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, June 01, 2007

Former DeWine staffer files for bankruptcy

In case anyone cares, the former staff member to former Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, who was fired for writing a sex blog – on her work computer no less! – has filed for bankruptcy.

Jessica Cutler, who created the "Washingtonienne" blog in 2004, left Capitol Hill to write a book, post for Playboy and do freelance work.

Apparently, it doesn't pay to be a tell-all.

She has spent much of her post-Capitol Hill life fending off a lawsuit from another fellow DeWine staffer, Robert Steinbuch, who she described in her blog. Steinbuch is seeking more than $20 million in damages for claims that the blog publicly humiliated him.

In court documents filed in the case last week, Cutler said she can't even pay her credit card bill, legal fees and student loans.

Boehner cries over troop funding

In case you missed it, there is a YouTube.com video of Rep. John Boehner of West Chester crying that is making the rounds.

The House Republican leader was making a speech on the House floor about the Iraq funding bill on May 24, just before the Memorial Day weekend, when he got a bit emotional:

"I didn't come here to be a congressman – I came here to do something," Boehner said as he choked up. "And I think at the top of our list is providing for the safety and security of the American people. That's at the top of our list. After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on? When are we going to defeat them?"

According to CNN, Boehner wiped his eyes after the speech and told Andrea Koppel: "It's been a long month."

According to The Politicio, this isn't the first time Boehner has cried...

Schmidt applauds new database

From now on, it'll be a lot easier for Rep. Jean Schmdit to do opposition research on her two-time GOP opponent, former Rep. Bob McEwen.

Starting last week, all registrations and reports from lobbyists who work for foreign clients will be available online through the Justice Department Web site.

McEwen, who became a lobbyist after leaving congressional service, has filed several reports as a foreign lobbyist, detailing, for example, work he did in 2004 for the country of Eritrea.

Schmidt had been pushing for these reports to be made available online since she was elected. She introduced a bill to force the government to post them online last year and was quick to applaud last week's announcement:

"I am delighted that there is finally sunshine on the Foreign Agent Filings at the Department of Justice," she said in a news release. "While the process took way too long, finally the public can view these filings. Today the American public won a small victory."

Before the database went online, the only way to view these reports was by looking them up on an old computer in a small room at a DOJ branch office.

Friday Trivia: Women in Congress

Who was the first woman to serve in Congress?

Since then... How many women have served in Congress?
Name the only female lawmaker representing Greater Cincinnati.

Women make up what percentage of the 12,000 individuals who have served in the U.S. Congress since 1789?

For more, check out this site devoted to the history of women in Congress.

Eby on the jail plan

He's a Republican, but council candidate John Eby agrees with the decision this week by Democrat commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper to raise the sales tax to pay for a new jail.

As a city resident, Eby calls their decision gutsy and applauds it.

If you want to read more, go here.

"Hat Guy"

This is Avtar Gill, aka "Hat Guy" to some people who've seen him but don't know his name.

He generally makes a new hat sign every week and wears it to City Council meetings. The hat messages - im meticulous penmanship - are the 66-year-old's way of expression opinions, advertising festivals, you name it. He used to write directly on the hats, but found the $5-a-hat pricetag too expensive for all his ideas.

He wore this one to a county commission meeting too. He says Sheriff Simon Leis liked the message. He doesn't look very happy in this picture, but he was happy that Leis liked his work.

He promises some interesting hats as the November election nears. We'll show you some of those, too.

Ghiz: the best Lebanese food around

Leslie Ghiz is Lebanese, so she should know, and she says the food at Sunday's St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Church's festival will have "some of the greatest Lebanese food you can eat."

Mahrajan, which means festival, starts at noon at the church, 2530 Victory Parkway, Walnut Hills.

She'll be serving in the afternoon.

Support for Crowley

If you'd like to help David Crowley get re-elected for his last time before term limits kick in, there's a fund-raiser Tuesday at the Federal Reserve piano bar and restaurant, downtown.

For $50, you're a supporter, $100's a friend. Checks to "Crowley for Council."

The event's 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The hosts: Tim Burke, Frank Caliguri, Lisa Campbell and Beth Rauh, Tom and Cathy Crain, George Ellis, Scott Knox, Lena B. Sandlin and Lanny R. Holbrook, Robert E. Richardson Jr., Ricky Wooten, Gary Wright and Pastor Lesley E. Jones of the Truth and Destiny Covenant Ministries.

