Article Comment 

Local voices: A response to Dec. 12 editorial, "Citizens Ill-served by city's response to CPD leadership"




Birney and Peter, 


I was, as usual, disappointed with your paper's editorial comments of Dec. 12, which insulted Oscar Lewis, me and the city council.  


You began by proclaiming my statement that I had no idea Chief Lewis was retiring was "dubious." Why don't you just come out and call me a liar like a man would do if he felt that way?  


Instead, you insult with innuendo, which is cowardly. 


As well, why don't you put the names of the people at the paper who have the opinions you espouse as "Our view''? Instead, you like to use the proverbial "we" so nobody can take offense at a particular person in your employ.  


Your reporters always ask for cooperation and information and, when we provide it, you use the information to attack us like you did in the referenced editorial piece.  


Next you attack me and the council for not accepting every one of Dr. Turner's recommendations in his report. As you might recall, at the meeting that followed the delivery of his report, we heard from a citizen who had analyzed the data and alleged that Dr. Turner's conclusions were not supported by sufficient data to be reliable.  


Other citizens also espoused their support for working with Chief Lewis. So, rather than take the draconian measure of termination, my recommendation to the City Council was not to terminate.  


Recall that under the city's Civil Service rules, we don't just fire employees of the Police and Fire departments. Rather, they have due process rights in their continued employment. This means notice and an opportunity for a hearing, with rights to appeal to the Civil Service Commission and to Circuit Court and the Supreme Court.  


Neither I nor the Council felt we should proceed straight to termination without giving Chief Lewis time to digest the report and consider Dr. Turner's suggestions. 


I realize that The Commercial Dispatch is a private entity and has the right to kick out an employee for any reason except for a discriminatory one.  


And The Dispatch has a long history of doing just that. It has been such a common occurrence, that members of the community joke that a person leaving the Dispatch has "joined the FBI" meaning "Fired by Imes." So, I am not personally surprised that the "our view'' piece would insult us for not proceeding straight to amputation of the arm with a mole on it, rather than a simple excision of the mole. In accusing me and the Council of abdicating our duty by not removing Chief Lewis, you achieve nothing but to embarrass yourselves and insult an upstanding member of this community who served this city with honor. As well, you criticize the hiring decisions made by the city but don't give any self-critical analysis of your own hiring decisions.  


Your conclusion that your confidence in our leadership has now been undermined is a joke. You and your reporters have always gone out of your way to find fault and criticize me and the members of the council. It is rare indeed to get a rose or a compliment in the Dispatch, and if there is one, it appears it is just to get us to lower our guard so you can hit us again. 


In the past I asked you to come out of your ivory tower and take a look around from the ground view, but it appears you haven't.  


In conclusion, you ask whose interest the mayor and city council are protecting by not immediately firing Chief Lewis, and you proclaim wonderment at the answer.  


At the same time you raise the question about whose interest we protect, you have filed a Public Records Request with the Columbus Redevelopment Authority seeking to obtain the option agreement on the Lee Middle School property.  


Your reporter, Isabelle Altman, did this after she, Zack Plair and Birney Imes met with Tommy Lott and Jeff Turnage, who told you very clearly that disclosure of the details of the transaction would, in all likelihood, kill the redevelopment project.  


So, I ask you Birney and Peter, whose interest are you protecting? And, why would you countenance such knowingly destructive conduct? 


Robert E. Smith, Sr., Mayor 






Birney Imes replies: The possible sale of Lee Middle School and the 14 acres it sits on could have a profound impact on the surrounding neighborhood and the city at large. Finding a suitable buyer would be a huge coup for the city and the CRA, whose efforts we have applauded repeatedly. While the CRA has announced an interested party has a six-month option on the property, no other information has been released. This is public land. We feel it is in the public's interest to know more about the potential buyer, before, rather than after the sale.



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