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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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Council to Dohoney: Get it done or else

Before Milton Dohoney Jr. (pictured) was hired as Cincinnati city manager, some Council Members insisted an official job evaluation for the job be adopted.

That happened Wednesday.

Council Member Jeff Berding presented a motion -- it was adopted unanimously – that calls for city managers to be graded on about 30 items.

“The city has suffered too long,” Berding said, by not having a performance-driven evaluation of its city manager.

The evaluation, he added, is similar to one given to a chief executive officer of a major business.

The criteria includes responding to public complaints about and requests of city employees, selecting high-quality staff and keeping Council up to date on the city’s financial condition.

Dohoney will be evaluated in February, after six months on the job, by Council Members Chris Monzel, Chris Bortz, Cecil Thomas and David Crowley.

After one year on the job, Dohoney – being paid $185,000 per year to oversee a $1.2 billion annual budget – will be evaluated by a four different Council Members.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

AP: Schmidt Wins

There may be about 6,600 provisional ballots still out there, but a 3,220-vote lead for Jean Schmidt as of 4 p.m. Tuesday was enough to convince the Associated Press to call the race.

But not enough, apparently, for Democrat Victoria Wulsin, who still refuses to concede.

Contacted by the Enquirer a second time Tuesday afternoon, moments after AP called the race for Schmidt, Wulsin said she wanted to wait to see what happens in Hamilton County, where elections officials are still in the process of counting about 4,000 2nd District provisional ballots.

But let's do the math: Wulsin would have to take about 72 percent of the outstanding votes in Hamilton, Clermont and Scioto counties to overtake Schmidt and about 67.5 percent to force an automatic recount.

Not going to happen.

As your grandma will say when she pulls the Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven, stick a fork in it; it's done.

Schmidt's lead keeps growing

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt’s lead over Democrat Victoria Wulsin in the 2nd Congressional District race has grown with every new set of provisional votes counted, but the Democrat is not ready to throw in the towel.

With new provisional vote counts from Warren and Pike counties, Schmidt now leads Wulsin by 3,220 votes - a net increase of 355 votes over her election night lead.

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, there were only about 6,600 provisional ballots left to be counted in 2nd District – about 4,000 of them in Hamilton County.

The closeness of the election on Nov. 7 convinced Wulsin, an Indian Hill Democrat, that she should wait until all provisional ballots – ballots cast on election day by voters whose residency or identification was under question – were counted.

Wulsin said this afternoon that she is not ready to concede.
"With maybe 4,000 votes still to be counted, it wouldn’t be right for democracy for me to make this decision myself,’’ Wulsin said. "We need to make sure every vote counts."

Schmidt campaign spokesman Matt Perin said it is time for Wulsin to "move on."

"She is a very good doctor and she should be getting on with her profession,'' Perin said. "This is over."

In Hamilton County, with about 4,000 2nd District provisional ballots,and Clermont Count, with about 2,300, election officials planned to continue their count on Wednesday.

Two counties in the seven-county southern Ohio district – Brown and Adams – were the first to count their provisional ballots, finishing Monday.

Warren and Pike counties finished counting Tuesday afternoon. Warren County had 1,500 absentee ballots to count that were not counted on Nov. 7, along with about 900 provisional ballots cast that day.

In Scioto County, election officials went to work on their 300 2nd District provisional ballots late Tuesday afternoon.

We'll keep you posted.

Portune opposes appointment of light rail critic

Todd Portune complains that the other two Hamilton County commissioners -- including lame duck Phil Heimlich -- unfairly made a reappointment Monday to the board that control Metro busing.

Portune, a Democrat, was upset that Commissioners Heimlich and Pat DeWine, both Republicans, ignored his request to hold off on the reappointment of current SORTA vice chairman Stephan Louis (pictured) for a three-year term.

Portune believed that appointment should have been delayed until after Jan. 1 when Democrat David Pepper takes over for Heimlich after beating him in the Nov. 7 election.

SORTA -- the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority -- is a political subdivision of the state of Ohio that operates Merto and Access, a bus system for those whose disabilities prevent them from riding Metro buses.

It is controlled by a nine-member, volunteer board -- five appointed by Hamilton County commissioners and four by the Cincinnati mayor, although the mayor's appointments have to be approved by county commissioners.

It provides 22 million rides per year and has an anual operating budhet of $82 million.

Portune is a proponent of bringing light rail transportation to the area.

Louis is an outspoken opponent of light rail and led the campaigh to defeat a sales tax increase proposed in 2002 that would have helped finance light rail.

Other SORTA board members are:
* Chairman Lamont Taylor
* Robert Buechner
* William Mallory Sr.
* Robert Mecklenborg
* Daniel Peters
* Melody Sawyer Richardson
Two seats remain vacant.

Stephan Louis biography

Mr. Louis has been involved in selling and marketing innovative medical devices throughout the United States for over 25 years. He has participated in the improvement and development of several medical devices including the pneumatic drive for one of the first artificial hearts. A Cincinnatian for the last seven years, he has been involved with the Pleasant Ridge Community Council and organized several community improvement projects. Mr. Louis holds a dual bachelor's degrees in electronics and design from Eastern Kentucky University. He resides in Pleasant Ridge and has three adult children. Mr. Louis joined the SORTA board in 2003.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Readers react to ballot count

Here is some more reader reaction to the close election between U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt and Democratic challenger Victoria Wulsin. The counting of more than 8,200 provisional ballots in the 2nd Congressional District began today.

David Flege of Sycamore Township wrote:

"Victoria Wulsin faces pretty long odds in the counting of the provisional ballots. She must improve from just under 50 percent and capture almost two thirds of the remaining ballots. I looked at the county by county results to see if the estimated provisional ballots are concentrated in areas where Wulsin did exceptionally well.

"Surprisingly, if each county votes the same percentages on the provisional and absentee ballots as the general election, Rep. Jean Schmidt would gain almost 500 votes. About half of the estimated provisionals are in Hamilton county, where Wulsin received 53 percent. But the other half (roughly) are from Warren and Clermont counties where Schmidt polled over 58 percent," Flege said.

"It's a close election and I suppose it's reasonable not to concede until all of the votes are counted. But in the meanwhile, I wish the Wulsin campaign would quit calling my house," Flege said. "Enough already!"

Rob Gims of Monroe wrote:

"I never really get involved with speaking out and stating my point of view but when you look at this situation, I just can not help myself. What is going on in this country with being organized?

"I can only say from my point of view and others I have spoken with, it seems that our government scandalizes are really out of hand. Where is the accountability of the people of this country? This country encourages people to get out and vote but you have to wonder if it all really means anything.

"Today you can not just simply go to the polls and vote with out some form of screw-up. Is this all done on purpose to make it look like they are really trying to make it look like they are counting the votes? Are all the decisions premeditated and we are just fools who think out votes really matter? How much conspiracy is really behind our government? Well I’m sure I’m way out of line but come-on we are in a new century, a century of accuracy. I mean if we can send a rocket into outter space to blast a comet and figure out how to send Rovers to Mars to see if there is water or if water ever existed, then why can’t we count a few stinking ballots accurately and fast? What is wrong with this picture? And trust me, I know I’m not stating anything new here. . .It’s just a thought!!!"

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