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 20, 2007

We aren't fam-i-ly...

Kimball Perry reports

After police shot and then arrested Gilbert Mallory this morning, both the Cincinnati Mayor’s Office and Police Department issued press releases noted Gilbert Mallory ISN’T related to Mayor Mark Mallory but provided no context.

Then, Jason Barron, the mayor’s communication director, called to ask that the Enquirer’s online story be changed to note there is no relations between the two Mallorys – because the man shot by police early this morning apparently has been saying on the street he IS related to get free stuff and to take advantage of the name.

It should have been clear Gilbert Mallory isn’t related to the politically prominent Mallory clan – that includes a former state politician, the mayor, a current state representative and judge – because he isn’t on any public’s payroll.

The Early Birds Get The Press Conference

Lots of Cincinnati officials helped put together the $1.5 million youth employment program. The newest piece, announced Thursday, gives almost $600,000 to the Cincinnati Community Action Agency to find jobs for 360 teen-agers 14 to 18 - and more meaningful jobs, everyone hopes, than the trash-collecting teens did in a previous program.

City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. asked for proposals from agencies and got them from three - CAA, Citizens Committee on Youth and the Urban League. He chose CAA.

Officials were working out when to announce the initiative, coordinating with all the agencies involved on when their staffers could join for a press conference. That press conference was possibly going to be today.

But Councilmembers Laketa Cole, Chris Bortz and Jeff Berding - they helped fight to keep the money in the budget - moved faster. Flanked by more than a dozen folks from CAA, Cincinnati State and Metro, they held their press conference at 4:15 p.m. Thursday - while Mayor Mallory was two blocks away at his second annual job fair for teens.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Attorney General activates new web site for youth

Attorney General Marc Dann introduced a new web site today -- www.ag4youth.ohio.gov -- for students in middle school, high school and college to have an open dialogue about concerns at their schools or campuses.

"Society today demands that we think in new and creative ways to engage our young people," Dann said. "The tragic shooting in Virginia is only the latest evidence of how we must reach out to our youth, talk to them, bring them into the discussion of what we want our future to be and this web site will be a portal for me to hear from them about their concerns."

The site also allows student groups to apply online for $2,000 grants to start programs designed to help their peers.

Dann also encouraged student journalists to send him articles about school issues.


Portune's "First 100 Days"

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune just completed his first 100 days as commission president. Read his thoughts on how it went, and his upcoming goals here.

The Mallory Connection

When Mayor Mark Mallory presents a key to the city Saturday to the Isley Brothers and declares it Isley Brothers Day in Cincinnati, he'll be honoring former boys who were counseled at camp by his father. The Isleys are in their 50s and 60s now, but when they were kids growing up in Lincoln Heights, they went to a local kids' camp.

There, Mallory's dad, William Sr., was their counselor. The senior mallory was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1966 and stayed for 28 years.

"He said even when they were young they used to perform for the camp before lights out," the mayor said.

The brothers perform Saturday night at Music Hall.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Portman gets stood up

White House budget director Rob Portman is a very busy man.

He's especially busy on days like today, when the members of Congress are at an impasse over passing the president's supplemental budget request to pay for U.S. soldiers.

In fact, Portman was in a meeting at the White House with President Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to talk about the budget bill just this afternoon when he had to rush back to his office for another meeting.

He had planned to talk at 4 p.m. with about 45 members of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, who were in Washington today for their annual lobbying trip.

"I rushed out of the meeting with the president," Portman said, joking that he got stood up.

The Chamber group, apparently running late for their meeting with Portman, and fearing they would miss their 6:15 p.m. Delta flight back to CVG, called to cancel.

Left with a few minutes to spare, the Terrace Park Republican and former Ohio congressman invited reporters from The Enquirer and The Cincinnati Post who had showed up for his meeting with the Chamber group into his office for a chat.

