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 15, 2007

Here's the timeline on the Ohio data theft

According to Keith Dailey, spokesman for Gov. Ted Strickland, and Pari Sabety, director of the state Office of Budget and Management, here is the timeline of events that followed Sunday's theft of personal state employee data from an intern's car in a Hilliard parking lot:

Sometime after 8 p.m. Sunday, June 10: Theft from employee's vehicle of data storage device.
Monday: Employee reports theft to supervisor. Supervisor instructs employee to report to police. Supervisor advises Ohio Administrative Knowledge System software project manager. OAKS is a project to upgrade the state's computer system including payroll, budget and accounting information. Project manager informs chief information officer of theft, unsure of risk. Chief information officer informs chief privacy officer and requests that he coordinate.
Monday through Thursday: OAKS project manager analyze more than 338,000 files using a backup device to assess level of risk.
Tuesday 3 p.m.: Chief information officer informs Office of Budget and Management Director Pari Sabety.
Tuesday 3:30 p.m.: OAKS project manager reports that employee names and Social Security numbers were present; unsure how many employees were affected.
Wednesday 9 a.m.: OBM Director Sabety informs governor's office senior staff.
who were present at morning meeting
Thursday 10:47 a.m.: OAKS project manager informs chief privacy officer and chief information officer that he has determined that all 64,467 state employees names and Social Security numbers are included on stolen device
Thursday, noon: OBM Director Sabety meets with Department of Administrative Services Director Hugh Quill and chief information officer to brief them.
Thursday, 1:30 p.m.: Gov. Strickland informed. Meets with various department heads to decide how to proceed.
Thursday, 2:30 p.m.: Strickland asks Ohio Highway Patrol to investigate.
Today, 10 a.m.: Statehouse news conference to announce details. Quill sends e-mail to state employees notifying them. Strickland says it "would be very difficult" for a thief to access personal information on the stolen device.
Strickland says a letter will be sent to every employee's home, including about 3,200 from southwestern Ohio.

Not a good week for Strickland camp

It's been a bad week, politically speaking, for Gov. Ted Strickland's Administration.

First, there was Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles' report saying Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman's wife, Frankie, lied under oath about how many hours she worked in her state job at the Department of Development.

Then, today, it was announced that the names and Social Security numbers of 64,467 state employees were stolen Sunday from a computer back-up device from the car of an intern.

Department of Administrative Services Director Hugh Quill said state employees are encouraged to go here or call for recorded information at 1-888-644-6648.

Ohio Republicans immediately jumped on this week's mishaps.

State GOP Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine of Fairborn said: "In a single week, the Strickland administration had to deal with an employee accused of perjury and theft in office, a report questioning the management ability of its lieutenant governor and now a major security breach affecting every state worker’s personal data. The taxpayers are now having to foot the bill for two investigations and identity theft protection for 64,000 Ohioans. This is just downright irresponsible management of state government, and it raises some serious questions about the judgment of this administration."

Keith Dailey, spokesman for Gov. Strickland, released this Hilliard police report as part of the Ohio Highway Patrol investigation.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Turner buys, sells stock

Rep. Mike Turner has been busy working on his portfolio last year.

According to his personal financial report released today, the Centerville Republican - who represents northern Warren County - purchased stock in more than a dozen well-known companies, including several in the oil and gas industry. He also sold some stock.

What he bought: Bed, Bath & Beyond; Best Buy; Citigroup; Caterpillar; Colgate-Palmolive; Coach; Cisco; Disney; Goldman Sachs; 3M Worldwide; Motorola; Occidental Petroleum; Ingersoll Rand; Paychex; Schlumberger; Stryker; U.S. Bancorp; Chevron; Hewlett-Packard.

What he sold: Sysco; CVS pharmacy; Dell; Medtronic.

No luck this year for Boehner

The most interesting thing in House Minority Leader John Boehner's personal financial report out today is what's not in his report.

Last year, the then-majority leader reported in his disclosure form that he won $2,700 on a slot machine in Michigan.

