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, October 21, 2006

Cryptic Graffiti

That's not a band. The Enquirer's Tim Bonfield reports:

Drivers entering downtown Cincinnati from the I-71 tunnel, and some other places around town, may have noticed an unusually cryptic piece of graffiti: “Habeas Corpus R.I.P 1215-2006.”

The words appear to be a protest against the Bush administration based in part on a Molly Ivins column that was published last month and has been circulating on the Internet. The graffiti matches the headline of Ivins’ column.

The year 1215 refers to the establishment of the Magna Carta, a document from old England that helped establish the concepts of contitutional law and individual legal rights.

Specifically, Ivins was criticizing a bill – passed by the Senate Sept. 28, then signed into law by President Bush Oct. 17 -- that affects the rights of detainees imprisoned as alleged terrorists.
Ivins criticizes several aspects of the detainee bill.

The habeas corpus aspect refers specifically to a part of the bill that Ivins contends removes a suspect’s right to challenge his detention in court – a right that traces back to the Magna Carta.
Here’s one of several links to Web sites displaying Ivin’s column:


Friday, October 20, 2006

Wulsin chat transcript

Is here

No fruit throwing

Cliff Radel reports from Green Township

From a debate held at the Western Hills Country Club this morning at a breakfast meeting of the Western Economic council. It is the third in a series of five scheduled exchanges between Rep. Steve Chabot, the incumbent Republican representing Ohio’s 1st Congressional District, and Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley, his Democratic challenger.

Before the debate began, Bob Polewski, president of the council of West-Side boosters, jokingly asked the standing room only audience to observe the following rules:

“No booing. No hissing. And certainly, no fruit throwing.”

During the debate, Chabot and Cranley politely disagreed as they exchanged views about government spending, eminent domain and Hamilton County’s doctor shortage.

Both candidates avoided directly answering a question about receiving campaign contributions from sectors of the public housing industry.

Chabot invoked the “liberal” word and used the phrase “left-wing” three times each to describe Cranley.

The councilman stressed early and often how Chabot’s conservative values had changed while in Washington. Cranley repeatedly noted “it’s time for a change.”

A good question from a reader

Question for Carl Weiser, editor of this blog (in all sincerity)...

Do you consider the journalistic standards your writers (Enquirer staffers listed on the page) adhere to in this blog to be the same as if they were publishing in the paper?

I think that might be what is causing some of the confusion/hostility by the other blog participants.

I am assuming that as a "blog," you see it as a less formal, looser, general airing of issues that do not have to necessarily pass the same journalistic stabdards as actually publishing in the paper.

What say you?


It's a good question. In a lot of ways, we're still figuring out the answer to it.

Here are the differences.

Overall, you put it pretty well: one of the main ways the blog differs from the paper is that it is less formal and looser. The reporters can't opine, but they can perhaps add a little more humor, a little more attitude than they could in the paper.

CONTENT: Another way it differs is that the news threshhold is lower. Our audience on the blog is, presumably, political junkies. What's news to them is different than what's news to the general daily audience of 200,000 readers for the Enquirer paper. There are a number of items on the blog that never make it into the paper because a general audience would have no interest.

SPACE: The blog also allows us to post primary documents or links to documents or databases. There's no room in the paper to run the full list of donors to a congressional campaign, but we can link right to that on the blog. There's no room in the paper to run a full transcript of a TV show appearance or a Congressional Record excerpt - but we can on the blog.

INTERACTIVITY: Sometimes by posting the primary document - the press release, the study, the database - we learn a lot from our readers. They sort our numbers, find interesting names, alert us to Cincinnati angles on stuff we didn't know about. That's wonderful, and we really appreciate it.

STANDARDS: As for the standards, I'd say this. For the blog entries written by the reporters, the standards are essentially the same - we try to get both sides, we don't opine, we don't use anonymous sources. I try to make sure everything is spelled right, that titles are correct, that everything - everything - is accurate.

That's not true, of course, for the comments. There, I pretty much allow almost anything unless it's nonsensical, obscene, racist, or an unwarranted personal attack. I really value the entertaining, insightful, and occasionally feisty comments that spring from the community that has developed around this blog.

Carl Weiser, government/public affairs editor

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Report from Blue Ash

Howard Wilkinson reports from the Blackwell/Hannity rally

About 100 Ken Blackwell supporters, and 30-40 protesters

As a warm-up for the crowd, Blackwell campaign is playing live WKRC audio of Blackwell/Hannity interview in which Blackwell declares the mainstream media hasn't asked the tough questions of Strickland.

