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, September 29, 2006

Elections Commission rules against Raussen

The Ohio Elections Commission found state Rep. Jim Raussen, a Republican from Springdale, made a false statement by leaving 12 endorsements from his 2004 legislative race posted on his campaign web site.

In a unanimous decision last week, the commission cited the violation but decided not to fine or issue a reprimand to Raussen, who is running for re-election Nov. 7.

The complainant was Thomas Desando of Cincinnati.

During an earlier hearing, Raussen told the commission he had the outdated endorsements removed from his web site shortly after he was notified about them in August. He called it an oversight by campaign volunteers.

These guys don't like to lose

If you are Ken Blackwell, the news release that came out of the Ted Strickland camp Friday afternoon may be worse than another poll showing you 20-plus points behind.

The Strickland campaign was trumpeting an endorsement from the Associated General Contractors of Ohio, a organization made of of hundreds of union and non-union building contractors around the state, and a group whose members do business regularly with state and local government.

Backing a loser avails them naught. And they can read the polls just as well as anybody.

On Sept. 15, the association dragged both candidates for Ohio governor into their Columbus office to be interviewed by the association's board of directors, who put eight questions on the table -- many of them dealing with how each candidate would make it easier to deal with state and local governments, including school boards, when they are seeking public contracts.

Apparently, they liked Strickland's answers the best.

In the press release, AGC president Gary Haas pointed out that Strickland comes from a family of cement masons and worked in construction himself in his younger days.

To make it worse for Blackwell, the Strickland campaign pointed out that this is the first time the contractors' group has endorsed a Democrat for Ohio governor.

Thompson: Let's talk

Hoping to improve communications between Hamilton County government departments, Administrator Patrick Thompson is hosting an Oct. 10 forum for department leaders. The forum is aimed at improving communication between the departments to improve service to the public.

Below is the e-mail Thompson's office sent department heads:

Good Afternoon,

As a means of enhancing communication among Hamilton County's top management personnel, I would like to invite you to join me on Tuesday, October 10th, for "County Connections" which will take place from 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. at Paul Brown Stadium. (Please see attached invitation for details).

The forum - the first of what I look forward to becoming an ongoing series - will bring together top managers from Hamilton County's various departments and boards to discuss issues of concern to all of us. As you are aware, we are facing some historic issues in Hamilton County - issues which will truly define the future of our community. If we are to successfully navigate these issues, each of us must do our part.

One immediate step we can take toward addressing these challenges is to ensure that there is an open system of communication between all of us. This forum presents one means of providing and maintaining those lines of communication.


The attached e-mail flyer details the specifics of this forum. I invite you to attend with those employees who you consider your top management personnel. In order to handle logistics and to make the most of this forum, I would ask that you log on to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=567732557404 in order to:

1. RSVP, by Tuesday October 3rd, with information on how many employees will be attending from your department. Please keep in mind that this e-mail may not have been sent to everyone who you consider your top management team. You are, by all means, encouraged to invite those employees to attend and/or encourage them to attend on your behalf if you are unavailable.

2. Submit specific questions you have for me as County Administrator.

I will organize the submitted questions into themes and attempt to address as many of them as possible on the 10th. I feel this will be a great way to share information and begin the process of formulating a team atmosphere among top management throughout the County. If you have any questions after reading the attached flyer, please feel free to contact Jeff Aluotto, Assistant County Administrator for Public Services at 946-4436.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at the first "County Connections" at Paul Brown Stadium.


Patrick Thompson,
Hamilton County Administrator

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Giving Chabot a peace of their mind

Quan Truong reports:

Update, 9 am!

Two minors and five adults were arrested were taken to police headquarters in district one and charged with criminal trespassing. Shannon Isaacs, one of the seven, said the staff members and police were very professional.

A handful of people were arrested at U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot’s office downtown tonight after a seven hour sit-in.

The group arrived at Chabot’s office on the 30th floor of Carew Tower around 1 p.m. Tuesday, stating they would not leave the premises until Chabot signed a Congressional pledge to end the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq.

During the seven hours, supporters of Greater Cincinnati Declaration of Peace drifted in and out of the office. At one point, up to 20 people were inside. About nine people participated in the sit-in, issuing a group statement on why they were risking arrest.

Both sides maintain there was cooperation and mutual respect. Chabot’s staff accommodated the group with refreshments and bathroom keys. The group remained cordial and asserted their actions were aimed at the issue and not a personal vendetta against those at the Chabot’s office.

They were first asked to leave around 6:30 p.m. Security were called at 7 p.m. and about an hour later, Cincinnati police showed up to arrest those who remained.

Gary Lindgreen, Chabot’s chief of staff, said the arrest was peaceful and there was no commotion. The group’s spokesperson, Ellen Dienger, could not be reached Tuesday night.

Pepper: Here's how to solve county problems

David Pepper, the Democrat challenging Republican Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich for his seat, is running on a theme of failed leadership. The failed leadership -- especially from Heimlich -- has led to jobs and people leaving Hamilton County, Pepper said.

