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

Powered by Blogger

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mallory on Rumor Control

Somehow, word was getting around Friday that funding for next spring's Findlay Market parade on Opening Day was in jeopardy.

The truth, Mayor Mark Mallory said, is that the parade will be funded - "absolutely."

City Council has been working on a plan for funding other festivals and events in the city, including the St. Patrick's Day parade.

Voinovich bill oddly coincidental

In an eerie coincidence, a bill from Sen. George Voinovich to address the nation's deteriorating infrastructure - including bridges - passed a key Senate committee earlier this week - just one day before the deadly Interstate 35W bridge disaster in Minneapolis.

"Our infrastructure is collapsing due to insufficient funding," the Cleveland Republican said in a news release Tuesday - just 27 hours before the horrific bridge collapse.

The bill, co-sponsored by Minnesota Democratic Sen. Norm Coleman, along with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., would create a National Commission on Infrastructure to study the condition of America's roads, bridges, drinking water systems, dams and other pubic works.

A report on the nation's infrastructure needs would be due to Congress in February 2010.

Voinovich's measure, which was first introduced last March, was prompted by devastation caused by the levy failures in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

But it became all the more relevant after the Minneapolis bridge tragedy on Wednesday, and sailed through the full Senate on a voice vote late last night.

"The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina made painfully clear the urgent need for improvements to our aging infrastructure," Voinovich said in his news release Tuesday.

Today, after his bill had passed the full Senate, Voinovich tweaked his statement:

"The tragedies of Hurricane Katrina and the bridge collapse in Minnesota make painfully clear the urgent need for improvements to our aging infrastructure."

Strickland appoints five from Southwest Ohio

Gov. Ted Strickland appointed five area residents to state boards and councils today:

Tommie Robertson of Cincinnati was appointed to a three-year term on the Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. The board, which pays $19.55-an-hour and expenses, oversees the grading of examinations of people applying to be professional counselors, social workers, or independent social workers and determines if an applicant is qualified to practice.

Robertson is a marriage and family therapist for A Sound of Mind Counseling Service in Cincinnati and Northkey Community Care in Florence, Ky. He also is an associate minister at the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Glendale.

Donald B. Ahlers of College Hill was appointed to a four-year term on the Hearing Aid Dealers and Fitters Licensing Board. Ahlers previously served as general counsel and secretary for the American Druggists Insurance Co. The board, which pays about $19-an-hour plus expenses, provides exams and licenses for hearing aid dealers, fitters and trainees. It also revokes licenses and investigates charges of false advertising or malpractice.

Jerome Wiesenhahn of Mason was appointed to a four-year term on the state Board of Pharmacy. He has been a pharmacist in Ohio for nearly 50 years, currently working at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The board, which pays about $19-an-hour, provides exams and licenses for pharmacists. It sets pharmacist requirements and can revoke licenses.

Lois Rosenthal and Geraldine Warner, both of Cincinnati, were appointed to five-year terms on the Ohio Arts Council, which encourages development of the arts and preservation of the state's cultural heritage. Board members are paid expenses only.

Rosenthal is the co-director of Uptown Arts, an arts center for children in downtown Cincinnati. She served as a consumer columnist for The Enquirer for 10 years and was an editor for Story, a literary quarterly, from 1989-2000. She currently serves on the board of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the President’s Advisory Council of Xavier University.

Warner has practiced law in New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. She has served as a board member for several arts and community organizations in Cincinnati, including the Cincinnati Music Festival Association. She has also been a member of the Cincinnati Women’s Club and Cincinnati Art Museum Founders Society.


Vote Only For Newcomers?

Whoever put together this YouTube video must have taken a lot of time finding some of the most unflattering photos of Cincinnati City Council members. Other than that quality entertainment, the message seems to be: Vote for anybody but anybody who's been a council member already or a school board member.

The poster, called FireCityCouncil, says even though Cincinnati schools and city leadership suck, it's likely we'll get "nine retreads" on Nov. 6.

Click here to see Sam Malone in a mug shot and Chris Bortz stick his tongue out at you.

Gilligan to retire

John Gilligan will not run for re-election on the Cincinnati Board of Education. Ben Fischer has the story here

It's no J.K. Rowling book-signing, but....

Rudy Giuliani is making a brief stop-over in Ohio this afternoon; the early front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination is going to do a meet-and-greet with cusomters at the Barnes & Noble store in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek. And take some questions from the media.

If you've got some time on your hands want to meet the mayor, the fun starts at 2 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble in The Shops of Beavercreek, 2720 Towne Drive.

Giuliani is expected to be in Cincinnati next Thursday for a private fundraising event at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse downtown.

