Hamilton County reporter
Enquirer statehouse bureau
Cincinnati City Hall reporter
Enquirer Washington bureau
Report: Boehner convened Foley meeting
WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader John Boehner
and the other lawmakers told of the congressional page scandal didn't break any ethics rules, but they showed an "unwillingness to take responsibility," according to a report out Friday from the House ethics committee.
The 89-page report includes details from the committee's interview with Boehner, a West Chester Republican, and sheds light on the internal discussions between lawmakers that went on shortly after the e-mails and instant messages between former Rep. Mark Foley
and a male teenage page were made public in late September.
Most notable is a description in the report of a meeting Boehner convened in his office "shortly before midnight" on Sept. 29 - the day Foley, R-Fla., resigned and shortly after the House had voted to have the ethics committee investigate.
The report says lawmakers agreed to hold the meeting "in the interest of being able to answer press calls regarding the matter," but notes that Rep. Tom Reynolds
, R-N.Y. declined to attend on the advice of his lawyer.
Read the full report here
"Kiss my ass" Finney kisses Pepper bye bye
Another Phil Heimlich
supporter admits he won't be around to serve under Commissioner-elect David Pepper
beginning next month.
"I would not anticipate serving after the first of the year," said attorney Chris Finney
, (pictured) an attorney, head of the commissioner-appointed Tax Levy Review Committee and friend and business partner of Heimlich.
During Finney's tenure on the Tax Levy Review Committee, that agency has provided additional scrutiny to special-purpose property taxes -- for services for the elderly, children, mental health and others -- that have saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
But Finney won't end that tenure because of what he's done but rather because of what he said -- and to whom. Finney, a rapid Heimlich supporter, was irked in October when Pepper held a press conference to blast Heimlich for not presiding over a transparent government and for hiring or appointing to public boards his friends or business partners.
Pepper alluded to Finney in his attack. Finney, whose family owns a real estate business with Heimlich's family, attended the Pepper press conference to loudly and angrily confront Pepper.
"You're trying to smear my name because you're a rich f------- asshole. Kiss my ass. Right here," Finney said patting his backside.
He also told Bridget Doherty
, Pepper's spokeswoman who was trying to end the incident, she also could put her lips on his behind.
If Finney doesn't resign from the TLRC, he would report, as that committee's head, to the man he called names.
Commissioner Todd Portune, who likely will become the Commission president when fellow Democrat Pepper takes office Jan. 1, has hinted strongly he would not allow that to happen, preferring to remove Finney from the TLRC.
Finney’s comment today came after The Enquirer reported yesterday that two other Heimlich supporters – deputy administrator Ron Roberts
and policy analyst Michael Schrimpf
-- will resign their Hamilton County jobs at the end of the year before Pepper takes office.
Roberts, Schrimpf are outta here
Three weeks before David Pepper
becomes Hamilton County’s newest commissioner, two county employees closely affiliated with Pepper’s vanquished opponent are leaving.
Deputy county administrator Ron Roberts
(pictured) and county policy analyst Michael Schrimpf
– both of whom aligned themselves with Republican incumbent Phil Heimlich
and criticized Pepper – are quitting before Pepper takes office Jan. 2.
“They have both notified me of their intent to resign at the end of the year,” County Administrator Patrick Thompson
Those changes come as the makeup of the three-member board of commission changes.
When Pepper, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Heimlich, it created a Democratic majority on the Hamilton County for the first time since 1962.
Roberts, who hung up when called Thursday, is a long-time player in the Cincinnati political scene, having served as chief of staff and campaign manager for former Republican Rep, Bill Gradison
and later serving as director of the Cincinnati Business Committee consisting of the area’s leading business leaders.
Roberts was hired as a consultant by commissioners more than 18 months ago. In that capacity, he was credited with behind-the-scenes work on several issues. Most prominently was Hamilton County announcing what later proved to be a failed attempt to hire a company to develop The Banks, a proposed $600 million commercial, retail and residential neighborhood.
When Thompson was hired last year, Roberts also was hired as a full-time employee, making an annual salary of $162,500.
Heimlich, who said Roberts played no role in his campaign, knew nothing about the resignations.
“Ron’s given a lot of advice over the years on a lot of things,” Heimlich said.
Roberts and Schrimpf were specifically named by Pepper during the campaign as examples of Heimlich hiring his friends and confidants instead of having a transparent government.
Schrimpf was a $36,000-per-year policy analyst for Hamilton County.
