Politics Extra
Enquirer reporters give the scoop on what your politicians are doing

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

Powered by Blogger

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Boehner birthday song

Today was a big day for Rep. John Boehner of West Chester.

Not only did the No. 2 House Republican win election to be the No. 1 House Republican next year, but he did so on his 57th birthday. And then he demonstrated that he can carry a tune.

Prompted by a reporter to sing what is apparently known as the "Boehner Birthday Song," the new minority leader led the newly elected leadership team in singing the tune before dozens of TV cameras, photographers and reporters.

Here's how it goes: "This is your birthday song! It doesn't last too long! Hey!"

But today wasn't the first time Boehner has sung his song publically.

Earlier this year, in wishing Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, the oldest member of the House, a happy 83rd birthday told fellow lawmakers: “Not many of you know the Boehner birthday song, but it is pretty simple.”

CLICK HERE to read about it in The Hill newspaper.

And finally, to hear it for yourself, CLICK HERE.

Speaker Boehner in two years?

Malia Rulon reports in tomorrow's Enquirer

Greater Cincinnati could be home to the next House speaker if Republicans regain control of the U.S. House in two years, a prospect that West Chester’s John Boehner pledged on Friday to make happen.

Boehner (pronounced Bay-ner) was overwhelmingly elected to be the Republican leader in next year’s Democratic-controlled Congress during a four-hour meeting behind closed doors, beating back a challenge from fellow Greater Cincinnati Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana.

That means Boehner, who won the job on a 168 to 27 vote, will replace House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., as the No. 1 Republican in the House.

"It’s an honor to be chosen by your colleagues," Boehner said. "I pledged to them to do everything I could to bring our team together and to work hard so that we can earn our way back into the majority."

To do that, Boehner said Republicans must rededicate themselves to the "spirit of reform" and tackle the issues that Americans care about, such as cutting wasteful spending, reforming government programs that aren't sustainable, providing tax relief and strengthening national and border security.

"As Republicans we stand together united in purpose to renew our commitment to the core principles that brought us to the majority," he said. "The rebuilding begins now."
Boehner's promotion means greater clout for Ohio since Boehner is now in charge of his party in the House, from what legislation the GOP will support and what the party's message will be to how it will strategize a comeback.

It also means that Greater Cincinnati is now the geographic center of congressional GOP power since Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell was elected on Wednesday as Boehner's counterpart in the Senate.

Boehner has served as majority leader since February, a leadership post that made him the No. 2 Republican in the House, just under Hastert. But heavy GOP losses in last week’s election gave Democrats control of the House, forcing Republicans in the minority for the first time since 1994 and prompting Hastert to step aside.

Democrats elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California as the new House speaker.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada was elected as the majority leader in the Senate.

Boehner, who turned 57 on Friday, introduced the rest of his leadership team during a brief news conference on Capitol Hill on Friday, then led them all in a round of the Boehner birthday song, which goes something like: "This is your birthday song. It doesn’t last too long. Hey!"

Also elected: Reps. Roy Blunt of Missouri as the Republican party whip, Adam Putnam of Florida as conference chairman, Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan as policy committee chairman, Kay Granger of Texas as conference vice chairwoman, John Carte of Texas as conference secretary, Tom Cole of Oklahoma as National Republican Congressional Committee chairman.
At the top, Boehner and Blunt are familiar faces in GOP leadership, a sign that lawmakers preferred to stick with the old guard rather than opt or fresh faces and new voices, as Pence and Shadagg had argued was needed.

After the election, Pence said in a statement that the race was "one of the greatest honors" of his life. He pledged to work with Boehner to "steer our Republican Conference back to the principles of limited government, fiscal discipline and traditional moral values."

Heimlich: Thanks a million

It took 10 days, but incumbent Republican Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich issued a Friday thank-you to those who helped on his campaign.

Heimlich lost to Democrat David Pepper, giving the Democrats a majority of the three-member Board of Commissioners for the first time in 44 years.

Here is Heimlich's email of today:

Dear friends,

Thank you for your strong support throughout this campaign. I was disappointed in the election results but proud of what we accomplished in my term as county commissioner.

