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 20, 2007

NAACP: Smitherman Can't Be Both

If you're following the back-and-forth about whether Christopher Smitherman can be both local NAACP president and a City Council candidate, here's another round:

Richard McIntire, a spokesman for the NAACP national office in Baltimore, says tonight that Smitherman cannot. He says the organization has a policy dating to 1968 that requires anyone in a local leadership role to "relinquish their position temporarily during the period of the candidacy." The policy also says that if the person wins the elected office, he or she has to resign the NAACP position, according to McIntire. He said he couldn't fax the policy.

If it seems like you read something different than that here earlier this week, you're not imagining it. McIntire said Wednesday, in a voicemail, that the organization's constitution didn't speak to the issue. He said then:

"Customarily, what occurs is if there is a branch president that is seeking elective office in their community, once they announce as a candidate, they will step down as president. The branch's first vice president will assume the presidency. And then pending the outcome of the election, if that individual were successful in their run for elective office, it would be up to the branch to determine or vote whether or not there was a conflict of interest and then they would proceed accordingly."

As for the discrepancy, McIntire said Friday that he and I must have misunderstood each other.

GOP reacts to stolen-data report

Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine had this reaction today to Inspector General Thomas P. Charles' investigative report about a stolen computer backup tape: "This is an unbelievable case of cover-up, mismanagement and interns managing interns. If it wasn’t a sad reality, it would be laughable."

"The Strickland administration apparently ignored the warnings of a state auditor and its own transition team while putting sensitive personal data for millions of Ohioans into the hands of interns," said DeWine, a state legislator from Fairborn. "They attempted to cover up critical details of the theft and then took more than a month to figure out what they had lost. Ohioans are now being strapped with a $2 million bill to fix a problem that could have been prevented with a little common sense."

"Just a few weeks ago, the Inspector General was questioning the management ability of the lieutenant governor," DeWine said, "and now he’s raising serious concerns about the oversight of Ohio’s security procedures. Ohioans deserve better from an administration that promised more."

More on Charles' report can be found below, and in Saturday's Enquirer.


State Inspector General reports on stolen tape

Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles today issued his investigative report on the stolen state backup tape that contained the names and Social Security numbers of more than 800,000 Ohioans.

In his 35-page report, Charles says the 22-year-old intern who brought the tape home was told by a supervisor not to tell Hilliard Police that it contained confidential data. The project manager disputes that claim, the report says, although a Compuware consultant confirmed the intern's account.

Charles recommends disciplinary action against several employees whose policies and actions allowed the theft from the intern's car, and subsequent delays in notifying the governor and public about data on the tape.

The full report can be found here:


Michigan now eyes earlier primary, too

Michigan is the latest state considering whether to move its presidential primary up to Jan. 29, 2008.

A week ago, state Sen. Eric Kearney proposed moving Ohio's primary from March 4 to Jan. 29, as Florida has done. Kearney, a Democrat from North Avondale, is seeking co-sponsors for Senate Bill 202, which is awaiting public hearings in the Ohio Senate.

Wednesday, legislation was sent to the floor of the Michigan Senate, to move its primary from Feb. 26 to Jan. 29. A vote on those bills has not been scheduled.

In a press statement today, Kearney said: "Clearly other states realize the importance of an early primary. It’s obvious the earlier your primary the more relevant your state is in the process. If Michigan can get that why can’t we?"

By the time Ohio votes in next year's presidential primary, 34 states will have cast a ballot: Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Hawaii.

"In the national election Ohio is the gatekeeper to the presidency. We are a bellwether state and few make it to the White House without a win here," Kearney said. "We need to move our primary date because there is no better test for our national candidates than making them prove they can win in Ohio."


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pool Passes and Lead Testing

Reminders today from Laketa Cole and Chris Monzel:

Friday, Cole will hand out free pool passes from 5-7 p.m. at the Madisonville Recreation Center, 5320 Stewart Ave. Parents or guardians must come with their children, and the children must help out in their community to get the passes. It's the third year for Cole to hand out the free passes.

Monzel, chairman of City Council's Health, Education and Recreation committee, urges people to bring children under 6 who might have been exposed to lead paint to free testing, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, at the Price Hill Recreation Center, 959 Hawthorne Ave., East Price Hill.

The tests are being sponsored by the Cincinnati Health Department, 513-357-7416.

New PAC in town

Young professionals in Cincinnati are forming a political action committee to get the people elected they believe will move the city forward.

A kick-off for the CincyPAC takes place Friday at Bang Night Club downtown.
Here's the invitation.

And here's the description of what the group is all about:

WHAT: CincyPAC Kick Off Event

WHEN: Friday, July 20, 2007
6:00 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Speech around 7:30)

WHERE: Bang Night Club
314 W. 4th St.

WHO: Young Professionals, Local Elected Officials and Candidates

CINCINNATI— For years, young professionals have been talking about the need to make their voices as passionate citizens heard, and on Friday July 20, 2007, these passionate citizens will put their money where their mouth is.