But after Roberts took him under his wing, Schrimpf became, during much of the election, Heimlich’s administrative aide.
After Pepper criticized Schrimpf in the election, Schrimpf responded, "Unlike David, I haven’t taken a check from my parents in a long time."
Schrimpf didn’t return calls.
Dim bulbs at the county building
Those cracks about there being a dim bulb in the Hamilton County Administrator's office (pictured) apparently are true.
The office of County Administrator Patrick Thompson
has been torn up as workers try to change the light fixtures.
Now, the light fixtures and ceiling tiles in that office are more than 20 years old. The result is that many of the aging fixture are konking out, resulting in literally dim bulbs or bulbs not working.
The fixtures are so old, six of them have to be replaced with new ones -- costing about $15 each.
Because the ceiling tiles are so ancient, they have to be special-ordered. County workers insist that sounds much more expensive that it actually will be but no one has costs today.
Pepper set to hire aides
Almost 100 people have applied to work for Hamilton County Commissioner-elect David Pepper.
Each commissioner is allowed to hire one secretary and one administrative aide.
Forty-four applied for the secretary position, with an salary range of $30,805-$41,933.
Forty-five applied for the administrative assistant position, with an annual salary range of $42,619-$58,011.
Those who applied for the administrative assistant position include the office manager and the communication director of a big union that gave money to Pepper's campaign, a few students, lawyers and several already employed by Hamilton County.
The most prominent of those who applied for that job are:
- Chandra Yungbluth, executive director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. She might want to read instructions on applications next time, though, because she filled it out improperly, listing her first name first. As a result, she is listed in the county's human Resources data base as Yungbluth Chandra.
- Travis Hines, the field coordinator for Pepper's victorious campaign this fall.
- Bridget Doherty, (pictured above) communications director for Pepper's campaign;
- Chris Seelbach, campaign manager for the unsuccessful attempt to get Jim O'Reilly elected to the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals as a judge. Seelbach also listed himself as a former campaign manager for Cincinnati Council Member David Crowley.
Pepper has interviewed or will interview about a dozen candidates for the jobs. Choices will be made within 10 days.
The jobs are "unclassified," so they aren't protected by civil service rules. That means Pepper can hire anyone he chooses, even those who haven't formally applied through the county personnel office. Pepper, a lawyer, campaigned on a promise of transparent government and not hiring his relatives, friends or business associates.
Here is the list of the other applicants for the administrative assistant job the county personnel department deemed qualified for the job:
Frances Amatulli, Brandi Ashcraft, Joseph Baldassarre, Diane Beerman, Lynn Boose, Heather Burton, Starlyne Dumas, Brian Dunn, Angelique Ferguson, Rebecca Goodman, Melanie Harris, Lisa Hensley-Boggs, Merry Jo Kerekes, Chris Lawson, Jamie Marengo, Kathleen McNay, Alicia Porter, April Postel, Michelle Rogers, Marie Siebel, Jay Spencer, John Spohn, David Stringer, Lee Thompson, Allison Welch and Jen Winkelman.
Pepper also plans to hire a third person -- who won't be paid with public funds.
He wants to hire a "purely political" person who will work for him personally and be paid for out of his campaign funds.
When the campaign finance reports come out next week, Pepper has hinted that he raised more than $1 million in his successful campaign.
If that's true, he joins the man he beat -- Republican Phil Heimlich -- who also raised over $1 million.
Callers: Si is a potty mouth
Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr.
(pictured) was so adamant that a new jail be built that he used several swear words in a Wednesday interview with the Enquirer on the subject.
After the story was published today, several citizens called the offices of the Hamilton County Commissioners to complain about Leis' language.
Because Leis is an independently elected official and doesn't answer to commissioners, the complaining callers were referred to the Sheriff's office.
In the story, Leis used the words "bitch," "hell" and "ass" which was substituted in the newspaper for "(expletive)."
One also called to complain that Leis, in suggesting commissioner unilaterally impose a sales tax increase to pay for a new jail a month after voters rejected such a move, wasn't listening to the public and was being the "big Hamilton County bully."
A call to Leis' spokesman today wasn't immediately returned.
Here's the link to today's Enquirer story:http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061207/NEWS01/612070360/-1/CINCI
Ohio House overrides Taft gun-bill veto
The Ohio House easily overrode Gov. Bob Taft's
veto of the concealed-carry bill today, 71 to 21. The House needed 60 votes to override.
A total of 20 votes are needed for the Senate to override. The Senate reconvenes on Tuesday.