When I took office four years ago, county spending was increasing at two and a half times the rate of inflation, and taxes were going up three times inflation. We brought spending under inflation each year I was in office and reduced property taxes by over $100 million (over five years).

Drake Hospital had been wasting taxpayer dollars and was headed towards bankruptcy. Powerful interests criticized me for exposing the abuses at Drake, but speaking out was the right thing to do. We placed Drake under new management. Now Drake serves over 50 percent more patients and the annual payment that taxpayers receive from the hospital has increased from one dollar to one million dollars.

City Councilmembers said The Banks could not be developed without more taxpayer subsidies. But now a master developer agreement is being finalized with AIG/Carter, the firm we recruited, that includes no additional public cost.

We strengthened law enforcement by putting Sheriff’s patrols and off-duty Cincinnati Police Officers on the streets of Over-The-Rhine. We cut back on early releases at the jail by sending up to 300 prisoners a night to Butler County – at no higher cost than we spend to house inmates at our Justice Center. Even though Issue 12 – the jail proposal that Sheriff Leis and I developed - did not pass, I am glad we stepped up to the plate with a well-researched plan for a new jail that has been needed for 20 years.

I worked to be a good steward of your tax dollars these past four years. We set out to reform county government and succeeded.

In my concession speech, I stated we should not focus on one defeat, but rather on what we have accomplished.

Rebecca, Henry, Allie and I thank you for your kind words and continued support. The Bible says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)
God has a different path for me at this time, and we look forward to seeing where it leads.

With much gratitude,

Paid for by Citizens for Heimlich, Bill Luchsinger, CPA, Treasurer, 5909 Stewart Rd., Suite 1, Cincinnati, OH 45227

Hamilton County GOP head: "Sin boldly"

On the eve of the big game, Hamilton County Republican Party chairman George Vincent isn't about to shy away from bragging that he is a proud alum of the University of Michigan Law School even as he makes his fortune in Buckeye Country.

Vincent, also a lawyer and part-owner of the Cincinnati Reds, was at the Tower Place food court Friday when he noticed another diner wearing baggy jeans and an Ohio State hat and leather jacket.

"Must be a homeless derelict. I bet he was their valedictorian two years ago," Vincent said, adjusting the knot on his Michigan tie.

Vincent then told a story of going to Columbus Wednesday on business and whipping out an ink pen. Of course, it was emblazoned with the Michigan logo.

He was told he better put that away -- and fast.

"I almost got my ass whipped," Vincent said with an unapologetic grin.

He's not backing down, either.

If he is going to get grieft for supporting the maize and blue when most others here are wearing scarlet and gray, Vincent might as well let his pride shine.

"Sin boldly," he said.

Kick-off is 3:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Rob Portman - what's his future?

In Sunday's Enquirer you'll see a story about Rob Portman, talked about as a candidate for everything from governor to senator to vice president.

Get a sneak preview of Malia Rulon's story now at Enquirer.com here, complete with an audio slide show.

Boehner elected minority leader

Malia Rulon has the story

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dayton's new manager familiar here

Rashad Young, a former assistant Cincinnati City Manager, is the new Dayton, Ohio, City Manager.

Young, 30, is believes to be Dayton's youngest-ever city manager, after city officials Wednesday eliminated the interim city manager title he held for several months.

Young served in the Dayton government administration from 1994-2002 when he came to Cincinnati as an assistant city manager under Valerie Lemmie from 2002 through June 2005 when he returned to serve again in Dayton government.

Let the state job fair begin

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, chairman of the Ted Strickland-Lee Fisher transition team today announced the launch of an official transition Web site. Those seeking information about jobs with the incoming governor and volunteer opportunities can go here

"This Web site is the one-stop information source for those interested in the transition process," Coleman said. "We invite Ohioans from across the state to offer not only their skills and service but also their ideas and suggestions on how best to turnaround Ohio."

The Web site allows people to submit comments or policy suggestions, upload resumes and apply for jobs in the new administration as well as find contact information for the transition office.