RSVP to mewagner1@yahoo.com

Governor appoints four from southwest Ohio

Gov. Ted Strickland today named four area residents to state boards:

Barbara Gould of Cincinnati was appointed to a five-year term on the Ohio Arts Council. Gould has worked in fashion, interior design and music. She is retired but serves on numerous cultural arts boards including the Cincinnati Opera, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Arts Association, the Cincinnati Ballet and the Arts Consortium of Cincinnati. She's paid expenses only.

The Ohio Arts Council encourages the development of the arts in Ohio and works to preserve Ohio’s cultural heritage. The council operates various grant programs to provide financial support to artists and broaden arts activities in Ohio.

Clifford Jones, a dental hygienist from Cincinnati, was appointed to a four-year term on the Ohio State Dental Board. He has worked for the Greater Cincinnati Oral Health Council, providing dental care to the homeless. The State Dental Board sets standards for all licensing exams and issues and revokes licenses. The board also approves the curriculum of all Ohio dentistry schools. The board meets about eight times a year. Jones will be paid $19.55 an hour, plus expenses and retirement system credits.

Tom Conlan of Cincinnati was appointed to a four-year term on the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. In 1981, Conlan founded and served as chief executive officer of the Student Loan Funding Corporation, an organization that provided financial assistance and support services to students. Conlan later founded and served as president and CEO of the Thomas L. Conlan Education foundation, now KnowledgeWorks, which was named after his father.

The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority administers the state’s 529 college savings plan, CollegeAdvantage. It also selects investment agents. Authority members are paid expenses only.

Hans Landefeld of Springboro was appointed to a two-year term on the Ohio Parks and Recreation Council. Landefeld has worked for the Miami Conservancy District, a nine-county conservancy district that promotes flood protection, preservation and recreational use of the Great Miami River Watershed. Landefeld has worked as a finance administrator and support services administrator and currently manages the River Corridor Improvement Subdistrict.

The Ohio Parks and Recreation Council advises the chief of the Division of Parks and Recreation on park development, acquisitions, programs, finance and policy. Council members are paid expenses only.


Dann fires new hires

For the second time in two months, Ohio's top law enforcement officer has had to fire a state employee because of shady behavior.

Attorney General Marc Dann, a Youngstown Democrat, fired his deputy security director last week after a national background check found he was convicted in 1976 of involuntary manslaughter for a fatal shooting in Pennsylvania.

David L. Nelson, 57, of Youngstown worked three days a week as Dann's driver and security aide since February.

Nelson did not disclose the conviction, for which he served four months in jail, on his state job application. The application only asks to disclose felonies. (Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania.) Details were broken Thursday by the Warren Tribune Chronicle and Youngstown Vindicator.

Nelson passed a state background check, but failed a national check when he applied for a job with the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, to transport evidence.

In April, Dann fired his top law enforcement adviser after learning that the state employee continued to draw a salary from his former employer, the Youngstown Police Department.

Elrico "Rick" Alli lost his $112,000-per-year job running the criminal investigations bureau known as BCI.

Dann beat Auditor Betty D. Montgomery in November during a campaign in which he criticized her and former Gov. Bob Taft of being part of a larger culture of corruption and unethical behavior.


Band, bar and bikes for Judge Powers

Sheriff Simon Leis sent is inviting people to a June 20 rally to re-elect Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Melissa Powers, according to this invitation, e-mailed Thursday. The event, at the River Saloon features a band and an oranized motorcycle ride afterward, weather permitting. All for a $35 contribution for her campaign.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dems: tax a "rare display of courage"

The Hamilton County Democratic Party sent out this statement commending commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper for passing a county sales tax increase-- and criticizing Commissioner Pat DeWine, a Republican, for his "no" vote.

The Freedom Center gets $800,000

Jane Prendergast reports in tomorrow's Enquirer:

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Thursday got $800,000 from the city as part of an arts funding package that gave the same amount to three other museums and created a fund for smaller arts groups and special events.

The money is the first the city has given the Freedom Center since the riverfront museum and education center opened in 2004.

Center officials plan to use the money – for capital expenses, not operating costs – to help pay off the approximately $25 million in debt remaining from the $110 million construction expenses.

