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, February 01, 2008

NAACP: Qualls resolution not enough

Kimball Perry reports:

Christopher Smitherman is at it again.

The controversial head of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP sent out a mass e-mail today – including to the Enquirer – about the city promoting Cincinnati Police Sgt. Patrick Caton.

Over the last few weeks, Caton again has become a lightning rod and a symbol of the city’s state of race relations.

Council Member Roxanne Qualls has submitted a resolution calling for the city to hold its police officers "to the highest possible standards for conduct and behavior" after Caton’s controversial promotion to sergeant this month.

Qualls resolution came after dozens went to City Hall earlier this week to complain that Caton was promoted to sergeant after Roger Owensby Jr. died in 2000 while in custody of Caton and Officer Robert "Blaine" Jorg.

Many who spoke out at this week’s council meeting wondered how an officer can be promoted after having someone die while in his custody and after being fired.

The answer is that Caton was acquitted of crimes in connection with Owensby’s death, was reinstated to his job by an arbitrator and was promoted after passing a test. After passing that test, the city – under its contract with the Fraternal Order of Police – had to promote Caton as it would anyone else who passed the test.

An outraged Smitherman spearheaded the movement to speak at city hall this week.

Today, Smitherman applauded Qualls’ resolution but said it needs more meaning.

"This resolution is not strong enough (and) we need all of you to call and lobby council and the mayor to produce a product that represents our community’s complete dissatisfaction with the promotion of Officer Caton to sergeant after his involvement with the murder of Roger Owensby Jr.," Smitherman wrote in today’s e-mail.

To hammer home his point, Smitherman included two attachments with the e-mail.

One was a poem from the dead man’s daughter to her father, the other contained only two pictures of Owensby.

"I have enclosed a picture of Roger Owensby Jr. before and after meeting Officer Caton," Smitherman noted.

One picture shows a live Owensby, the other a dead Owensby in the hospital after his arrest, his face bruised and swollen.

The pictures didn’t bother Roger Owensby Sr. He’s glad Smitherman sent them.

"I want people to see what some police – I’m not saying all police – will do in the name of the law and get away with it," Owensby Sr. said today from his North Carolina home.

Owensby saw the photos today and they brought back haunting memories.

"It hurts me (to see pictures of his dead son) but it makes me wish that people would see this and hope this doesn’t happen to another family," the father said.

"Maybe his death will bring somebody up there (in Cincinnati) enlightenment so they can get rid of bad officers."

Caton has rejected all attempts by the Enquirer to seek comment from him.

Blackwell could be subpoenaed

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has been asked to testify next Friday in Washington, D.C., by the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

The topic: "Voter Suppression," according to this letter sent Tuesday to Blackwell, who now works for the Family Research Council, Buckeye Institute and other conservative policy groups.

The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat, is investigating election irregularities, including long lines and challenges to voter registrations.

Blackwell, a Republican from Cincinnati, said he received the invitation, "however, my schedule will not permit me to attend the hearings."

Jonathan Godfrey, a Conyers spokesman, said Blackwell has not responded and could be subpoenaed if he doesn't appear voluntarily.

"I don't think it's unlikely," Godfrey said today of a subpoena.

But it would take a majority vote of committee members to issue a subpoena, probably delaying the day Blackwell would be asked to appear, according to Godfrey.

"As we look forward to the 2008 Presidential Election, the Committee seeks to explore policies that should be implemented to avoid future voting problems and ensure that every American can exercise their right to vote," Conyers and Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler wrote in their invitation to Blackwell.

Blackwell said, "For a better understanding of Ohio’s voting performance during the 2004 election, I recommend Chairmen Conyers and Nadler review the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2004 post-election analysis."

The Census Bureau found Ohio experienced record voter turnout among both African-American voters and those between the ages of 18 to 24, he said.

"In addition, voter registration rolls grew by one million new voters from the year before and voter turnout increased by one million more voters from the previous presidential election," Blackwell said.

