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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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Firefighters endorse Driehaus

Malia Rulon has the story here

Friday, January 18, 2008

Commissioners go green at the zoo

Hamiton County Commissioners will hold a press conference Tuesday to announce their participation in the national Cool Counties initiative and the adoption of the Environmental Stewardship Policy for Hamilton County.

They already signed resolutions about both policies but this conference gives them the opportunity to do it at the Cincinnati zoo and do it just prior to a Go Green Challenge networking luncheon. Very fitting.

The press conference is at 11:30 a.m. at the Harold C. Schott Education Center.

Under the Cool County initiative the county is committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent annually.

Under the Environmental Stewardship Policy commissioners committed to thinking green in all decisions relating to county operations.

Banks dispute solved. DeWine credits himself

The Freedom Center Friday changed its mind about seeking $1 million for the grassy lot next door. Read the Enquirer story here.

Banks Working Group Chairman Bob Castellini submitted this explanation of the whole ordeal.

The Freedom Center said the decision was made because it is in the best interest of the community.

But Commissioner Pat DeWine says it was all his doing.

"On Monday, as Council and the Commission were set to approve the payment, I vigorously objected and refused to go along," DeWine said in an e-mail to his supporters. As a result the deal was blocked and there was a huge public outcry against the payment demand."

He neglected to mention though, that unless he, himself was planning to vote for the deal and convince colleague Todd Portune to join him, it never would have gone through anyway. There are only three commissioners and one of them, David Pepper couldn't vote because his father's on the Freedom Center Board.

That leaves DeWine, who obviously was against the deal, and Portune, who said he also opposed giving the money. Both Portune and DeWine would have had to vote "yes" for the deal to go through. So even if the city had been on board, the buck, so to speak, would have stopped there.

Here's the whole e-mail from DeWine:

"Last week the County Commission and Cincinnati City Council were set to approve payment of $1 million in taxpayer funds to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The payment was to be in exchange for property rights that were given to the Freedom Center for free by the City and the County in 2000. Under the agreement the land was to be developed into a park. Eight years later, the land still sits undeveloped, but is now needed to complete the long-awaited Banks project. Unbelievably, Freedom Center officials demanded a payment of $1 million from the taxpayers for the land rights that had been given to them even though the Freedom Center will benefit greatly from the Banks development. I thought this was simply wrong. Taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay twice for the same piece of property, particularly to an entity that has already received millions of tax dollars. On Monday, as Council and the Commission were set to approve the payment, I vigorously objected and refused to go along. As a result the deal was blocked and there was a huge public outcry against the payment demand.
I am pleased to report to you that as a result of my refusal to go along, and the public outcry, officials from the Freedom Center announced today that they have rethought their position and will now give the development rights back free of charge. I'm pleased they have chosen to do the right thing.
If you have any thoughts on the matter please feel free to contact me. As always, I look forward to hearing from you."

Is 2008 Ohio's last hurrah?

Malia Rulon has the story here

What do you think? What will this mean? Will this be a good thing or a bad thing?

Pancakes with Portman

Former U.S. Congressman and White House Budget Director Rob Portman will be the keynote speaker at the Northeast Hamilton County Republican Club's annual Pancake Breakfast Saturday.

The breakfast is from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Sharonville Convention Center. Adults: $15, Family: $35.

All ticket holders will also be able to vote in the club's bellwether Republican Presidential Straw Poll.

The club noted in its invitation that all Republican 2008 presidential candidates are also invited.

Information/tickets: Kathryn Cascella 513-381-5454 or NEHCRC@yahoo.com.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Also ...

Rep. Jean Schmidt just went on air today.

Not TV... But she's on the radio, according to a release put out by her campaign today.

That makes the Miami Township Republican the first one in the 2nd District's GOP primary to go on air.

However, Democrat Victoria Wulsin, also a 2nd District candidate, has already gone up with a TV ad (remember, the one that recycles the footage of her at the hospital?) a couple weeks ago.

Schmidt poll shows Schmidt ahead

The Rep. Jean Schmidt re-election campaign just put out their latest poll last night. And wouldn't you believe – it shows her in the lead.

Among likely registered voters, the poll shows the Miami Township Republican defeating GOP opponents Phil Heimlich and Tom Brinkman in the March 4th primary by wide margins:

Schmidt – 52%
Heimlich – 31%
Brinkman – 9%

The margin of error is +/- 4% for the poll, conducted by the Alexandria, Va.-based Tarrance Group on Jan. 9-10. The telephone survey includes 300 respondents.

