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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, September 07, 2007

New campaign finance reports!

Cincinnati city council candidates had to file their 60-days-before-the-election reports Friday with the Cincinnati Elections Commission. Here's who had what, in terms funds available:

Jeff Berding: $170,778

Pat Fischer: $159,077

John Cranley: $136,575

Leslie Ghiz: $131,392

Charlie Winburn: $120,728

David Crowley: $65,678

Chris Bortz: $135,933

Chris Monzel: $77,318

David Crowley: $65,678

Joan Kaup: $42,247

Roxanne Qualls: $36,914

Melanie Bates: $29,148

Laketa Cole: $26,701

Brian Garry: $26,018

John Eby: $25,499

Cecil Thomas: $16,092

Sam Malone: $15,946

George Zamary: $6,457

Michael Earl Patton: $439

Justin Jeffre: $150

Steve Pavelish: $0

(No complete reports were available for Minette Cooper, Greg Harris, Mitch Painter or Andre Harper.)

Thursday's final score: Liberals 1, Coulter 0

Ann Coulter, best-selling author and talking head, has come and gone from Xavier University, and the Cintas Center still stands.

Lots of people expected the kind of fireworks Coulter's campus appearances usually generate, with hot-heads from both sides causing a rumpus inside and outside the lecture hall. The Xavier administration (which had nothing to do with bringing Coulter to the Cintas Center; that was the college's Republican Club) even sought out some advice from administrators at Loyola of Chicago - like Xavier, a Jesuit school - on how they dealt with a Coulter campus appearance.

In the end, though, nothing happened. Coulter gave what, for her, was a fairly tepid speech, received fairly tepidly by the 1,273 in the hall.

The liberal groups on and off campus played it cool - they had gone out and raised $26,000, mostly in the blogosphere, for liberal groups on campus and they stayed far away from the Cintas Center. Instead, they held an old-fashioned political rally in another part of the campus.

As they sometimes say in the Cintas Center, when the Muskies are playing, no harm, no foul.

Here's the Enquirer coverage:


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Strickland Visits "Wonderful" City

A not-so-surprise visitor appeared in City Council chambers this afternoon during the meeting. Ta-da, Ted Strickland!

The crowd of about 50 people, including about a dozen from Ukraine, stood up and clapped for him. (The Ukranians seemed happy to be there, even though the City Hall vending machines had just eaten their money.)

He'd spent the day touring the city's recent projects, including redevelopment in Over-the-Rhine, and was here also for the afternoon groundbreaking of the new School for Creative and Performing Arts. (Justin Jeffre's alma mater)

"I've had a wonderful day in this great city," he said.

He recalled growing up without television and listening to people on WLW call Cincinnati "the Queen City."

"I think that elegant and noble adjective really describes this wonderful city."

He thanked the nine council members for all they've done to bring about the projects he toured and said he wanted them to know they have his administration's support "as you're pursuing all these wonderful things you're pursuing."

Qualls, Subcommittee Chairwoman

When she was announced as the replacement for Jim Tarbell, Roxanne Qualls said two of her favorite topics to work on were transportation and infrastructure.

So guess what new subcommittee she leads? The one created Thursday afternoon, in a motion put forth by Jeff Berding and approved by all nine, on transportation and infrastructure.

The new subcommittee's members will be the leaders of the finance, economic development and vibrant neighborhoods committees. That's John Cranley, Chris Bortz and Laketa Cole, respectively.

Berding called it a very important role for her and an important subcommittee, particularly because of the massive pending project to rehab and add lanes to Interstate 75. Planning strategically, he said, for the areas along that corridor will be crucial over the next few years.

Ted's night out....

Gov. Ted Strickland, who has been hanging out in Cincinnati a lot lately, had a funny story to tell Thursday at the end of a morning of being dragged around Cincinnati by Mayor Mark Mallory et al in a Metro trolley car.

The governor had spent Wednesday in Cincinnati, talking to seniors in Blue Ash and making an appearance at a fundraiser for Steve Driehaus. So, at the end of the day, the governor and his staff joined the mayor and his staff for some libations at the Rock Bottom Brewery on Fountain Square.

Afterwards, the governor said, they all went outside to the Fountain, so that the governor could enjoy a cigar.

"I smoke about two cigars per year,'' the governor explained to former Ohio Senate President Stan Aronoff, who is no stranger to cigar-smoking pols.

The governor sat puffing away when up came a city worker carrying a large hose.

"Excuse me, sir,'' the city worker said. "I've got to power-wash this area. The governor is coming here tomorrow and they want it cleaned."

