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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Friday, March 10, 2006

The Mallory Crosstabs

Here are some of the interesting crosstabs from the SurveyUSA poll about how Cincinnati residents view Mayor Mark Mallory and their city.

The older residents are, they more they like him:

-- Among 18-to-34 year olds, his approval rating was 50 percent; among those 55 and older, it was 69 percent;

-- Approval rating among blacks: 75 percent. Among whites, 51 percent.

-- But between those who considered themselves conservative, moderate, or liberal, there was almost no difference.

Younger residents are also more likely to believe the city is on the wrong track, and they feel less safe than their older counterparts.

And who do you explain this? Women feel safer than men.

The crosstabs show 45 percent of women say they feel safe in their neighborhood, but only 40 percent of men do.

Of course, in a 500-sample poll, the subgroups have much, much larger margins of error than the poll as a whole (which had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.)

Another endorsement dispute?

Curiously, Rep. Jean Schmidt's endorsement by the Family Research Council has just been scrubbed from her campaign Web site's endorsement page.

This comes after both Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican from Westwood, and Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., publicly disputed Schmidt's claims on her Web site that they had endorsed her for re-election.

The congressman both said they support Schmidt - they just don't endorse her. Schmidt's campaign said it was a misunderstanding.

Could there be another misunderstanding?

Actually, sort of.

"The reason that it's not there is that it's not an endorsement. We put it in the wrong place," Schmidt campaign manager Allen Freeman explained. "The FRC is a report card, so it should have been in the 'Jean on the Issues' section, not the endorsements page."

Freeman said he noticed the oversight this week and immediately had it corrected.

Click here to see the cache version of her endorsement page. FYI, below is the specific text that was removed:
Conservative organization “The Family Research Council (FRC)” reports that Rep. Jean Schmidt supported the interests of FRC 100% in 2005.

FRC is one of the nation’s largest and most influential social policy organizations. "The Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulate public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family."

McEwen ad up on radio

Republican Bob McEwen, a former congressman from southern Ohio who is challenging Rep. Jean Schmidt in the 2nd District GOP primary May 2, unveiled his first campaign ad today.

The ad says McEwen, who served in the House from 1980 to 1992, is needed back in Congress to restore reform, fiscal responsibility and Republican values in Congress, and "bring back the pride."

Listen to the spot here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Boehner the jetsetter

A new report released today by the liberal Campaign for a Cleaner Congress claims that House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester, is quite the world traveler - and golfer extraordinaire.

In fact, the group is claiming that Boehner has taken more lobbyist-funded trips, campaign jaunts and golfing excursions than he has made trips back to his Ohio district!

Boehner's office says the report is misleading and that the congressman travels home to Butler County on most weekends.

Check out the report for yourself here.

Read a story on the report in the Hamilton Journal News here.

Enquirer article on Schmidt gets new life

An Aug. 21, 1984, article in The Cincinnati Enquirer by reporter Bob Weston got some renewed attention in a Capitol Hill newspaper today. The Enquirer piece was headlined "Spunky Delegate Says GOP Must Loosen Up."

Take one guess who that "spunky" delegate was.

The story starts like this...
Her fellow Republican delegates from the Cincinnati area don't know quite what to make of Jeannette Schmidt.

Some of them wanted to duck for cover when they heard her boo Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole on the floor of the Republican National Convention Tuesday night.

Others were aghast when they heard her complain at a breakfast caucus Monday to Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich about women's toilet facilities at the Cleveland Grand Prix auto race.

"She doesn't seem too lady-like to me," remarked Connie Hensley, a 2nd District delegate from Bridgetown.

The story goes on and on. Check back here later. If we can figure out how to upload a .pdf file of it, we'll do so. In the meantime, here are some of Schmidt's more interesting quotes from the article:

On dancing: "None of the Republicans wanted to dance," she said, adding that she was sure her husband, Peter, would not mind when he saw her picture in The Enquirer dancing with a local cowpoke.

