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, March 28, 2008

Vote audit? No local counties have applied

Gongwer News Service, which covers Columbus, posted this update:


Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has 11 takers on her request for county election boards to volunteer for a voluntary post-election audit of presidential voting in the March 4 primary.

Under the plan, the county boards will randomly select whole precincts and corroborate voting results. The audits are to be initiated in the next few days following the final canvass of the primary election, and the boards have up to 10 days to complete their reviews.

Brunner spokesman Patrick Gallaway said at least 11 volunteers had stepped forward as of Thursday, however the list has yet to be finalized pending final approval by the local boards.
Expressing interest in participating are boards of election in: Athens, Belmont, Cuyahoga, Greene, Highland, Miami, Morgan, Sandusky, Summit, Trumbull and Tuscarawas counties, according to the secretary of state's office.

Officials in Clark and Franklin counties also made inquiries but had yet to notify the secretary's in writing, Mr. Gallaway said.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Political parties squabble over who's dirtier

Today's visit by President Bush to the U.S. Air Force's National Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base today triggered a flurry of accusations from state officials in both major political parties about who has accepted more tainted campaign contributions.

Bush was guest at a fund-raising lunch sponsored by the Ohio Republican Party -- after his Air Base speech -- at the Bellbrook home of Lisa and Marty Grunder.

Ohio GOP spokesman John McClelland said state Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern “is apparently all twisted up this week about a fundraiser we're hosting. . . Unfortunately, the Democrat Party boss would rather point fingers at everyone else than clean up his own house. The hypocrisy continues.”

Today’s fund-raising event was sponsored by the Ohio Republican Party. The Victory 2008 reception raised money for the state GOP's federal fund, which could help Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican Party’s likely presidential nominee.

The private GOP reception and photo opportunity with the president cost $10,000. A $1,000 campaign donation covered lunch only.

Redfern was critical that one of today’s fund-raising co-chairs was convicted of three misdemeanor money-laundering charges and fined $30,000 in 1993. Another owns a company that outsources jobs overseas.

“This speaks to the priorities of President Bush,” Redfern said in a statement. “George Bush comes to Ohio, not to address the faltering national economy or the foreclosure crisis, but to raise money from a job exporter and a money launderer on behalf of his protégé, John McCain.”

McClelland counterpunched by saying Redfern said nothing when Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Ray Miller of Columbus was fined for multiple campaign finance violations or it was revealed Gov. Ted Strickland received $10,000 in campaign cash from former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Strickland donated the money to charity after Republicans called on him to return it.

Read more about President Bush's visit here, and in Friday's Enquirer.

Labels: ,

Bush, part I

Bush still speaking, but here's an early story.

Prelude to Bush speech in Dayton

Statement by Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman:

"This speaks to the priorities of President Bush. George Bush comes to Ohio, not to address the faltering national economy or the foreclosure crisis, but to raise money from a job exporter and a money launderer on behalf of his protégé John McCain."

Then comes this from the Ohio Republican Party:
from the Ohio GOP State of the Union blog:

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern is apparently all twisted up this week about a fundraiser we're hosting. Since he's so focused on campaign finance issues right now, we thought he could take the opportunity to weigh in on some of his party's questionable fundraising practices:

  • Chris Redfern said nothing when State Sen. Ray Miller, the newly appointed leader of Ohio's Senate Democrats, was fined recently for multiple campaign finance violations dating back six years. Miller is now under investigation for campaign spending habits, and he previously faced prosecution for illegal use of state resources on behalf of his political campaign.
  • Chris Redfern said nothing as Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland kept his $10,000 in sleazy campaign cash from the disgraced former governor of New York while other politicians returned the money. (Strickland finally returned the contribution after we called on him to do so.)
  • Chris Redfern said nothing when Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner took campaign cash from Myron Cherry, a Chicago lawyer involved in a major corruption scandal that prompted other politicians to return his contributions.
  • Chris Redfern said nothing when Brunner was raising money at the home of Norman Hsu, a Democrat campaign contributor now facing federal corruption charges. Redfern also said nothing while Hsu was bankrolling Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, which was later forced to return thousands of dollars in contributions connected to Hsu.
  • Chris Redfern said nothing about Barack Obama's special favors for a longtime friend and political ally who helped Obama raise thousands of dollars in campaign cash and now faces federal corruption charges.

  • Chris Redfern said nothing about Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy steering lucrative county business to union contractors who bankrolled her 15th District congressional campaign.

  • Chris Redfern said nothing when a major Democrat contributor was found guilty of fraud after losing more than $215 million in Ohio's workers' compensation investments.

  • Chris Redfern said nothing as Gov. Ted Strickland and other statewide Democrat officeholders were accused of "corrupting themselves out of office" by doing major political favors for campaign contributors.

The list goes on. Unfortunately, the Democrat Party boss would rather point fingers at everyone else than clean up his own house. The hypocrisy continues.

Various Items From Cincinnati City Council

As if the name of Councilwoman Laketa Cole's committee wasn't already long enough, council added parks to it Wednesday. So now it's apparently the Vibrant Neighborhoods, Recreation, Public Services and Parks Committee.

Council appointed two people to vacancies on the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission: Nseabasi Ufot and Sandra Spinner. Both of their terms continue until Jan. 31, 2011.

Councilman John Cranley, a partner in the City Lights company that's redeveloping the area of East Price Hill around Queen's Tower, said his company had nothing to do with the recent demolition of a house on Mt. Hope Avenue. The house was once owned by the Price family for whom Price Hill was named.

