller
  • Larry Kissel
  • Ann Lugbill
  • Jim Mason
  • Bill Muse
  • Erick Okerson
  • Brewster Rhoads
  • Mary Ronan
  • Mary Schlueter

For More Info

Committee Co-Chairs are This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Cincinnatus Executive Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Current Initiatives

Annual Education Awards presentationPresents awards to outstanding administrators, teachers and volunteers in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. Collaborates with the University of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University, Xavier University, the College of Mount St. Joseph and Woodward Trust for the awards.

Leader to Leader program. A collaboration project with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) matching business leaders with school principals to improve leadership and management.

Cincinnatus/CPS Ambassador project. A partnership with CPS to use members of the community to help share positive stories and information about the district and its schools.

Cincinnatus is collaborating with the ELL Foundation to be an organizational supporter of the Foundation to aid in providing financial support through the Association members, for college scholarships for English Language Learners.

Past Initiatives

  1. 21st Century skills and learning project. A collaborative among Cincinnatus, Hi-Aims and Leadership Cincinnati to develop 21st century learning environments.
  2. CPS Tax levy campaign. Took an active role in promoting the CPS tax levy campaign.