He had a hard time convincing the guy he was, in fact, the governor and the square looked pretty clean to him.

Strickland laughed about it as he told the story Thursday, which is more than some governors we have known would have done.

Schmidt caught plagiarizing – again? (UPDATED)

THIS is Rep. Jean Schmidt's column on school bus safety that came out last Friday.

Looks mighty similar to this THIS column written in October 2005 by now retired Ohio State Highway Patrol Col. Paul McClellan.


This would NOT BE THE FIRST time Schmidt has been caught using someone else's words in her column.

Is this really allowed??

Schmidt chief of staff Barry Bennett called this latest accusation of plagiarism "ridiculous."

"We even reference the instructions taken from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. They were safety instructions as recommended from the Highway patrol and appropriately referenced. I would hope that the safety instructions were indeed identical," he said in an e-mail.

Granted, school bus safety is not something many people would disagree on. But six sentences in the Highway Patrol column were cut and pasted in identical form into Schmidt's column. Despite one "According to..." phrase, there is no attribution.

That's not plagiarism?

---> Hat tip to The Daily Bellwether for noticing this latest Schmidt-ism. Click HERE to see a sentence-by-sentence comparison of the two columns.

More From The Tarbell Farewell

Not that he's really actually going anywhere, but still there was a party Wednesday night at Arnold's for recently resigned former Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell.

The bar, which he owned until nine years ago, was packed with supporters, fellow council members, family members. In the crowd: former council colleagues Chris Monzel and John Cranley; Phil Heimlich; Norma Walker and Ron Wahl, who worked for Tarbell and now work for Roxanne Qualls; Qualls; Tarbell's wife, Brenda, his son, David, his sisters. And tons of other people.

Tarbell talked about his filing for school board as a write-in candidate. He said he did it in case he decides he wants to run, but that he would take the next week or so to gauge whether he has enough support out there to wage a write-in campaign before committing to doing so. Winning that way, he acknowledged, would be a miracle.

"But I believe in miracles," he said.

He wants to run mostly because he wants to help pass the CPS levy. If it doesn't pass this time, another try probably won't pass either, he said, and two levy failures would send the district into receivership - "which is just unacceptable."

Mallory Looking for New YPs

Mayor Mark Mallory has changed the leadership of his YPKC. That's Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet.

Here's the new team: President Coby Williams; Vice President Clara Rice; Secretary Erika Lehman; and PR Liaison Doug Meyers.

Now he wants new members too. He'll be talking it up today with Gov. Ted Strickland at the Bold Fusion event, and applications also will be available at http://www.mayormallory.com/. Applications are due Oct. 1.

Mallory's office said he plans to announce next week the cabinet’s committee chairs and release a report about the accomplishments of his YPKC during its first year. Among the issues the YPs have helped with: Shop 52, his new effort to try to recruit new retail, banks and restaurants into all Cincinnati's neighborhoods.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Jeffre: Pot Law "Draconian"

Sent Tuesday .....


Contact: Jason Haap
Email: jasonhaap@gmail.com

Council Candidate Justin Jeffre meets with Todd Portune, Joins NAACP on Steps of the Courthouse

Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune met this afternoon with Justin Jeffre and other members of the Southwest Ohio Green Party, attempting to gain the support of progressives for his nearly billion dollar jail proposal.

"I appreciate Commissioner Portune taking time to sit down with us," said Jeffre. "But I am still waiting to see a real comprehensive plan that addresses the racial disparity in our justice system. And I also want to call on City Council to repeal their Draconian marijuana ordinance. Portune reaffirmed, at our meeting, his desire to see that ordinance repealed. I'm disappointed David Pepper has not followed Portune's lead on that issue."

Though the Southwest Ohio Green Party has not voted on an official statement, Jeffre said he continues to oppose the jail plan. That's why he joined Christopher Smitherman and the NAACP on the steps of the Courthouse for a press conference this afternoon.

"Portune and Pepper have said that 300 prisoners need to be released early due to a lack of jail space," said Jeffre. "I am behind the NAACP in asking that they make Levonn Smith their first early release."

In a press statement issued last week, Smitherman claimed that Levonn Smith's situation is an example of a broken criminal justice system.

"We keep being told about a great need for new jail beds, but I don't think Levonn Smith is an example of a threat to our community," explained Jeffre. "This is why so many people oppose the nearly billion dollar jail. We must work towards the equal application of justice."

West Chester native gets White House promotion

West Chester native Barry Jackson is the new Karl Rove.

