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

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Who paid for the inauguration?

Here are the corporations and others donating as much as $25,000 apiece, the so-called "foundation" level, to help pay for the inauguration festivities of Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, according to their inaugural brochure:

AEP Ohio
American Electric Power
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Asian Indian Alliance
Barr & Prevost Engineering
Boich Companies
Burgess & Niple
Calfee, Halter and Griswold, LLP
Dick Weiland
Duke Energy
FirstEnergy Corp.
Ford Motor Co.
Forest City Enterprises
General Motors Corp.
HNTP Ohio Inc.
Kenmore Construction Co.
Medical Mutual of Ohio
National City
Nationwide Insurance Co.
Ohio Education Association
Saber Healthcare Group
Schottenstein Stores Corp.
Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.
Shelly Paving
Time Warner Cable and the Ohio Cable Telecommunications Association
Western & Southern Life Insurance Co.
Wholesale Beer & Wine Association of Ohio

Among those giving at the $15,000 "leadership" level were: Cardinal Health, General Electric, Huntington National Bank, KeyCorp., LexisNexis, Ohio Health Care Association, the Ohio Association of Realtors, Pfizer, Turner Construction Co. and UnitedHealthcare.

Among those giving at the $10,000 "supporters" level were Cincinnati attorney Stan Chesley, American Financial Group, Grange Insurance Companies, Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, Procter & Gamble, Federated Department Stores, Fifth Third Bancorp, Motorola, NCR Corp., Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp., State Farm Insurance Companies, Sprint Nextel Corp., U.S. Steel Corp. and Gresham, Smith and Partners.

Strickland's is not the longest, or costliest event

Gov. Ted Strickland's inauguration was the first held outdoors since 1991. Despite a steady drizzle, at least 4,000 people, including more than 500 in reserved seats near a temporary portico, crowded the West Lawn of the Statehouse.

The last three inaugural ceremonies, involving Bob Taft and George Voinovich, were forced into the Ohio Theatre because of lousy weather.

Taft's first inaugural in 1999 lasted three days and included three balls. Nearly $1.5 million was raised privately to pay for it. Taft's last celebration in 2003 was pared down to $500,000 and one day.

Strickland's two-day festivities began with a leadership dinner Friday night. More than $1 million has been raised privately to pay for all events. Randy Borntrager, acting executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party, said a complete list of donors will be made public later this month.

Taft used his first inaugural address to promote OhioReads, promising to double the program’s reading tutors from 10,000 to 20,000 volunteers.

Taft’s second inaugural speech in 2003 plugged a $500 million Third Frontier bond issue and the need to focus on higher education issues. At the time, the Republican governor was facing his third budget deficit in two years.

Angela Pace, a former television anchor with WBNS-Channel 10, and now its public affairs director, pointed out that Strickland is the first governor to incorporate a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration into his inauguration.

“Ohio is celebrating the diversity of its state,” Pace said.
Hundreds of red, white and blue cupcakes were handed out afterward.
“I was up all night baking them,” Pace joked.

Strickland's celebration, titled, "Uniting Ohioans to Turn Around Ohio," concludes with a black-tie-optional inaugural ball tonight at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

At least 8,000 people bought tickets for $75 apiece to the ball, to be held in the Frank J. Lausche and James A. Rhodes buildings linked by a giant tent.

What about Bob?

“Hit the Road, Bob” was one of the most popular political buttons sold today by vendors at the governor's inauguration. And it wasn't a reference to Bob Evans.

Others featured photos of Ted Strickland and his running-mate, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.

"It was a bargain at any price," one buyer said of the Bob Taft memento. Taft left for Africa on Monday, his 65th birthday, for a monthlong trip with his wife, Hope, to countries he once worked in as a Peace Corps volunteer.

The buttons were selling for $2 apiece.

All the King's horses.....

Statehouse security was saving on gasoline today...but was not short on manure.

Officers from a variety of police and patrol outfits rode atop at least 56 horses, lining up commandingly along South High Street in Columbus.

