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, February 10, 2007

GOP hopes to take over city council

Read Howard Wilkinson's story here

Friday, February 09, 2007

McCain is coming

Howard Wilkinson reports in tomorrow's Enquirer:

The contest among Republican presidential candidates for Ohio’s campaign dollars and votes starts next Friday, when Arizona Sen. John McCain comes to Cincinnati for a private fundraising event.

McCain, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy, will be at Cincinnati’s Queen City Club Friday for the fundraiser and private meetings with key GOP officials and campaign donors. No public events are planned.

McCain’s Cincinnati swing comes 10 days before one of the leading Democratic presidential contenders, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, comes here for a breakfast fundraising event at the Westin hotel.

The Arizona senator, who leads some national polls of GOP voters, will be the first Republican presidential candidate to land in Cincinnati, but surely will not be the last. Local GOP leaders say that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, one of McCain’s rivals, is planning a March fundraising event in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati and southwest Ohio has a long history of being an almost bottomless well of campaign dollars for GOP presidential candidates. – a lesson George W. Bush learned early on in his 2000 presidential campaign, when McCain was his principal rival for the GOP nomination.

Bush recruited deep-pocketed GOP donors like Carl Lindner and Cintas chairman Richard Farmer early on, denying McCain access to Cincinnati’s pool of Republican campaign money.
That experience eight years ago may explain why McCain is coming to Cincinnati so early in the primary season.

Officially, the Hamilton County Republican Party is taking no position on the coming battle for the GOP presidential nomination, although county chairman George Vincent said the party would help any GOP presidential candidate get the word out about campaign events in southwest Ohio.

“But it’s way to early for the county party to take a position on the presidential primary, if it ever does,’’ Vincent said.

McCain’s presidential exploratory committee is planning no pubic events for the Feb. 16 visit to Cincinnati.

The Hamilton County GOP isn’t take a position in the primary, chairman George Vincent said.
But on the following day after McCain’s visit, the Northeast Hamilton County Republican Club will hold its annual pancake breakfast at the Sharonville Convention Center. The club always conducts a straw poll at the breakfast. Last year, it was on the Ohio gubernatorial and 2nd Congressional District primaries; This year, and the Republicans will be asked to choose among a long list of GOP presidential candidates.

Organizers of the breakfast have invited presidential candidates to attend, but, as of Friday, none had accepted. McCain, a spokesman said, would be moving on from Cincinnati Friday night to events in Chicago on Saturday.

Butler County woman named to Foster Care Committee

Rawnica Dillingham of Hanover Township, executive director of Mental Health Matters and candidate for Butler County commissioner, has been named to Attorney General Marc Dann's Committee of Information Sharing for Foster Care Reform. Mental Health Matters is a non-profit public awareness group.

The committee’s primary focus is to recommend changes in the laws affecting background checks, communication with law enforcement, domestic violence reports, and the creation of a statewide registry of foster parents.

"If the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office had known at the time they received a domestic violence call to the Carroll’s residence, that the Carroll’s were foster parents, there is a chance Marcus Fiesel would still be with us today," Dillingham said today of the 3-year-old who died in a foster home in August.

Dillingham has been asked to research and develop a plan to improve communication between law enforcement, foster care agencies and Childrens Services Boards.

"Merely pointing fingers and placing blame at the local level, is not the answer to helping our children in the foster care system. Changing the law and forcing stricter compliance will help to a large degree," Dillingham said.

In October, Dillingham suggested a five-point plan for reforming the foster care system -- suggestions that state Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Fairfield, plans to introduce as legislation this year.

Combs also is a member of Dann's information sharing committee.

Ney serving time with "Survivor" winner

Convicted former Rep. Bob Ney has less than three weeks of freedom left before he must report to prison at the same Morgantown, W.Va., facility that "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch is serving at. Hatch was convicted last year of tax evasion.

Ney's report date was set in court papers filed in Washington this week: 2 p.m. on Thurs., March 1.

In the meantime, looks like not only Ney's house is on the market... Fridge, anyone?