State Reps. Steve Driehaus
, D-Price Hill, and Tyrone K. Yates
, D-Evanston/East Walnut Hills, were among the 21 Democrats supporting Taft's veto. Rep. Catherine Barrett
, D-College Hill, was among seven legislators not present for the vote.
This marks the first time the House has voted to override a Taft veto. The governor has vetoed just two other bills in his eight years in office.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. James Aslanides
, a Republican from Coshocton, said his legislation is as grassroots as legislation comes and has the support of law enforcement.
But Rep. Dan Stewart
, a Columbus Democrat who supported the existing law on concealed-carry weapons, said, "It went beyond when it dealt with city rules. It went too far when it dealt with city rights...I support the governor's veto of this bill."
Friday's news article can be found here
Senate reacts to Taft veto of gun bill
Senate President Bill Harris
issued the following statement today after Gov. Bob Taft
vetoed House Bill 347, dealing with concealed weapons:
"I continue to be proud of the work the Ohio Senate did in balancing protections for law enforcement with providing clear and consistent standards so that gun owners are better able to understand and comply with the law no matter where they choose to legally carry their weapons," said Harris, a Republican from Ashland.
"I am in the process of talking to other Senators who support this legislation so that I can determine the Senate’s next step should the Ohio House, as the originating chamber, act to override the veto."
The 99-member Ohio House could vote on a possible override of Taft's veto as early as this afternoon. Currently controlled by 60 Republicans, the House needs 60 votes for its first-ever override of a Taft veto.
Taft has only vetoed two bills in his eight years in office, in December 2001 and December 2003. And there are only a half dozen session days remaining for the 126th General Assembly.
Taft said his leading concern with the concealed-carry bill is that it would overturn about 80 local gun ordinances including one that bans assault weapons in Cincinnati.
Who's doing their job?
in today's The Hill
newspaper pointed out that four U. S. House members have missed every vote since the Nov. 7 election. None of them were from Ohio or Northern Kentucky. But it made us wonder... Have our lawmakers been doing their jobs?
A quick scan of the 11 roll call votes recorded during the post-election lame duck session shows that Greater Cincinnati lawmakers have been faithfully casting their votes, even Sen. Mike DeWine
, who lost his re-election bid.
But Ohio's new Gov.-elect, Rep. Ted Strickland
, and the Democrat who bested DeWine, Rep. Sherrod Brown
, have missed several votes. Is this a case of senioritis?
Here's the tally:Nov. 13
: Three votes, including extending normal trade relations to Vietnam, which failed.Who missed?
Ohio Reps. Strickland, Deborah Pryce and Paul Gillmor.Nov. 14
: Two votes, including one to fund programs to prevent underage drinking.Who missed?
Ohio Reps. Strickland, Pryce, Gillmor, Brown and Mike Oxley, who is retiring.Nov. 15:
Two votes, including a resolution to congratulate the St. Louis Cardinals on winning the World Series.Who missed?
Ohio Reps. Strickland and Gillmor.Dec. 5:
Two votes, including a resolution encouraging employers to hire former U.S. soldiers wounded in service.Who missed?
No one!Dec. 6:
Two votes, including a procedural motion and a resolution condemning the decision of St. Denis, France, to name a street in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murder of Philadelphia Police Office Danny Faulkner.Who missed?
Ohio Reps. Strickland, Oxley and Brown.
DeWine: Something smells at MSD
A budget watchdog, Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine
has been on a crusade to make government more efficient and less wasteful.
That's why he made a point Wednesday to question why the Metropolitan Sewer District, which was before the commissioners seeking approval of its annual operating and capital budgets, would be spending taxpayer money helping host a Geography Kids event.
MSD -- owned by Hamilton County but operated by the city of Cincinnati -- participated with several other county and city agency to host 250 grade-school kids.
In the first-time event, the students were shown how local governments "use geography and state-of-the-art Geographic Information Systems technology" to improve on planning construction projects, helping clean the environment and maintain roads.
A frustrated DeWine criticized the plan in the public meeting -- where the sewer district was seeking rate increases of 8.6 percent, 8 percent and 8 percent in the next three years -- calling it "offensive."
"We ought to let our schools educate our children," DeWine said.
That drew an instant response from fellow Commissioner Todd Portune who jabbed at DeWine by saying DeWine hadn't given previous MSD budgets the same "scrutiny."
Acting MSD Director Tony Parrott told commissioners the program was aimed at future workforce development, public interest and outreach.