Plenty of manure also was found lined up, nice and neatly, along the sidewalks.

Here's Enquirer photographer Michael Keating's photo: Mounted police and sheriff's patrols lined High Street next to the Statehouse and left a great deal of manure behind.

Sherrod Brown, Land's End model

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown looked more like the Marlboro Man than Ohio’s new junior senator today, when he sported a tan sheepskin coat on stage at Gov. Ted Strickland’s inaugural ceremony.

Almost everyone else -- except for the governor’s wife, Frances Strickland, who was dressed in red -- wore dark topcoats.

Enquirer photographer Michael Keating writes: Newly minted US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and his wife, Connie Schultz, recognize a familiar face in the crowd. Ted Strickland was sworn in on the Ohio State House steps in Columbus as the state's 68th governor. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer administered the oath of office while Strickland's wife Frances looked on.

'To the horizon and beyond...'

Gov. Ted Strickland's inaugural speech included an unintended play on Buzz Lightyear's line from the movie Toy Story. He pointed out that former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn - his inauguration co-chairman - knows about where the dreams of Ohioans have taken us before "to the horizon and beyond."

Afterward, reporters were calling the new governor "Buzz Strickland," after the variation on Lightyear's "to infinity and beyond." The first Democratic governor in 16 years even pointed to the sky to punctuate the line.

For Strickland's full speech and photos, go here

Asked about the Lightyear line, Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey just laughed out loud. It was not intentional, Dailey said. "There were a number of allusions, but most were to leaders of the past. He was obviously referring to Ohio's leadership of flight."

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Mayor is in

Mayor Mallory Releases Winter and Spring

“Mayor’s Night In” Schedule

Mayor Mark Mallory released the winter and spring schedule for “Mayors Night In” today.

Mayor Mallory holds “Mayor’s Night In” twice a month to allow citizens an opportunity to meet with the Mayor. The Mayor believes that citizens should have a regular opportunity to meet with the Mayor face to face and discuss city issues.

The next “Mayor’s Night In” is scheduled for Tuesday evening, January 30 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the Mayor’s Office at City Hall.

Every citizen who attends has a 5-minute individual meeting with the Mayor to talk about anything they wish. Meetings are assigned in the order that individuals sign in, with sign-ins beginning at 4:30 pm.

Fall Schedule:

January 30 ·
February 6 ·
February 27 ·
March 6 ·
March 20 ·
April 10 ·
April 24 ·
May 8 ·
May 22 ·
June 5 ·
June 19

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Don't even think about lighting up

New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended her power this week by declaring "No Smoking" in the Speaker's Lobby, an ornate room behind the House chamber where lawmakers - most notably, House Minority Leader John Boehner - typically light up.

In a statement, Pelosi, D-Calif., said: "The days of smoke-filled rooms in the United States Capitol are over."

That's bad news for Boehner, a West Chester Republican known for his permanent tan and the Barclay cigarette often holds in one hand.

"Medical science has unquestionably established the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke, including an increased risk of cancer and respiratory diseases," Pelosi said. "I am a firm believer that Congress should lead by example."

Lawmakers still will be able to light up on the balcony of the Speaker's Lobby, although the last couple of days in Washington have been mighty cold. Lawmakers also will still be allowed to determine whether to allow smoking in their personal offices, as is tradition.

A no-smoking ban went into affect in Ohio on Dec. 7 while Washington went smoke-free Jan. 2.

Sports crazy?

Maybe a little.

At least that's what Ohio Sen. George Voinovich admitted this week after taking a red-eye flight back to Washington after watching his law school alma mater, Ohio State University, suffer a painful 41-14 defeat to Florida in the BCS National Championship game Monday night.

"I flew all the way to Arizona just to see a beating worse than the one my party took back in November," Voinovich said, after arriving back in town at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, just in time to attend a 9 a.m. Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.

"He knows how to play hard and work hard!" said spokesman, Chris Paulitz, marveling at the energy level of his 70-year-old boss.

