The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on October 12, 1991 · Page 10
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October 12, 1991

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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 10

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Saturday, October 12, 1991
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A-10Comment THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER Saturday, October 12, 1991 THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER WILLIAM J. KEATING Chairman and Publisher GEORGE R. BLAKE Editor, Vice President THOMAS E. DUNNING Managing Editor THOMAS S. C EPHARDT Associate Editor DARRYLW. EVERETT Vice President, Advertising WILLIAM R. JOHNSTON Vice President, Circulation MARK S. MIKOLAJCZYK Vice President, Production JAMES A. SCHWARTZ Vice President, Finance GERALD T. SILVERS Vice President, Marketing Services Soviet Communism Superpower operation. Huke A Gannclt Newspaper im lion, gpni m this sign anymofe. I taJ J Xcs( r k fir T i v cms ueiyv need - i a Germany Most are trying to combat racist, anti-foreigner elements r 1 ImOtirmrt A V A Term-limit effects are oversold gal or otherwise. With its World War II history, however, Germany is especially vulnerable to fear abroad of any revival of Nazism, however limited. Rolf Fischer, the Krefeld disc jockey who helped organize the group demand for greater protection of foreigners in his city, recognizes that. Explaining the demonstration, he says in the New York Times, "It's a chance for us to make a statement about who we are. Suddenly the world is seeing pictures of the ugly German again. But not every German is out throwing firebombs at foreigners." A number of German intellectuals, led by novelist Gunther Grass, issued a statement saying that "the vast majority of citizens are ashamed that people once again fear pogroms in Germany." Residents of Detmold, Germany, are visiting foreigners in their community to help them any way they can. Meanwhile, foreigners were told they could attend without charge the next home game of the basketball team in Iserlohn. Germans are thus increasingly reaching out, trying to make foreigners feel safe and at home. They are the true Germans, and theirs the voices that should be heard at home, as well as abroad. Few Germans condone the racist, anti-foreigner violence in their country. Clearly their country doesn't need the neo-Nazi, skinhead torment that makes many foreigners fear for life and limb. Chancellor Helmut Kohl and officials at all government levels should make it unmistakably plain that such violence won't be tolerated by taking every action possible to see that it isn't. Offenders should be punished to the full extent of law. A citizens group demonstrated outside the Krefeld city hall in western Germany the other day demanding more protection of foreigners. Unity Day marchers in Berlin also called for an end to the violence. They represent the vast majority of Germans. But all too often, as in any country, perpetrators of violence grab headlines and give the impression they have more support than they do. To be sure, many Germans may wince at the volume of foreigners entering their country at a 1,000-a-day rate. Many may fear, as well, an explosive new tide of immigration if full-blown civil war comes to Yugoslavia or economic collapse to the Soviet republics. Many Americans, after all, have recoiled at the tide of illegals from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. But few Germans or Americans physically attack immigrants, ille A ' . .'.1 i 1 r 7 Justice A recent case raises questions about Ohio parole provisions The parole system worked the other day. The Ohio Parole Board denied Larry Tatum's bid for early release. The convicted rapist and attempted murderer will not be eligible again until December, 2001. The system worked, but was justice really served? Tatum was sentenced in 1978 to 15 to 60 years in prison. If there can be degrees to depredation, Tatum's crimes were particularly heinous. He beat, raped and tried to burn his 16-year-old victim to death. Besides the mental and emotional trauma, she lost two fingers and part of the thumb on her right hand. She was hospitalized for three months and has had more than 30 operations. Not surprisingly, she was shocked and scared when she learned that Tatum was being considered a second time for parole. She hadn't been notified of the first hearing in 1986. To her credit, she resolved to fight his Rookie Councilman Nick Vehr deserves some credit. By jumping on the national term-limitation bandwagon, he can't lose. If his proposal is adopted by the voters, Mr. Vehr has placed himself in a strong position to become mayor in December, 1993, by eliminating his "too experienced" competition: David Mann, Pete Strauss, John Mirlisena and Guy Guckenberger. On the other hand, even if his proposal is defeated, Mr. Vehr has probably won enough attention through the term-limitation debate alone to assure his election in 1991. Voters' decision Yet voters still must decide whether to support or oppose this proposal, which will consign those council members with eight or more consecutive years of service along with the unregistered, the under-18, and convicted felons to the short list of those unqualified to seek a seat on council. In fact, term limitation does not live up to Mr. Vehr's argue-ments for it: Will more council turnover bring "new ideas" to City Hall? In fact, there has been quite a bit of turnover on council in recent years without term