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, August 12, 2006

Schmidt's new SUV fires readers up

Thursday's Enquirer ran this story about Rep. Jean Schmidt's new red SUV (pictured at right) that runs on E85, a blend of ethanol and gas. According to Schmidt, she bought the car because she doesn't want to send any more of her money to the Persian Gulf.

The story started after Schmidt e-mailed this weekly column to reporters late Wednesday. (Scroll to the bottom to read the last paragraph.)

Since running in the paper, we've received more than two dozen e-mails about the story. Many wondered what good it did for Schmidt to buy a car that runs on E85 when there aren't any ethanol stations anywhere near her district. That's a good point. But, actually, Milford-based Lykins Oil plans to open a new ethanol station near Schmidt's home in Miami Township later this month or in early September. (This detail was edited out of the story.)

Here are some other comments about the story:

Columbus: "It’s ironic that Schmidt is glorifying her SUV. The gas consumption of SUV’s are a main reason why fuel prices are so high. It’s the demand that drive prices. "

Undated: "You've got to be kidding! 'She has struck her own blow on the war on terrorism.' How much were you paid to write this piece of junk? ... I guess Schmidt buying a nice big SUV puts her right up there with all of our troops fighting and dying around the world truly fighting terrorism. "

Anderson Township: "What a pathetic piece of showmanship on the part of corrupt Republicans and their partisan media! Who cares about this moronic politician's choice of cars? With the Republican record on environmental concerns, this doesn't even come close to making amends!"

West Chester: "Jean Schmidt's new Tahoe is one of the biggest fuel hogs in GM's entire fleet. If it is a 4WD running on E85, the estimated mileage is 11 city and 14 highway mpg. And that requires a light foot and not exceeding 65 mpg on the highway. I am not impressed with her 'sacrifice' for the country."

Cincinnati: "I can't help myself here. I just read your article about Jean Schmitt in the Cincinnati Enquirer, and that was thiry seconds of my life I'll never get back. Frankly the most shocking part about this story, is that she doesn't drive a broom where ever she goes!! Here is a idea for your next story, write a story telling us how much she cares about our enviroment."

Undated II: "It takes an incredibly inept politician to stage a photo-op claiming she is going to use less 'Persian Gulf Oil' by purchasing a vehicle that gets 13 mpg on gasoline and even less on ethanol; but we’ve seen Jean Schmidt with her foot in her mouth before when she had to retract her statements on the House floor so maybe this is the norm."

Cincinnati II: "Victoria Wulsin's remarks, 'Schmidt's purchase smacks of insincerity,' do not seem to indicate Ms. Wulsin understands ethanol any more than Congresswoman Schmidt understands it. Indeed, if anything Schmidt's Chevy Tahoe purchase (and intention) is very sincere yet perhaps very ignorant. ... Frankly, I think her purchase and her reasons why make her seem somewhat 'out of touch.'"

What do you think?

To add fuel to this vehicle of a story... Here is a press release sent out by the Wulsin campaign the day the story about Schmidt's new SUV ran:
Congresswoman buys luxury ethanol car, but voting record is 100% pro-Big Oil

Cincinnati, Ohio – Continuing her record of political grandstanding, Rep. Jean Schmidt touted her purchase of a luxury ethanol 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe yesterday after having spent a year as Big Oil's handmaiden. Schmidt has received a 0 % rating from the League of Conservation Voters and has voted for oil subsidies that even President Bush opposed.

On Wednesday, Schmidt sent out a taxpayer-financed email to her constituents that said "I recently purchased a new ethanol powered vehicle as my daily driver…We have had decades of talk. It is now time to act in the best interests of our country."

"Schmidt talks about her car, but her votes have been pro-Big Oil and anti-farmer" said Wulsin campaign manager Mary Huttlinger. "Voters don't care what kind of car Schmidt drives, they care about how she votes."

On May 24, Schmidt voted for $50 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies for big oil companies to perform deep-sea drilling. Even President Bush opposed those subsidies, saying that "With oil at more than $50 a barrel...energy companies do not need taxpayers'-funded incentives to explore for oil and gas." The Administration sought to strip the subsidies from its FY 2007 budget. (HR 5427, Vote #201, /24/2006).