UPDATE: Voinovich paid his own airfare and for his own game ticket.

Get me a latte and a Howard Dean quote, please

The head of the national Democratic party was in town yesterday, as you may have read in today's Enquirer.

But did you know the story behind the story? Read it on Gregory Korte's blog.

More news from Loveland

Jane Prendergast reports:

Residents wanting to appeal zoning decisions will have to live closer to the property in question.

City Council changed its zoning code to change wording that allowed any citizen who spoke at a public hearing – rather than just those living nearby - to appeal a zoning decision.

The old wording allowed resident David Miller, who often objects to city officials’ actions on his Web site www.lovelandmagazine.com, to appeal zoning decisions about Shooters Supply’s efforts to build an indoor firing range on Loveland-Madeira Road, even though Miller doesn’t live nearby.

Those appeals have helped hold up the range for two years. Officials said the change, approved Tuesday, wasn’t about trying to restrict Miller, but about making the zoning appeals process fair to those directly affected.

CNN's John King reports from Cincinnati on Iraq

From the transcript yesterday:

John King is in Covington, Kentucky, this morning with some gold- star parents.

John, good morning.


And you see the city of Cincinnati behind me. Ohio has paid a high price in this war. So as we await the president's speech and we track the debate in the Congress about whether a troop surge is a good idea, about whether the Democrats will take the bold step of actually trying to cut off funding for the war, we thought it also important to touch base with some people for whom Iraq is not such a faraway place. And for them, the war is intensely personal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KING (voice over): The heroes of Lima Company are remembered in somber public memorials, and remembered 17 months later in the private shrines of parents who still gasp when the doorbell rings, still hesitate to watch the news.

JOHN DYER, SON KILLED IN IRAQ: Every time I hear another casualty report, it's just -- it's like a knife going through me, because I know what that serviceperson's family is going to feel like.

KING: Lance Corporal Christopher Dyer was 19 when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Haditha. Back then, the U.S. death toll was at the 1,800 mark, and his father, who had questioned the war, wrote the president, urging him to win it.

DYER: But if that could happen, then I might be able to reconcile myself to seeing that my son's death had contributed to something.

KING: Dyer still feels that way but worries Iraq has become too political and the war itself off course.

DYER: Because I don't think we're any better off in Iraq than we were a year and a half ago with another 1,200 servicemen killed. In some ways, we're worse off.

KING: Isolde Zierk's son Gus (ph) is a Lima Company staff sergeant, back home and married now. So talk of a troop surge, it's hard.

ISOLDE ZIERK, MOTHER OF LIMA COMPANY MARINE: My son could be another one that's -- you know, has to go back, even though we are not slated to go. But you have to find 20,000 or 30,000 people somewhere.

KING: Zierk supports the war, but knows Democratic gains in last year's elections proves she's outnumbered.

ZIERK: The majority is not satisfied and wanted a change.

KING: The Lima Company deaths were a turning point for public opinion here in Ohio, the state where Mr. Bush began the march to war with such certainty.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The threat comes from Iraq. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.

KING: Four years later, 72 percent of Americans disapprove of how Mr. Bush is handling Iraq, and 61 percent in a "USA Today"-Gallup poll oppose increasing troop levels.

JEREMY ROSNER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: The man giving that speech is in a lonely position and one of the loneliest jobs in the world.

KING: John Dyer keeps thinking it's time to put most of this away.

DYER: This is obviously not even close to what we had in our dreams, or in his dreams.

KING: But he wants to believe Chris's death was not in vain and will be listening to see if the president gives him hope.

