I'll admit to a case of nostalgia after the Institute's recent State of the City Mayor's Forum. Awash in memories, two oddly stand out right now.
As chief of staff for the mayor, I can say that I never enjoyed a political job more. We swung at every pitch. At this point I was seven years removed from being a student at Xavier.
There are many small pleasures serving in office and one of mine was the creation, through the mayor's office, of the Cincinnati Summer Basketball League, which was notable, most of all, for the opportunities it gave to our players. The mayor took the Cincinnati Basketball All Stars on the road to Boston and Washington and three of our kids got college scholarships and one went to the NBA (LaSalle Thompson-University of Texas.) Many of the kids brought their clothes in Kroger grocery bags because they didn't own a suitcase as they had never gone anywhere before. It wasn't like negotiating peace in the Middle East, but our kids got exposure and experience otherwise unavailable. Then again -- there's still no peace in the Middle East, is there?
Cincinnati was the first place I remember where the now classic fight was waged over the use of public funds to build a sports venue for a wealthy sports team owner. This fight is still going on across the country today with owners threatening to move their teams if they don't get new stadiums with highly profitable luxury boxes. Over the years, as a political consultant, several of my mayors faced these threats and my advice persistently was always the same and always ignored: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." Too much of the public psyche is tied to professional ball clubs, and it's crazy. What happened to capitalism? This is a form of social welfare. We built a campaign against it and, in the end, the arena was built, but with private funds, and it thrives today as a concert and show venue even though the hockey team moved to Buffalo long ago.