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

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Pepper got $450,000 from parents

Howard Wilkinson reports in Saturday's Enquirer:

Democrat David Pepper, the winning candidate in the Hamilton County commissioner’s race, got a late infusion of $450,000 in cash from his parents.

Pepper said he had to do it, because it was the only way to catch up with the fundraising of his opponent, Republican incumbent Phil Heimlich.

“We decided to fight fire with fire,’’ Pepper said. “It comes down to a choice of whether you choose to lose or you choose to compete. We chose to compete.’’

A record $2.7 million was raised by the two candidates, with Heimlich raising $1.390 million and Pepper raising $1.341 million, according to post-election campaign finance reports filed Friday with the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Up until mid-October, Heimlich held a substantial fundraising advantage over Pepper. Pepper said that, by that time, he could see Heimlich’s campaign still making large television ad buys and said he decided to ask his parents for help.

“There really aren’t any other people I would feel comfortable asking for that kind of money,’’ he said.

His mother, Frances Pepper, gave her son’s campaign $350,000. His father, former Procter & Gamble chairman John Pepper, gave another $100,000.

The reports filed Friday – which covered the period from Oct. 19 through the Nov. 7 election – showed that Heimlich’s fundraising slowed considerably in the final weeks of the campaign, after leading Pepper by a substantial margin earlier.

In the final period, Heimlich had $242,042 in contributions, compared to $494,356 for Pepper.

One councilman's budget

From Cincinnati city councilman David Crowley

December 15, 2006


I Move that the following changes be made to the City Managers’ recommended 2007 budget:

General Fund

$400,000 be allocated to expand the Ceasefire Cincinnati program.

$2.8 million allocated to fund Human Service programs in 2007. These funds should be allocated to Human Service agencies based upon the recommendations of the Human Services Advisory Committee (attached) as opposed to earmarks decided by City Council as was done two years ago.

That the Office of Environmental Quality be moved from the Health Department in order for it to become a stand alone agency that reports directly to the City Manager. This change will require an additional $75,000.

The Internal Audit budget be increased by $82,000.

$300,000 be allocated to the Center for Closing the Health Gap in Cincinnati in order to fund a health disparities study.

$125,000 for the Greater Cincinnati Film Commission

The Health Department meet its 6.2% reduction amount without closing a health clinic by implementing the other cost saving/revenue producing measures the Department has proposed.

Total General Fund Expenditure Additions: $3,782,000

The City’s retirement system contribution will be reduced from the 21.77% proposed by the City Manager to 18.3% thus freeing up $2.44 million in general fund dollars.

The $1,045,400 800 MHz System Maintenance project in the 2007 RCC budget be paid for with capital fund dollars not general fund dollars thus freeing up these funds for other general fund purposes.

Implement 25 additional police officers in each 2007 and 2008 as opposed to the 40 in 2007 and 25 in 2008 as proposed by the City Manager. These 50 new officers will be used to restore the neighborhood officer program that was dismantled by the Police Department in early 2006. This will save $271,440 in the 2007 General Fund.

The 2007 Citizen Complaint Authority budget be reduced by $50,000.

Total General Fund Expenditure Reductions: $3,806,840

CDBG Budget

The Homeowner Rehab Loan Program be reduced by $500,000. The Housing Maintenance Services Program budget should be increased by $500,000.

Capital Budget

The $1 million annual revenue realized from the sale of the Blue Ash Airport be equally divided and allocated annually to the newly created Economic Development Opportunities fund and the Neighborhood Housing/Commercial Development fund in order to create two long-term capital development funds.

The newly created Economic Development Opportunities Fund be reduced from $3 million to $2 million dollars in 2007. The Neighborhood Housing/Commercial Development fund be reduced from $2 million to $1.5 million in 2007.

Underground Railroad Freedom Center will receive $500,000 for capital improvements.

The $1 million RCC 800 MHZ system maintenance project be funded with capital fund dollars not general fund dollars.


The City Administration, led by the City Manager, should be complimented on providing City Council and the Mayor with a well-crafted and balanced budget. They had the very difficult task of reconciling the various priorities of the City Council with the very significant $28 million budget deficit. While City Council Members are not likely to agree with every recommendation the good work performed to this point should be applauded.

Safety clearly remains a major issue for our City and many of our residents. Ceasefire Chicago and similar programs in other City’s have had a dramatic effect in reducing violence. In September Ceasefire Cincinnati was launched in Avondale. The program is simply aimed at stopping violence now. Providing financial support to enable this project to expand will be money well spent.

While $2.8 million is far less than the 1.5% of the general fund as City Council unanimously adopted in June of 2006 (#200600630) this amount will allow for the continuation of the 2006 budget with a modest increase in funding. If general fund revenue exceeds projections in 2007 reinstating the 1.5% amount in 2008 should be examined. The needs of our citizens go beyond just safety, peacekeeping, and sanitation. Therefore a commitment to continue our long and proud tradition of providing support for Human Services in the City of Cincinnati is needed. The current Human Services Policy prioritizes funding based on the severity and urgency of various problems. These priorities include helping to fund programs for the homeless, at-risk youth, and citizens with disabilities.

