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, April 18, 2008

More about the Allen-Winburn "Rapid Purge" plan

Want to know more about that plan by Judge Nadine Allen and Charlie Winburn to delete old warrants?

Here's the proposal.

Monzel: Clean Up The Trash

This is a New York City trash can. Note the $100 fine for dumping anything but street litter into it.
That's the same thing Councilman Chris Monzel wants to do here. He's introducing an ordinance to allow police officers who see inappropriate dumping into any of the city's 2,379 corner trash cans to fine the dumper $100. That's because the city's public services director, Andrew Glenn, says part of the reason the cans sometimes get full fast is that people stuff the cans with their personal trash.

Monzel's plan also would require any can about which someone called public services to complain be emptied within 24 hours. Glenn says all cans are emptied weekly, if not more often, but Monzel wants to put that in the form of a policy anyway.

Monzel expects his plan to be introduced in neighborhoods committee April 29.

(Photo courtesy of Monzel aide Bradford P. Beckett)
See a map of where all the trash cans are here (pdf)

Hillary picks up an Ohio superdelegate

Ohio's presidential primary is long gone, but the battle for Ohio's 21 superdelegates goes on.

Hillary Clinton picked up another one Friday, with an endorsement from northeast Ohio freshman congresswoman Betty Sutton.

By our count, that gives Clinton a 6-4 advantage over Barack Obama in Ohio superdelegates.

With Sutton, Clinton has Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Cleveland congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Patricia Moss of AFSCME, former Ohio AFL-CIO president Bill Burga and Ron Malone of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees.

Obama has picked up endorsements from Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, former Democratic National Committee chairman David Wilhelm, Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, and Ohio Teamsters leader Sonny Nardi.

That leaves 11 Ohio superdelegates still uncommitted, including the two to be chosen later by Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern.

Breakfast for Pepper

Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper is holding a fundraising breakfast April 29.

If you go, you'll not only get some food, you'll also hear Pepper's "update on progress being made at the County" and you'll be given the opportunity to share your ideas about and solutions for the future of Hamilton County

The minimum price is $100. The suggested contribution is $250.

The event will be Tuesday April 29 at 7:30 a.m. at the Queen City Club, 331 East 4th Street.

Information: 513-470-5047 or kimberly@kwa.us.com.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Missed Forms Could Cost City $1.1 million

City officials are trying to work something out with the Internal Revenue Service to reduce a $1.1 million penalty assessed because the Cincinnati Retirement System failed to send in 1099 forms between 2001 and 2005.

Retirees got their forms, but the federal government didn't. The system paid the correct taxes.

This was discovered during an IRS audit that started in March 2006, according to a memo Tuesday from City Manager Milton Dohoney's office.

The memo attributes the mistake to a new pension operating system installed in late 2000.

"Upon the data transfer and conversion," it says, "the function of filing 1099 forms was not accounted for. Additionally, administrative personnel changes during this period also resulted in miscommunication regarding CRS responsibilities related to IRS filings."

The city's finance director and CRS pension fund manager say procedures have been changed so "this non-filing error does not occur again."

City lawyers and an outside tax attorney are trying to work something out with the IRS.

Section 8 at The Banks?

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory angrily swatted down demands for public housing at The Banks on Wednesday, saying it was ill-timed and counterproductive to affordable housing efforts in the region.

"How dare they? How dare CMHA," Mallory said testily, the day after the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority voted to insist that the $1 billion riverfront development set aside a portion of the project for subsidized housing
Original post:

You may have read Greg Korte's story on that idea in this morning's Enquirer.

Here are some reactions from this morning's Hamilton County Commissioners meeting, from Jessica Brown:

- Commissioner Pat DeWine is against it.

"My answer is no," he said. "Taxpayers have already put enough money into The Banks."

- Commissioner Todd Portune declined to give a yes or no answer saying the question was "inflammatory."

When pressed, he said: "We can’t stop them from placing people at the Banks. They can buy condos" and use them for subsidized housing, he said. "The Housing Authority has the right to buy housing wherever they want. It’s against the law to stop it."

He said he supports the mix of housing approved by the city and county in The Banks Agreement, which includes housing at many price points. The condos will start at $150,000 making them the most affordable on the riverfront, he said.

- Commissioner David Pepper said: "I do not think it’s a good idea to throw in the element of subsidized housing at this time."

