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, January 11, 2008

Drop Inn Center - is it in the right place?

Jane Prendergast has this story today

What do you think?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Take back my raise - and watch for updates

Hamilton County commissioners Wednesday voted to give back their 2008 raises ($2,372 each)and encouraged other elected officials to do likewise. They said it was the right thing to do considering they laid off workers and froze salaries for county employees in order to balance the 2008 budget. County officials all automatically get the raises, but can give it back to the county in the form of a gift.

The Enquirer polled other elected officials to find out if they would be willing to give their raises back. Here's the responses we recieved so far.

County Engineer William Brayshaw: no
County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann: yes
County Recorder Rebecca Prem Groppe: yes
Update: County Sheriff Simon Leis: yes
Update: County Auditor Dusty Rhodes: no

No response yet: Treasurer Rob Goering, Coroner O'dell Owens, Prosecutor Joe Deters.

We will update as responses come in.

Here's what they are making:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It's official: Niehaus is No. 3 in Senate

State Sen. Tom Niehaus has been picked by his fellow Republican senators to serve as majority floor leader, Senate President Bill Harris announced today. That is the third-ranking leadership post among Republicans, who control the Senate by a 21 to 12 margin.

Niehaus, R-New Richmond, fills a vacancy created by Sen. Randy Gardner's appointment to a House seat.

"Throughout Senator Niehaus’ distinguished public service career, he has demonstrated time and time again the qualities and characteristics inherent in a leader," said Harris, R-Ashland. "He’s carried the water for the Senate on complex issues, including foster care reforms and identity theft protections and is respected by his colleagues for his ability to work across party lines to reach consensus and achieve sensible public policy solutions. These skills will be invaluable in his new role as Senate majority floor leader."

Niehaus began his public service career after being elected to the Ohio House in 2000. In 2004, he was elected to the Senate's 14th District, representing about 330,000 people in Adams, Brown, Clermont and Scioto counties and part of Lawrence County.

"I am honored to have the support of my colleagues in joining the leadership team in the Senate," Niehaus said.

Niehaus’ selection will be finalized next week with a vote on the Senate floor.

Wulsin gets labor support

Democrat Victoria Wulsin announced today that she's being backed by at least a half dozen labor unions in her bid to unseat Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt in the 2nd Congressional District.

"I’m proud that organized labor is supporting me," Wulsin said in a news release. "Washington still hasn’t heard the message – it’s time to focus on solving problems, not partisan bickering, and to make our families the priority."

Wulsin, a doctor from Indian Hill who narrowly lost to Schmidt in 2006, has been endorsed by these groups:

Here's what a few of the unions had to say about Wulsin:

Jerry Giesting, President of the NALC Branch 43:

"Dr. Wulsin has demonstrated her commitment to working Americans. We know that when she goes to Washington, her priorities will be in the right place."

Tim Kraus, President of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers:

"Vic Wulsin knows the issues that Southern Ohio families face. Her four sons went to public school, and she’s been on the front lines providing healthcare to people with no other options right here in Cincinnati. She’s the best candidate for the district and the best person to take on Jean Schmidt."

Wulsin has long worked with organized labor on workplace health and safety issues, her campaign said in the release. Her background includes work at the National Institute
of Occupational Safety and Health and as a uniformed officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, the release said.

"These unions are focused on finding solutions, from providing a safe work environment and respect on the job to ensuring a good education for every child and the basic services the public expects," Wulsin said. "When I’m elected to Congress, I’ll work with them and with
everyone in my district to create good jobs and support our families."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mallory's Briefings Return

After a holiday hiatus, Mayor Mark Mallory's weekly Tuesday press briefings returned today. Here's some stuff you might want to know:

1. He'll give the State of the City speech Feb. 4, 6:30 p.m. at Playhouse in the Park, Mount Adams. Invitations will be sent out this week. "I think we had a very successful year last year, so we'll have a lot to talk about."

2. January is National Mentoring Month, and he'll be having a press conference Thursday, 10 a.m., Cintas Center, to talk about mentoring initiatives, including a new one he'll announce then.

3. The deadline for neighborhoods to apply to get a mural by MuralWorks this year is Jan. 15. Call 333-0388 or go to http://www.artworkscincinnati.org/.