“Obviously we are extremely pleased with the widespread support Jean is receiving from
all across the district. With just a few weeks to go it is shaping up to be a massive win,”
Bruce Pfaff, a spokesman for the Schmidt campaign, said in a release.

Pfaff told The Enquirer that the survey also quizzed respondents on name identification of the candidates, Schmidt's approval rating, whether she should be re-elected and what they think is the most important issue this election.

Those results, weren't immediately released, and according to Pfaff, won't come out "any time soon." Although, he added: "We may choose to do it next week."

So why release just part of the poll now?

Well, because the Hamilton County Republican Party is meeting tomorrow to decide which GOP candidate to endorse. At least that's what Pfaff said.

Now we'll all have to wait and see who they endorse.

NAACP, Deters and Archie Bunker

NAACP President Christopher Smitherman sent out a press release this morning blasting Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters' essay in Cincinnati Gentlemen magazine, the one in which Deters wrote, among other things, that he wouldn't let his teen-age son go to the Main Street entertainment district.

Smitherman wants an apology from Deters. Here's what he wrote this morning:

"Joe Deters, the Hamilton County Prosecutor, made some comments that were in the local newspaper on Monday. He stated that he does not allow his son to hang out in downtown Cincinnati because going there is like going to Jurassic Park. As a parent, Joe Deters can make whatever decisions he chooses regarding his son. President of the Cincinnati NAACP Branch, Christopher Smitherman, questions Deters' reference of what Deters deemed representative of dinosaurs in the downtown area right on the backdrop of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Smitherman believes the comments to be very inflammatory, reckless, and derogatory.

"I have not commented until now because I was waiting for the white leadership to bring comment on Deter's inappropriate language," he said. Smitherman also stated that the White community often calls out for black leadership to dispute what they deem as "inappropriate statements or behaviors" by other blacks. So, after three days he is now asking, "Where's the white leadership to dispute Deters?" Smitherman asserts that there isn't any difference between the language that Prosecutor Deters used and the language used by the prosecutor in Jena, Louisiana last year.

Cincinnati has two large, national conventions committed to coming downtown this summer: the NAACP Convention and the National Baptist Convention. Each group anticipates about 10,000 largely African-American attendees. Yet, the most prominent County official is not advancing those efforts when he describes where those 20,000 guests will be convening as Jurassic Park. He makes these remarks two weeks prior to a retreat of the NAACP board members to Cincinnati for a major planning session for its National Convention in July.

Joe Deters may be intentional in downgrading a major section of Hamilton County or he may be truly speaking from his heart. Whatever the case may be, Smitherman said do not condemn him when he tells the story of the oppression of Black America in Cincinnati on the national stage come July. Cincinnati's story includes this fact (Deters' Jurassic Park comment) and other facts such as the County Prosecutor's unwillingness to hire African-American lawyers in his office (less than 7 of 111), his over-prosecution of African-American defendants which was validated by a recent report that African-Americans in Hamilton County, Ohio were 10 to 12 times more likely to be prosecuted and convicted compared to White citizens. Smitherman is wondering where is the outrage from the broader White leadership?

Joe Deters is one of the candidates that is running unopposed in November per the deal struck between the Democratic and Republican Parties. He says he's aware that the County Prosecutor is influencing the selection of judges. For example, the affirmative action appointment of Judge Penelope Cunningham (the wife of radio talk show host, Bill Cunningham) over more qualified, even African-American, candidates. Smitherman claims that Joe Deters simultaneously worked to get his own mother-in-law appointed to a judgeship as well. Cincinnati's little town mentality exudes through such decision-making. The same players assign other small town thinkers like themselves, better yet in their families, to authoritative positions. This is not a strategy that will be successful in marketing our region to a global economy.

Like most prosecutors, Joe Deters does not prosecute White citizens who are driving into the city to buy and use drugs; who are running meth labs in affluent suburbs; who have committed violent acts (the white teenager who killed his brother with a baseball bat); or white professionals who engage in white collar crime (sexual harassment by former prosecutor Mike Allen and police officer Keith Fangman). The philosophy appears to be that if you are inside the power structure, you will avoid prosecution. Instead, these White citizens receive extensive rehabilitation services or diversion programs while African-Americans are sent to jail with extensive sentences.

