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, February 02, 2007

She's baaaaack!

Alert readers will notice a familiar name in upcoming Enquirer stories - Jessica Towhey.

Remember Towhey?

She was Rep. Steve Chabot's campaign press secretary last fall.

Before that, she worked as communications director for the congressional campaign of Ohio state Rep. Chuck Blasdel, who lost to Democrat Charlie Wilson in Ohio's 6th District.

And before that? She was press secretary for Rep. Geoff Davis of Northern Kentucky.

Towhey, a native of Philadelphia, started this week as press secretary for Rep. John Boehner of West Chester. She'll be the main media contact for all issues dealing with Boehner's personal office, which is separate from Boehner's leadership office.

Towhey replaces Miami University grad Don Seymour in the position as Seymour gets a promotion to Boehner's leadership office.

Seymour will serve as the minority leader's deputy communications director. Former Boehner spokesman Kevin Madden left last year to join the expected presidential campaign of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Taft campaign gives $34,344 to Workers Compensation

The day before Thanksgiving, former Gov. Bob Taft instructed his campaign treasurer to donate two checks totaling $34,344 to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Campaign Escrow Account.

More details were reported in Friday's Enquirer, here

A pair of letters dated Nov. 22 from campaign treasurer Mark B. LaPlace say the money originated as contributions from rare coin dealer Tom Noe and his wife, Bernadette.

Noe is in prison on charges of embezzling state BWC money that he invested in rare coins and for concealing federal contributions to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. The Noes also gave generously to Friends of Governor Taft and Ohioans for the Third Frontier, the statewide bond issue.

Copies of the checks are here:


Although the bureau received the checks on Nov. 27, they were not disclosed until Wednesday when annual campaign reports were filed with the Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's office.

Southwestern Ohio fares well in House posts

House Speaker Jon Husted, a Republican from Kettering, announced new committee assignments today, and southwestern Ohio fared pretty well.

State Rep. Louis Blessing of Colerain Township will chair the Judiciary Committee and State Rep. Tom Brinkman of Mount Lookout will chair Commerce & Labor.

State Rep. Shawn Webster of Hamilton will chair the Higher Education Finance Subcommittee

Chairing a new committee on Healthcare Access & Affordability is state Rep. Jim Raussen of Springdale.

State Reps. Bill Seitz of Green Township and Michelle Schneider of Madeira previously were named to leadership posts by Husted, as majority whip and assistant majority whip, respectively.

Strickland starts with high support

By a 45 to 12 percent margin, Ohio voters approve of the job Gov. Ted Strickland is doing in his first days in office, according to Quinnipiac University poll results released today. But 43 percent of the respondents were undecided.

By a 70 to 2 percent margin, voters support spending more money on schools in poorer communities, but have mixed feelings about a proposed constitutional amendment to change the funding system, the independent poll found.

By a 60 to 31 percent margin, Ohio voters said they supported Strickland’s decision on Jan. 19 to temporarily delay three executions while he reviews the cases. White evangelical Christians supported the delay 56 to 36 percent and Republicans backed it by a narrower 49 to 45 percent margin. Democrats supported it by a 65 to 25 percent margin, with 10 percent undecided.

Even so, voters said they support the death penalty, by a 48 to 38 percent margin, instead of life without parole for convicted murderers.

"Strickland is getting good grades from voters so far, although he has not yet tackled the tough questions facing Ohio,'' said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Conn. "Many voters have not yet formed an opinion of him, but among those who have, he benefits by comparison with former Gov. Robert Taft and is doing very well."

If the state’s budget situation requires sacrifice, Ohio voters would, by a 51 to 34 percent margin, rather see state services cut than taxes raised, the poll found, although Democrats are evenly split on that question.

From Jan. 23-28, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,305 Ohio voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. The university conducts public opinion surveys in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as a public service and for research.

For more details, go here
or here and click on Institutes and Centers

Ohioans for Obama

Buffalo Wild Wings is not generally known as a hotbed for political discourse, but on Saturday, Feb. 10, the BWW in Kenwood will witness the birth of the Barack Obama presidential campaign in Ohio.

Local Obama supporters are launching an Ohio chapter of DraftObama.org, the organization started last year by Ben Stanfield, a computer technician from Rockville, Md.

Of course, nobody is really going to have to "draft" the Illinois senator to run; he's already made it clear he is going to do that. So what we will see on Feb. 10 at Buffalo Wild Wings is the first meeting of a nascent Obama campaign organization, aimed at the March 2008 Ohio presidential primary.

Those who want to get in on the ground floor are asked to e-mail Ohio organizer Carey Markoe at carey@DraftObama.org and put "RSVP" in the subject line. The meeting starts at 11 a.m. at the BWW at 7714 Montgomery Rd.

And, of course, you can stick around the BWW for the 4 p.m. tip-off of the UC-Villanova game, if you like.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Temporary jail debated

The issue changed Tuesday at Cincinnati city hall, but the tone didn’t.

Council member Cecil Thomas, chairman of the city’s Law and Public Safety Committee, blocked a motion backed by members Jeff Berding and Leslie Ghiz, that would have the city and Hamilton County work together on building a temporary jail.