Crowley's Iraq War resolution

Cincinnati City Council member David Crowley will introduce a resolution in Monday's Finance Committee meeting that opposes President George W. Bush's proposed troop build-up in Iraq. More than 250 cities and counties -- big and small, ranging from Chicago to Sebastopol, Calif. -- have passed similar resolutions.

Here is the resolution proposed by Crowley:

RESOLUTION NO. ______________-2007

EXPRESSING the Council of the City of Cincinnati’s support for the U.S. troops currently serving Iraq, as well as those that have previously served, and those that have been killed or wounded during such service, and their families; and further EXPRESSING Council’s deep concern with regard to President Bush’s proposed plan to increase the United States’ military presence in Iraq by 21,500 troops.

WHEREAS, more than 137,000 United States military personnel, including many from Cincinnati, are bravely and honorably serving in Iraq and deserve the support of all Cincinnatians and all Americans; and

WHEREAS, the people of Cincinnati will always honor the honor and sacrifices of the American soldiers who have died or been wounded in combat in Iraq, including the more than 3,000 United States military personnel who have died in Iraq and the more than 22,500 who have been wounded; and

WHEREAS, on January 10, 2007 President George W. Bush announced his plan to increase the United States military involvement in Iraq, by deploying approximately 21,500 additional United States combat forces to Iraq; and

WHEREAS, the Council of the City of Cincinnati hereby expresses its deep concern regarding the President’s plan to increase the number of American troops in Iraq, in part due to the impact on the available federal resources required to provide for the urgent needs of the most vulnerable portions of the American population, including the need to provide for the health, education, and homeland security of the City of Cincinnati and of other major urban areas within the United States; and

WHEREAS, in excess of $250 billion has been appropriated by Congress to fund military operations and reconstruction in Iraq, while in contrast, the City’s total amount of HUD grants has decreased significantly since 2002, the year before the commencement of the war in Iraq: in 2002, the City of Cincinnati’s total HUD grant amount was $23.7 million; in 2006, the City received a total of $18.9 million, and is anticipated to receive an estimated $17.5 million in HUD funds in 2007, which amounts to a projected decrease of $6.2 million in annual funding levels since 2002, without accounting for inflation; and

WHEREAS, this decrease in federal grant money severely lessens the ability of the City of Cincinnati to rebuild its urban core, promote homeownership opportunities in Cincinnati, and provide critical housing services for the poor, the disabled, and for people with HIV-AIDS; and

WHEREAS, polls show that greater than 60% of Americans oppose sending additional American troops to Iraq, which indicates that the majority of Americans share this Council’s concerns with increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq at this time; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Cincinnati:

Section 1. That Council supports the U.S. troops currently serving Iraq, as well as those that have previously served, and those that have been killed or wounded during such service, and their families.
Section 2. That Council expresses its deep concern with regard to President Bush’s proposed plan to increase the United States military presence in Iraq by 21,500 troops.
Section 3. That the City of Cincinnati, its elected leaders and its citizens have a responsibility to highlight the implications of sending additional troops to Iraq, and the resulting impact on available federal resources, which are urgently needed by the most vulnerable portions of the American population in the City of Cincinnati and other major urban areas within the United States.
Section 4. That a copy of this resolution be spread upon the minutes of Council and copies shall be sent to George W. Bush, President of the United States, and members of the Ohio U.S. Congressional delegation.

Passed: ______________________________, 2007


Attest: _______________________________

Submitted by Council Member David Crowley

Indian Hill turning blue?

Barbara Gould must be driving her Indian Hill neighbors crazy. She keeps dragging these Democrat politicians into the neighborhood.

Gould, an interior designer known for many years for her role as a matron of the arts in Cincinnati, has become, in recent years, a prodigious fundraiser for Democratic candidates, particularly at the state level.

During the 2006 election cycle, she raised hundreds of thousands for a raft of candidates, from Ted Strickland to Sherrod Brown to Jennifer Brunner, not to mention the Ohio Democratic Party itself.

Gould is at it again - on Feb. 20, she'll host a $1,000 per head fundraiser for the state party at her Indian Hill home, featuring Strickland and state party chairman Chris Redfern. Valet parking will be available.