Cincinnati area young professionals have created a local political action committee, called CincyPAC, geared towards holding city officials accountable to moving Cincinnati forward and ensuring that the city appeals to and caters towards young professionals.

Cincinnati has been talking about attracting and retaining the creative class for a long time, but now it is time to do something about it. CincyPAC will support candidates who believe in policies that support vibrant arts and entertainment, affordable housing and bold economic development, crime prevention and quality education in the city of Cincinnati and surrounding areas.

CincyPAC will host a kick-off event at Bang Nightclub on Friday, June 20th from 6-10pm, an event open to the public. Suggested donation is $25.

Senate Sleepover

The Iraq vote, an unusual all-nighter for U.S. senators, forced many senators to get just a few hours of sleep Tuesday night — or hit the sack much later than usual. Here is how your local senators spent the night:

Sen. George Voinovich, a Cleveland Republican, cast the first vote on the measure at 8:34 p.m., then went to dinner with his wife, Janet. He was back at the Capitol for an 11:59 p.m. vote before heading to his Capitol Hill townhouse for a nap. But he didn't sleep long, because he was back at the Captiol for the next vote, which was at 5:13 a.m. He did NOT speak on the floor and ended up voting AGAINST allowing the measure calling for troop withdrawal to be considered.

Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican from Southgate, Ky., spoke on the Senate floor at about 8:15 p.m. - right before the first vote. He then stayed at the Capitol, wandering back and forth between the Senate floor and his office, until 1:30 a.m., at which point the sleepy senator went home and promptly went to sleep, skipping the early morning vote so he could be awake and fresh for his regular 8 a.m. prayer breakfast, his spokesman said. He also voted AGAINST the measure.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Louisville, also skipped the 5:13 a.m. vote. During first half of the night, however, he held court in his leadership office, meeting with lawmakers and even serving dinner so many of them and their staff members, his office said. Finally, however, McConnell needed his rest.

"He went home for a nap — had to take a break from the 'theatrical display' organized by the Dems," said his spokeswoman, Julie Adams, in an e-mail.

(Yes, McConnell too voted AGAINST the measure.)

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Lorain in northern Ohio, on the other hand, stayed up most of the night — even appearing as a guest blogger on the Ohio Democratic Party blog, which was updated all night. The freshman senator, and the only Democrat in the group, spoke on the Senate floor at 11 p.m., presided over the chamber for two and a half hours, and made every vote. He napped for a few hours on the couch in his office, then voted FOR the measure.

"He is wearing the same shirt but a different tie," spokeswoman Bethany Lesser said yesterday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Smitherman: No rule says he can't run

Christopher Smitherman raised some questions last month by announcing that he, while president of the local NAACP, would run for Cincinnati City Council. Lifetime members of the group questioned whether it would be possible, as retired federal judge Nathaniel Jones put it, to "serve two masters."

After several calls to the national NAACP office in Baltimore since Smitherman announced more than two weeks ago, spokesman Richard McIntire responded today that the group's constitution isn't clear on the issue. It "does not speak specifically to that rule, or to that question."

But most people in Smitherman's position, he said, don't stay in the job while running for something else, McIntire said.

"Customarily what occurs is if there is a branch president that is seeking elective office in their community, once they announce as a candidate, they will step down as president," he said. "The branch's first vice president will assume the presidency."

If the NAACP president wins the elective office, then members of the local branch would determine, he said, whether there's a conflict of interest.

Smitherman's on vacation with his family.

This jail referendum is costing how much?

Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune says the petition drive against the sales tax increase for a new jail could cost the county up to $36 million.

Yes, $36 million.

He gets that figure from the county's finance department. It says if enough signatures are valid (the petitioners need 28,750) the sales tax -- even if it's ultimately approved by voters -- will be delayed for months, costing millions through inflation, lost interest and leases and contracts.

The sales tax was originally supposed to start Oct. 1.

Here are the financial details.


Some pricey pasttimes

Wanna pay $80 for a Reds Game? How about $100 for a golf outing?
If your pocketbook can spare it, here are some events you'll want to know about. Oh yeah, Dems steer clear, this money goes to the county Republican Party.

Here are the invites sent by the Hamilton County Republican Party today.



Neighborhood Endorsement?

Folks have been talking for days about the recent issue of the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood's community newsletter, which encouraged people to support City Council candidate Pat Fischer. Fischer, a lawyer with Keating, Muething & Klekamp who raised the most campaign money so far, lives in the neighborhood and was formerly president of the community council. He's also past president of the Cincinnati Bar Association.

Blogger Jason Haap, aka The Dean of Cincinnati, this morning asked for an investigation. Here's the e-mail he sent to John Williams, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, and copied to reporters:

Attention Hamilton County Board of Elections:

I would like to file a formal complaint against the Pat Fischer campaign for City Council. It appears there may have been misconduct concerning an endorsement placed in the Pleasant Ridge community council newsletter. I believe this warrants investigating from the BOE.