Rove left the White House last month. He had been in charge of the White House Political Office where he essentially served as the president's top political strategist. President Bush announced Tuesday that Jackson will take over Rove's duties at the White House.

Jackson had been Rove's longtime top deputy. Before joining the White House in 2002, Jackson had served for 10 years as chief of staff to Minority Leader John Boehner, another West Chester Republican.



Office of the Press Secretary
(Sydney, Australia)

For Immediate Release September 5, 2007


President George W. Bush today announced that he has named Barry Jackson as Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs. Mr. Jackson will be responsible for managing the White House offices of Political Affairs, Public Liaison, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Strategic Initiatives.

Since 2002, Mr. Jackson has served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy to the Senior Advisor. Prior to this, he served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Initiatives. During his tenure, he has been responsible for facilitating coordination between the White House and external coalitions on major Presidential initiatives.

“Barry is a capable and trusted advisor who is widely respected for his sound judgment and strong ability to build consensus around initiatives that are important to all Americans,” President Bush said. “Throughout my Administration, I have valued his advice and leadership. I appreciate his continued service.”

Prior to joining the Administration, Mr. Jackson served as Chief of Staff to Congressman John Boehner and Executive Director of the House Republican Conference. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa.

# # #


WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement praising President Bush’s decision to name Barry Jackson as Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs:

“Barry has long been a loyal friend and dedicated public servant. Time and time again, I counted on his counsel and judgment during our work together in Congress, and he has proven himself to be one of the most results-oriented professionals I’ve ever had the privilege of working beside. He was one of the architects of the Contract with America, played a key role in the Republican congressional victory in 1994, and was a driving force behind many of our Party’s most prominent successes in the Majority. His success on Capitol Hill earned him new opportunities at the White House since the early days of the Bush Administration, and he has served the President and the American people with honor, skill, and distinction ever since. I know he will continue to serve the White House and our nation with distinction, and I congratulate him and look forward to working with him in his new leadership role.”


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Brown gives Labor Day speech

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, delivered the following speech today on the Senate floor in honor of Labor Day:

“Yesterday, Americans of all ages – from all segments of society, from hundreds of occupations and professions – celebrated something uniquely American: Labor Day.

“Our workers – tens of millions of hourly wage earners and hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, farmers and managers, clerks and saleswomen – our workers have built a middle class larger, broader, and more prosperous than any in world history.

They all have one thing in common: they are increasingly more productive, they create greater wealth and larger profits for their employers. Yesterday, The Columbus Dispatch reported that according to the International Labor Organization, American workers are the most productive in the world. The average U.S. worker produces more than $63,885 of wealth each year. But increasingly, they have not shared in the wealth they created – in wages, in health benefits, in a meaningful pension – that highly productive workers in our country used to enjoy.

“Ohio workers are fighting back to build a decent standard of living, to provide opportunities for our children, and to construct a more prosperous and egalitarian society. But our nation – and my state – have struggled: struggled in part because of the federal government's wrongheaded trade policy and tax policy – policies which all too often encourage investors to move jobs overseas. And in part because of a drifting state government, which fell short in educating our young people and did little to erect a manufacturing policy to prepare for our future. In the spirit of Labor Day, let me share the stories of a handful of hardworking, often heroic, Ohio workers who are making a difference.

“Dee Dee Tillman and Carlos Sanchez participated in negotiations representing 1200 janitors in Cincinnati – 1200 men and women who are working hard, raising their children, contributing to their community – and earning not much more than the minimum wage. Joined by their colleagues, they reached an agreement with Cincinnati office building owners. Over the next four years, 1200 janitors will get a $2.95 an hour raise, vacation pay and health benefits for the first time, and a small pension.

“At the other end of the state in Mentor – Roger Sustar speaks out every day for American manufacturing. He recognizes that businesses like his – small manufacturing companies – are vital for the economic security, and national security of our country. And on most Saturdays he volunteers his time to train students in the basics of manufacturing.

“In northwest Ohio, in the flatlands of Henry County, Mark Schwiebert, is a highly productive farmer in an increasingly competitive environment. He is proud of his successful and tidy farm, to be sure, but he also takes seriously his role as a citizen. He is an advocate for family farmers and for fair trade, understanding that the prosperity of Ohio depends on a vibrant rural Ohio where young people want to stay and work in their community.

“Sue Klein, another hero who cares so much about our state, works at a large daily newspaper. She too makes her employer a more profitable enterprise. She works hard, gets rave reviews from her co-workers, is uncommonly devoted to her aging parents, and gives back to her community in a dozen ways.