4. Friday, he expects recommendations from the Go Cincinnati study, led by Councilman Chris Bortz and Chamber of Commerce president Ellen van Der Horst. Among them, he's sure - a recommendation to push ahead on streetcars. "I'll have to sift thorugh them, see what I like, see what I don't like."

5. He likes the idea of a Cincinnati Film Festival. "Let me tell you, I am very interested in that concept. We have a very rich film industry in the city of Cincinnati, considering we are not L.A., Chicago or New York." The $120,000 in funding mentioned by CityBeat writer Kevin Osborne, Mallory said, "doesn't seem like a lot of money to me."

A challenger for Hartmann

Howard Wilkinson reports in Wednesday's Enquirer

The Democratic and Republican parties may have cut a deal to give their candidates for Hamilton County commissioner a free ride, but one Crosby Township Democrat isn’t playing along.

Chris Dole, a 47-year-old electrician who was elected township trustee two years ago, walked into the Hamilton County Board of Elections and took put petitions to run as an independent candidate in the fall against Republican clerk of courts Greg Hartmann, who is the GOP’s choice for an open county commission seat.

“This whole deal left a bad taste in my mouth,’’ said Dole, who has never run for countywide office before. “Somebody needs to challenge this. And I am as qualified as anybody.”

Dole was one of many in both parties displeased with the Republican and Democratic parties for the last-minute deal cut on Friday, hours before the candidate filing deadline for the March 4 primary.

The deal means that, this fall, there will be no Democrat candidate on the ballot to challenge Hartmann, who is running for the seat Pat DeWine is vacating in order to run for a judgeship. And it will mean that only the name of anti-tax activist Ed Rothenberg – who will have no Republican party backing – will be next to that of Democratic incumbent Todd Portune.

Hartmann, though, still has a Republican primary opponent – former probate court judge Wayne Wilke, who filed petitions for the seat before DeWine dropped out to run for judge.
Dole said he is a Democrat, but doesn’t need or want the backing of the party.

“I’m not afraid to offend the Democratic party,’’ Dole said. “When I ran for township trustee, I was running in a non-partisan race. The party label didn’t mean anything.”

His campaign, Dole said, “will be a grassroots thing. I don’t have any money and I don’t have a lot of support. But I’m going to go out there and work and give people a choice.”

He was, he said, taken aback Tuesday morning when he went to the board of elections to pick up petitions and was told that he would have to gather the signatures of 2,875 registered Hamilton County voters by the March 3 independent filing deadline.

The candidates who filed to run for county commissioner in the March 4 Democratic and Republican primaries only had to gather signatures of 50 registered voters to qualify. But, under Ohio election law, the requirements for independent candidates are more rigorous.
“I thought it would be a handful of signatures – 50 or so – but it looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me,’’ Dole said.

Dole is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 212 and is hoping his friends in organized labor will help him with the petition drive. He believes he will need to gather about 4,000 to get the 2,875 valid signatures.

“I’ll stand out on Fountain Square every day between now and the filing deadline if I have to,’’ Dole said.

Hartmann said he has assumed all along that he would have opposition of some kind.

“Now I’ve got two people running against me,’’’ Hartmann said, “and that’s fine with me.”

Sen. Niehaus to get promoted to No. 3 spot

Sen. Tom Niehaus is expected to fill a vacancy in Ohio Senate leadership, getting promoted to majority floor leader.

Senate Republicans plan a caucus meeting Wednesday to decide whether Niehaus of New Richmond should succeed Sen. Randy Gardner, who is getting appointed to a vacant seat in the Ohio House.

Niehaus' appointment would rank him third behind Senate President Bill Harris and Sen. Jeff Jacobson of Dayton, who is president pro tem. The leadership post pays $81,163, about $20,500 above the annual base salary.

"I'm not aware of anyone running against me at this point,'' Niehaus said today.


Debate over debates begins...

No one could be particularly surprised at the challenge issued by 2nd District Democratic congressional candidate Steve Black to Victoria Wulsin to have a series of seven debates in the seven-county district.

And no one should be surprised that the Wulsin campaign pretty much blew it off.

Black is the underdog in this race; Wulsin is the candidate who took on Jean Schmidt in 2006 and very nearly caught up with her. Underdogs like debates; those who are being challenged by underdogs generally do not.