On August 2, 2006 (#200600661) City Council approved the creation of an Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ) in Cincinnati. In response the City Manager has proposed creating such an office in the Health Department. After several discussions with city officials, the Mayor and representatives from the environmental community it has become clear that an OEQ that reports directly to the City Manager is needed in order to ensure that this office has the appropriate standing and flexibility required to deal with the many serious environmental issues facing our community and our workforce.

At the direction of the Internal Audit Committee, the Internal Audit Division conducted a comparison of other cities to ascertain the appropriate staffing and budget to provide adequate internal audit coverage. Internal Audit’s resources are very limited when compared to other similar cities. The recommended budget of $391,000 is less then half the average budget of comparable cities. Staffing which is currently at three internal auditors is 50% of the Council approved staffing just four years ago. Last year alone the cost the cost avoidance to the City as a direct result of the Internal Audit Division was $1,619,000. To increase these savings in the audit cycle and to maintain the appropriate audit coverage for the City of Cincinnati, the addition of another internal auditor, which will result in 4 full time auditors, is needed immediately.

It is easy to see that a disparity in healthcare exists in Cincinnati. However in order to get to the root causes of the disparity we first have to understand the extent of the problem in a scientific fashion. The Center for Closing the Health Gap in Cincinnati is prepared to move forward with this very important work. It is also important that the Film Commission continue the great work that they have begun. The major motion picture that is scheduled to start shooting soon in Cincinnati is evidence of this. In addition to the positive exposure that these films bring Cincinnati they also bring dollars and investment.

The City Manager has recommended funding the retirement system at 21.77% while the Mayor has suggested a 17% level. Funding at 18.3% provides a significant increase in the City’s portion of funding and still allows many other immediate general fund priorities to move forward. The 800MHZ system maintenance project is vitally important however this type of infrastructure maintenance is better paid for through capital dollars. Additionally the Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a true beacon of light for the City. Making a capital investment now will ensure it remains a jewel for our City.

In order to free up capital dollars to pay for these expenditures money can be taken from the Economic Development Opportunities and the Neighborhood Housing/Commercial Development Funds. These funds will be replenished with the annual dollars the City is to realize from the sale of Blue Ash Airport thus creating a permanent Economic/Housing Development project cash flow.

The Chief of Police has indicated that he did not request 100 additional police officers. Further it is clear that due to the time it takes to recruit and train the additional officers they will not have an immediate impact on police visibility or crime reduction. The City Manager’s recommended budget provides $2.7 million in 2007 for police overtime for Operation Vortex and operation Take Back Our Streets, which will have the immediate impact of getting additional police officers on the streets. The Neighborhood Officer Program was a highly successful and popular program with the communities it served. It provided a community with one officer who could serve as their liaison between the community council and the Police Department. If we are going to add additional officers it makes sense to restore this effective program.

The recommended CDBG budget cuts People Working Cooperatively’s (PWC) 2007 budget, who manage the Housing Maintenance Services program, by $600,000. At the same time their budget is being cut their completion goal of 1500 housing units is 500 more than the 1087 they completed in 2005 (see attached). The critical housing maintenance services that they provide help keep people dry in the summer and warm in the winter. Additionally PWC leverages $1.30 for every dollar given to it by the City and has over 4,000 volunteers who participate. A partial restoration of their budget will allow them to continue the essential services that they provide.

While the Housing Maintenance and the Homeowner Rehab program are both important, given the limited amount of resources available for housing in the CDBG budget, it makes more sense to direct those resources to programs that emphasize fixing thousands of existing homes as opposed to completely rehabbing a few new ones. For example the $1.5 million being recommended in 2007 for the Homeowner Rehab program will provide loans to rehab 18 homes. The amount remaining in the Homeowner Rehab program will allow for a goal of 12 rehabbed homes in 2007.

David C. Crowley

Brayshaw wants retroactive pay raise

Kimball Perry reports in today's Enquirer that Hamilton County Engineer Bill Brayshaw wants $160,000 in retroactive pay

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bye bye Madden

Kevin Madden, the "beautiful" spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner - who will be minority leader next year - is hitting the road after less than a year on the job.

Madden told the press corps via e-mail that tomorrow would be his last day with Boehner, a West Chester Republican. He's headed to the yet-to-be-announced presidential campaign of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican.

"I'll be moving on to join Governor Mitt Romney's political team as the 'national press secretary-in waiting' (as news reports described it) should Gov. Romney decide to decide to run for president," Madden said in the e-mail.

Some Cincinnati Enquirer readers might remember Madden from his work in 2004 as President Bush's spokesman in Ohio. Madden also has worked as press secretary for the Department of Justice and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

A Republican Senate?

Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota is recovering "without complication" from surgery for bleeding in his brain, caused by a condition called congenital arteriovenous malformation, the attending physician of the United States Capitol said this morning.