“On Labor Day, we salute American labor – and Ohio labor. And we celebrate our state's heroes – Dee Dee and Carlos, Mark and Roger, and Sue. We thank them and so many others.”

Catching Up With The Mayor

Mayor Mark Mallory's weekly press briefings, mostly gone since council has been on break, returned today.

Here's what Mallory has been/is up to:

1. He and Blue Ash officials finalized the deal to sell the Blue Ash Airport to Blue Ash. The deal will earn Cincinnati $37.5 million over the next 30 years, the mayor said, and the city is pursuing federal money to use to keep up the airport. The $37.5 million will go to city neighborhoods.

2. He's going tonight to the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce's discussion of its new Agenda 360, which Mallory says is a plan for a regional "shared, civic agenda." Next week, he said, representatives of Indianapolis' chamber will be here to compare ideas with Cincinnati representatives.

3. He has met so far with 44 neighborhood leaders to talk about Shop 52, his plan to get more retail into neighborhoods. His office is putting together a template for neighborhood representatives to use to tally each neighborhood's available commercial properties. From there, Mallory says his office will help each neighborhood try to get what they want in those spaces. "We want this to be neighborhood-driven. We want to know what they want, and then we're going to go after it."

4. Thursday, he'll be helping take Gov. Ted Strickland on a tour of "what's hot" in Cincinnati. On the list: the Aronoff Center for the Arts; Over-the-Rhine; Uptown, where the Uptown Consortium is working on redevelopment; and Government Square. They're also both going to the groundbreaking for the new School for Creative and Performing Arts in Over-the-Rhine.

5. He wants everyone at City Hall next Monday to wear orange and black in honor of the Bengals' appearance that night on Monday Night Football. It would be nice if everyone in the city, in fact, wore the colors, he said.

6. He had a great time last week in Ukraine, where he was among 11 mayors invited to be part of a trip that coincided with the 64th anniversary of the country's liberation from the Nazis. He was the only U.S. mayor. Kharkiv is a Cincinnati sister city.

7. His beliefs about the accuracy of the U.S. Census are well-known - he thinks the methodology is flawed. So it's no surprise, really, that he thinks the numbers that showed Cincinnati to be the third poorest city in the country also are flawed.

But, he said, "We are very serious about doing everything we can to improve our standing, no matter what it is." He cited the STRIVE program as an example of what to do. It aims to make sure kids are ready for college and equipped to do well there. Just creating more job opportunities won't help, he said, if people aren't ready to step into them.

Kearney names State Route 3 after Bill Bowen

Sen. Eric H. Kearney introduced legislation today to designate part of State Route 3 within Cincinnati as the Senator William Bowen Memorial Highway.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to recognize such a distinguished legislator, civil rights leader and Cincinnatian as Senator Bill Bowen," said Kearney, a Democrat from North Avondale. "From working to desegregate Coney Island to addressing fair housing, Senator Bowen stood out at the forefront of Cincinnati civil rights issues."

The late William F. Bowen began his career selling insurance and was active in the community as president of the Cincinnati Branch of the NAACP.

In 1966, Bowen was elected to the Ohio House, where he later served as minority whip. He was appointed to the 9th District state Senate seat now held by Kearney in 1970. Bowen was re-elected five times.

After his retirement from the Senate in 1994, Bowen continued to lead the Ohio Commission on African American Males. The Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce recognized his lifetime contributions to the community by giving him the "Great Living Cincinnatian" award.

He died on April 22, 1999.

"I find it fitting to have one of the city’s main arteries named after one of the Cincinnati’s greatest leaders," Kearney said.

Kearney’s bill will not require businesses or residences to change their street address. State Route 3 will still be known as Montgomery Road within the city of Cincinnati.

Take that, Mitt!

So far today, we have received one phone call from the Rudy Giuliani campaign and one two-page e-mail from the Democratic National Committee offering response to anything GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney might say on his visit to Cincinnati today.

Problem is, Romney's not saying anything. Except to those who pay $2,300 or $1,000 to hear him at a private fundraising reception at the Indian Hill home of Craig Lindner.

There are no public events on the Romney trip, just a quick in-and-out to collect some campaign cash.

Sort of defeats the purpose of "rapid response," doesn't it?

Check this space tomorrow to see who offers to respond to what Hillary Clinton doesn't say when she comes to Indian Hill for a fundraiser.

Goodbye To Jim Tarbell

Today's special Cincinnati City Council meeting held to swear in new Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls and new Vice Mayor David Crowley quickly turned into a love fest for the departing Jim Tarbell. All those nasty fights about arts funding? No one seemed to remember today.