Indian Hill's not what it used to be. There was a time, not long ago, when Democrats practically needed to show a passport just to drive their cars on Shawnee Run Road. Now, it is home to one of the Ohio Democratic Party's biggest fundraisers and has produced the last two Democrats to run for Congress in the 2nd District.

Indian Hill may not quite be blue yet, but it's taking on a definite purple hue.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mark your calendars for March 14

That's the date of Gov. Ted Strickland's State of the State address, scheduled for noon.

Kennedy funnier than Boehner?

That's according to The Hill newspaper's take on Tuesday night's dinner:
But Kennedy stole the show, cracking jokes about his good friend Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and the presidential aspirations of many of his colleagues. The senator’s best dig, however, was aimed directly at Boehner.

Kennedy said he recently visited Boehner when he was on the House side and noticed that the Ohio legislator was working on a jigsaw puzzle. Six months later, Kennedy stopped by Boehner’s office again — and Boehner was still working on putting the puzzle together.

“John, that’s a long time to be working on a puzzle,” Kennedy said.

“No, it’s not,” Boehner supposedly replied. “Right here on the side of the box it says three to five years.”
The Houston Chronicle's Washington Notebook also took a dig at House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester, citing the same Sen. Ted Kennedy joke!
But Kennedy settled the score with a professional-grade joke-writer's tale about walking over to Boehner's office in the House one day to find him working on a jigsaw puzzle — and then returning months later to find Boehner still assembling the same puzzle. Kennedy said Boehner told him to look at the box: "It says three to six years."
Come on. Was the jigsaw puzzle joke really THAT funny?

Obama's coming; Kearney's raising cash

One of Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama’s early fund-raising events will be in Cincinnati on Feb. 20, thanks to an old friend of of the Illinois senator.

State Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, is organizing a breakfast event for Obama, at a time and place yet to be determined. But, according to the Hamilton County Democratic Party, ticket prices will range from $100 to $2,300, the federal limit for individual contributors in the 2008 primary election cycle.

Invitations to the Obama fundraiser are expected to be mailed out within the next few days.
Kearney is a long-time friend of the Illinois senator, who plans to make a formal announcement of his candidacy Saturday in Springfield, Illinois. Kearney’s wife, Jan-Michele, was in Obama’s class at Harvard Law School. The Kearneys attended Obama’s wedding.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brown makes the whip team

New Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown was appointed today to the Senate's Democratic Whip Team, a position in leadership that means he'll be on the forefront of mobalizing fellow Democratic senators to vote for things on Majority Leader Harry Reid's agenda.

Said Brown: “It is vitally important that we spend the next two years moving America’s priorities forward. We have passed both ethics and minimum wage bills this Congress, and will continue to pursue legislation that supports working families. I look forward to the busy year ahead.”

Said Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill.: “I am pleased that Sherrod Brown has agreed to do this very important job. With his years of service in the House of Representatives, Sherrod brings a wealth of experience and knowledge on the important issues. He is respected, trusted and liked by Senators both old and new and I look forward to working with him.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer , D-Calif., is the Chief Deputy Whip. Other members of the whip team include Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md; Tom Carper, D-Del.; Russ Feingold, D-Wisc.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Clair McCaskill, D-Mo.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; Ken Salazar, D-Colo.; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Voinovich goes after IP pirates

Two tri-state senators teamed up today to introduce a bill targeting intellectual property (IP) theft. Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., are backing the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act, a bill that seeks to improve domestic coordination to combat IP theft and by creating a new international mechanism to work with like-minded countries to combat the pirates of the 21st century global marketplace.

Listen to Voinovich and Bayh talk about their bill HERE.

Snow sidesteps question on ... snow?

Trust me when I convey to you this fact: It is indeed just as cold here in Washington as it is right now in Cincinnati. And man, is it cold!

So as we all freeze together, ponder this question asked of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow at today's briefing by ABC News' White House reporter Ann Compton:

QUESTION: "Presidents may not be able to predict the weather or change the weather, but is there anything that the President has been either briefed on about the current cold wave across the country, or any federal resources that are being brought to bear?"