"What Joe Deters said on Monday, how he said it, and how he does his job is completely outrageous. I refuse to accept the image and implications that the face of crime is Black America. What I do acknowledge is an under-prosecution of White America. It is my hope that the media will report that there is an opposing perspective to what Joe Deters said unless it desires for the image of Cincinnati to be that the 'Queen City' is really 'Jurassic Park'." said Smitherman. "This is a typical example of why Cincinnati is often thought to be 20 years behind the times. Deters' comments are remnants of something that the character Archie Bunker would say. He owes the region an apology."

Park buys boatload of fish

What’s cold-blooded, scaly and costs about as much as a luxury car?

The live fish that will stock the pay fishing lakes in Hamilton County this year.

The Hamilton County Park District is ordering 21,800 pounds of live fish at a cost of $44,295 to stock the lakes throughout the fishing season.

The 2,500 pounds of Shovelhead/Blue Catfish ($2,500), 5,300 pounds of Rainbow Trout ($17,120) and 14,000 pounds of Channel Catfish ($24,675) will be used mostly to stock Lake Isabella in Symmes Township, said Jack Sutton, park district director.

The cost of the fish is included in the park district’s annual budget. Fishing fees help offset the cost, he said.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cole Idea For Small Businesses

Councilwoman Laketa Cole's behind a proposal to lower to $40,000 the investment amount required to trigger eligibility for a commercial or industrial tax exemption. The required amount is $100,000 now.

Cole hopes more small businesses would be able to take advantage of the Community Reinvestment Act exemptions.

Council passed the change Wednesday night. Cole said she and the city administration had been working on it since 2006.

Qualls: Honoring A Rabbi

Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls put forth a resolution at council Wednesday night to honor Rabbi Eliezer Silver, who died 40 years ago.

Silver was born in 1882 in Lithuania and immigrated to the United States in 1907 to escape czarist Russia. He moved to Cincinnati in 1931 to take a position with the Kneseth Israel congregation. He became known as a "ceaseless activist" who worked to save the lives of thousands of refugees of Eastern Europe during the Holocaust as well as helping raise millions for causes, including the Cincinnati Hebrew day school.

Qualls said she wanted to call attention to the man because of the impact he had in Cincinnati and on the lives of so many people.

Silver's grandson, Barry Silver, attended the ceremony. He said it was really gratifying to have someone still honor his grandfather's work.

JFS Choir singer is recognized

The county commissioners are so proud of county worker Jo'Ram Griffin, they practically sang his praises.

Except David Pepper apparently can't sing, according to his colleagues.

Griffin, 22, of Walnut Hills works for the county's Job and Family Services Department and was a member of the now famous Clash of the Choirs "Team Lachey." The commissioners invited Griffin (who brought his mother) to Wednesday's meeting where he was recognized for his good work in the choir.

"I called Griffin to see if he was available last week and was told to speak to his agent," quipped Administrator Patrick Thompson, cracking up the audience.

"We were all very excited as a whole," said Commissioner Pat DeWine of Griffin and the chior.

"You did well," Portune told Griffin. "You made all of us proud." He also noted Pepper's addiction to the show. "He was so inspired he was singing the next day," Portune said of his colleague except, Portune added, the singing wasn't so good.

Pepper tried to defend himself. "I actually was a member of the B-Sharps singers in high school," he asserted. "But I think they needed men."

Griffin, despite weeks on the stage, admitted "I'm nervous" when he took the podium.

"I'm glad to be here today and thank everyone for the recognition," he said.

"Would you like to sing?" Portune asked.

"No, Griffin said shyly. "My choir's not with me."

Griffin and the rest of the choir are scheduled to perform 8 p.m. Friday at a Music Hall concert to benefit an AIDS-ravaged village adopted by Cincinnati Country Day students. (Patrick Thompson happily announce he has scored a ticket.)

Freedom Center update

UPDATE: Cincinnati Councilman Chris Monzel is now weighing in on the issue. He sent this press release today saying council should not give the money to the Freedom Center.

"They were granted the opportunity, for free, to use the land," he said in the press release. "They have not done so in 7 years. Now, after asking the city and county for public dollars from our budgets, they are going to try to charge us for use of that land. The Freedom Center has repeatedly asked for taxpayer monies and they seem to have found another way to try to reach into the public’s pocket. "

Commissioner Todd Portune said Wednesday that talks are progressing with the Underground Railroad Freedom Center and "I think this is going to get resolved in a way everyone can feel good about."

