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Friday, January 25, 2008

Cincinnati Cops Ripped In Citizen's Letter: Uncensored At City Hall

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A citizen and small business owner writes to describe his frustration with criminals and the criminal justice system. He's been robbed and wounded and complains the authorities appear listless in their pursuit of crooks. Cincinnati City Councilman Cecil Thomas, a former police officer, has posted the letter on City Hall's e-gov web portal, which is a newly opened window that offers a degree of unprecedented transparency into governmental activities.

"As you know I was shot twice in 2006. You may not be aware it was the same juvenile on both occasions. In July it was only a flesh wound, but in Nov it was nearly fatal. I credit the quick action of the police and fire department for getting me to the hospital on time. I was bleeding internally and ended up losing a gallon of blood. The only time I saw the detectives was when I woke up after five hours of emergency surgery. I have no idea what I told them."

Robert Mlinar's letter is raw, uncensored and boiling. Clark Street Blog spotted the letter first and noted:

"The letter relates one family's experiences with crime and paints a picture of the CPD as grossly incompetent and uninterested. Truly unbelievable. Two bets I would not make: local media will investigate and report this; and the city manager and mayor will will follow up and demand accountability."

One quibble with WestEnder, Clark Street's author. The fact that City Hall's portal exists -- and the letter is available for all the world to see -- is itself a powerful new tool for raising issues of accountability in a public forum.


  1. If I may quibble with your quibble...

    While I agree that the availability of council documents on the web provides transparency and is "a powerful tool" for accountability, it does not in itself provide that accountability.

    That accountability rests with the mayor and city manager who have statutory oversight over the CPD. As you may or may not be aware, the CPD has had repeated instances of incompetence and malpractice over the past decade. CPD leadership is also characterized by an attitude of arrogance.

    Despite this, mayors and city managers have consistently failed to demand accountability.

  2. WestEnder --

    I suppose my point was this: If people actually know what people are complaining about then officialdom will have to act, or should act, or will have a sense that it is acting on a matter of great public concern, or will recognize that there is something that it needs to act upon.


    If the MSM is failing at its role -- which is to expose things -- then these new Internet tools can quickly replace (and seem to be doing that already) the traditional function of the press and broadcast media. WestEnder, as you pointed out, the letter was online, you picked it up, I picked it up from you, and it is circulating widely now. No MSM involvment at all. And the more people who see that letter, the more reaction.

    What was the old word in Soviet society -- samizdat? That is how this works, I think. Stuff gets out, circulates, people see it, and officialdom notices.

    Indeed, our little online conversation here just adds to the information that people will have. You think the authorities are not doing a good job, the letter writer shares that view. I have helped spread your views. We just don't know where this trip will end yet.

  3. I agree, but I should point out that the CPD has been under the heat lamp for years. The Af-Am community in particular has been shouting for change. Even outside consultants have reported the problems I mentioned.

    Officials are aware, no question. The problem is that the political inertia for reform is too great.

    Mr. Milnar's experiences are extreme, to be sure. But to be honest, we've heard these types of things for years and nothing has been done. So I still won't make those bets...

  4. Bill - Thanks for turning us on to this new site. 'Tis heaven on earth for us research hounds. Know thee that by such worthy acts thou art much appreciated and admired for sharing!

  5. Anon 8:19 pm --

    I thanketh ye for thy greate courtesy and salutation. My fondest of hopes is all hath been in concord for thine family and friends, and that ye live well.