SNOW: "I don't know. I'll find out."

Compton weighs in on her question on Howard Mortman's blog.

The jail committee

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Whenever and wherever a new Hamilton County jail is built, county commissioners are hoping that a Criminal Justice Commission which held its first meeting Wednesday will help them assure it is not obsolete the day it opens.

“I hope that this will be the body that understands the jail issues better than anyone in the community,’’ Commissioner David Pepper told the 20 commission members who gathered Wednesday at the county’s Jobs and Family Services office.

The permanent task force – chaired by retired federal judge Nathaniel R. Jones – is not likely to have much say in where and when the $230 million, 1,800 bed jail is built, but will have a role in making sure it solves the county’s jail overcrowding problems.

The commission – which is made up of county and city officials, law enforcement representatives, judges, the county coroner, the public defender’s office and the Cincinnati Business Committee – has been asked by the commissioners to monitor jail issues and help them come up with ways to help them prevent future jail overcrowding.

“The work of this committee is not focused so much on facilities but the criminal justice system as a whole,’’ said Todd Portune, president of the board of county commissioners.

Members of the commission were given an overview of the jail situation in Hamilton County as it is today; and were told that the commissioners’ are considering the option of going to the voters in May for a sales tax increase to build a new jail. A 10-year, quarter-cent sales tax hike was rejected by the voters in November.

At its next meeting, the commission will form committees to study various aspects of the criminal justice system, including looking at the probation system, current treatment and diversion programs, and the structure of the criminal justice system.

“The first job of this group will be to evaluate the system as it is today – what’s working and what’s not,’’ Pepper told the group.

The new guy at Democratic headquarters.....

Caleb Faux, the Cincinnati Planning Commission member who has made his bones in politics in a raft of local, state and national campaigns, is the new executive director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

Faux's latest gig was running the unsuccessful but spirited campaign of Connie Pillich, who tried to unseat State Rep. Jim Raussen last year. Faux has been around - he worked in the John Kerry campaign in southwest Ohio; and played a role in the campaigns of Roxanne Qualls for both city council and Congress.

Faux, a professional land use planner, takes the place of Chandra Yungbluth, who left to become a Dayton-based field representative for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

Miss America, Chabot target online porn

Newly crowned Miss America Lauren Nelson joined Rep. Steve Chabot and other lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol today for a news conference to announce legislation designed to crack down on online porn.

Called the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online (SAFE) Act, the bill would enhance the current system for Internet service providers to report on-line child pornography on their systems, making the failure to report child pornography a federal crime and imposing fines. It also would provide immunity for ISP's who send the illegal images to the congressionally mandated Cyber Tipline.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are also backing the bill, as is Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas.

Nelson is an advocate for protecting kids online. She was joined by John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted" and co-founder of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, at the press conference.

ICYMI: Colbert features Ohio

In case you missed it - Rep. Zack Space was featured on The Colbert Report last night. Space is the freshman Democrat who just replaced convicted former Rep. Bob Ney in the 18th District.

That makes him the SECOND* Ohio congressman to go on the Comedy Central show.

And it makes us wonder... Just when will Greater Cincinnati Reps. Steve Chabot, Jean Schmidt and Geoff Davis sit down for an interview with Stephen Colbert?

*Thanks to an alert reader for pointing out that Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a Cleveland Democrat, already appeared on the Colbert Report. Her segment aired Nov. 3, 2005.

Oh that Boehner, what a funny guy (heh heh)

The new Minority Leader, aka the "perpetually tanned" John Boehner of West Chester, donned a tux – and brought his best quips – to last night's Congressional Dinner at Washington's swank Ritz-Carlton. The annual event sponsored by the Washington Press Club Foundation features eclectic members of both of Washington's elite social clubs – The Congress, and the somewhat disheveled reporters (according to Boehner) who chronicle their every move.

(Time magazine's Tim Burger was the first target of Boehner's rant on the somewhat irregular and disorderly wardrobe choices that reporters, even here in Washington, tend to have. The congressman, who has been known to single out reporters for their good – or bad – haircuts, thankfully did not slam any current – or former – members of the Enquirer's Washington Bureau for such unkempt attire. Whew!)

