The NAACP just announced that Graeter’s invited anyone who wants to collect signatures to put Cincinnati’s parking lease before the voters in November can collect in front of their ice cream stores.In itself, it's a fairly insignificant development in the context of a brave, insurgent effort to reclaim the City from the nutcases that have held it under their control for the past 15 months, but in some sense it was remarkable in how unremarkable it seemed.
We have all gotten to know a black leader on City Council, who also heads the local NAACP Chapter. OK, that sounds more or less like urban politics today in cities across America.
But this black leader has broken ground on one issue of fiscal restraint after another. The jail tax, red light cameras, the trash tax, the sale of the water works and stopping the Cincinnati Streetcar boondoggle project.
OK, and then the 30-year parking meter lease comes along. Another foolish, this time monumentally foolish, project emerges, and he fights the legislative battle in Council chambers. He assembles a bi-partisan coalition to oppose the effort, and gets several to join him.
And then he stands in the gap, and again leads a referendum petition drive against the foolishness. Community leaders from Sedansville, Saylor Park, Price Hill, Westwood, Clifton, Oakley, Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, College Hill, Mt. Washington and Northside join him.
Of course, COAST, the Libertarians, the Greens, the Baptist Ministers, the GOP and others stand with him, as they have in seven other pitched political battles.
The unity -- across economic lines, across racial lines, across the east-west divide, across the liberal-conservative chasm -- has become so routine in Cincinnati that it is hardly remarkable anymore.
But yet it is remarkable. It is remarkable in that it ever happened. It is remarkable in that it happened a first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth time more. It is remarkable in that lasting relationships are borne of true trust and friendship. It is remarkable in its sustainability and consistency thru the years.
And now today it is remarkable in that one of the cornerstone businesses of Cincinnati -- Graeters Ice Cream -- would stand with the rebels against the City Hall power structure, and bravely confront powerful forces in this City.
But the revolution has become so expected, so comfortable, so strong, that it happened and no one was too surprised.
This has become the "new normal" in Cincinnati. A new unity. A new collaboration. A new accommodation of how we will live together -- with mutual respect and appreciation for the diversity that exists within our community.
Cincinnati is becoming whole again, despite our rapacious and destructive elected leaders and appointed officials bent on self-service, and in mortgaging the City's future to serve today's common lack of discipline.
"African American" has never meant fiscal irresponsibility and it has never stood for oppressive governmental policies that crush the working man. Some shysters using the black vote have stood for those things, including Mayor Mallory, Roxanne Qualls and the Democrat establishment, but the African American Community is truly fiscally conservative -- they can't afford this crap any more than white, Asian, Hispanic or other populations. And those charlatan politicians have driven destructive wedges in our community.
But we have found a new path to healing our community -- and in the process healing ourselves and our unnecessary divisions.
Today, we thank the remarkable leadership of this unique, principled and creative individual who has bridged the unbridgeable political canyons -- Christopher Smitherman. May he light the path out of Cincinnati's morass, and may he provide a roadmap for other urban areas to solve their unsolveable political and fiscal problems.