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, February 16, 2008

Mrs. Clinton vs. Mrs. Obama

Cincinnati had its first big day in the spotlight of the upcoming March 4 Ohio primary Friday, when Hillary Clinton came to town to talk issues with supporters at an Oakley chili parlor and Michelle Obama rallied the troops at Music Hall.

Read Howard Wilkinson's full story here

Friday, February 15, 2008

Clinton supporter coming to your door

Either they're still hoping to win the Iowa caucuses, or they meant "Buckeye:"

From the Hillary Clinton campaign

COLUMBUS - Building on Hillary's wide base of support throughout the state, Ohioans for Hillary today announced a number of grassroots campaign activities for Hillary that will take place throughout the Hawkeye State this weekend. These grassroots events come on the heels of Hillary's two-day swing across Ohio and precede President Clinton's visit to the state on Sunday, February 17th.

Hillary's local supporters are going to go door to door in Cincinnati for Hillary Saturday morning.

They'll be meeting at 10:30 am at Pleasant Ridge Community Center at 5915 Ridge Ave and will then go door to door from there

Mallory's busy day no shield against jokes

Between being wooed by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory managed to sit in on presentations this afternoon at the Chamber of Commerce from organizations seeking state capital bill money. Mallory’s on the committee that will narrow the list of projects before it’s sent to the General Assembly.

“It’s exciting,” he said of the eventful day. His focus during private meetings with Clinton and Obama today, he said, is to lay out Cincinnati’s priorities and discuss how the candidates' agendas would help the city.
“They want my endorsement. People say ‘It’ll really help you’ but I say ‘I’m doing just fine. I’m more worried about Cincinnati.”
Mallory’s status as most-sought-after-endorser-in-the-city, though, didn’t shield him from some razzing this afternoon for his recent not-so-flattering moment in the spotlight. In all fairness, though, Mallory started it.
Sharonville Mayor Virgil Lovitt had just finished a presentation on the expansion of the Sharonville Convention Center and asked if there were any questions.
“I have one,” Mallory said. “Was that you going down a water slide in your suit?” (In a recent event to promote CoCo Key, Sharonville’s new indoor water park, Lovitt went down the slide fully dressed. He hasn’t lived it down)
“Do I dare say this?” responded Lovitt with a gleam in his eye. “I knew no one’s ever going to ask me to throw the first pitch,” he said, and referred to the water slide incident as his “first pitch moment.”
The small crowd cracked up, Mallory included. “That’s it. Thumbs down on this project. Next!” Mallory joked. The mayors had a good chuckle over their respective media moments, shook hands and went back to work.


Who pays the most taxes?

Cincinnati Public Schools often draws the biggest headlines for its tax levies, but the district of nearly 35,000 students is actually nowhere near the top of the list in terms of the levy's actual cost to taxpayers. Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes released an updated list today comparing tax levies in Hamilton County’s 23 school districts. Those in the Madeira School District (about 1,600 students) pay the most at $1,373 a year. Residents in the Indian Hill School District (about 2,300 students) pay the least at $670. All values are for the owner of a $100,000 home. The Cincinnati School District was 12th on the list at $1,022 a year.
The following school districts have levies on the March 4 ballot: Cincinnati, Loveland, Milford, Princeton, Reading, St. Bernard-Elmwood Place and Winton Woods.

Here's the full list:

1. Madeira CSD $1,372.58
2. Finneytown LSD $1,299.00
3. Mariemont CSD $1,268.84
4. Loveland CSD $1,204.57
5. Mt. Healthy CSD $1,183.79
6. St. Bernard/Elmwood Place CSD $1,146.98
7. Wyoming CSD $1,126.31
8. Winton Woods CSD $1,112.26
9. Deer Park CSD $1,103.73
10. Milford EVSD $1,045.77
11. Lockland CSD $1,024.99
12. Cincinnati CSD $1,021.99
13. Forest Hills LSD $ 968.26
14. Sycamore LSD $ 929.29
15. North College Hill CSD $ 924.53
16. Norwood CSD $ 891.37
17. Reading CSD $ 856.67
18. Oak Hills LSD $ 819.56
19. Northwest LSD $ 818.80
20. Three Rivers LSD $ 781.61
21. Southwest LSD $ 698.59
22. Princeton CSD $ 692.93
23. Indian Hill EVSD $ 670.18

Great Oaks JVSD $ 59.15

Cincinnati CSD and Northwest LSD are not part of the Great Oaks Joint Vocational School District.

Clinton: Obama ad misleading

Minutes after her campaign event at the Skyline Chili parlor in Oakley Friday morning, Hilliary Clinton did a short interview with the Enquirer from her campaign bus. Some of the highlights:

A Barack Obama TV ad running in Ohio, Clinton said, is making a claim that is not true - that Obama has a health care plan that would cover all Americans.

"There are many experts - independent experts, we could provide you with a long list of them - who will tell you that what Sen. Obama has proposed will leave 15 million Americans without health insurance,'' Clinton said.

Her plan, she said, would allow any uninsured American to choose from one of the 250 plans now offered to members of Congress and their staffs.

The Obama campaign put out a statement later saying his plan is, in fact, "universal health" which would cut health care costs by up to $2,500 for the average family.

But Clinton insisted that there is nothing universal about Obama's plan.

"Universal health care has been a core value of the Democratic party since Harry Truman," Clinton said. Obama, she said, is "throwing in the towel on universal health care before the fight even begins. I don't undertstand that."

Clinton spoke with Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory before the Oakley event. Mallory is one of Ohio's uncommitted "superdelegates." He is being wooed by both campaigns - he plans to meet with Michelle Obama before the candidate's wife speaks at a 6 p.m. Obama rally at Music Hall.