On being a housewife: "Mrs. Schmidt, mother of one child, disdains the word 'housewife.' An aerobics dance teacher who lives near Loveland, she calls herself the Republicans' answer to Jane Fonda."

On Dole: "I hate that woman," she said loudly, with a sour expression on her face. "I just can't stand her. Anyone who wants to force an increase in the drinking age to 21. She can send our boys off to fight wars when they're 17 and 18, but won't let them drink till they're 21. That stinks."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Cranley swears off pay raises

Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley, the Democrat who’s running against Republican Rep. Steve Chabot of Westwood in the 1st Congressional District, says members of Congress shouldn’t accept pay raises until they pay off the federal budget deficit, which the White House forecasts will be a record $423 billion this year.

To make his point, Cranley plans to sign a pledge at a news conference tomorrow that, if elected, he won't accept a congressional pay raise until the federal budget is balanced. That means that if Congress passes a pay raise – like it did last year – Cranley will return the amount of the raise to the U.S. Treasury.

Incidentally, that’s what Cranley did last year when the Cincinnati City Council got a pay raise that he didn’t vote for. Cranley’s salary increased to $60,645.75, but Cranley said he paid back the $1,421.11 raise in two installments. He was not alone – many council members also returned the raise. While former councilmen David Pepper and Christopher Smitherman wrote checks for the entire amount on the spot, Cranley reached for his credit card – only to learn that the city treasurer doesn’t accept them.

“They don’t take credit cards? Who’s got $1,800 in cash?” he said at the time.

If he’s elected to Congress, Cranley’s salary would nearly triple in size to $165,200. That’s the amount House members now make after a pay raise of $3,100 went into affect this year.

Chabot voted last year to either cancel that raise or force lawmakers to vote directly on it, but both efforts failed. He has been a longtime opponent to congressional pay raises, voting several times in the 1990s to cancel them, spokesman Gary Lindgren said.

Check back here at the Politics Extra blog or read the Enquirer on Friday for more details about Cranley's pledge and Chabot's longtime opposition to pay raises.

UPDATE: Read the story in Friday's Enquirer about Cranley's pledge on pay raises here.

Schmidt endorsement UPDATE

The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) just announced in an e-mail to reporters that it plans to file a formal complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission against Rep. Jean Schmidt for claiming on her Web site that Republican Reps. Steve Chabot of Westwood and Tom Tancredo of Colorado had endorsed her.

Spokesmen from both offices told the Enquirer yesterday that while they support Schmidt, they have not endorsed her for re-election. Both the Tancredo endorsement and Chabot's name have since been taken off the Schmdit campaign site. Schmidt campaign manager Allen Freeman reiterated today that both instances were due to a miscommunication.

"What I don't understand is why this rises to the level of a complaint, especially since Chabot still supports her?" Freeman said.

COAST disagrees.

"Jean Schmidt obviously has a problem with the truth," said COAST Chairman Jim Urling. "First she did not tell the truth about being against higher taxes, then she fibbed about her conversation with Representative Buhp. And now she completely fabricates endorsements. She must be held to account for her persistent prevarication's."

The refrence to Bubp (misspelled in the COAST release) refers to when Schmidt told Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine veteran, that Ohio state Rep. Danny Bubp, R-West Union, asked her to tell him that "Cowards cut and run, Marines never do." Bubp later said he did not mention Murtha by name when he spoke to Schmidt about a resolution to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

Incidentally, Bubp's name is NOT listed on Schmidt's endorsement page, although he had supported her in last year's special election.

So who HAS endorsed Schmidt? Former Rep. Rob Portman, who is now the U.S. trade representative, told the Enquirer that he's backing Schmidt because she's the incumbent. And so are other GOP leaders in Washington, according to this news release from the Schmidt campaign that was e-mailed to reporters today:
Second District — Leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives is lining up in support of Congresswoman Jean Schmidt. The following leading, conservative Republicans will be special guests at major fundraising events in the Ohio 2nd Congressional District over the next four weeks:

*Rep. Dennis Hastert – Speaker of the House
*Rep. John Boehner – House Majority Leader
*Rep. Eric Cantor – House Deputy Majority Whip

"It is very exciting to see this level of support from House leadership," said campaign manager Allen Freeman. "In the coming weeks the District will have the opportunity to host the number one, two and four top Republican leaders in the House of Representatives — this is outstanding."