It's drizzling.

Charterites: Pick Pepper

Cincinnati's Charter Committee has endorsed Democrat David Pepper for Hamilton County Commissioner over Republican incumbent Phil Heimlich.

The Charter Committee's focus usually is city of Cincinnati government, but decided to weigh in on several countywide issues for this election.

In addition to Pepper, it also endorsed the proposal to increase the sales tax a quarter-cent to fund a new jail; the continuation of the Children's Services levy and the decreased levy to help pay for health care for the poor -- all issues on the Nov. 7 ballot.

"During his interview candidate Pepper advocated strongly for cooperation among the many jurisdictions in the County and a comprehensive growth strategy for all of Hamilton County, both of which the Charter Committee believes are critical to the success of our region. Pepper’s presentation stressed the importance of compromise, inclusion and collaboration as we move forward with The Banks, the highlight of riverfront development, and the new jail which must deal with rehabilitation and training as well as incarceration," Charter Committee president Michael Goldman noted in a press release today.

A former Strickland staffer weighs in:

My name is Heather Taylor-Miesle.

I served as Ted Strickland's district staff assistant in 1996-1997 and as his scheduler in 1998-2000. I was responsible for all of Ted's appointments and worked with he and his Chief of Staff, John Hasely very closely. Since leaving Ted's office, I have stayed in distant contact with the office but I have no ties to his campaign and they do not know that I am writing this email to you.

During my time with Ted, I saw nothing but an incredibly mature, professional Member of Congress who thought of his job as a calling. Ted treated his staff as members of his family and always made sure to ask about our spouses and our children. When my own family was in crisis, Ted allowed me to go home to help. He never put constraints on when I had to return, only saying to take care and come back when I was able. Not many bosses would be so caring or

In my position as his scheduler, I am also able to attest to his close, loving relationship to his wife, Francis. Hers was the only call that he would take regardless of what he was doing -- and hers was the only one that he asked about if he hadn't heard from her that day. During my time in the office, I witnessed nothing but a loving relationship.

Finally, as to whether he had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. I never witnessed or even suspected any kind of relationship between Ted and ANY of his staff that was inappropriate. Of all people, I believe that I would've known since I was his scheduler. It is inconcievable to me that anyone who actually knows Ted would make these charges.

Bottomline, Ted is a good man. After I left his office, I went on to work at other offices in the
House. I can tell you that I never had a better boss than Ted.... not because he was nice... but because he had principles. I never felt like I worked for a "dirty politician" when I was in his office. We worked for a cause. Thanks for your time.

Heather Taylor-Miesle

Commission: Judge ad ok

Sharon Coolidge reports:

Judicial ad OK

A member of the Ohio Elections Commission Thursday called 1st District Court of Appeals candidate Jim O’Reilly’s attack ad on opponent Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker misleading, but the four-member commission found no probable cause that the ads are false.

"We would have liked them to go further and we respectfully disagree with the final ruling, but we are very pleased with their comments that the ad is misleading," said Cincinnati Attorney Steve Goodin, who filed a complaint about the ad Tuesday.

O’Reilly said he pleased no probable cause to pull the ads was found.

"I feel very good that the Ohio Elections Commission, which is the state’s expert body on television campaign advertising, rejected all three of the arguments," O’Reilly said.

O’Reilly’s ad says Dinkelacker jailed a alleged rape victim, made an error that allowed Larry Flynt to go free and continue selling pornography in Hamilton County and prosecuted the only death penalty case commuted by Gov. Bob Taft.

Goodin argued that all three claims are false.

An Enquirer analysis of O’Reilly’s ad shows:

It’s dubious that Dinkelacker’s handling of the case allowed Flynt to continue to sell pornography. There’s no guarantee Flynt would have been convicted in 1999 - and it was the prosecutor who initially agreed to the deal.

Dinkelacker did jail a woman who alleged she was raped in 2003, after she failed to appear in court. But she later admitted she lied about parts of her story - testifying that she agreed to have sex with the defendant for $20. The man she accused was acquitted.

Taft granted clemency to Jerome Campbell, a man Dinkelacker helped put on death row. But the decision, made when he was an assistant prosecutor, had more to do with the DNA than the prosecution.

Cunningham: Strickland took "boy toy" to Italy

The transcript, from the Blackwell campaign:

HANNITY: Meanwhile sexual scandal spreading out to the Ohio gubernatorial race where democrat Ted Strickland mishandling the case of a former employeeexposing himself to children. Republican candidate Ken Blackwell went as far as suggesting that strike land actually supported pedophilia by declining tovote yes on house legislation concerning adult child sex back in 1999. Joining us from the big one WLW Bill Cunningham back to talk with us. How are you?