Clinton said she and Mallory talked "mostly about my plans to help America's cities and his own agenda for this city. The kind of things the mayor wants to do here fits right in with my own ideas."

"Obviously, it would be wonderful to have his support,'' Clinton said. "But I am looking forward to working with him when I become president no matter who he supports."

The New York senator also said that Republicans who believe she will be easier to defeat in the fall than Obama are misreading her.

"The facts just don't bear that out,'' Clinton said. "I have beaten back Republican attacks before. I have surived the onslaught."

Mayor's day: Hillary in the a.m., Michelle in the p.m.

From the mayor's office. Note the "note"

Mayor Mallory to Meet with Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama on Friday

Event: Mayor Mallory to meet with Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama

Date: Friday, February 15, 2008

Times: Hillary Clinton in the morning; Michelle Obama in the evening

Locations: Hillary Clinton in Oakley; Michelle Obama at Music Hall

Details: Mayor Mallory will be meeting with both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama to discuss economic devleopment opportunities in Cincinnati and their plans for American cities.

Note: Mayor Mallory has not endorsed a candidate for President in the Democratic primary.

Contacts: Jason Barron, Mayor Mallory's Office, 513-352-5356, 614-554-5952

Clinton seeks votes and coneys

UPDATED 11:40 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is leaving Skyline now

Clinton, who is leading Obama in recent polls in Ohio, declared herself to be "the candidate of, for and from the middle class of America - the middle class that is the guarantor of the American dream - the backbone of America."

Clinton spoke for a little over an hour; then slowly made her way through the crowd, shaking hands and having her picture taken by one supporter after another.

UPDATED, 11 a.m.

Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton, in front of a large and enthusiastic audience at an Oakley chili parlor said the difference between her and Barack Obama is that he "makes speeches'' while she "offers solutions."

"That's what we do that our opponent does not,'' said Clinton, who came to the Skyline Chili on Madison Road for a hurriedly-organized campaign event that was not on the schedule until late last night,

"I have a plan to deal with the foreclosure problem here in Ohio and cover every American with health care in an affordable way,'' Clinton told a crowd of about 200 jammed into every corner of the chili parlor. "Sen. Obama has neither."

Clinton entered the side door of the restaurant at 10:16 a.m. - about half an hour late - with Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

Mallory - a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention who is uncommitted and being courted by both campaigns - introduced Clinton to the crowd and then left the building with his staff.

He is to meet with Michelle OBama later today, before her rally at Music Hall.

UPDATE, 10:20 a.m.

Hillary Clinton entered the side door of the Skyline Chili at 10:16 a.m., followed by Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, to a tumult of applause and dozens of people trying to snap cell phone photos of the candidate in the packed restaurant.


Howard Wilkinson reports from a "jam packed" Skyline Chili in Oakley, where nearly 200 people have jammed in awaiting Hillary Clinton. A fire marshal just arrived to talk to the Secret Service folks.

While the crowd jammed into Skyline waited for Clinton's arrival - she was running late - Misleh's Sklyline staff was preparing 20 three-ways and about 60 cheese coneys - a to-go order for Clinton's staff and the traveling press

Howard's pre-Hillary early report:

Kam Misleh, owner of the Skyline Chili in Oakley where Hillary Clinton will hold an economic roundtable this morning, may miss a little early lunch business today, but he doesn't mind.

"It's pretty exciting,'' said Misleh, who owns six Skyline parlors in Cincinnati. "I'm happy to help."

The Clinton event wasn't on the official campaign schedule as of last night, but was pulled together quickly - probably in response to an announcement Thursday that Michelle Obama would attend a rally of supporters later Friday at Music Hall.

Misleh, who is also a member of the Madeira school board, said he got a call from Hamilton County commissioner David Pepper about 8 p.m. Thursday night asking him if the Clinton campaign could take over one of his Skyline stores for a while on Friday morning.

"I checked with corporate; they were fine with it, as long as it is clear that Skyline is neutral in this race,'' said Misleh.

Misleh said he told Pepper they could do it at any one of his stores. The Madison Road location in Oakley was chosen.

Clinton is expected to arrive about 9:15 a.m. for a quick roundtable discussion of economic issues with a group of supporters who were also contacted by the campaign last night. Then, she will head to northeast Ohio for campaign events there.

Jeanne Durbin of Madeira had been working as part of a Clinton phone bank operation all day Thursday, calling Democrats in Cleveland urging them to go out to a Clinton rally there later today. She was making the calls from her home last night at about 8 p.m. when the phone rang and Pepper was on the line.

"David asked me to come down this morning and be part of this,'' said Durbin, who was first in line early Friday morning. "I was thrilled to do it."

Tom Conlan Jr., a long-time Democratic party activist, brought his granddaughter, 11-year-old Morgan Bochenek of Mount Washington, a fifth-grader at Sands Montessori School.

"It's a civics field trip,'' said Conlan.

Morgan is a budding politician herself - she ran for class president last fall and lost a close election, but is gearing up for another race.

She is a Hillary fan.

"I think she is standing up for girls and I like that,'' Morgan said.

Skyline Chili normally opens at 10:30 a.m., and don't serve breakfast.

RESPONSE from Obama campaign:

"Instead of attacking Senator Obama, Senator Clinton should explain to people in Ohio why in 2001 she voted for a bankruptcy bill that would have made it harder for working families to climb out of debt. Senator Clinton now claims she's 'glad' it didn't pass, but people in Ohio would have been glad if she'd actually stood with them when she wasn't running for President."

- Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Goodall supports zoo levy

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens is adding perhaps the biggest name yet to the list of supporters of its March 4 tax levy. World renowned primatologist Jane Goodall supports the zoo levy, according to the campaign.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to share with the leaders and residents of Hamilton County how respected and admired the Cincinnati Zoo is throughout the world,” said Goodall in a statement. “Your wonderful Zoo is a world-leader in conservation. I am quite certain that countless wonderful experiences and lifelong memories are created at your Zoo for the many children and families who visit. I am proud to be associated with the Cincinnati Zoo.”

The zoo is seeking a 0.46-mill renewal levy to pay for animal care and maintenance of buildings.
It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $9.44 a year, $1.78 more than they pay he pays now.

Cincinnati Pops Maestro Erich Kunzel, NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati wildlife artist John Ruthven have also endorsed the levy.

Voter guide misguides

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Voters in some of Cincinnati’s 2nd Congressional District neighborhoods have been scratching their heads over a Hamilton County Republican Party “voter’s guide” they found in their mailboxes this week.

The mail piece which found its way into thousands of mailboxes in neighborhoods like Hyde Park and Mount Lookout listed all the GOP endorsed candidates for offices from local judgeships to Congress. But many of the brochures sent into those 2nd District neighborhoods told them to vote for a candidate whose name they won’t find on their primary or general election ballots - Rep. Steve Chabot, the congressman from the 1st Congressional District.

No mention of Rep. Jean Schmidt, the party-endorsed candidate for re-election.
It seems the printing company the GOP hired to print and mail the flyers messed up big time.
“We’ve been getting calls about it non-stop,’’ said Maggie Nafziger, the Hamilton County Republican Party’s executive director.

The printing company, Nafziger said, mailed a stack of 1st District flyers to 2nd District residents. The mistake will be corrected; and 2nd District voters should see a new mailer in their mailboxes very soon with Schmidt listed instead of Chabot.

“And I guarantee you, the party won’t be paying for the new mailing,’’ said Nafziger.

Get your Michelle Obama details here!

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Michelle Obama, the wife of presidential candidate Barack Obama, will rally the Cincinnati troops at a Music Hall event Friday.

The Obama campaign said the rally kicks off at 6 p.m., but the doors will open at 5:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, said State Sen. Eric Kearney, one of the organizers of Obama’s Ohio primary campaign.

The candidate’s wife – a lawyer, like her husband - was last in Cincinnati last May, when she came in to raise money for the Obama campaign at the Indian Hill home of Democrat Barbara Gould.

Barack Obama has been campaigning mostly in Wisconsin, which holds its primary Tuesday, but is likely to make at least one appearance in Cincinnati before the March 4 Ohio primary.

Here's a good profile of Michelle Obama, from the New York Times

President Clinton to campaign in Ohio

From the Hillary Clinton campaign

President Clinton to Campaign for Hillary in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio for Hillary campaign today announced that former President Bill Clinton will campaign for Hillary in Toledo, Canton, Steubenville, and Marietta, OH on Sunday, February 17.

Red light petition a go

Green Party, COAST hop on board NAACP's no-red-light-camera bandwagon.

The NAACP announced last year it would file petitions for a charter amendment to prevent the cameras from being installed. Chris Finney, COAST's lawyer, agreed to do the legal legwork for free.

Tuesday NAACP President Christopher Smitherman made this announcement to its membership: The petitions are ready for signing.

"On Tuesday February 14, 2008 Attorney Christopher Finney filed a petition against red light cameras with the City of Cincinnati. City Council continues to posture that they will install red light cameras.

The Cincinnati NAACP is petitioning the government to have the voters of Cincinnati decide whether red light cameras should be installed. We need 8,000 valid signatures of Cincinnati voters to place the issue on the November ballot. The Green Party and Coast who were strong partners in the collection of signatures for the jail tax have joined the NAACP's efforts to collect signatures. We are honored to have their endorsement. Citizens who want to sign the petition can go by the NAACP office at 4439 Reading Road. Citizens who want to collect signatures can sign out a petition starting Friday, February 15, 2008 at 3:00 PM. The NAACP office number is (513) 281-1900. The NAACP membership again is advising City Council to not place cameras in our neighborhoods. Smitherman says, "City Council should not use red light camera revenue to balance the city budget. All citizens have the constitutional right to face their accusers in court. The mere nature of a camera taking a picture of a citizen's license plate undermines Cincinnati citizen's civil liberties". The Cincinnati NAACP's leadership is very confident that we will collect the needed signatures to place the red light camera issue on the ballot. "

Brinkman touts enviro-cred

Tom Brinkman, the conservative Republican Ohio lawmaker aiming to unseat Rep. Jean Schmidt as GOP candidate in the 2nd Congressional District, has no problem bucking party sterotypes on environmental issues.

Meeting with the Enquirer editorial board today, Brinkman pointed with pride to his endorsement from the League of Conservation Voters (http://www.lcv.org/). The organization had this to say about him:

"Tom Brinkman is a staunch advocate for the environment, as his 100 percent voting record in the Ohio House in the past three years has shown. He is the only Republican member of the Ohio General Assembly to be named a ‘Champion of Conservation’ by the Ohio LCV."

On the Democratic side, LCV endorsed both Victoria Wulsin and Steve Black. The group's bottom line, according to a news release: "LCV believes any of the three challengers would be a dramatic improvement over the incumbent."

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Big Clinton lead in Ohio, Quinnipiac poll says

Hillary Clinton enters the final three weeks before the Ohio primary with a lead of 21 percentage points over Barack Obama, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday morning.

It also shows that whoever presumptive GOP nominee John McCain faces this fall, it could be a very close race in Ohio, which will be a critical state for both party nominees.