The Strickland-Fisher transition office opens Monday on the 19th floor of the Vern Riffe Center, 77 S. High St., Columbus.

Let the provisional counting begin

Here is a copy of U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley's enforcement order Tuesday that defines how provisional ballots (and those wrongly cast as provisional ballots) should be counted next week:


In the race for the 2nd Congressional District seat, U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Miami Township, has an unofficial lead of 2,865 voters over Democratic challenger Victoria Wulsin with more than 8,200 provisional ballots and at least 1,500 absentee ballots to be counted in seven counties.

Schmidt's campaign manager, Matt Perin, predicts the congresswoman will net another 500 votes. Wulsin's campaign manager, Mary Huttlinger, said it may come down to an automatic recount if Wulsin pulls within 1,100 votes or 0.5 percent of total votes cast.

Kearney named to A.G.'s transition team

State Sen. Eric Kearney was selected today as a member of Attorney General-elect Marc Dann's transition team.

Dann, a Youngstown Democrat, defeated Auditor Betty D. Montgomery on Nov. 7.

Kearney is a Democrat from North Avondale.

Kent Markus, associate professor of Law at Capital University Law School, and Tom Winters, a partner in the Columbus law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, joined Kearney as chairs of the transition team. Additional members of the transition team will be named in the next two weeks.

"I am proud that three of Ohio's most respected, experienced, thoughtful, and energetic citizens have agreed to devote their time, knowledge, and insight to helping me accomplish the daunting task of assuming this office," Dann said in a news statement today.

"With their support, and with the cooperation we are already receiving from Attorney General (Jim) Petro and his staff, I am confident that the transition will proceed as quickly and efficiently as possible and that I and my staff will be ready to seize the opportunity we have to serve the people of Ohio when we take office on Jan. 8."

Nafziger new Hamilton County GOP director

The Hamilton County Republican Party announced this morning that Maggie Nafziger is the new executive director of the party.

She had been the party's political director; the former executive director, Brad Greenberg, was recently appointed to the Hamilton County Municipal Court.

"At a time when our Party's ideals are being challenged, Ms. Nafziger will work diligently to spread the message about why our Party shares the ideals of the citizens of Hamilton County," party chairman George Vincent said in a statement.

Vincent named Nafziger to the post effective Nov. 9 - last Thursday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Remember Niehaus?

This isn't the first time Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt has faced a close election.

Two and a half years ago, she appeared on election night to be the winner of the Republican primary for an Ohio state senate seat. She led fellow Republican Tom Niehaus 16,911 to 16,849, a 62-vote margin.

But because the margin of victory was less than 0.5 percent of the vote total, state law required a recount.

And guess what happened?

After the week-long vote recount and more than a month of uncertainty, Niehaus emerged as the winner of the Republican nomination for Ohio's 14th Senate seat. Schmidt had needed to pick up 23 votes in the recount in Scioto County to defeat Niehaus. But she gained no votes, making Niehaus the winner by a scant 22 votes.

The final tally was 17,098 for Niehaus, 17,076 for Schmidt.

Niehaus, of New Richmond, went on to defeat Democratic candidate Paul Schwietering to win the seat. And Schmidt, as we all know, went on to win a special election last year to the U.S. House.

Isn't it ironic that she now faces the same problem? Only this time, the difference is in the thousands of votes instead of dozens. Still, we wonder what a recount would turn up.

A rose by any other name...

Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted and other state legislators today welcomed Michigan state Rep. John C. Stewart, a Republican from Plymouth, Mich., for the singing of the Ohio State University alma-mater, his payback for a friendly wager made by the leaders of the Ohio House and the Michigan House a year ago.

Stewart led the singing of "Carmen Ohio" in recognition of the 2005 Ohio State football win over Michigan, 25-22.

After singing, Stewart was presented with a rose by Husted representing Michigan’s impending trip to the Rose Bowl after what Husted predicted will be another victory for the Buckeyes on Saturday.

"Football is an important part of Ohio’s rich history and tradition," Husted said. "Every time Ohio State plays Michigan it’s a big event and I am thrilled to have Rep. Stewart come down and visit the Statehouse because of Michigan’s loss last year. We look forward to him joining us again next year."