A recent issue of the Pleasant Ridge newsletter included an endorsment of Fischer, which is in violation of a community council's standing as a 501(c)3. Fischer is a former president of that group, and one of his campaign volunteers, Kate Powell, reportedly still has a role with the 501(c)3.

I trust the BOE will conduct a swift and detailed investigation into this matter. We must insure that politicians do not blatantly corrupt our political processes with a flagrant disregard for the rules.


Rev. Jason A. Haap, MA

The Dean of Cincinnati

Publisher, The Cincinnati Beacon

Haap first complained to the city, but Roshani Hardin, chief counsel in the city solicitor's office replied that the Cincinnati Elections Commission has no jurisdiction because his concerns do not involve "campaign contribution limits imposed by the Cincinnati Charter, or related reporting requirements imposed by the Charter or the Municipal Code."

Kreg Allison, Fischer's campaign manager, says he's looking into it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MoveOn And Voinovich

MoveOn sent out this notice this afternoon.


Senate Republicans Use Ploy to Prevent Passage of Timetable for Safe & Secure Exit of U.S. Troops

Cincinnati, OH — Members of the Southern Ohio community and MoveOn will hold a Tuesday evening "counter-filibuster" in front of Ohio's Senator Voinovich's Cincinnati Office, as Voinovich joins a Republican “filibuster” to block a vote on ending the Iraq war. They will call on him to end his participation in the filibuster, which is blocking the Senate from passing a timetable for the safe and secure exit of U.S. troops from Iraq.

MoveOn members will read letters from Iraq war veterans and their families that call on Congress to bring the troops home soon. "We're gathering to ask Senator Voinovich to stop stalling and to stand up and vote to bring our troops home safely, securely, and soon," said Laura Read of Cincinnati, the local MoveOn leader and spokesperson for Americans Against the Escalation in Iraq.

A majority of U.S. Senators are on record in support of legislation that would require President Bush to begin bringing troops home within the next 120 days and complete the task by April, 2008. They will not be able to vote on such a measure if Senator Voinovich, along with other Republican senators, continue to block progress on the most important issue facing the country. Senate rules require 60 (out of 100) votes to end debate so Senators can vote on a bill.

The pending Senate measure is an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill offered by Democratic Senators Carl Levin (MI), chair of the Armed Services Committee, and Jack Reed (RI), a former U.S. Army Ranger. It is co-sponsored by three Republican Senators – Olympia Snowe (ME), Chuck Hagel (NE), and Gordon Smith (OR).

WHO: MoveOn members and other local residents.
WHAT: A "counter-filibuster" directed at Senate Republicans, demanding that they stop blocking a vote for a timetable to end the Iraq War.
WHERE: On the sidewalk in front of Senator Voinovich's Cincinnati Office
36 E. 7th St., Cincinnati, OH
WHEN: Tuesday July 17, 2007 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Vigils and Counter-filibusters will also take place in front of the U.S. Capitol Building and at the in-state offices of most Republican Senators.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Money money money - but not so much for Schmidt

Malia Rulon has the story here

Talking Art With Kaup

Joan Kaup, who's emphasizing the arts in her campaign for City Council, announced Monday she'll be doing Art Talks With Joan to highlight individual artists and galleries.

The first is July 24, 5:30-7:30 p.m. , at the Phyllis Weston-Annie Bolling Gallery, 3235 Madison Road, Oakley. Suggested donation: $20.

She's also doing Kaup Community Concerts. The first of those is July 26, Jardin Wine and Tapas Bar, 208 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine. Suggested donation: $10.


Senate Democrats respond to critics

After getting roundly blasted Friday by state Republican leaders and their own state party, Sen. Eric H. Kearney, Senate Assistant Minority Leader Tom Roberts and Sen. Shirley Smith defended Kearney's proposal today to move Ohio's presidential primary up from March 4 to Jan. 29, 2008.

Kearney introduced the bill Friday, saying it would keep Ohio relevant during the candidate selection process. Florida, Nevada, South Carolina and Wyoming already have approved earlier primaries for 2008.

"Ohio faces many unique challenges that national candidates need to address," said Kearney, a Democrat from North Avondale. "Home foreclosures, economic decline, and access to quality health care are serious issues that deserve the attention of anyone seeking national office."

"I am concerned that many voices are not being heard in our current system," said Roberts, a Dayton-area Democrat. "Key groups such as minority communities, labor and urban interests are being left out."

"This is not about one particular candidate," said Smith, a Cleveland Democrat. "With so many states changing their primary date, Ohio is being left out."

Republican leaders of both the state Senate and House said they are not interested in changing Ohio's presidential primary date.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Randy Borntrager said the state party is not interested in moving the primary date, and would risk losing national convention delegates by doing so.


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