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Lawmakers: Support This Bill

Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution this week to urge Ohio's congressional delegation to support the Neighborhood Reclamation and Revitalization Program Act of 2007. The legislation would set up a new federal grant program for municipalities with a history of continued population loss since 1980, a vacant housing problem and a comprehensive plan to demolish that housing.

The support measure, introduced by Jeff Berding, passed 7-2, with Republicans Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel voting against.

City Council: We're Not Retreating

It might've sounded innocent enough, Jeff Berding's proposal to send all council members on a "professionally facilitated planning session" with the mayor and city manager. But apparently some didn't think so.

The idea, which Berding pushed for a vote on Wednesday even after Mayor Mark Mallory urged sending the idea through a committee for more discussion. So when the vote happened, the idea failed, 5-4. Those in favor: Berding, Chris Bortz, Laketa Cole and Leslie Ghiz.

Berding said he just didn't want it "indefinitely hanging out there. I'd like it resolved one way or another."

Roxanne Qualls said she didn't disagree that having a plan might be helpful, she just thought it should be an effort led by the mayor.

Cecil Thomas said: "I believe we charge our city manager to have a plan." He also said that council's committee structure is designed for hashing out plans.

Top city lawyer leaving

Jane Prendergast has the story here

Here is McNeil's email:

The purpose of this email is to announce that I am leaving the Solicitor’s Office effective February 23, 2008. I am leaving to embark upon a new and exciting opportunity as Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce. I am thrilled and looking forward to the excitement my position will bring, but I am sad to leave behind the working relationships and many friendships I have developed during my tenure with the City of Cincinnati.

Thank you to all of you in the Solicitor's Office for all the many accomplishments over the last almost six years. I thank you for the opportunity to work with a Real Estate Division that successfully generated over $1,700,000 in revenue for the City from the sale of City-owned property. I am proud to be part of creating and establishing the new Claims, Collection, and Recovery Section, within the Litigation Division, which collected revenue of over $480,000 last year . The Economic Development and General Counsel Divisions are to be commended for their hard work and contribution to major projects like the Banks, MSD Consent Decree, CCA, and the new Fountain Square. The Labor and Employment Division has distinguished themselves with a rare victory appealing an arbitrator's decision upheld in the Supreme Court and for turning the trend to victories at arbitration. Settlements likes the Collaborative, Fort Washington Way and Friendship Park will be hallmarks in the City's history and we made those settlements happen. Lastly, to the Prosecutor’s Office, who seldom get recognized and appreciated for their relentless dedication and consistent hard work, I thank you for allowing me to be part of one the most creative and meaningful efforts to reduce gun violence with the creation, production and distribution of the Hard-wear DVD. The Prosecutor's Office and the Office of Administrative Hearings both continuously, positively impact the quality of life for the citizens of Cincinnati with their work enforcing civil code violations, the Housing Docket, and Community Prosecution. A special thank you to my assistant for making every challenge easy and every day brighter.

I wish everyone in the Solicitor's Office both personal and professional success and thank you again for your service to the citizens of Cincinnati. I will be working with the Manager’s Office to create a smooth transition between my departure and my successor’s arrival.

Wulsin the early-money champ

UPDATED - Read statements from the campaigns at the bottom of this blog

Not only has Democrat Victoria Wulsin raised more money than 2nd Congressional District rival Steve Black, she has about three times as much money in the bank as the district’s incumbent Republican, Rep. Jean Schmidt, according to campaign finance reports.

Year-end federal campaign finance reports filed this week showed that, in 2007, Wulsin raised just over $500,000 and had $344,316 in cash-on-hand at year’s end.

Schmidt, who raised nearly $370,000 last year, ended 2007 with $124,857 in the bank.
The Republican incumbent may be lagging in fundraising behind Wulsin, her opponent in the 2006 election, but she has a distinct advantage over her principal opponent in the March 4 GOP primary.

State Rep. Tom Brinkman of Mt. Lookout, reported only $4,820 in contributions last year.

Wulsin’s principal challenger in the March 4 Democratic primary is Steve Black, who, like Wulsin, is an Indian Hill Democrat.