"I think this is the kind of thing that really annoys people about government," DeWine said.
Safety before headlines
A city of Cincinnati press conference set for today at 10:30 on highway safety was delayed by one hour -- because the Ohio Highway Patrol officials participating were stuck in traffic due to bad weather.
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory
, Police Chief Tom Streicher
and officials from the Highway Patrol to talk about how successful a recent collaborative program -- the Highway Patrol has been patrolling highways within the city limits -- has been.
But Mallory's office sent out an e-mail 23 minutes before the press conference, to be held in the Price Hill Emergency Operations Center, to announce the press conference was delayed by an hour.
Because the Highway Patrol officials had to come from Columbus this morning, the snowy conditions and slow driving resulted in them being delayed.
"It would be horrible if something happened," said Jason Barron
of the mayor's office.
Commissioners to Leis: Back off
Hamilton County commissioners reacted angrily today to a letter
by Sheriff Simon Leis Jr.
urging them to unilaterally impose a sales tax increase to pay for a new jail.
In the letter, Leis advises commissioners to impose a tax to pay for a jail or he may start releasing early some prisoners who might be dangerous.
In his typical brusque fashion, Leis warned commissioners they have a statutory duty to provide adequate jail space and could face personal liability if an inmate released early because of lack of space “committed some heinous crime when he should have been in jail.”
“He’s the one who will be liable,” countered Commissioner Todd Portune
, noting Ohio law calls for the sheriff, as an independently elected official, to run the jail, including determining who should be released early.
Ohio law allows commissioners to impose a sales tax increase without a vote of the people. Such an increase would be subject to referendum.
The letter comes after a proposed quarter-cent sales tax increase was defeated by Hamilton County voters in the Nov. 7 election. The tax would have paid for a $230 million jail and $30 million property tax rollback.
Hamilton County is spending $55 per prison per day to house about 300 of its prisoners in Butler County.
Leis said commissioners need to make a decision.
"Personally, I believe you would garner a great deal of respect if you have the backbone to make this tough decision,” Leis told them.
They said he needs to face reality and remember that Issue 12, the proposed sales tax increase Leis endorsed to fund a new jail, was rejected by voters.
“As far as I know, we still live in a democracy and the voters spoke on that,” Commissioner Pat DeWine
Leis' tactics, they said, is the opposite of the help needed to convince voters to help pay for a new jail.
“(Leis) has to work cooperatively with us. The prosecutor (Joe Deters
) has to work cooperatively. These guys ran the (Issue 12) campaign and that was defeated Nov. 7. That was Si’s plan,” Portune said.
The sales tax issue was defeated 57 percent to 43 percent.
Leis’ stance today also conflicts, Portune said, with what the sheriff told him and other officials in a meeting last month to discuss what to do after the defeat of Issue 12.
At that meeting, Portune said, Leis told him the commissioners must continue to house Hamilton County’s excess prisoners at the Butler County jail – at a cost about $7 million per year.
Leis also said he’d make sure not to release anyone who was a danger to society.
“How does this letter square with that?” Portune wondered, upset that Leis’ letter went to the media before it went to the commissioners.
Leis wasn’t available to comment.
Voinovich on DeWine
Sen. George Voinovich
, R-Ohio, made the following speech on the Senate floor last night about Sen. Mike DeWine
, R-Ohio, who lost his bid for re-election last month:
MR. PRESIDENT, I ALSO WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK ABOUT OUR SENIOR SENATOR FROM OHIO, MIKE DeWINE. LET ME BEGIN BY SAYING THIS IS A SPEECH THAT I HOPED I WOULD NEVER HAVE TO GIVE.
FOR MANY IN THIS CHAMBER, WINTER CAME A LITTLE EARLY THIS YEAR. THE BLIZZARD OF POLITICAL CHANGE SWEPT THROUGH THE COUNTRY, AND UNFORTUNATELY, MANY WERE UNABLE TO WEATHER THE STORM. AND IN MY PARTICULAR CASE AND IN OUR STATE, THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. MIKE DeWINE WAS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE LEGISLATORS WE HAVE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE. HE WAS A VICTIM -- HE WAS A VICTIM OF THIS STORM. AND I'M DEEPLY SADDENED THAT OUR RESPECTED COLLEAGUE WILL NOT BE JOINING US WHEN WE CONGREGATE AGAIN FOR THE 110th CONGRESS.
