Union leaders met with Sheriff Leis today to voice their objections to the new tattoo policy. They offered some unspecified suggestions that would "make the policy acceptable to union members," said David Stanley, staff representative for the union. He said the sheriff will get back to the union on the suggestions. No timeline was given.
Anyone with visible tattoos on their arms must cover up. That means long sleeved shirts this summer for the 37 officers with lower-arm tattoos, while the other 663 officers get to switch to short sleeves.
By the way, ordering the new "summer-weight" long-sleeved shirts will cost the sheriff's office over $4,000.
Leis, who is allowed to declare policy for his office, also will not be hiring any new officers if they have tattoos that show when wearing a short-sleeved shirt.
Leis says the tattoos just don't present a proper image. Many other law enforcement agencies and even the U.S. Marines agree and have enacted similar policies.
Here's the entire rule book on "general appearance" for the sheriff's office detailing everything from fingernail length to gum-chewing habits. The tattoo rules are on page 5.
Records of contracts and money spent on The Banks riverfront project could soon be online under a program proposed by Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine last week.
The Government Accountability in Spending Program (G.A.S.P.) is a county-take on a federal and state program to give taxpayers access to records showing how their money was spent.
DeWine said he hopes The Banks records will be among the first to be included.
Commissioners will schedule a work session to see how feasible the program will be to implement. And Commission President Todd Portune, who likes the idea of the program, had a suggestion: change the name.
"GASP is sort of comical," he said, as the audience tittered in agreement. "It's like (Portune gave a real gasp for emphasis). "t just has this connotation of people late at night in front of their computer screen saying 'Oh my gosh! Look at what I've discovered!' I think it takes away from the idea."
DeWine said he would be agreeable to a name change.
UPDATE: Altman and Crowley are unable to make it today, but Merz will be there to answer questions.
If you're interested in Vice Mayor David Crowley's proposed environmental justice ordinance, there's a Thursday lunchtime forum on it.
Crowley, lawyer David Altman and Crowley's chief of staff, Rocky Merz, will be at the Christ Church Cathedral undercroft, 318 E. Fourth St., at noon to talk about the proposal, which was nearly three years in the making. Their aim is to add environmental reviews of some commercial projects to ensure the projects don't add to any negative health impacts on Cincinnati's poorer neighborhoods.
So the county spent a ton of time this spring holding public hearings, gathering input, forming committees and debating the merits of dozens of projects that were vying for State Capital Bill funding.
Well, it appears that was all for nothing.
The State Capital list came out this week from Columbus and none of the three projects that the county had specifically deemed priorities (stadium debt money, funding for jail projects) were on it.
Commissioner Todd Portune, frustrated, sent this letter to Gov. Ted Strickland. His point: why spend all this time and effort if it's not going to matter?
At Wednesday's commission meeting he and Commissioner David Pepper gave some more details about what they think went wrong.
Apparently historically Hamilton County has had a kind of haphazard way of presenting projects to the governor for consideration. It was kind of an every-man-for-himself deal, which resulted in all kinds of requests landing in the legislature's lap, without any sense of which ones were the most important.
So this year the county tried to prioritize the projects thorugh that public hearing process mentioned earlier. Problem was, after the committee finalized its recommendations, the local legislators and organizations still went ahead and pushed their own pet projects whether they were on the list or not.
"Apparently they (the state) had more proposals from Hanilton County than any other part of the state and that makes it hard to deal with us," said Pepper. "No one in Columbus has any idea what our real priorities are when we go through this and everyone else piles on and it really is a mess. We need to talk to the chamber and our local delegation about how to make this process mean something. It defeats the purpose and makes it harder for us to get our act together."
Added Portune: "I think its unfortunate."
"We made it clear to everyone that we had adopted a community consenus process and that process was not give weight at the end. The other approaches and back room lobbying that had been a part of this process over the years in a bad way continued to play a role."
As we noted in this earlier blog, the county commissioners are Cincinnati Cyclones fans (they passed a resolution commending the team for a great season).
Well, now they have the t-shirts to prove it. Ray Harris, CEO of the Nederlander Group which operates U.S. Bank Arena (the Cyclones' venue) came to Wednesday's commission meeting to thank the commissioners for their support -- And to bring them some Cyclones t-shirts.
