Politics Extra
Enquirer reporters give the scoop on what your politicians are doing

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

One Cincinnati, two Cincinnatis, three Cincinnatis, four...

When Democratic activist Brian Crum Garry read in the Enquirer last week that Alicia Reece and Charlie Winburn were using the slogan "One Cincinnati" in their campaigns for mayor, he was livid.

He ran as an independent in 2003 under the banner of "O.N.E. Cincinnati," which he said was divinely inspired. "I was driving in my van and God imparted 'O.N.E. Cincinnati' to me," he said. But while God gave him the acronym, his campaign volunteers figured out what it stood for: "Opportunity. Neighborhoods. Equality."

On his web site, he's even put a trademark symbol next to "O.N.E. Cincinnati(tm)
," though it's not registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

I'm not willing to give away my intellectual property rights to people without them even consulting me about it," said Garry.

But that was last week. This week, he's decided to be more philosophical.

"I want to more stay on the idea that I'm happy that they are using it, and I'd like to welcome them to the bandwagon of 'O.N.E. Cincinnati,'" Garry said.

40, of Clifton, was snubbed for an endorsement by the Cincinnati Democratic Committee May 10, though party leaders say he's making progress toward a possible 2007 endorsement. Garry said he hasn't decided whether to run for City Council as an independent again this year.

(Photo by Joseph Fuqua II/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Union endorsements

The Cincinnati AFL-CIO has endorsed four candidates for Cincinnati City Council: Democrats Laketa Cole, David C. Crowley and Damon Lynch III and Charterite Christopher Smitherman.

AFL-CIO communications director Bridget Doherty said more endorsements are likely as questionaires trickle in. (Note to candidates: Fill out those forms before the rest of the slots fill up.)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Reece to Palm Beach: "Denial is our worst enemy."

Councilman David Pepper often talks about his visits to other cities to learn how they're addressing problems of crime and violence.

Others think Vice Mayor Alicia Reece may have already found the part of the solution.

Palm Beach Post columnist Emily J. Minor writes up Cincinnati's three-year-old Black on Black Crime Initiative in a column headlined, "Amid killing of our youth, do something, do anything."

Reece admitted to the Palm Beach columnist that progress was "slow going:"

"I wish I could say we no longer have this problem," said Reece, 34, who is black and grew up -- and still lives -- in one of the city's targeted neighborhoods.

"We had a 13-year-old," she said.

But this is what they're doing: They have a homicide task force, working with police, NAACP, FBI, the Urban League, and others. They have a witness protection program.

"You tell, then you have to return to the neighborhood where it happened," said Reece, who said they work with the housing authority to relocate witnesses.

They also have a street program for black youth who "want to get involved because they want to stop the violence."

Cincinnati has long had two schools of thought: one holding that Cincinnati is too skeptical of ideas not born here, and the other holding that it's not skeptical enough.

Who's right in this case? Until there's some significant movement in the homicide rate, it's hard to tell.

Why Tarbell won't run

When Jim Tarbell gets an idea in his head, he just can't let it go.

He's still mad at Pat DeWine for backing out of a Tarbell-initiated plan to fire former City Manager John F. Shirey in 2001. He doesn't understand why Great American Ball Park isn't at Broadway Commons. And he gave up downtown's oldest and most consistently successful bar, Arnold's, to take over an Over-the-Rhine restaurant that's been, frankly, a disappointment.

So we can expect to hear this refrain from Tarbell for at least another four years:

I shoulda run for mayor.

Tarbell had been talking up his campaign at City Hall for so long that most people stopped taking him seriously months ago. But his roast at the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce last week injected him with a booster shot of enthusiasm, and he launched a one-week petition drive that ended Thursday without a trip to the Board of Elections.

In an interview on Fountain Square a half-hour before the filing deadline, Tarbell sat within misting distance of the landmark he calls "the Lady" and explained his decision.

"It's been literally minute to minute. I've never felt that there was a time when getting out and having a bully pulpit and talking about a vision was more important than it is now," he said.

"Part of it was Brenda," he said of his wife. "The prostate cancer issue is still out there." Tarbell was treated in 2003.

Tarbell said he's in the middle of trying to work out a deal to reopen Grammer's, the German restaurant he's owned for 21 years but which has been all but closed for half that time, either by selling it, leasing it, or finding a partner. The property has been in and out of foreclosure -- Tarbell defaulted on a city loan -- and Tarbell once owed $10,546 in back taxes on the property.

"I was willing to take the risk and leave, just to get the vision out there, to make people feel better about themselves," he said. But he said many of his supporters -- including his political party, the Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati -- worried about losing him on City Council, where he's the most senior member.

"I grew up with council electing the mayor, and the system provoking a consensus that way," he said. The top vote-getter system, an invention of Charlie Luken in 1987, and term limits, which took effect in the mid-1990s, changed that. "The single biggest problem that we have in the system is that someone within council does not preside over council. The mayor should stay downstairs, where he or she belongs."

(Photo by Michael E. Keating/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Will Tarbell run?

As of noon today, even Jim Tarbell didn't have an answer to that question. Which could be a problem, since the deadline for filing nominating petitions for Cincinnati mayor is 4 p.m. today.

Still, City Hall is buzzing.

"His entry would make things very interesting," Mayor Charlie Luken told WLW's Bill Cunningham this afternoon. "He has a constituency. I wouldn't rule him out."

The Charterite councilman said he'd file his petitions in a heartbeat if he could keep open his option to run for City Council instead. He said he's been told he'd have to forfeit a council run to file his petitions.

But that's not exactly true. Technically, Tarbell could file his petitions today, and would have as long as 15 days to decide whether to stay in the mayor's race or run for re-election to City Council, where he'd be term-limited in 2007.

Article IX, Section 2 of the city's charter:
An eligible person who has accepted a nomination for mayor as provided in Article IX, Section 4 shall not be eligible for election to the office of member of council that year.
But "acceptance" of the nomination won't come today. Here's Article IX, Section 4:
Within ten days after the certification of a nominating petition the election authorities shall notify the person named therein as a candidate whether the petition is found to satisfy all the prescribed conditions. Any eligible person placed in nomination as herein provided shall have his or her name printed on the ballot if, within five days after such notification, such person files with the election authorities a written acceptance of the nomination.
So if Tarbell files petitions today, he could still change his mind in the next two weeks by declining to accept his own nomination for mayor.

(Photo by Brandi Stafford/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Start something good with Grisco

Sylvan Grisco served in the Navy during World War II, built shoes, flew the Bermuda Triangle and was married to the same woman for more than a half-century.

How hard could it be to run Cincinnati?

Grisco, 83, of Madisonville, filed his nominating petitions today with the Hamilton County Board of Elections. He wants to be our mayor.

His platform:
  • A complete audit of all city spending.
  • Allow commuter air traffic into Lunken Airport -- heresy for most East Side neighborhoods.
  • Back the Police Department "110 percent," an apparent attempt to one-up Republican Charlie Winburn by at least 10 percent.
For decades, Grisco owned shoe shops on Main, Vine and Court Streets. His claim to fame, he said, is this: "I made more people walk straight in this city than anybody. I'm a full-fledged shoemaker. I design shoes. If I put heels on your shoes, you're going to walk straight."

Then he told this story, which he insisted he was not making up: In the early 1980s, then-Councilman Charlie Luken walked into his store for a shoe shine. Luken complained that his feet hurt.

The shoe shine man looked at the future mayor and said, "If you put your shoes on the right feet, you won’t have that problem!"

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