MIKE'S TIRELESS COMMITMENT TO LEGISLATING, HIS WILLINGNESS AND ABILITY TO WORK WITH BOTH PARTIES, AND HIS INGENUITY WILL BE SORELY MISSED BY EVERYONE IN THE SENATE. AND THE STATE OF OHIO. MIKE HAS SERVED THE PEOPLE OF OHIO FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS, BEGINNING AS AN ASSISTANT COUNTY PROSECUTOR IN 1992. HE SERVED AS GREENE COUNTY PROSECUTOR FOR FOUR YEARS, STATE SENATOR FOR TWO YEARS, CONGRESSMAN FOR EIGHT YEARS, AND HE WAS MY LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR FOR FOUR YEARS WHEN I WAS GOVERNOR OF OHIO. AND, OF COURSE, HE SERVED US FOR 12 YEARS AS OUR UNITED STATES SENATOR.
HE WAS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE AND LEAST PARTISAN MEMBERS IN THIS BODY. DURING CAMPAIGN SEASON, SOME OF OUR COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE KEPT ASKING ME, "HOW'S MIKE DOING? HOW'S HE DOING?" AND FRANKLY, I THINK THEY WERE SECRETLY HOPING
THAT HIS POLL NUMBERS WOULD BE STRONG ENOUGH THAT HE WOULDN'T BECOME A TARGET. UNFORTUNATELY, THOSE NUMBERS NEVER GOT UP AND HE ENDED UP BEING A TARGET.
FAR TOO MANY MEMBERS SEE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS AS AN UNSURPASSABLE DEDIVIDE. NOT MIKE DeWINE.
OVER AND OVER AGAIN MIKE BUILT BRIDGES BETWEEN OUR PARTIES. AND HE GOT THINGS DONE FOR AMERICA AND FOR OHIO. JANET AND I FEEL LIKE MIKE AND HIS WONDERFUL WIFE FRAN ARE A PART OF OUR FAMILY. AFTER WORKING WITH MIKE FOR THE PAST 16 YEARS, I CAN TELL YOU THAT THERE IS SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT HIM.
IN FACT, RIGHT FROM THE START, I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING REFRESHINGLY DIFFERENT ABOUT MIKE DeWINE. THE INCEPTION OF OUR FRIENDSHIP CAME IN 1990 WHEN MIKE AND I WERE BOTH RUNNING IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR GOVERNOR OF OHIO. IT WAS A CROWDED FIELD WITH MIKE, BOB TAFT, AND I VYING FOR THE GOVERNOR'S SPOT. IT WAS THEN WE REALLY GOT TO KNOW EACH OTHER. WE TALKED ABOUT WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST FOR OHIO AND FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, QUITE FRANKLY, FOR OUR RESPECTIVE POLITICAL FUTURES. WE DECIDED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS AS RUNNING MATES AND MIKE AGREED TO RUN AS MY LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. AND I KNEW THIS WAS A VERY TOUGH DECISION FOR MIKE BECAUSE HE WANTED TO BE GOVERNOR AND WAS GIVING UP A VERY SAFE CONGRESSIONAL SEAT TO RUN FOR STATE OFFICE. AND AT THAT MOMENT, I KNEW I HAD A FIRST-RATE PARTNER, A MAN WITH GREAT CHARACTER AND HUMILITY AS WELL AS UNIQUE POLITICAL POISE AND PROMISE.
BOTH OF US KNEW WE HAD A LONG, TOUGH RACE AHEAD OF US WITH NO GUARANTEES. THIS WAS NOT A LAYUP SHOT. THIS ELECTION WAS A -- THERE WAS A REAL QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT WE WERE GOING TO SUCCESSFUL OR NOT. AND HE'S GIVING UP A SAFE SEAT IN THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS WITH A BIG FAMILY. BUT WE HAD A GREAT TIME RUNNING FOR STATE OFFICE. AND MIKE HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH THE STATE AS A WHOLE.
I REMEMBER WHEN HE AND FRAN PACKED THE KIDS UP IN THE VAN AND THEY TRAVELED EVERY INCH OF OHIO, BECOMING INTIMATE WITH THE APPALACHIAN EAST, ITS MANUFACTURING NORTH, AND ITS INTERIOR FARMLAND. WE WENT ON TO WIN THE GENERAL ELECTION AND, AS I LIKE TO SAY, TOGETHER WE DID IT. TOGETHER WE WON THE ELECTION AND TOGETHER WE CHARTED A NEW COURSE FOR OHIO.