Quinnipiac, which polls key presidential campaign states, 564 likely Democratic voters between Feb. 6 and this Tuesday, and the results were good news for a Clinton campaign that could use some: 55 percent of Clinton, 34 percent for Obama, with only nine percent undecided.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

The same poll surveyed 1,748 likely Ohio voters and showed a statistical dead heat in head-to-head match-ups with both Obama and Clinton. It showed McCain with 44 percent to 43 percent for Clinton. In a match-up with Obama, McCain took 42 percent to 40 percent for the Illinois senator.

Read the full poll here


From the McCain campaign:

Senator John McCain wins general election matchups versus Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, the two Democrats remaining in a protracted battle for their party's nomination, according to a Quinnipiac poll released today.

"Ohioans are already rejecting the irresponsible tax-and-spend policies promoted by Senator Obama and Senator Clinton," said Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine. "The Democrats will promise us the world, but they will only deliver higher taxes and out-of-control spending."

"The differences couldn't be clearer: Senator McCain has a long record of fighting to restrain spending and keep taxes low while the Democrats talk about going after people's wages to pay for their budget-busting plans."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Freedom Center wants to switch sides

Jessica Brown reports in Thursday's Enquirer:

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center wants to turn its back on the Banks – sort of.

Doubtful that the project will get done, the non-profit organization is seeking $1.4 million in state capital money to reconfigure its first floor to put a main entrance on the north side of the building facing downtown.

Read the full story here

It's Sid Caesar Day in Cincinnati

It's Sid Caesar Day in Cincinnati.

Mayor Mark Mallory declared it so to honor Clarence W. Caesar, a 52-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department. That's right: 52 years.

Caesar joined the department in 1955, working there 30 years before retiring. He took two weeks off, then went back to work as a crime scene investigator, a job he's had ever since. He's credited with helping send to prison many high-profile killers, including Chris Ballard, convicted last week of the murder of 11-year-old Tina Dukes 20 years ago, and serial killer Alton Coleman.

Caesar worked up until about two weeks ago, Police Chief Tom Streicher said, before going into the hospital and then to Hospice. His wife and children attended a proclamation ceremony at the start of council's meeting Wednesday, but Caesar could not. About two dozen colleagues showed up to support the family.

A good place to talk local politics

Start your own threads at Cin Weekly's politics discussion board here

Boehner endorses McCain - updated

UPDATED 6 p.m.

Here's the Democratic reaction:

With Friends Like These...Boehner Says McCain's Ideas Are "%$*!," Voinovich Says He Can't Manage

(COLUMBUS)- Today John McCain announced the endorsement of Ohio Republican and House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, a man who described John McCain's immigration plan as a "piece of %$*!." Boehner's lukewarm nod for Senator McCain comes on the heels of another mixed bag endorsement from Ohio Senator George Voinovich, who recently told the Cincinnati Enquirer that McCain was "sorely lacking in management experience."

"John McCain's two biggest Ohio supporters have informed us that the Senator can't manage and that his ideas are garbage," said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. "Despite his shameless pandering to the far right and promises of a third Bush term, John McCain's doubletalk is clearly alienating everyone, even members of his own base."


Boehner: Immigration Bill Is...
Voinovich: McCain Can't Manage

Diana Marrero of Gannett News Service reports:

WASHINGTON - Celebrating fresh victories in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, John McCain spoke to House Republicans Wednesday in an effort to shore up support among conservative leaders.

McCain, who has often clashed with Republican leaders, said he was ready to unite his party. His speech at the Capitol Hill Club marked his second day on Capitol Hill trying to convince his congressional colleagues to rally around him.

House Republican leader John Boehner of West Chester, who previously said he would not endorse the Arizona senator because he was chairing the GOP convention, threw his support to McCain after the speech Wednesday, saying he would be the eventual candidate.

"Clearly I've had some disagreements with Sen. McCain over the years," he said, going on to praise McCain for his unwavering support for the war in Iraq. "That type of leadership takes courage."

McCain addressed Republican senators, including those who have traded barbs with him, during their policy lunch on Tuesday.

Asked how it felt to return to his day job as a senator, McCain joked that he was "an outcast and a pariah."

"My colleagues have embraced me," he said.

McCain won Tuesday's "Potomac Primary" but did not receive support among conservative voters in Virginia, who largely voted for Mike Huckabee.

The former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher has been described as an "irritant" by the McCain campaign. But McCain said Wednesday that he respected Huckabee's right to stay in the race.

"He is a man of integrity," McCain said. "He has every right to continue this race for as long as he wants to. In the meantime, we will be trying to gather more support and more momentum for the campaign."

Even so, McCain is trying to turn his attention to the general election, saying Wednesday that "there is going to come a time when we have to get into specifics" -- a jab at Democrat Barack Obama whose message of hope has appealed to many voters.

"I believe that I and my party, which is a center right conservative outlook, will prevail over the big government, big spending Democrats," he said.

GOP rooting for Hillary Clinton in Ohio

Howard Wilkinson reports:

One of the worst-kept secrets of the Ohio presidential primary is that Republican party leaders have a candidate they are rooting for on the Democratic side.

Her name is Hillary Clinton; and they believe that if she wins the Ohio primary and goes on to become the Democratic nominee, she will be the one who unites their dispirited and divided party and give them their best chance of keeping the White House this fall.

Read the full story here

Debates? Maybe, maybe not

The Associated Press is reporting:

CLEVELAND – Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she is willing to debate Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama in the northeast Ohio city of Youngstown. She hedged on an MSNBC-sponsored debate in Cleveland because of a comment a network anchor made about Chelsea Clinton.

“Let’s say that it’s the only one I haven’t accepted. I’ve accepted every other debate as of this time,” Clinton told Cleveland’s WKYC-TV in a satellite interview from Arlington, Va., when asked about the debate, which would be broadcast by the NBC-affiliated station on Feb. 26, a week before Ohio’s primary.