The Cyclones will take on the Las Vegas Wranglers and home this weekend, and in Las Vegas next week.
Noted Commissioner Todd Portune: "If we can’t make it to your game we’ll have to go on a fact-finding trip to Las Vegas."
We're not the first to report about a Statehouse videotape in which former state Rep. Geoff Smith, a Republican from Upper Arlington, teases state Democratic Reps. Steve Driehaus of Price Hill and Todd Book of Portsmouth.
The Whistleblower newswire published an item on the alleged "Girls Gone Wild" episode in March here:
But to put persistent rumormongering to bed, readers can listen to Smith's rant in December 2006 here. Fair warning that his brief reference to a night out on the town with the "boys," in this case Driehaus and Book, is more than an hour into the Ohio House session, as Smith gives a farewell speech after his November defeat.
Driehaus explained Smith was asking women for kisses one night, while at a bar. According to Driehaus, Smith would tell female patrons that he and his legislative colleagues were "the advance team" for the "Girls Gone Wild" company that shoots video of vacationing college coeds.
During his House floor speech, Smith says who could forget "the little stint'' with Snoop Dogg and the "Girls Gone Wild" episode.
"Those pictures have been destroyed,'' Smith proclaims to howls in the House chamber.
When Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern announced his picks for the two open Ohio super-delegate slots, it was pretty well a lock that he would pick a Barack Obama supporter and a Hillary Clinton partisan.
That expectation has become reality.
It didn't take long after the May 10 Ohio Democratic Party convention, when the two superdelegates were approved, for Dave Regan, president of SEIU District 1199, to come out for Obama. His union has been on board with Obama for some time now.
This morning, the other super-delegate chosen by Redfern, Cleveland lawyer Craig Bashein, came out for Hillary.
That brings the Ohio superedelegate count to eight for Clinton, seven for Obama and seven up for grabs.
We just noticed that Nate Livingston's blog, Cincinnati Black Blog, is "under review" by its host, Blogger, for possible violations of its terms of service. The blog is no longer accessible from its usual address.
No word what exactly triggered the review, but it comes amid "Operation Heightened Contradiction." We're sure you have your theories.
Doctors today said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has brain tumor, a condition discovered after he had seizure and was hospitalized this week.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, released this statement this afternoon:
"Senator Kennedy is an inspiration for millions of Americans and a courageous fighter for working families across the country. I am honored to call him a colleague, a mentor, and a friend. He is more than a visionary member of Congress; he is an exemplary human being. My wife Connie and I send our thoughts and prayers to Ted and Victoria and the Kennedy family."
Sen. Jim Bunning had this to say:
“I am saddened by the news today that Senator Kennedy is suffering from a brain tumor,” said Bunning. “Mary and I are praying for Senator Kennedy and his family at this very difficult time. I know that he will meet this challenge head on just as he has every other challenge in his life. As he has proven every day throughout his career in public service, Senator Kennedy will never give up without a fight.”
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has put to rest questions about the future of NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.), but he hasn’t quelled concerns of Republican members, aides and lobbyists who say Boehner lacks the “killer instinct” necessary to fend off an electoral disaster in November.
As usual in stories like this, no one is speaking on the record.
Tim Burke told the Enquirer today that the other name he gave the governor’s office was that of Commission President Todd Portune.
"What I have said consistently is there are two people down here who could do this job and do it well and that’s Todd Portune and David Pepper." He didn’t know whether Portune is being considered by the governor or not.
"The AP said Pepper was one of them. They gave four names. I’m not even sure if there is a list of four people. I do know that David has developed a very good relationship with the governor because they’ve both been campaigning very hard for Hillary (Clinton)."
Commissioner David Pepper told the Enquirer he doesn’t know much about the process and said it would be premature to comment on whether he’d be interested in the job.
"If someone put my name out, I’m honored, but I don’t know anything more about it. I’ve spent my day doing county business. I really like what I do and where I am and the county’s got a lot of issues to focus on. At this point everything else is speculation. I think the governor’s handled the situation very well and I think he’ll make the best decision."
The Associated Press has this story:
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A longtime county prosecutor in Dayton and a Hamilton County commissioner are on a list of potential Democratic replacements for former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.