On October 7, 2005, Schmidt voted against clamping down on price gouging by oil companies, even as her constituents were paying huge prices at the pump and for their home heating bills. (HR 3893 , Vote #517).

On October 7, 2005, Schmidt voted for an energy bill that limited the use of cleaner fuels and hampered the production of less-polluting low sulfur diesel fuel (H.R. 3893, Roll Call 519).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Poll policy

Several in our Politics Extra community here have asked about how we handle candidate-funded polls. They're good questions. Since I'm in charge of political coverage, I thought I'd answer them.

For consistency's sake, I have decided that stories about candidate-funded polls should go only on the blog.

Stories based on independent polls (like The Ohio Poll) may run in the Enquirer.

Here's why.

Candidate-funded polls lack the legitimacy of independent polls. By their very nature, they're funded by someone with an agenda, someone with an interest in the poll's outcome. They're not intended to serve our general readership; they're intended to serve politicians and the political community.

Sometimes they're merely subtle "push" polls.

Candidates usually release only the polls showing themselves ahead, though they may do polling showing otherwise. These are often geared to fundraising.

They often refuse to release the full script and cross tabs.

Plus, there are a lot of candidate-funded polls; we'd be running story after story in the paper about polls - or face charges of bias.

On the blog, we can run every local poll that comes our way. And we pretty much do. You send it, we'll post it.

As for other questions:

I have no control over the Kentucky Enquirer or what appears in it.

Nor can I speak to what we might have run before I arrived in April, 2005.

We will occasionally mention the results of candidate-funded poll as part of a larger stories on a race.

But do they merit placement in the Enquirer paper on their own? No - they're for political insiders and political junkies - like you, the folks who read this blog.

Thank you for reading, and thanks especially for all the comments and feedback we get.

Carl Weiser
Government/Public Affairs editor and
Administrator of the Politics Extra blog

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Post Poast: Hale takes on Mallory

Facing concerns that his questioned residency may cost him the election, Mike Poast will drop out as the Republican candidate for state representative, to be replaced on the ballot by Kimberly Hale.

Hale's entrance in the race also portends a more aggressive GOP attack on Dale Mallory, who was removed as West End Community Council president this year.

"Dale Mallory, with all of his problems," should be concerned, said Brad Greenberg of the Hamilton County Republican Party.

The 32nd Ohio House District is an open race, as incumbent Catherine Barrett, D-College Hill, faces term limits. The district historically votes 3-to-1 Democratic, and represents the central neighborhoods of Cincinnati, from Queensgate and Downtown on the river to College Hill and Hartwell on the northern city limits.

Mallory is the brother of Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory who, along with father William L. Mallory Sr., has represented the district for much of the last 40 years. The Mallory name was daunting, Poast said.

"I have a tough enough fight with someone who already has his name out there," Poast said today.

But Mallory has been on the receiving end of attacks from his West End neighbors over his support of the Citylink social services mall. Hale was part of a neighborhood coalition that removed Mallory as president of the West End Community Council because of his support for a controversial social services mall.

The Enquirer later reported that Mallory, then a consultant for the Cincinnati Empowerment Corp., was billing the federally funded agency for his work on the project.

Hale's entrance into the race is likely to push that issue to the forefront of the campaign. The 38-year-old is president of the Dayton Street Association in the West End.

"I have a lot of optimism and a really strong grass roots group of supporters," said Hale, business manager of a West side graphic company who also owns a real estate investment company.

The candidate switch also helps Republicans dispel an issue dogging Poast's campaign – a question of whether he lives in the House district. He lived in College Hill when he qualified as a candidate but moved two months later to North College Hill.

When Poast went to vote for himself in the spring primary, he discovered election officials wouldn't let him vote in the race. Poast, 32, a cooking oil salesman, was told his house was just outside the district's boundary.

The GOP is expected to approve Hale as Poast's replacement at its Aug. 21 executive committee meeting, Greenberg said.

Mallory couldn't immediately be reached.

Strickland ad hits radio airwaves

U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, the Democratic candidate for governor, began airing a new statewide radio ad today, this time on stations whose predominant listeners are African American. It's running in all major media markets, with the dialogue varying slightly by region, according to campaign spokesman Keith Dailey.