Black raised $320,095 in 2007 and had $223,536 in the bank as of Dec. 31.
There are two other candidates on the ballot in the 2nd District primary – Nathan Bailey on the Republican side and William R. Smith on the Democratic ballot. Neither reported raising any money in 2007.

The 2nd congressional district includes eastern Cincinnati neighborhoods, eastern Hamilton County, parts of Warren county and all of Clermont, Brown and Adams counties.

Schmidt's campaign had raised $379,691 by the end of 2007, but reported cash-on-hand of only $124,857 and a debt of $277,150, mostly money she and her family lent to her campaign.

Read Wulsin's statement here

Read Schmidt's statement here

Tom Brinkman's statement:
Cincinnati, OH. - State Representative and Congressional Candidate Tom Brinkman released his campaign finance reports for the end of last year. As expected, his cash on hand in his Congressional campaign account was just under $5500.

"I didn't enter the race until mid December", said Brinkman, "This is financial activity for only a couple of weeks through December. Fundraising has picked up significantly since then, and has been booming since Mr. Heimlich dropped from the race."

Campaign Coordinator Jason Gloyd felt confident about the race. "We are operating on a budget similar to the 2005 and that will make us very competitive. Tom's message has really been resonating with voters. This financial report is month old news, money and volunteers have been streaming in since. Let's face it", said Gloyd, "Having $5000 on hand feels better than $124,000 minus $277,000 in debt."

From Dan Herkert, campaign manager for Steve Black:

"As a first time candidate, Steve is performing extremely well. We are very pleased with what we have raised. We have everything that we need to run a successful campaign."

"Our opponent - this is her third campaign - so obviously she has more fundraising contacts. It's not surprising that she raised more."

Herkert declined to say whether Black planned to use his own money for the race.

"We're fully funded in our budget right now and that decision will be made down the road."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, this is a real story

We print here, in its entirety - with the actual headline - an article from the Jan. 30 edition of The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper:

Rep. Schmidt has new, less severe, hairdo

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) has been told she is looking younger these days with a brand new hairdo that gives her a more relaxed image. She has unraveled what used to be a tight slicked-back bun on her head and now wears her locks in a looser, more elegant style. The key to her new look: no more bows.

“It’s a new year, she wanted to try something different,” said Schmidt spokesman Ben LaRocco. “The first time I noticed it I thought she looked great.”

He added: “We’ve been getting great feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be stylish but I don’t notice every detail. It was a kind of change. I don’t know whether it’s going to go back or what. She makes that decision every day. I’m not part of the decision process. I don’t pick out her outfits, either.”

Don't believe me? It's right here


I know you're clamoring for a photo. If you've got one, send it. So far, this is the best we've got, shot at a chicken soup judging contest last weekend. Thanks to CinWeekly's Katie Kelley Schmid.

The "Caton Resolution"

Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls introduced a resolution yesterday related to the promotion of Sgt. Patrick Caton, who was involved in the 2000 death of Roger Owensby Jr. She did so after the NAACP filled Council Chambers on Wednesday with people opposed to the promotion.

NAACP President Christopher Smitherman issued a list of requests, which included that Caton be put on desk duty pending the outcome of two psych exams and that the officer's every interaction with an African American be monitored. The list also asked that council vote to denounce the promotion.

Though several council members did speak against the promotion, the resolution now winding its way through the council process does not denounce it.

Click here to read the resolution.

Cranley: LOTS of Streetcar Questions

UPDATE: Councilman Chris Bortz (streetcars are his baby) says this afternoon that he welcomes Cranley's questions and he's OK with taking whatever time is needed to get them answered.

"Many of the questions that Councilman Cranley has raised are critically important and we need to find answers for them."

Councilman John Cranley, chairman of the finance committee, says he'll schedule a committee hearing about the proposal to bring streetcars to Cincinnati - as soon as he gets answers from the city administration to his questions about the plan.

Nine pages worth of questions. Among them: what's the population of Over-the-Rhine? How long does it take to walk from Fountain Square to Findlay Market? What projects will need to be cut to fund the streetcar?