Mat Heck, Montgomery County prosecutor since 1992, told The Associated Press Monday that he is being considered by Gov. Ted Strickland. David Pepper, a Hamilton County Commissioner since 2006, is also in the mix, said Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke and a Democratic state lawmaker with knowledge of the governor’s deliberations. ...
Pepper said he didn’t know whether he was on the list and didn’t have much to say on it.
“I think the governor has responded well (to the Dann scandal) and I think he’ll make the decision that’s best,” said Pepper, whose father was a former chief executive of Proctor & Gamble Co. and currently serves as chairman of the board of the Walt Disney Co.
Burke was asked by the governor’s staff to make suggestions for possible replacements for Dann. Of the two names Burke gave the governor’s staff, Pepper’s was the one they focused on, he said.
“He’s somebody who has an excellent relationship with the governor,” Burke said. “He has impressed the governor. He’s one hell of a hard worker.”
Dann resigned Wednesday under threat of impeachment. On May 2 he admitted to an extramarital affair with a subordinate that he said contributed to an atmosphere that led to sexual harassment complaints against a top aide in his office.
Strickland’s office will not discuss candidates for his replacement. However, Strickland said earlier Monday that he has spoken about the job with another person whose name has figured prominently in discussions of who would replace Dann – state Treasurer Richard Cordray.
Strickland said he had talked with Cordray because he is part of the inner circle of statewide Democratic officials he consults, but also about taking the job. He emphasized he has been talking to others as well.
“We are looking at a large number of individuals, their qualifications and their experiences,” Strickland said. “I am in an information gathering period of time right now.”
Strickland said he had not yet decided whether to appoint an interim attorney general and have someone else run in a November election to replace Dann, or to have the replacement he appoints also run as a candidate.
Cordray has declined interview requests to talk about the attorney general job.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason is also being considered. Spokesman Ryan Miday said Monday he did not know whether Mason had spoken with Strickland or his staff about the job, but said it would “be an honor” for the governor to consider him.
Cincinnati native, Dawnyell Reese, inspired by The Life Of Senator Barack Obama and his race to become the President of the United States has created a new website.
She began this site hoping to showcase moms who want to sing and show their support for the candidate.
Dawnyell was classically trained at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her pure, soprano voice and powerful vocal executions have garnered the admiration and support of many local gospel artists, friends and family.
Dawnyell invites everyone, regardless of political affiliation, to visit singingmomsforobama.com to leave comments and share their own songs.
A Mount Washington man who robbed a man who turned out to be the city of Cincinnati’s director of community development was sent to prison Monday.
Reginald Rice, 36, was sent to prison for two years by Visiting Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Gorman after being fund guilty last month of robbery and kidnapping.
Rice and Nicholas Donnerberg, 24, of Mount Washington, were arrested after a Jan. 18 incident where they were accused of kidnapping Michael Cervay at gunpoint in Anderson Township and walking him several blocks so he could withdraw $330 from an ATM.
Mayor Mark Mallory announces that he's starting something new to honor people who contribute the most to Cincinnati Public Schools.
There'll be one winner a month of the Mayor's Recognition of Educational Excellence Award for six months and each will be honored at a City Council meeting as well as featured on the mayor's Web site. Anyone working in a field that directly affects the life of CPS students is eligible, including teachers, administrators, volunteers, PTA members, etc.
The award was created by the mayor's Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet, a group he established to advise him.
“Teachers are creating the next generation of leaders for our city,” the mayor said in a statement from his office. “Everyone has at least one teacher who changed their life. The award will recognize those teachers who go above and beyond.”
Westwood Republican John Eby, who twice ran for City Council, will be at the St. Catharine's church festival tonight. Check in or around the beer booth.
Where he won't be, he says, is in the race for state representative against Denise Driehaus. Somewhere on this blog or another, someone suggested he might replace Scott Gehring, who got out of the race last week, citing a family issue.
Today at the kickoff of Cincinnati's Neighborhood Enhancement Program in Westwood, Eby said there's a host of reasons why the campaign job wouldn't be for him. First, that he's friends with Driehaus and likes her.
From the Hamilton County Republican party this morning:
On May 15, 2008, the Hamilton County Republican Party Policy Committee met at Party Headquarters to discuss the issue of Red Light Cameras. The Committee voted unanimously to oppose the placing of Red Light Cameras in the City of Cincinnati and to support the referendum and petition drive to place this issue on the fall ballot. Simply put, the Hamilton County Republican Party opposes Red Light Cameras.