DYER: Obviously, it's very depressing. Sometimes I can't even watch the news because of what's going on. But I just don't see an alternative to not staying and seeing it through. I'm trying to be hopeful and optimistic, but it is very difficult.(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Spend time with an anguished parent like John Dyer, Miles, and what is most striking is that the conversation is much less black and white than what you get back in Washington. There you have the Democrats and the Republicans positioning over just how to react and how to handle the president's speech.Speak to a parent like John Dyer, who has suffered the ultimate loss, and what you hear is someone who says, yes, the president has made a lot of mistakes, yes, the president should probably candidly acknowledge those mistakes in his speech tonight. But Mr. Dyer also says look, Mr. Bush will be president for two more years, there will be tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for more than that, and he wishes the politicians in Washington would discuss this, debate their ideas, but be much less partisan -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, it's such a tragedy to lose a child, but then to think that loss was in vain, it's hard to comprehend, isn't it, John?

KING: It sure is. I spoke first with Mr. Dyer a year and a half ago, just after he buried his son. He's a very thoughtful man, and you can see him wrestling.You had the shrine in his house -- and we've seen this in the parents of other children who have lost their lives in Iraq, two young men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq -- and he has all this stuff out, and knows it's time to put it away. But you can tell he's waiting for a turn for the better in Iraq.He'll feel much better putting it away if he believes Iraq is headed in the right direction. And he's hoping, hoping, although he's a bit skeptical, to get some of those answers from the president tonight.

M. O'BRIEN: A lot of shades of gray there.John King in Covington, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati.Thank you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. And then multiply it by 3,000, plus.

Getting ready for the inauguration

Rich Friley of Capital Crossroads cleans up some mess from Skate on State, an open air skating rink on the West Lawn of the statehouse Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio, as the stage goes up for the inaugural ceremony for Ohio's new Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland Saturday. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

State Senate: See you next month

TO: All Senate Members & Staff
All Other Interested Parties

FROM: Senator Bill Harris, President

DATE: January 10, 2007

RE: Cancellation of Session/January 17th & 18th

The full Senate Session scheduled for Wednesday, January 17th and Thursday, January 18th have been canceled.

The next full Senate Session is scheduled for Tuesday, February 13th.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Loveland debate gets a little ugly

From reporter Jane Prendergast:

It's common at Loveland City Council meetings for Councilman Paul Elliott to be the odd man out. He often votes against the tide.

But Elliott-versus-someone else got a little ugly during Tuesday night's discussion about building a pool and recreation center on a site adjacent to Phillips Park, and asking residents to vote in May to increase their income taxes percent to pay for it.

Elliott acted almost surprised when the vote came to designating the 15.22-acre site at Rich and Fallis roads the preferred site for the new facility, even though the site has been talked about for months and is even outlined as the preferred site on the city's Web site.

He said he didn't like it when council members were scheduled to act on an issue the same night they'd held a public hearing. He said it could seem to people that their comments didn't figure in.

Councilman Todd Osborne said it was "idiotic" for Elliott to pretend as if he hadn't known what site was going to be chosen.

Elliott said he'd been called worse.

Mayor Rob Weisgerber jumped in: "Let's keep the name-calling to a minimum."

Democrat in Paris watches Cordray event via Internet

Jenny O'Donnell of Linwood, who moved near Paris, France, last fall when her husband got a job transfer, said she was thrilled to be able to watch state Treasurer Richard Cordray's swearing-in ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse Monday via an Internet link.

"I have worked for years to see this great guy get elected to Ohio office. He is truly what a political servant should be," O'Donnell said in an email message today.

O'Donnell said she's still active with the Linwood Community Council, Hamilton County Democratic Party and Cincinnati Women's Political Caucus.

"With the advent of the internet, I have been able to keep in close touch with my friends, candidates and family members," O'Donnell said.

Leesa Brown, spokeswoman for Cordray, said, "We made lemonade out of lemons by having her participate in our campaign via cyberspace. She made calls via the Internet from France and was an active booster for us via her extensive email network."

O'Donnell also was active with David Pepper's campaign, and sent a flurry of fund-raising emails for John Cranley, Victoria Wulsin and Connie Pillich.

"I read the blogs, the online newspapers, and my friends send me the gossip! I have email, and use SKYPE and Yahoo for internet telephone access. I listen to Michael Sweeney's rebroadcasts of his radio show, WNKU's morning news broadcasts, listen to Jake Speed's weekly musical ditty, and have been watching the inaugurations on the live feed."