What exactly that means is yet to be seen, but chances are it will involve less county money.

Portune was speaking about the controversy involving the Freedom Center's $1 million asking price for a 1.6-acre lawn directly south of the museum. The county and city gave the land to the Freedom Center in 2002 for a park. The Freedom Center hasn't had the funds to develop the park, but now wants the city and county, who plan to use it for Banks project restaurants, to pay $500,000 each to get the land back.

Commissioners were outraged. Pat DeWine called the request "extortion." Portune took a less-confrontational tone, but said he, too, doesn't think the Freedom Center should charge. (Commissioner David Pepper can't comment because his father is on the Freedom Center board). Several people (Mostly COAST members or their supporters) came to a public hearing Monday night about capital project funding to bash the Center. They told commissioners to make sure it doesn't get any state money. (The Freedom Center, by the way, hadn't even asked for any project money yet.)

"The public doesn’t want funding for the Freedom Center," said Chris Finney. "The organization has repeatedly lied to voters"

Sycamore Township Trustee Tom Weidman presented resolutions filed in 2006 by the township stating it opposed funding for the center.

"It is time for them to wean themselves form public funds," he said. Anderson Township passed a similar resolution.

So it's clear the Freedom Center hasn't earned any friends during this ordeal. But did they really try to hoodwink the taxpayers?

The Freedom Center says it had been negotiating the $1 million price tag with the Banks Working Group since last summer. It had two assessments done that actually placed the land at a much higher value. It says the negotiations were in good faith and everyone seemed to think the request was reasonable.

The Working Group includes representatives from both the city and the county, so none of the elected officials should have been surprised at the request, which was reduced to writing Dec. 31, said Freedom Center's Paul Bernish.

City council wasn't surprised. Some council members even said they thought the Center would ask for more. But somehow commissioners were caught off guard.

Tom Gableman, the lawyer who represents the commission on the BWG, said "My understanding is commissioners were aware that there were discussions about the release of the land."

Portune said Tuesday: "They (Freedom Center) were in contact with various members of the city including the mayor but they neglected to talk to me and Pat. I don't think it was intentional. They may have thought Tom was relaying that information but that didn't happen."

Plus, he noted, "everyone knows the BWG is advisory anyway and until groups sign off there can be no deal."

So at least now, everyone is talking. They have several options: create a city/county/Freedom Center contract that asks for a different price (which would require the city to call a special meeting to vote by the deadline), the developer could buy the rights directly, or the Freedom Center could give the land up for nothing. The last two options would not require a vote.

The parties could also extend the contract as long as the city, county and Banks developer agree to do so.

Hillary organizes Ohio

Gov. Ted Strickland will help kick off Hillary Clinton's Ohio primary campaign at an organizational meeting Saturday in Columbus.

Strickland - along with Lieutenant Gov. Lee Fisher and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Cleveland - will attend the meeting at United Steelworkers Local 2173 at 1135 Cleveland Avenue in Columbus.

The meeting begins at 3 p.m. At 5 p.m., the Hillary supporters will break up into smaller regional groups for half-hour meetings.

Included among the Southwest Ohio Hillary supporters who will be at Saturday's meeting are Hamilton County commissioner David Pepper, Cincinnati council members Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley, and former state representative Catherine Barrett.

For more information - or if you can’t make it to Columbus and want to get involved, you can e-mail SWOhio4Hillary@gmail.com.

Portune to unveil his "dramatic" plans today

Jessica Brown has the story today

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bortz: Thanks, Delta Air Lines

Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Bortz offers a resolution on council's agenda for tomorrow that expresses councils appreciation for Delta's commitment to Cincinnati.

It also "commends and encourages Delta's efforts to lower certain leisure travel airfares at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport" and says the city recognizes the need for "airfares to be continuously evaluated on the basis of regional competition and encourages Delta to take such regional competition into account."

State's No. 2 Dem in hot water

The Associated Press is reporting:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Newly named Senate Democratic Leader Ray Miller, whose new post involves overseeing the finances of his caucus, owes a downtown hotel more than $26,000, according to public records obtained by The Associated Press.

Miller’s ongoing monetary struggles with the Hyatt Regency Columbus, which stemmed from a 2006 banquet of his National Progressive Leadership Caucus, add to a host of other revelations about Miller’s activities that threw his new position temporarily into jeopardy Tuesday.