Councilman Chris Monzel did what he said for months he would do – vote against the center funding. Monzel, the only dissenter, had proposed spending the $800,000 instead to install speed humps on residential streets.“

Funding from the city will greatly help the Freedom Center continue to carry out its mission of inspiring modern-day action on behalf of freedom,” center spokesman Paul Bernish said after Wednesday’s vote.

Jen to Ken: Give back that money

Jon Craig reports from Columbus:

Ken Blackwell doled out more than $80,000 in bonuses to 19 outgoing staff members after losing the November election.

His successor wants an investigation – and the state money returned.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, asked State Auditor Mary Taylor Thursday to determine if Blackwell broke state law when he awarded the bonuses. If Taylor, a Republican, rules against Blackwell, Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann could move to recover the money.

Blackwell, a Republican from Cincinnati, could not be reached for comment.

But Monty Lobb of Glendale, Blackwell’s former assistant secretary of state, said Brunner’s action “smacks of petty politics.’’

Read more here

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More of what commissioners said about the sales tax

Didn't get enough?

Well, here's some more of what county commissioners said about their sales tax vote Wednesday. In case you coudn't tell, Todd Portune and David Pepper voted to enact the tax. Pat DeWine voted against it. Still want to hear more? Call them.

Todd Portune
513-946-4401; todd.portune@hamilton-co.org
-“It’s time now to end the debate and end the posturing and act now to solve this problem. We have the authority, duty and responsibility legally and morally, to solve it. The studies have been done, the hearings have been held and it is time to act.”
-“No one is afraid of a vote, but the reality is it is our job to solve this problem.”
-“If there was another plan that didn’t cost the public any money that would solve these issues and deal with this problem comprehensively, it would have come forward. We can’t just print new money to cover this initiative. If we don’t act today, if we pass this on to other people, this problem doesn’t go away.”
-“The plan we have put forward today is a good plan, a comprehensive plan, it will work. There are no other alternatives. It’s my recommendation that we adopt resolution No. 2, to enact the tax on its own.”
Pat DeWine
513-946-4405; pat.dewine@hamilton-co.org
-“Today, this board has taken steps that will burden Hamilton County taxpayers with some of the highest taxes in the state, forcing an even greater loss of population from this county and discouraging economic growth. The action taken by the commission majority is too expensive, fiscally irresponsible, and 2.5 times more costly than the one rejected by voters just last year. I cannot support this misguided proposal.”
-“Perhaps the most disturbing of all is the determination of the commission majority to avoid a vote by an informed majority of the electorate. This is a democracy after all. If the majority has a good proposal they shouldn’t be afraid of a full public airing.”
David Pepper
513-946-4409; david.pepper@hamilton-co.org
-“Public safety is my No. 1 priority. Band aid solutions have cost us a lot and gotten us nowhere.”
-“I hope people see there is a good faith effort to incorporate the ideas we heard.”
-“We are talking about lives. If we think we have a solution to solve that problem, why would we sit and wait for months and months to allow the further erosion of these lives being lost?”
-“I take it as our responsibility. We are elected to make some of these decisions. We’ll get the criticisms that we know we’re going to get. If we have a solution to this No. 1 priority issue that will save this county untold millions and will get people out of jail that don’t need to be in it and will reduce crime, I think in the end it is the right thing to do. The time to act is now. Waiting costs us in too many ways.”

Portune recognized for walk

He may be sweaty, but Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune on this day was the picture of inspiration. So says Dr. Patrick Maynard, organizer of the Hope & Possibility Run, a 5K (3.1 mile) race May 5 in conjunction with the Flying Pig Marathon.

Here's what the group had to say:

Todd heard about the Hope & Possibility Run last November and immediately got involved to make the run a reality for Cincinnati. Todd has experienced first-hand what it means to have a disability, what it means to not let your disability define your life and how important events that promote inclusion are for Cincinnati. So, he not only helped organize and promote the event but he also challenged himself to complete his first organized run since his surgery.

Maynard thanked Portune Wednesday for his participation and gave the commissioner a plaque and a framed photo of from the race.

"Look at the eyes and you'll see the dedication," Maynard said, referring to the photo.