Here's a release on how he -- as commissioner -- would turn that around.

Focuses on Safety, Quality of Life in Neighborhoods
September 2006

At a public forum Monday night in Green Township, David Pepper released one of the key strategic plans he will pursue as a County Commissioner-- improving the quality of life in all of the County's jurisdictions.

"We can build the Taj Mahal between the stadiums, and it won't make any difference if we don't preserve and improve the quality of life of the many jurisdictions of this County," Pepper said.

Pepper noted that almost all jurisdictions in Hamilton County have been losing population in recent years, and he presented a number of strategies to battle this problem, incuding:

* Creating a First-Ring Action Team for the first suburbs of the County to work together to solve joint problems and invest in re-growth;

* Working hand in hand with the City of Cincinnati to ensure we revive the urban core;

* Focusing intensely on the long ignored concerns of West Side residents, who want to preserve the quality of life they have today and not be overwhelmed with growth.

The plan also proposes strategies to deal with housing and homeownership, seniors, youth and education, and the environment.

"By moving out of the County, citizens are telling us— loudly—that other destinations offer a better quality of life for a better cost," Pepper said. "Right now, the combination of safety, convenience, affordability, schools and other factors are simply not competitive in too many places in Hamilton County, and I will work to change that."

To see the full plan, please click here for our website.

Pepper, Heimlich web chats next week

Got a question for David Pepper or Phil Heimlich, the two men running for Hamilton County Commissioner?

You can ask them without leaving your desk next week at Cincinnati.com.

At noon Wednesday Cincinnati.com will host a live web chat with Pepper, a Democrat and former Cincinnati city councilman.

Come back Friday at noon to chat with Commissioner Heimlich, the Republican incumbent. Or you can e-mail your questions in advance to government/public affairs editor Carl Weiser at cweiser@enquirer.com.

How important is this county commission election? If Pepper wins, the three-man county commission – now 2-1 GOP – will be controlled by Democrats for the first time since 1962.

Portune: Take authority from audited department

At today’s Hamilton County Board of Commission meeting, Commissioner Todd Portune blasted the county administration policy of delegating approval of contracts let by the Department of Job & Family Services, which often agrees to contracts worth millions of dollars.

For example, on today’s docket was notification that JFS had agreed to a $2.2 million contract for services to children – but commissioners never saw or knew of that contract before it appeared on the agenda in an item that listed actions already taken by JFS on behalf of the board.

Last week in a similar item, Portune added, commissioners saw that JFS had approved a $12 million transportation contract – again without the board ever seeing or knowing about it.

This authority that delegated to JFS the right to approve JFS contracts without prior commissioner approval began in the late 1990s, Portune said, before any of the three current commissioners were on the board.

That delegation of authority streamlined the process and lessened the bureaucracy and paperwork for then-County Administrator David Krings.

Now, Portune is calling for, “especially in light of the audit findings,” more oversight from the board of JFS and its $1.27 billion budget.

In the last month, both the Ohio Auditor and the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services released audits critical of the Hamilton County Department of Job & Family Services.

One noted Hamilton County’s department had to pay back $224 million in federal money it misspent. County officials countered that both audits actually were accounting issues and that all of the money was spent for its intended purpose – to provide services for poor children and families.

Portune is calling for a change the process, asking County Administrator Patrick Thompson, on the job just nine months, to have all JFS contracts over $100,000 reviewed by commissioners before they are approved and signed.

Neither Commissioners Phil Heimlich not Pat DeWine commented on the issue.

Tomorrow's political notebook today

Just for you Politics Extra junkies, here's the Political Notebook that will appear in tomorrow's Enquirer:

By Howard Wilkinson
Enquirer staff writer

Two Cincinnati TV stations which briefly pulled a union-sponsored ad attacking Rep. Steve Chabot put the ad back on the air Wednesday, after the union provided the stations with documentation that Chabot voted against bills increasing the minimum wage.
The 30-second TV spot was paid for by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Chabot’s campaign filed a complaint with the stations about the ad and both stations - WCPO-TV (channel 9) and WKRC-TV (channel 12) told campaign officials earlier this week they would take the ad off the air.

The ad was off the air on channel 12 Tuesday, but went back up Wednesday.

WCPO general manager Bill Fee said his station had told the Chabot campaign it would stop airing the ad Wednesday, but changed its position Tuesday night, after AFSCME officials provided the station with documents showing that its claim that Chabot had voted against minimum wage legislation was true.

Chabot, a Republican, voted this year against Democratic-sponsored bills which would have raised the minimum wage. Chabot voted for a Republican-sponsored minimum wage increase this year, as well.

Fee said that when a campaign files a formal complaint about an attack ad, the station goes through a procedure proscribed by the Federal Elections Commission where the campaign or organization paying for the ad is asked to produce evidence of its claims and the challenger is invited to produce evidence refuting the charges.

Kerry back in Ohio

Some say John Kerry might be living in the White House now if he had spent more time in Ohio, the state that gave the election to George W. Bush.

He’s making up for it now.