Senate Democrats voted unanimously to keep Miller, a long-serving Columbus Democrat, as their leader during a lengthy closed-door caucus meeting. The vote affirmed the decision made Wednesday to oust Sen. Teresa Fedor of Toledo as minority leader amid concerns that she had failed to focus campaign money on key races or to hold the caucus together on important votes. Miller had previously held the caucus’ No. 3 spot.

Records show that the National Progressive Leadership Caucus, founded by Miller, hosted a dinner at the hotel and was billed $46,278. After an initial payment of $20,000, the remainder of the debt remained unpaid, the records show. Message were left with Miller’s office and the hotel seeking further details.

The debt was not listed on Miller’s 2007 financial disclosure form for the state, which covered calendar year 2006.

Public officials aren’t required to report debt incurred during normal business activities. There is, however, a space on the form for listing all names under which an official and family members do business. Miller did not list the Leadership Caucus there, nor does it appear as a registered corporation, nonprofit or political entity in state or federal databases.

The Center for Urban Progress, which Miller listed as his employer in that year, failed to file its statement of continued existence in 2005 and had its business status canceled, state business filings show.

Fedor and her second in charge, Sen. Tom Roberts of Dayton, sent letters Monday to Senate President Bill Harris, a Republican from Ashland, rescinding their earlier resignations, citing weekend news reports of campaign finance irregularities and earlier ethical questions faced by Miller.

Portune again commission president

Todd Portune's reign as president of the county commission will continue for another year. At the commission's re-organization meeting on Monday, Portune was again elected the board's president.

The process went like this: Portune introduced a motion nominating fellow Democrat David Pepper as temporary president. The motion passed unanimously and Pepper (his one act in his two minutes as the temporary board leader) nominated Portune as president. The motion passed unanimously (even Republican Pat DeWine voted "yes"). And Portune again took the reins.

He thanked his colleagues for the nomination and recounted some of the 2007 accomplishments.
"2007 was a very active year for this board," he said. "There were some significant reforms in terms of structure of county government and in streamlining and setting policies to be implemented by the board.

"Two budgets were voted on by this board which started with deficits.

We worked with first suburbs, school district and the Banks. We’re going to break ground before opening day."

One thing that didn't get done, Portune said, was a fix to the jail overcrowding problem.
Portune nominated Pepper as vice president. Portune plans to introduce his 2008 agenda on Wednesday.

Pepper survey: who should be president?

Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper wants your opinion on the 2008 election. He's created a "citizen survey" and wants to know who you think will win, and what they're biggest challenges will be.
Click here to take the survey.

The survey is part of Pepper's latest newsletter to his constiutents. It also includes results from his last survey (What should be the county's top priorities?) and his report on other county business.

To sign up for the newsletter click here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Election board meeting: GOP only

The Associated Press reports:

The Ohio Republican Party has invited Republican elections board members from around the state to gather at a private meeting Tuesday to discuss “the party’s response to the Secretary of State’s voting proposals,” according to an e-mail from a party official obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

The e-mail, which said, “your efforts to keep the information above confidential are appreciated,” comes at a time when Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has directed and recommended widespread changes to touch-screen voting systems across the state.

Elections officials in at least three counties have balked at Brunner’s directive that counties with touch-screen machines make a certain number of paper ballots available during the March primary for voters who don’t want to use the machines.

The counties have also said they will have trouble complying with Brunner’s recommendation that the 57 counties that use touch-screen machines scrap them in favor of an optical-scan system, in which ballots filled out by hand are tabulated by computer scanners.

The private Republican meeting injects partisanship into a debate over voting technology that shouldn’t be political, Brunner said Monday.

“This is not about political gamesmanship,” Brunner said. “It’s about doing what’s right for the voters of Ohio of both parties.”

The meeting is an effort to gather feedback from Republican elections board members, said Jason Mauk, executive director of the Ohio Republican Party, who sent the e-mail. With Republican and Democratic members evenly making up each elections board, the process is partisan in nature, he said.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that Ohio has election boards made up of partisan members and we believe it’s important to communicate with those people on the boards who are affiliated with the Republican Party,” Mauk said.

“Our board members would not argue that this is a partisan decision.”

When asked whether Democrats were holding a similar meeting, Brunner said, “Absolutely not.”

New COAST leader

Jason Gloyd, the anti-tax Republican who was spokesman for the No Jail Tax Campaign has been selected as the new chairman of Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes. The decision was made Dec. 15, said Chris Finney, the organization's attorney. He replaces James Uhrling.

