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, July 13, 2007

Ohio may move presidential primary

Jon Craig has the scoop here

This is too easy

No matter how busy you might be Saturday afternoon, you have to think about stopping by Ridge Day, the Pleasant Ridge parade and festival.

Be there, at 5915 Ridge Road, by 12:30 pm. Just trust me on this one and go.

OK, here's why: Jeff Berding will be sitting in the dunking booth.

Brown quizzes nominee over "gay people"

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown turned to a rather unusual line of questioning during the Senate confirmation hearing yesterday of James Holsinger, a former chancellor of the University of Kentucky medical center tapped by President Bush to be the next Surgeon General.

Holsinger has drawn fire because of a paper he wrote 16 years ago declaring that gay sex is unhealthy and unnatural, prompting Brown, a Democrat, to ask:

"There have been reports that over 50 Arabic translators have been fired from the Pentagon simply because they are gay. Given your past statements on homosexuality, what do you see as a greater threat to the health and safety of Americans: untranslated documents and intercepts from al-Qaida or gay people?"

Holsinger, not surprisingly, didn't quite know what to say.

"Well, that's certainly an interesting question that you have posed, senator. I've not had an opportunity to think through, as you might guess, an answer to that question at all. I think I would have grave concern for having the effective translators that we might need in order to be able to provide for the safety for our American people," he said.

Brown said he had asked the question is because "too often this administration has allowed ideology to override qualifications when it comes to critical positions," citing the much criticized handling of Hurricane Katrina by former FEMA head Michael Brown and the failed nomination of Bush counsel Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.

"I just don’t want to see us go down that road again," he said.

Driehaus rakes it in

Steve Driehaus, the term-limited state legislator from Price Hill who will take on Steve Chabot in the 1st Congressional District, raised a prodigious amount of money in the first six weeks or so of his campaign.

Driehaus has filed a second-quarter report with the Federal Elections Commission showing he went from zero to about $165,000 from mid-May to June 30, the cut-off date for second quarter reports.

Now, understand that some of this money came in the form of contributions from the "leadership PACs" of high-ranking Democratic members in Congress who wanted to sow some seeds for Driehaus. And some came from the campaign accounts of some of Driehaus' fellow Democratic legislators in Columbus.

But Driehaus says that nearly $100,000 of the money he raised came from individual contributors. That is what the leadership of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is looking for - signs that the candidate knows how to raise money on his own.

The good news for donors was that none of them had to stand around a hotel meeting room sipping drinks and eating cheese cubes to show their support for Driehaus. He hasn't held any fundraising events yet; all the money raised so far from individuals was done by Driehaus dialing people up on the phone.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Boehner to Democrats: Wait until September

Today was another watershed in the debate over Iraq policy, with President Bush releasing an interim report on progress there, the Senate debating the issue and the House approving legislation that would require the withdrawal of U.S. troops starting in 4 months.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, West Chester, responded:

“Today’s report provides Americans with a snapshot of the progress, setbacks, and ongoing challenges we face in Iraq. The progress made on reducing violence and improving security in Iraq, after less than one month of full troop strength, has been a positive development. But we need to see more progress from the Iraqi people and their government on key political benchmarks where the progress has not been satisfactory.

“My Democratic friends say they want to withdraw American forces from Iraq immediately, but the bill on the House floor doesn’t do that. Instead, we’re engaged in yet another partisan debate that accomplishes only one thing: it gives our enemies another public relations victory. The Democrats’ bill fails to protect our troops, making them all pawns in a partisan political game, and it publicly undermines General Petraeus just weeks after we gave him the full resources needed to implement the Baghdad Security Plan.

“The American people believe that our military commanders, not Washington politicians, are in the best position to make critical national security decisions and so do Republicans. General Petraeus and our troops are hard at work in their mission now, they deserve our full support, and we look forward to hearing the General’s report and recommendations in September.”

Boehner calls Voinovich a wimp?

According to a story in The Hill newspaper, House Minority Leader John Boehner of West Chester told fellow Republicans behind closed doors that senators who have begun to call for a change of course in Iraq are "wimps."

