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, May 04, 2007

It's Appointment Time

In case you're interested, here are some people Mayor Mark Mallory's recommending be appointed to some groups you don't hear a lot about:

1. Carol Sigman, to the Operational Audit Committee, through June 30, 2008. She'd be finishing the four-year term of Alton Knight. She's director of systems and business operations with the Health Alliance.

2. Susie Lame, Marcelina Robledo, David Ginsburg and Darrick Dansby to the Cincinnati Arts Association, through May 1, 2010.

3. Bernice Walker to the Cincinnati Elections Commission, through April 2010. She'll be the Democratic representative and takes the place of Shirley Frazier Evans.

4. David Nufrio, a University of Cincinnati law student and former Mallory intern, to the Cincinnati Elections Commission, also through April 2010. He, the designated non-affiliated representative, replaces Alice Rogers Uhl.

5. Michelle Story-Stewart, to chairwoman of the Community Reinvestment Act Oversight Committee, through May 1, 2008. She replaces Mary Anne Berry.


More on whether to parole a cop killer

After being criticized last week for voting differently than the rest of Cincinnati City Council on a resolution to oppose a cop killer’s parole, Councilman David Crowley today sent the Ohio Parole Board a letter saying he doesn’t want Roland Reaves out.

Reaves was convicted of the 1974 shooting death of Officer David Cole. He was initially sentenced to death, but had his sentence commuted to life in prison. He could get paroled after a hearing this month.

When Councilman Chris Monzel introduced a resolution last week urging the parole authority to keep Reaves behind bars, Crowley was the only one to vote against it. He wasn’t suggesting Reaves should get out, he said, he was merely saying he didn’t have enough information about Reaves’ behavior in prison to weigh in. He said parole officials would know better than council members did.

Crowley’s vote prompted Councilman Jeff Berding, a fellow Democrat, to say Crowley might have a “warped values system.”

In the letter Crowley sent Friday to the parole board, he wrote that he has been troubled by the resulting “fabricated and untrue” claims by some that his vote meant he was advocating for Reaves’ release. He wrote that that was the wrong message to send to the parole authority, police department, Cole’s family and the residents of Hamilton County.

So Crowley researched Reaves’ 32-year history behind bars and found Reaves has been accused of threatening, fighting, disobeying orders and having weapons.

“I regret that for political gain my position on this matter has been maliciously mischaracterized, resulting in confusion among the citizens of Cincinnati, the family of Officer Cole and the brave men and women of our police department about where I stand,” Crowley wrote. “Let me be clear that the suggestion that I am somehow sympathetic or advocate the killing of police officers is absurd.”

After news of Crowley's letter went out, Republicans praised what they viewed as the councilman's change of heart. They wondered if the You Tube video posted by the Republican Party earlier this week had anything to do with it. In the video, they urged people to call Crowley's office and tell him to change his mind. See the video here.

John Eby, a Republican candidate for council, said "God love him" for writing the letter, but "when we needed one voice, he should have stood up."


Presidential debates: More than you need to know

Malia Rulon has a story coming over the weekend on what a presidential debate might mean for Cincinnati.

The University of Cincinnati hopes to host one in 2008; the Commission on Presidential Debates visited this week.

Meanwhile, here are the facts on past debates, (in Excel.)

AP's take on Melanie Bates

From the Associated Press:

Campaign Becomes Personal
Husband’s death becomes campaign issue for City Council candidate

By Terry Kinney
The Associated Press

CINCINNATI – School board member Melanie Bates devoted much of her adult life to education. Then a gun-toting mugger in her driveway ended her husband’s life and changed her priorities.

“Education has always been a big passion of mine,” said Bates, who decided to run for Cincinnati City Council to campaign against gun violence. “The deck got shuffled and I was dealt a card I didn’t expect to be dealt. Now public safety has become a priority not just for me but for the city.

“Phil’s death certainly was a tipping point.”