Apparently, the West Chester Republican had stopped to use the bathroom at a casino rest stop just off the highway, and when he played a machine, he hit it big.

No such luck this year.

Chabot cashes in some stock

Maybe Rep. Steve Chabot hasn't been eatin' so good in his neighborhood.

The Westwood Republican reported in his personal financial statement released today that he sold all of his stock in the Applebee's restaurant chain.

The sale, last August, earned him between $15,001 and $50,000.

Chabot also sold off all his stock in The Sportsman's Guide, a hunting and fishing catalogue and Internet company.

That sale also earned him between $15,001 and $50,000.

Schmidt a big land owner

If you were to drive to the corner of Loveland Miamiville Road and Branch Hill/Guinea Pike in Loveland and look around, pretty much all the land you see belongs to Rep. Jean Schmidt's family.

Schmidt, a Republican from Miami Township, has a one-fourth interest in various family partnerships that together own huge chunks of land in Clermont County, according to Schmidt's personal financial statement released today.

Among the land owned by Schmidt and her siblings is the property leased to Walgreen Pharmacy and the nearby Kroger grocery store. The family also owns a small rental home and tons of farm land adjacent to the land occupied by the Kroger store.

Elsewhere in southern Ohio, Schmidt's family owns two other homes and some commercial rental property. Many parcels are either undeveloped or vacant lots.

Together, Schmidt's interest in the partnerships is worth between $2.3 million and $7.7 million. The properties earn her between $41,000 and $122,500 in rent each year.

Members of Congress are required to file annual financial disclosure statements, but they may report their assets and liabilities in broad ranges rather than specific amounts.

Drug (research) anyone?

At least two of your county commissioners are participating in an "informational forum on the ongoing research and drug discoveries" at the University of Cincinnati's Genome Research Institute.

It's not a county-sponsored function, but since at least two of the comissioners (David Pepper says he's one of them) apparently RSVP'd for the event, the county had to send out notice to avoid violating open meetings laws.

So what exactly is it? We're not sure. But if you want to find out, the forum takes place at 10 a.m. June 21 at 2180 East Galbraith Road in Cincinnati.

NAACP going petition-crazy

This from the local NAACP today.

"We have 500 new petitions in the office and we need everyone to come by 4439 Reading Road to the NAACP office to sign and then circulate a petition. You must be a registered Hamilton County Voter to circulate & sign the petition.

Thank you for your support"

President Smitherman

Guess who else supports the safety plan?

Hamilton County’s Comprehensive Safety Plan has another supporter: the Cincinnati Business Committee, a organization made up of various business CEOs.

Committee chair Robert Castellini, who is also CEO of the Reds, said the county is in a "public safety crisis" with too little jail space, too many arrests, too high a recidivism rate, substandard detention facilities and disjointed treatment programs.

"Public safety is of the utmost importance to our community. A safe community provides a foundation for a healthy community and, therefore, is of the utmost importance to our community and to the Cincinnati Business Committee," he said.

Commissioners David Pepper and Todd Portune raised county sales tax May 30 to pay for the plan, which includes construction of a $198 million jail. Opponents have launched a referendum effort. Castellini noted the county will waste $8 million to $24 million if it has to wait until the November election to decide the issue. IT is spending $2 million a month on the current system and housing of overflow inmates in Butler County.

Bob Castellini IS Cincinnati

Gregory Korte tells us why on the Footnotes blog

Write your own caption

Mallory Might Pitch Again


Mark Mallory's office confirms that he does not plan to throw out any more pitches.

As if anyone, anywhere wants to hear any more about Mayor Mark Mallory's pitching abilities....

The Florence Freedom team is offering His Honor another shot at throwing out a first pitch - this time, July 28 before the Freedom plays against River City, Mo.

Andy Furman, special assistant to the team's general manager, made the offer. He also promises Izzy's food at Champion Window Field that night, including samples of the Mallory "Screwball" Sandwich. In case you forgot, that's the sandwich the restaurant said would consist of any two meats "thrown in the general direction" of bread or a bun.