AS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, MIKE TOOK OVER THE STATE'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGENCIES, WHERE HE LED THE FIGHT AGAINST CRIME AND ILLEGAL DRUGS. IT WAS A RELIEF TO HAVE MIKE AS MY PARTNER WHEN WE HAD THE LUCASVILLE RIOTS WHICH BROKE OUT ON EASTER SUNDAY IN 1993. IT WAS THE LARGEST PRISON DISTURBANCE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, GENERATING A GREAT DEAL OF NATIONAL ATTENTION. MIKE'S BACKGROUND IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND HIS CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT HELPED US RESPOND QUICKLY AND EFFECTIVELY. IT COULD HAVE BEEN A TRAGEDY BUT FORTUNATELY TOGETHER, AND WITH THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE MADE IT THROUGH.
IN 1992, WHEN THE OHIO REPUBLICAN PARTY NEEDED A CHALLENGER TO RUN AGAINST THE FAMOUS ASTRONAUT AND GIANT IN OHIO POLITICS, JOHN GLENN, MIKE WAS THE OBVIOUS CHOICE. HE AND FRAN WORKED TIRELESSLY TO WIN THAT SEAT. UNFORTUNATELY, VICTORY WAS NOT IN THE CARDS THAT YEAR BUT TRIUMPH WAS IMMINENT. TWO YEARS LATER, MIKE BECAME A U.S. SENATOR AND OUR PARTY SWEPT THE STATE, JUST AS THE DEMOCRATS DID THIS YEAR IN OHIO.
MIKE RETURNED TO WASHINGTON AS A U.S. SENATOR WITH MORE PERSPECTIVE, MORE EXPERIENCE, AND MORE INSIGHT INTO THE CHALLENGES FACING OHIO THAN WHEN HE LEFT THE CONGRESS AS A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. AND WITHOUT A LOT OF FANFARE, HE QUIETLY WENT TO WORK.
OF COURSE, MIKE HAS BEEN SHAPED BY MANY THINGS, AND IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO TALK ABOUT HIS ACHIEVEMENTS IN PUBLIC SERVICE WITHOUT MENTIONING THE TERRIBLE MISFORTUNE HE AND FRAN EXPERIENCED BACK IN 1994. I WILL NEVER FORGET THE DAY WHEN MIKE AND FRAN LOST THEIR DAUGHTER BECKY. I AM FAMILIAR WITH THE TREMENDOUS PAIN THEY SUFFERED THE DAY THAT CHANGED THEIR LIVES STICKS IN MY MEMORY MUCH LIKE THE DAY WHEN JANET AND I LOST OUR DAUGHTER MOLLY. MIKE TRANSLATED THE LOVE THAT HE HAD AND FRAN HAD FOR BECKY INTO HIS WORK HERE IN THE SENATE. HE BECAME A CHAMPION FOR OUR YOUTH AND FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT REPRESENT THEMSELVES. AND THAT'S WHY TODAY I AM HARD-PRESSED TO THINK OF ANYONE WHO HASN'T BEEN HELPED BY MIKE DeWINE. HIS LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS WHICH SPAN BOTH DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICY REFLECT HIS EFFECT WALL AND COMPASSIONATE NATURE.
MIKE HAS SHOWN TREMENDOUS DEDICATION TOWARD IMPROVING THE SAFETY OF OUR HIGHWAY SYSTEM. HE NOT ONLY AMENDED THE 2005 HIGHWAY BILL TO MAKE PREFERENCES FOR HIGHWAYS NOTED AS BEING UNSAFE BUT ALSO ALLOCATED MORE THAN $56 MILLION OF SAFE-TEA MONEY INTENDED FOR IMPROVING HIGHWAY SAFETY. HE SUCCEEDED IN FURTHER TESTING AN APPROVAL OF MEDICATIONS FOR CHILDREN. HE HELPED ESTABLISH A NATIONAL TOLL-FREE POISON CONTROL HOT LINE. HE ACTED ON BEHALF OF THE CHILDREN OF THE UNITED STATES SERVICE MEMBERS TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY HAD ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE. AND HE HAS STOOD UP FOR FOSTER CHILDREN TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE PROTECTED AND TO HELP THEM FIND ADOPTIVE PARENTS.