BILL CUNNINGHAM: Sean Hannity, it's always great to be with you.

HANNITY: I will see you in Cincinnati tomorrow. Big question why don't you bring us to what's happening inside the state of Ohio because this issue is exploding.

CUNNINGHAM: As Alan Colmes may know several weeks ago information was given to me relative to the conduct of democratic congressman Ted Strickland, afew years back when he hired campaign manager gentleman who participated in behavior before school children in a school yard four to five times those were the times he was caught. When Ted Strickland was finally notified of this instead of firing the guy, what Alan Colmes good friend Ted Strickland said.

COLMES: I have never met him.

CUNNINGHAM: Keep him on the job. Alan and Sean after the election Ted Strickland flies off to the shores of Naples, Italy in order to enjoy alittle fun with this 26-year-old boy toy. When this is going on, Ted Strickland and all democrats are claiming that if you knew mark Foley's situation might have known mark Foley, might have played tennis with him, resigned, Hastert, Boehner get out of office. I'm saying to Ted Strickland as is ken Blackwell as is Sean Hannity, if the same standard applies to Ted Strickland resign your democratic house seat. Quit the effort against ken Blackwell for governor and let the people have a real choice in this election.

The "Strickland scandal" on Hannity & Colmes...


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Reader reaction to Blackwell-Strickland clash

Here are more reader comments about the Ken Blackwell-Ted Strickland news:

Dan Gersten of Amberley Village wrote: "Maybe, just maybe, Nikki Giovanni was telling the ugly truth."

John W. Nenninger of Clermont County, wrote, "I suppose the Blackwell attacks of Strickland do warrant two days of news.
Day one captures Monday's debate; and day two the aftermath. Hope
it ends there...
However I do think the Enquirer's reporting re: the vote on the resolution that had support of NAMBLA, leaves the reader way-short of being
fully informed.
Legislation--and even resolutions--are chalk full of side issues
and specifics that can turn an otherwise yea vote to a nay. (Witness The
Military Commissions Act of 2006--some Democrats voted against, knowing
they may pay a price, while some Republicans--J McCain--voted for, despite deep reservations.)
The Enquirer does not explain what the resolution was fundamentally
about. The reader is left with the belief that Strickland somehow was
working in concert with NAMBLA--carrying their pet piece of legislation.
There is only one oblique reference to "later applauded by NAMBLA..."
(my highlight--not The Enquirer's); but no emphasis nor explanation.
(I'm guessing the pedophiles knew nothing about it, nor that much
much of it directly affected them. My guess, but then you could help this
reader with more information)
Indeed, you "reiterate" Blackwell charges (without directly quoting him), by writing "Strickland voted in stride with...pedophiles", and " Blackwell tried to link...
opponent to child sex predators". The reader is pretty much left with the
Blackwell allegation--voted for pedophiles.
Omission is a political trick, in journalism it's a big problem. Think-- Cranley saying Chabot has "taken" raises, while omitting that he voted against them.

And comments from an anonymous reader:

"Here's the thing - and I will still be voting for strickland - this guy hurt kids, plain and simple, it is relevant just as relevant as foley and just as relevant as hastert and boehner.my question would be - did he hire him anyway because he believes in forgiveness, saw a life changed through repentence, knew that teh guy couldn't get a decent job with that record and offered him the opportunity to go back on the straight and narrow? or, did strickland think this was no big deal? and why in the world did he takehim to italy for vacation?? i think he does owe an explanation if he knew. if he didn't know - then there is nothing to explain.i believe all criminals need a chance to change their lives, make amends and re-ener mainstream society. truth is, government is the best place to do this because so few others will give them the chance. some component of society needs to step up and the government is the best situated to do so.otherwise, criminals will remain onthe outskirts of society with no hope for redemption."