Mallory's been emphasizing lately the importance of the region and making appearances in Northern Kentucky. He helped kick off Newport's Italianfest and is waving the flag Saturday to start the Meijer 300 race at Kentucky Speedway.

No word yet on whether another pitch fits into the mayor's schedule. Or whether anyone really wants to see another display of Mallory pitching abilities.

This might help - Furman offered the assistance of the Freedom's pitching coach, Chris Hook.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gas and sliders in Price Hill?

Word's getting around that the BP station on Glenway Avenue (between Sidney Road and Heuwerth Avenue) could soon be home to a White Castle too. Some neighbors aren't happy.

Councilman John Cranley, who lives in Price Hill, said his first reaction was: "We've got to find a way to fight this."

Neighbors are collecting signatures on petitions. E-mail lauraholland@fuse.net.

DeWine's call-list

UPDATE: DeWine said about 525 people participated in the conference call, which lasted about 75 minutes.

"Everyone asked about the cost, where they could sign up for petitions, what all the money was going for, general comments about the format of the conference call," DeWine said. "I think they were pleased to have such a forum. They asked general questions like why can't we put them (inmates) in old school buildings."

The call was paid for by DeWine's 2008 re-election campaign. The campaign called just Republicans, though DeWine is considering doing another one that is not party-specific.

At 7 p.m. tonight, the phones of 50,000 Hamilton County residents will ring.

If you happen to be pick it up, you'll hear an automated message from Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine. You'll be invited to listen in on and even ask questions during a live telephone conference call about the county's sales tax increase.

DeWine will explain to you why you should sign a referendum petition that will get the sales tax on the ballot.

You'll be on the phone about an hour.

It's not the only move DeWine is making to get the sales tax on the ballot. The Republican, who is up for re-election next year, also is circulating petitions at festivals, according to his campaign Web site http://www.patdewine.com/. He also made mention of direct mailings at some point.

Democratic commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper passed the tax May 30 to pay for a new jail and related programs. DeWine, the lone Republican was in staunch opposition.

He thinks the tax (a half percent) is too much and it should have been presented to voters in the first place.

Firebirds burn up Senate floor

State Sen. Gary Cates recognized the Lakota West High School boys' baseball team today for winning the 2007 Division I state championship.

Cates, a Republican from West Chester, honored the players on the floor of the Ohio Senate at the start of session.

The Firebirds beat Mentor, 4-0, on June 2 to win the school's first baseball title.

Cates was joined by West Chester Township Trustee George Lang in praising the team.

Dogs on the Square?


It turns out, city officials have been reviewing this policy already. That's because of the growing downtown population, spokeswoman Meg Olberding says, and the possibility that those people have dogs and would like to walk them around downtown, including on the square.

"People feel very strongly on both sides of the issue," she says.

The policy dates back to 1975.

City Manager Milton Dohoney might not know it yet, but some dog lovers are coming for him.

A group promoting last weekend's Opera Dogs event learned something they don't think is right: that dogs aren't allowed on Fountain Square. When organizer Lydia Stec asked 3CDC - the Center City Development Corp., which operates the square - about the rule, Bill Donabedian referred her to Dohoney.

The rule is posted on http://www.myfountainsquare.com/. But Stec, who showed up on the square Saturday with her Rhodesian ridgeback Juju, who was dressed in a tuxedo, didn't know about it. So only Juju and Buster, a dressed-up pug, were allowed on the square - because they were part of an event there. The other six or seven non-costumed dogs and their owners who'd come to support the Opera Dogs had to stand along Vine Street, Stec said.

"It was the strangest thing," she said today. "It was unbelievable."

She and others are questioning the wisdom of the policy. They think a lot of the young professionals city officials would like to attract to downtown living will have dogs.

Stec's asking anyone who agrees with her to lodge a complaint through http://www.myfountainsquare.com/.