What do you think? Is Cranley asking legitimate questions? Or trying to sabotage the idea?

Read all his questions here.

The musical 2nd District race

Victoria Wulsin has "Wulsin Girl," strumming away at the guitar and singing an Ode to Vic on YouTube; now Wulsin's Democratic primary opponent, Steve Black, has his own theme song - "Backin' Black,'' a campaign jingle up and running on 2nd Congressional District radio stations.

No music on the Republican side as of yet. No Jean Schmidt rap videos. No Tom Brinkman cover of George Harrison's "Taxman."

Hear it here

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gilligan endorses Obama

Former Ohio Gov. Jack Gilligan says he’s a Barack Obama man this year, following the lead of his daughter, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who endorsed the Illinois senator for president on Tuesday.

“I think all you’ve got to do is compare the kind of campaign he’s running and the kind his opponent is running, and her husband,” Gilligan said Wednesday from his Clifton home. “You know, it’s old politics versus new politics, it really is.”

Gilligan, who first won a seat on Cincinnati City Council in 1953 - eight years before Obama was born - said he holds the relative newcomer in extremely high esteem.

“I first became aware of his existence a little over a year ago, and he’s a very bright guy,” Gilligan said. “I started sizing him up against the kind of opponents he’s facing, and he’s gotten more appealing all the time.”

Gilligan served one term as Ohio governor and spent the last eight years as a member of the Cincinnati school board, retiring in December.

His daughter is a popular two-term governor in predominantly Republican Kansas, and could be a potential running mate should Obama win the nomination. She mentioned her father's support of Obama in her endorsement earlier this week.

Council: City shouldn't take back Caton, but has to

Jane Prendergast has the story today.

Here were the NAACP's demands:

Dear Membership and Community,

The Cincinnati NAACP made a strong showing at the City Council meeting today. One hundred and ninety four supporters and members came out to show dissatisfaction with the promotion of Officer Caton. I would like to thank everyone who came out and spoke and those who were in attendance. Both roles are very important.

The NAACP made 6 requests of the Cincinnati City Council listed below.

We request that Officer Caton be immediately placed on desk duty pending two separate psychological examinations by outside psychologists.

We request that Officer Caton be subjected to an extensive psychological examination.
We request that every interaction that he has with an African American citizen be monitored and reported to his supervisor.

We request that any use of force applied by Officer Caton be subject to the highest level of review and that all findings be shared with the local branch of the NAACP.

We request that 9 members of council pass a resolution today denouncing the promotion of Officer Caton to sergeant.

We request a hearing to be held by the Chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee on the promotion of Officer Caton.

I have a sense that there will be some movement on these 6 items but it is critical that we see these through. Please note membership these are just initial steps.

Thank you again to everyone who showed up today and those who wanted to come and could not. I appreciated all of you who were able to brave the cold weather and be seen and heard.

Christopher Smitherman
President of the Cincinnati NAACP

Chabot has double the $$$ as Driehaus

No shocker here... Seven-term U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot is leading his opponent in the money race.

Chabot, a Republican from Westwood, submitted his latest campaign finance report to the Federal Election Commission last night. Deadline is midnight tomorrow.

According to his report, Chabot raised $1,118,273 last year, including $531,136 that he raised during the last three months of 2007, during which he hosted President Bush for a fundraiser. Chabot's campaign spent $355,609 in all last year, leaving him with $1,002,614 in the bank.

State Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat from Price Hill, submitted his FEC report on Sunday.

According to Driehaus' report, his campaign raised $479,693 last year, including $191,848 during the last three months of 2007. His campaign, however, only spent $61,031 last year, leaving him with $418,662 in the bank.

Still... Driehaus' $418,662 is less than half the $1,002,614 that Chabot has.

Gaines goes Youtubing for Obama

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Former Judge Leslie Isaiah Gaines, one of the more memorable figures of Cincinnati politics over the past few decades, is still a busy criminal defense lawyer and a rap artist with two local hits under his belt – 1994’s "Shake ‘N Blake,’’ an ode to then-Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake and the 2005 hit, "Shake ‘N Quake Jungle Jingle," another song dedicated to his beloved Bengals.