Links to House Concurrent Resolution 107

Per several readers' requests, here are Internet links to the House Concurrent Resolution 107, 106th Congress, that Ken Blackwell has criticized Ted Strickland for not voting against, but merely voting "present" on July 12, 1999. The congressman's floor comments from July 27 also are below:

ROLL CALL VOTE: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1999/roll278.xml

BILL TEXT: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_cong_bills&docid=f:hc107eh.txt.pdf

DO NOT VOTE TO CONDEMN UNTIL WE KNOW WHAT IT IS -- (House of Representatives - July 27, 1999)
[Page: H6431] GPO's PDF

(Mr. STRICKLAND asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. STRICKLAND:. "Mr. Speaker, it troubles me that sometimes in this Chamber we stand and say things that we ought not to say. We criticize people that we have no right to criticize.
We recently voted to condemn a scientific study and an organization, an organization that has done as much as any organization in this country to fight child abuse.
I wonder how many of us read the study before we were willing to vote to say that the methodology was flawed. I wonder how many of us were technically competent to make that decision.
I believe that we ought to observe the Ten Commandments . One of those Commandments says, you ought not to bear false witness against your neighbor.
When we say things about an organization or about an individual scientist that are untrue or unsubstantiated, in my judgment, we have violated that Commandment.
We ought to have the decency not to vote to condemn something until we know what it is we are voting to condemn."

More readers react to Blackwell attacks

Reaction to Ken Blackwell's comments at Monday night's debate and his release Tuesday of Athens Police reports related to a 1994 arrest of a former congressional aide to Ted Strickland have drawn many responses from readers. Here are more of them sent via electronic mail, and online. They were used with their permission:

John K. Alexander of Cincinnati wrote: "You and the headline writer for The Cincinnati Enquirer seem to have forgotten how Sen. Joe McCarthy used the press as he developed McCarthyism. Blackwell and the Ohio GOP are using you and your paper in the same way. Have you no sense, no understanding of the history of McCarthyism?"

Robert M. Reddicks of Covington, Ky., wrote: "It may have been worthwhile to state just what the congressional resolution was as opposed to putting so much emphasis on the 'NAMBLA' connection in the last three paragraphs of your article."

"Methinks that you are more interested in perpetuating the Blackwell
charges rather than reporting on some ungodly reprehensible Republican
'news.' The real story here is the Rovian use of innuendo (though this
far surpasses innuendo) and smear tactics."

"Desperate people do desperate things in desperate situations. And for
Blackwell - and with hope, the Rovian Republicans - these are desperate

"Sincerely, from a person who cannot even vote for or against a candidate
in Ohio," Reddicks said. "I am amazed that the Blackwell camp could bring up something as despicable as NAMBLA and not be relegated to the ashbin of history. Perhaps the election will do just that."

Readers can post additional comments here:

Wulsin chat Friday at noon

Dr. Victoria Wulsin, the Democrat running in the 2nd Congressional District, has agreed to a live web chat at Cincinnati.com on Friday.

It will run from noon to 1 p.m.

We have invites out to Jean Schmidt, as well as Steve Chabot and John Cranley. Previous live web chatters include David Pepper and Phil Heimlich.

You can ask questions of Wulsin live at noon. You can also email questions now to Government/Public Affairs Editor Carl Weiser at cweiser@enquirer.com

Smith-Schuler debate tonight

From the Smith campaign:

Today, the League of Women Voters host a debate between Rick Smith, Democratic candidate for Ohio’s Sate Senate, and Senator Robert Schuler, incumbent in the seventh district.

Date: Wednesday, October 18th 2006
Time: 7 PM
Location: Anderson Township Government Center, 7954 Beechmont Ave.

Gov race getting nasty

Jon Craig reports in today's Enquirer:

Ken Blackwell's campaign tried to link his Democratic opponent to child sex predators - and the state GOP spokesman even raised questions about Ted Strickland's sexuality.

Read the full story here

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mallory's pitch to NAACP

The 2001 riots in Cincinnati, and the subsequent boycott of the city, are believed to have kept away several conventions. But last week, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory tried to use the riots to land a convention.

When speaking to leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last week at The Bankers Club, Mallroy tried to lure the organizations’ 2008 national convention to Cincinnati and away from Las Vegas by saying the Queen City still faces many challenges.

“I appealed to their mission,” Mallory said Tuesday at his weekly meeting with the press. “I talked to them about Cincinnati over the last five years. We’ve been a hot spot for racial justice and social justice.

“Since we were ground zero (for race relations) in 2001, the NAACP should be here.”

The NAACP selection committee was ready to recommend Las Vegas as the city for its’ ’08 convention, until Mallory and Police Chief Tom Streicher appealed to them in Washington, D.C. a couple months ago. The committee agreed to hold off on its recommendation and make another trip to Cincinnati before making the decision.

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Mallory said. “But what happens in Cincinnati makes national news. So they need to make national news.”

CBA chickens out: Vote for either judge

Submitted by Enquirer Reporter Sharon Coolidge

The Cincinnati Bar Association said Tuesday both Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker and Attorney Jim O'Reilly are qualified 1st District Court of Appeals judges. It's the only contested judicial race in Hamilton County.