"Life is busy right now," he said, explaining that he's been working nonstop on the budget bill, which the president wants to sign in the next 10 days. "This will be a challenge."

Asked about the Supreme Court ruling upholding the partial birth abortion ban that his former congressional colleague Rep. Steve Chabot worked on, Portman said:

"He always said he believed that this was the constitutional way to do it. So it's a victory for Steve and it's consistent with the precedence as well."

Asked about whether he's been helping the University of Cincinnati land a presidential debate, Portman said that, personally, he wants the city to get a debate, but he has no inside strings to pull, despite being the stand-in for Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Edwards in practice sessions with Vice President Dick Cheney before both of the last two vice presidential debates.

With that, Portman got up and walked into the bathroom.

No kidding.

He emerged a few seconds later carrying a framed poster advertising the Lieberman-Cheney debate held in 2000 in Danville, Ky., on which Cheney had scrawled: "Rob, you were tougher than my opponent."

"It could be a good opportunity for the university and the city," Portman said of the debate. "The importance of Ohio in the last two presidential elections cannot be overstated. We would have a different president in both instances but for Ohio."

Consider this: Wouldn't it be interesting if Cincinnati lands a vice presidential debate - and one of the vice presidential candidates turns out to be a Cincinnati native?

Sen. Cates says 'innocence lost' at Virginia Tech

Sen. Gary Cates gave an emotional speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, saying his memories of attending Virginia Tech were forever stained by Monday's fatal shootings.

"To say it was a national tragedy would be an understatement," said Cates, a 1978 graduate, before asking for a moment of silence to remember the victims.

"Watching this unravel yesterday on TV was probably one of the hardest things I had to see, because of all the fond memories I had in my college days on that campus."

Cates, a Republican from West Chester, said he spent about two years as a civil engineering student in Norris Hall, where most of Monday's killings occurred. "I knew that building like the back of my hand."

"I lost, on a personal level, a certain level of innocence. The innocence of my college days that will now be stained by this tragedy. But in a larger sense, we all lost part of our innocence yesterday, because what happened in Blacksburg, Va., could have happened on any campus in this country."

"I can't imagine what's it's like to go to the county morgue to identify your child," Cates said before apologizing for getting choked up.

"This is much larger than just what happened at Virginia Tech," Cates said. "This affected our national innocence. . . and some of the things we take for granted.".

Cates' entire floor speech can be watched here


Democrats say the darnedest things

Each of the nine Democratic candidates for Cincinnati City Council got three minutes last night to make their pitches to the party's assembled precinct executives at the Laborers union hall last night.

Here's a sampling:

John Cranley, on his unsuccessful 1st Congressional District campaign last fall: "While I regret the results of the election, I don't regret calling Steve Chabot for being the fraud that he has been for this community."

Minette Cooper, on why she won't use the term "public safety,'' as other candidates are wont to do: "When you talk about public safety, it sounds like you are putting up shackles. Safer neighborhoods is what we need."

Brian Garry, at the conclusion of his maiden speech as an endorsed Democratic candidate: "Let's kick ass! We're going to rock! We are going to win!" (The official Brian Garry campaign press release, which popped into our e-mail about midnight, quoted from his speech, but omitted the punt-in-the-posterior part.)

Cecil Thomas, on why five is more than 50 percent of nine: "Democrats should be running this city. If you got five Democrats on council, a Democratic mayor, a Democrat as governor, what's wrong with us if we are not running this city?"

And there was the moment when Wendell Young, the former Cincinnati police officer who is running for the second time, got up and announced that he "hadn't expected that I would have to make a speech." Beg your pardon? No Democratic candidate since Andrew Jackson has ever walked into a room of Democrats and not expected to make a speech. Good thing that Young remembered his stump speech from 2005; he repeated it verbatim for last night's crowd.

Berding still Democrat. Francisco Franco still dead.

There was some fuss and bother at Tuesday night's meeting of the Cincinnati Democratic Committee, but, in the end, not much happened.