A jail tax vote after all

Jessica Brown has the story today

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Charlie Winburn's making big use of robo-calling already. And you thought the election was still more than three months away.

He's auto-dialing households where people have birthdays. "Hello, this is Charlie Winburn," the familiar voice says. "I understand that there is a birthday in your household this month. And the Winburn family would like to wish this person a very happy birthday."

A friend got one of those Wednesday, the day before her birthday.

Then today, Winburn was on the horn again. This time, he asks that you join him in thanking Mayor Mark Mallory and Stan Chesley for Chesley's $80,000 contribution to keep the city's pools open more days. Many were set to close this week before the king of torts chipped in.

In the call, he seems to target Jeff Berding, urging people to call Berding's council office to say that council should keep all the pools open until Labor Day. Berding's not sure why Winburn would choose him, given that all of council voted for the current budget, which set the Cincinnati Recreation Commission's pool spending. In fact, Berding says, the initial budget he and others proposed last year - which he says reflected what he preferred to do on this issue - recommended closing several pools the rec commission said weren't well-used. Closing those, he said, would have kept the rest open until Labor Day. That budget proposed closing fewer than the nine proposed for closure by City Manager Milton Dohoney.

On the floor of council yesterday, Berding said he thinks all nine council members understand the importance of keeping pools open and that he thinks they'll be able to make that work in next year's budget.

So he isn't sure why Winburn would pick his City Hall office to send callers to. He said Winburn called his office yesterday to tell him he was starting the automated calling. Berding said he returned Winburn's call, but never heard back from him.

AFL-CIO Endorsements

The Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council today released its list of endorsements:

Incumbent City Council members Jeff Berding, Laketa Cole, John Cranley, David Crowley and Cecil Thomas; former Vice Mayor Minette Cooper and former councilman Christopher Smitherman; and challengers Brian Garry and Greg Harris.

All are Democrats except Smitherman, a former Charterite who's running as a member of the Green Party.

Also endorsed: Hamilton County elderly services and mental health levies; Springboro Mayor John Agenbroad; South Lebanon Mayor James D. Smith.

Doug Sizemore, executive secretary-treasurer, said in a statement: "We are confident that the 2007 election will be a victory for working families."

...and the Gloves are Off

It was the longest County Commission meeting in history.

OK, maybe not, but it sure seemed like it. Almost four hours with very little accomplished other than the commissioners yelling at or about each other. As usual, it was Todd Portune and David Pepper (both Democrats) against Pat DeWine (the lone Republican.)

Think I'm exaggerating? It was so bad that during a break, staffers joked they need some girls with "Round One," "Round Two" signs!

Commissioner Pat DeWine had an especially rough day. He was blasted left and right about everything from the sales tax to budget cuts. He was also blamed for spreading malicious misinformation about his colleagues on a hot-button issue -- abortion.
Here's how it played out.


The day started with a nasty exchange between DeWine and Sheriff Simon Leis on DeWine's opposition to Commissioners David Pepper and Todd Portune's sales tax increase. See the previous blog for more details on that.

Then, drama unfolded over the indigent care levy, which passed last November. Apparently a clause was left out of during contract negotiations effectively allowing levy dollars to fund abortions.

DeWine discovered the problem Monday and asked his colleagues what happened. They said they didn't know, but that the clause should be put back in. Several hours later C.O.A.S.T. issued this statement blaming Portune and Pepper.

So Wednesday, it was on. Portune and Pepper spent probably the better part of an hour blaming DeWine for spreading false rumors. (They spent all day Tuesday fielding angry e-mails and phone calls)

"It seems clear that the source of COAST information came from this floor," Portune accused.

Added Pepper: "This is frankly in my five years one of the most dishonest things I’ve ever seen."

DeWine refused to take blame. They interrupted each other, talked over each other and Portune called DeWine "out of order" several times.

Finally, to stop all the fuss, Portune and Pepper passed a resolution putting the clause back in.

DeWine introduced his own solution: a blanket resolution that says Hamilton County can never spend tax dollars on abortions, period. His colleagues want it reviewed by legal staff.
UPDATE: This whole segment of this blog caused a stir, and may require further clarification. Please note, although the levy passed last year, the contract remains in negotiation. All references above involve the draft document or negotiations on it. During the discussions this week, the Health Alliance offered its take on the issue and some background on exactly how this occurred.

DeWine also got heat Wednesday for proposing several 2007 budget cuts. This was in response to discussions about where to put 300 overflow inmates (and how to pay for it) when a housing contract with the Butler County jail runs out in October (read the Enquirer story here).

Portune and Pepper first blasted DeWine for not coming up with cuts sooner (Portune had presented his list in a letter last week.) Then they criticized the cuts as not feasible. Even Administrator Pat Thompson got a word in.