Seems now that Gaines has found a new object for his rhapsodic affection – Barack Obama. Check out the video here.

Hat tip: The Daily Bellwether

Edwards out, but the party goes on

Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Crowley was planning a little debate-watching for Thursday night at Crowley's Highland House, the family bar in Mt. Adams, inviting all supporters of John Edwards to come up the hill and cheer on their underdog candidate.

But, after another distant third place showing in Tuesday's Florida beauty contest, the Associated Press was reporting that Edwards was on the verge of withdrawing.

Crowley and the other local Edwards supporters are disappointed, but it takes a whole lot to stop a party at the old bar on Pavillion Street. Crowley said he and other Edwards supporters will be there at 8 p.m. Thursday for the CNN debate from California.

"We'll be there watching the debate at the bar; and we'll see who shows up,'' said the vice mayor. "Maybe we'll have a little focus group on what went wrong."

Crowley said that while he was disappointed by the news Wednesday morning, he was not surprised.

"I sort of thought he would stay on just to become a player in this somewhere down the road, but it just wasn't working out,'' said Crowley.

Crowley - the highest-ranking elected official in southwest Ohio to come out for Edwards - said he's not sure yet who he will support for the Democratic nomination.

"I've been thinking about that for awhle, knowing that it was possible Edwards wouldn't stay in,'' Crowley said. "I guess I am leaning towards Obama, but I've started to have more regard for Hillary lately than I used to.

"But I am pissed off at her husband."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wulsin in DC

Just because we posted too quickly and neglected to mention... We though you ought to know how Democrat Victoria Wulsin's comments below came to be made.

Wulsin, who is running to unseat Rep. Jean Schmidt in the 2nd Congressional District, is in Washington today. She flew in Sunday night, spent all day yesterday meeting with supporters: Humane Society of the United States, National Association of Social Workers, National Committee to Save Social Security, SEIU and two big donors.

She then watched the State of the Union with her son, who is a recent college graduate now working for Cincinnati native John Bridgeland's Republican-leaning firm, Civic Enterprises. Bridgeland, if you recall, used to work for former Rep. Rob Portman and at the White House.

It's all kind of a big small world, if you get what we mean.

Today, Wulsin met for about an hour with about eight reporters - including the Cincinnati Enquirer's Washington Bureau - at the American Federation of Teachers, which has endorsed her. Thanks to that endorsement, they let her host her media roundtable in one of their conference rooms.

Discussion ranged from the recently proposed economic stimulus package (she supports it but thinks it ought to do more for seniors) to the SOTU (she didn't like much of it), abortion (she supports choice) and even gay marriage (she supports equal rights).

One interesting exchange that came up, other than the Schmidt criticisms below, was that Wulsin pledge in a recent TV ad not to accept congressional health care coverage is pretty much just for show.

Wulsin explained to reporters that she is covered by a PPO through her husband's job. They "pay a small amount" but the majority of their "gold plated plan" is paid for by the University of Cincinnati.

Asked if she would consider paying the federal government back for BOTH her congressional health care coverage AND her UC coverage, since, you know, UC is a public university, Wulsin said: "Possibly. I don't know. I don't know."

Then, asked if she would give up ALL health insurance, so she really would know what many of the 2nd District residents feel like, the Indian Hill doctor said: "That's interesting. I might have to consider that. ... What an interesting idea. On the other hand, I want to stay healthy."

After her media roundtable, Wulsin planned to meet with several medical organizations and so some women's groups, such as EMILY's List, a group that supports pro-choice Democratic women running for higher office. Wulsin said although she's expecting (hoping for) an endorsement from EMILY's List.

Wulsin campaign rips on Schmidt

Newsflash - Democrat Victoria Wulsin thinks her likely Republican opponent, Rep. Jean Schmidt, is not as bad as she used to be. Sort of.

Wulsin was in DC today to meet with reporters. Asked if she intended to hammer Schmidt on the congresswoman's much criticized "Cowards cut and run, Marines never do" remark. Wulsin said: "No I don't need to."