"I want to thank Speaker Jon Husted for the privilege of speaking to the Ohio House of Representatives three days before the greatest rivalry in intercollegiate athletics – the annual football game between the University of Michigan and the Ohio State University," Stewart said. "I commend the two universities for their academic excellence and I have said many times that higher education is the essence of recovery for our economy in Michigan and Ohio."

Pepper: Kickin' butt will pay for jail

Hamilton County commissioner-elect David Pepper (pictured) attended a meeting today to look at ways to solve the county's jail overcrowding problem. The meeting came as Commissioner Pat DeWine was kidded by Commissioner Todd Portune about an altercation DeWine was in Monday in an upscale restaurant. (Portune jokingly presented DeWine with red, white and blue boxing gloves at today's commission meeting.)

Pepper combined the events to come up with an idea -- albeit totally sarcastic -- to solve the jail problem.

"Maybe we should have a Meanest Man competition (among commissioners). Maybe we can raise money for the jail that way," Pepper said.

He noted that Portune was a football player and track athlete at Oberlin College and DeWine is a "world-class" runner and marathoner -- who apparently isn't afraid to mix it up.

DeWine took umbrage with comments a nearby diner made about DeWine's father, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, and berated the man -- Dr. Christopher Bolling -- about it. DeWine said there was no physical altercation but Bolling's glasses wound up knocked to the table.

Pepper shamelessly notes that after he was mugged and abducted a gunpoint a few years ago, he began lifting weights to stay in better shape. He also reluctantly admitted to playing a "hack game of tennis."

"I'm probably the least athletic (of the group)," Pepper said.

Still, he suggested they participate in a free-for-all -- he didn't say who would be in charge of ticket sales -- among the group to raise money for a new jail.

The dark horse could be Commissioner Phil Heimlich, who works out and lifts weights almost daily.

Pepper, though, already beat Heimlich once in the public arena.

Kaptur: Count every vote!

Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, the dean of Ohio's Democratic congressional delegation, just put out a news release backing the efforts of Democrat Victoria Wulsin and Mary Jo Kilroy to get every vote counted in their close races.

Wulsin is running a couple thousand votes behind Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt in Ohio's 2nd District while Kilroy is behind Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce of Upper Arlington near Columbus.

In the release, Kaptur reminded voters living in those two districts who voted provisionally to contact their county board of elections office and provide necessary information to validate their ballots. She also called on the Secretary of State to take all actions necessary to ensure that every vote is counted.

"Mary Jo Kilroy (Candidate, OH-15) and Victoria Wulsin (Candidate, OH-02) must continue to work until every vote is counted. We stand for a Democratic process which ensures that the voices of the citizens of Ohio are heard through a fair election," Kaptur said.

Friday is the deadline for voters who cast a provisional ballot on Election Day to verify their identity to the board of elections and ensure that their vote is counted.

"We must do everything possible to educate and assist voters to be sure that their voices are heard and their ballots are counted," Kaptur said.

According to Kaptur's release, about 19,000 votes in Franklin County and 8,600 votes in the 2nd district have yet to be counted.

McConnell wins minority leader job

Sen. Mitch McConnell of neighboring Kentucky just won an election by fellow GOP senators this morning to be their minority leader next year. That's the No. 1 GOP leadership position in the Senate. He was unopposed for the job.

You can read The Enquirer's early version of the story HERE.

But the real story is Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who who won a surprising victory over Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to be the new GOP Senate whip in today's elections.

Lott is a former Senate majority leader who was ousted after he made racially insensitive comments at former Sen. Strom Thurmond's birthday party. When Lott sought a comeback to GOP leadership, some openly wondered what would happen with two quarterbacks on the same football field.

So it isn't any wonder that the soft spoken McConnell was easily upstaged by Lott during a brief media availability at the U.S. Capitol today.

Speaking first, McConnell said: "We will be a robust minority, a vigorous minority, and, hopefully, a minority that is only in that condition for a couple of years."