An earlier ad targeted Christian radio stations.

The 60-second spot also features Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.

Here's the script:

Narrator: Gene Collins from Portsmouth on Ted Strickland.

Gene Collins: "I’ve found Ted Strickland to be as fair-minded as anyone I’ve ever been around. He sees everybody as an individual."

Narrator: Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.

Mallory: "Ted refused to take federal health care for himself until all of the people in his district have access to health care."

Narrator: Congressman Ted Strickland fought to keep jobs in Ohio and has a plan to protect the jobs we have and create new ones. And Ted Strickland’s TurnAround Ohio plan calls for investing in education to prepare our children for the future.

Strickland: "People in Ohio want Ohio to be moved in a more positive, optimistic, hopeful direction. And we would focus on the things that really matter to Ohioans: living wage jobs, economic security for their families, education that is affordable for their young people, and healthcare so that when they or someone they know or love gets sick, they will have access to the healthcare they need."

Narrator: Join Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones in supporting Ted Strickland for governor.

Mallory: "I’m convinced he’ll be a great Governor."

Narrator: Paid for by Strickland for Governor, Michael Johrendt, treasurer

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mrs. Strickland in Greater Cincinnati Thursday

From the Strickland campaign:

Frances Strickland to Visit Southwest Ohio

Columbus, Ohio – Frances Strickland, wife of Ohio gubernatorial candidate Congressman Ted Strickland, will meet with supporters in Warren and Clermont counties Thursday.

Following is Frances Strickland’s public schedule for Thursday, August 10th.

Thursday, August 10th
WHAT: Warren County Meet and Greet
WHO: Frances Strickland
WHEN: 2:30 PM
WHERE: 20 Mile House 3159 Montgomery Road Loveland, Ohio 45140

WHAT: Clermont County Meet and Greet
WHO: Frances Strickland
WHEN: 4:30 PM
WHERE: 145 Foundry Ave. Batavia, Ohio 45103

Deters da man -- maybe

Hamilton County’s top law enforcement official will lead the official campaign to increase the Hamilton County sales tax to pay for a jail, Commissioner Phil Heimlich said Wednesday.

Prosecutor Joe Deters will be the campaign chairman, Heimlich said, “because he is the most knowledgeable about law enforcement.”

But Deters, through a spokeswoman, said he wouldn’t comment until the proposal is placed on the ballot and a campaign committee is formed to promote it.

Heimlich’s statement came after Commissioner Todd Portune complained in a Wednesday e-mail that any sales tax increase proposal would be the proposal of the Hamilton County Commissioners and thus a matter of public record.

That e-mail -- sent to Deters, Heimlich, Commissioner Pat DeWine, County Administrator Patrick Thompson and Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Barnett – sought information on the campaign.

Heimlich has joined with Sheriff Simon Leis Jr and Cincinnati financier Carl Lindner Jr. to support increasing Hamilton County’s 6.5 percent sales tax by a quarter-cent for 20 years to pay for a new jail and property tax rollback. Public hearings are being held on how to fund a jail.

Commissioners have until Aug. 24 to place a sales-tax increase proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Pepper's poll: Pepper is tops

A poll paid for by David Pepper shows he is the leading candidate to become Hamilton County's next commissioner.

That's the same poll the Pepper campaign pitched to the Enquirer Tuesday but then withdrew because the Enquirer was going to use it only on the blog and not in the newspaper. Pepper's campaign wanted it printed in a newspaper first. Today, the Cincinnati Post ran a newspaper story on the poll.

The poll was conducted July 26-30. Its results are based on the 400 adult Hamilton Countians it reached. Pepper said his campaign paid between $10,000-$15,000 for the poll.

The high cost, Pepper said, proves the poll wasn't rigged.

"You'd never create a poll and spend that kind of money to cook the books," Pepper said today. "We're paying that amount of money to make sure it's accurate.

"If (results) are bad, like I think Phil's are, you don't tell anybody."

Pepper, a Democrat, is taking on incumbent Republican Commissioner Phil Heimlich.

"I can understand why he's trying to get something out that makes him look like a viable candidate," Heimlich responded.