Philip Bates, a 55-year-old chemist for a suburban pharmaceutical company, was returning home one night last August when he was shot in the chest a few steps from the front porch of his family’s century-old home in the racially-mixed North Avondale neighborhood. He later died at University Hospital. A suspect is awaiting trial on murder and robbery charges.

Melanie Bates, 53, expected a heightened crackdown on gun violence after her husband’s shooting. Instead, city officials tried to reassure residents that Cincinnati was safer than most big cities. It seemed – to the Bates family – that officials made little distinction between the killing of a public official’s husband, in a residential neighborhood, and frequent drug-related shootings in the inner city.

Some of Bates’ anger was directed at Mayor Mark Mallory.

“When Mayor Mallory called and said he was going to have a press conference on crime, I didn’t even question it because I assumed it was to announce that he was going to assume some leadership in crime prevention, not telling the city that we really are safe and Phil Bates’ death was an anomaly,” she said.

Bates served on the State Board of Education for seven years and has been on the Cincinnati Board of Education for six. She is keeping her position there while campaigning for City Council.
In a race where voters can mark nine names out of a probable 25 candidates, and many people are just looking for names they know, said Gene Beaupre, a Xavier University political scientist.
“Melanie’s already got good name recognition, and the issue of safety will resonate. More than any other candidate, she is linked to that issue ... with the coverage she’s gotten in her office and the events in her life,” Beaupre said.

Bates, a hospital liaison with the nonprofit Life Center Organ Donor Network, talks daily with her three adult children, a daughter who is a teacher and two sons who are in college. They encouraged her to run for City Council.

“We’re putting our lives back together,” Bates said. “School board was my thing. This is our family’s thing.”

Her campaign has given some meaning to her husband’s death, she said, and reassurance to people who stop her on the street.

“We were told by our leaders that as long as you were a law-abiding citizen, not involved with drugs or guns, you’re safe in the city,” Bates said. “When that happened to Phil ... there were people out there wondering if they were going to be next.”

Mallory has called fighting crime the city’s top priority, and has signed onto New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns program. He and Bates both support the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence, a program based on one introduced in Boston in the ‘90s to reduce violent crime and homicides by identifying and counseling gang members and other chronic offenders.

Mallory, who is not elected by council or facing re-election this year, remains steadfast in his belief that most shootings are drug related and Cincinnati is overall a safe city, but he acknowledges that crime is a potent issue.

“Keeping the city safe will always be a campaign issue,” he said.
THE CANDIDATE: Melanie Bates, age 53
CHILDREN: Emma 24, Jonathan 22, Griffin 19
OCCUPATION: Hospital liaison for LifeCenter Organ Donor Network
PUBLIC SERVICE: Ohio State Board of Education 1995-2001; Cincinnati Board of Education 2003 to present
OFFICE SOUGHT: Cincinnati City Council

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A million bucks for the Freedom Center?

A million bucks for the Freedom Center?

That may be the current city budget plan - to give each of four Cincinnati arts institutions - the art museum, history museum, Music Hall and the Freedom Center - a total of $4 million. Not for operations, but in capital money.

Chris Bortz says that's what all of council agreed to last year as they finalized the budget.

Chris Monzel doesn't think so. He remembers back to the days when U.R.F.C. officials promised they wouldn't seek money from the city. He doesn't think the city should be giving any now, for capital projects or anything else.

"I keep saying (to other council members), 'Guys, are you kidding me?"

The $4 million issue is expected to come up Monday at council's finance committee, chaired by John Cranley. He helped put the brakes on Bortz's try a couple weeks ago to get council to immediately vote on the plan to give each $1 million. Cranley said it should go through his committee first for more discussion. He does not want some of the $4 million coming out of a revolving loan fund supposed to help neighborhoods develop business districts.

Funding for the Freedom Center - it opened in 2004 and is dedicated to recognizing the fight to end slavery - has been controversial before. Late last year, State Rep. Tom Brinkman, a Republican from Mount Lookout, openly criticized Freedom Center spending. Reps. Joseph Uecker, R-Loveland, and Bill Coley, R-West Chester, joined Brinkman in voting against new Freedom Center funding.