Council agreed to amend the city's ordinance governing the "possession or sale of wild or potentially dangerous animals" to mandate that any entertainer who uses such animals to entertain the public must be properly licensed according to requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The new rule comes out of the controversy last year at the Hamilton County Fair in Carthage, where a pizza-eating bear was kicked out of the fair by officials because the weather was too hot.

MMF, A Former Frisch's and Some Terse Emails

In case you haven't heard, there's been somewhat of a battle brewing at City Hall over what to do with the former Frisch's restaurant at Fourth and Race streets downtown.

Council's economic development committee, led by Chris Bortz, passed a motion Tuesday to allow MMF Realty LLC to buy the building for $250,000. The full council agreed to the same deal Wednesday. Holly Childs, economic development director, indicated the city had another offer of $750,000.

Councilman Jeff Berding -- he said Bortz asked him to shepherd the legislation -- said it doesn't really work to claim the building could be sold for more since MMF has a 99-year lease, agreed to in 2004. That, he said, would be like saying your house is worth $500,000, but keeping it from being inhabited because someone else already leased it. In that situation, he said, the house isn't really worth much of anything.

In emails Tuesday and Wednesday, Bortz and Childs traded some harsh words. Childs said the city got an appraisal that said the building is worth $780,000. She said council's deal would only continue to subsidize a developer who has done a month's worth of demolition in the past 3 1/2 years.

Bortz said council's action avoided costly, risky and acrimonious litigation. Plus, he said, MMF has a vested interest in redeveloping the property because it already has invested in the next-door former McAlpin's store, which is now condos.

Bortz ended his last email with this: "In the future, when I extend an olive branch in a respectful disagreement, I expect that you would offer me the same kind of respect."

This could go on another week, since Mayor Mark Mallory put the issue on hold for more negotiations before next Wednesday's council meeting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Joe Nuxhall Way?

Jane Prendergast reports from City Hall:

Cincinnati City Councilman David Crowley today asked city council to rename the portion of Main Street that includes the ballpark Joe Nuxhall Way.

The Reds general offices at Great American Ball Park are at 100 Main Street.

Crowley wants the change to occur by June 10, the day set aside by the Reds to honor Nuxhall, who was a Reds player and broadcaster for 64 years.

Nuxhall died in November at the age of 79. An exhibit honoring Nuxhall is at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

No immediate response from other councilmembers about the idea.

What do you think about it?

Tim Ryan to Clermont: You don't know me, but....

If you are a congressman who would like a promotion to the U.S. Senate some day, the best way to do that is to get outside the confines of your little congressional district and start making yourself known in parts of the state where no one knows your name.

Which explains why the keynote speaker at this year's Clermont County Democratic Party's Golden Donkey Dinner on April 19 is none other than Tim Ryan, the Democratic congressman from Ohio's 17th Congressional District, which includes Youngstown.

Ryan is said to eyeing the Senate seat of Republican George Voinovich, which comes up again in 2010. Voinovich says he is running for a third term.

Some in the Democratic party tried to get Ryan to run in 2006 for the seat then held by Mike DeWine. But Ryan took a pass, and backed Cincinnati's Paul Hackett over Sherrod Brown, who, of course, went on to win the seat.

Ryan is not likely to let another opportunity pass him by. It's not surprising now to see him pop up on the Democratic rubber-chicken circuit.

Clermont County Democrats will hear from the congressman at their Golden Donkey Dinner, which is the party's big annual fundraising event. The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. April 19 at the Eastgate Holiday Inn. Tickets, by the way, are $60 a pop and are available at www.clermontdems.org.

Provisional count starts in Hamilton County

But they don't need to be finished until April 4.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bush heads to Dayton this week

From the White House:

Thursday, March 27

10:15 am THE PRESIDENT makes Remarks on the Global War on Terror
National Museum of the United States Air Force Dayton, Ohio

12:20 pm THE PRESIDENT attends a Republican National Committee Victory Reception
Private Residence Bellbrook, Ohio

Two more weeks before streetcar vote

Cincinnati City Council Finance Committee -- which includes eight of nine council members -- will wait another two weeks before voting on the streetcar proposal.

Chris Bortz didn't submit the motion he described last week, meant to set city officials to work seeking funds. Instead, Roxanne Qualls brought in a motion that would require the city to build a connector line -- David Crowley called it a "finger" -- from Over-the-Rhine to Uptown at the same time as the original downtown/OTR system.

After some wrangling between Bortz and chairman John Cranley (who opposes the city's plan), members agreed to give themselves another two weeks to come up with language that would let officials get started on the project, while promising to follow up with streetcars for Uptown.

Springer's back

The Hamilton County Democratic Party's perpetual infatuation with Jerry Springer carries on this week, as the Prodigal Son of Cincinnati politics returns once again for a big party fundraiser.

Every spring, the county party holds a Century Club fundraising dinner, one of its biggest events of the year. This year's edition takes place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the junior ballroom of the Duke Energy Center (tickets are $150 each, or $1,500 for a a table). Springer is being touted as the "guest of honor" but the featured speaker is Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray.

Cordray is something of a TV star himself -- in his younger days, he was a five-time champion on the game show Jeopardy, where he is still considered a legend. Unlike the "guest of honor," though, he has never refereed a slap-fight between two women on national television.

Say howdy to Steve today

Everyone's invited to Monday's open house at the brand-new Steve Driehaus for Congress headquarters in Cheviot.

The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. at Driehaus HQ, located at 3741 Glenmore Avenue, just south of Harrison Avenue.

While you are there saying hello to the Democratic candidate in the 1st Congressional District, chances are somebody will try to sign you up for some volunteer work. The Driehaus campaign is wasting no time -- they plan to start canvassing 1st District neighborhoods this Saturday, 220 days before the election.

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