Tuesday at 11:38am Chris Seelbach posted this message on his Facebook page:
The Mayor has proposed renaming 3rd Street after Carl Lindner. While there is no question that Mr. Lindner did incredible things for Cincinnati, including creating and maintaining good jobs for Cincinnati families…and supporting many worthwhile non-profits…Mr. Lindner was also a driving force (and large donor) behind Citizens for Community Values and their efforts to pass Article XII in 1993, which made us arguably the most anti-gay city in the country for 10 years.The Mayor would like the name change to be voted on in committee today and finalized tomorrow in full council.
Because it seems as though there will not be any kind of process that allows for community-wide input (except at the committee today), I’d like to ask for your thoughts. I’m not a “one issue” voter. I do appreciate the positive contributions Mr. Lindner has made to our community. But…is this going too far? Especially a week after last week’s news regarding our score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index?
Yesterday I went to City Hall to listen to Council’s discussion about how we decide who to honor in this way and why we do it. Except for Chris Seelbach’s explanation as to why he had decided to vote in favor of the change, there was no discussion to be heard. Instead Cranley, Winburn and Smitherman delivered personal tributes to Mr. Lindner that could have been confused with eulogies, each one testifying as to how the man had supported issues that were important to them, both financially and by making phone calls to state politicians. In final comments, Winburn went so far as to chastise Council member Seelbach for even questioning the motion. “You should be ashamed,” he said, “talking this way about a dead man.”
The renaming of 3rd St. is not about whether or not Carl H. Lindner was a good man. We can see that in all of the buildings and facilities that will bear his name in perpetuity in exchange for the checks he wrote, such as the Lindner College of Business, the Carl H. Lindner YMCA, and the Carl & Edith Lindner Family Tennis Center. This vote was about a public policy that permanently expresses what our community values. Countless citizens have been extraordinarily generous and we have not named streets after them.
Unfortunately, Mayor Cranley must have felt that there wasn’t sufficient public support to honor Carl H. Lindner if he allowed public participation in the decision making process and so he forced the motion onto the agenda at the last minute before Thanksgiving break. What’s in a name? In this case, a message to voters that corporate interests and campaign contributions are more important than the integrity of the democratic process.