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, is one such senator. In a letter he sent to President Bush last month, the Cleveland Republican called for U.S. troops to be brought home.

The Hill story quotes Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., on the "wimp" refrence, which Boehner allegedly made during a closed-door meeting during which Boehner and Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., were urging solidarity among House Republicans on the Iraq issue.

A spokesman for Boehner told The Hill that Boehner's comments were not meant to trivialize the war or the senators’ decisions. Rather, they were meant to emphasize the importance of allowing the troop surge to work and to urge GOP lawmakers to reserve their judgment until September, when Gen. David Petraeus is expected to brief Congress on the progress in Iraq.

Said Boehner spokesman Brian Kennedy: "The leader’s comments were intended to illustrate the fact that we just recently voted to give the troops our full support — including ample time for the Petraeus plan to work — and that too much is at stake for Congress to renege on its commitment now by approving what can only be described as another partisan stunt by Democrats."

Democrats, ever ready with a comment:

"John Boehner has either spent too much time in the tanning bed or in the hot sun on the golf course,” said Brad Woodhouse of Americans United for Change. "The real 'wimps' in this debate are not those who have the courage to challenge the President and his failed policy in Iraq – it’s those like John Boehner who are afraid to speak out, afraid to take on the President, afraid to admit what the facts on the ground make clear and afraid to admit that when it comes to Iraq they have been wrong all along. "

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

DCCC slams Chabot - UPDATED!

We've already heard from most other members of the Greater Cincinnati delegation on what they think about President Bush commuting H. "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence.

Except Republican Rep. Steve Chabot of Westwood.

UPDATED! Here's what Chabot had to say Wednesday:
"Perjury is a very serious charge. Our justice system requires people to provide truthful testimony and perjury has the potential to seriously undermine the legal process. While the President has the constitutional authority to commute sentences and issue pardons, I believe that these matters are better left to the courts."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, meanwhile, noticed Chabot's late response. And, considering that in 1999, Chabot was one of 13 House Managers in the impeachment trial of President Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, they had PLENTY to say:

Does Representative Steve Chabot, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, believe in holding everyone accountable for committing perjury or just Democrats? On the eve of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearings into President Bush saving Scooter Libby from jail for his perjury conviction, we might soon find out.

THEN -- Impeachment Manager Steve Chabot in 1999: “Perjury is something that is really detrimental to our entire legal system. We have people that go to ourtrooms all across the country every day of the week and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and if they lie under oath, they're going to go to jail…” [The O’Reilly Factor; 1/19/99]

NOW -- "Steve Chabot's uncharacteristic silence is deafening on President Bush giving Scooter Libby a get out of jail free card,” said Jennifer Crider, Communications Director for the DCCC. “Representative Chabot spoke volumes about the need to hold Democrats accountable for lying under oath. Now that President Bush gave special treatment to one of his own for the very same charges, Steve Chabot’s constituents have a right to know where stands.”

Schmidt slammed in TV ad

Rep. Jean Schmidt's comments about the Walter Reed Army Medical Center have landed her on the air waves. In a column she wrote last March, Schmidt called the media reports of neglect at the soldier's medical center "overblown."

The Enquirer's story of March 21 detailed what she said – and how people reacted to it. We also blogged about it here.

Now, the liberal-leaning group Patriot Majority is airing 30-second issue ads in her 2nd Congressional District urging Schmidt to start supporting American troops, rather than dismissing the documented neglect at Walter Reed as "overblown." This ad is the group's first for 2007.

The ad began airing on June 28 and will continue airing all this month.

In a news release sent to reporters today, the group calls Schmidt's comments "among the most extreme and damaging that anyone has made regarding the mistreatment of America’s wounded soldiers."