Gloyd said he was "honored" to have the position.

"I'm honored to follow in James Uhrling's footsteps and take over chairmanship of COAST," he said. "With both mainstream political parties intent on continually letting down the taxpayers, we have a vital role to play. The citizens of this county and state have been far too generous with our tax dollars for far too long. Our challenge is to limit the growth of government and keep spending below the rate of inflation. If we can be successful in that, the area can prosper."

Borgemenke leaves House for horse racing job

Cincinnati native Scott Borgemenke is resigning Friday as chief of staff to House Speaker Jon Husted, it was announced today, to take a job with Magna Entertainment Corp.

Borgemenke, 42, served as chief of staff since January 2005. He starts his new job as Magna Entertainment's vice president for racing on Jan. 28.

"Scott has given more than I can ask in service to the House and I want to thank him and his family for the sacrifices they have made to make Ohio a better place," Husted said.

Beginning in 1991, Borgemenke served former Senate President Stanley J. Aronoff as finance director and chief of staff.

He was named executive director of the Cincinnati Business Committee in 1996.

In 1999, Borgemenke returned to state service as chief policy adviser and director of cabinet affairs during former Gov. Bob Taft’s initial year in office. The following year, he launched Strategic Policy Advisors, a public affairs, government relations and campaign consulting firm he owned and managed prior to becoming House chief of staff.

Borgemenke, who served as chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission from 2002 to 2004, will oversee racing operations for North America’s number one owner and operator of horse racetracks.

Magna Entertainment, based in Toronto, operates 10 racetracks including Thistledown near Cleveland. The company also owns and operates three thoroughbred training centers and production facilities in Austria and North Carolina.

"If I were to name two of my greatest interests – public policy being one – horse racing is clearly the second," said Borgemenke, whose late father, Ralph, was a jockey with a career highlighted by a 9th-place finish aboard King O’ Swords in the 1956 Kentucky Derby.

"I have been fortunate to build a career helping to shape public policy and working to enhance the leadership capabilities of both legislators and staff. I’m looking forward to putting this experience to work in an industry that has a far-reaching impact in our communities – from agriculture to entertainment – but is often undervalued or misunderstood."

Deters, In Cincinnati Gentlemen

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has some strong things to say about the city and its leaders in an essay published as the magazine's The Last Word feature.

So far, we can't find anybody at City Hall who's seen the story yet. So here are some highlights of what Deters wrote:

Jail Tax Falls

Will Cincinnati Follow?

"The failure of the jail tax levy on the November ballot h as generated a multitude of questions and recriminations. One fact stands out, however. The need for a new jail is not due to a lack of foresight or long-range planning. The need is based on the fact that since the Cincinnati riots of 2001, the violent crime rate has tripled here. The city's weak response in the riot aftermath, coupled with unfair police bashing prior to the riot, generated a spirit of lawlessness that has not abated to this day."

"This fact was brought into stark focus recently when a national statistical measure by a reputable organization rated Cincinnati the 16th most dangerous city overall in the nation in 2006. One can track Cincinnati's unfortunate climb by looking at our steady rise in these rankings over the past few years. In 2005, Cincinnati was ranked 18th. In 2004, it was ranked 20th. In 2003, it was ranked 25th."

"The result of more criminals on the street is more crime. The bulk of this crime will occur in the city of Cincinnati. Despite this obvious fact, many city leaders did little to support the jail levy. The payoff will be the continual decline of safety in the city."

"Why does Northern Kentucky thrive while the city fights to maintain its population and businesses? Simple, people feel safe over there."

"When I left Cincinnati to become state treasurer in 1999, the area around Main Street was thriving and fun and safe. Today, if my 19-year-old son informed me he was heading to that area for the evening, I'd take his car keys."

"But, I contend it doesn't matter where you move the fountain. One punk with a gun can ruin everything."

"The last in a long line of bad ideas from City Hall was to run trolleys from the stadiums into Over-the-Rhine."

"I have a better idea for the trolley money. Sit down with the county commissioners and have, thoughtful, meaningful discussions about our jail problem. If any money is left, give it to Police Chief Streicher, stay out of the way and let him do his job."

Freedom Center wants $1 million for Banks rights

Jessica Brown has this breaking story out of the Hamilton County Commissioners meeting this morning:

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