Then he introduced Lott, who said: "I'm honored to be a part of this leadership team, to support Mitch McConnell and all of my colleagues and to do a job that I've really loved the most: count the votes. I'll do my very best in that effort."

Then McConnell was asked about the GOP agenda and he said he wasn't ready to discuss it yet.

Then the elephant in the room: What about Lott's comeback?!?!

In a show of unity, however, Lott deferred to his new leader on the question, saying he wanted to start off on the right foot.

"The spotlight belongs on him," Lott said of McConnell.

After another question about Lott's comeback made it clear that all the media wanted to discuss was Lott, McConnell quickly ended the press conference and walked from the room, trailed by the other newly elected leaders and just a couple of reporters.

Meanwhile, a mass of remaining reporters surrounded Lott as if he were a movie star, shouting questions and moving as a large swarm with him to the exit.

The other senators elected to leadership positions: Sens. John Kyl of Arizona, GOP Conference Chairman; Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, policy committee chairman; John Cornyn of Texas, GOP conference vice chairman and; John Ensign of Nevada, head of the Senate GOP's campaign fundraising committee.

And now, the reaction from our other area senators:

Sen. George Voinovich, a Cleveland Republican: “I believe we've put together a solid, experienced team that will offer a new perspective. I have a great deal of confidence in Sen. McConnell's leadership, his ability to negotiate and his ability to listen. He's already shown a great deal of interest in my opinion and the opinions of my colleagues. The ability to listen is a vitally important quality for a leader.”

Sen. Jim Bunning, a Southgate Republican: “I am proud to have my friend and fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell as our Republican Leader here in the Senate. Mitch has worked tirelessly throughout his career to grow the Republican Party here in Washington and back home in Kentucky. Mitch is the right man for the job and I look forward to working closely with him and all the members of our new leadership team in the 110th Congress.”

Blackwell: Many have lost faith in our party

From the Ken Blackwell campaign today:

Dear Friends,

I am deeply humbled by your support and prayers during this campaign. Please know that although we may not have won this time around, your efforts were not in vain. We must continue to fight for what we believe and always stand for the principles of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.

Many have lost faith in our party, as some leaders have forgotten the importance of keeping fidelity to principles. I urge you to keep the faith, and continue to proudly stand for our shared values.

My family and I thank you for all of your hard work and sacrifices. We are truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends.

Thank you again for all you have done.

God bless,


Republicans: who would you vote for?

John Boehner, Mike Pence, and Joe Barton are running for House GOP leader. The elections are Friday.

They outlined their visions in today's The Hill.

Read for yourselves

Portune jabs DeWine

With tongue firmly in cheek, Todd Portune presented Pat DeWine with a gift Portune believes DeWine needs in light of recent news -- a pair of boxing gloves.

The red, white and blue boxing gloves were presented to Portune a few years ago, he said, when he believed he was "under siege" as the lone Democrat on the three-member Hamilton County Board of Commissioners.

"It's only come in handy for me symbolically," Portune, wearing a huge grin, told fellow Commissioner DeWine.

DeWine was involved in a Monday night altercation at a swanky downtown restaurant with a physician, Chris Bolling, who was seated at a table next to DeWine and was making derogatory comments DeWine's father, Republican U.S. Senator Mike DeWine.

The senator lost his re-election bid last week to Democrat Sherrod Brown, a candidate who benefitted from a fundraised Bolling helped host.

An upset Pat DeWine confronted Bolling and Bolling's glasses were knocked from his face. Tuesday, after the news of the incident was published, DeWine and Bolling apologized to each other.

"They look like they've been used," DeWine cracked about Portune's boxing gloves.

To see the video of the boxing glove presentation, go to http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061115/VIDEO/61115009/-1/CINCI

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wulsin still trying to win

Democrat Victoria Wulsin isn't giving up on her race to unseat Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District.

Wulsin sent out a news release today announcing that her campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party were launching a massive effort Tuesday to make sure 8,600 ballots that remained uncounted as of Monday, are counted.

But the race now hinges on lawyers and the daunting task of identifying voters in the seven-county district who voted with a provisional ballot.

About 2,800 votes currently separate Schmidt and Wulsin.