Harris Quoted in the New York Times today

When he's not campaigning for City Council, Greg Harris works at his day job in policy with the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Ohio's largest education philanthropy.

He's talking about a Dayton high school that's becoming a charter school under the University of Dayton's control. KnowledgeWorks provided some funding for the school.

Read the story here.


Tom gives Pat a pass

An interesting sidelight to the June 21 Pat DeWine fundraiser (see below):

Among the GOP luminaries listed as members of the host committee for the DeWine event is State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr.

Interesting, because there was much speculation that Brinkman might challenge DeWine for the county commission seat in next March's Republican primary. Clearly, though, you don't begin a campaign to defeat an incumbent of your own party by helping him raise money.

Brinkman probably cooled his jets on that one after DeWine held fast to the no-new-taxes line when it came to construction of a new jail. Hard to run as the "fiscal conservative" alternative when the incumbent is doing exactly what you would have done.

Brinkman, though, is still fuming over the entry of Phil Heimlich into the 2nd Congressional District primary. Taking out Jean Schmidt, Brinkman thinks, is his mission in life. Word is Brinkman may jump in anyway, if only to mess with Heimlich.

Either way, don't expect Brinkman to help Heimlich raise money.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

DeWine campaign kicks off with happy hour

What better way to celebrate the first day of summer than relaxing with a big German brewski on the patio of the Mecklenburg Gardens in Clifton.

Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine is inviting everyone to do just that -- and kick in a little extra cash for his 2008 campaign.

His campaign committee e-mailed the invitation today. You can contribute $50 per person (or $500 to be a happy hour sponsor) for the fundraising festivities. The event takes place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 21. Here's the invitation from his camp. And if this doesn't convince you, hey, they've got 15 types of beer on tap, 80 bottled.

"You are invited to the First Day of Summer Happy Hour at Mecklenburg Gardens on June 21st from 5:00 - 7:00 pm. This event is a fun way to get involved and kick off our 2008 campaign.
While it may seem early to start thinking about an election in 2008, it is vital that we do. As last November's election demonstrates, this County is increasingly competitive. It is crucial that we retain my seat on the Commission as a check on the Commission's current liberal majority and as a means to continue our efforts to create a more accountable county government."

If You Were Mark Mallory

This is what you would be doing this week:

1. Monday, you would have announced the return of a summer breakfast and lunch program that feeds low-income kids, the premise being that kids who aren't hungry can focus better, do better in school and get in trouble less.

2. Today, if you were Mark Mallory you would have said that the new Edge condos to be built on Culvert Street to green standards "puts us on the cutting edge. We're out there, folks...This is another illustration of just how innovative we are in this city." You would have thanked Council members Chris Bortz and Laketa Cole for their leadership in putting together the ordinance passed last month that offers a 15-year tax abatement for people who buy green-certified buildings.

3. Thursday, you would help break ground for Brodbeck Place II, off Westwood Northern Boulevard, where CiTiRAMA will be held in the fall. Eight to 10 houses by various builders will be finished for people to walk through. They'll cost between $180,000 and $220,000. "This is a formula that works," you would have said today about the project. "Let's be clear about that." A total of 26 houses will be built there.

4. Thursday, if you were Mark Mallory, you would be on Fountain Square at noon getting the green flag you would wave Saturday at the Kentucky Speedway to start the Meijer 300 Busch series race. You would say that you're related to Blake Mallory, who races trucks, and the people who make Mallory Ignition Systems. But you would be joking.

5. Friday, you would cut a ribbon for the AFL-CIO annual show and give a proclamation to St. Anthony Village in Over-the-Rhine.

That's all if you were Mark Mallory, which you probably aren't.

Many support senior services levy

The Hamilton County Council on Aging is seeking a levy in November that would raise $102 million over the next five years. It would fund the elderly services program, which helps about 8,000 seniors annually with day-to-day services that allow them to live independently in their homes for longer.

About two dozen people spoke at a public hearing Monday night on the issue.

Click here to read the organization's report on what happened.