"The voters of Hamilton County have two good candidates before them in the contested First District Court of Appeals race," according to Jeffrey F. Peck, chairman of the CBA Judicial Candidate Rating & Endorsement Committee.

The CBA also released results of a 2006 Judicial Poll in which attorneys who practice in those courts are asked to rate Hamilton County judicial candidates -- there are 10 this year with just one contested race -- on integrity, character and objectivity; legal experience, knowledge and ability; respect for and courtesy to litigants, counsel and witnesses; and diligence.

Dinkelacker got the best reviews. Of 594 responses, 294 rated him excellent on integrity; 247 rated him excellent on legal experience; 324 rated him excellent on respect; and 302 rated him excellent on diligence.

O'Reilly had fewer responses, but because his experience is from private practice and teaching, few attorneys have had the chance to work with him. The poll specifically said observations must be personally observed.

Here's the release and judicial ratings from the Cincinnati Bar Association in .pdf format.

Update, 10:45 a.m. Wednesday Oct. 18, from Sharon Coolidge

O'Reilly supporter crunches the numbers.

Scott Seidewitz of The Seidewitz Group, a market research company that looks at consumer buying habits, pointed out a reporter error this morning.

While I looked at the Cincinnati Bar Association's raw numbers, Seidewitz, who is an O'Reilly supporter, broke down the numbers by the number of respondents, which is different for each judicial candidate.

Seidewitz' analysis of those who rated the candidate excellent shows:

Integrity, character, objectivity: 71% Dinkelacker, 71% O'Reilly

Legal experience, knowledge, ability: 60% Dinkelacker, O'Reilly 71%

Respect for and courtesy to litigants, counsel and witnesses: 78% Dinkelacker, 67% O'Reilly

Diligence: 74% Dinkelacker, 78% O'Reilly

Poem? What poem?

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory played coy when asked about Nikki Giovanni’s poem during the re-opening of Fountain Square on Saturday.

In the poem, Giovanni called Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell a “son of a bitch” and a “political whore jumping from bed to bed to see who will stroke my need.”

The Blackwell passage has stirred a lot of controversy, with some people defending Giovanni's right to free speech and others saying the celebration wasn't the right time or place for the comments.

When asked about “the poem,” Mallory responded: “Did Bootsy write a poem?” Funk master general Bootsy Collins, bass player extraordinaire in the 1970s band Funkadelic, performed during the celebration.

When asked about the Gioivanni poem, Mallory said: “I thought she painted me in an excellent light.”

The next reference in the poem after Blackwell goes like this:

“I am Mark Mallory
Talking to everyone
Walking with everyone
Listening to everyone
Leading by consensus, not fear.”

When asked if it was appropriate for Giovanni to use foul language, Mallory dodged.

“The bottom line for me is this: That was a day for celebration. It was a good day. I choose to reflect on the entire day and not just a couple of seconds in that day.”

Mallory said he had no idea before the poem was read that he was mentioned in it.

More Esquire magazine endorsements

In the governor's race: Ted Strickland (D)
Here's why: Ken Blackwell is a religious and cultural reactionary, a supporter of absurd tax cuts for Ohio's wealthiest, and the overseer of the at least questionable if not illegal Ohio voting irregularities in the 2004 presidential elections, but he's black. Which makes all that okay! At least according to the GOP spin. The reality is that he should not be elected to anything by anybody. Meanwhile, his opponent is a moderate Democrat with a solid track record in Congress.

In the U.S. Senate race: Sen. Mike DeWine (R)
Here's why: It appears likely that incumbent Republican Mike DeWine will lose his seat. If he does, he'll be an ironic victim of anti-Republican sentiment: He's one of the most intelligent, independent voices in his party. And he's broken with the White House in its campaign to withdraw the U. S. from the Geneva Conventions.

In the U.S. House 1st District race: Rep. Steve Chabot (R)
Here's why: Although more than willing to support religiously motivated social legislation, incumbent Chabot also sticks to a commendable but near-dead Republican principle: fiscal restraint.

In the U.S. House 2nd District race: Victoria Wulsin (D)
Here's why: Jean Schmidt is a disaster.

CLICK HERE to read more of the magazine's endorsements for yourself.

Boehner to testify Thursday

From The National Journal's PM Update:

The House ethics committee today questioned Majority Leader John Boehner's chief of staff, Paula Nowakowski, for nearly three hours about what she knew of former Rep. Mark Foley's e-mails to teenage male congressional pages.