MSNBC’s David Shuster suggested the Clinton campaign had “pimped out” 27-year old Chelsea by having her place phone calls to Democratic Party superdelegates on her mother’s behalf. He apologized last week and was temporarily suspended from appearing on all NBC news broadcasts except to offer his apology.

The campaign earlier said the comment could endanger Clinton’s participation in future presidential debates on the network.

Asked what might change her mind about the Cleveland debate, Clinton responded, “We’ll see how this plays out. I’ll follow it.”

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama committed to the Cleveland event “because it would reach far more Ohioans than the other debates that have been proposed – airing on broadcast television throughout the state in both English and Spanish.”

A message seeking comment was left at MSNBC.

Clinton on Tuesday talked to 10 stations in Ohio, Texas, which also has a March 4 primary, and Wisconsin, which holds its primary next Tuesday.

She told Youngstown’s WFMJ-TV, an NBC affiliate, that she was willing to accept a debate with Obama in Youngstown, a traditional Democratic stronghold.

“I’ll accept right now,” Clinton said.

Superdelegates are elected officials and other members of the Democratic National Committee who serve as unpledged convention delegates. They’re expected to play an important role in selecting the nominee if the delegate contest between Clinton and Obama remains close.

Clinton said she was determined to make a major effort in Ohio and would campaign in the Youngstown area on Thursday.

“I will be all over the state,” she told the Youngstown station.

She underlined the importance of Ohio in a satellite interview with WCPO-TV, an ABC affiliate in Cincinnati. “Ohio is really going to count in determining who our Democratic nominee is going to be,” she said.

Obama to announce "key" endorsement

We'll let you know who it is as soon as we find out. Any guesses?


COLUMBUS, OH — The Obama Campaign in Ohio will hold a conference call with reporters today to announce a key endorsement.

WHAT: Conference Call to Announce Key Ohio Endorsement

WHEN: TODAY – Wednesday February 13th, 1 PM EST

UPDATE - The secret's out. It's David Wilhelm of Bexley. Does that count as "key?"

Chelsea Clinton in town tonight

From Sean Parker of SW Ohio for Hillary Clinton :

Chelsea Clinton will be in town tonight meeting with area young professionals.

Those interested in attending should meet at Sully's (700 Race St.) at 7:30 pm tonight.

Chelsea will be there, following a busy day of campaigning across the state, with events in Columbus, Delaware, and Dayton. Chelsea campaigns in Cleveland and Akron on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Chelsea's mom, Hillary, will be in Ohio tomorrow and Friday - but up north.

She's got rallies in Youngstown Thursday and Lyndhurst Friday.

What would you ask Chelsea? Tell us here

Attention Bush donors: You'll be getting a call

Howard Wilkinson and Cliff Peale report:
When John McCain landed Indian Hill business executive Mercer Reynolds this week, a long-time friend, fund-raiser and business partner of President Bush, it was a clear sign that the GOP establishment is getting behind his candidacy.

Reynolds, who raised a record $273 million as finance chairman of Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, will be one of a team of fund-raisers around the country given the job of building a war chest for McCain – a Republican who was not the first choice of many of the party’s major donors and fund-raisers.

"I’m trying to bring in those people who were my friends in the last campaign who have not signed on with the senator," Reynolds told the Enquirer on Wednesday. "So I’ll be calling them."

With a huge lead in the delegate count and President Bush’s vow that he would support him if he is the nominee, McCain is expected to garner support from most big Republican donors here, ranging from Reynolds’ business partner Bill DeWitt to Reds owner Bob Castellini – all of whom have long and close ties to President Bush.

Mike DeWine, the former U.S. senator from Ohio who is chairing McCain’s campaign in the Buckeye State, said Reynolds’contacts and fund-raising prowess would extend far beyond Cincinnati and Ohio.

“Mercer is the kind of person who can help Sen. McCain all over the country,’’ DeWine said. “He knows everybody.”

While some conservative leaders around the country have balked at the idea of McCain as their party’s nominee, Reynolds said Wednesday he is convinced that attracting money and support for McCain among Republicans is not a difficult sell.

"He’s a conservative in every sense of the word," Reynolds said in a telephone interview from Wyoming state. "He’s the most likely candidate to win the election. Also, he’s going to consolidate the president’s legacy in Iraq, and that’s important to conservatives."

Reynolds said he waited until Mitt Romney suspended his campaign before deciding to support McCain. "Once Romney dropped out, it became clear," he said. "I didn’t want to wait two or three more weeks."

Reynolds served as ambassador to Switzerland during Bush’s first term. He and DeWitt were the chief fund-raisers for Bush’s 2005 inaugural.

Eight years ago, when McCain battled Bush for the GOP nomination, Reynolds was an early financial backer of Bush as was most of the Cincinnati business community.

DeWitt and Reynolds have personal and business ties with Bush which go back to the 1980. They were partners with Bush in an oil exploration company named Spectrum 7 and, later, with Castellini and Cincinnati broadcasting executive Dudley Taft, were partners with Bush in the ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Local Rep wants Ohio English only

Jon Craig reports from Columbus:

A Green Township Republican Tuesday introduced a bill to make English the state’s official language.

Rep. Bob Mecklenborg, who was appointed to the Ohio House in October, is being challenged in the March 4 primary election by Dick Hammersmith, a conservative political consultant.

“I think it’s a real good bill,’’ Mecklenborg said, noting it has the support of House Speaker Jon Husted. “The passage of this bill will ensure that. . .in order for (Ohio’s) actions, laws and business to be considered authoritative and legal, they must be communicated in the English language.”

House Bill 477 is similar to a bill introduced in March 2006 by State Rep. Courtney Combs, a Republican from Hamilton. That bill died without any votes taken in the last legislative session.without action in the State Government Committee.