About the group running the ads:

The Patriot Majority is a 527 that communicates with Americans on issues of importance in a manner that does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate for local, state or federal office. The Patriot Majority believes that the policy failures of President Bush and his Congressional allies have weakened our country and endangered our men and women in uniform, and that President Bush’s short-sighted policies have put the U.S. Army is under the greatest strain in a generation.
Text of the ads:

More than 3,000 soldiers killed.
23,000 wounded.
Now newspapers reveal that some of our wounded are housed in dirt and filth.
Cockroaches, mouse droppings, mold.
But Congresswoman Jean Schmidt said the scandal was overblown.
Our wounded troops living in disgusting conditions.
She thinks this is overblown?
We're tired of politicians who neglect our veterans.
Call Jean Schmidt. Tell her to start supporting our troops. (513) XXX-XXXX

Brinkman tries to ban abortion, again

An abortion rights group slammed state Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, today for reintroducing legislation to make all abortions illegal in Ohio.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said Brinkman’s decision to resurrect his "unpopular and dangerous bill" banning abortion "reinforces that he is out-of-touch with Ohio mainstream values."

"In 2006, Ohio voters made clear they wanted a new direction for the choice debate by electing Gov. Ted Strickland who has pledged to veto any ban on abortion,” Copeland said. "Just as we did last year, pro-choice Ohioans will vocally oppose this bill.”

Last year, Brinkman sponsored a bill that would have made it a felony to perform abortions in Ohio. That bill died in committee.

Bush in Ohio today

What's ahead:


Office of the Press Secretary
(Cleveland, Ohio)
For Immediate Release July 10, 2007


Aboard Air Force One
En Route Cleveland, Ohio

9:59 A.M. EDT

MR. STANZEL: Good morning, everyone. We are on our way to Cleveland, Ohio. I'll give a run through of the President's day, and then take your questions. The President had his normal briefings this morning at 8:00 a.m. On Air Force One today we have Representative Steve LaTourette, Republican from Ohio.

At 10:45 a.m. the President visits GrafTech International, Ltd. GrafTech manufactures carbon and graphite products for industrial applications, and they also engineer and are developing new fuel cell components from natural graphite. So the President will take a tour there. At 11:40 a.m. the President will have some lunch with community leaders in Cleveland. We'll announce that location once we get closer to that. You should all have the list of participants for that lunch already.

At 1:00 p.m. the President is visiting Cleveland Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic, as you're probably all familiar, is a not-for-profit, multi-specialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. And the President will take a tour there and have an opportunity to discuss with the leaders at the hospital how they are working to improve quality of care through information technology and outcome measurements.

At 1:45 p.m. the President will make remarks to the Greater Cleveland Partnership, with is a association of companies in Northeast Ohio. And they have approximately 16,000 members. And there will be about 400 invited guests to that, including members of the partnership of the Cleveland Clinic and local business leaders.

So that's the President's day. And with that, I'll take your questions.

Q Scott, in the speech, can you give us a preview of what the President is going to address related to Iraq?

MR. STANZEL: First of all, the President is coming to Cleveland today -- he'll talk about a number of things. This is really an opportunity to have a deep dive on the important issues that the President believes are impacting the American people. The President will talk about the issue of Iraq and the war on terror. He'll also talk about how Congress should move forward on energy legislation, and also on health care and how we empower individuals to have greater care -- greater ability and authority to make their own health care decisions. So much in the way that we did last year in Miami and Chicago in June and July, this is an opportunity to take a deep dive.

On the issue of Iraq, the President will continue to talk about the things that he has discussed in the past, and that is why it's important to continue to take the fight to the terrorists. The surge, as we've noted, is just a couple weeks underway, in terms of the full complement of troops.

As you may have heard him talk about on the 4th of July, you know, we all want to get to a day when we don't have 159,000 American troops on the front lines. We want to get to a time when the Iraqis are better able to account for their own security and have made progress on the economic and political fronts. So there will be an opportunity for the President to talk about that today, as well.

Council candidates and their money

So now that most of the candidates for Cincinnati City Council have filed the first reports that show how much money they're collecting for this year's campaign, here's a few nuggets from them.

Everybody likes to know who financier Carl Lindner gives his cash to. He's on Sam Malone's satatement for $1,000, as is his wife, Edith. Carl and Edith each gave $1,000 to John Cranley, Leslie Ghiz, Chris Monzel, John Eby, Charlie Winburn.

Cranley: $1,000 each from Bob Castellini; and Stan Chesley.

Ghiz: $50 from Jean Schmidt, $500 from Dwight Tillery, $1,000 from the Taft, Stettinius & Hollister Better Government Fund, $1,000 from Castellini.