Next Tuesday, the Massachusetts senator will campaign in Columbus with that city’s mayor, Michael Coleman, at a Catholic church on the city’s north side. “Early voting,’’ which starts Tuesday in Ohio, will be the subject of the day.

Kerry will move on from there to the nearby campus of Ohio State University, where he will be the featured speaker at a college Democrats’ get-out-the-vote rally.

No top issue

No one issue is uppermost in the minds of Ohio voters in this fall’s statewide elections, but most voters say they will base their choices for governor and U.S. Senate on their positions on issues – as opposed to character or experience, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The top three issues cited by voters in the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll were education (14 percent), the economy and jobs, including the minimum wage issue (13 percent) and taxes (12%).

The poll, conducted by UC’s Institute for Policy Research, showed that among the random sample of likely Ohio voters 63 percent said they would base their vote for governor on the candidates’ position on issues. The candidate’s character was cited by 18 percent, while the candidate’s political party would determine the vote of 10 percent and the candidate’s experience would influence another six percent.

In the U.S. Senate race, factors such as experience, political party and character were somewhat more important.

In the Senate race, 53 percent said they would base their votes on candidates’ positions on issues, while 15 percent cited character, 14 percent said experience and 14 percent said the candidate’s political party would determine their votes.

A week ago, the Ohio Poll released its finding on the head-to-head match-ups between Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican Ken Blackwell for governor and Republican incumbent Mike DeWine and Democrat Sherrod Brown for the U.S. Senate.

In that poll, conducted at the same time as the polling on what would influence voters, 50 percent said they favored Strickland, while 38 percent favored Blackwell. Independent candidate Bill Peirce polled at three percent while independent Bob Fitrakis took two percent. In the Senate race, Brown led with 51 percent to DeWine’s 47 percent.

The poll of 671 likely Ohio voters was conducted by telephone between Sept. 7 and Sept. 17. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

Forum Monday

The Amos Project, a coalition of churches and synagogues that work on social issues, is holding a forum for state, federal and local candidates Monday night, but it is still unclear how many of them are going to show up.

Jim Wallis, a self-described “progressive evangelical’’ will moderate the forum.

Sue Morrissey of the Amos Project said invitations went out to all candidates for Ohio governor, U.S. Senate from Ohio, the 1st and 2nd congressional districts of Ohio, and Hamilton County commissioner.

As of Wednesday, only five candidates had confirmed that they will attend: Democrat Senate candidate Sherrod Brown, 1st District Democratic candidate John Cranley, 2nd District Democratic candidate Victoria Wulsin, and both county commission candidates, Republican incumbent Phil Heimlich and Democratic challenger David Pepper.

The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University, 1624 Herald Ave.

Mallory appoints father to SORTA board

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory has appointed his father, William Mallory, Sr., to the nine-member board of trustees for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA).

William Mallory served as a member of the Ohio House of Representativges for 28 years before retiring in 1994. He was the first African American majority floor leader and the first African American to preside over a session as Speaker of the House. Upon his retirement, Mallory held the record as the longest serving majority leader in Ohio's history and the longest serving Ohio House representative from Hamilton County.

Since his retirement, Mallory has been involved in many causes. He founded the Mallory Center for Community Development, a non-profit agency in Cincinnati. He also serves on the Ohio Elections Commission and has recently been appointed to the board of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati.

SORTA is the governing board of Metro and Access, non-profit public transit services that provide about 22 mililon rides per year in Greater Cincinnati.

City council meets today

Dan Klepal reports

Cincinnati City Council will hold its weekly business meeting today at 2 p.m., where it is expected to approve a $500,000 loan for Price Hill that will allow the West Side neighborhood to plan a streetscape along the busy Glenway Avenue.

The meeting is held in council chambers on the 3rd floor of City Hall, 801 Plum Street. The public can speak to council starting at 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Kearney forum postponed

State Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, who announced Monday he was holding a Wednesday public forum to discuss the audits of Hamilton County's Department of Job & Family Services, now says the forum has been cancelled.

Scheduling conflicts resulted in the cancellation, a release from Kearney's office notes.

Pepper: Don't blame me

A day after incumbent Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich launched his media campaign attacking challenger David Pepper, Pepper wants to set the record straight.

At least his version of it.

Heimlich, a Republican, began airing television and radio ads Monday that blamed Pepper -- in part, at least -- for high homicide rates and procedures that Heimlich's side said prevents police from doing a better job.

Below is Pepper's response, received today:

Transcript of Commercial:
“Phil Heimlich put more police on the streets, helped stop early releases and led the fight to build a new jail."

The Facts:
Phil Heimlich knew about the jail overcrowding problem when he was elected four years ago, yet waited until months before the election to throw together any plan. It will now be another four years before a jail is completed. More than 8,000 prisoners have been released early in the years while Heimlich did nothing.

Transcript of Commercial:
"When riots rocked Cincinnati, Phil Heimlich supported the police when no one else would."

The Facts:
David Pepper was not on council during the riots. He arrived after 2001—the year of the greatest increase in violent crime and homicides in the past ten years. Pepper was endorsed by the FOP in the 2001 race.

