Wednesday, February 25, 2009

'Now tell me, why should I stay in Cincinnati?'

A Westwood resident says that no one from the City of Cincinnati has replied to his numerous e-mails about the "robust predator population" in his neighborhood and the failure of the City to deal aggressively with problem landlords that plague the entire West Side.

"In the past I felt residents 'bailed' on the city because they just did not have the fortitude to stick it out until we made a change," he says in an e-mail communication sent to the mayor and city council. "I am beginning to sympathize with their decision and realize that perhaps they may be smarter than I."

Now he wants the City to give him a reason why he should stay.

"You will have to have a vision for the sustained improvement of our city," he says. "You need taxpayers and families -- the middle class that was prevalent during the 'Queen City' days. Somewhere the vision was lost and the city turned its back on those that made it great."

Worst week

Early in the week of his e-mail, his wife discovered a teenager wandering around their backyard.

Police told her that, since the teenager wasn't doing anything, all they could do is put up "no trespassing" signs.

A second phone call brought police to the scene.

"Shortly after, officers arrived a call came regarding a stolen GPS just beyond our backyard," the resident says. "I assume when my wife scared the teen off, he went looking for the next opportunity. I can only wonder if someone would have been dispatched sooner if this could have prevented another City resident from being victimized."

Two days later, he received an e-mail from nearby St. Catharine of Siena saying that the church and school had been spray painted with vulgarities, and the next day there was a 10-on-1 pummeling of a child in the crosswalk in front of the church.

The morning of his e-mail, the resident looked outside to see a sanitation employee toss a garbage bag and miss the truck, with the bag exploding onto his street.

The crew picked up the large debris, but left the rest; The resident took pictures.

"Seems to me they should have swept it up," he says. "This is not the first time this has happened, just the first time I had a camera handy."

And later that morning, the doorbell rang.

The resident saw no one there.

"Suddenly a man pops into view with my newspaper in his hand," he says. "I opened the door and he said he brought the cans from the curb as well. He wanted money."

He told the man that he didn't need the help, and that he shouldn't trespass on his property again.

Then he called the police, fearing that the man may try the same with neighboring homeowners.

"Upon returning to the rear of my house I noticed he had urinated on my garage door," the resident says. "I called the police a second time to update them that this had gone beyond the basic Cincinnati begging protocol."

City should focus on core functions

The resident realizes that some of these occurrences aren't the City's fault, but many can be traced to the City's services and tolerance.

"The answer is not to have a shelter or outreach in my neighborhood, that is what is bringing them here," he says. "No need for offender homes, group homes, 'youth' programs, etc. All of the well intentioned initiatives are causative factors that have eroded my quality of life as a city resident for the past 16 years."

He believes that the City needs to focus on its core functions due to the tight budget.

"If the quality of life would improve, you would not need to dangle carrots to get people here," he says. "Stop the shell game of moving the problems around. Stop speaking out of both sides of your mouth. One day we need affordable housing and social service and the other day we need to limit who can go where."

In his opinion, the City's plan is to send its less desirable initiatives to the West Side, while protecting the East Side and the "pet projects" of Over-the-Rhine and The Banks.

"I am pleased that other areas prosper and are improving, but it should not be at my expense," he says.

As a married man with four children and a self-described civic contributor, the resident doesn't believe that the City's "turnaround initiatives" are meant to help him, a taxpayer who is helping to fund them.

"Eating less meat, rail cars, affordable housing, grants for special interests, expanded clinics, social services, youth groups, etc. are not important to me."

Like a movie set

"Why shouldn't I give myself over a $3,000 raise by moving myself and my office location out of the City?" he says. "Why shouldn't I come home to a house where my wife doesn't have to lock the back door because some bum is going to walk 100 feet from the street into our yard and surprise her."

He goes on, describing how life in Cincinnati is "like living on the set of the old Charles Bronson Death Wish movies".

"I could go home to a place where my kids can play in the backyard, like we all did, without having to have my eye on them every second because some pervert from a group home or filthy apartment complex is premitted to permeate city neighborhoods. I would not have to collect half a can of garbage from my property on Saturday mornings. I could let my kids walk to school without fear of the next wannabe gangstas. My wife could enjoy our backyard without derelict invasion. I could have my friends over without strategically planning the ghetto free route to my home. I could read the paper on my porch without hearing the thunder of so-called music and rattling license plates. I could drive down my street without dodging the intimidators that walk in the middle of the street rather than a sidewalk. I could go to a corner store that had milk, break, snacks and ice cream as opposed to incense, rolling papers, quarts, and pens that could convert to crack pipes. I could mow my lawn without fear of running over a gun magazine thrown in the yard. I could park my car on the street if needed, instead of a street where the hookers use on-street parking to service their clients. I could put up a Catholic Schools Week sign in my yard without it being stolen or smashed down. My kids wouldn't have to ask me if the bad people are coming back, why daddy had to talk to the police, why people throw litter in our yard, why people think they can hang out in our yard, why CPS kids assault others, why people walk in the middle of the street, and why is that lady walking down the street screaming the F word."

"I have had enough"

"I work enough hours at my real job to provide a good living for my family," he says. "I am tired of funding worthless initiatives and spending inordinate personal time, which I have very little, to try to do the job of government. Simply put I have had enough."

The resident asks councilmembers to put themselves in his shoes.

"If I had to do it all over again, start a career and family, make my house a home, would I do it in Cincinnati?" he says. "I don't know. Ten years ago I probably would have said yes."

A report to City council regarding the e-mail is due before March 18.