Chris Monzel: $1,000 from the Keating, Muething & Klekamp (Pat Fischer's law firm) PAC; $500 from the PAC at Frost Brown Todd LLC; $1,000 from the Fifth Third Bancorp PAC.

Malone, Winburn and Eby got $5,000 checks from the county Republican party.

Christopher Smitherman: in 2005, $500 from Chris Bortz.

Sean Lackey: $500 from Otto Budig Jr. (That plus one more dollar makes up the whole of Lackey's reported contributions)

Greg Harris: $2,500 each from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 212 and Plumbers Pipe Fitters Local 392.

Joan Kaup: $1,000, Melody Sawyer Richardson; $1,000, Bobbie Sterne.

Winburn: $1,000, Castellini; $1,000, Richard Farmer; $1,000, Covington developer Bill Butler, $2,500, Mike Allen's campaign committee.

Cecil Thomas: $1,000, Chesley.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Smokers - step away from the county buildings

Smokers, step away from the county buildings.

You're not allowed to puff there. Don't even think about doing it in a county vehicle. Thanks to the Ohio Smoking Ban all these places are now smoke-free.

But there are a few areas around the county buildings where smokers are still welcome-- or at least permitted -- to light up on county property.

Hamilton County on Monday released a list of the spots around the county buildings where smokers can puff away without fear of the cigarette police, and non-smokers can make a point to avoid if they so choose. The list will be sent to all county employees.

Approved Smoking Areas: (if you need clarification call 513-946-5000)

  • Alms & Doepke

  • Hamilton County Courthouse-lower level of the Courthouse Plaza

  • Hamilton County Administration Building-lower level of the Courthouse Plaza

  • Hamilton County Justice Center-Plaza area (coming out of the South building to the right by the planter, and coming out of the South building straight, about 20 feet from the flag pole)

  • 230 East 9th Street-public sidewalk (east and west) and lower level of the Courthouse Plaza

  • Sheriff's Patrol Headquarters-front and rear parking lots

  • Sheriff's Target Range-Picnic table areas and parking lot west of the tower

  • Communication Center-Front and rear parking lots

  • Public Works Maintenance Garage-North side of facility in the parking area and area near the pole barn

  • Records Center-gravel area across from the main entrance and side parking lot (fenced area)

  • Coroner Building-sidewalk around the building near the street (east and south of the building)

  • Memorial Hall-front sidewalk and parking lot on the north/west sides

  • Parkhaus Garage-garage is open, all areas approved

  • 800 Broadway-parking areas on 8th/Broadway and along the back sidewalk

  • 237 William Howard Taft- in hut on patio outside cafeteria

  • 250 William Howard Taft- on sidewalk in front of 250/264 William Howard Taft

  • 20/20 Juvenile Detention Center-picnic table at the northeast corner of the parking lot

  • Hillcrest-smoke-free campus, no approved areas

Come to Cincinnati--and bring your money with you.

A group of local leaders is going to Washington D.C. to talk up Cincinnati. But they're not seeking the ears of their congressmen this time.

They're trying to woo the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. Why? Because the organization, which considers itself the nation's premiere association of Black public leadership, is holding a convention in 2011, but it hasn't decided where.

Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney, Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher, County Commissioner Todd Portune and the county’s Small Business Development Director Bernice Walker, who also heads the local NFBPA chapter, will try to convince the organization that Cincinnati is its best choice.

Several cities, including St. Louis and Chicago, are in the running to host the three-day convention, which would bring 3,000 people and an estimated $2.7 million in economic impact to the region.

40,000 signatures and counting

The WeDemandAVote folks announced today they have hit 40,000 signatures.

Last week they announced they had hit 34,000 signatures in their effort to place a planned Hamilton County sales tax increase for a new jail on the November ballot.

WeDemandAVote.com, a coalition of seven groups opposed to a county commission-imposed increase in the sales tax, has to collect the signatures of 28,750 registered Hamilton County voters by Friday to put the issue on the November ballot.

Typically in petition campaigns, anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of signatures collected are thrown out because they did not come from registered voters or because petitions were not handled properly.

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