Transcript of Commercial:
"David Pepper turned his back on them, twice voting for the agreement, handcuffing our police."

The Facts:
FALSE. The FOP (both its leaders, and its members through a formal vote) agreed to the Collaborative Agreement, as did a unanimous, bipartisan City Council, because it was a better alternative than a federal consent decree—the only other alternative the City faced. Pepper was endorsed by the FOP in his Mayoral race.

Transcript of Commercial:
"David Pepper even supported a deal with the boycotters and riot sympathizers for millions of our dollars. "

The Facts:
The FOP also supported this agreement because it removed their officers from legal jeopardy. They urged Council to settle.

Transcript of Commercial:
"The result? The highest murder rate in 34 years. "

The Facts:
Over the past six months, law enforcement officials have unanimously stated that the reason crime is so high is the revolving door at the jail. To blame it on the “agreements” suggests the police have not been out arresting people. Actually, arrests have increased every year since 2001 (Phil Heimlich’s last year on Council). But there was not enough jailspace to house those arrested. The police did their job—the County didn’t do its job.

Transcript of Commercial:
"David Pepper sold us out.”

The Facts:
David Pepper worked WITH the police and FOP on every thing discussed in the ad.

Another city council meeting about crime

Cincinnati City Council’s Law and Public Safety committee will meet today at 2 p.m.

The Cincinnati Police Department is expected to make a presentation on its Community Orientated Policing program, and Police Chief Tom Streicher may make an appearance to discuss having an officer assigned to Mayor Mark Mallory’s office full-time for the mayor’s protection.

The meeting will be held at City Hall, 801 Plum Street. The meeting will be held in council chambers, room 300.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wheels up, 7:25 p.m.

He's gone

President Bush at airport

The motorcade arrived at the DHL terminal around 7:10 p.m.

Back in Kentucky

Bush motorcade has crossed the bridge back in Kentucky, en route to CVG.

The Sherrod Brown reaction

Ben LaBolt, spokesman for the Sherrod Brown campaign, said "Ohio's middle class familes have no recollection of the Bush tax cuts because they were targeted to the upper one percent of the wealthiest people in the country."

LaBolt said that any impact Bush tax cuts might have had on middle class families would have been negated by the rising cost of living in recent years, particularly for energy and health care.

LaBolt said that instead of supporting Bush's tax cuts, Brown favors targeted tax credits for middle class families for child care, college tuition, and caring for aging parents.

SOS candidates duke it out on web sites

With a full slate of competitive statewide races, the candidates for Secretary of State have a difficult task attracting media attention. So both major party candidates have gotten creative, setting up Internet web sites to trash their respective opponents.

The Ohio Democratic Party recently activated this web site: www.truthaboutgreghartmann.com targeting the Republican running against Jennifer Brunner.

Not to be outdone, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann set up an opposition web site of his own: www.BrunnerBlunders.com, which he's plugging during a news conference in Cincinnati on Tuesday.

Hamilton County Simon Leis Jr. planned to join Hartmann at Hamilton County GOP headquarters, where they'll also discuss identity theft.

The AP's take on the trip

Bush trip to Conn., Ohio aimed at helping threatened incumbents

By Will Lester
The Associated Press

CINCINNATI – President Bush combined two fundraising trips for threatened GOP incumbents Monday with a tour of a family-run manufacturing business he pointed to as proof that his tax cuts are helping the economy.

But the most powerful economic news could be found at the gas stations all over Cincinnati, where gas could be bought for a little more than $2 a gallon.

“This economy of ours is strong,” Bush said after touring Meyer Tool Inc. in Cincinnati. He said the company is benefiting from those tax cuts and added 125 jobs over the last year.

The president has had trouble convincing the public that the economy is doing well. Only four in 10 people approve of the way he’s handling the economy, according to AP-Ipsos polling.
But the rapid drop in gas prices over the last month could attract more attention from the public than countless speeches about economic policy.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said that “everyone notices gas prices.” He scoffed at suggestions the administration is pushing prices down just before elections, saying people are crediting Bush “with the kind of magisterial power unknown to any other human being.”
But the administration message on Monday was more focused on maintaining business conditions that help companies thrive and create more jobs.

Bush advocated making his tax cuts permanent, a frequent theme at stops around the country. He said such a move would help small businesses like Meyer Tool. During his tour of the plant, Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio was close by his side. DeWine was criticized when he did not appear with Bush on some earlier visits.

Bush raised almost $1 million for DeWine, who is in a close re-election contest with Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown.

Earlier in the day, Bush met privately with Republican donors at an estate in Greenwich, Conn., raising almost $800,000 for GOP House members facing tough re-election fights.

About 65 people attended the Connecticut event at the mansion on Long Island Sound. The money was raised to help Republican candidates, but mostly to help GOP Reps. Christopher Shays, Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons. The three are top targets for Democrats trying to gain the 15 seats needed to take control of the House.