TIME AFTER TIME, SENATOR DeWINE HAS PROTECTED OHIO. HE WAS A CRITICAL VOICE IN PASSING THE SENATE PENSIONS BI BILL, WHICH HELPED ENSURE THAT WORKERS' FUTURES IN OHIO ON BETTER FOOTING. HE IS A COSPONSOR OF THE HEALTH PARTNERSHIP ACT, BECAUSE HE UNDERSTANDS HOW IMPORTANT HEALTH CARE REFORM IS TO OHIOANS AND TO THIS COUNTRY. HE HELPED ENSURE THAT OUR FIRE DEPARTMENTS ARE BETTER EQUIPPED TO FULFILL THEIR MISSIONS AS FIRST RESPONDERS. AND DURING THE BRAC PROCESS, HE WORKED TO KEEP FEDERAL FACILITIES, SUCH AS WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE IN DAYTON, THE DEFENSE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING CENTER IN CLEVELAND AND COLUMBUS, OPEN AND OPERATING, AND HE LED A NEW MISSION FOR OHIO'S NASA GLENN IN CLEVELAND.
TODAY THESE FACILITIES ARE THRIVING AND CONTRIBUTING TO OHIO'S AEROSPACE INDUSTRY AND TO OUR NATIONAL DEFENSE. I HAVE TO SAY THAT I DON'T THINK THAT THERE WAS A STATE IN THE COUNTRY THAT BENEFITED MORE FROM THE BRAC PROCESS THAN OHIO. AND IT IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP THAT MIKE DeWINE GAVE ALL OF US IN TERMS OF THAT BRAC PROCESS.
MIKE'S ALWAYS BEEN A FRIEND OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND HAS MADE IT A PRIORITY TO HELP STAMP OUT ANTISEMITISM AND INTOLERANCE HERE IN AMERICA. HE PLAYED A PIVOTAL ROLE IN HELPING DISCLOSE PREVIOUSLY CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS ABOUT NAZI AGGRESSION, LEGISLATION THAT MADE THESE RECORDS AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC THROUGH THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION. AND TODAY, THANKS TO MIKE, DOCTORS, NURSES, AND AID WORKERS ARE MORE PREPARED TO CONFRONT THE GLOBAL AIDS EPIDEMIC.
MIKE HAS CARRIED A HEAVY BURDEN WHILE HE'S BEEN IN THE SENATE. HE SITS ON THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, THE "HELP" COMMITTEE, AND THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE. HE ALSO SITS ON ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS COMMITTEES IN THE SENATE, APPROPRIATIONS. IN FACT, MIKE WAS THE FIRST OHIOAN IN 50 YEARS -- IN 50 YEARS -- TO SIT ON APPROPRIATIONS. HIS POSITION OF LEADERSHIP AND THE RESOURCES HE'S BEEN ABLE TO BRING BACK TO OHIO HAS MADE A TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE FOR OUR STATE AND A TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE OF OUR STATE. I USED TO JOKE WITH MIKE THAT MY JOB AS THE DEBT HAWK WAS TO MAKE SURE WE DIDN'T SPEND THE MONEY. BUT ONCE WE DECIDED THAT WE WERE GOING TO SPEND IT, HIS JOB WAS TO MAKE SURE OHIO GOT ITS FAIR SHARE. AND, BOY, DID HE DO A GOOD JOB.
MR. PRESIDENT, THESE ARE JUST A HANDFUL OF EXAMPLES WHERE MY CLOSE FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE, MIKE DeWINE, HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE. HIS LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND HIS LEGACY OF PRINCIPLED PUBLIC SERVICE HAVE HAD A DEEP IMPACT ON ALL OF OUR LIVES.
THE SENATE WILL SUFFER A LOSS WITHOUT MIKE BUT HE WILL NOT SLIP OUT OF THE SENATE. HE WILL WALK OUT THESE DOORS WITH HIS HEAD HELD HIGH BECAUSE HE CAN FEEL GOOD ABOUT ALL THAT HE HAS GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE OF OHIO AND TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. HE HAS TRULY MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES.
MARRIED FOR MORE THAN 39 YEARS, MIKE AND FRAN ARE PARENTS TO EIGHT CHILDREN AND GRANDPARENTS TO 10. THEY HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH MUCH HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS, AND THEY HAVE CARVED OUT MANY MEANINGFUL PATHS DURING THEIR LIFE TOGETHER. WHILE MIKE WILL BE MISSED, I'M CONFIDENT THAT HE AND FRAN WILL BEGIN SOMETHING NEW IN THIS NEXT CHAPTER OF THEIR LIVES. THEY HAVE BOTH GIVEN SO MUCH, AND I BELIEVE THAT GOD DOES HAVE A PLAN. SOMETIMES WE AREN'T REALLY SURE ABOUT WHAT IT IS, BUT GOD DOES HAVE A PLAN.