The Policy Committee looked carefully at the issue and considered both sides of the argument. After a thorough review and discussion, the committee found the cameras to be an unnecessary revenue generating program that unnecessarily intrudes in the lives of taxpayers and provides very little due process to protect the innocent.
Statement of Chairman Alex Triantafilou
“I am pleased that our Policy Committee unanimously voted against Red Light Cameras and in favor of a referendum to place this issue before the voters. Red Light Cameras are simply designed to drive up revenue on the backs of unsuspecting drivers and the proposal lacks some of the necessary due process safeguards that we should all expect under our Constitution. The Committee found no connection between public safety and these cameras and found that in many instances, the cameras caused “rear-end” collisions as drivers panicked to stop. Our Party urges citizens to support the petition drive to place this issue before the voters and to reject this unnecessary government intrusion.”
Sen. John McCain disclosed that he is in the "embryonic stages" of selecting a running mate, whom he hopes to introduce at the Republican National Convention. While he refused to disclose any names, McCain told reporters that the list is about 20 deep, and "it's every name imaginable." This is one of a series of profiles on the candidates we imagine might be on his list and some things you may not know about the maybe-veeps. See the full list here.
1. On Dec. 19, 1955, Robert Jones Portman was born to Bill and Joan Portman in Cincinnati. Portman has an older brother, William, and a younger sister, Virginia.
2. Portman's father started a forklift company in 1960, Portman Equipment Co., which was sold in 2004 to a Dutch company.
3. Portman's interest in politics started in high school and continued through college and law school. His first run for office was in high school, for the secretary-treasurer of his freshman class at Cincinnati Country Day School.
4. Portman followed his father's footsteps and attended Dartmouth College, where he studied anthropology and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1979. Portman earned a J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1984.
5. Enjoying the outdoors, Portman likes canoeing and kayaking. In 1984 he traveled to China to kayak the Li River and a portion of the Yangzi River. He has also kayaked the entire Rio Grande.
6. Jane, his wife and a former Democrat, worked for Tom Daschle when he served as a representative from South Dakota. Portman and his wife have two sons and a daughter.
7. Besides serving in Congress for 12 years, Portman has worked for both presidents Bush. He served in many positions including as associate counsel to President George H.W. Bush. Most recently he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as United States Trade Representative. Portman left the position this past summer to move back to Cincinnati to be with his family.
8. Portman, whose ancestors were abolitionists, helped get federal money to build the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in his hometown, Cincinnati.
9. Matt Maupin, the U.S. soldier who was taken hostage in 2004 after his convoy was attacked outside Baghdad, was from the district Portman used to represent. He became close to the Maupin family and helped them in the search for their son, including going with them to a meeting at the Pentagon and attending his funeral.
10. This spring Portman is co-teaching a course on public budgeting at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University. He is also a member of the school's advisory board.
At last night's Cincinnati school board public hearing called to discuss Superintendent Rosa Blackwell's proposed $445 million budget for next year, just two people who aren't on the CPS payroll or the board came.
One of them was me, a reporter who routinely attends as part of my job. The other was Jim Berry, an Over-the-Rhine resident who's a frequent schools volunteer and member of the joint CPS-community budget commission. So depending on your definition, there's between two and zero bona fide members of the "public" at the public meeting.
This very poorly attended meeting came 72 days after voters approved a 7.89-mill property tax hike for CPS, which will raise annual taxes by $233 per $100,000 of property value, beginning next January. Last night specifically, board members and Blackwell were making plans to spend about $18.7 million worth of those new taxes.
The next public hearing on the budget is June 12, and they'll probably vote on the budget June 23. Maybe better weather then will bring out a crowd.
UPDATE: Board member Melanie Bates called today, claiming the real problem isn't lack of interest, but a flawed method for soliciting input. For whatever reason, the old-fashioned hearing process just doesn't work for people, and the district hasn't bothered to adapt.
Her ideas? Giving principals finance training to host school-level hearings, more Web-based public surveys and off-site board meetings.
"We're paying someone $82,000 a year to manage community engagement," she said, referring to Dawn Grady, CPS coordinator of community engagement. "We ought to have the capacity to figure this out." (Grady, who actually makes $84,924, didn't immediately return a call for comment.)