Incumbent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman is running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. The Republican in the race, former Derby mayor Alan Schlesinger, has been drawing less than 5 percent in the polls and was not invited to Monday’s fundraiser.

Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell was invited but did not attend, citing a previous commitment. It’s the second time since becoming governor in 2004 that Rell, who remains popular in the polls, skipped a visit from Bush.

Snow, meanwhile, suggested the White House was staying out of a flap over whether former President Clinton did enough as president to try to kill or capture Osama bin Laden.
In a combative interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Clinton defended his handling of the threat posed by bin Laden, and said he tried to have bin Laden killed but was attacked for his efforts by “all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now.”

“President Clinton really had strong feelings about this. We’re not going to engage,” Snow told reporters.

The presidential spokesman also criticized news reports based on a government-produced intelligence assessment suggesting the war in Iraq had worsened the terrorism threat by helping to create a new generation of Islamic radicals.

“The report is not limited to Iraq,” Snow said of the still-classified report. He said “a variety of factors in addition to Iraq” had fueled the spread of terrorist activity.

Bush on the move

After an hour and a half at the Barrett residence, Bush is leaving Indian Hill for the airport.

Motorcade on the move

President Bush is getting ready to leave Indian Hill and return to CVG.

From Indian Hill

Steve Kemme reports from Indian Hill

About 30 anti-Bush protesters congregated at Drake and Shawnee Run Roads as President Bush passed by.

"He was waving at us as we all gave him the thumbs down," said Steve Neago, 48, of Miami Twp. He held a large sign reading "Hail to the Chief: George Bush go home."

Nancy Barton, 58, of Miami Twp., also had a large anti-Bush sign. "I think it's important that people realize that staying the course in Iraq means another $300 million spent and another 3,000 dead. I think Bush is completely out of touch with the American people."

The official White House pool report

(Note new name, per grumbling from certain White House staffers)
September 25, 2006

Senator Mike DeWine was first in line to greet POTUS as AF1 arrived at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport. The senator gave Mr. Bush a hearty handshake and clap on the back, then boarded the limo with Karl Rove for the 30-minute drive to Meyer Tool Inc., which makes gas turbine engines for military, commercial land private aircrafts. The cavernous warehouse was a clean, well-lighted – and eerily quiet – place. There was a general hum in the air, enough so we could hear nothing of POTUS’ comments, but the machines had been turned off for the visit. DeWine was by the president’s side the entire time. More detail about tour available upon request.

It’s a family owned company; POTUS got a quick tour of various high-tech equipment, then stood in the middle of the factory floor and addressed the pool for two minutes, 27 seconds, emphasizing the importance of his tax cuts. Transcript to follow. The event was billed as “remarks by the president,’’ but the audience consisted solely of the pool. The employees were kept 10 or 20 feet away. One intrepid pooler (not yours truly) tried to shout out a question about the national intelligence estimate but was ignored.

We then headed off to the Indian Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati, said to be home of Carl Linder, past owner of the Reds (after Marge Schott, who also used to live here). Lots of nice houses, not as fancy as Greenwich. POTUS is to headline a fundraiser for DeWine and the Ohio GOP

At 5:05 p.m., POTUS arrived at 9300 Shawnee Run Road, owned by John and Eileen Barrett according to a source who shall remain nameless. House is up a steep drive and could not be seen. Your pool is being taken to a country club nearby.

A few additions to the earlier report: The Greenwich fundraiser was for the Connecticut Republican Party. Shays was the only member of Congress present; he had a press conference afterward which your pool, naturally, was unable to attend.

The Frantz home was in Riverside neighborhood of Greenwich. Upon closer inspection, the house, which had five fieldstone chimneys, was actually on a tiny island; we drove over a little bridge to get there. The front faced a small inlet; the back faced the Sound. The circular driveway was ringed with tiny American flags planted in the ground for the president’s arrival.

Travel report:

Motorcade left Greenwich at 1:30 for the 10-minute ride back to the park. Another uneventful chopper ride to JFK; AF1 was airborne for Cincinnati shortly after 2 p.m. and landed at Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky Airport slightly ahead of schedule, at about 3:35 p.m.

Sheryl Stolberg
New York Times

From the Camargo Club

Howard Wilkinson reports:

We're at the Camargo Club, a country club in Indian Hill.

Some color from the ride to Indian Hill:

As the presidential motorcade made its way to the Indian Hill home of John Barrett, CEO of Western & Southern Financial Group, the crowds of largely supportive and excited people lining the tree-shaded streets of Madeira and Indian Hill made it clear that this is, as one little girl's sign said: "This is Bush country."

On Miami Ave. in downtown Madeira, a half dozen white-clad nuns stood jumping up and down and waving at the motorcade from their spot on the lawn of St. Gertrude's Church.

As the motorcade made its way down Shawnee Run from Madeira into the heart of Indian Hill, the only protesters to be seen were a small group at the corner of Drake Road and Shawnee Run who waved anti-Bush signs and booed.

On its way to the Barrett home, the motorcade passed the white gates leading to the estate of financier Carl Lindner, one of Bush's biggest financial supporters.