Mecklenborg’s bill requires use of the English language by all state and local government entities in official actions and proceedings. The legislation is not meant to infringe on each Ohioan’s right to choose their primary language for personal communication, he said.

Public state and local entities would be bound by the new law. Private organizations, companies and individuals would not be affected.

Under Mecklenborg’s bill, state and local agencies would be required to create an additional line item in their budgets to demonstrate the amount of funds used for providing services in languages other than English and how they spent those funds.

“This bill also has an important symbolic function because it sends a clear and concise signal to all those who want to participate in our state as citizens that there are responsibilities, as well as benefits,” Mecklenborg said in a statement. “Recognition that English is the official language of the state is such a responsibility.’’

There are several exceptions in the bill, including exemptions to comply with federal law or to promote public health and safety.

TIVO alert: Howard Wilkinson on MSNBC tonight

The Enquirer's own Howard Wilkinson is scheduled to be on MSNBC tonight at 9:11 p.m. during coverage of the "Potomac primaries" tonight. He'll be talking, of course, about Ohio's March 4 primary.

No point in adding a photo here - Howard is the feller at bottom left.

John "No Earmarks" Boehner launches website

From the office of West Chester's Rep. John Boehner, the House GOP Leader

House Republicans Launch Earmark Reform Website

EarmarkReform.House.Gov Will Be Hub for Earmark Reform News, GOP-Led Reform Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her Democratic colleagues have rejected House Republican calls for an immediate moratorium on all taxpayer-funded earmarks, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today announced a new, dedicated resource in the House Republicans’ ongoing fight to change the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars. House Republicans have launched a website focused solely on earmark reform, serving as a hub for news and information regarding House GOP efforts to hold the Majority to its promises to fundamentally overhaul the taxpayer-funded earmark system. The website can be found at http://earmarkreform.house.gov and includes a web video from Boehner introducing this first-of-its-kind resource.

“The earmarking process in Congress has become a symbol of a broken Washington,” said Boehner. “While families struggle with rising costs of living, politicians are wasting their money on pork-barrel projects we don’t need. This website will keep tabs on the Majority, which refuses to join House Republicans in supporting an earmark moratorium, and will chronicle our efforts to begin changing the way Washington spends taxpayers’ money.”


CincyPAC invites congressional candidates to event

CincyPAC will hold a Congressional Candidate Meet & Greet Feb. 21 at Mixx Lounge on Main Street

The political action committee for young professionals is inviting all of the District 1 and District 2 Congressional Candidates to attend the event.

What: Congressional Candidate Meet & Greet with Greater Cincinnati Young Professionals

When: Thursday, February 21, 2008 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

Where: Mixx Lounge on Main St.

Questions or to RSVP: Email Sean@cincypac.com

Cincinnati media watch

From Robert Novak's column Monday:

Republican political operatives close to President George W. Bush are floating the name of one of his former Cabinet members, ex-Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio, as John McCain's vice presidential running mate.

Portman, at age 52, would be two decades younger than McCain, built a lifetime American Conservative Union voting record in Congress of 89 percent, and has both high-level executive and legislative experience. His biggest asset is coming from Ohio, which was a presidential swing state in 2004 and may be one again in 2008.

After starting in Washington as an aide to the senior President Bush, Portman served 12 years in Congress representing a Cincinnati district and rising to the chairmanship of the House Republican leadership. He left the House in 2005 to become U.S. trade representative and later director of the Office of Management and Budget.

From Broadcasting & Cable Monday

Presidential campaigns can be a mixed bag for local stations. While there is plenty of campaign cash out there-Barack Obama raised a stunning $32 million in January-broadcasters are beholden to strict Federal Election Commission rules that guarantee candidates the lowest unit price for airtime.

"It's a double-edged sword," says Bill Fee, general manager of WCPO, the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate in Cincinnati.

Ohio will hold its Democratic and Republican primaries on March 4 along with Rhode Island, Vermont and delegate-rich Texas. Fee says WCPO received requests for airtime availability from Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama the morning after Super Tuesday.

"Because we're only four weeks out," says Fee, "a [station] will probably have to pre-empt its regular advertisers [for federal candidates], which we are required to do. That is an inconvenience to our advertisers and to the station. So not every political dollar that comes in to Ohio over the next four weeks is actually added money. It's an example of taking two steps forward and one back."

But Scripps, which also owns a station in Cleveland, should reap a windfall because stations in hotly contested states typically sell out every commercial position.


Hillary wins the prize: a Mr. Right Stuff endorsement

It's always a good thing for a Democrat running in Ohio to have the most popular Democrat in the history of Ohio politics on your side - that being John Glenn, the former senator and astronaut.

Glenn will hook up with Gov. Ted Strickland in Columbus Tuesday afternoon to throw his support behind Hillary Clinton.

Glenn is 86 years old and hasn't been on a ballot in Ohio since 1992, but he is still revered (not a word often used in reference to politicians) by a whole lot of people in his native state - particularly the older, blue-collar Democrats Clinton desparately needs to win Ohio on March 4.

It's no guarantee, but it never hurts to stump around Ohio (as Clinton plans to do Wednesday and Thursday) with the astronaut by your side.

In Ohio, one John Glenn equals about three Ted Kennedys and about six John Kerrys.
Take our online poll on Hillary Clinton.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Time to Choose" event in Oakley

From the Hamilton County Democratic Forum:

For more information, contact:
David Altman (513-721-2180)
David Cook (513-721-0444, ext. 151)


Democratic candidates for the 2nd Congressional District and representatives of the two leading presidential candidates will meet with voters and answer questions at a public forum to be held Tuesday, February 19, from 7-9 p.m. at the 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley.