At issue, according to Wulsin’s campaign, are ballots in which poll workers failed to ask voters for the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, as required by law.

Campaign spokesman Bryan Collinsworth said voters have until Friday to call the board of elections in their county and make sure their ballots have the required information to be counted.

But Schmidt chief of staff Barry Bennett disputed the campaign’s claim, saying voters can’t go back and update their ballots or provide missing forms of ID. He said he expects the uncounted ballots to break along the same percentages as the ballots that were counted, giving Schmidt a net total of about 500 votes more than Wulsin.

“This is a desperate cry for help that is both not a correct interpretation of the law and not helpful to them in the end,” he said. “They just don’t get mathematics.”

Nevertheless, Wulsin’s campaign and the Hamilton County Democratic Party are spending this week on the phone calling registered voters in the precincts where the highest number of provisional ballots were cast.

In addition, the campaign is launching a wave of automated phone calls to votes across the district.

They also have joined the Ohio Democratic Party, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and campaign of Mary Jo Kilroy, a Columbus Democrat whose race also remained too close to call this week, in a lawsuit seeking to compel the county boards of elections to release lists of voters who cast provisional ballots.

“This race is so close, and almost 9,000 voters who spoke out on election day have yet to have their voices heard,” Wulsin said in a statement. “We believe we can win. We also believe that no one who made the effort to vote should be disenfranchised by confusion at the polls.”

UPDATE: The Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University has created a "recount roundup" which lists the Ohio 2nd as one of the top 10 recount races to watch. CLICK HERE for the roundup.


Wulsin campaign's Collinsworth: "Maybe we 'don't get mathematics,' but I'm also concerned about Barry Bennett's ability to read."

From the Ohio Secretary of State's Web site: "A person who casts a provisional ballot and does not provide acceptable proof of identity at the time of voting is allowed to provide such proof within 10 days after the election, in accordance with law."

More Collingsworth: "I don't know how else to interpret that. But I certainly don't want the Schmidt campaign discouraging people from getting their votes counted."

Brown gets Senate committee assignments

Democratic Sen.-elect Sherrod Brown got his committee assignments today:

Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee

Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee

Health, Education and Labor & Pensions Committee

Overall, not bad for a freshman. Brown had wanted a spot on the HELP committee so he could continue work on health care issues.

But the slate now leaves Ohio without Sen. Mike DeWine's powerful seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees all spending bills. Brown defeated DeWine's re-election bid last week.

Sen. George Voinovich sits on the Senate Ethics Committee, Environment & Public Works Committee and Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee.

Strickland inauguration set for Jan. 13

Annie Hall in Columbus has the story

DeWine confronts heckler

All is fair in love and politics but when it comes to dissing family, Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine will put up a fight.

That's what he did last night in an altercation at downtown's swanky Jean-Ro Bistro, 413 Vine St.

DeWine is pictured with his mother Fran and father, Republican U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (at extreme left) who was defeated last week in his bid for re-election.

Pat DeWine was having dinner at the restaurant. Seated at the table next to DeWine and his dinner companion were two men DeWine vaguely recognized but didn't know.

One of those men started running his mouth -- loudly -- about Sherrod Brown unseating Mike DeWine.

"He was purposefully saying some insulting and personal comments about my father," DeWine said today.

"I certainly lost my temper, but I didn't punch anybody."

The mans' comments, DeWine said, weren't limited to the election results and were designed to provoke him.

They did.

"We had a heated exchange of words," DeWine said. "There was no profanity. I regret losing my temper."

The other man, believed to be a local physician, couldn't immediately be reached.

The exchange came as DeWine got up from the table to go to the bathroom.

"You have to consider the circumstances," DeWine said. "I'm trying to enjoy a nice dinner and someone is insulting (my family). I don't appreciate that."

After returning from the bathroom, DeWine paid the dinner bill and left.


After being told that a Jean-Ro employee told the Enquirer the altercation was physical, DeWine said the heckler's glasses were knocked to the table.

He said it happened as he had his hand extended when the heckler was rising from his seat.