"I was instant messaging my sister during the Cordray inauguration. I stood up and proudly said the Pledge of Allegiance, applauded wildly for the new governor, and sang God Bless America from half way around the world. I laughed when Sen. (Ray) Miller said Tyrone Yates was having a fund raiser with all those good Dems in Columbus (that sounds just like Tyrone!). The whole experience brought tears to my eyes, joy and sadness that I couldn't be there to congratulate everyone in person. I am very hopeful for a new day in Ohio with these political changes."

O'Donnell said she still considers herself a Paris-Cincinnati commuter since she plans to come back to Ohio every 60 days, "particularly to work on campaigns, to vote, and to continue my forensic psychology practice."

"I know it sounds corny, but I have been an Ohio Dem for a long time, and this amazing outcome was even too good for a diehard like me to believe," O'Donnell wrote. "It was thrilling just to hear Dr. (Ted) Strickland (he's a psychologist, you know) introduced as governor. That brought tears to my eyes."

She said her mother, Priscilla O'Donnell, and many friends will be in Columbus for this weekend's inaugural festivities. "Honestly, I know I am having an amazing experience living in Europe, but I'd rather be there with them celebrating this victory then in Paris or London. I really am a hometown girl."

The 'We don't like Chris Finney' rule?

For not even being at the meeting, Chris Finney sure got a lot attention today.

Commissioner Todd Portune, the board’s new president under the new Democratic-majority, is moving quickly to place his stamp on board policy and procedures.

Today, Portune spoke of several changes he wanted.

But the one that drew the most response from Commissioner Pat DeWine – the lone Republican on the three-member board after David Pepper defeated Republican incumbent Phil Heimlich last fall – was a change for those on boards appointed by commissioners.

The boards review and make recommendation to commissioners on issues ranging from health care to transportation to efficiency in government.

Those wishing to serve on a commissioner-appointed task force or commission will have to reveal more personal information -- affiliations, etc. -- in their applications.

More controversial, though, is they also will have their political activity, as least concerning the board of commission, curtailed.

“The biggest change is perhaps the prohibition of any county appointee engaging in partisan political activity on behalf of any commissioner or candidate for the county commission, including contributing any money to a commissioner or candidate's campaign fund,” Portune noted.

That clause likely was intended for Finney, the former head of the Tax Levy Review Committee.
The TLRC is a commissioner-appointed volunteer group that investigates requests to place issues on the ballot seeking property tax revenue. Tax dollars help support services for children, the elderly, health care for the poor and others.

Finney also is a close friend, political supporter and business partner of Heimlich. Finney launched into a personal and profane tirade against Pepper during last year’s campaign.

DeWine said Portune’s changes would prevent individuals from making campaign contributions and participating in partisan issues but wouldn’t prevent groups or organizations from doing so.

Both Portune and Pepper were supported in their campaigns by labor unions.

“Maybe we should just call it the, ‘We don’t like Chris Finney’ rule,” DeWine told Portune during the discussion today.

Finney resigned from the TLRC days before Pepper took office.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bush budget will be Portman's baby

One Bush administration official who will soon be going toe-to-toe with the new Democratic Congress is Cincinnati's own Rob Portman, the former 2nd District congressman who is now White House budget director.

On Feb. 5, the Bush White House will deliver a $2.8 trillion federal budget plan to Congress, a document drawn up in large part by Portman, who will be called on to help sell it to his former Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill.

Counting on continued growth in revenues, the Bush budget plan promises to elminate federal budget deficits by 2012 and do it while continuing to fight a global war on terrorism and with the Bush tax cuts in place.

"I think we can make the case that the tax cuts have worked and that this is a plan that can work,'' Portman said in Cincinnati Monday, in town to pick an award from the Center for Chemical Addition Treatment.

Portman said he couldn't share details of the budget plan and said there is still "a lot of number-crunching going on,'' but he said the administration is using "pretty conservative' revenue projections.