"You’re talking about (cutting) infrastructure to run this organization in a lot of instances," Thompson said. "I would never recommend some of the things on this list."

Hopefully budget meetings next week will be more civil.


Showdown with the Sheriff

Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine and fellow Sheriff Simon Leis both Republicans, had words at Wednesday's commission meeting.
The sheriff blasted DeWine for not supporting Democrat Commissioners David Pepper and Todd Portune's sales tax increase to pay for a new jail and safety plan.

The exchange occurred during a discussion about what to do about the 300 overflow inmates being housed in Butler County. Commissioners can't afford to rent space there anymore and want to triple bunk at the Justice Center until a new jail can be built (read the Enquirer story.)

We'll bring you the video from the meeting too as soon as it's available. In the meantime here's some of the exchange:

Sheriff Leis: "DeWine, you've created nothing but serious problems for safety in Hamilton County. I want to tell you that personally. And you'll be the person responsible in the event that a major catastrophe happens."

DeWine: "We don’t need to have a shouting match. You can come to these meetings and yell but the approach that you and the majority of the board has taken is not faring very well."
DeWine said he believes voters should have a say where their money is spent and pointed out that more than 50,000 people - those who signed a referendum petition - agree with him.
" Let’s not have a bullying match," he said.

He asked the sheriff to sit down. Leis refused. He asked again. Leis refused. After several more requests, the sheriff finally sat.

But Leis wasn't done. He continued to blast the commissioner while talking to the media after the meeting.

Leis: "I'm not a DeWine supporter. He's caused major problems in the county. He's caused more problems than any commissioner in my experience. He doesn't make any sense. Everyone knows we need a new jail and now he's submarined the plan."

Some day, we're going to run out of Mallorys...

Yet another Mallory is running for public office.

Dwayne Mallory, an former assistant city solicitor, plans to head to the Hamilton County Board of Elections this afternoon to file petitions to run for a municpal court judgeship.

When he gets there, he will no doubt run into his brother, Joe Mallory, who is an elections administrator and a former office-holder himself, having served on Forest Park city council.

And, if he wins this fall, he'll be the second Mallory to hold a judgeship - his brother William Jr. is on the court of common pleas.

And he'll have two more brothers in high places - Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and State Rep. Dale Mallory.

William Mallory Sr., the retired state representative who was once Ohio House majority leader, has built a pretty good family business, it seems.

Saving the Pools

Some council members felt a little stung by Mayor Mark Mallory's comments in The Enquirer on Sunday, the ones about how Cincinnati can't keep relying on Stan Chesley to chip in and keep city pools open longer. They remember the budget negotiations a little differently than he did, saying they tried to keep some of the pools open until Labor Day.

So after council members voted unanimously Wednesday to accept the $80,000 Chesley gave to keep some of the pools open more days, Jeff Berding seemed to be trying to defend some of his colleagues. "We all recognize," he said, that providing recreation for kids is critical.

"None of us wants to be in this position again...I know if we put ourselves to it, we can get this done next year."

Reviewing Dohoney

Here's whose names came out of the hat Wednesday in a random drawing for three council members to evaluate City Manager Milton Dohoney: David Crowley, Leslie Ghiz and Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell. That's one from each party - Democrat, Republican and Charter.

There's still a player to be named later - Mayor Mark Mallory's pick.

Dohoney marks his first anniversary with the city Aug. 14.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bush hits Portman's "rockin" farewell party

From a "White House Pool Report" filed this afternoon:

POTUS (President of the United States, aka, Bush) walked to a farewell reception for (White House budget director) Rob Portman at Blair House. "Just out for a stroll," he told the pool when he arrived at 4:32. He stayed for 17 minutes - long enough to determine that the party was "rockin'" - before heading back across Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

The vice president left Blair House less than a minute after POTUS. Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, Josh Bolten, Joel Kaplan and Tony Snow also turned up to say so long to Portman, whose last day at OMB (Office of Management and Budget) is Friday.

Jay Pulizzi

Streicher gets award

Jane Prendergast reports:

Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher will be honored this afternoon by the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, which is holding a conference downtown this week.

Streicher will be given the group’s Theodore S. Jones award for “extraordinary service, personal integrity and leadership,” according to an announcement from the department. He has been chief since 1999.

Let them wear orange - UPDATED

If you read this story in today's Cincinnati Enquirer, you might wonder - What's up with White House budget director Rob Portman and all those orange ties?

Well, you would not be the first to ask.

Yesterday, Portman explained: "I've always liked a brighter tie." But red was too common, so despite being a HUGE Cincinnati Reds fan, Portman turned to orange. It's more unique, he said.