"I didn't touch the guy. I didn't grab him. I didn't put my hands around his neck," DeWine said.

The reservation of the heckler's table was in the name of "Bolling."

Dr. Christopher Bolling was one of the Host Committee of the Human Rights Campaign PAC, HRC Greater Cincinnati Community Committee that hosted an Oct. 30 fundraiser for Brown.

Seitz, Schneider land leadership posts

Two state lawmakers from the Cincinnati area were elected to leadership posts for the next legislative session today in the Ohio House of Representatives.

State Rep. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Green Township, was selected majority whip, the fifth most powerful post in the House.

House Speaker Jon Husted, R- Kettering, was selected to return in that top post when legislators begin the 127th Ohio General Assembly in January. After losing seven seats on Nov. 7, the Republican Party will hold a 53 to 46 majority of seats.

"I am proud of what we have accomplished to date, but our work is not yet done," Husted said.

State Rep. Michelle Schneider, a Republican from Madeira, was selected as assistant majority whip, filling the position currently held by Seitz.

State Rep. Kevin DeWine, R-Fairborn, was chosen as speaker pro tempore, the second highest post in the House.

Legislators serving in leadership positions receive stipends in addition to their base salary of $57,948 next year.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pepper, Portune looking at county job changes

During this year’s campaign, David Pepper asked voters to elect him commissioner so he could clean up Hamilton County government and get rid of inside deals and hiring friends.

Now -- after Democrat Pepper beat incumbent Republican Commissioner Phil Heimlich, giving Democrats a majority on the three-member board for the first time since 1962 – Pepper and Commissioner Todd Portune are planning personnel moves for when Pepper takes office Jan. 1.

“There will be changes,” Pepper said Monday. “Not just who is there, but how it’s structured.”

Those changes will happen before Pepper takes office in January.

“We’re going to do this in the next few weeks,” Pepper said.

In response to Enquirer questions, Portune wrote a Monday letter, noting the new majority would consider personnel changes and county jobs “created” in the last two years.

Pepper insisted during the campaign he would have a transparent government that didn’t hire personal friends or business associates.

Pepper’s campaign outline on that issue mentioned by name two county employees – Ron Roberts and Michael Schrimpf -- he believed were hired or retained because of their personal relationship with Heimlich.

Roberts was hired by a unanimous vote of the commission last fall when they also hired Administrator Patrick Thompson – by a 2-1 vote with Portune voting against Thompson. Thompson isn’t worried about his job, he said Monday.

Roberts also is a friend and confidante of Heimlich who gave him political advice. Schrimpf was hired by Thompson as a policy analyst, but Schrimpf took a leave of absence during the election to serve as Heimlich’s commission administrative aide because Heimlich’s normal aide, Rob Seddon, took a leave to serve on Heimlich’s campaign.

“With the deputy administrator, we’ll look to see ‘Do we want it to look like it currently looks?’ The answer is no,” Pepper said, adding he’s looking at jobs, not individual employees.

Neither Roberts nor Schrimpf returned Monday calls.

Pepper’s plan also mentioned Chris Finney, a lawyer and volunteer member of a commissioner-appointed task force who is a business partner of Heimlich.

That’s the same Chris Finney who took exception to being named. He verbally attacked Pepper during a profanity-laced tirade during an October Pepper press conference.

“Our decisions will be based upon retaining, or conversely appointing, those people who are the best people for the job or task regardless of Party affiliation, friendship or business relationship,” Portune wrote.

The Finney and Heimlich families own a real estate business.

Finney said he serves as a volunteer at the commissioners’ pleasure and can’t control what they do.

Portune has asked for a list of all commissioner-appointed task forces, their members and resumes. He also has asked Thompson for the administrator’s updated administrative organizational chart to include newer hires.

Jobs being mulled
With David Pepper defeating incumbent Republican Phil Heimlich last week, Hamilton County’s three-member Board of Commissioners now has a majority of Democrats. The two Democrats – Pepper and Commissioner Todd Portune – are contemplating personnel changes. During his campaign, Pepper attacked two specific employees and a volunteer member of a commissioner-appointed task force:

* Patrick Thompson, county administrator.
Annual salary: $209,966.08;

* Ron Roberts, deputy county administrator.
Annual salary: $162,500;

* Michael Schrimpf, policy analyst.
Annual salary: $36,000;

* Chris Finney, head of the Tax Levy Review Committee;
Annual salary: None, volunteer position.