*The Schmidt campaign will release final details of these events as well as times and locations soon.
Full disclosure: The Enquirer also is listed as a Schmidt endorser because the paper's editorial board endorsed her in last year's special election. The paper has not issued endorsements for this year's elections.

A $41,500 raise

Kimball Perry reports from the Hamilton County Commissioners' meeting:

As Hamilton County elected officials and administrators preach for a more efficient government, they have agreed to give a commissioner’s aide a newly created job – and a raise of $41,500 per year.

Karen Ball, an aide for Commissioner Todd Portune, was hired today by the Commissioners to the newly created job of compliance coordinator for the Hamilton County Special Construction Projects Division involving the Metropolitan Sewer District.

The new job comes as MSD revealed this week that the federal consent decree that orders the Hamilton County-owned sewer district to spend $1.5 billion on about 300 projects over the next 15 year to repair the system actually will cost $2.5 billion.

It also comes as MSD looks to impose rate increases of about 8 percent annually to pay for the fixes.

"In the grand scheme of things and in looking at the numbers we’re looking at, we need to throw whatever we can at it to address it," County Administrator Pat Thompson said today.

Ball, 44, of Price Hill, has been an administrative aide for Portune since August 1997 when he was a Cincinnati Council Member.

Her $55,438.24 salary as Portune’s aide will increase to $97,000 in the new job.

"(She) knows more about MSD than the rest of us combined," Thompson said of Ball. "Looking at the big picture of what the project entails, it’s a wise decision."

Portune said the move "literally will save millions and millions of dollars" at MSD.

Thompson was hired to make Hamilton County government more efficient. He started by getting rid of two administrative staff – Sharon Booker and Peter Hames – and hiring three new people. Ball is joined by Christian Sigman, hired as the county’s new budget director and Mike Schrimpf as a legislative policy analyst for the administration.

Thompson also has hired Jeff Aluotto as the new Assistant County Administrator in charge of the Public Services Department. Aluotto has been with Hamilton County since 1999 and now is the Hamilton County as the Solid Waste Manager.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Schmidt, Chabot in endorsement dispute

Rep. Jean Schmidt’s campaign Web site lists several political endorsements, including one from fellow Cincinnati Rep. Steve Chabot.

There’s only one problem.

Chabot's office said today that the Westwod Republican didn’t endorse Schmidt, who faces a primary challenge May 2 from Republican Bob McEwen, a former congressman from southern Ohio.

"We have not been asked for an endorsement by anyone in that race," Chabot spokesman Gary Lindgren said today, adding that Chabot backs both Schmidt and McEwen.

But Schmidt spokesman Barry Bennett said Schmidt has a different recollection of a Feb. 16 meeting with Chabot, during which she asked for Chabot’s support and was told she had it.

"She believes she walked out of that meeting with his endorsement," Bennett said. "Now they are saying that his support doesn’t mean an endorsement?"

Lindgren said Chabot doesn’t plan to ask Schmidt to take his name off her site or mailing, but he also won’t object if McEwen lists Chabot as a supporter.

"Generally, Steve does not endorse in local primary elections. He believes that the voters in the district are best equipped to decide who is best to represent them," Lindgren said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., wasn’t as understanding.

The chairman of the House caucus on immigration reform asked Schmidt on Monday to take his name off her Web site because – contrary to her claim – he has not endorsed her either.

"We do not customarily endorse congressional candidates and we did not in this case," Tancredo spokesman Will Adams said today.

Incidentally, a group founded by Tancredo - Team America - held an event at The Celestial Steakhouse in Cincinnati last Friday with McEwen. Coincidence?

Schmidt’s site was updated Tuesday afternoon to remove Tancredo’s name.