The event, with the theme “Time to Choose,“ is sponsored by the Hamilton County Democratic Forum.

Scheduled to participate are Victoria Wulsin and Steve Black, who are vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Congress from the 2nd District, and campaign representatives for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In each of the two sessions, guests will make brief statements and answer questions from a three-person panel. The public will then have the opportunity to ask questions. The presidential forum will begin at 7 p.m.; the Congressional forum will follow at 8 p.m.

The February 19 forum will be one of the few times the Congressional candidates will present their positions from the same platform.

The event is free and open to all.

The Hamilton County Democratic Forum is an independent group of progressive citizens interested in promoting public dialog on issues of critical importance to the region and the nation.

Good Financial News? Let's Fight About It!

Councilmembers went quickly through today's finance committee agenda - until Chairman John Cranley decided to highlight parts of the city manager's budget status report for 2007.

In the report, Milton Dohoney writes that the city's general fund ended the year with a carryover amount of $13.3 million, $4.8 million more than anticipated.

Sounds kinda like a good thing, huh? Cranley thought so: "There's a lot of good news in this report."

But Jeff Berding jumped in, saying the numbers showed the budget passed in December is "structurally unbalanced."

Chris Bortz agreed, reminding that he'd recognized the "structural imbalance" of the budget back in December before council passed it. He cited the inclusion of an estimated $1 million from red-light cameras tickets as one of the problems - an amount of money used to help balance the budget, yet no one really knows how much money, if any, such cameras might bring. The cameras, of course, were among the things Cranley added in to the budget.

Cranley took offense to any allegation that council had done something wrong in its budgeting: "Everything council did was budget-neutral."

Budget Director Joe Gray tried to explain that everybody was a little bit right. He said the budget was balanced, but that some of the carryover balance had to be used to make it so.

Read the documents here.

Chamber noncommittal on Portune's airport idea

Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development Doug Moormann Monday urged a “cautious” approach to discussions about restructuring the board that governs the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.

Commission President Todd Portune has proposed the board be reconfigured in a way that gives Cincinnati and Hamilton County more of a say in the management of the airport.

Moormann said perhaps some “refinements” can be made, but stopped short of endorsing or rejecting Portune’s idea.

“We need to be a little bit cautious in how we approach the board because everyone is concerned about the future and we need to have a unified front to maintain a maximum level of service,” said Moormann.

Moormann’s comments came after a staff meeting Monday of the Hamilton County Commissioners during which Portune discussed his proposal with Moormann and others.
The issue arises as talks of a potential merger between Delta Air Lines and another airline heat up and worries swirl about whether the region will lose its hub.

Portune and other local elected officials hope to use the opportunity to change the way the airport operates. Portune believes the airport currently is managed to serve Delta’s interests, rather than the region’s. That’s part of the reason the merger or potential loss of the Delta hub is causing such panic, he said.

“We need to plan for the future of the airport irregardless of whether Delta merges or not,” said Portune.

Hamilton County’s representative on the Kenton County Airport Board, Jim Miceli, has no voting rights on the board. He is, however, involved in committees, the recommendations of which are almost always accepted by the board, Miceli said.

It's unclear how much impact, if any, these discussions will have.

County commissioners actually have no power to change the structure of the airport board. They can only gather political support for the effort.

The board’s structure is governed by the Kentucky legislature. Portune and county Auditor Dusty Rhodes are asking the Ohio governor and legislators to talk to their counterparts in Kentucky about the issue.

Portune and Rhodes also revived a 2006 proposal to provide luxury charter shuttles to other lower-fare airlines within a 200-mile radius in order to put pressure on Delta to lower its fares.
Portune says the airport’s higher-than average ticket prices hurt small businesses and prompt some travelers to drive to other airports for cheaper flights. He blamed this on the airport management too.

“The airfare is symptom of a larger problem: the airport management structure,” Portune said. “We have to make that structure a priority.”

Monday he asked Moorman, who handles airport issues for the chamber of commerce, to broach the restructuring idea with the chamber. He also sought the opinion of Sandy Fidell, the county’s airport consultant, and Miceli, both of whom joined the meeting via telephone.
Rhodes said creating a Delta hub at CVG was a bad idea from the start.

“The airport board 20 years ago made a bad decision,” he said. "That has resulted in higher fares and now we’re going to be hit again when the airport hub pull out.”

Moorman, though concerned about the high prices, noted the Delta hub has had some benefits including increasing foreign investment in the area because of its international service and non-stop flights to other countries.

To that, Rhodes responded that Delta “gets a lot of credit they don’t deserve.”

Fidel had some interesting facts to add to the dicussion:

He said ticket prices at CVG average $100 to $200 higher than other airports which, over the years, has sucked $15 billion to $30 billion from regional economy.

He said Delta’s monopoly on the airport can spell trouble for the local economy and local travelers if Delta’s interests don’t coincide with Greater Cincinnati’s interests, he said.

“The airport board answers to Delta before it answers to any other interest,” said Fidel. “The airport is being run for the benefit of one commercial enterprise. To the extent those interests coincide with the region, that’s well and good. To the extent that it coincides with it (the hub) being a cash cow” it may not be good, he said.

Fidel also noted the airport had to add more runways to support the Delta hub and that Delta uses “predatory pricing to make sure no effective competition occurs,” he said.

As for the shuttle service, Fidel said the idea has worked well in other areas and could encourage competition in Cincinnati.

Portune said the county shouldn’t run the service, but suggested it do some research and development on the issue.

Commissioner Pat DeWine agreed the airport board should be restructured. But he disagreed that the county should get involved with the shuttle service, even in a research role.

“I don’t see that the role of county government, he said. “That should be done by the private sector. If there’s a market for it someone should go out and do it.”