"He's behind on fundraising by 2-to-1, he's behind on the issues and he's behind on the grass-roots support."

Heimlich wouldn't discuss if he has done any polling or what that possible polling showed.

"Any polls we do, we don't talk about," Heimlich said.

Below is the letter Pepper's campaign released with the poll followed by the poll.

David Pepper Releases New Poll:
Pepper leading Heimlich by 5 Points;
Majority Disapprove of Heimlich's Work

A professional poll conducted by one of the leading polling companies in Washington shows David Pepper has opened a lead over Phil Heimclich for County Commission, with Pepper's approval rating growing while Heimlich’s approval rating plummets along with perceptions of the county 's direction . The results (in attached memorandum) make clear that all the back and forth and infighting of the last six months, with no results, have driven Heimlich's numbers dramatically down. Stated simply, County voters want to clean up County Government--with a new direction, and new leadership at the top.

Key numbers:
- Pepper leads Heimlich 42-37%, with 21% undecided; the two were tied at 33% in February.
- Citizens do not approve of the job Phil Heimlich is doing --55% think he is doing a fair/poor job; only 39% think he is doing a good/excellent job; this is a dramatic decrease since February
- Citizens think that the County is moving in the wrong direction--57% thing the County is "pretty seriously off track." Again, this is a dramatic decrease since February.
- Given this assessment, only 33% of voters say they want to re-elect Phil Heimlich to the County Commission.

"These results echo what we hear directly from citizens every day--people want to clean up County government and start seeing results again," Pepper said. "They are tired of broken government as our neighboring communities leave us in their dust."

Rainbow coming to Ohio

Guest blogger Margaret McGurk reports:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson plans a Rainbow Coalition/PUSH conference in Ohio in September, aiming to keep voting-booth issues on the front burner in Ohio's gubernatorial race.

In a meeting with the Enquirer editorial board Wednesday, Jackson condemned what he called Republican "voter nullifcation" tactics for keeping Democratic voters -- particularly African-Americans -- from casting ballots in 2000 and 2004.

Ohio's GOP gubernatorial candidate, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, has been accused by Democrats -- most recently by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the pages of "Rolling Stone" of impeding Democratic voters in 2004 to guarantee the state's electoral votes for President George Bush.

Jackson said the September meeting, probably in Columbus, will also beat the drum for raising the minimum wage, as well as more spending on jobs, health care and housing instead of on the war in Iraq.

"Two hundred fifty million dollars a day (in Iraq costs) doesn't leave you with resources to fund No Child Left Behind," he said. Jackson predicted the war will prove to be a central issue in the fall Congressional elections, citing Tuesday's defeat of incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., by anti-war candidate Ned Lamont.

The letter a lot of folks are reading

Judging from the names on the email list, this is making the rounds among Cincinnati's movers and shakers.

We're trying to verify and talk to Ms. Perkins-Ball; there is indeed a Michelle Perkins-Ball listed as working at Archbishop Romero school in Toronto.

Here is the letter. What do you think of it?