He said he supports The Banks being affordable for a diverse mix of income levels, which it is under the current plan, he said. But based on the tough real estate market right now, he doesn’t want to add a new element because it could throw off the balance of the project.

Portune noted that Pete Witte from the Housing Authority told him this morning that the organization had simply wanted to start a dialogue with the county about the need to scatter subsidized housing throughout the county rather than concentrate it all in a just a few neighborhoods. He supports that idea.

Purging old warrants: Good idea or 'amnesty?"

Thousands of people with old outstanding charges for crimes like petty theft, passing small bad checks and driving without a license would have those warrants erased under a proposal from a Democratic judge and a Republican former Cincinnati city councilman.

Read Jessica Brown's full story here

2nd Dist. campaign finances

Federal Election Commission reports on campaign finances in the 2nd Congressional District race show Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt has raised a total of $556,578 in this election cycle, and had $176,670 left on March 31.

Democratic challenger Victoria Wulsin raised $771,475 and had $212,410 left.

The reports also showed Stephen Black, who lost the Democratic nomination to Wulsin, raised $641,180, of which he contributed $278,353 himself. The FEC reports show his campaign's cash on hand on March 31 totaled $1,632.

Republican challenger Tom Brinkman raised $149,815 -- including $74,00 of his own money -- and had $1,560 left.

Phil Heimlich, who dropped out of the Republican race race before the primary, raised $367,183, and still has $200,061.

Dann: I'm not resigning

The Dispatch reports:

Attorney General Marc Dann brushed off any suggestion yesterday that he might resign as a result of sexual-harassment allegations bedeviling his office, saying the notion of stepping down "has never crossed my mind."

Read the full story here

Organizations recognized for "Going Green."

Dozens of local businesses and organizations will be recognized on Earth Day (April 22) for their efforts in "going green."

Mayor Mark Mallory and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune will host the recognition event at the Paul Brown Stadium that morning. The efforts are part of the "Go Green Challenge" coordinated by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center,
Christ Hospital, the University of Cincinnati, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, and the Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District. The mission is to encourage organizations to implement
environmental practices.

To see which groups are on the list,
click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

AFL-CIO looking for your videos

The AFL is looking for local folks to make a video for them:

From an AFL-CIO release:

The AFL-CIO today launched the "Turn Around America" video competition -- its first-ever online video contest. Winners will be announced nationally and in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati winner will win $1,000 and the video may be featured at AFL-CIO rallies and as a television ad. The effort is meant in part to engage voters and 2008 political candidates in a dialogue about what is necessary to get America back on track.

Read more here

"w marc dan .... drunnnnk"

The Plain Dealer reports:

She said she was drunk, "in a weird situation," and needed a ride home from Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann's apartment.

The woman's text messages to a friend last September are key evidence in sexual harassment accusations that she and another employee in the attorney general's office have lodged against Anthony Gutierrez, one of Dann's top aides.

The messages are not corrected for typos and include text abbreviations such as lol (laugh out loud). Not available are the text answers she received.

"Girl. . .im in a weird situation. .iem w marc dan. . . .drunnnnk," reads one.

Read the Plain Dealer's full story here

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This Week With Mark Mallory

At his weekly press briefing Tuesday, Mayor Mark Mallory said:

1. He'll be making a pitch Friday to national meeting planners in town learning about the city. He's meeting with them at a downtown Skyline and trying to convince them to bring their clients' meetings and events here. Four groups who visited Cincinnati on similar tours last year have scheduled events here, he said, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and Optimist International. He says those four events will equate to 6,661 room nights in hotels and $1.9 million in spending.

2. He'll be making an announcement Saturday related to Cincinnati's Sister Cities program - 9 a.m., Duke Energy Center, downtown. He didn't say what the announcement would be, only that he plans to visit all of Cincinnati's seven sister cities during his term/terms as mayor and that he hopes to reestablish and maintain relationships with all of the cities.

3. He heard an update Monday on the progress of the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence, or CIRV. That's the anti-homicide program copied after a 1990s one in Boston. He said the effects so far here have been dramatic with a 42% overall decrease in killings and a 61% decrease in "group-related" killings. The program's aim is to convince people who've been involved in prior crimes that were connected to groups (they don't like to say "gangs" because they say it's more loosely knit neighborhood types, not Crips and Bloods-type stuff) and see that they carry the message to the rest of the groups. That message? If anyone associated with the group is caught doing a homicide, the rest of his or her cohorts will feel the heat of law enforcement too.