AND I'M REMINDED OF ONE OF MY FAVORITE VERSES FROM THE BIBLE: PROVERBS 3:5-6. TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND LEAN NOT UNTO YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDINGS AND ALWAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE WILL DIRECT YOUR PATH.
MIKE WILL BE MISSED BUT I KNOW THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL CONTINUE TO GUIDE THEM AS THEY EMBARK ON A NEW JOURNEY TOGETHER.
DeWine on C-SPAN right now
Sen. Mike DeWine
has reserved a two-hour block of time on the Senate floor today.
If you were to turn on C-SPAN on TV anytime between noon and 2 p.m., you'd see Ohio's outgoing senator wearing a red tie and standing at a podium making tributes to Ohio soldiers who have died in Afghanistan or Iraq.
DeWine's speeches today follow several that he gave
when the Senate was in session before Thanksgiving.
His office says the Cedarville Republican is determined to make as many tributes as possible before his time is up. This is expected to be the Senate's last week in session before the end of the year - and the end of DeWine's term.
Voinovich opposed Bolton, now concerned about his resignation
Ohio Sen. George Voinovich
made a big to-do about the nomination of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton
last year. His unexpected - and firm - opposition to Bolton in the Foreign Relations Committee nearly derailed the nomination altogether.
President Bush appointed Bolton during a congressional recess, thereby bypassing the confirmation process until this year. In the meantime, Voinovich did an about face and announced earlier this year that he would be supporting Bolton's nomination this time around.
Now, Voinovich is lamending Bolton's resignation, which comes as Democrats are about to take control of the Senate, dooming Bolton's chances at confirmation. Here's what the Cleveland Republican had to say:
“I am very disappointed that John Bolton will not continue in his role as ambassador to the United Nations. Given the fragile nature of the world situation, and the critical task of reforming the U.N., he should have been given an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.
“John Bolton has risen to the occasion and done a good job under the harshest of circumstances. I’m extremely concerned with him leaving since he’s been so deeply involved with the situations in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and North Korea and has been working in concert with fellow ambassadors toward true U.N. reform.
“I will work with the administration to help ensure we move forward rapidly to fill the void with someone of the utmost capability. I’m prayerful John’s team will stay in place so there will be a speedy passing of the baton to the new ambassador. And I will work with the deputy representative so that the transition will be as seamless as possible.”
DeWine to replace Bolton?
According to a story
in today's New York Times
about the resignation of United Nations Ambassador John Bolton
, Ohio's senior senator, who just lost a re-election bid, is on the short list of possible candidates for the job:
"It was not immediately clear who would replace Mr. Bolton. The leading candidate appeared to be the American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has told colleagues he is ready to leave Baghdad. Others said to be in the running are Richard S. Williamson, former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Sen. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Republican who lost his re-election bid, and R. Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs."
But DeWine told The Cincinnati Enquirer
in a phone interview this morning that not only has he has not been approached by the White House or anyone else about the job, he's not even interested in it.
"I'm not interested and I'm going home to Cedarville," he said.
But would he consider it if he were asked?
"I suppose we could speculate about a lot of things," DeWine said, adding again: "I'm not interested. My intention is to be in Ohio."
Strickland taps eight area leaders for transition
Gov.-elect Ted Strickland
named eight Cincinnati-area politicians, public officials and business leaders to key transition posts today.
Strickland, a Democrat, organized his transition teams into 14 major government areas. Coordinators appointed to each area will lead teams to evaluate budget, regulations and performance of various government agencies and departments.
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory
will help coordinate transition work involving the Department of Youth Services.
Hamilton County Coroner O'dell Owens
will coordinate the Commission on African American Males.Chad Wick
, president of KnowledgeWorks Foundation, will coordinate the Tuition Trust Authority, Ohio Board of Regents and Higher Education Facilities Commission.Nathaniel Jones,
retired federal appeals court judge, will chair the ethics category.Charlie Luken
, former Cincinnati mayor, will help coordinate work involving the Ohio Inspector General's office.
State Rep. Catherine Barrett
, D-College Hill, will coordinate work involving the Department of Aging. Her legislative term ends Dec. 31.
Attorney John P. Gilligan
of Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn will coordinate transition work involving the Ohio Building Authority.
And Dwight Tillery
, former Cincinnati mayor, will coordinate work involving the Ohio State Racing Commission.