Bennett said the Tancredo item on the Web site should have said that he "supports" Schmidt, not that he "endorses" her.

Monday, March 06, 2006

SOS candidate makes debut in Democratic podcast

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern previewed a new podcast and other video and audio on his internet web site today.

The party's media center is at: http://www.ohiodems.org/ht/d/sp/i/726198/pid/726198

Its debut video features Jennifer Brunner, former Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge and a candidate for secretary of state.

Brunner used the opportunity to criticize Secretary of State Ken Blackwell for his office's posting of Social Security numbers on business records.

The Enquirer first reported the widespread breach in usually private information Wednesday.

"I'll protect Ohioans' private information just as I'll protect their right to vote,'' Brunner says on the video.

Blackwell said Ohio law must be changed before he can remove the numbers from the Uniform Commercial Code filings.

"By having both audio and video on our website, it further enhances our availability to get our message out to the public,'' Redfern said in a prepared statement. "It will give us a vehicle to communicate to the public and media while we discuss ways to set a new direction for a state buried in the culture of corruption and failed policies."

The audio postings are in an MP3 format, so they can be downloaded by radio stations.

Actually, Brunner's podcast was making the rounds all over the internet Monday. If you searched for Blackwell-related news, you found Brunner's video posted on this Upper Arlington political site: http://www.uaprogressiveaction.com/ as well as on the so-called Blue Buckeye Blog, the "official blog" of the state Democratic Party: http://theohiodemocraticparty.typepad.com/my_weblog/

Is time money?

Hamilton County's commissioners preach that they want a better managed and more efficient government to help stem the loss of jobs and people from the county.

Maybe commissioners should start with their staff and commission meetings -- and being on time for them.

An Enquirer analysis shows that of the 83 staff, special and commission meetings called in 2005, two started at the time scheduled whiile two were more than an hour and 10 minutes late. (Caveat: Three of the meetings actually started early.)

Commissioners have preached how the government needs to become more efficient to attract more business and residents. They've even have created a Competition and Efficiency task force to try to squeeze more savings from the government.

The analysis shows that, even with the three meets that started early factored in, the Board of Commissioners' meetings started 1,086 minutes late in 2005. That's 18.1 hours. That's almost a half of a week of work.

The meetings are held often with several county employees -- including highly paid employees like the administrator, the prosecutor assigned to the commission meetings and staff -- sitting around waiting for the commissioners to open the meetings.

Here is the spreadsheet that shows the meeting dates, scheduled start time, actual start time and number of minutes wasted:

Hamilton County Commission Meetings
Type of meetingScheduled
Jan. 5Commission9:30 a.m.9:36 a.m.6
Jan. 10Organizational9:30 a.m.9:36 a.m.6
Jan. 10Staff9:45 a.m.9:45 a.m.0
Jan. 12Commission9:30 a.m.9:38 a.m.8
Jan. 14Special1:30 p.m.1:38 p.m.8
Jan. 19Commision9:30 a.m.9:43 a.m.13
Jan. 24Staff9:30 a.m.9:38 a.m.8
Jan. 26Commission9:30 a.m.9:42 a.m.12
Jan. 31Staff9:30 a.m.9:30 a.m.0
Feb. 2Commission9:30 a.m.9:49 a.m.19
Feb. 7Staff9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
Feb. 9Commission9:30 a.m.9:42 a.m.12
Feb. 15Staff9:30 a.m.9:49 a.m.19
Feb. 16Commission9:30 a.m.9:45 a.m.15
Feb. 23Commission9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
Feb. 28Staff9:30 a.m.9:38 a.m.8
Mar. 2Commssion9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
Mar. 3Special7 p.m.7:05 p.m.5
Mar. 7Staff9:30 a.m.9:45 a.m.15
Mar. 9 Commission9:30 a.m.9:41 a.m.11
Mar. 14Staff9:30 a.m.9:45 a.m.15
Mar. 14Special6:30 p.m.6:43 p.m.13
Mar. 16Commission9:30 a.m.9:52 a.m.22
Mar. 21Staff9:30 a.m.9:51 a.m.21
Mar. 23Commission9:30 a.m.10:05 a.m.35
Mar. 28Staff9:30 a.m.9:47 a.m.17
Mar. 30Commssion9:30 a.m.9:56 a.m.26
Apr. 6Commission9:30 a.m.9:50 a.m.20
Apr. 11Staff9:30 a.m.9:44 a.m.14
Apr. 13Commssion9:30 a.m.9:46 a.m.16
Apr. 18Staff9:30 a.m.9:45 a.M.15
Apr. 20Commission9:30 a.m.9:45 a.m.15
Apr. 25Staff9:30 a.m.10:52 a.m.82
Apr. 27Commission9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
May 2Staff9:30 a.m.9:55 a.m.25
May 4Commission9:30 a.m.9:45 a.m.15
May 9Staff9:30 a.m.9:48 a.m.18
May 11Commission9:30 a.m.9:54 a.m.24
May 16Staff9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
May 18Commission9:30 a.m.9:35 a.m.5
May 23Staff9:30 a.m.10:43 a.m.73
May 25Commission9:30 a.m.9:39 a.m.9
June 6Staff9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
June 8Commission9:30 a.m.9:41 a.m.11
June 10Special12 p.m.12:10 p.m.10
June 27Staff9:30 a.m.9:15 a.m.-15
June 29Commission9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
July 13Special9:15 a.m.9:21 a.m.6
July 18Commission9:30 a.m.9:08 a.m.-22
July 27Special1:30 p.m.1:40 p.m.10
Aug. 1Staff9:30 a.m.9:48 a.m.18
Aug. 3Special9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
Aug. 8Staff9:30 a.m.9:45 a.m.15
Aug. 10Commission9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
Aug. 23Commission9:30 a.m.9:44 a.m.14
Sept. 7Commission9:30 a.m.9:45 a.m.15
Sept. 12Staff9:30 a.m.9:43 a.m.13
Sept. 14Commission9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
Sept. 19Staff9:30 a.m.9:36 a.m.6
Sept. 21Commission9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
Sept. 26Staff9:30 a.m.9:37 a.m.7
Sept. 27Commission11 a.m.11:02 a.m.2
Oct. 3Staff9:30 a.m.9:37 a.m.7
Oct. 5Commission9:30 a.m.9:42 a.m.12
Oct. 10Staff9:30 a.m.9:35 a.m.5
Oct. 12Commission9:30 a.m.9:42 a.m.12
Oct. 17Staff9:30 a.m.9:42 a.m.12
Oct. 19Commission9:30 a.m.9:51 a.m.21
Oct. 24Staff9:30 a.m.9:45 a.m.15
Oct. 26Commission9:30 a.m.9:39 a.m.9
Oct. 31Staff9:30 a.m.9:35 a.m.5
Nov. 2Commission9:30 a.m.9:46 a.m.16
Nov. 7Staff9:30 a.m.9:44 a.m.14
Nov. 9Commission9:30 a.m.9:43 a.m.13
Nov. 14Staff9:30 a.m.9:41 a.m.11
Nov. 16Commission9:30 a.m.9:41 a.m.11
Nov. 21Staff9:30 a.m.9:56 a.m.26
Nov. 30Commission9:30 a.m.9:41 a.m.11
Dec. 5Staff9:30 a.m.9:15 a.m.-15
Dec. 7Commission9:30 a.m.9:40 a.m.10
Dec. 12Staff9:30 a.m.9:43 a.m.13
Dec. 14Commission9:30 a.m.9:43 a.m.13
Dec. 19Commission9:30 a.m.9:50 a.m.20


Here we go again

Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich has announced he and Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory will meet -- with any interested commission or council members also invited -- to discuss The Banks.

Mark your calendars for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21 at Great American Ball Park’s 4,192 Club.