Boehner, a Republican from West Chester whose 8th District includes most of Butler County, is expected to testify Thursday.

Nowakowski is one of the top House aides who is believed to have had prior knowledge of e-mails sent by Foley, R-Fla., to the page before the story broke last month.

Boehner has said he was first told about Foley's contact with the page this spring by Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La. He said he discussed the situation with Nowakowski and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. But Hastert has said he learned of the e-mails for the first time when the story broke. Alexander is expected to testify Wednesday.

Debate report

From the Columbus bureau

Republican candidate Ken Blackwell’s charges against Democrat Ted Strickland won’t have much punch unless Blackwell decides to put them in television ads.

Blackwell was noncommittal following the debate when asked if he intended to devote his last weeks’ television time to the sex issues he hurled at Strickland during their fourth and final debate Monday night.

The charges blew all the other issues off the agenda as Blackwell must have hoped they would. In political jargon, Blackwell’s claims are referred to as an “October surprise.”

Although the charges are old and have been raised and discounted in Strickland’s previous campaigns for Congress and in this year’s gubernatorial primary campaign, they seemed to gain more traction in the venue Blackwell chose.

Blackwell criticized Strickland for not doing background checks on his staffers and coddling to a pro-pedophilia group in one of his votes in Congress.

Although Blackwell’s charges gave reporters a fresh angle on what had become routine debates between the two men, most saw it, as Strickland’s running mate, Lee Fisher said, “Mr. Blackwell heaved a Hail Mary tonight, and the pass was incomplete."

But the voters could prove the press wrong and, in an environment drenching of the page-scandal in D.C., take Blackwell’s allegations to heart and turnaround Blackwell’s months-long double digit deficit in the polls.

No one in Ohio has been more successful in generating support and action from the religious right than Blackwell. Prior to the debate, it was speculated that some of the right would stay home on Election Day because of the morass their party seemed to be in on both the national and state levels. Blackwell may have re-energized them again.

But last night’s and this morning’s news reports won’t carry Blackwell into the winner’s column unless he hammers the messages home with paid media.

However, if some of the polls hold true, Blackwell may be too late because voters have become numbed to all of the negative political ads cluttering the air and cable waves.
Either way Blackwell goes has its risks.

In Monday’s debate, Blackwell claimed that Strickland had, in the late 1990’s, a staffer who was charged with exposing himself to children and that Strickland voted “Present” when a resolution condemning pedophilia came before him in Congress.

Strickland said that he could not support the resolution because it said that a child who had been sexually abused could not have healthy relationships as an adult.

"I believe in the power of God," Strickland, a psychologist, said. "Even if psychologists and psychiatrists can't help such a child, I believe God can help such a child overcome such abuses."

Blackwell claimed that Strickland’s vote of “Present” when the resolution was put forward was applauded by the North American Man/Boy Love Association.

Strickland claimed that he had never been applauded by the association and that Blackwell seemed to know more about the charges against his staff and NAMBLA than Strickland did.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fourth and final governor's debate begins

The final, live televised debate of major party candidates for Ohio governor just began in Columbus at WBNS-TV and will be rebroadcast tonight at 11 o'clock on the Ohio News Network.

Many Ohioans are just starting to think about this important election, said Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the Republican candidate.

Which one will be able to put Ohio back on the path of economic prosperity, Blackwell asked.

Democrat Ted Strickland's 6th Congressional District has the second-highest level of unemployment in the nation, Blackwell said.

"Mr. Strickland said we have gone far enough with tax cuts," said Blackwell, who has promised $1.2 billion in new tax breaks in his first 100 days in office.

Strickland countered that "Ohio is not doing as well as it could be doing. Moms and dads are worried" about economic security, paying for college and rising health-care costs.

Read more about tonight's debate in Tuesday's Enquirer.

Poem panned in council

Some reaction to Nikki Giovanni's Fountain Square opening poem:

Chris Bortz: "I thought for, for the most part, it was a very moving and impassioned cultural description of Cincinnati. And I thought one part was astonishingly inappropriate. It was a time to celebrate the development of our square and not engage in political grandstanding."

Laketa Cole: It’s freedom of speech. I was a little caught off guard, but are we having a problem with it because the comment was negative? She made a comment about (Cincinnati Mayor) Mark Mallory, and no one is saying anything about that. I was quite surprised, but at the end of the day Fountain Square is supposed to be a symbol of free speech."

David Crowley: "I thought it (the poem) was kind of boring up until that point. Was it appropriate? Poets have great license. Nothing was really hurt or damaged."

