ANANT BHATI: Local Democratic Party leaders selected Bhati last week to replace Dr. O’dell Owens as Hamilton County coroner; Owens is leaving to become president of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Bhati is Good Samaritan Hospital’s gynecology director and an ex-University of Cincinnati trustee. Bhati, 70, is a native of India who came to the United States 39 years ago. He lives in Indian Hill and will serve as a part-time coroner, which is how most county coroners in Ohio operate. By contrast, Owens was a full-time coroner who became active in anti-violence efforts. The county office has a $3.6 million annual budget and a staff of about 50 people. Bhati will fill the rest of Owens’ unexpired term, two years. He hasn’t yet commented about whether he will seek election then.
JIM ROGERS: At the same time that Duke Energy is seeking to have its personal property tax valuations lowered by $40 million — which would impact school districts across Southwest Ohio — the firm’s CEO is getting lavish perks.
Paperwork filed with federal regulators show CEO Jim Rogers received $6.93 million in compensation for 2009, which includes $363,573 for use of a jet within North America for business and pleasure. The documents say the use is needed “for security reasons,” but if House Speaker-elect John Boehner — third in line to the presidency — feels safe enough to use commercial aircraft, we suspect Rogers would be just fine, too. (Although he might not have as much leg room.) As noted on The Daily Bellwether blog, Duke has some of the highest electric rates in Ohio. Now we know why.
TOM CALLINAN: The Enquirer’s top editor reportedly is leaving the newspaper soon to accept a new professorship at the University of Cincinnati, although Callinan and UC are remaining mum for now. Sources say Callinan will become the university’s McMicken Professor of Journalism and begin by teaching one class in the winter quarter, with more to follow. That’s prompted a journalism industry guessing game about who will replace him at the troubled daily, with top contenders being ex-Enquirer staffer Rick Green, currently executive editor of The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., and Carolyn Washburn, executive editor at The Des Moines Register in Iowa. Callinan oversaw a corporate-mandated downsizing at The Enquirer, so it will be interesting to see what his successor can do with the remnants he left.
NADINE ALLEN: The Hamilton County common pleas judge sent a letter to The Enquirer asking for a retraction and public apology after it falsely stated in a Nov. 13 article that she ordered a $105,000 bond forfeited by a criminal suspect in June 2007, disbursed the money, then ordered it returned to the bond agent. Except it never happened. As Allen pointed out, “a simple check of the court records” would have revealed that no cash was disbursed or ordered returned by her. But three other judges did. Why is this important? Because the Republican-controlled Clerk of Courts Office is under fire for mishandling $2.1 million in bond money and is trying to use one of the few Democratic judges on the bench as a scapegoat. Nice try, fellas, but it won’t work — well, perhaps except with a gullible newspaper.