Of course, Bates and her six colleagues earn a $125 per-meeting stipend, too. Hardly big money, but that doesn't exactly discourage calling meetings no one cares about.
It wouldn't have been a total shock had Hamilton County's credit rating slipped after it spent $12 million of its reserve money on inmate housing fees, lawsuit settlements and elections equipment since 2006. However, the county made a ton of changes in the past 16 months and made a strong case to Moody's Investors Service and ended up salvaging its financial rating (read the Moody's report here).
"We were hopeful we would not be (downgraded) but we had to make a very very strong case to Moody’s," said County Administrator Patrick Thompson. "A lot of work went into preparation for it and they saw that."
County officials were thrilled that they get to keep their Aa2 rating and are off the "watch list." Worth noting in the county's presentation are several potential revenue builders that the county said it could implement if needed. Check out page 58 of the county's presentation to Moody's
Commissioners, though, insist they do not intend to actually enact those taxes and fees.
"All those are are lists of all the various measures that the county has access to. It is not a proposal nor is it intended to be a proposal," said Commissioner Todd Portune. "Moody’s want to know what are all the things in your arsenal from soup to nuts."
OK, so it's not the Tour de France, (see photo) but we hear there may be some spandex sightings. Three of your county leaders will be bicycling to work Friday for Bike-to-Work Day. Get the details here.
From House Speaker Jon Husted, R-Kettering: “His resignation is long overdue. We can now allow the Inspector General’s independent investigation – and others – to take their course so integrity and public trust can be restored to the office of the Ohio Attorney General.”
From Senate President Bill Harris, R-Ashland: "By tendering his resignation as the Attorney General of the State of Ohio, Marc Dann did the right thing. I believe it is essential that the independent investigation currently being conducted by Ohio’s Inspector General continue in order to begin the process of restoring the public’s trust.”
From new acting Attorney General Tom Winters: Memo to Office Employees.
It is with a great deal of emotion that I write to acknowledge that Attorney General Marc Dann has resigned. Until Governor Ted Strickland appoints a successor, I will—as the First Assistant Attorney General—act in his place.
It is a sad day, but I am confident in the knowledge that you—the more than 1,400 dedicated public servants of this office—will continue to do your jobs in the Office of the Attorney General. Collectively, you span the terms of seven Attorneys General. You enjoy a nationwide reputation as aggressive and professional advocates for the people of Ohio.
I know in my heart that your dedication will continue as I assume my new assignment. I am proud to be associated with all of you.
From former Attorney General Betty Montgomery:
“I have been saddened by the many problems the Attorney General and the Attorney General's office have faced over these past tumultuous weeks. This is an office with a proud history and an important mission. For many years I was honored to work with a staff which worked tirelessly meeting the needs of its clients and working to protect all Ohioans. They were competent, dedicated professionals, proud of their responsibilities, and proud to be stewards of the public trust.
“Because Ohio needs an Attorney General and an Attorney General's office which is focused on its mission and the needs of Ohio, and because these employees as well as the citizens of Ohio deserve better, I believe Marc Dann has done the right thing by resigning. I know this is a very difficult time for him. I wish him and his family the best.
“As the difficulties of the office continued to unfold over these past weeks, I have been encouraged by many to consider running in the special election to be called this fall. I have been flattered by these suggestions. It has been a very tempting possibility to consider for many reasons. I loved my time in the office, and with the help of the wonderful professionals in that office, I do believe we were able to accomplish a great deal in the area of consumer advocacy, criminal prosecutions and in service to Ohio’s most vulnerable populations. I will always cherish my time in the office. I was truly blessed to be able to serve as the Attorney General.
“Having said that, I will not be a candidate for Attorney General in this fall's special election. After over 30 years of public service as Prosecutor, State Senator, Attorney General, and Auditor of State, it is time for me to take some time for my family and friends. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve that I was given by the citizens of Ohio. I look forward to helping in any way I can to help the office and the new Attorney General be successful in serving the needs of Ohio and its citizens.”
Enquirer Columbus bureau reporter Jon Craig rode the Straight Talk Express Wednesday:
Sen. John McCain had nothing but praise Wednesday for Rob Portman, former congressman and budget director under President Bush, whose name often crops up as a potential running mate for the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.