Jeff Berding, the west side Democratwho has been a thorn in the side of Mayor Mark Mallory and put together the tighten-the-pursestrings "Fiscal Five" on council, was endorsed by the Cincinnati precinct executives, along with four other incumbents and four challengers.

There has been grumbling in the party for months over Berding, who, they say, cut fellow council Democrats John Cranley, David Crowley and Cecil Thomas out of the action. Same could be said for Democrat Laketa Cole, who also joined the Fiscal Five, but most of the animus inside the party seemed to be directed towards Berding.

Many of the 120 Cincinnati precinct executives who showed up at Tuesday night's meeting in the Laborers union hall came planning to force the CDC to vote separately on each of the nine council members, because they believed they had a shot at denying Berding the party endorsement.

One of the party's veteran pugilists, former congressman Tom Luken, got up on his hind legs, railed about the process for awhile, and introduced a motion calling for "separation."

After 20 minutes of sez-who-sez-me "debate," Luken's motion failed by a vote of 64 to 59. Then, after a few more speakers had released some carbon dioxide into the room, a vote was taken on endorsing the whole nine-member slate. The final tally: 75 to 43 in favor.

Berding, for his part, had run this like a mini-political campaign. When they entered the hall Tuesday night, each precinct executive found a Berding lit piece on his or her chair, with endorsements from a host of Democratic elected officials - Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern, county commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper, and former mayors Dwight Tillery and David Mann.

Berding also used a robo-call to all precincts executives with a personal testimonial from Portune. Many of them said they got the call three or four times; and that the call was four minutes long. That may sound like a long robo-call to you - most last a minute or two. But, then again, it was the loquacious Portune talking, and it takes him two minutes to clear his throat.

The main activity on the other side seemed to be a round of live phone calls made by Crowley - not exactly president of the Jeff Berding Fan Club - asking the precinct executives to force a vote on each council candidate individually.

In the end, though, the anti-Berding movement had the lifespan of a backyard bottle rocket on the Fourth of July.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

You Scream, We Scream

To tell the truth, the workers at Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop in Clifton Heights expected a little bit of a mess today when "celebrity" scoopers came to dish out ice cream as part of a fundraiser for the Make A Wish Foundation. So admits Monique Swain, marketing director at the store.

“They watched us, then they went on and did the scooping," she said.

Among those celebrities celebrating National Free Cone day today: Cincinnati City Council members Laketa Cole, Chris Bortz and Jeff Berding; University of Cincinnati cheerleaders; and the Bearcat mascot.

Cole called Make A Wish, which grants wishes to ill children, a wonderful organization that "lights up the lives of many children across America."

There's still time for other politicians to scoop - the store, on Calhoun street on the edge of the U.C. campus, is open till 8 p.m. All tips and donations go to the foundation.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Schmidt vs. Wulsin in the $$ race

Democrat Victoria Wulsin announced earlier today that she plans to challenge Rep. Jean Schmidt in the 2nd Congressional District again next year.

If that's the case, both candidates will have to raise a boatload more money than they currently have in their respective campaign accounts, according to campaign finance reports filed recently with the Federal Election Commission.

According to Schmidt's report, filed yesterday, the Miami Township Republican has raised $20,065 during the first three months of this year. But after paying expenses, Schmidt was left with just $17,118 in the bank.

But her campaign owes nearly $32,000 for legal services ($26,650 to the Squire Sanders & Dempsey law firm and $5,328 to the Strauss & Troy law firm, of which her former campaign manager Joe Braun is a partner). Schmidt also has yet to repay herself $277,150 funds she loaned her campaign.

Wulsin also has a meager campaign balance. The Indian Hill doctor started the year with about $47,900 in the bank, but she raised just $1,867 from Jan. 1 to March 31.

After paying for office expenses and reimbursing herself $37,500 in money she had loaned her campaign, Wulsin is left with about $4,350 in the bank - but no debts to anyone other than herself. To date, she is only out $1,500 that she loaned the campaign.