That meeting was the same thing Commissioner Todd Portune suggested Friday. Portune, in California today to give a speech on airport noise, called Friday to say he and Cincinnati Council Member Chris Bortz had agreed to convene their own meeting to discuss The Banks. The two governments have fought for years -- and very heavily over the past few weeks -- over how much control the city should have in selecting the developer for and other issues on the project.

Portune called The Enquirer late Friday to say he had reserved the 4,192 Club Room at Hamilton County-owned Great American Ball Park to convene the meeting he and Bortz wanted.

"We are picking up the pieces of a botched effort on The Banks so far," Portune said Friday.

He was referring to attempts by Heimlich and Mallory as well as attempts by Commissioner Pat DeWine and Council Member John Cranley to get the two governments to reach an agreement on the project so it can proceed.

"Phil and Mark have been meeting since December and the only thing we have to show for it is strained relationships between the city and the county and the barbs that have been slung," Portune said.

"I’m not trying to circumvent anybody on this, but the reality is the approach they have taken has failed."

Portune called later Friday to say that Heimlich liked the idea of a joint meeting and was interested in chairing it.

Heimlich's aide, Rob Seddon, announced late this morning that Heimlich and Mallory would chair such a meeting but a date had not yet been set. It most likely will happen next week, though, because of difficulties in schedules for the politicians wanting to attend.

The Banks is a planned $600 million residential, retail and commercial project to be located between the two sports stadiums.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Blackwell vs. Petro, round two

As you might have seen in today's Enquirer, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has launched another television ad attacking his rival in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, despite being rebuked by his party's chairman for using "smear tactics" in a previous one.

Attorney General Jim Petro, his GOP opponent, has responded with an ad that quotes newspaper editorials calling Blackwell "sinister" and "scummy."

Judge for yourself. Here's the ad:

Parker wows Clermont Democrats

If they gave out door prizes at candidate forums, Jim Parker, a Democratic candidate in the 2nd Congressional District, would almost always walk away with the prize for "candidate who traveled the farthest to attend.''

Parker, a health care administrator from Pike County in the far eastern reaches of the seven-county district, has been wearing grooves into the James A. Rhodes Appalachian Highway lately, making the 200-mile round-trip from his home in Waverly several times a week to Democratic forums in eastern Hamilton County, Warren County and the western edge of Clermont.

He did it again Saturday afternoon, showing up with three of his fellow 2nd District candidates and a platoon of local and statewide candidates at the candidate forum sponsored by Clermont County's Quin-T Democrat Club at the Union Township Civic Center in Eastgate.

Parker should have gotten not only the "candidate who traveled farthest'' door prize, but one for "best use of props in a stump speech.''

When Parker was called to the lectern to speak (a rickety old lectern that Quin-T president Paul Campbell said was used by Bill Clinton in his 1992 Labor Day speech at Coney Island), he set a large, empty plastic jar on the table in front of him.

"Don't let me forget to tell you about the jar before I sit down,'' Parker said.

He then launched into a six-minute speech about what he sees as the failures of the Bush adminstration, the Republicans in Congress, and the 2nd District incumbent, Jean Schmidt, in particular.

During a riff about his contention that the war in Iraq was a needless endeavor, he said "I'm going to tell you something that might cost me the election, but I'm going to say it anyway.''

"Even if Saddam Hussein had never been born, 9/11 would have happened anyway,'' Parker said.

He whipped a box-cutter out of his jacket pocket and waved it over his head.

"There were no weapons of mass destruction,'' Parker said. "This is the weapon of mass destruction that was used to take down that plane that came down in that field in Pennsylvania. It's the only weapon of mass destruction that's ever been used against the United States.''

He wound up talking about health care, racing to finish after a timekeeper from the Glen Este High School Young Democrats Club waved a 30-secod warning sign at him.

"Okay, the jar,'' Parker said, starting to walk back to his seat. "Can't forget about the jar. That's the jar that contains George W. Bush's health care plan. It's just like the jars you see at the cash registers in convenience stores all over the district, put there by people trying to raise money to pay medical bills. There's something wrong about people having to do that.''

Parker took his place among the other candidates to a long round of applause from the 60 Democrats in the room.

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