Dear colleagues at The National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre,
> Thank you for your great work at the museum. Here is a copy of the
>letter I wrote with my husband which I sent to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
>We thought you may find it helpful to read:
> Dear editors and staff of the Enquirer,
> I am a secondary school teacher in Toronto, Canada. My husband and I
>have just returned from a three day trip to your city. I was planning
>on bringing my students to visit the National Freedom Centre in the
>fall. I came to check out the city ahead of time to see, outside of the
>Museum, what sites and experiences the city would have to offer my
>students and me. I will not be returning to Cincinnati with my
>students. Here's why:
> From the moment we walked into the streets we sensed a tension. At
>first we could not put our finger on it. We had arrived at 5p.m. and
>the city already seemed to be closing down. There were a lot of people
>looking like they were going somewhere, leaving the city, it appeared.
>After 6p.m. these people were gone and there was a very different group
>of people who remained. It is obvious there are two separate worlds in
> We decided to watch the local news each day. From doing so, one might
>never know that Cincinnati's population is 47% Black, as we learned on
>the internet before choosing to visit. We saw one Black reporter on
>each of two stations, but watched many reports on Black people being
>arrested for drugs in a place called OTR. We saw snippets of happy
>white children splashing in swimming pools, but read of other pools
>being closed in English Woods such that Black children in nearby
>projects don't have a place to cool off.
> Not one person had initiated any conversation with us in the city so
>by the second day I decided to step out and tried to talk to people. A
>friendly individual who responded was an African-American woman named
>Diane. She actually lives in Kentucky. She took it upon herself to give
>us a walking tour of the downtown core. After this and coming to the
>realization that it would be a challenge to find a reasonably
>affordable sit-down restaurant downtown where I could eat with my class
>as a group, I commented that the Cincinnati does not seem
>teen-friendly. I asked about this and the conversation evolved onto the
>subject of race.
> I had forgotten about the riots of 2001, which, back then, were only a
>brief spot on the news in Toronto. I don't know why this didn't click
>with me when I was initially thinking about bringing my students there.
>However, I now recognize what my husband and I were feeling. It was/is
>the dichotomous nature of the city, I believe. Despite the fact that we
>saw barely a hint of garbage or graffiti on the face of Cincinnati,
>below there seems to lie a deep-seated anxiety and simmering anger
>waiting to resurface.
> On the morning we were to visit the National Freedom Centre we
>happened to pick up "The Downtowner". In it a columnist calls the
>museum a "Welfare Centre". (She might be interested to know that it was
>the only place in the city during our visit where we actually witnessed
>Black and White people interacting on a truly engaging, respectful and
>positive level, in our opinion.) Another columnist (the owner and
>publisher of this paper) writes what seems to be a "call to arms" to
>police to "kick butt". In Canada we don't call our police force a
>"posse". This alone was quite informative. Another paper included a
>caricature of a Cincinnati Bengal's player breaking into a liquor
>store. In addition there were pictures and a list of the Black players
>in trouble with the law.
> I stood by the restored slave pen in the National Freedom Centre and
>looked out the window. "Great American" says the building across the
>street. I was struck by the irony of the situation. Does the average
>American understand this history, I wonder? Can one even think about
>the development of the United States without discussing this past? A
>little Black girl sitting beside me moaned as we watched a film on
>humans escaping across the Ohio River being chased by dogs and bounty
>hunters. This sad and horrible sound represents for me the ongoing
>legacy of slavery, racism and poverty that leads in great part to the
>divisions and social breakdown that you are living out daily in your
>city, that even we in Toronto are experiencing more as of late.
>However, I am convinced that solutions can't be found in the
>"sanitizing" or desertion of a city.
> Upon returning home my husband and I looked up the background, events
>and aftermath of the 2001 riots. It is clear that much is left
>unfinished and that many are willing to abandon, even punish,
>Cincinnati and its people. In commenting, I do recognize that the
>social issues are complex and that every citizen has the responsibility
>to contribute to their community in a positive manner, and that police
>as well as other groups and members of society have a role to play.
>However, until the issue of racism and the related beliefs and
>behaviours on all sides are truly acknowledged, I believe, much will
>remain the same or even grow worse. Thus, at this point in time,
>although I do believe my class of diverse students would be safe in
>downtown Cincinnati, I do not think they would be welcomed by many.
> In conclusion, I want to be hopeful for Cincinnati. I am encouraged by
>people like Diane and those I met in the Freedom Centre, who symbolize
>for me the roots upon which reconciliation and true community building
>are founded. I wish for them and for others who work for change,
>courage amidst the voices of opposition and fear who would rather
>scream "kick butt", it appears, than reach out, redress and reform. I
>hope this reflection will stimulate open and honest discussion and that
>the next time I visit Cincinnati I might sense a different vibe, a
>spirit of hope in the city.
> Sincerely,
> Michelle Perkins-Ball

Cheney: Cranley's take

John Cranley is planning a press conference today on Vice President Dick Cheney's visit:

From the press release:

Today, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Dick Cheney is coming to town to help fill-up Steve Chabot’s campaign coffers for a high-dollar fundraiser – a day after the one year anniversary of Bush signing the Special-Interest Energy Bill into law. (“Cheney to stump for Rep. Chabot,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/09/06)