"Look at the sweat!" Portune exclaimed. Then on a more serious note: "It’s a fun, wonderful event. I was happy to play a small role in it. I hadn’t traveled that far on my own power since I was paralyzed four years ago. The event is all about people not being limited, but gearing up with hope that something can be done."

"Now we'll hide that picture!" he added.

Sorry Todd.

And here's what the Hamilton County GOP says

Here They Go Again,
Democrats Raise Our Taxes!

CINCINNATI – Today, Democratic Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper voted to enact a sales tax increase to pay for a new jail. The “comprehensive safety plan” includes $450 million of extra spending that was not even included in the first proposal that voters already rejected in November. The duration of the tax is scheduled for 15 years, but the extra social programs created require funding that will not cease in 15 years. Future leaders will be forced to extend the increase. Even more worrisome, is that Democratic Commissioners imposed this sales tax without yielding to the decision of the taxpayers by putting the issue on the ballot.


“I believe that Hamilton County needs a new jail in order to hold criminals accountable for their actions and I applaud the efforts of Sheriff Leis and the Commission for working toward this effort. However, I also believe in fiscal responsibility and empowering the citizens of Hamilton County. Voters should have the opportunity to decide if they want their taxes increased to fund a new jail.”

Governor wants new cabinet post for veterans' affairs

Gov. Ted Strickland today signed an executive order to create a study council that will help establish a cabinet-level Ohio Department of Veterans Affairs. Its report is due by the end of the year.

The Governor's cabinet already is comprised of the heads of 22 agencies.

Veterans services currently are handled by a myriad of different state, county and federal agencies in Ohio including the Governor's Office of Veterans' Affairs, Ohio Veterans Home Agency and Ohio Adjutant General, among others. Strickland aims to reorganize many of the services under one agency.

"For too long, Ohio's veterans have not been receiving the support or services they deserve," Strickland's order says.

Strickland also asked his Office of Budget and Management for a financial review of services provided to veterans by various state entities and agencies including the Adjutant General, Ohio Veterans Home Agency, the Governor's Office of Veterans' Affairs, Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Department of Job and Family Services, Adjutant General, Department of Education, Board of Regents and Attorney General.

Pat DeWine lambastes tax vote

Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine issued this statement today after the two Democratic county commissioners voted to raise the county sales tax to 7 percent to pay for a new jail and anti-crime programs:

Statement of Pat DeWine on County Sales Tax Increase

"Today, this Board has taken steps that will burden Hamilton County taxpayers with some of the highest taxes in the State, forcing an even greater loss of population from the county and discouraging economic growth. This action taken by the Commission majority is too expensive, fiscally irresponsible, and 2.5 times more costly than one rejected by the voters just last year. I cannot support this misguided proposal."

"Already Hamilton County taxpayers pay the second highest property taxes of all 88 counties in the state, and they are literally driving people out of the County. According to the census bureau, this County lost 2.7% of its population over the previous six years. The Kosmont-Rose Institute released a report last year showing Cincinnati the second most expensive place to do business in the entire region. Yet with today's vote, this Commission will establish a sales tax rate that's higher than any other County in the region."

"We all agree that we need to add more jail spaces. Through my efforts last year this County added 400 jail spaces in Butler County and last fall I supported placing before the voters a much more limited proposal to pay for jail construction. I simply cannot support the proposal that is before the Commission. It is too expensive and not fiscally responsible."

"Last November, the Commissioners unanimously put before the voters a proposal to build a new facility and consolidate some of the County's corrections facilities. The voters resoundingly rejected the proposed tax increase. I believe that our obligation is to heed the will of the voters and to come up with a proposal that meets the County's corrections needs but at a more limited cost. I have tried to advance ideas to do exactly that; unfortunately, the majority of this Board has shown little interest in anything but a mammoth tax increase."

"This proposal is over $450 million - or 2.5 times -- more expensive than the one the voters rejected last fall. The same County administration that now supports this tax increase was clear last summer, that the County could fund jail operations and necessary alternative programs within the confines of the previous proposal. Why can't they do the same now?"

"Citizens should be skeptical of claims that the proposal before us deserves support because of the need to add more jail space. The reality is that relatively little of what's being proposed goes to adding new jail space. Of the approximately $777 million generated by the tax, only $190 million goes to adding new jail space. The rest goes to costly new programs and ongoing County operations. In essence, what is being voted on is an unparalleled expansion of County government."

