As Cincinnati has strayed from the charter’s ideas, our city has become more exposed to the risk of corruption. Recent headlines suggest the risk is real. In an ideal world, those who have business with City Hall would no more court votes directly from the elected officials of today than from the political bosses of old. Rather, the public’s business would be conducted through a city manager trusted to evaluate the public good and guided by strategic priorities set by the mayor and council. The ideal is unlikely, politics being what it is. But given recent events, our community would do well to ask what systemic changes are in order to assure integrity at City Hall.
The Cincinnatus of 2020 is not the Cincinnatus of 1920. Our membership is more diverse as are our interests. We have tried to be a voice for justice and against hate, for excellence in education and particularly for the Preschool Promise, for economic opportunity and affordable housing, and we are renewing our longstanding interest in the arts as a contributor to our city’s vibrancy. We had let down our guard in concerning ourselves with City Hall corruption as it seemed like history. The alarms now sounding suggest otherwise.
City Hall has not fallen to the foul depths of the early 1900s. Broadly, Cincinnati and our region are blessed with dedicated and honest public servants. But the Cincinnatus Association would like to add its voice to those in our community who believe the time is right to consider what changes should be made to assure that City Hall puts people over PACS and the open voices of our neighborhoods over the backroom voices of those seeking personal gain at the expense of the common good.
Mark Neikirk, president, The Cincinnatus Association