limits. One-third of the current council, including Mr. Vehr, has never been elected to any office. With cracker-jack ideas like "Drug Free Zone" signs, proposals to move the Taft birthplace to Fifth and Vine, and coupons for panhandlers, Messrs. Vehr, Tillery and Yates, council's rookies, have provided more than enough "new ideas" to keep us on track through December, 1991, when it is likely two or three new members may join the club to renew council's supply of ideas. Will term limits eliminate the evil of "career politicians" on city council? This argument might have some appeal at the congressional or state legislative level, where powerful politicians re-putedly accumulate power, political-action-committee money and frequent flyer mileage over long, uninterrupted careers. Yet I have not seen Mr. Vehr demanding the demise of Congressman Bill Gradison or Ohio Senate President Stanley Aronoff, whose seniority and clout has been of some substantial benefit to our community. Nor do I recall hearing Mr. Vehr, in his days as Hamilton County Republican Party executive director, suggest that his party's courthouse dinosaurs move "up or out." In fact, with relatively low pay and little glamour, seats on our council seem to attract a different variety of "career politicians," the Bobbie Sternes, Gene Ruehlmanns, Charlie Tafts, or Guy Guckenbergers, who seem to see council service as a civic duty, not History is WASHINGTON: It is always the same, and the ritual sameness adds to the aura that imbues the Supreme Court. Exactly at the stroke of 10 o'clock the great red curtains part. The justices magically appear, as punctually as soldiers marching out of a Swiss town clock. Everyone rises. "God save the United States and this Honorable Court!" And term begins. Even for old-timers in the press gallery, there is always a tingling of excitement and of awe. Such is the importance of law in our lives that the nine justices rank as nine of the 12 most powerful people in our public life. Again this year, as in 1990, only eight justices emerge. Last year we were waiting on David Souter's confirmation. This year we wait for the word on Clarence Thomas. The working press sits stage right (to the left as one faces the bench), peering at the actors through an iron grill. The justices are a diverse lot. Chief Justice William Rehnquist just marked his 67th birthday. He suffers from a small handicap: He doesn't look like a chief justice. It has been said that he looks like Ichabod Crane. Appearances are deceptive. Rehnquist is tough, a stickler for protocol, a man who believes rules were invented to be obeyed. bency" enjoyed by council members like Guy Guckenberger and John Mirlisena does not come in the form of a campaign treasury, but in the broad recognition throughout the community that they serve the public well. No wonder some council incumbents win election with regularity, and others have lost. Will term limits open spots on council for more female and minority representation? Not necessarily. Term limits will open seats on council, but why expect that the voters will cast their votes any differently in years to come than they have in the past? Term limits would force council's only woman, Bobbie Sterne, to leave Council in 1993. Unless the major parties stop running white males, women and members of minorities will not continue to win a sizeable share of council seats, particularly if they receive the type of disproportionate party backing and campaign funding that they have received in the past. In fact, the likely consequences if term limits are adopted, including the following: As council members are forced to leave, new opportunities will open for untested, less experienced candidates. That is why some refer to this proposal as the "Yuppie Politician's Relief Act." If you can't beat them, "term-limit" them. As council loses its collective experience, it is more likely to repeat rather than learn from the mistakes of the past. Let us hope that council members like Peter Strauss and Guy Guckenberger have learned something about how not to develop Fountain Square West. Without depth of experience at the council level, unelected administrators are likely, by default, to take the initiative in setting public policy. The mayor's office will revert to the musical chairs of the 1970s, since a council member is unlikely to achieve a first-place finish no earlier than his second, or more likely third, race for council. As a result, few mayors in our future would serve more than two years before being forced into political exile. Gene Ruehlmann never would have served as mayor had his term-limit proposal been law in the 1960s. As voters wade through an issue-laden ballot on Nov. 5, hopefully they will reject this unnecessary mischief, and retain their right to choose council members without limits on their experience. Donald J. Mooney Jr. is a member of the Cincinnati Planning Commission and a partner in the Cincinnati office of Be-nesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff. courtroom conceals a steel hand. Questioning an ill-prepared counsel, O'Connor can be persistently stubborn. Number six is Antonin "Nino" Scalia, 55, voluble, quick-witted, a master of the razor sharp riposte. Scalia is an intellectual body that is constantly in motion. Anthony Kennedy turned 55 in July. This will be his fourth year on the high court. He has the general aspects of a popular dean of students. David Souter, 52, the high court's workaholic, so far has to be accounted a disappointment. It is not his fault that he resembles the Dormouse at the Mad