Click here for more background on the organization.

The Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee is expected to make a recommendation on the levy in July. The amount of the levy has not been determined. It must ultimately be approved by county commissioners.

CPS Board finds nothing too small to fight about

Guest blogger Ben Fischer reports:

The rift between two dueling factions of the Cincinnati Board of Education widened into a chasm on Monday, when members squabbled over two largely symbolic measures -- accusing both sides of political posturing.

First, board member Catherine Ingram wanted to nominate her ally Florence Newell for the “Outstanding Board Member” award given by the Ohio School Boards Association. Newell and Ingram, along with former Ohio Gov. John Gilligan, make up the board’s increasingly frustrated 3-member minority.

The board voted 3-2 to support the nomination, with only those three voting “yes.” The board's four-member majority – Susan Cranley, Eileen Cooper Reed, Rick Williams and Melanie Bates – all either abstained or voted “no.” (Whether or not the nomination fell short of a necessary 4 votes to pass or whether the 3-vote plurality was sufficient was in dispute early Tuesday.)

On the floor, Cranley implied the award would end up in Newell's campaign literature if she runs for re-election this fall. Afterwards, Bates said the vote amounted to an endorsement of Newell, possibly at the expense of Williams, a friend and ally, who would be running on the same ballot as Newell for three open spots.

"I'm not going to hurt Rick -- it was just a bad position to put us in," Bates said. "Why have us chose sides during an election season?"

A few minutes later, Bates brought up her own symbolic motion – a suggestion that the school board sponsor a Family Fun Walk event organized by University Hospital in July. The measure would involve no financial commitment from CPS.

This time, Ingram turned the tables on Bates, who's in the middle of her own political campaign. Newell voted "no" and Ingram abstained.

“She’s running for city council also, let’s not play games with where we are,” Ingram said.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cincinnati Ranks 38th of 373

Good news, courtesy of city spokeswoman Meg Olberding ...

Cincinnati-Middletown ranks 38 of 373 cities in the second edition of the Cities Ranked and Rated book – much improved over its 92nd ranking in 2004, the city announced Monday. The book rates cities based on criteria including cost of living, education, reasonable commuting times and overall quality of life.

City Manager Milton Dohoney said the ranking clearly shows “Cincinnati has the whole package.”

Data used to come up with the rankings came from Bert Sperling, creator of Money magazine’s “Best Places to Live” list. Columbus ranked 36, while Dayton fell from 41 to 84.

Jean Schmidt in NKY

Guest blogger Margaret McGurk reports:

U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt told the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Monday that financing for the new Brent Spence Bridge is a question yet to be answered.

Schmidt, a member of the House Transportation Committee, said, “I don’t know we are going to find the money, but the money has to be found.”

The speech was dotted with references to "the party that is running things now," and "the other party." But she did call attention to Nancy Pelosi's historic election as Speaker of the House, saying " I am thrilled to be serving with a female Speaker."

She managed not to mention either Pelosi's name or party affiliation.

Schmidt also took one mild shot at the current administration when the subject of passport applications came up. Members of her staff sometimes work until 11 at night dealing with the flood of pleas for help from travelers afraid they will miss long-planned trips because of the State Department's massive backlog.

While making a point of saying how much she admires Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Schmidt said when it comes to the passport crunch, "The administration really dropped the ball."

Also, while trying to explain the dangers posed by Iraqi insurgents, Schmidt misplaced the founding of Islam by about 400 years. She told the crowd that the enemy considers it sinful to live anything except "a nomadic life of probably the third century."

Muhammed, the founder of Islam, was born late in the sixth century. Historians date the religion to the early decades of the seventh century.

Voinovich statement on Gonzalez

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Cleveland, today released the following statement on today's “no confidence” vote regarding Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez in the U.S. Senate:

As I have previously said, if I were president, I would have asked Alberto Gonzalez to resign as attorney general. The nation’s top cop ought to be spending his time on enforcing our laws, not explaining away the appearance of partisan political activities in his department. Today’s vote does nothing to rectify the current problem or ensure it doesn’t happen again. There are too many pressing issues we’re ignoring to deal with non-binding, partisan votes. Therefore, I will vote against the resolution.”

