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, April 13, 2007

Sen. Clinton to speak at Wilberforce commencement

U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will speak at Wilberforce University's May 5 graduation ceremony, the Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake, university president, said this week.

Commencement begins at 2 p.m. at nearby Wright State University's Nutter Center.

"Senator Hillary Clinton brings to our commencement ceremony dignity, hope, stature and a heightened sense of history," said Flake, a Democratic congressman from Queens, N.Y., from 1987 to 1997. "She is the finest possible choice for the honor of sending off our next generation of leaders. . .Rest assured her time with us and our time with her will prove to be invaluable."

Last June, then-Secretary of State Ken Blackwell named Flake as campaign co-chairman of his gubernatorial campaign, as reported here.

In addition to Sen. Clinton, a Democrat from New York, Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of the 30,000-member Potter's House Church in Dallas, Texas, will deliver the university's Baccalaureate sermon at 10:30 a.m.

Flake said the visit by Clinton and Jakes "will make this the most historic commencement in the history of the university, and quite possibly the nation."

Wilberforce is a historically black university founded in 1856 and located about 15 miles east of Dayton. Its 2006 fall enrollment was 875.

The following Saturday, May 12, in Columbus, Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the Ohio Democratic Party's annual fund-raising dinner at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

Clinton is the first presidential candidate to commit to speaking at the $150-a-head fund-raiser, although an invitation has been extended to others, said state party spokesman Randy Borntrager.

Last June, two other presidential candidates, U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden, spoke at the Ohio Democratic Party's annual dinner in downtown Columbus.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cole & Cooper discuss Imus

This from City Hall reporter Jane Prendergast:

Cincinnati City Councilwoman Laketa Cole and former vice mayor Minette Cooper meet this afternoon with a group of African-American and white leaders to talk about the controversy surrounding Don Imus. The radio show host is under fire for referring to Rutgers University women basketball players as “nappy-headed hoes.”

Cole made a reference to the Imus comments during City Council’s discussion Wednesday about a possible march in Over-the-Rhine by a neo-Nazi group. Cooper is a candidate for City Council. The meeting is at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Praise for Pepper

Years ago a group of street-tough kids poked fun at David Pepper's uncool jeans and outdated Timberland boots.

He came back for more. He sought to understand them. He invited them to help on his city council campaign. He didn't forget about them after he was elected.

On Wednesday those kids thanked him.

Now nearly grown and with bright futures ahead, the group of teenagers from the Society for the Advancement of Reforming Felons (S.A.R.F.), surprised a very humbled Commissioner Pepper at Wednesday's commission meeting. They brought a plaque, and Pepper's mother who was brought to tears at the touching words about her son.

The teenagers credit Pepper's persistent quest to understand them and the violence they see and live every day with helping them turn their lives around.

"I just want to thank you for saving my life," said Timothy Hope, a senior at Withrow High School who used to be head of an Avondale gang. After getting involved in S.A.R.F. and meeting Pepper, he turned his life around and is expecting to graduate this year.

Others also told tales of Pepper's influence and their plans for graduation.

When Pepper first asked to come to the S.A.R.F. meetings four or five years ago the teenagers thought it was just for show because he was running a city council campaign.

But they realized after he won that he was still listening. Not only that, he was bringing their ideas to city council, they said.

They decided they needed to thank him. So they went to City Hall. Then they realized Pepper's now a commissioner. So they trekked to the administration building and sought him out.

No jabs at his attire this time, just thanks.

"Dave we thank you, and continue to be a decent human being," said S.A.R.F head Candice Tubbs.

Pepper was honored.

"You embarrassed me today. Thank you so much," Pepper said. "I am honored by your presence and look forward to continuing to work together."

He posed for pictures, then invited the group, and his mother, back to his office to catch up.

Remembering Kabaka Oba

In the midst of doing the county's business Wednesday, county commissioners took a moment to remember black activist Kabaka Oba.

"I always enjoyed the general," recalled Commissioner Todd Portune. "He had a style about delivering the message that was not always met with open arms, but the things he was saying were ... on the mark and needed to be heard."

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the outspoken Oba's death. Oba, who called himself "the general" of an organization called the Black Fist, was gunned down outside City Hall April 12, 2006 after leaving a City Council meeting where he was a regular speaker. He died April 15.

