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

Powered by Blogger

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Winburn bets the ranch (actually, a brick colonial)

Charlie Winburn's home in an eight-year-old subdivision in Mount Airy. Winburn mortgaged the home to raise money for his mayoral campaign.

Republican Charlie Winburn has recently loaned his campaign committee $200,828 in order to boost his bid for Cincinnati mayor -- including a $100,000 second mortage on his Mount Airy home, campaign finance reports and county property records show.

Winburn, who is the minister of the Church in College Hill and is on leave from a full-time gubernortorial appointment to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, said the other $100,828 came from a series of personal loans he made to hs campaign committee. "It’s all moral, legal and clean money," he said.

He said the loan was a sign of strength for his campaign.

"It’s not uncommon for candidates who believe they can win and have something to offer the city," he said. "My philosophy is, never support a candidate who is not able to put their own money up. If they're going to ask other people for money, they should invest in themselves."

According to his campaign finance reports, he spent $93,674 of that money on mailings and $21,355 on stickers.

Winburn took out a $100,000 mortgage on his Mount Airy home on August 12, according to property records. The county auditor has the house valued at $199,800.

"If I lose, I have to pay them back. If I win, I have to pay them back," he said. "I plan to win."

Other mayoral candidates who have outstanding loans to their campaign committees: Mark L. Mallory, $61,000 and David Pepper, $35,000.

The mayor's job pays $122,090 a year.

(Photo courtesy Hamilton County Auditor's Office)

Friday, September 09, 2005

The $100,000 club

Six candidates for City Council have raised more than $100,000 for their campaigns, according to campaign finance reports submitted with the Cincinnati Elections Commission today:

Candidate Total

Jeff Berding (D) $200,465

John Cranley (D)

Chris Bortz (C) $168,552

David Crowley (D)

Leslie Ghiz (R) $113,864

Chris Monzel (R)

For comparison, here's how that list would have looked about this time in 2003:

Candidate Total

David Pepper (D) $176,098

Pat DeWine (R) $147,695

John Cranley (D) $139,957

Leslie Ghiz (R) (see below)

Chris Monzel (R) $127,312

Barbara Trauth (R) $113,645

David Crowley (D) $109,550

Earlier this year, candidates were complaining about "donor fatigue." After the hard-fought 2004 campaigns -- and with strong candidates for mayor hitting up local contributors -- City Council candidates thought they'd have a tough time raising money.

For some Democrats, at least, donor fatigue has not yet set in.

UPDATE (Saturday, 5:31 p.m.): The numbers above are based on reports to the Cincinnati Elections Commission. Leslie Ghiz mistakenly overreported the numbers on her 60-day report in 2003. According to her amended reports, the correct number for this time in 2003 should be $72,888. "I just wanted my numbers to show I am way ahead of where I was two years ago, and more than my total finish in 2003," she said.

Alicia Reece is 'not in attack mode'

David Pepper and Alicia Reece at a Bond Hill hearing last year.

For much of the summer, David Pepper stuck to his script at debates and community forums as two of his opponents accused him of being resposnible for everything from the "chaos at City Hall" to the city's crime rate.

In the last 48 hours, Pepper has finally launched a counteroffensive via the U.S. Mail, calling Republican Charlie Winburn's ideas "out-of-date" and Mark L. Mallory's "too risky." And he has another mailer coming out shortly, attacking Winburn's seven-year record on City Council.

But the Democratic councilman said he was not planning a direct-mail campaign against his fourth major opponent, Democratic Vice Mayor Alicia Reece.

"You know what? She’s the only person who hasn’t been sitting around the past few weeks attacking me," he said. "She is not in attack mode. Winburn and Mallory have been in pure attack mode for most of the summer."

Reece’s campaign manager and father, Steven Reece Sr., said no negative ads would be forthcoming. "What we’ve tried to talk about is the issues and Alicia’s plans and what she’s done. We haven’t tried to undercut, backstab or engage in any of this silliness going on."

But that doesn't mean Pepper and Reece have resolved the differences that slowly tore them apart in four years serving together on City Council. Even Thursday, Pepper and Reece got into a back-and-forth on the floor of City Council over proposed raises for top city officials.

(Photo by Ernest Coleman/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Charlie and Rudy

Republican mayoral candidate Charlie Winburn (above, right) met with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani Wednesday and picked up his endorsement.

Afterward, Winburn still seemed a little star-struck by the encounter. "He was so gracious to me," Winburn said. "I told him, 'When I grow up I want to be just like you.'"

"When I got into this campaign, I said I understood the first thing we had to do was restore order. I said, 'I really want to be like Rudolph Giuliani.' I want to go down in history as someone who was able to reduce crime."

Also included in the 45-minute discussion at U.S. Bank arena -- which was closed to reporters -- were Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman George Vincent, GOP executive director Brad Greenberg, political director Maggie Nafziger, Winburn campaign manager Stephen Rosfeld and Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Harry Roberts.

(Winburn campaign photo)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Analysis: Primary victors could have coattails

The 31 candidates for Cincinnati City Council won't be on the Sept. 13 mayoral primary ballot, but that doesn't mean they don't have a vested interest in the outcome.

It's the mayoral candidates who will have the best get-out-the-vote efforts, and the results of next Tuesday's election will help decide which constituencies are energized and which are less likely to show up.

A contest between Alicia Reece and Charlie Winburn, for example, would make Baptist churches ground zero in the November campaign but put moderate Democrats in a lesser-of-two-evils dilemma. A David Pepper-Mark L. Mallory matchup would launch a battle for the middle, but leave partisans on both sides bored stiff with another politics-as-usual ballot. And any election that includes Justin P. Jeffre would turn Cincinnati politics on its head.