Bush in Indian Hill

At 5 p.m. the motorcade pulled into the Barrett's home on Shawnee Run Road.

College students at airport

Scott Wartman reports from CVG

Miami University students Rob Mecklenborg and Lauren Schroeder started volunteering a few years ago with the Miami University College Republicans to meet interesting people, they said.

They got their wish Monday as the two 21-year old college seniors greeted President Bush as he exited Air Force One Monday at CVG.

"My political science teacher will be so jealous," said Schroeder, who like Mecklenborg is from Green Township.

Mecklenborg, now chairman of the Miami College GOP and Schroeder both volunteered with Sen. Mike DeWine's campaign this year.

Both got invitation last week from DeWine to meet the president.

"It is something I never thought I would get to do," Mecklenborg said. "He is the most personable, down-to-earth person you could hope to meet."

Bush in Madeira

Motorcade got off at Kenwood exit, going down Euclid through Madeira.

The road was lined with people, mostly just watchers - some waving, not many protesters, Howard Wilkinson reports.

Bush: lateral, I-71

Howard Wilkinson reports on the route from Camp Washington to Indian Hill

Motorcade is heading east on the Norwood lateral and then will go north on 71

Report from Meyer Tool

Howard Wilkinson reports:

On this 15 minute tour of the Meyer Tool plant, owner Arlyn Easton gave the president a short course in electrical discharge machining, a process for drilling in the holes in turbine engines for airplanes.

Bush watched as worker Paula Stephens used a robotic infrared device to inspect the holes.

Text of Bush's statement at Meyer Tool


Office of the Press Secretary
(Cincinnati, Ohio)
For Immediate Release September 25, 2006


Meyer Tool, Inc.
Cincinnati, Ohio

4:22 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: I've come to this company because, first of all, I like to honor the entrepreneurial spirit. We've got a father and a son who are running this company, and making sure of two things: One, they're on the leading edge of technological change; and two, they got a work force that is trained and prepared to be able to provide product.

This is a company that has benefitted from the tax cuts. They've increased their employment by about 125 over the past 12 months. They've expanded because of the bonus depreciation schedule -- in other words, the tax cuts encouraged them to buy equipment, and when you buy equipment you expand your business. Plus this is a company that benefitted from the cut in the individual income tax rates -- this is a subchapter S.

This economy of ours is strong. And one of the main reasons it's strong is because of the tax cuts that we passed. And the fundamental question facing the country is, will we keep taxes low. Some have advocated that we ought to raise taxes on individuals, which would take money out of the pockets of this company. If you take money out of the treasury of this company it means it's less likely somebody is going to find work. So I think we ought to keep taxes low so companies like this can continue to expand and grow.

This is an important debate facing the United States of America. I believe that small businesses are the backbone to economic vitality. I know that most new jobs are created by small businesses just like this one, and I know the tax cuts we passed have helped this small business expand. Congress needs to make the tax cuts we passed permanent, so these entrepreneurs can plan. You hear people say, well, we're not going to extend the tax cuts -- that means they're going to raise taxes on the small business, just like this one. And it's bad economic policy and it will be bad for our country.

Anyway, I want to thank you all for letting us join you. I'm impressed by your company. I know your work force is vibrant, growing, well-trained. I know you know that you couldn't be doing what you're doing without a good work force. So I want to thank you for taking time -- as well. Thank you.

END 4:25 P.M. EDT

Full airport report

Scott Wartman reports from CVG:

Kent Wellington 2nd's compassion for poor children didn't go unnoticed by President Bush on Monday.

For the past ten years, Wellington has served as a role model and mentor for several kids with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, a non-profit organization that provides mentoring and college counseling for students in Cincinnati.

Upon existing Air Force One at CVG's DHL terminal Bush bestowed the President's Volunteer Service Award to Wellington.

"I told him I didn't think there was anything more valuable than mentoring," said Wellington. "He told me 'I really appreciate what you and others are doing in terms of community service.'"

Wellington's wife Karen blew kisses to Bush from the platform on the tarmac as their two children, Robbie, 11 and Angeline, 9, waved.

Bush waved back and handed Wellington presidential pins to give to his family.

"It is one of the most important persons in the world," the bowtie-wearing Robbie Wellington said. "Making eye contact with him was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Remarks are over

Bush only talked for about two minutes, then ignored a few shouted questions.

Here are highlights of what he said: "I'm here because I like to honor the enterpreneurial experience. This is a company that has expanded because of our tax cuts. We have added over 125 jobs over the past 12 months. They have expanded because of our tax cuts."

"Some want to take those tax cuts away. This economy is strong. One of the reasons is the tax cuts that are in place."

Bush warned against not extending the tax cuts that were passed in 2001 and 2003, saying "If you take money of the treasury of this company, it's less likely that someone is going to be working."

A reporter shouted out a question as the president concluded his brief remarks, but he ignored him, turned quickly and walked out of view of the cameras and reporters with two Meyer Tool officials at his side.