Oba was also a frequent speaker at county commission meetings and had spoken at one the morning of the shooting. A woman identifying herself as Joy Rolland-Oba, said she had accompanied Oba to the meetings the day of the shooting. She came to Wednesday's commission meeting alone.

"I just came because he always came," she said. Then she added a criticism. "The Hamilton County prosecutor continues to do the dirty deeds he does and doesn't prosecute those responsible," she said without elaborating. Howard Beatty, who had a bitter feud with Oba, is serving a 13-year sentence for the shooting.

Portune thanked the woman for her comments and noted that although the 6-foot-1, Oba was physically an imposing figure, "He could be a very lighthearted individual."

"He came back to my office after the meeting and we had some lighthearted moments," Portune said. "I'll remember him for the lighthearted spirit he had. He was physically strong and somewhat imposing, but a gentle giant."
Later in the day at City Council, family and friends of Oba asked for a proclamation in his honor and for a street to be named for him. Mayor Mark Mallory referred them to his staff for the proclamation. No one immediately responded about the request for a Kabaka Oba Street.

Oba's brother, Ted Bailey, said after the hearing that anyone wanting to support Oba could do so by donating to the scholarship fund in his name at any Fifth Third Bank. He cautioned against donating money to others who claim to be Oba's supporters.

Velma Sanders, a friend of Oba's, said she and others are planning a memorial service on the anniversary of Oba's death.

"Don't look at us and think that we're doing something that shouldn't be done," she said. "That was one of our brothers."

The mayor drank here

There's a new coffee shop in O'Bryonville that has more than one claim to fame in his two short weeks of existence. The Coffee Shop on Madison had Mayor Mark Mallory as a customer Tuesday. It's also the only place east of the Rocky Mountains to use beans roasted by Café Moto, a small San Diego company that roasts organic and Fair Trade beans. Owner Pat Wynne tasted some Café Moto coffee while on vacation and decided to use it.

“It’s just really smooth, with none of that kind of burnt aftertaste some coffees have,” said barista Kathy Schmitz.

The shop also serves pastries and cookies made by local bakers and others from Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Mich. Managers Schmitz and Elaine Potter also make sandwiches, toast bagels and English muffins, etc.

The store, at 2030 Madison Road, sits between Hemptations and From the Ridiculous to the Sublime. It opens at 6:30 a.m. every day. They’re still figuring out consistent closing hours, but Schmitz says right now it’s usually open until at least 9 p.m.

The shop has a MySpace page, but no Web site yet. But here’s one for the bean company: www.cafemoto.com.

But we digress. The politically interesting, maybe, part of this little new-business tale is the mayor's drinking partner - The Dean of Cincinnati, who blogs at www.cincinnatibeacon.com. They talked about the neo-Nazis, marijuana, literacy, Jeff Berding, according to The Dean's story on the blog.

Help To Arrive From Denver

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb comes to Cincinnati on Friday to lend some advice to Mark Mallory. The two met at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where Webb offered to come.

"He's going to come and help me with some issues," Mallory said Tuesday. "He has an awful lot of experience and an awful lot of expertise. He's just a wealth of information."

Now president and CEO of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, Webb was Denver's mayor from 1991 to 2003. He was the first African-American to hold that job. Before becoming mayor, he was a state representative, worked in the Cabinet of Gov. Dick Lamm and was city auditor.

Among the projects while Webb was mayor: a $300 million expansion of Denver's convention center; $4 billion new Denver International Airport; and the opening of foreign trade offices in London and Shanghai.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Council comments on controversial march

Six Cincinnati City Council members on Tuesday met to endorse a motion that directs the city administration to review the city's ordinances on parades and marches. The motion also directs the city to proscribe marches by any groups that use "fighting words" to incite and says the groups should be required to pay for any city costs incurred during any marches.

The motion doesn't mention the American National Socialist Workers Party, the neo-Nazi group that wants to march April 20 in Over-the-Rhine. The group had a permit, but it was revoked last week. A new one will be issued only if the group agrees to march along three blocks of Central Parkway, not in the predominantly black neighborhood.

The group says it'll sue. City officials say fine, bring it on.