Chris Monzel: "I thought it was totally unacceptable. It was crass. For a grand opening of such a great aspect of our city, it kind of ruined (the event). I was shocked, (especially) when she talked about police officers shooting black men in the back. That is revisionist, and I thought it was a cheap shot."

City Council wants monthly night meetings

A majority of Cincinnati city council’s Rules and Government Operations Committee want to begin holding city council meeting in the evening once every month, but they decided to first check with city administrators to find out how much that will cost, and whether overtime pay, for clerks and other personnel, can be avoided with compensation time.

Council members Laketa Cole and Leslie Ghiz sponsored the motion, which has the full support of the committee. In fact, some committee members want to expand it.

The idea is that members of the public will be able to attend night meetings more easily than afternoon sessions, which start with public comment period from 1:30 p.m. until 2 p.m.

“This is a very good idea,” council member Chris Bortz said. “But (since) the most relevant discussions are in committees, is that something we want to add to this? Holding one committee meeting a month at night seems like a way to engage the public even further.”

Cole, whose Neighborhoods Committee meetings are routinely held at night and in various city neighborhoods instead of council chambers, said she likes that idea but the city charter prohibits her from dictating to other committee chairs when or where to hold their meetings. “But I do believe citizens want to know where council members are on every vote.”

Committee member David Crowley said the night meetings ought to be held for one year, then an evaluation ought to be made to determine if they have increased public participation. He also said the committee ought to think about starting the meetings at 7 p.m., instead of 6 p.m.

City Manager Milton Dohoney must report back to the committee by Oct. 27, so a committee vote can be taken Oct. 30. Cole and Ghiz would like the first night meeting to happen Nov. 15.

"I'd love to see them all at night," Ghiz said. "But with this council, it's baby steps. We don't want to traumatize anyone."

Wulsin leads Schmidt in $ raised AND in the bank

Better not write off Democrat Victoria Wulsin in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District just yet.

Campaign finance reports filed yesterday show the Indian Hill doctor not only out-raised incumbent Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt during the last three months, but she also has MORE MONEY in the bank than the Miami Township freshman to spend during the last few weeks of the campaign. Election day is Nov. 7.

"Donors are coming out of the woodwork to help Dr. Vic," Wulsin campaign manager Mary Huttlinger said in a news release touting the numbers. "Now we'll be able to spread her message of hope and change throughout the district."

The latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show activity from July 1 through Sept. 30. They come after Wulsin received an endorsement last week from EMILY's List, a group that helps Democratic women raise money by bundling contributions among members.

Here are the breakouts on the 2nd Congressional District race:

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R):
Money Raised 7/1 - 9/30: $332,863
Money in the bank: $224,358

CLICK HERE to read Schmidt's full report.

Victoria Wulsin (D):
Money Raised 7/1 - 9/30: $376,337 (including a $25,000 loan from Wulsin)
Money in the bank: $263,471

CLICK HERE to read Wulsin's full report.

Chabot has SIX TIMES more $ than Cranley

Campaign finance reports filed yesterday show that Westwood Republican Rep. Steve Chabot not only smoked Democrat John Cranley in the amount of money raised during the last three months, but he has SIX TIMES as much money as Cranley has in the bank for the final weeks of campaigning.

The latest reports filed with the Federel Election Commission show activity from July 1 through Sept. 30.

Here are the breakouts on the 1st Congressional District race:

Rep. Steve Chabot (R):
Money Raised 7/1 - 9/30: $699,122
Money in the bank: $733,484

CLICK HERE to read Chabot's full report.

John Cranley (D):
Money Raised 7/1 - 9/30: $402,471
Money in the bank: $119,027

CLICK HERE to read Cranley's full report.

Charles Sanders, take note!

Former 2nd District congressman Rob Portman, now the White House budget director, said Monday that under the "current circumstances,'' with "external influences" pointing to a possible Democratic takeover of Congress, even he might have had to break a sweat to get re-elected if he were running this year.

Portman came to the Enquirer editorial Monday to tout the Bush tax cuts as having a positive impact on the economy, but talked a little politics too.

Near the end of his hour-long talk with the board, he said he wanted to put in a pitch for Jean Schmidt, the Clermont County Republican elected to replace him last year after he left to become U.S. trade representative.

"I know something about this district and (Schmidt) better represents the values of this district than does her opponent,'' said Portman, referring to Democratic candidate Victoria Wulsin.

