The Other Columbus: 'Twas a Night in Columbus

Scott Woods
City Hall

'Twas a night in Columbus, when all through the city

Politicians were meeting in closed door committees;

Abatements were given out the backdoor with care,

In hopes that no one witnessed the sordid affair;

Developers were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of kickbacks danced in their heads;

The meeting almost over, prepared gavel taps,

The mayor in his chair, ready to lean back,

When outside City Hall there arose so much dust,

All of City Hall clamored to see ‘twas the fuss.

Took it for construction, even though orange barrels ruled,

The politicos filed quick into the vestibule,

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When what through their widening eyes did they see,

But Mayor Mike Coleman and a bag of DRDs.

Downtown redevelopment districts, one way to get paid

Without having to deal with community shade,

More tricky than abatements, he was changing the game,

And he wheeled, and he dealed, even though they’re the same:

"Now, school board! now, Council! now, city budget fixing!

Let’s get this tax dollars spreadsheet here remixing!

To the top of the stadium! to the top of the arena!

Don’t stop the gravy train until you see a subpoena!”

He showed City Council how to work finance magic,

Even though casino funding fell through, how tragic —

And even though the city’s schools were crumbling,

Tax breaks for new Downtown projects kept coming;

The police were untouchable, their unions so strong,

No matter who they stomped, shot or killed, they weren’t wrong.

The politicians sold all of the city, brick by brick,

Kept telling people they knew what was best, oh how slick!

Appearing in communities, portraying they knew what’s good,

With Ginther bellowing, “neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods!”

Three Card Monte with citizens’ money, though forbidden,

Pushing out and neglecting folks from Parsons to Linden;

Allowing Sullivant Avenue to decay till we move out,

Wondering why no one comes forth when gunshots ring out.

Sprinkled gentrification all through the Short North,

Leaving no free parking for a mile around Fourth.

Development gone wild, big business running loose,

All protected by rampant police abuse;

The poor are pushed out, new money rolls in,

In 20 years newer money does it again.

Affordable housing’s a myth unless you change definitions,

make “affordable” mean “first child given for admission,”

City officials beaming proudly at the city they made,

Masking cries from protesters spray-peppered at parades.

Coleman handed the key to the city to Ginther, then smiled,

Telling him that everyone will forget the growing pains in a while;

All the councilmembers waved, the mayor laughed into the night —

“Merry Christmas to all, and gentrification’s all right!”