Super-delegate Sherrod: No favorite yet

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of Ohio’s Democratic “super-delegates” being courted by the Clinton and Obama campaigns, said he won’t commit to one candidate or the other until after Ohio’s March 4 primary – and maybe not then.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,’’ Brown said in a meeting with the Enquirer’s editorial board Monday.

Brown said he would be guided, in part, by how Ohio Democrats vote when they go to the polls March 4, although he said he may wait even longer than that.

Ohio will have 162 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Brown is one of 39 ‘super-delegates” who are party leaders, elected officials and others named by the party. The super-delegates not bound by the March 4 primary results; and are being heavily courted by both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama camps.

Brown said both campaigns are lobbying for his vote.
One night recently, he said, he was at home when the phone rang and the person on the other end said: “President Clinton would like to speak with you.”

“When he came on the line, I stood up,’’ Brown said. “My wife said, ‘you wouldn’t have stood up if it had been President Bush calling.’’’

Brown said that of the two candidates – both Senate colleagues – he knows Clinton the best.
“Her office is right across the hall from mine,’’ Brown said. “I see her all the time. I don’t know Barack as well.”

The Wulsin Effect?

The Wulsin Effect? Victoria Wulsin, a Democrat trying for the third time to unseat Rep. Jean Schmidt in the 2nd District congressional race, told the Enquirer editorial board Monday that she has not yet chosen a favorite in the presidential campaign. "We have two superb candidates" in Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, she said. "Right now, it's a toss-up."

Asked which candidate would be of more help to her in the general election (assuming she wins the nomination on March 4), Wulsin said the question should be turned the other way, given that she came within less than one percentage point of winning in 2006.

"Because I have done better than any Democrat has ever done in the district," she said, "in a way, the presidential candidate will be riding my coattails."

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Cincinnati media watch

We're keeping an eye on how Cincinnati folks - or the region itself - plays in national political reports.

Some recent highlights:

Cincinnati expert quoted on how presidential election will affect certain stocks in a Feb. 7 sotry on CNNMoney.com

Generally, the issue is "what sectors will see more resources directed at them (which should be good for stocks in that sector), versus less," wrote Michael Ferguson, associate professor of finance at the University of Cincinnati, in an email to CNNMoney.

From looking at their stated views, it would be fair to assume that defense industry stocks would do better under McCain than Obama or Clinton, he wrote, although regardless of who wins, defense spending is likely to stay strong.

Similarly, drug stocks would probably do better under McCain than Obama and Clinton. The same is likely with insurance and health services companies. That's partly because McCain is against federally-mandated universal health coverage and Obama and Clinton are both for it.

From National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation on Feb. 7, hosted by Neal Conan. Among his guests were Emily Bazelon, a senior editor at Slate.com

CONAN: Bye-bye. Here's an e-mail from Davida(ph) in Cincinnati. (Reading) We are a Shriver-Schwarzenegger household - not because of our fabulous looks - we live in Cincinnati, and I was going to propose to my husband having a yard sign for Obama for the primary. The concession on my part is to let him have a McCain yard sign in October and November if Hillary wins the nomination. Since I don't think Hillary can win Ohio in a general election, I thought, I would be in the winning spot in this deal, but after hearing about Hillary has loaned to her campaign, my husband will not accept the offer.

Ms. BAZELON: Oh, no. A deal is scuttled by the news.

Thomas: I won't denounce Caton promotion

UPDATED, Feb. 12, 10:45 a.m.: Chris Smitherman issued this release, about this article:

Dear Membership and Community,

I wanted to put some context on the article below for those of you on our email list who are outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Councilman Cecil Thomas is a former Cincinnati Police Officer, Chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee, and an African American Male.

As the Chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee he has the power to do much more.

Christopher Smitherman
Cincinnati NAACP President

Jane Prendergast reports:

Cincinnati NAACP President Christopher Smitherman will get another chance Tuesday to tell city officials why he objects to the promotion of an officer involved in a suspect’s death.

City Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee, led by Chairman Cecil Thomas, a former police officer, will hold a hearing Tuesday on a pending resolution written after NAACP members filled council chambers Jan. 30 to oppose the promotion of Patrick Caton to sergeant.

The crowd opposed to the promotion asked council to denounce the promotion. They also asked that Caton be put on desk duty pending two psychological exams and that the officer’s every interaction with an African-American be monitored.

The resolution, presented by Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls, doesn’t do any of those things. Instead, it urges council to study what might be done to improve the system that allowed the promotion, including civil service rules, union contract negotiations and state law.

Thomas says he’s not going to denounce the promotion either, pointing out the city already did what it could through the courts to fire Caton.

“I’m not going to go back through all that,” he said. “I’m not going to even entertain that discussion.”

Smitherman will be the only one to speak on the issue, Thomas said, but he’ll be given “plenty of time.”

“We just have to move forward,” he said.

Caton was acquitted of assault in the 2000 death of Roger Owensby Jr., an incident for which the city ultimately paid $6.5 million to Owensby’s family. The city fired him, but was forced to rehire him in 2006 after courts upheld an arbitrator’s decision that a five-day suspension was the appropriate punishment. Caton was promoted last month based on his score of an exam he took last year.

He works third shift out of District 5, which covers much of the area around the University of Cincinnati as well as Northside, Winton Hills and College Hill.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Political cornucopia

Dems gird for battle, Clermont County straw poll, where our presidential donations have gone - have at it folks

Stories here and here

Jim Borgman
Today at the Forum
Paul Daugherty
Politics Extra
N. Ky. Politics
Pop culture review
Who's News
Roller Derby Diva
CinStages Buzz....
The Foodie Report
Classical music
John Fay's Reds Insider
High school sports
UC Sports
CiN Weekly staff