That $2 million in state funding was approved anyway. Then, center officials told legislators they needed the money to pay down $50 million in construction loans.


The Battle of the Steves is on!


It's official - State Rep. Steve Driehaus is taking on Rep. Steve Chabot in the 1st Congressional District.

Driehaus, the Price Hill Democrat, filed papers with the Federal Elections Commission Thursday, which allows him to go out and start raising money for the 2008 congressional election.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is reportedly high on Driehaus, mainly because he is what most of Chabot's previous Democrats opponents are not - a conservative-to- moderate Democrat who has a history of winning Republican votes on the west side. And, Driehaus is a dyed-in-the-wool, bona fide, bleeds-Elder-purple West Sider, and a member of a family that is larger than the Canadian army. His second- and third-cousins alone could give him an extra 3 or 4 percentage points at the polls.

Last year, Democrat John Cranley tried like the dickens to up-end Chabot, but fell short. He, too, is a native West Sider, but the people of Western Hills never seemed to believe it. He went to St. Xavier High School! What kind of West Sider chooses St. X over Elder?

Chabot's campaign also dropped not-so-subtle hints about Cranley's marital status, which, at the time, was single, by prominently dropping film of his daughter's wedding and family front-porch portraits into campaign commercials.

Did we mention that Steve Driehaus and his wife have two young daughters and a son?

This is going to be a beaut.

Berding: Dohoney's doing a great job

Jeff Berding is pressing for an update on the process to measure the performance of City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr.

Council voted in November to set up a City Manager Performance Measurement Committee. That group's now made up of Chris Bortz, David Crowley, Chris Monzel and Cecil Thomas. Some of the names were drawn at random. Thomas was appointed by Mark Mallory.

The ordinance says Dohoney should have a performance review six months after taking the job, which he did in August, and every year after.

But that six months has more than passed. Berding's asking for an update.

He says he thinks Dohoney's doing a "stellar" job and that this six-month meeting with Dohoney was merely to let him know what things he'd be measured on - so when the annual review comes up in August, Dohoney would know what to expect.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

There's a new runner in da House

For the last two years, West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito has been leading the pack in the annual ACLI Capitol Challenge 5K, which benefits the D.C. Special Olympics. The Republican congresswoman placed first among female U.S. House members in both 2005 and in 2006 with times of 27:12 and 25:55.

Well, there's a new runner in the House and that runner is Rep. Jean Schmidt.

Fresh off running the Boston Marathon, Schmidt completed this morning's 5K race in a lean and mean 22:41 to snag Capito's title as the fastest U.S. congresswoman. Well, the fastest among the three congresswomen who raced this year! Capito came in at 26:18 to place second. California Rep. Jane Harman, who was the 2003 winner, ran today's race in 29:07 to place third.

Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., placed first among U.S. congressmen with a time of 18:24.

Behind Gordon came Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., with a time of 19:10 to be named the fastest male U.S. senator. And behind Schmidt came Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison with a time of 36:14 to be named the fastest female U.S. senator.

Overall, there were 670 race entrants, of which 23 were House members and 12 were senators. Schmidt placed #229 overall, #11 among both House and Senate members, and #8 among just House members. In fact, she beat area Rep. Baron Hill from Indiana by a mere 16 seconds!

(Also racing as part of the four-member "Team Schmidt" was Matt Perin, former campaign manager for Schmdit who now works in Schmidt's Washington office. Like on the campaign trail, Perin did a good job of following his boss. He clocked a 25:03 race time.)

The check is most defintely not in the mail

Republicans may not be winning many elections in Ohio these days, but they are a resourceful lot.

Here in Hamilton County, they've cooked up something called the Blue Chip Youth Leadership PAC, which apparently is supposed to shovel money into the campaign accounts of GOP candidates for Cincinnati City Council this fall.