However, if you were in the room yesterday where his portrait was unveiled, it would not have seemed so "unique."

"You will note that there are a disproportionate number of ... there is a spontaneous gathering of orange ties," U.S. trade ambassador Susan C. Schwab said, as she got ready to unveil the picture.

Indeed, nearly a dozen men in suits were sporting all sorts of orange ties, including U.S. trade deputy Karan K. Bhatia.

"I had to hunt this thing out," he said later, chuckling. "I never wear it."

Another portrait admirer, when asked about his tie, admitted that he did get a strange look from his wife that morning when he put it on.

"I don't know if I'll have any more reasons to wear it after today," he joked.
UPDATE: By an official tally (courtesy of Portman's daughter, Sally) the Terrace Park native has a total of EIGHT orange ties in his closet. Possibly 10, but some are more yellow and others are darker than "regular orange," you get the picture.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

State Dem leader paid fiancee

The Associated Press reports:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern has used $17,300 from his Ohio House campaign fund since 2006 to pay for rent and utilities in the capital city, including $4,500 paid to his future wife while the two lived together, according to campaign finance records.

Redfern, a state representative from Catawba Island, said the payment to Kim Redfern in May was for the cost of living with her earlier in the year. While they were engaged, she was contemplating becoming a lobbyist and he didn’t want to accept a gift from her as a result, he said. The two married in March, and state records show Kim Redfern is currently registered to represent 14 lobbying clients.

“When you’re under the microscope, you have to make sure you’re not doing things like staying and not paying rent,” Redfern said. “There’s always rumors that people stay in the houses of lobbyists or other Statehouse folks and don’t pay rent. We didn’t want to do that.”

Redfern reported spending another $12,800 in campaign funds to pay rent and utilities for an apartment in the Columbus Brewery District throughout 2006. The rent was $975 a month, and he wrote himself a $2,739 check in January to cover utility costs from the previous year.

The office of the state’s chief elections official said campaign money can legitimately be spent for accommodations in Columbus when out-of-town lawmakers are required to stay overnight during legislative sessions. The money cannot be spent to purchase property, however, said Patrick Gallaway, a spokesman for Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

“Obviously, he was trying to keep separate worlds going and he didn’t want it to look like he was freelancing,” Gallaway said.

In addition to his state salary, Ohio reimbursed Redfern $4,000 last year for job-related travel.

Portman gets portrait

Malia Rulon has the story here

Monday, July 30, 2007

Voinovich getting it from both sides

Ohio's senior senator, George Voinovich, is getting it from both the left and the right on the subject of Iraq.

Which, we suppose, is only to be expected when you write a letter to the president one week suggesting maybe it is time to bring the troops home and, the next week, vote against allowing a troop withdrawal plan to go forward.

Progress Ohio and American Against Escalation in Iraq have been thumping Voinovich regularly from the left for weeks, hoping to push him completely over the edge and into the get-out-now camp.

Now it's the right's turn.

MoveAmerciaForward.org, a California-based group that support the Bush administration's war policies, is planning to launch nationwide caravan to drum up support for the war that will reach Cincinnati on Sept. 12 - about the time Gen. David Petraeus is expected to deliver his Iraq progress report.

They're hoping to put pressure on Voinovich to stick with Bush and the troop surge in Iraq.

One of the group's leaders is a retired Air Force colonel, Buzz Patterson, author of a book which argues that liberals are undermining the war on terror and the former White House military aide who carried the "nuclear football" when Bill Clinton was president.

Anti-war folks dog McCain

Republican presidential candidate John McCain will have a welcoming party of sorts when he flies into Cincinnati's Lunken Airport Tuesday afternoon.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq - a coalition of liberal groups like SEIU, MoveOn.org, and the Campaign for America's Future - has been camped out in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District for some time now, trying to put pressure on Rep. Jean Schmidt to part ways with teh Bush administration over Iraq policy.

Since they are in the neighborhood anyway, the organization's "Iraq Summer" campaign has decided to dog McCain, who has been the most vociferous support of the Iraq "troop surge" among the field of presidential contenders.

The Iraq Summer Campaign will stage a demonstration in the parking lot across from the Lunken terminal at 4 p.m. Tuesday, hoping to greet McCain's motorcade with a large, sign-waiving anti-war crowd as he makes his way to a private fundraiser at the Indian Hill home of developer Bob Rhein.

Jim Borgman
Today at the Forum
Paul Daugherty
Politics Extra
N. Ky. Politics
Pop culture review
Who's News
Roller Derby Diva
CinStages Buzz....
The Foodie Report
Classical music
John Fay's Reds Insider
High school sports
UC Sports
CiN Weekly staff