"We're not going to offer pie-in-the-sky revenue figures,'' Portman said. "It will be a realistic budget document."

Portman said the biggest fiscal challenge the government faces is "the long-term sustainability" of entitlement programs like Social Security.

Wednesday, on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Portman will be part of a panel discussion that is part of the Concord Coalition's "Fiscal Wake-up Tour,'' a nationwide series of events aimed at focusing attention on long-term fiscal problems.

Along with representatives of the conservative Heritage Foundation and the liberal Brookings Institution, Portman will appear with John Glenn, the former Democratic senator from Ohio.

Who actually got some of those jobs

From the Strickland administration:

Governor Strickland Announces Governor's Office Staff

Columbus, Ohio - Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today announced staff who will fill key roles in the governor's office.

“I am deeply thankful to these talented and bright men and women,” Strickland said. “Ohio deserves a government filled with the most capable leaders who are committed to selflessly serving the state.”

The governor’s staff will be:

Chief of Staff

John Haseley, of Athens, who served as campaign director for Strickland’s gubernatorial campaign, director of the transition team and chief of staff for Strickland’s Congressional office from 1998-2005, will serve as the governor’s chief of staff.

Office of the Lt. Governor

Lauren B. Goode will serve as chief of staff. Goode, a native of Peebles, Ohio, previously worked as communications director for The Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, and is a former policy and legislative aide in the Ohio Senate.

Laura Fleming, a native of Cleveland, will serve as executive assistant to the Lt. Governor. Fleming previously served as Lee Fisher's executive assistant at the Center for Families and Children.

Office of the First Lady

Todd Rensi will serve as chief of staff. Rensi, of Columbus, was an aide for Frances Strickland throughout the gubernatorial campaign and a longtime staff member at the Ohio Democratic Party.

Judy Newman, of Lucasville, who worked in Strickland’s Congressional office as a field representative since 1999, will serve as project coordinator in the first lady’s office.

Cabinet Secretary

Jan Allen, of Columbus, whose previous public service includes positions in the lt. governor and secretary of state’s offices and deputy chief of staff under Governor Richard Celeste, will serve as cabinet secretary.

Chief Legal Counsel

Kent Markus, a native of Cleveland, who recently worked as a professor at Capital University Law School and served as counselor to Attorney General Janet Reno at the U.S. Justice Department and as chief of staff to then Attorney General Lee Fisher, will serve as chief legal counsel to the governor.

Chief Operating Officer

Aaron Pickrell, an Iowa native, who formerly served as campaign manager for Strickland’s gubernatorial campaign and on numerous political campaigns – including John Edwards for President – will serve as the chief operating officer of the governor’s office.

Malik Hubbard, a native of Shaker Heights, who was the Southern Field Director for the 2006 Ohio coordinated campaign and the deputy field director for Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, will serve as deputy director of boards and commissions.

Office of Public Liaison
Wade Rakes, a Mississippi native and former executive assistant to the chairman of Showtime Networks Inc., will serve as the governor’s director of public liaison.

Office of Policy

Janetta King, a native of Waterford, Ohio and a long-time legislative assistant in Strickland’s congressional office, will serve as policy director.

Robin Harris, of Pickerington, who recently served as the director of public policy and acting president and chief executive officer of the Ohio United Way, will serve as the health and human services policy executive assistant.

Kris Long, of Columbus, who served as chief of staff and legal counsel for the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus and in private practice in Michigan, will serve as the public safety and criminal justice policy executive assistant.

John D. Stanford, of Blacklick, Ohio, who most recently served as the special assistant to the Superintendent of Columbus Public Schools, will serve as the education policy executive assistant.

Office of Legislative Affairs

Former Representative Bill Hartnett, of Mansfield, will serve as the legislative director for the governor’s office.

Mike Culp, of Columbus, who was the executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party and former chief of staff and communications director for the Ohio House Democratic Caucus and statehouse reporter for Gannett News Service, will serve as deputy legislative director.