A fundraising letter went out to the GOP mailing list in March, signed by some of the leading lights of the Hamilton County Republican Party - chairman George Vincent, State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., Council member Leslie Ghiz, county prosecutor Joe Deters, Scott Gehring, the president of the Blue Chip Young Rpeublican Club; State Rep. Bill Seitz, and council member Chris Monzel.

The letter, in a somewhat mournful tone, reminds potential donors how "we have seen in many ways our majority in Hamilton County dwindle in the past six years," including:

- the number of Republicans on council slipping from four to two;

- the fact that a majority of Hamilton County voters supported two Democratic candidates in last year's statewide elections (neglecting, of course, to point out that one of those Democrats, Jennifer Brunner, out-polled a Hamilton County Republican in Greg Hartmann and that another Hamilton County Republican, Ken Blackwell, won the county with only 1,923 votes out of about 296,000 cast);

- and the election last year of the first Democratic majority on the Hamilton County Commission since John F. Kennedy was president.

Among the thousands who received the fundraising appeal were at least two who probably weren't too upset about that last one - John and Frances Pepper, the parents of David Pepper, whose election over Republican incumbent Phil Heimlich made that Democratic majority on the county commission possible.

Note to GOP: Time to update the mailing list.

A $4 million debate over museums and neighborhoods

So there's this resolution pending before City Council that proposes to divided the $4 million set aside in the budget for arts capital funding four ways: $1 million each to the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Museum Center, Music Hall (all of which the city owns) and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Chris Bortz put it out there April 9 and asked for an immediate vote on it. He said he merely wnated to firm up the plan all council members agreed upon during budget talks. He was confused when the idea resolution met with opposition. After all, a majority of council - Bortz, Jim Tarbell, Leslie Ghiz, Jeff Berding, Laketa Cole and Cecil Thomas - had signed the resolution in the first place.

But John Cranley said he wanted it to go through his finance committee for further discussion. Tarbell and Thomas, even though they signed it, said there was enough confusion about the money that they thought it should be talked about more. Bortz said there shouldn't be any confusion.

It's all about something called the Neighborhood Incentive District Loan Fund. City Manager Milton Dohoney, asked by council to find sources for the $4 million, suggested half the money could come from the neighborhood fund.

And nobody wants to be against neighborhoods. Particularly nobodies running for re-election.

So - the issue's expected to bubble up at the finance committee meeting Monday, 1 p.m. Pete Witte, president of the Price Hill Civic Club, plans to be there to protect what he sees as a threat to future investment in his neighborhood and others.

"We keep preaching that we need to invest in neighborhoods, specifically neighborhood business districts," he said today. "The idea that this money would go to the arts, although important, is really hard to digest."


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sex offenders running out of room

Are sex offenders going to move from the city into the suburbs? County Commissioners think so.

A study done at Commissioner Todd Portune's request indicates that Cincinnati's new law banning sex offenders from living near day care centers, public pools and other facilities, leaves them with few places to live in Cincinnati. That means their next address could be in the 'burbs.
The Enquirer wrote a story on the issue Tuesday.

View this county-generated map to see the off-limits areas in Cincinnati. The map also indicates which surrounding communities are home-rule, and therefore could pass similar legislation.

This Hamilton County memo lists the county's findings based on the geographic analysis.

Crowley Was Only Trying To Say .....

that the decision to parole - or not - convicted Cincinnati cop killer Roland Reaves should be left up to the Ohio Parole Board.

When Chris Monzel last week introduced a resolution to urge the parole authority to reject Reaves' request to get out early, David Crowley was the only one to vote against the idea (although Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell later said he had mixed feelings about his vote and had considered siding with Crowley).

Crowley didn't say he was in favor of letting Reaves out. He just said he wasn't in the best position to make the decision on whether Reaves - he shot Officer David Cole to death in 1974 - had been rehabilitated.

But colleague Jeff Berding blasted him after the meeting, questioning Crowley's morals and said the voted indicated a "warped value system."

Now, keep in mind Berding might be anti-Crowley lately, ever since Berding suspected his fellow Democrat of trying to push precinct leaders to vote against endorsing him for November. The party ultimately voted Berding onto the endorsement list anyway.