Meeting behind closed doors for over four years with oil lobbyists, The Dick Cheney Energy Task Force crafted an energy bill that gave over $14.5 Billion in tax breaks and subsidies to oil and gas companies who have been making record profits since. Backing Cheney every step of the way, Chabot voted for every version of the taxpayer giveaway bill and even helped negotiate the bill’s passage through Congress for Bush to sign it into law. (“Energy Bill highlights influence of Texans,” The Boston Globe, 8/04/05; HR 4, Vote #320, 8/1/01; HR 6, Vote #145, 8/11/03; HR 6, Vote #132, 4/21/05; HR 6, Vote #445, 7/28/05)“Chabot should come clean and admit that giving billions of taxpayer money to rich oil companies is wrong,” said Cranley. “At this time of record high gas prices, it is a slap in the face of the people of the 1st district for Steve Chabot to bring in Dick Cheney to fill-up his campaign coffers.”

In Steve Chabot’s 1st congressional term, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Steve Chabot called tax breaks for big oil companies “corporate welfare that the government can’t afford.” Chabot even bucked his party and voted against a provision “that would give big oil companies a tax break for deep water wells drilled in the Gulf of Mexico.”With oil men in the White House, Chabot has voted for every Bush-Cheney Energy Bill – each giving Billions in “corporate welfare.” (“Chabot proud to be a ‘radical freshman’”, The Cincinnati Enquirer, 12/27/95;) ####
www.johncranley.comPaid for by Cranley for Congress
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cheney to boost Chabot campaign

Invitations have just gone out for an Aug. 24 fundraiser with Vice President Dick Cheney for Rep. Steve Chabot's re-election campaign . Chabot faces Democrat John Cranley in what could be a difficult re-election campaign this fall.

The event will be held Aug. 24 at the home of Dennis & Patricia Ott in Cincinnati.

Doors open at 3 p.m. for guests arriving to attend a 5 p.m. photo opportunity with Cheney and a 5:30 p.m. reception with the vice president, during which Cheney will make a few remarks.

It costs $2,100 per person or couple to get a photo with the Veep; $1,500 per couple or $1,000 per person to attend the reception.

Also on the host committee:

Elaine and Robert Bollin
Ronda and Doug Corn
Dee Dee and John Deremo
Dina and Gary Gruber
Gretchen and Kory Lyons
Barbara and Anthony Maas
Gayle and Mike McCafferty
Laura and Douglas Meyer
Marcia and Dr. Gary Pies
Ann and H. Lawrence Roy
Mary and Thomas Schiller

Bunning on TV this afternoon

Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Northern Kentucky will be a guest on “Your World” with Neil Cavuto at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon on Fox News Channel for an interview about the Federal Reserve.

Poll: Cranley neck-and-neck with Chabot - UPDATED

Democrat John Cranley of Price Hill just released a poll today that shows him tied with incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Chabot of Westwood.

Last March, Cranley's campaign released a poll showing Chabot at 49 percent and Cranley at 40 percent. At the time, Cranley touted the poll because it showed an incumbent with less than 50 percent, which is rare.

This time, the numbers have changed. According to the poll from Anzalone-Liszt Research, which also did the first poll, Cranley and Chabot are now running neck-and-neck at 45 percent each.

The poll includes 500 people who were interviewed randomly by telephone between July 17 and Aug. 1, 2006. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.

In a news release, Cranley said the poll "shows that the people of the 1st Congressional District have had enough of Steve Chabot and his rubber-stamp ways in Washington."

A recent story in Roll Call says Republicans have done polling on the 1st District, but they haven't released any results. Chabot's campaign also has not released any polling results.

Chabot campaign spokesman Mike Ensminger said the Chabot campaign doesn't release or comment on specific polling data, but the campaign has done polls that show Chabot in a "much more positive position."

"Our survey does tell a different story and clearly Mr. Cranley is desperate to make this a competitive race and will say or do anything to get elected," he said.

Ensminger: "No amount of polling will change John Cranley's record of high taxes, wasteful spending and inept leadership on city council. Councilman Cranley is trying to do everything possible to hide his liberal positions and distract people from the issues that really matter."

RNC chairman headed to Ohio

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman is headed to Ohio tonight.