Wulsin liked them well enough in 2006, though. Black's challenge was pretty much the same one Wulsin issued to Schmidt, who, as incumbents are wont to do, ignored her.

Clearly, though, the seven-debate notion has lost its appeal to Wulsin.

Josh Levin, Wulsin's campaign manager, said it is not likely that Democratic voters in the 2nd District will be wanting for opportunities to hear the candidates deliver their messages - they've already been together at 11 events on the campaign trail. Not debates, but places where both of them showed up at the same time, spoke, and answered questions. Levin said another such joint appearance will take place Monday night in Batavaia.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Artist endorses zoo levy

An internationally-known Cincinnati wildlife artist is endorsing the March 4 levy for the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

John A. Ruthven called the zoo a “world-class family attraction” that has “been in the forefront of conservation and breeding of endangered animals. I am pleased to add my voice to the many people who will vote ‘yes,’” he said.

Ruthven, a Walnut Hills native, is also a naturalist, author and lecturer. The zoo is seeking a 0.46 renewal levy to pay for animal care and maintenance of the zoo’s buildings. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $9.44 a year, $1.78 more than they pay now.

Thane Maynard, zoo director called Ruthven a "great friend of the zoo and wildlife conservation."

“We especially value and appreciate John Ruthven’s endorsement and support," he said. "We know the voters of Hamilton County appreciate John Ruthven as a treasure of this community and are confident they will appreciate his support for the Zoo.”

Obama party/fundraiser Tuesday night

Anyone know of other campaigns hosting such events?

From the local Barack Obama folks:

Join the Ohio Obama Working Group, Young Lawyers for Obama, and Ohio Generation Obama for a New Hampshire Primary Party and Fundraiser, this Tuesday from 8-11 at Sullys located in downtown Cincinnati.

Senator Barack Obama

Tuesday January 8, 2008
8-11 PM
700 Race St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Suggested Donation: $25

Contributions to Obama for America are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes. Federal law prohibits the acceptance of corporate checks.
Please make checks payable to:
Obama for America
P.O. Box 8210
Chicago, IL 60680

Robert E. Richardson, Jr. Esq.
22 West Ninth Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
513.721.0444 ext. 133
513.721.1178 fax

Dunkin' Donuts Welcomes Mallory

Mayor Mark Mallory speaks Tuesday at the opening of the newest D.D. in the city....

Mayor Mallory Headlines Dunkin’ Donuts Grand Opening, Jan. 8
Cincinnati, OH (January, 2008) – Mayor Mark Mallory will headline grand opening festivities at the new Dunkin’ Donuts at 435 E. Martin Luther King Drive on Tuesday, Jan. 8, beginning at 10 a.m.

Joining the Mayor will be Uptown Consortium Executive Director Tony Brown and Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Tom Salzbrun. The Withrow University High School Marching Band will perform, and restaurant owner and operator Michael Rielly will officiate.

The restaurant opened its doors for business just before Christmas, but planned the Jan. 8 event to officially commemorate the launch of the brand’s 30-store expansion in the Cincinnati market over the next three years. The opening also marks the introduction of the new all-day design and menu including pizzas and flatbread sandwiches.

The new restaurant’s design, reminiscent of company roots that date back nearly 60 years, features contemporary elements to give Dunkin’ Donuts a new, modernized appearance. Highlights include an updated image featuring a new logo, a drive-thru window, and stylized seating.

Michael Rielly, born and raised in Cincinnati, will present a check to Habitat for Humanity and announce a partnership that will support various local building projects.

# # #
About Dunkin' Donuts

Founded in 1950, today Dunkin' Donuts is the number one retailer of hot regular coffee-by-the-cup in America, selling 2.7 million cups a day, nearly one billion cups a year. Dunkin’ Donuts is also the largest coffee and baked goods chain in the world and sells more hot regular coffee, iced coffee, donuts, and bagels than any other quick service restaurant in America. Dunkin' Donuts has more than 7,200 restaurants in 31 countries worldwide. Based in Canton, Massachusetts, Dunkin’ Donuts is a subsidiary of Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. For more information, visit http://www.blogger.com/www.DunkinDonuts.com.

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