Here's more of what council members said Tuesday in their news conference about the motion:

Laketa Cole: "We wanted to just let the citizens know that we certainly understand their concerns...I hope that we do not take it negatively to the streets. It's best to ignore it. We do support free speech," but not when its purpose is to incite violence.

Chris Bortz: "They're looking for a fight. They're looking for a legal fight. They're looking to create media attention...We're going to take the fight back to them. We know no matter what we do, they'll pull us into court."

"They weren't honest about what they wanted to come and say. That doesn't deserve protection."

Each community makes its own definition of what's a clear and present danger, he said. With the 2001 riots and efforts since to heal, he said the racially charged comments being made by the group reach the mark of being considered "fighting words." That phrase refers to decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court that have held that not all speech is protected under the Constitution's First Amendment.

"No matter what we do, we know we're going to end up in court. What's wrong with taking the fight to them?"

David Crowley: "It's an important thing for us to do, as political leaders, to make this statement." He compared the group's epithet-filled e-mails to radio host Don Imus' suspension for calling members of a girls basketball team "nappy-headed hos." Imus' bosses, he said, "realize there's a limit. And that's what we're saying here - there's a limit."

Leslie Ghiz: "We are not here as taxpayers to pay for nonsense like this...And it's going to be a pricey ticket...They made it more than what it had been. They stepped over the bounds of the original permit. Their intent was to incite African-Americans particularly to get upset over this. Ignore them. No one wants to look at this garbage or hear this garbage."

Cole and others said if the march happens, they will organize a peace rally the same day on Fountain Square.

John Cranley also supported the motion, but had to leave the news conference before speaking because he had a committee meeting to go to.


Strickland accuses Bush of "breach of faith"

Gov. Strickland today sent this letter to President Bush

Dear President Bush:

I write to you today in concern for the continued and unprecedented sacrifice our men and women in the Ohio National Guard bear in relation to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Yesterday, the Department of Defense announced an alert order for the possible deployment of additional replacement units in support of the war in Iraq. Four National Guard brigade combat teams, including the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Ohio, could be deployed as soon as December 2007.

As you are aware, the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was originally in line for possible mobilization in 2009. The timeframe has been moved up dramatically. This is a significant departure from the commitment made to Ohio soldiers and their families, and I believe it is a breach of faith.

While this alert purportedly is not associated to the current “surge,” I remain troubled by the significant burden Ohioans continue to shoulder during the recent conflicts, with over 9,000 Ohio soldiers deployed since 9 / 11.

The brave men and women who serve in the Ohio National Guard are putting their lives on the line. I am asking for your assurance that prior to deployment, every
Ohio soldier has the most up-to-date equipment, including individual body armor systems, M-4 rifles and other weapons systems, night vision devices, and up-armored type wheeled vehicles. I am also asking for your assurance that every Ohio soldier has appropriate training.

Our soldiers and their families deserve nothing less. On behalf of the men and women in the Ohio National Guard, I look forward to your response and assurances.


Ted Strickland
Governor, State of Ohio

cc: Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Monday, April 09, 2007

So much to discover: Alicia Reece

Former Vice Mayor Alicia Reece, 35, of Bond Hill was appointed Ohio's assistant director for Travel and Tourism today by Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.

The Travel and Tourism division is part of the Ohio Department of Development. Reece will begin her new job, which pays $75,000-a-year, on May 15.

“For nearly a decade, Alicia has been a central figure in developing a stronger tourism industry in Cincinnati,” said Fisher, who also serves as director for the Ohio Department of Development. “Her leadership, enthusiasm and expertise will undoubtedly enhance the state’s efforts to promote tourism and Ohio’s outstanding quality of life.”

Reece is senior vice president for the marketing and consulting firm, Communiplex Promotional Services.

She was elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1999. She served as vice mayor from 2002-2006.

As vice mayor, Reece is credited with various tourism and marketing efforts for the city, including: creation of the “Cincinnati On the Move” tourism campaign; securing top national conventions including the NAACP National Convention and National Baptist Convention; and chairing City Council’s Tourism and Small Business Committee, which oversaw the $135 million expansion of the Duke Energy Convention Center.

Reece received her bachelor's degree in communications from Grambling State University.

An estimated $30.7 billion was spent in Ohio last year on tourism-related activities. The industry employs more than 560,000 Ohioans.

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Izzy's turns pitch into lunch

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