Here's a look at the top mayoral candidates, and the council candidates whose fates are most tied to next Tuesday's results:
  • Pepper: Precincts he won in 2003 also went strongly for Charterite Jim Tarbell, Republican Pat DeWine and Democrat John Cranley. DeWine is no longer in the mix -- but Republican Leslie Ghiz, a Hyde Park lawyer, has cast herself as his successor. A Pepper victory in the primary would bode well for her. To the extent they're running Pepper-like council campaigns, Democrat Jeff Berding and Charterite Chris Bortz could also benefit.

  • Reece: Her strongholds in 2003 also voted in big numbers for Democrat Laketa Cole, then-independent Damon Lynch III (now an endorsed Democrat) and Charterite Christopher Smitherman. Cole will likely finish well no matter what, but a Reece victory would keep Smitherman's seat safe and could add Lynch to the council.

  • Mallory: Though he's never run citywide, his appeal is to white progressives, and moderate African-Americans. His victory would bolster liberal-to-moderate candidates like Democrats David C. Crowley and Cecil Thomas.

  • Winburn: His political protege, Republican Sam Malone, probably has the most to gain from a Winburn victory in the primary -- their campaigns are so close that they share the same treasurer, Robert L. Hall. Republicans Chris Monzel and John Eby have attended every Winburn campaign event to date, and would get a big visibility boost if Winburn advances to the general election.

  • Jeffre: Pollsters and pundits are counting him out. But a Jeffre upset in the primary could bring new, young, anti-establishment voters into the process -- voters who probably won't have much loyalty to any council campaign. Still, fellow long shots like Charterite Nick Spencer and independent Gerry Kraus could get a little boost from a Jeffre campaign in November.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pepper theoretically wins Hispanic vote -- or not

Down at Pepper headquarters the other day, they were taking particular pride in their performance with Cincinnati's Hispanic voters. The latest WCPO/Survey USA poll had David Pepper with 45 percent of the vote, compared to 17 percent for Mark L. Mallory, 13 percent for Alicia Reece, and 8 percent for Charlie Winburn.

They wondered: Was it Pepper's initiative to liberalize legal identification for Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants? Or is it that his neighborhood strategy is resonating in Hispanic enclaves like Carthage and Lower Price Hill?

Probably neither. It turns out that Survey USA polled just three Hispanic voters, out of 504 likely voters. That gives a margin of error of plus or minus 58.9 percentage points.

Survey USA Editor Jay Leve said the pollsters estimate that Hispanics make up just 0.6 percent of Cincinnati's voting population.

"Nothing can be concluded from what those three Hispanics say. No words should be written about Hispanics in Cincinnati," he said in an e-mail. "Even if 100 percent of the Hispanic likely voters in Cincinnati all got together and agreed to vote for ONE of the candidates, it would not influence the outcome of the election."

So how did Survey USA get such precise numbers? Presumably the numbers were weighted to account for the city's demographic makeup and the pollster's predictions of who the likely voters will be -- but Leve declined to explain the magic formula.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

History repeats itself in the East End

East End resident William Klopfstein protested during a Cincinnati City Council meeting hours after a chemical spill at Queen City Terminal, Feb. 21, 1985.

To longtime Cincinnati environmentalists, last week's chemical leak from a railroad car in the East End was like deja vu.

Twenty years ago, a chemical spill from a railroad car carrying benzene happened not 100 yards from the site of last week's scare, galvanizing a growing environmental movement in Cincinnati.

What made the 1985 incident even more bizarre was that the neighboring Columbia-Tusculum Community Council had been fighting Sohio's planned shipment of benzene to Queen City Terminal for months. The neighborhood found out about the planned shipments using the city's newly enacted Right-to-Know Ordinance, and launched an intense lobbying effort to stop them.

Then, the very first shipment, the rail cars leaked.

"We were promised that these were state-of-the-art rail cars, that they were foolproof, and nothing-can-go-wrong, can-go-wrong, can-go-wrong, and then -- the damn trains showed up, and then the things leak!" said Timothy M. Burke, the lawyer who represented the community council and now chairs the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

City Council immediately suspended the benzene transports, but efforts to permanently block them were ultimately overturned by a federal court.

So what does this have to do with 2005?

Mayoral candidate Mark L. Mallory has laid responsibility for the last week's styrene leak at the feet of City Council, which eliminated the 11-year-old Office of Environmental Management in the 2002 budget. The city's top environmental watchdog, Dennis Murphey, left for Oregon.

"If the Office of Environmental Management had been in operation, they would have been monitoring Westlake Styrene Co. to ensure that they were in compliance with their permits to transport dangerous chemicals within city limits," Mallory said in a statement last Monday afternoon. "The office would protect the health of the city by centralizing the coordination of permit enforcement, environmental oversight, and citizen complaints."

That position has won Mallory the support of local environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, who want to see the city's environmental law enforcement beefed up. But Mallory's opponents -- and even some environmentalists -- are skeptical that a few more bureaucrats could police every potential environmental hazard in the city.

"The lesson of Queen City Terminal 20 years ago was, I think, that we became aware that environmental law enforcement requires community scrutiny, and not just cops," said D. David Altman, an environmental lawyer who was the head of the city's Environmental Advisory Council in 1985. "You can have 100 Dennis Murpheys and you still have to understand that it's the community being aware."

(Photo by Dick Swaim/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Jim Borgman
Today at the Forum
Paul Daugherty
Politics Extra
N. Ky. Politics
Pop culture review
Who's News
Roller Derby Diva
CinStages Buzz....
The Foodie Report
Classical music
John Fay's Reds Insider
High school sports
UC Sports
CiN Weekly staff