"The significant increased cost is justified by proponents purportedly because of the need to add new social programs. Yet the Voorhis report, so often cited by the proponents of this plan, found last year that Hamilton County already has 'the most sophisticated, creative and complete grouping of alternatives that the consultant has observed. What is needed according to the County's own consultants is not costly new programs, but more accountability and performance standards within the programs we already have."

"Voters should be particularly skeptical of claims that this tax will be temporary. This proposal will put in place a host of programs costing tens of millions of dollars a year that will not go away in 15 years when the tax will purportedly end. History tells us that once a government program is put in place it is almost impossible to end. As Ronald Reagan once said, a government program "is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth." No doubt, future Boards of Commissioners will have little choice but to extend this tax indefinitely."

"Remarkably, despite its mammoth costs, the proposed tax increase will add relatively few jail spaces: only 400 more than the County is currently using. And more jail space, although desirable, won't by itself reduce crime. There is no better example of how to reduce crime than New York City under Rudy Giuliani. During the so-called New York miracle, New York reduced homicide rates by 70% since 1993, yet at the same time it reduced the number of people behind bars by 1/3rd."

"But perhaps most disturbing of all is the determination of the Commission majority to avoid a vote by an informed majority of the electorate. This is a democracy, after all. If the majority has a good proposal, they shouldn't be afraid of a full public airing. Yet the Board majority has consistently maneuvered to avoid such a public airing: first efforts to change the law to allow for a stealth August election and now a decision to take the vote away from the people all together. Of course, the real reason the Commission majority may have for not allowing the public to vote on this proposal is perhaps a more simple one - they know voters will reject it."

DCCC checks in on Driehaus

State Rep. Steve Driehaus, the Price Hill Democrat who plans to take on Rep. Steve Chabot in the 1st Congressional District next year, has spent much of the past two months chained to a telephone, calling up potential donors in an effort to show that he can raise the big bucks.

Thursday, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will come to Cincinnati to see how Driehaus is doing.

Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland congressman who heads the DCCC, will be in town; and the congressman and the wanna-be congressman will hold a "discussion and media availability" Thursday morning at the Front Porch Coffeehouse on Glenway Avenue - where the co-owner happens to be Denise Driehaus, the most likely candidate to run next year to replace her brother in the 31st Ohio House District.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Walking in CUF with Cole

Councilwoman Laketa Cole, with other city officials, walks in Clifton Heights, University Heights and Fairview Heights at 1 p.m. Wednesday. She invites people to ask her office to set up a walk in any neighborhood or business district. They're chances, she says, to show off things residents are proud of as well as to point out problems they want help with.

Meet in the parking lot adjacent to old St. George Church, at Vine and Calhoun streets.

If you want your neighborhood walked next, call her office and someone will set it up: 352-3946.

Employers 'fined' for failing to register state lobbyists

At least six area employers have been fined for failing to register their Statehouse lobbyists, according to Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe.

Bledsoe mailed certified letters today to about 40 employers statewide, notifying them of the violations. Employers were assessed $100 fees (the state doesn't call them fines) for each reporting period they failed to register last year.

The companies and their lobbyists have until June 12 to register, or face prosecution by the state Attorney General. Failure to file disclosure statements is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $5,000.

An Update from Bledsoe:
The fine for a fourth degree misdemeanor is $250 not $5,000. Also, the fees were accessed for failure to file the Updated Registration Statement, which is the technical name for the expenditure reports. Failure to register is a different issue.

"If the statements are filed and fee remitted no further enforcement action will be taken," Bledsoe said today. "Our goal is disclosure."

According to Bledsoe, these are the area employers that failed to register lobbyists:

-- Anderson Township Park District, $100

-- Mental Health Association of the Cincinnati Area, $400

-- Neighborhood Health Care Inc., $100

-- Richard Consulting Corp., $100. (Its president, Richard A. Weiland, is registered as a lobbyist.)

-- Working In Neighborhoods, $200. (Its executive director, Sister Barbara Busch, also was assessed a fee of $100.)

-- Monster Government Solutions of Virginia, which has offices in Cincinnati, has been referred to the Attorney General for criminal prosecution, Bledsoe said, because it failed to file any disclosure reports in 2006. It owes $300 in fees.


Who's endorsed who

Having trouble keeping track of the 2008 presidential contenders? How about which lawmakers have endorsed each contender?