Johnson, who will turn 60 later this month, is up for re-election in 2008. Democrats now control the Senate, 51-49. But South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Mike Rounds would appoint a replacement for Johnson if he left office, which could tip power back to the GOP because Vice President Dick Cheney could vote to break a 50-50 tie.

Reaction from local senators and White House press secretary Tony Snow, a Cincinnati native:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Tim and Barbara and their entire family during this very difficult time. My wife, Fran, and I wish Tim a full recovery," said Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio.

"Janet and I have been praying, and urge all Ohioans to pray for Senator Johnson's speedy recovery. Tim has been my co-chairman on the Ethics Committee for the last two years - he is a good man and a good friend," said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio.

"I hope he gets better and it sounds like he is," said Sen.-elect Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who saw Johnson and spoke with him at an event in Washington earlier this week. Brown has been assigned to the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, of which Johnson is a senior member. Additionally, Johnson's wife, Barbara, has been assigned to mentor Brown's wife, Connie, he said.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Johnson and his family during this very difficult time. I consider him to be one of my better friends here in the Senate and I wish him a full and immediate recovery. Mary and I are praying for him," said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky.

"Our prayers are with Senator Johnson," said Snow. "Look, he's a great guy and it's one of these things where everybody is concerned. And our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, his staff, his colleagues."

Gannett News Service reporters Chuck Raasch and Mike Madden contributed to this blog post.

Professor DeWine?

That's right. After 30 years in electoral politics, Sen. Mike DeWine is now gunning for a different sort of job, following his re-election loss to Democrat Sherrod Brown.

Read all about it in a story in today's Enquirer.

You also can read DeWine's farewell speech on the Senate floor here.

And if you want more DeWine speeches from last week, go the the Library of Congress site and search the Congressional Record for "DeWine."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pepper's already spending your money

David Pepper has hired a chief of staff for when he becomes a Hamilton County commissioner next year -- but he doesn't know how much you will pay her.

Pepper hired Bridget Doherty, (pictured) his hard-working campaign spokeswoman who also is a former Cincinnati radio reporter.

Pepper said he is unsure what Doherty's salary would be but said it would be "in the middle" of the annual salary range for that position. The range is $42,619-$58,011.

That means Doherty will make about $50,000 per year.

Pepper takes office Jan. 2.

The other county employee -- a secretary -- will be hired in the next few days, Pepper said.

Blackwell reflects on his Nov. 7 loss

In his first interview with The Enquirer since his overwhelming loss to Gov.-elect Ted Strickland, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell said he doesn't think any Republican could have won last month's gubernatorial race.

Blackwell said he didn’t think he failed as much as the Republican Party failed. Even though he realizes the party elite had not supported him in his primary race against Attorney General Jim Petro, he made the conscious decision not to run against his party.

The rank and file were with him, he said today.

Blackwell said that, when the general election was over, he realized that he had raised more money than any African American candidate in the history of the country; he had raised more money than any non-incumbant gubernatorial candidate in the history of the state; and that he had 1.5 million supporters in his political base that cannot be ignored.

Blackwell was evasive about what he was going to do next except “take a deep breath and evaluate the work I can do to add value, whatever work that is.”

Read more about his interview with the Enquirer in Thursday's newspaper.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Senate overrides Taft gun bill veto

The Ohio Senate today overrode Gov. Bob Taft's veto last week of a revised concealed-carry gun bill, by a vote of 21-12, one vote more than was needed for a supermajority.

It marks the first override of a governor's veto since James Rhodes in June 1977.

When it becomes law in 90 days, House Bill 347 will wipe out more than 80 local gun laws including Cincinnati's ban on assault weapons, despite Friday's ruling in favor of the city by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Thursday, the Ohio House voted 71-21 to override Taft's third veto of his eight-year tenure, the first by that chamber of the General Assembly since 1990.

When House Bill 347 passed the Senate last month, it got 19 votes although four senators were absent.

Senate President Bill Harris, an Ashland Republican, supported the bill lawmakers originally sent to Taft.

The Senate has a 22 to 11 Republican majority.

Taft, a Republican leaving office Jan. 7, vetoed the bill Thursday saying it exceeds its goal of cleaning up Ohio's concealed weapons law by preempting local gun laws.

Backers defend the clause because it brings uniformity to a confusing patchwork of local bans and other restrictions.

A majority of respondents to an Ohio survey released earlier today said overriding local gun laws is a bad idea, according to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute based in Hamden, Conn. The institute's assistant director, Peter A. Brown, said he found the results particularly interesting given Taft's continued unpopularity in the public-opinion poll.

See detailed results of today's Quinnipiac survey here

Monday, December 11, 2006

Kucinich runs again

The Associated Press reports:

CLEVELAND – Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, said Monday he is planning to run again because his party isn’t pushing hard enough to end the war in Iraq.

In a statement, Kucinich said he plans to formally announce his candidacy for 2008 on Tuesday at City Hall, where he served as mayor of his hometown in the 1970s.

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