From the Meyer Tool plant

Howard Wilkinson reports:

The president, with DeWine at this side, spent about 15 minutes walking through the Meyer Tool plant. More coming - Bush is about to make his remarks.

Protest is over

By 4:15 most of the protesters had left, Quan Truong reports.

More on the protesters

Quan Truong reports:

The protesters are in front of Camp Washington chili.

The president rode through around 4 p.m. There was a lot of booing and lot of chanting.

"George Bush is a war criminal and the worst thing that's ever happened to this country," said Ellen Arnold of Northside. "He's doing the best he can to erode democracy. He's a liar and a cheat."

"I don't care if he sees this or not. It's for the people to drive by to know they're not alone in this shock and horror."

Said Richard Luken of Green Township: "I'm here because I'm concerned about what I see as the attack on the fundamental principles on which our country was founded."

Bush at Meyer Tool

Wilkinson reports:

Bush is at Meyer Tool

Southbound traffic on I-75 was dead-stopped before Brent-Spence bridge and backed up for several miles.

It was a parking lot for miles.

Lots of people on Hopple, some applauding and some waving protest signs.

Meanwhile, up in Camp Washington

In Camp Washington, there are about 30 protesters at the corner of Hopple and Colerain.

They're holding up signs reading, among other things, "There comes a time when silence is betrayal." A huge banner reads "Mission Not Accomplished."

Chanting: "Bush and Cheney got to go, hey hey, ho ho"

I-75 in KY shut down

Howard Wilkinson reports:

We're pulling out

Air Force One rolled to a stop in front of the DHL terminal at 3:35 p.m.

Eight official greeters walked out onto the tarmac, led by DeWine and his wife. Three minutes later, the president emerged, waving from the top of the platform.

Bounding down to the bottom of the steps he greeted Dewine warmly, kissed his wife Fran on the cheek and spent the next three minutes engaged in lively conversation with the other greeters.

The second person off of the plane was his political advisor Karl Rove, followed by Press Secretary Tony Snow, a Princeton High School graduate.

After stopping briefly to shake hands with Robert "Kent" Wellington 2nd and give him his volunteer service award, the president hopped into a limousing and the motorcade - at least 30 vehicles - began pulling out of DHL terminal at airport.

More from the airport

Wartman reports:

As he emerged from Air Force One, Bush saluted the people waiting for him.

Indian Hill native and Bush aide Joe Hagin hugged Fran DeWine.

Mike DeWine got in the limo with the president. But not Fran.

Lots of smiling and laughing and hand shaking.

Bush posed for a photo, waved to the crowd,

From the airport

Scott Wartman reports: The motorcade has just rolled up and they are waiting for the president to come out of the plane.

POTUS on the ground

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Air Force One touched down at 3:30 pm, 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

There were about 30 area Republicans supporters on the tarmac including Sen. Mike Dewine, who stood gazing at Air Force One with his arm around his wife Fran, who snapped pictures of the massive plane.

Kearney hosts public forum in JFS audits

Concerned by two audits recently released by state agancies that have been critical of Hamilton County's Department of Job & Family Services, state Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, is holding a Wednesday public forum.

The forum, to focus on questions about the audits, will be 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Westwood Town Hall, 3017 Harrison Ave.

The audits -- neither finding criminal wrongdoing and both stating that no money was missing -- were from the:

* Ohio Auditor, who noted more than $150 million was improperly transferred from the fund that pays for services to poor children, and;

* Ohio Department of Job & Family Services, which called for Hamilton COunty to repay $225 million -- that was spent on providing services to poor children and families -- to the federal government.

Hamilton County officials insist they did nothing wrong and actually were adhering to state and federal guidelines when spending the money.

Heimlich and Pepper: It is SO on

Ok, NOW it's officially election season.

Republican Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich, trying to staving off Democrat challenger David Pepper, has launced his first radio and television ads -- and they attack Pepper.

Heimlich doesn't appear in his ads -- except his voice in the trailer where he said he approved the ads.

The ads feature tough-on-crime Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and heavily feature crime issues. The ads give Heimlich credit for trying to solve the issue of jail overcrowding at the Hamilton County Justice Center and for pushing for a quarter-cent sales tax increase to fund a proposed new jail.

The ads attack what Heimlich -- and Deters -- say was Pepper's role, as a Cincinnati Council Member, in failing to stop increases in homicides. They also note Pepper's role in "handcuffing police" by approving the Collaborative agreement that requires additional paperwork for each incident and additional training.

Pepper responds that the ads are a "smear campaign" that neglect facts and his history of support law enforcement, a reason why Pepper received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, Queen City Lodge No. 69, during his unsuccessful mayoral race against Mayor Mark Mallory.

The FOP has endorsed Heimlich for the commission race.

Here is Pepper's written response

TV spot shows Heimlich’s desperation.
September 2006
He’s down in the polls (12 points according to Survey USA).

He's done little to move Hamilton County forward.

And now, he's scrambling to make his four year term as commissioner relevant.

Phil Heimlich is desperate and it shows in his first TV commercial. After failing to achieve much progress in his four years as County Commissioner, and also having laid out no plan for the future, Heimlich resorts to inaccurate recounts of history.