Implying... ?

Exactly. So when Wulsin was then asked if, in her opinion, Schmidt was on at least slightly better behavior since her "cut and run" remark and allegations of plagiarizing columns.

Wulsin, surprisingly, weighed in: "I terms of personal behavior, I think she is on better behavior. In terms of professional behavior, and listening to people, I think she's gotten worse."

Wulsin's campaign manager, Josh Levin, then pointed reporters to a Politico story in which Schmidt was called a "squatter" for camping out early to nab a good seat for last night's State of the Union speech.

Levin also mentioned a certain story in The Hill about Schmidt's favorite perfume being Shalimar although she wore Giorgio that day because it "fit the mood of the outfit" she was wearing better.
"She continues to do things that perhaps the people of the district might not see as in their best interest," Levin said.

You don't say.

Sebelius drops the other shoe...

The morning after delivering the nationally-televised Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius - the Cincinnati-born-and-raised daughter of former Ohio governor John J. Gilligan, hustled off to the Kansas town of El Dorado to announce her support for Barack Obama for president.

Why El Dorado? It's the home town of the Illinois senator's maternal grandfather.

The Obama endorsement came after a Democratic-response speech that many pundits thought had said Obama-like touches - lots of references to unity, working together for the common good, putting aside partisan politics.

Sounded to us like a rehearsal speech for an Obama running mate.

Cincinnati Quality of Life

The quarterly Quality of Life Index for the city is out, showing things like numbers of citations written for litter, numbers of drug-related evictions and crime statistics by neighborhood

Looks like a lot more junk cars (1,870) were removed, but fewer potholes (32,411) were filled.

Read the whole thing here.

The quarterly reports were ordered by council starting in 2002.

Cincy cop takes top Dayton job

The Associated Press reports

A retired Cincinnati police officer is Dayton’s new police chief.

During a ceremony at City Hall Monday, Richard Biehl pledged to work closely with neighborhood groups, civic organizations, schools and private citizens to create a safer and more vibrant city.

After retiring from the Cincinnati police force, the 55-year-old Biehl served as executive director of Cincinnati’s Community Police Partnering Center. The center was founded to promote police and public cooperation.

Biehl replaces the retired Julian Davis.

Bush, Cincy, and Letterman

Monday, January 28, 2008

Legislative Black Caucus endorses Obama

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus today announced its endorsement of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama for president. The organization voted last week to support and assist the Illinois senator in his effort to win Ohio's Democratic primary election March 4.

The caucus, made up of 17 African-American members of the Ohio General Assembly, believes Obama is highly qualified with a superior educational and public service background, according to a news statement. The caucus called him "a powerful and timely voice for change in America." It cited Sen. Obama’s commitment to fight for the issues important to working class and minority citizens in Ohio, and across the nation. Economic empowerment, better education, reformation of the criminal justice system and expanded health-care coverage are concerns that the caucus shares with Obama.

"Senator Barack Obama has the vision and character to make an excellent president of the United States,'' said state Rep. Tyrone K. Yates. "No one can doubt that he has the background, experience, judgment and skill to lead the American people. . .It's just really, really exciting. He will be president."

Yates, a Democrat from Evanston/East Walnut Hills, is president of the Legislative Black Caucus.

"Senator Obama clearly represents the direction of the future of our nation," Yates said. "For states and cities that have suffered for decades through policy neglect, Senator Obama's deep knowledge and experience as a community organizer with urban issues will advance the (black caucus') urban policy agenda."

The caucus promised to provide its organizational resources and experience to the "Obama for America" campaign to aggressively reach out to Ohio voters. These resources include, but are not limited to, use of mailing and phone lists, volunteers, fundraising and campaign consultation. "It is going to be a very hectic year," Yates said. "It is exciting."

Yates would not disclose the vote tally.

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NAACP To Protest Police Promotion

UPDATED, 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30

City attorneys are working on a resolution now that would condemn the promotion of a controversial police officer who was previously fired after being involved in the 2000 death of a suspect.

Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls proposed the resolution after hearing more than a dozen African-Americans urge a public statement against the promotion of Patrick Caton, who was promoted two weeks ago to sergeant.

"And I would hope," she said, "quite frankly, that the FOP and all police officers would agree" that Caton's not someone desirable for the Cincinnati police force.

The resolution, being prepared at Qualls' request, will not be presented today. Instead, she said, it will be introduced and sent through the Law and Public Safety Committee. There, she said, Chairman Cecil Thomas, a retired police officer, can hold public hearings so citizens can weigh in on changes needed in civil service law and city contract negotiations to make sure the city isn't in the position again to have to re-hire someone it tried so hard to fire.

UPDATED, 2 pm Wednesday, Jan. 30:

Cincinnati's NAACP asked City Council this afternoon to denounce the promotion of a controversial police officer and put the officer on desk duty until he undergoes two psychological evaluations.

Christopher Smitherman, president of the Cincinnati branch and a former councilman, urged supporters to pack City Council chambers before today's meeting to protest the promotion this month of Patrick Caton, an officer who was involved in the 2000 arrest death of Roger Owensby Jr. Caton, like all officers promoted from officer to sergeant, was promoted based on how well he did on a promotional exam - the only factor in such promotions.

After two Caton opponents had spoken, Mayor Mark Mallory jumped in to explain that while he and council members welcomed the NAACP's passion and opinions, there's nothing more the city can do to stop the promotion.

"I don't think there's anybody here who wants to see this promotion go through," the mayor said.

Caton was fired in 2003. The Fraternal Order of Police took the termination to arbitration in 2004, and an arbitrator said the proper punishment was a five-day suspension, not termination. The city ultimately appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. That meant a 2005 decision by the First District Court of Appeals stands. That decision upheld the arbitrator's ruling.

Jane Prendergast reports that the council chambers is packed, with at least 50 African-Americans there, though it's unclear which of them are there for the Caton protest.

The president Cincinnati branch of the NAACP, Christopher Smitherman, is rallying supporters to go to City Council on Wednesday to express outrage about the police department's promotion of Patrick Caton to sergeant. Caton, with 17 others, was promoted in a ceremony Jan. 17 - four days before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Caton was charged with assault in the 2000 death of Roger Owensby Jr. , but acquitted. He and another officer, Blaine Jorg, arrested Owensby in the parking lot of a Roselawn convenience store. Minutes later, Owensby was unresponsive in the back seat of a patrol car. Caton was fired, but rehired after union arbitration.

The death prompted a lawsuit by Owensby's family, which ended with the city of Cincinnati agreeing to pay the largest settlement in city history - $6.5 million.

Here's what Smitherman's e-mail this afternoon says:

"Dear Membership and Community,

On Wednesday, January 30, 2008 please show up to City Hall regarding Officer Caton's recent promotion to Sergeant. Please get to City Hall located at 801 Plum Street by 1:00 PM so that you may fill out a speakers card and speak to the mayor, the council and the city manager about our outrage regarding the decision to promote Caton on the Martin Luther King holiday. This is the officer who murdered Roger Owensby Jr. You have 2 minutes to speak and you must turn in your card by 1:15 PM in order to do so. The other role you can play is just be present. It is unfortunate but Caton's promotion has made national news. We continue to embarrass the region and the city with these types of barbaric decisions.

See you on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 1:00 PM at City Hall."

Caton, 41, became an officer in 1997.

A Cincinnati Democrat gets the last word over Bush

A Democrat from Cincinnati will be delivering the Democratic response to President Bush's final State of the Union address.

A Cincinnati Democrat who happens to be governor of Kansas.

Kathleen Sebelius, daughter of former Ohio governor John J. Gilligan, will follow Bush's speech with the Democratic take on where the country stands.

It will raise the national profile of Sebelius, who was elected to a second term as Kansas governor in 2006. Earlier this month, the Washington Post listed Sebelius as one of seven Democrats who Might make good running mates for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, pointing out that Obama might have a soft spot for Kansas, his mother's home state.