Are public employee salaries the public's business?

Gregory Korte has the controversy here on his Footnotes blog

Dems: "think carefully" before signing referendum petition

It's no secret the Hamilton County Democratic Party supported Commissoners Todd Portune and David Pepper (both Democrats) when they increased the county sales tax to pay for a safety plan that includes a new jail.

Now the party is going a step further by telling its flock to "think carefully about the consequences" of signing a referendum petition.

"Democrats should stand behind our commissioners and not support a costly and counter productive effort to place this issue on the November ballot," stated Party Chair Tim Burke and Executive Director Caleb Faux in an e-mail last week.

Here's the full text:

Dear Supporter,

There has been much discussion over recent days about the decision of County Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper to enact the new Comprehensive Safety Plan. This decision, while controversial among some, is a courageous choice to tackle a difficult problem with a well thought out and thorough solution.

There are some who believe this issue should have been presented to the voters as a ballot measure and are now soliciting petition signatures to do exactly that. We urge voters to think carefully about the consequences of doing that and also to understand the value of what our Commissioners have done. Democrats should stand behind our Commissioners and not support a costly and counter productive effort to place this issue on the November ballot.

Why? Here are just a few of the reasons.

1. An Intelligent Approach to Justice - The Safety Plan enacted goes well beyond merely the provision of new jail space. Much of it is directed at programs designed to reduce crime and to reduce the number (70%) of offenders who wind up returning to jail at some later date. This is a huge improvement over past policies and should be supported as consistent with the values of the Democratic Party. There should be more to a justice system than simply locking people up.

2. Replacement of Inefficient and Inadequate Existing Jail Space - Nearly 2/3rds of the jail space to be constructed under the plan replaces very inadequate and possibly dangerous space now in use. It also replaces space now being rented in Butler County at great cost and funded by a rainy day fund which is about to run out. Its time to do the job right instead of using a patchwork of band aide solutions as the Republicans have done in the past.

3. Honest Cost Efficiency - Unlike previous proposals (and other proposals now in circulation), the Commissioner's plan is honest in that it includes both construction funds and operating funds. Last year's Heimlich/Dewine Plan provided no funds for operation, it financed construction through long term debt (leading to huge interest payments) and failed to consolidate multiple facilities leading to much higher long term operating costs. In the long run, the newly enacted plan will save the taxpayers Hamilton County nearly $450 million that would eventually be spent otherwise.

4. Meeting The County's Obligation - The County Commissioners do not decide who and how many people shall be housed in the County's jails. Those decisions are made by elected Judges and the City and County prosecutor's offices. Legally, the County is required by statute to provide adequate jail space. If the County fails to provide the space needed to house offenders, the County Commissioners can and probably would be sued and in the end, a Court would order the County to construct new jail space. The nature and configuration of that jail space would then be decided not by our Democratic Commissioners but by a Judge (probably Republican) and the County Sherriff who would bring the suit. Refusing to fund the needed construction (as have Republicans for many years) will not prevent its construction. It will simply shift the decision making to other parties.

5. $2 million per month, the cost of delay-- Delaying the implementation of the Safety Plan by placing it on the ballot will cost Hamilton County taxpayers as much as $2 million per month, money which can be spent in much more productive ways.

Our County Commissioner's have stepped up to the plate and made an intelligent and thoughtful decision as they were elected to do, a decision that can easily be misrepresented. Such decisions deserve our support as a demonstration that good public policy will be supported by the voters. To do otherwise supports the sort of bad decision making based on short term appearances that we have seen in the past. It is time for a change in Hamilton County.

Much greater detail regarding the Safety Plan can be found here.

Tim Burke, Chair , Hamilton County Democratic Party

Caleb Faux, Executive Director, Hamilton County Democratic Party

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