Tamiyka L. Koger, a native of Bedford Heights, Ohio, who worked as a legislative aid to then Minority Leader Chris Redfern and aide in the Ohio House for six years, will be serving as legislative liaison in the governor’s office.

Office of Communications

Jess Goode, a Warren County native, will serve as communications director. Goode previously served as Strickland’s congressional press secretary and district director.

Keith Dailey, a Cuyahoga County native, who has been press secretary both in the gubernatorial campaign and during the transition, will be the governor’s press secretary.

Amanda Wurst, a Columbus native, who recently worked on Mary Jo Kilroy’s campaign for Congress and Charlie Wilson’s write-in campaign for Congress, will serve as deputy communications director.

Jesse Taylor, a native of Dayton, who served as the online communications director for both the gubernatorial campaign and transition, will continue in that role in the governor’s office.

Stephen Hightower, of Middletown, Ohio, who served as the Franklin County field director for Strickland’s gubernatorial campaign, will serve as media events coordinator in the governor’s office.

Office of Faith-Based Initiatives

Angela Woodson, of Cleveland, faith-outreach statewide director for the gubernatorial campaign, will work in the governor’s office of faith based initiatives in Cleveland.

Shandell Jamal, of Columbus, who served as scheduler and deputy statewide minority outreach director during Strickland’s gubernatorial campaign and as an aide to Congressman Tim Ryan, will serve in the governor’s office of faith based initiatives.

Office of Scheduling

Betsy O’Grady Becker, of Columbus, who was director of scheduling on Strickland’s gubernatorial campaign and was formerly a K-12 teacher and program director of Kids Voting, will serve as scheduler in the governor’s office.

Caroline Jones, of Marietta, who served as a member of Strickland’s Congressional staff since 1997 as a scheduler, caseworker and administrative staff, will work in the governor’s scheduling office.


A veto on his first day!

Updated, 6 p.m.

From the Strickland administration:

Governor Strickland Vetoes Senate Bill 117

Columbus, Ohio - Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today vetoed Senate Bill 117, saying it both weakens consumer protections and prevents cities from being able to seek justice on behalf of their citizens on certain key matters.

“This legislation weakens both consumer protections and corporate accountability, and I will not allow it to go into law, in its current form, during my administration,” Strickland said. “Ohio’s consumers must be allowed to hold companies fully responsible if a company has a product that harms Ohioans, especially children.”

Strickland is able to veto this bill because it is within the 10-day period a governor is able to approve or veto a bill.

Below is the text of the statement of reasons for the veto of Senate Bill 117:

Veto Message


January 8, 2007

Under Article II, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution, the Governor may veto any bill. I am vetoing Amended Substitute Senate Bill 117 for the following reasons.

Amended Substitute Senate Bill 117 greatly weakens current protections provided to consumers in the State of Ohio. This effort to amend the Consumer Sales Practices Act and arbitrarily limit awards to victims for noneconomic damages to only $5,000 does not allow consumers defrauded by companies to seek appropriate justice.

While weakening protections for consumers, at the same time the bill strengthens protections for companies that may have been responsible for products that have harmed and even continue to harm children and others in Ohio. This prevents cities from being able to seek justice on behalf of their citizens.

I will not allow this legislation in its current form, which drastically undermines current consumer protections, to go into effect during my administration.

I have signed this veto message on January 8, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.

Florida and Ohio governors bet on Buckeyes' game

Gov. Ted Strickland has offered to send candy Buckeyes and wine to Florida's new governor if the University of Florida Gators upset Ohio State University in tonight's championship football game.

Strickland also offered to fly the Florida state flag next to the Bexley residence for a day.

Strickland said Florida Gov. Charlie Crist promised to send a box of citrus when they lose, but was "non-committal" about flying Ohio's state flag next to the governor's mansion in the Sunshine State. "I'll certainly fly it somewhere," Crist said.