Here's how they compare:

- Raised last 3 months: $20,065
- Cash on hand as of March 31: $17,118
- Debts: $309,150

- Raised last 3 months: $1,867
- Cash on hand as of March 31: $4,350
- Debts: $1,500

POTUS headed to Ohio - UPDATED

It's official - President Bush is headed back to Ohio. And he won't be that far away.

Bush will be making remarks about the Global War On Terror at Tippecanoe High School in Tipp City, which is just north of Dayton on Thursday at 1 p.m.

Here is the announcement just sent out by the White House:

Thursday, April 19

1:00 pm THE PRESIDENT makes Remarks on the Global War On Terror
Tippecanoe High School Tipp City, Ohio


- The invitation for the president to speak came from the Tipp City Area Chamber of Commerce. "There’s no harm in asking him to make a trip to Tipp," Chamber President Matt Owen said. "We are very excited. We’re just a small Midwestern town."

- Meanwhile, Minority Leader John Boehner, a Republican from West Chester, plans to attend the event, his spokeswoman said. "This is a great opportunity for Tipp City to host President Bush, and I’m proud we have the chance to show off the 8th District to the commander in chief," Boehner said in a statement.

- The trip marks Bush’s 47th visit to Ohio as president but his first to the state this year. Bush was last in Ohio on Sept. 28 for a fundraiser in the Columbus area for Rep. Deborah Pryce. Before that, on Sept. 25, he headlined a fundraiser in the Cincinnati area for former Sen. Mike DeWine.

Some Smack Talk From The South

In case you didn't see Enquirer reporter Mike Rutledge's story Saturday in Northern Kentucky editions....

Covington Mayor Butch Callery wants to show what he can do on the pitcher's mound at Great American Ball Park. He's sure he can do better than Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory did on Opening Day, saying his pitch would make it to the plate - "and with velocity."

The 66-year-old played and coached ball, some of that time as a pitcher, until just three years ago when his wife made him retire.

Mallory continues to defer to pretty much everyone else's pitching skills. Last week, he said the 5 1/2-year-old son of Q102 morning DJ Jenn Jordan would probably do better than he did on Opening Day. The boy's throwing out the first pitch Saturday on Autism Awareness Day at the park.

No word yet on whether the Reds will let Callery see if he can do better than Mallory.


Jean vs. Vic, round 2

Here's Vic Wulsin's press release, issued today:

Democrat Victoria Wulsin Will Challenge Schmidt in '08

Pledges to Bring Integrity Back to Ohio's Second Congressional District

(Cincinnati, OH) – Citing the need for responsible and honest leadership, Dr. Victoria Wulsin announced today that she would challenge Jean Schmidt again in 2008 to represent the people of Ohio's Second Congressional District in the United States Congress.

"When Americans are fighting in Iraq, going without affordable health care, and struggling to support their families, we need an independent voice in Congress, not a rubber stamp for special interests and the Bush Administration ," Dr. Wulsin said, adding, "The people of the Second District deserve a Congresswoman who will be honest with her constituents."

A life-long Ohioan, Dr. Wulsin is a public health doctor who has dedicated her career to public service, serving as an Epidemiologist for the city of Cincinnati and starting a non-profit AIDS prevention organization. She came within one percent of beating Schmidt in 2006, receiving more votes than any Democrat in the history of Ohio's Second District.

Schmidt has already been placed on Karl Rove's list of the most vulnerable Republicans in 2008 because of her low approval ratings and controversial record.

"The people of Ohio's Second District deserve a congresswoman like Vic who will stand up for them and represent their values in Washington and won't let politics get in the way of serving her constituents," said Todd Portune, President of the Board of the Hamilton County Commissioners.

Victoria lives with her husband, Dr. Lawson Wulsin, Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the University of Cincinnati . They have raised their four sons in the 2nd District.

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