He'll be here until Wednesday meeting with GOP supporters, speaking at the Cleveland City Club and attending a rally with Sen. Mike DeWine, who faces a tough re-election campaign this year against Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Avon in northern Ohio.

Maybe that's why Mehlman's first visit is to the Lorain County Victory Center in Avon? He'll be there at 6:30 p.m. to meet with grassroots supporters.

Tomorrow, Mehlman will speak to the City Club of Cleveland at 7:30 a.m. He'll then attend a rally with DeWine at the Highland Heights Community Center in Highland Heights at 3:30 p.m.

Pepper proudly produces poll

A poll -- expected to be released Wednesday -- will show David Pepper doing well in his campaign against incumbent Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich.

It also will show "how people feel about the county (as a) government," Pepper spokeswoman Bridget Doherty said today.

She called the Enquirer to ask if it would run a story about the polls results in the newspaper instead of this blog.

The Enquirer declined, noting that its custom on polls is to write about them only if they are independent polls -- not paid for by the candidates.

Those go in this blog.

"Public" library?


Just how public is the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County?

Try getting into its “public” board meeting.

An Enquirer reporter wanted to attend the 9 a.m. board meeting at the Downtown branch today – but the library doesn’t open its doors to the public until 9 a.m.

The Enquirer reporter made it to the board meeting on time today only because a board member walked by as the reporter was trying to convince library security the meeting was open to the public. That board member personally escorted the reporter inside the library.

Once at the reception area of the library director’s office, which is adjacent to the board meeting room, the reporter was asked if he needed help.

When informed the reporter was there for the public meeting, access was granted – but the library refused to provide an agenda or meeting information packet unless it was paid $6.50 and received an Ohio Open Records request for the paperwork.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County – www.cincinnatilibrary.org -- received $48.3 million this year in public money. Previously, it received more than $50 million annually.

Once inside the public meeting, the doors were closed. Just two non-library employees attended the meeting – the reporter and an employee of the union representing some of the library employees.

The next public board meeting of the library is Sept. 12.

UPDATE -- About two hours after this blog item was posted here, the library had someone hand-deliver a copy of its agenda and paperwork from today's meeting to the Enquirer's lobby. It arrived at 1:30 p.m. It was free.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Following the money

Updated with link to Strickland report

Who's given to Ken Blackwell?

Here's the list

Who's given to Ted Strickland?

Here's the list

And who is this mysterious donor to the folks pushing for slots in Ohio?

Here it is.

Bob Ney won't run for re-election

Enquirer Washington Bureau reporter Malia Rulon reports:

WASHINGTON – Embattled Rep. Bob Ney, who has been under scrutiny for accepting a free trip and meals from convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, announced Monday morning that he would not seek re-election to Ohio’s 18th District.

“Ultimately this decision came down to my family. I must think of them first, and I can no longer put them through this ordeal,” Ney said in the statement.

Ney, a Republican from Heath, has not been charged with any wrongdoing and has insisted throughout the Abramoff investigation that he did nothing illegal or improper.

Still, Ney ended up in the spotlight when Abramoff and Ney’s former chief of staff, Neil Volz, admitted earlier this year in plea deals that they attempted to bribe Ney with a free golfing trip to Scotland, tickets to sporting events, campaign contributions and free meals at the up-scale restaurant that Abramoff owned in exchange for official favors.

In recent months, several members of Ney’s congressional staff, including Will Heaton, the chief of staff who replaced Volz, have been subpoenaed. Heaton and former press secretary Brian Walsh resigned from Ney’s office in June.

Under Ohio law, if Ney voluntary withdraws from the race after the primary election but before the general election, the Ohio Republican Party can nominate a candidate to replace him.

Ohio state Sen. Joy Padgett, R-Coshocton, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that she had been asked by House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester, to run.

It wasn’t immediately clear why state Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, another lawmaker who had said he would potentially be interested in succeeding Ney, hadn’t been asked to run. Boehner’s office didn’t immediately respond to questions.

Ney declined an interview request Monday. He said in his statement that he still plans to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends at the end of the year.

The Democrat running for the seat this fall is Zack Space, the law director of Dover. Space had outraised Ney by $190,000 during the last three months.

Space couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

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