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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, December 07, 2007

Budget Tinkering in Cincinnati

Council members are weighing in with their wish list for the 2008 budget. They'll talk about it Monday at finance committee, 1 p.m., and at a 6 p.m. public hearing.

Here's some of what members have proposed in changes to the original proposed budget, prepared by City Manager Milton Dohoney, and the changes recommended by Mayor Mark Mallory:

Vice Mayor David Crowley: Abandon the proposed consolidation of the emergency communications center; advance the fire recruit class scheduled for 2009 to October 2008 so the department's staffing level doesn't fall below 841, costing an extra $425,660; earmark $100,000 to implement recommendations expected next year in the Scenic View study; $200,000 for a capital grant to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; delay both police recruit classes until 2009, saving $738,810.

Laketa Cole: keep the Neighborhood Support Program funding so each community council gets the current $7,000; fund the mayor's annual youth jobs fair through his non-personnel account, rather than through the budget; $100,000 to the Postponing Sexual Involvement Development Program; decline the proposed 2% salary increases for the mayor and council, saving $14,740; eliminate non-local travel, saving $113,000, and non-contractual tuition reimbursement, saving $208,000.

Roxanne Qualls: $500,000 for the "strategic purchase of foreclosed homes"; $250,000 for an I-75 corridor planning and design consultant; $15,000 more for the Mill Creek Restoration Project; establish the photo radar program proposed in 2004, which could generate $2 million.

Chris Bortz: Council should "adhere to the current laws of the city, specifically Ord. 293-2007, which permits appropriation of additional prior year resources only after the comvined reserve balance reaches 10%." The 2008 budget, he wrote in his motion "is balanced by postponing major financial obligations, similar to a homeowner not paying the mortgage in order to pay the electric bill." By funding the city's retirement system at 17%, the city's $9.1 million short of the required funding level.

Jeff Berding: Restore the bicycle transportation program, costing $51,810; restore the contract with the Community Police Partnering Center for 12 full-time street workers from March through December 2008, costing $430,455; mayor's operating budget should stay at its 2007 funding level, saving $10,210; don't consolidate the police and fire communications sections, which was expected to save $247,010.

Cecil Thomas: $500,000 to close a gap for the Madisonville Business Corridor development plan, funded with another $1.5 million in federal grants; $365,877 for Northside's Fergus Street Home Ownership Project; $50,000 for Cincinnati Union Bethel's Off The Streets initiative, with money from the Cincinnati Police Department's asset forfeiture fund.

John Cranley: stop buying bottled water for council members and take out the water cooler in council chambers, saving $580.57; eliminate the citizens' survey, $60,000; eliminate the Sister Cities program, $25,000; eliminate funding for the Greater Cincinnati Regional Chamber of commerce, $150,000; eliminate proposed improvements to Findlay Market, $100,000; establish a fundwith $1,065,000 for the purchase and demolition or renovation of foreclosed properties.

Thompson announces Ohio slate of delegates

Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson announced his Ohio delegate team during a news conference in Columbus today.

"I thank these folks for their dedication to our campaign and its message of consistent conservatism," Thompson said in a statement.

The delegates have committed to represent the state of Ohio and Thompson at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis on Sept. 1-4. Ohio’s presidential primary is March 4, with a total of 88 delegates at stake.

Thompson's delegates from Southwest Ohio:

Bob Boehner of Reading, Dan Brake of Lebanon, Amy Brewer of Lebanon, Rick Bryan of Blue Ash, Christa Criddle of Cincinnati, Scott Gilliam of West Chester, Jennifer Green of Wyoming, Heather Harlow of Colerain Township, Bob Harper of Cincinnati, Bill Herdman of Fayetteville, Russ Jackson of Anderson Township, Richard Jones of Liberty Township, Pat Lapple of Reading, Virgil Lovitt of Sharonville, Lara Mastin of Sharonville, Daniel McDonald of Lebanon, Tim McDonald of Harrison, Charles Mitchell of Cincinnati, Thea Shoemake of Union Township, State Rep. Joe Uecker of Loveland, Mariah Votel of Hamersville and Pat Williams of Cincinnati.

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Fred Thompson stumps in Ohio

The Associated Press reports:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson said Friday he is a solid conservative candidate who will not waver or change his positions to win political office.

In brief remarks to supporters at Ohio Republican Party headquarters, the former U.S. senator and actor alluded to fellow Republican candidate Mitt Romney without naming him.