4. He's attending a reception Saturday of the Black Lawyers Association and a symposium Monday of information technology officers from the 30 largest companies in the region, including Cincinnati Bell, Fidelity and Comair. Why? "To highlight that Cincinnati is a hot spot for information technology."

5. Friday morning, he'll help plant in Laurel Park, the West End, 50 trees donated by Mike Albert Leasing to commemorate the company's 50th anniversary. Members of the cast of The Guiding Light soap opera are expected to be on hand to assist. Mallory said he has never watched the show.

6. Re the merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest: "I think it's early yet. But I'm happy that Delta is committing that they're not apparently closing any hubs... Delta's presence in Cincinnati is very important to us."

7. The state legislature should pass a pending bill to give filmmakers tax credits for working in Ohio. "It is very, very important that we get that tool." He wants Cincinnati to be the "movie capital of Ohio."

8. He didn't know anything about the scandal in Columbus involving Attorney Gen. Marc Dann until he got a text about it Monday and went online to check out stories about it. Asked what he thought about it, he said, "It is what it is."

9. The plan to move ahead with streetcars could be on council's agenda next week. "A little more conversation needs to happen. We can probably get it wrapped up this week."

Berding: Take Cranley Off Arts Committee

There's a motion by Jeff Berding on council's agenda that calls for the removal of John Cranley from the Arts, Culture, Tourism and Marketing committee.

But it's not as juicy as it might sound. Cranley asked to get off the committee, Berding said Tuesday. And as chairman of the rules committee, Berding's the one to introduce a removal.

City rules require committees to have at least three members. So there's enough on arts (Chris Bortz, Roxanne Qualls, Laketa Cole, David Crowley and chairman Chris Monzel) without Cranley. And Cranley's on other committees too: economic development, law and finance, which he chairs. He's also on Qualls' transportation subcommittee.

Freedom Center lobbying for capital money

UPDATE: Freedom Center spokesman Paul Bernish said Jason Gloyd's letter is off base.

Bernish says the center is not lobbying legislators for state capital support at tonight's reception.

"We weren’t even going to talk about the state capital bill," Bernish said.

Bernish said the Freedom Center engages in outreach events frequently to update people on
what’s going on there. The event at State Street consultants' Columbus offices is just one of them, he said.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is co-hosting a Columbus reception for state legislators tonight at the offices of its State Street lobbyists Neil Clark, John Singleton and former Senate President Stanley J. Aronoff.

A copy of the invitation is here:

The event runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and coincides with the Freedom Center's efforts to secure nearly $3.8 million in state capital construction money this year.

The Cincinnati center received $2 million in the last capital budget in 2006.

State legislators have just begun reviewing requests. About $100 million in local requests will likely be approved this spring for parks, museums, stadiums and other community projects sponsored by individual legislators.

State Rep. Tom Brinkman, a Republican from Mount Lookout, who vigorously opposed the Freedom Center's last capital budget request, has written fellow legislators to encourage them to vote down this year's request.

Jason Gloyd, chairman of the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending & Taxes (COAST), wrote state legislators here about tonight's reception featuring Freedom Center CEO Donald W. Murphy and board co-chairman John Pepper, who is former chairman of Procter & Gamble.

The Freedom Center, which opened in August 2004, is dedicated to recognizing the fight to end slavery in the United States. The center offers interactive educational programs to promote an understanding of slavery and resistance movements.

The center's new request includes $1.5 million for exhibit renovations, $1.4 million to move its main entrance and $850,000 in state construction money promised in 1999.

In 2006, Pepper said the $2 million capital appropriation was a small part of the seven-year plan for building the Freedom Center, more than $60 million of which was funded privately.

The Freedom Center previously received more than $12 million from the state, of $15 million requested when it was built.

The plan all along was to have taxpayers finance 40 percent, or about $41 million of the center's $110 million construction.


Who's your kid voting for?

An amusing thread on CincyMoms, among them:

My son, 4 ½, told us that he wanted to vote for Ron Paul because, “financially, the dollar is worth so little, he (Paul) can help us”.

Obama b/c he said a girl can't be the pres!

"O rock Obama" (she is a little confused on the pronunciation)

You can read the full thread here

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Convention Center Money After All

City Council likely will consider Wednesday transferring more than $209,000 into the operating fund for the Duke Energy Center downtown.