The idea is for City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. and County Administrator Patrick Thompson to work together in hiring a project manager who will recommend where to build the jail and what type of jail to build. The structure is meant to hold at least 500 female inmates and open beds at the Hamilton County Justice Center.

But Thomas decided against moving that motion forward because, he said, he wanted a task force to examine the county’s jail problem first.

Berding said the two issues aren’t mutually exclusive. Let the manager and administrator get started on the temporary jail, he said, the task force is supposed to look ways to build a permanent facility.

“Let’s not play politics with the issue of crime and public safety,” Berding said.

Thomas wasn’t swayed.

“This is not an issue of politics,” Thomas said. “It’s an issue of making sure we know what we’re doing. There are an enormous number of short-term solutions that the city and county have been unwilling to do because of the old way of doing business.”

That led Ghiz to dress down Thomas.

“You are clearly mistaken,” Ghiz said. “I’m actually quite appalled that I’m sitting here in the Law Committee and you’re holding up a motion like this. It’s speaks to your leadership. It’s disappointing. We’ll figure out a way to move this forward, with or without you.”

That exchange happened just minutes after Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said the discourse between council members has recently been below what is expected.

“We need to respect one another in expressing our differences,” Mallory said. “I’m not sure that’s happening. The rules that govern how we conduct ourselves in council apply to committee meetings. There will be a reminder on that.”

Council members and all three county commissioners held a press conference two weeks ago during which they agreed to work together on building a temporary jail so that the county doesn’t have to pay to ship overflow prisoners to outlying counties. That effort is supposed to happen at the same time that the task force works on the larger issue of how to finance a permanent jail.

At the end of the Tuesday’s meeting, Berding began to apologize for leading a discussion that “was not helpful.”

Ghiz walked out in the middle of his comment.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Monzel running for re-election

Cincinnati city council member Chris Monzel announced through a press release that he will run for re-election this fall. All nine council members will run at the same time, against a field of candidates looking to take their seats. The top nine will be elected to council.

The election is Nov. 6. Here's Monzel's press release:

Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Monzel announced today that he will seek reelection this fall to another term on city council. Monzel’s announcement comes on the heels of an intense city budget battle where it was made apparent that Cincinnati needs strong, common sense leadership that will make the right decisions to make Cincinnati safe, economically viable and fiscally sound for future generations.

Councilman Chris Monzel said “I would like to take this opportunity to declare my candidacy for another term on Cincinnati City Council. Our city needs solid dependable leadership with a common sense approach to improving the quality of life for all residents of our city. My pledge today is to do just that. My plan is to continue working hard at every turn to strengthen neighborhoods by fighting crime and eliminating blight. I will maintain my effort to put the brakes on runaway city spending. During these past two years, considerable energy has been focused on strengthening the core services of our city, most importantly the hardworking unsung heroes of the police and fire departments.”

Monzel further stated that “it is important that we as a city stand up to those in our society who refuse to participate as responsible citizens. I am talking about the drug dealers, the sexual predators and those among us who want to destroy our city instead of making it stronger. I want to restore our city’s greatness so citizens are proud to be considered residents of the Queen City.”

Recent accomplishments by Monzel include spearheading an amendment to the city charter that froze council pay and stopped automatic raises for councilmen; consistently fighting to maintain a property tax rollback - effectively stopping unvoted property tax increases. And, he is leading the fight at City Hall to reign in sex offenders and stop Cincinnati from being a dumping ground for offenders from across the state. It is for these reasons that Chris Monzel has become widely known as “A Reliable Vote for Common Sense.”

Monzel was first elected to city council in 2001, after serving an appointed term. When reelected Monzel will be one of the most senior members of city council with a combined service time of nearly six years. There are nine members of the Cincinnati City Council. Each member serves a two-year term. All nine council members are elected in an open field race every two years on odd-numbered calendar years. They are term-limited to 4 consecutive terms in office.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A nasty day at City Hall

Howard Wilkinson has the story here

Strickland changes way judges are picked

Read Jon Craig's breaking story here

Update from Howard Wilkinson

Hamilton County Democratic chairman Tim Burke said county Democratic party officials around the state "saw this coming" basd on conversations with the governor and his team during the transition period.

"Even with this, I’m still satsified that the Democratic party will have influence over judicial appointments and it should,’’ said Burke, the recently-elected president of the Ohio Democratic County Chairs Association. "But it is clearly something the governor wanted; and it’s a huge change."

Burke said that Ohio’s last Democratic governor, Richard Celeste, who was governor from 1983 to 1991, had a judicial appointment system that went beyond just taking recommendations from his politicalk party, but nothing like the Strickland plan, which sets up a bipartisan panel to recommend new judges.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What should Gov. Strickland do?

What should Gov. Ted Strickland do about the 190 people awaiting execution on Ohio's death row? (One-fifth of them are convicted killers from Hamilton County.)

You can read and post your own views here

Death and Ted

Jon Craig covers the story in Sunday's Enquirer.

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