“Where we stand on the issues doesn’t depend on where we’re standing and what political office we’re running for,” Thompson said, trying to stand out in a race where recent polls have showed his support dropping. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has received criticism for changing his position on a number of issues, including abortion.

Thompson emerged in the race with high hopes that he could win over a dissatisfied conservative GOP core. But his candidacy has failed to catch on in the way many expected it would. Upstart candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has lit a fire under social conservatives, has started to erode Thompson’s support.

Thompson spoke Friday to some of the criticism his campaign has received, comparing what pundits are saying now to what happened when he won his U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee in 1994 after trailing the incumbent by 20 points in the polls.

“Everybody says we started too late, everybody says he didn’t really have the fire in the belly, everybody says he’s not raising enough money,” Thompson said. “Election night we were 20 points ahead.” Thompson said his administration would emphasize the Republican mantra of a strong national defense, low taxes and reduced regulation, but his comments were largely devoid of specifics

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Legislative Black Caucus backs Sykes

The pending Ohio Senate confirmation of Barbara Sykes as chairwoman of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission is in limbo because of the commission's proposed rule change to secure 12 weeks of unpaid materity leave for employees of small companies.

It isn't the rule itself that rubs state legislators and Gov. Ted Strickland wrong. It's the speed in which the commission pushed for the change, according to Strickland's spokesman, Keith Dailey, and members of a joint legislative committee reviewing the proposed rule.

Strickland, who appointed Sykes to the Civil Rights Commission, said he's disappointed in the way the former legislator has handled the proposed rule change.

"The governor is disappointed and is likely to remain disappointed," Dailey said, referring to what Strickland "saw as an unwillingness to honor a reasonable request to delay the rules. . .to answer unanswered questions."

Wednesday, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement supporting Sykes, and said it is sending letters voicing its concerns to Strickland and leaders of the Ohio General Assembly.

The Legislative Black Caucus, comprised of 17 African-American House and Senate members, said it thinks any move to remove Sykes as chairwoman because of disagreement over its implementation would be both "unnecessary and provocative."

State Rep. Tyrone K. Yates said, "We understand that the governor and others requested a delay in the implementation of the pregnancy leave rule but the decision by OCRC to move ahead after prior public hearings and public notice should be respected and supported."

The black caucus said the pregnancy leave proposal has been in front of the Civil Rights Commission for many months and small business and other interested parties had opportunity to review and provide their opinions.

"OLBC unequivocally believes in the ability of Chairwoman Barbara Sykes and OCRC to fulfill its responsibility to Ohio citizens while still respecting the concerns of state leaders," said Yates, a Democrat from Evanston/East Walnut Hills and caucus president.

Sykes is immediate past president of the Legislative Black Caucus who lost last year's race for Ohio Auditor.

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus was founded in 1967. Its mission is to recognize and address the hopes, aspirations and needs of African Americans and other citizens in Ohio through public policy development and advocacy.


County newsletter posted

Find out which Hamilton County department won an environmental award and why the county is talking to prison inmates about their child support in the latest edition of the Hello Hamilton County newsletter.

View it here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Driehaus gives up leadership post during Congressional run

State Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat from Price Hill, announced today that he had stepped down from his position as House Minority Whip because he is running for Congress in the 2008 election.

Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus, said. "He is one of the most intelligent and dedicated public servants I know. His ability to grasp complex public policy issues quickly and help other members understand their ramifications has been invaluable to us and our success."

The third-ranking minority leadership post paid Driehaus an extra $10,301 this year above his base Ohio House member salary of $58,933.

House Democratic Caucus members chose State Rep. Fred Strahorn of Dayton, who previously served as Assistant Minority Whip, to take over as new House Minority Whip.

With Democrats needing to win a net seven of the 99 seats to gain control of the Ohio House, Beatty said she looks "forward to working closely with our entire leadership team as we seek to increase our numbers in the Ohio House."

Strahorn’s selection requires formal approval of the full House.

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New Ohio poll: Still Hillary and Rudy

Polls here still show Clinton and Guiliani on top. Read today's Quinnipiac poll here

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Back on job

Kathy Binns is back on the job as Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune's Chief of Staff.

She returned to the job last week after taking a couple month-leave to run the campaign for Issue 27, the sales tax increase to fund a new jail and public safety programs. Voters rejected the tax, but Binns and company were praised by Portune for their excellent hard work on the campaign. Binns took a couple weeks off before returning to her $53,560 a year job at the county Nov. 26.

Who is Zeke Swift?

According to CNN, he is the Cincinnati man behind this group

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