His first stab at a smear campaign ignores the fact that both the riots and lack of jail space (more than 8,000 prisoners released early) happened on his watch. Apparently, his plan is to deflect and distort.

In case friends or neighbors bring up those attacks, here are the facts you should know:

- Violent crime increased most quickly in 2000 and 2001, Phil's last several years on Council--before David got there.

- The agreements Phil is attacking David on were ALL AGREED TO BY THE POLICE AND FOP. FOP membership voted to support them because it was a far better solution than a federally-imposed consent decree, which most cities face. David and the police worked together at a difficult time. David was very proud to get the FOP's endorsement for Mayor because of that good relationship.

- Arrests plummeted in 2001, Phil's last year on Council, before David ever got there. After 2001 and the agreements, arrests went up every year. Despite Phil's allegations, police have been doing their job.

- But Phil HASN'T DONE HIS JOB. Because Phil never addressed the jail problem, thousands of people the police arrested went right back out onto the streets. Listen to the police experts in recent months--this is the problem they all say has led to the high crime.

Instead of talking about the real issues the county faces like repaying $225 million to the state, the 8,000 early releases, or the Banks fiasco, he simply wants to change the subject.

We want to move forward, starting with cleaning up county government.

We will respond to his lies, but more than anything, on November 7, we look forward to ending the kind of deceptive and divisive politics Phil Heimlich has brought to this region for far too long.

Thanks for your support.

email: justaddpepper@davidpepper.com
phone: 621-1150
web: http://www.davidpepper.com

Who's there?

Here’s the tentative list of those who are expected to greet President Bush when Air Force One lands later this afternoon:

Sen. Mike DeWine and his wife, Fran;

William Myles, owner of Myles & Myles Retirement Planners;

Stuart Dornette, a partner at Taft Stattinius and Hollister and the Cincinnati Bengals’ attorney;

John Williams, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections;

Kathryn Lang, corrections specialist, Fifth Third Bank;

Missie McPherson, a tutor;

Rob Mecklenborg, chairman of the Miami University College Republicans;

Lauren Schroeder, a student at Miami University;

Robert “Kent” Wellington II, who will be given an award by the president for his work in USA Freedom Corps.

On his way to Cincinnati...

President Bush hit a fundraiser in Connecticut before heading to Cincinnati and Indian Hill.

Here's the White House pool report:

September 25, 2006

Your representative of a friendly newspaper is currently sitting under the trees at a lovely beach-front table, overlooking the Long Island Sound. We are dining on a delicious lunch of Chilean sea bass, topped with pea puree, cheese ravioli with a butter sage sauce, and salad of field greens, topped with dried cranberries and candied pecans – the very same fare, we are told, that the donors gathered inside the massive home of Scott Frantz, investment banker, are enjoying.

Frantz is the president of Haebler Capital Corporation. His house is a big wood-shingled affair, four car garage, with a dock and a beautiful waterside view and shady manicured grounds.

Chris Shays is said to be inside; no word about the Republican Senate candidate, whose name no one can remember. (It’s Alan
Schlesinger.) No word about any other elected officials either. 65 people inside, $800,000 to be raised, according to Tony Snow ...

And now, circling back to the beginning of the day:
Marine One landed at Andrews at 10:35. POTUS emerged, followed by Rove and Snow and other aides your pool is too new to recognize. All aboard and wheels up at 10:46 for the one hour flight to JFK. After an uneventful trip, plus a 20-minute chopper ride, we landed in a lovely park in Greenwich, not far from the Long Island sound.

The motorcade wound its way through town, past plenty of locals waving American flags, pointing cameras and some hoisting protest signs, including War is Wa$te, and “More Trees, Less Bush.”

All of which made your working stiff pool wonder if the good people of Greenwich have to work for a living.

Sheryl Stolberg
New York Times

DeWine and Bush: Together Again

Last week, it wasn't clear whether or not Sen. Mike DeWine, the beneficiary of President Bush's fundraising trip to Cincinnati today, would show up at the public portion of the visit, a tour of Meyer Tool in Camp Washington.

But DeWine will do the Meyer Tool tour, campaign spokesman Brian Seitchek said this morning.

DeWine is unlikely, though, to be at the airport for Air Force One's arrival. He'll hook up with the motorcade at Camp Washington and then go on to a fundraising event at a private home in Indian Hill.

In February, when Bush came here to raise $1.1 million for DeWine's campaign, DeWine skipped the airport and went straight to the private fundraiser. Then, there were no public events scheduled.

Pepper in Green Township tonight

David Pepper, the Democrat Hamilton County Commission candidate, will discuss his plan to improve the quality of life in area communities tonight.

Pepper, trying to unseat incumbent Republican Commissioner Phil Heimlich, will talk about Legacy Place -- a controversial commercial development -- when he speaks in Green Township.

Pepper will be at the Green Township Community Forum from 6:30 -8 p.m. at the Nathanel Green Lodge, 6394 Wesselman Road.

Jim Borgman
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