24 May 2006

The Banks: Cry-Babies vs. Bullies

The Banks working group was flawed well before these local black leaders clamored about "inclusion". Flawed the moment it was formed, in fact.

As I have often intimated, the magic spell of the corporate executive is something I do not understand. And I understand even less why Mayor Mallory suddenly came under its spell. Sure, corporate executives have magic powers, I can dig that. But what I'm saying is this: a lot of other people have magic powers, too. Like urban planners and experts in green technology (an area in which Cincinnati could improve, as this article in the Business Courier explains).

So it is surprising that Mallory would agree to a Banks working group that is basically 3CDC with an inexpensive makeover. It is not surprising that Phil "I'm the boss of you" Heimlich would support such a group, but it is surprising that Mallory would find himself in agreement with Heimlich. Let's face it: agreeing with Phil Heimlich is not exactly a sign of mental health.

The worst thing about the working group/3CDC? No transparency required. As QCF and Porkopolis have pointed out, that is bullshit.

I don't see how expanding the working group from 5 to 9 or adding minorities would actually change anything. I think BrianG got it right in saying that those changes are just cosmetic. It doesn't ensure that anything substantive would happen. I remind you that President Bush has the most diverse cabinet in history. How much diversity of viewpoints do you see coming out of his office?

The only way the Banks working group will overcome being weighted down with these 5 corporate cinder blocks is by being given specific operational guidelines and allowing public oversight. The group on its own cannot be expected to pay attention to such things as regional ethnic diversity or green building practices, for example. It has to be given specific guidelines and goals. That is the only way to ensure that the public interest will be met by a small cadre of rich, white guys (who, as I've pointed out before, probably don't even live in Cincinnati).

My advice to the cry-babies is to stop crying and get out a piece of paper. Make a list of demands and lobby the mayor, council and county to codify those demands. After all, the real point is not to make the group inclusive, but rather the project.


TravisG said...

I'm looking forward to taking my grandchildren to the grand opening of the Banks.

Wes said...

Excellent and incisive post, buddy. Rather than aiming for Token Non-White Non-Rich Non-Guy, we should be figuring out ways to make sure the governance of things like the Banks is more open and responsive. Mark Mallory (whom I strongly supported before leaving for Massachusetts) should know better.

Remember too that Rich White Guys (tm) tend to be Republicans, and the core ideology of modern-day Republicanism is that government can do no right. When you have a civic project like this, you need to make sure there are some people who actually believe it can happen.


Nick said...

Tim Riordan is a guy who worked his way up the city administration to interim city manager. He now works for the Short Vine Economic Development Corp. He is not a corporate executive, and new has been. The same is true of Ted Gabelman, a lawyer and consultant for the county.

There is only one corporate CEO in the group, and he's the owner of the Reds, so it makes perfect sense for him to be in the group.

People are getting a little carried away here. The working group has no transparency because it can't make ANY decisions. They recommend stuff, and then it goes to Council and the Commission for approval. If the group came back and said, "We don't need minority contractors" Council wouldn't vote to accept the recommendation.

I think it would be wise to add a member to reflect some racial diversity, but in general, I find this whole controversy to be more of the standard We-hate-anyone-with-a-coporate-job drivel I see on the local blogs too much.

These boards are usually a way to involve people who have the MONEY and the track record to get things done. Planners have a role, but these boards ain't it. A planner can't mobilize construction crews, write 10 million dollar checks, or negotiate 300 page developer agreements.