Others in attendance: White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, a Cincinnati native; TV talking heads Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson; newly anointed Miss America Lauren Nelson; Sam Waterston of "Law & Order," who was supposedly Matthews' date/guest; perennial Democratic presidential candidate and Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich, with his wife in tow; and our very own Rep. Steve Chabot, a Westwood Republican. We also hear that actress Daryl Hannah was there.

But it was Boehner who kept the zings coming when he took the mic, jabbing reporters first, then himself, joking about how no profile has ever been written about him that fails to mention his "perpetual tan" and the "ever-present Barclay cigarette between his fingers." He even commented on Pelosi's new ban on smoking in the Speaker's Lobby, the ornate room behind the House floor:

"We can still smoke out on the balcony. But, Nancy, it was 20 degrees out there. I think I want a seat on your global warming committee," he joked.

Kennedy, who teamed with Boehner on the No Child Left Behind Act and holds a charity dinner with Boehner each year to raise money for an inner-city Washington, D.C., school, threw a few punches of his own. But not enough to keep Boehner from leading the whole room in a round of his now-famous "Boehner Birthday Song" in honor of Kennedy's upcoming 75th birthday.

We kid you not. But it was a lovely evening, really. To see more photos, head over to Politico.com's photo slide show. Or read about the event in today's Washington Post.

UPDATE: Some really great pictures of just about everyone in Washington wearing Miss America's crown from Fishbowl. And more Boehner humor of the night from Politico.com's Shenanigans blog.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cates reintroduces bill

From reporter Janice Morse:

A state lawmaker from Butler County announced Tuesday he will renew efforts to make military retirement pensions tax-exempt – a step that will put Ohio on par with other states and could encourage retirees to remain in Ohio.

Sen. Gary Cates, R-West Chester Township,wants to allow military retirees to exempt their entire pension from personal income taxes – with no cap on the amount of income that could be exempted.

“This is an issue that I feel very passionately about,” he said. “After all these men and women have done to serve their country and protect our freedoms, it just makes sense to provide support to them and their families once they return home.”

Cates noted that Ohio is one of a handful of states that lack full or partial personal income tax exemption on military retirement pay. As a result, the state loses a significant number of military retirees, who often chose to locate in other states to reduce their tax burden. This exodus is a tremendous hit on Ohio’s economy because experienced, professional workers leave the state to pursue careers elsewhere.

“In a time when Ohio is focused on attracting business investment and jobs to the state, it is imperative that we make reforms to our tax code to encourage our military personnel to stay in Ohio,” Cates said. “Their knowledge, skills and professionalism are an invaluable asset to any business, and would play an integral role in the continued effort to grow Ohio’s economy.”

Some government snow cancellations

These have been cancelled

Mayor's Night In. The next scheduled Mayor's Night In is Tuesday, February 27, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

Hamilton County budget hearing at the Nathaniel Greene Lodge.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dann taps Dayton dude

From Marc Dann's office:

COLUMBUS - Attorney General Marc Dann has named David J. Fierst the new managing attorney of his Cincinnati regional office.

“David is a terrific attorney and a fine individual,” Dann said. “He will do a wonderful job leading the Cincinnati office and ensuring citizens in the region have access to all the resources we can provide.”

Fierst, 50, manages a staff of 34 employees in the Cincinnati office. For most of his 17-year legal career, Fierst, a one-time Army paratrooper, has been an attorney in private practice in the Dayton area, where he specialized in bankruptcy and criminal law. He served as an acting magistrate in the Dayton Municipal Court from 2000 until accepting his new position. He also taught developmental English at Sinclair Community College from the fall of 2004 until now.
“I am very excited about the opportunity I have been given to serve in the Dann

administration,” Fierst said. “The staff of the Cincinnati office has enormous potential to help improve the quality of life for the citizens of this region.”

Fierst earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Indiana University with a concentration in environmental policy. He also holds a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from the University of Louisville.

Fierst and his wife, Bethany, reside in Montgomery County’s Washington Township with their two children.

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