Hatter's party, but his eight opinions for the court last term struck no intellectual sparks. Souter's trouble may be that he tries too hard. It can happen. By term's end in June, the high court will have heard 140 cases more or less. Most of the opinions, to tell truth, will be ho-hum and so what, but 20 of them will significantly shape the Constitution. That's why, watching term begin, we feel the tingle of goose bumps on the arm. History is being made. James J. Kilpatrick is a Washington-based, nationally syndicated columnist. Donald J. Mooney Jr. . . . voters denied choice a stepping stone to the big time. The "career politicians" who have passed through City Hall seem to move up and out on their own, without the prod of a term limit. The Lukens (Tom and Charlie), Gilligans, Springers, Keatings (Bill), Gradisons and Blackwells hardly stayed long enough to require reupholstered seats. Does the awesome powers of incumbency make current council races noncompetitive? This is where Mr. Vehr is in need of a reality check. Certainly, council elections are highly competitive. No single political party has been able to muster a council majority over the last 20 years. Both Congress and the courthouse could use a dose of that type of competition. In fact, incumbent council members do lose, on a regular basis. Ask current members Jim Cissell or Bobbie Sterne, who lost in the 1980s only to return to council in subsequent elections. Ask Ralph Kohnen. Ask Tim Garry, T.X. Graham, Dwight Tillery and Pete Strauss, who all lost in their first races as incumbent council members. Two or three members of our current council will likely have more free time on Wednesday afternoons come December. While incumbent members of council may have a name-recognition edge, could that be because they have earned the respect and confidence of the voters? Some council members have run and lost repeatedly before finishing in the top nine. The voters of Cincinnati are choosey. They like to see you, not just in 30-second TV spots, but in their neighborhoods, at festivals or community-council meetings. The "power of incum made in James J. Kilpatrick On his right is the court's senior member in point of service, Byron White, 74, a swing man who generally votes with the conservative bloc. White still has the athletic bearing of his young manhood as a football star in Colorado. To Rehn-quist's left is the court's oldest justice, Harry Blackmun. He will be 83 next month, and he looks it. As the court's only remaining true-blue liberal, he is in for an unhappy term. John Paul Stevens, 71, is an odd duck. He flies his own plane; he plays bridge with life masters; off the court he is said to be an amiable fellow. On the bench he functions as canon of the cathedral: He is not out to save souls; his job is to see that the furnace works. Sandra Day O'Connor, 61, improves with age, as beautiful and intelligent women always do. She has the white-glove look of a headmistress at a posh school for girls, but the white glove release. By the time she had finished, the parole board had received 92 letters opposing Tatum's release. A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections said the community outpouring affected the parole board's decision. Give the board credit for hearing the victim's pleas. A parole official's job by nature lends itself to criticism more than credit. It's only fair to call attention to the board's being responsive. The disturbing aspect is the legal system's generosity with chances for parole, even when the inmate has been convicted of a crime that completely belies basic human decency. The victim fought the parole because she could not bear the thought of living with her one-time attacker on the loose again. The question is, how many times will she have to suffer for his depravi-ty? tantamount to crying wolf. County residents begin not to pay attention to the alarms. Civil-defense officials have warned that it is only a matter of time until injuries and fatalities result. But the most sophisticated warning system in the world will not work if the people being warned do not heed it. In 1992, the sirens will mean that weather conditions are genuinely threatening. People should take cover immediately and try to get further details on television or radio. Some remain unconvinced that this is the best way to protect against injuries. But that only confirms the truth of the matter, that there is no absolutely fail-safe warning system. Indeed, there is no warning system of any kind that can function in spite of the public. This is a two-part system: first the sirens, then common sense and observance of correct protection procedures. Weather warnings New county policy for siren use depends on public cooperation The Hamilton County siren-warning system was installed to alert residents to the strong possibility of severe weather. But what is meant by severe weather? This is the question county officials hope they have answered with the new warning policy. For it to succeed, however, the public will have to be sensible and cooperative. Under the new policy, which begins Jan 1., the sirens will sound only for a tornado warning, which means a funnel cloud has been sighted, or a tornado watch, which indicates that conditions are right for tornadoes to form. The sirens will not be used to warn of heavy rain and thunderstorms. The policy has been changed for good reason. Recent experience has proved that frequent use of the sirens there have been eight thunderstorm warnings srfar this year is

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