The money, currently in an unappropriated surplus fund, comes from extra money the city hadn't budgeted for because of "projected insufficient resources," according to a memo from City Manager Milton Dohoney. "However, actual revenue for the Convention Center in 2007 was greater than anticipated..." Most of the money - $187,300 - will go for sales and marketing, with the remaining $22,000 going toward extra personnel for "enhanced oversight" of the city's contract with Global Spectrum, the private firm that manages the center.

The same ordinance also would transfer and appropriate $300,000 from the same surplus to the operating budget to cover a 5 percent contingencies reserve. That's required, the memo says, by the city's contract with Global Spectrum, which has operated the place since 2006.

Convention officials previously said things have been looking up for the convention business locally - conventioneers booked more than 176,000 hotel room-nights that pumped nearly $52.5 million into the local economy in 2007, an 8 percent increase from the more than 163,000 room-nights and $48.6 million the year before.

Local Rep calls Obama "boy"

Pat Crowley has the story here

More on the "deal"- breaker

It looks like things are intensifying in the effort to squash the "deal" between the Democrats and Republicans.

Tom Luken, former congressman and former Democratic Party Chairman, sent this terse e-mail to current party chairman Tim Burke.

And GOP leader Alex Triantafilou gives his take on his blog.

Dear Tim,

You have been widely criticized for allegedly cutting the voters out of the November election for County Commissioner, and for refusing to signify your consent to the candidacy of independent Democrat Dole who wants to provide opposition for Republican Hartman. Attached is a motion for the April 21 organizing meeting of theCentralCommittee in favor of Trustee Dole's endorsement.

We hereby make the
following proposal to cut the lawyers out of the procedures in the Central Committee handling this vote on April 21, for three reasons: 1) You are apparently assuming that you will chair the meeting which will vote on Dole, despite your repeated public statements of categorical opposition to his endorsement. 2) The present status of rules is problematical because the new Central Committee has just been certified (April 5) and has not adopted rules, and 3) the Byzantine rules of the Central Committee as they have been interpreted by you recently are suspect, to say the least.

We suggest that you publicly agree (immediately because of time restraints) that the attached Dole endorsement motion be voted on at theApril 21 meeting, up or down with no amendments, and that such a vote be taken before rules are adopted, and that the portion of the meeting wherein this endorsement is considered, be co-chaired by yourself and one of us (your choice) who will act as temporary co-chairman for that purpose.

You have been quoted in the media as opposed to Dole even though you state that he is a "respected trustee and motivated" among other laudatory sttements, so we can agree he should get completely fair treatment.

Also you will recall that Mr. Luken, undersigned, wrote you on January 15 and requested that you convene a special meeting of the County Central Committee to consider these same matters (for the reason that under the "rules"of the committee only the Chairman had the power to call a meeting of the Central Committee), and your reply, attached, denied Mr. Luken's request. We were unwilling to submit Dole's endorsement before the Executive Committee or any other committee which is made up of other than elected precinct executives. Your wish, apparently, was to take up Dole's endorsement before the expanded committee consisting of 200 elected by the voters and 700 appointed by you.

This is a packed committee. We should add that prior to the packed committee meet earlier this year you sent two or three notices to the members warning that endorsements or any motions or resolutions would not be considered by the executive committee unless such were submitted in a timelly fashion before the meeting. It is for that reason, and others thast we don't want this extremely important endorsement to be decided by technicalities, construed by lawyers. We read the papers and know that Mr. Chesley is already on hyour side as an architect of the deal.
We want the public in on this now. Copies are going to the press.

Chabot: Iraqis need to step up to the plate

Rep. Steve Chabot, who was due to arrive back in the U.S. later today after a four-day congressional trip to Iraq and NATO headquarters in Brussels, said the Iraqi government and military is moving too slow to take responsibility for their own country.

Chabot, a supporter of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, said in a written statement that after meeting with U.S. and Iraqi officials in Baghdad that the Iraqis "continue to rely too heavily on the U.S. and other allies to shoulder the military and financial costs of reconstruction."

"The time for the Iraqis to step up and provide for their own security and rebuilding efforts is long overdue,''' Chabot said in the statement.

Chabot's Democratic opponent in this year's election, State Rep. Steve Driehaus, said tht Chabot is "just now coming to the same conclusion that many of us came to several years ago - that the Iraq government has failed to live up to its part of the bargain."

Report on Fort Washington Way decks is in

Remember that story about what should be built on proposed Fort Washington Way decks?

Here's the final report.

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