Yankee Repubicans nearly extinct?

The Associated Press writes today that Sen. Mike DeWine's loss in Ohio is another example of the steady decline of "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" GOP lawmakers:
"The defeat of Chafee, arguably the most liberal GOP senator, and Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine, who at times aligned himself with GOP moderates, leaves Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania as perhaps the only reliably centrist Republicans in the Senate."

Read the whole story HERE.

What do you think? Was DeWine's loss to Democrat Sherrod Brown last week due to his centrist positions - or in spite of them?

Bush brushes off Boehner's warning

From the current Newsweek magazine about White House strategist Karl Rove's really bad numbers:
"Ten days before the elections, House Majority Leader John Boehner visited Bush in the Oval Office with bad news. He told Bush that the party would lose Tom DeLay's old seat in Texas, where Bush was set to campaign. Bush brushed him off, Boehner recalls. 'Get me Karl,' the president told an aide. 'Karl has the numbers.'"
Read the full story HERE.

Even a loser knows when to say thanks

From today's "Inside Washington" column:

WASHINGTON - In retrospect, it sure tells you a lot about a candidate when after it's all said and done, they say thank you. After all, gratitude is a down-home Buckeye value, isn't it?

Sen. Mike DeWine and his wife, Fran, certainly think so.

The Cedarville Republican, who lost the seat he's held for 12 years to Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown in Tuesday's election, e-mailed a letter of thanks to supporters - and reporters - the day after his 56 percent to 44 percent loss.

"Thank you for all of the calls you made, the doors you knocked on, the hot days walking parades, and your intense efforts during the final few weeks and days of the campaign," they wrote. "We are proud of the campaign we ran and could not have done it without your help and support."

Read the full thank you letter HERE.

Brown and his wife, Connie Schultz, posted a thank-you letter on Brown's Web site:

"With your help, we did what many people thought was impossible. We proved a progressive campaign that fights for the middle class can win in Ohio," Brown wrote. "I will never forget your efforts as I begin my service in the U.S. Senate."

Read the full thank you letter HERE.

Rep. Steve Chabot's campaign posted this message on the Westwood Republican's campaign Web site the day after the election: "Thank you to all the staff members, volunteers and fellow voters who gave many hours to our successful campaign."

Read the thank you blog post HERE.

John Cranley's campaign Web site has no such thank-you message. In fact, Friday, it didn't look like it had been updated since days before the election, other than a scrolling ticker indicating the growing national debt. A message touting "4 days 4 victory" was still front and center, as was a video of Cranley discussing why change is needed.

To be fair, Cranley did sort of thank 75 supporters at his Election Night party: "I want everyone to have a good time tonight," he said. "I'm extremely proud of this campaign, proud of all of you."

The group didn't let him finish his sentence, interrupting with "Next time! Next time!"

UPDATE: A big "Thank you for all your support!" message is now posted on Cranley's site.

But neither Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt nor her Democratic opponent Victoria Wulsin - who as of Friday had not conceded the race - have posted a thank-you letter on their campaign Web sites.

Schmidt's site unchanged by mid-day Monday; So was Wulsin's site.

Republican Rep. Geoff Davis of Northern Kentucky and former Rep. Ken Lucas, a Democrat who lost to Davis last week, had not posted a thank-you letter, either.

Davis' site unchanged by mid-day Monday; So was Lucas' site.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Boehner, who won a blowout victory over his little-known opponent but will lose his title of "House majority leader" when Democrats take over the chamber, also said thanks, via e-mail:

"I am grateful and humbled by the support from my friends, neighbors, and constituents here in Southwest Ohio," he said in a statement. "I want to thank the voters in the Eighth District for their support, and I look forward to continuing to serve on your behalf in Congress."

Read the rest of today's column HERE.

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