Strickland plans to watch tonight's football game at the Value City Arena on the northwest corner of campus. "I could have gone to the ballgame," Strickland said today. "I'm going to spend a part of the evening with students. I think that's perhaps even more meaningful."

Cordray's swearing-in is rich with jokes, roasts

More than 300 people jammed the Statehouse Atrium this morning for Treasurer Richard Cordray's swearing-in ceremony.

The event quickly turned into a celebration of the first statewide Democratic victories since 1990.

Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher made their first public appearances since taking their midnight oaths of office at a private ceremony. Both received standing ovations.

"I want to say to each one of you, welcome to the People's House," Strickland said.

Franklin County Clerk of Courts John O'Grady noted that while Cordray is a former Jeopardy Champion, being perfect is not one of his traits. He has a bad taste for ties, O'Grady said, and Cordray's shoes "frequently aren't tied. There's enough problems with the Worker's Compensation system."

Senate Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty said, "I can't help you with the shoelaces, but I might be able to help you with the ties."

And Mary Ellen Withrow, a former Ohio and U.S. treasurer, said, "It's so great to have a treasurer with the name Rich."

Before offering a speech, Cordray made a joke of his own, saying: "It is a treasured moment to be here."

"We propose to shape an effective course in personal finance education for young and old and in-between," Cordray said in his speech, "to help those who face the anxiety of debt or foreclosure or bankruptcy; to join our new governor and lieutenant governor in stimulating the economy of this state; and to assist our many local officials in better governing their fiscal affairs."

A luncheon was planned for supporters at a nearby hotel. "This will be the last free lunch you will get on Rich Cordray," said state Sen. Ray Miller. "So eat up."

Miller also joked that state Rep. Tyrone K. Yates of Evanston/East Walnut Hills "told me he was holding a fund-raiser right after this program."

The Rev. Hearcel Craig, associate minister of First Church of God, closed his benediction with "Amen. Go Bucks!"

Everyone wants to answer the media's questions

Greg Korte analyzed the list we posted of applicants to Ted Strickland's administration and found that more applicants want to talk about what the administration is doing than to actually be in charge of doing it: Applications for spokesman positions outnumber applications for director-level positions by a 3-to-2 ratio.

Read the analysis here

Strickland, Fisher take oaths at governor's new office

Both Ted Strickland and Lee Fisher were sworn in as governor and lieutenant governor shortly after midnight. About 50 family members, friends and immediate staff attended today's ceremony.

The bible that Strickland placed his hand upon is owned by the state -- Ohio's oldest bible, printed in 1763. Thomas Kirker, who was Ohio's second governor, used the bible for his oath of office in 1807.

A portrait of Strickland's parents, Carrie and Orville, is to the right of his new desk.

"Everybody come in. Don't be shy," Strickland yelled to his guests, which included his wife, Frances, brother and sisters.

"He acts like a governor even before he's sworn in," Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer said. "That's a good sign."

Moyer administered the oaths of office.

As they were sworn in, the office door's chrome plate carrying Bob Taft's name was removed and Strickland's was screwed in. Taft's name, in gold vinyl on a door leading to the Statehouse lobby, also was replaced with Strickland's name by 12:15 a.m.

Strickland decided to move the main governor's office from the Riffe Office Tower, back to the Statehouse. "This will be his working office," said Keith Dailey, Strickland's spokesman.

Gov. Strickland's first order of business: ethics

Shortly after being sworn in at the Statehouse today, Gov. Ted Strickland signed an executive order setting new ethics requirements that ban all but token gifts for himself, his staff, cabinet agencies, and state boards and commissions.

"Recent scandals in Columbus have created the perception that decisions are made to reward political friends instead of making decisions that are best for Ohio," Strickland said. "The people of Ohio need to have faith in their government, and this first executive order is the first step in strengthening their faith."

Strickland said only token gifts or meals worth less than $20 can be accepted. Ethics laws already require state employees to report gifts worth more than $75.

"Let everyone know: it is no longer business as usual in Columbus," Strickland said.

The full text of his first executive order can be found here:

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