Sebelius, a graduate of Summit Country Day School, will be back in town next month for the Cincinnati USA Chamber's annual dinner where her father will be enshrined as a Great Living Cincinnatian.

Two for the price of one!

If there is a college-level course in how to write snarky press releases for political parties, this piece that floated into our inbox this morning from the Republican National Committee has got to be park of the curriculum:

"Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama is a devastating blow to Senator Clinton's campaign. Senators who are most familiar with her record are rejecting her left and right. Even the Democrat establishment has come to the realization that she no longer has credibility with American voters.

“Barack Obama's left-wing credentials are now complete. On every issue facing American voters Senator Obama has a big government tax-and-spend proposal and now he has Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Patrick Leahy's liberal seal of approval.”

--Blair Latoff, RNC Spokeswoman

Slamming two candidates for the same thing - one for getting the endorsement, the other for not getting the endorsement. Amazing.

A view from South Carolina

Tom Hatfield of Hilton Head Island, S.C., had this to say about the Enquirer's article titled, Voting debate grows partisan:

"I read your article about Touch Screen Voting Machines and have a comment that you may wish to consider since it has not been widely discussed.

"I have been an Election Commissioner for seven years here in Beaufort County, SC (and its Chairman for three of those seven) and was very involved in switching from punch cards, to paper ballot scanning machines to, finally, touch screen machines.

"I cannot remember the source but what was narrowly reported about voting was simply this:

1- There are NO perfect elections. Mistakes are always made. Most often by the voters themselves.
2- The objective was to reduce whatever errors are made, whether by election officials or voters, to the lowest possible number.
3- The error rates of voting by ballot types are proven to be:
a) Hand counted ballots - over 3 percent (which are also the easiest to cheat).
b) Punch cards - 2 to 3 percent (including hanging chads).
c) Electronic scanned paper ballots - 1 percent (mostly voter error).
d) Touch Screen Voting - 0.5 percent (the most difficult to defraud with the least voter error).

"What is also not well publicized is that most electronic voting machines have a triple redundancy. Which means that you have two EPROM electronic chips built inside the machine that records every vote cast on that machine. Plus a removable 'smart card' that records the same votes. If one fails for any reason, the other two are available for backup and verification.

"Unfortunately, the majority of objectors to Touch Screen Voting have little experience in actually working at the polls or running elections.

To those of us who work at the polls, Touch Screen Voting Machines are the best answer to good elections that we have ever seen."

Does anyone have a differing viewpoint? Feel free to comment here.


Bush practically a Cincinnatian

Howard Wilkinson has the story today

Local lady a guest at State of Union tonight

The White House this morning announced the list of guests sitting in the First Lady's box.

These tend to be "real people" the President uses to emphasize a point in his speech. Looks like Ms. Ball will illustrate efforts to fight foreclosure.

Here's the White House release:


Mrs. Laura Bush

Barbara Bush

Jenna Bush

Mrs. Lynne Cheney

Lori Ball, Homemaker (Brookville, Indiana)
Lori Ball is a stay-at-home mom of four children, two of whom still live with her in Brookville, Indiana. In 2005, her husband, Carey Ball, had back surgery and was out of work for six months recovering.

Shortly after, Mr. Ball lost his job as his company was downsizing, and the Balls began to fall behind on their house payments. Creditors began to call frequently, and Mrs. Ball and her husband did not know where to turn. Carey and Lori Ball then received in the mail an information package from their mortgage provider, Wells Fargo, and from HOPE NOW, an alliance of counselors, servicers, investors, and other mortgage market participants whose aim is to help homeowners stay in their homes.

In addition, Lori Ball saw President Bush speak on television about the HOPE NOW Alliance. The President communicated to Americans that help could be a phone call away. Mr. Ball called the number, and their family received the help needed to restructure their mortgage and save their home. Mrs. Ball is appreciative for the help the HOPE NOW Alliance provided her family, and she encourages other Americans facing troubles with their mortgage to contact their lender or a credit counselor at 888-995-HOPE.

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