The two square off again today in Pete Bronson's column. Click here to read it.


Put down your beer mug for a minute and vote.

Drinking Liberally, the organization (if you can call it that) of left-leaning political junkies who meet each month to consume their favorite beverages and discuss politics, is adding a little something to their May meeting - a presidential straw poll.

The fun starts at 8 p.m. tuesday, May 8 at their usual watering hole, The Comet in Northside; and all are welcome.

Drinking Liberally, for those who don't get out much, is a national group with 204 chapters all over the country, including five in Ohio and four in Kentucky. At their website, drinkingliberally.org, the group describes itself as a place for "like-minded, left-leaning individuals to talk politics."

"Promoting democracy one pint at a time,'' is the Drinking Liberally slogan.

Chris Monzel's monthly newsletter's out

He watched a house be demolished in Price Hill and spun Channel 12's "Wheel of Justice"....

And he still wants you to call if you see tangled cable wires hanging from poles: 352-3640.

Read the rest of the Monzel Report here


eBay CEO sells Romney in Cincy

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has his share of well-heeled friends in Cincinnati, but his campaign is importing one next week.

Meg Whitman, the CEO of online auction house eBay, is the headliner at a Romney fundraising event on Tuesday, May 8, at the Queen City Club. The event is being hosted by S. Craig Lindner, Romney's Ohio campaign finance chairman.

Whitman - whose estimated net worth is about $1.5 billion - is heading up Romney's California fundraising effort, which is one reason why Romney has been the most successful GOP candidate for president in raising money so far. Whitman has a long history with the former Massachusetts governor - they were both executives at the investment firm of Bain & Company in the 1980s.

The price of admission for the Queen City Club event is relatively low - $500 buys a seat at a roundtable discussion with Whitman that begins at 5 p.m.; $250 buys a ticket to the general reception that begins at 5:30 p.m.

Michelle Obama is on her way, again

Assuming the weather in Chicago cooperates, Michelle Obama will finally make it to Cincinnati on May 9.

The wife of the Democratic presidential candidate will be the headliner at an Obama fundraiser May 9 at the Indian Hill home of Barbara Gould. She was to have been in Indian Hill April 11, but a spring snowstorm locked up O'Hare Airport and left Obama stranded - although she did speak to Gould's guests via speaker phone.

Everyone who paid $250 or $500 for the April 11 event, gould said, will be welcome to come next week. Those who contributed $500 will be allowed to attend a "host reception" at 11:30 a.m. that includes a personal photo with the candidate's wife. The general luncheon reception (price tag, $250) begins at 12:30 p.m.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Indian Hill turning blue (Part 3)

Barbara Gould is at it again.

Gould, who has become one of the most prodigious fundraisers for Democrats in this part of the country, is determined to make her Republican neighbors dyspeptic by dragging as many high-profile Democrats through the tree-lined roads of Indian Hill as possible.

This time, it is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with Ohio's freshman senator, Sherrod Brown, who will be drawing the Democratic high-rollers to Gould's home, for a May 20 fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

And we do mean high rollers. You could buy a very nice hybrid car for what some people are going to pay to get into this event.

Tickets prices start at $2,500, but those are the cheap seats. Persons who would like to be "sponsors" will shell out $5,ooo. Those who want to bear the title of "vice chair" will pony up $10,000; and for $28,500, you an call yourself a "chair" at the event.

Pretty expensive chair.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

John Eby: Catholic, Beer Seller and Buck Sergeant

One learns a lot about Republican City Council candidate John Eby when one reads his Web site.

Among the things he wants you to know:

1. It took seven years of night school for him to get his electrical engineering degree.
2. He's likeable, determined, has common sense and his "drive and stamina are simply remarkable."
3. He was named Catholic Boy of the Year by the archdiocese in 1980 - "a harbinger of achievements to come."
4. At St. Catharine of Siena in Westwood, he's chairman of the beer booth.

Click here to go to the all about Eby site.


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