Schmidt, Portman said, has gone a "good job" particularly with the constiuent services part of being a member of Congress; and pointed out that Schmidt had kept some of his best former staff members.

Portman, like Schmidt, was first elected to the 2nd District seat in a special election. In his case, it was 1993, when Willis Gradison left Congress.

After that first campaign, Portman cake-walked his way to victory in the next six elections - the last three times against former Waynesville mayor Charles Sanders.

Portman said the 1993 special election was the only time he used TV ads - the other times he relied on yard signs, billboards and traveling around the seven-county district meeting with voters.

Portman said that he believes that if he were running this year, he would have to crank it up a notch.

"It's that kind of atmosphere; it's a difficult year,'' Portman said. "I could even start to feel it a little bit the last time I ran.''

He couldn't have felt it too much, though - in 2004, his last congressional election, he beat Sanders with nearly 72 percent of the vote.

Two years before, he won against Sanders with 74 percent.

Did Nikki Giovanni write this endorsement?

Esquire magazine has endorsed in the Ohio governor's race (who knew they endorsed?) They're pick...(hat tip - Lori Kurtzman)

Ken Blackwell (R)
Ted Strickland (D)Ken
Blackwell is a religious and cultural reactionary, a supporter of absurd tax cuts for Ohio's wealthiest, and the overseer of the at least questionable if not illegal Ohio voting irregularities in the 2004 presidential elections -- but he's black. Which makes all that okay! At least according to the GOP spin. The reality is that he should not be elected to anything by anybody. Meanwhile, his opponent is a moderate Democrat with a solid track record in Congress. Esquire endorses: Strickland

For more Esquire endorsements, go here:

Mehlman (sort of) says GOP still backing DeWine

Here's how worried Republicans were about this story in today's New York Times saying that Republican leaders have concluded that Sen. Mike DeWine is likely heading for defeat, so they're diverting financial resources to other races:

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman scrambled to get reporters on a conference call at 10:30 a.m. today to tell everyone that he's "very confidant Mike DeWine can and will win."


According to Mehlman, polls show the race "is an even race." Plus, DeWine "has a huge cash advantage over his opponent." And, finally, if you look at the issues, Mehlman says he doesn't think "the people of Ohio are going to elect a senator who is left of the center."

DeWine is running against Democrat Sherrod Brown, a longtime congressman from Lorain in northern Ohio.

So if Republicans are so confidant that DeWine "can and will win," then why hold the conference call?

"I wanted to correct the record," Mehlman said. "Ohio remains a top priority. ... No state will receive more in GOP money than Ohio will."

So the RNC and the NRSC are NOT pulling the plug on DeWine's race?

"We don’t’ get into our internal campaign strategies," Mehlman said.

And that's that. Any questions?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Who is that congressional marathoner? Schmidt breaks four-hour mark

There was another recognizable face in the Columbus Marathon crowd Sunday. Well two nearly identical faces if you count her twin sister.

U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Miami Twp., was spotted tooling up High Street midway through the 26.2-mile race alongside her sister, Jennifer Black of Loveland.

Some of you may recall write-in candidate Nathan J. Noy's Ohio Elections Commission complaint this summer claiming Schmidt did not run the 1993 Columbus Marathon while questioning the authenticity of her finish-line photo, which is posted on her campaign web site. A unanimous elections commission dismissed the complaint last month.

According to today's results, the 54-year-old Schmidt finished an impressive 3 hours 56 minutes and sixth in her age group; Schmidt's sister, Jennifer, finished in just over 4 hours 11 minutes. Schmidt's run more than 60 marathons since 1990, according to her campaign biography.

Brian List, 23, of Milford finished third overall with a blistering time of 2 hours 29 minutes. (An average of 5:43 per mile!)

Two Cincinnati-area runners led the men's and women's division of the inaugural half-marathon, according to today's race results:

Mike Greiwe, 28, of Cincinnati won the 13.1-mile race in 1:10:41, averaging 5:24 per mile. Winning the women's division was P.J. Ball, 27, of Norwood with a time of 1:22:28. Ball finished 17th overall, averaging 6:18 per mile.

Who is that guy? Go Bob Go......

During today's Columbus Marathon, a tall, quiet man in a dark winter cap stood alone outside his fenced Bexley mansion.

People who recognized him shook his gloved hand or high-fived him as they rounded the corner toward the four-mile mark of the 26.2-mile race.

"Who is that guy?" one runner asked another.

"That's Bob Taft."

Taft, a regular spectator of the annual event, was making his last race appearance as governor. He's just back from a trade mission in Mexico.

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