Tarbell said little, deciding to end his years on council the same way he started them - by playing "Danny Boy" on his harmonica. This time, though, he sat next to "hat guy" Avtar Gill as he did it.

Here's more of what his former colleagues had to say:

Mayor Mark Mallory: He officially proclaimed Tarbell "Mr. Cincinnati." He called Tarbell wise, "someone who truly understands what it means to be a public servant. You embody what it means to be a Cincinnatian." The top hat and tails Tarbell often wore and the red scooter he rides - "those things make you quirky," Mallory told him. "There's nothing quirky about your service to the city of Cincinnati."

Crowley: He said he doesn't have a straw hat or a scooter, though he does have a bicycle - "which got me into trouble recently." (He broke his pelvis this summer in a fall from his bike.)

John Cranley: He admitted getting a little choked up at Tarbell's departure. "It's going to be tough not having Mr. Cincinnati here with us....Even when you're in an argument to the death, you just can't help but love Jim Tarbell."

He told about how, several days after the 2001 riots, council members were waiting outside Timothy Thomas' funeral in Over-the-Rhine for police officers to pick them up. Tarbell said he didn't feel comfortable with the image that portrayed, that city officials needed protection. So instead of waiting with the rest of them, Tarbell decided to walk home. Straight through the crowd which, Cranley said, "wasn't too happy with us."

"And that's why I think you're Mr. Cincinnati. And that's why I admire you."

Laketa Cole: She mentioned Tarbell's history of getting involved in scuffles with criminals. "It's certainly refreshing to see someone who gets involved even at their own risk."

Chris Monzel: "I've been privileged and honored to serve with you...You always have a place to park (your scooter) in my space at City Hall any time you like."

Cecil Thomas: "I'm really sad to see you go, seriously. I'm sure we're going to see you everywhere in Cincinnati and having an even greater impact."

Chris Bortz: He agreed with Tarbell's push years ago for the new Reds stadium to go at Broadway Commons. "That would've been great." He said Tarbell's mentoring was always welcome. "You are, also, the personification of the argument against term limits."

Jeff Berding: He thanked him for his friendship, the books he'd pass along for reference and for the history lessons he provided. "I wish all the best to you and Brenda (Tarbell's wife)."

Leslie Ghiz: She said she still keeps on her refrigerator a note Tarbell sent months ago that referred to the two of them as fighting like an old married couple. That, she said, "made me realize everything is not the end of the world."

There will no doubt be more Tarbell farewell statements Wednesday at his going-away party, 5-7 p.m. at Arnold's.

More Tarbell/Qualls Job Switching

When Roxanne Qualls takes over today for former Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell, whose resignation was effective Monday, he'll take her former position on the SORTA board.

She takes his seat on the planning commission too, and will be appointed this afternoon to the arts, law, finance and economic development committees.

She won't lead the arts committee, as Tarbell did. That job goes to David Crowley. You can also start calling him "vice mayor" as of this afternoon too.

Monday, September 03, 2007

For those of you scoring at home....

The Cincinnati Democratic Committee is about to endorse another candidate for the Cincinnati Board of Education.

But didn't they already do that, you ask?

Indeed they did.

They endorsed Eve Bolton and Martha Good and Aisha Nurredin prior to the Aug. 23 candidate filing deadline.

But neither Good nor Nurredin could manage to get the 300 valid signatures needed to become a candidate.

Before that, though, the Cincinnati Democratic Committee had flirted with three school board candidates who planned to run as a team - Jim Tarbell, Anne Power, and Sally Warner.

But those three failed to get their 300 signatures.

So now, according to Aryeh Alex, co-chairman of the Cincinnati Democratic Commitee, one of the remaining school board candidates (one of the four who could manage to get the petitions straight), former stand-up comic and TV reporter Michael Flannery will get the Democrats' endorsement.

3-2=1; 1+1=2. That's how many school board candidates the Democrats have.

The Inscrutable Governor's Choice for President?

Monday afternoon, when Gov. Ted Strickland, in a rousing speech, declared before the assembled union workers and their families at the annual AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic that there is absolutely no doubt in his mind that Ohio will be the key to electing a Democrat to the White House next year, it seemed reasonable to ask the governor who he thought that Democratic president should be.

So we did. And the governor answered. Sort of answered.

"I have a preference,'' the governor said.

Then, he gave a big, charming smile.

"But I'm not saying who it is."

It is important, the governor went on, for him to remain neutral in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, which, as he rightly pointed out, will be long over by the time the primary parade reaches Ohio next March.

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