Yeah, we thought so. So did Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper who has compiled THIS handy list. So far, none of our Greater Cincinnati lawmakers have endorsed anyone. But here is the list of other Ohio and Kentucky lawmakers who have:


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.:
- Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio


Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts:
- Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio
- Rep. Ron Lewis, R-Ky.
- Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.
- Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.:
- Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio

Schmidt visits Iraq, Afghanistan

From this week's "Inside Washington" column:

Rep. Jean Schmidt had planned to spend her Memorial Day holiday with U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The men and women serving our nation need to hear more often how proud we are of their courage and commitment to protecting our freedoms," said Schmidt, a Republican from Miami Township.

The exact dates for Schmidt's trip overseas - her second to Iraq - were not released, due to security concerns. Schmidt described her trip on Friday to reporters.

"As I return to Iraq, I will again witness firsthand the courage and sacrifice of our troops this Memorial Day weekend as they spend the weekend thousands of miles away from their families, friends and the comforts of home," she said.

Schmidt's group is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats.

"Here in southern Ohio, Memorial Day is a much anticipated day celebrating the unofficial start of summer," Schmidt said. "But it is important for all of us to take a break from our busy holiday schedules to remember that freedom is never free."

Voinovich, Brown introduce joint bill

From this week's "Inside Washington" column:

Ohio's two senators appear to be working together: The two just introduced their first joint piece of legislation.

The bill from George Voinovich, a Cleveland Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat, is aimed at bolstering early childhood education by offering grants to help states attract, train and retain high-quality early childhood teachers.

A 2004 Economic Policy Institute study found that 42 percent of early childhood educators don't have any college-level education, and fewer than one in three have a bachelor's degree. They earn less than $20,000 a year, according to the Center for Childcare and the Workforce.

"This legislation ensures our youngest students start off on the right foot," Brown said. Voinovich agreed, saying the bill is "vital" to recruiting the "best and brightest teachers."

Lawmakers clash over price gouging bill

From this week's "Inside Washington" column:

Greater Cincinnati's five Republican House members disagreed last week over a bill the House passed that targets price gouging at the gas pump.

Reps. Jean Schmidt of Miami Township, Steve Chabot of Westwood and Mike Turner of Centerville all voted in favor of the measure, which passed Wednesday, 284-141.

"Those who manipulate the market and take advantage of a crisis situation are not playing by the rules," Chabot said. "With gas prices on the rise ... it's important to protect consumers."

The bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to prosecute those who engage in price gouging. It also establishes criminal penalties.

But these provisions would be triggered only if the president declares an "Energy Emergency."

Considering that the White House has said it "strongly opposes" this bill, that is highly unlikely.

In a statement, the Bush administration said the bill could result in gas price controls and bring back the long gas lines of the 1970s.

House Minority Leader John Boehner of West Chester and Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis of Hebron also oppose the Democrat-backed bill. They voted "no."

Boehner, in a news release, called the bill "all bark and no bite" and said it would do nothing to lower gas prices for consumers.

"Instead of advancing common sense, comprehensive energy solutions that increase American supplies of all forms of energy, this bill points fingers at a political bogeyman and imposes anti-free-market price controls that will depress investment here at home, keep supplies tight, and send prices through the roof," he said.

Strickland: Iraq war an "unnecessary tragedy"

Gongwer News Service, which covers everything Columbus, interviewed Gov. Strickland on Friday.

The highlights:

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland on Friday called the war an "unnecessary tragedy," and said he would have voted against the funding had he still been a member of Congress.

"I wish the Congress had been stronger with the President. The American people have spoken. There is no doubt that the majority of the people in this country recognize the fact that we are headed in the wrong direction. There needs to be a change in policy," the governor said in an interview.

Gov. Strickland said Friday he voted against authorization of the war because he never felt the administration had properly made the case for it.

"And the war has been so terribly mismanaged, and it's been due to the decisions of our civilian leadership," he said.

"Our soldiers have done everything that's been asked of them and more. It's been the civilian leadership, led by people who never served themselves, who seem to have all the answers and refuse to recognize the reality that is occurring," Gov. Strickland said.

"And the result is continued loss of life, wasting of our nation's resources and a disintegration of our standing around the world. We need a change in direction and we need new leadership," he said.

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