WEDNESDAY MAY 23
Mitt Romney has been the defacto GOP leader for more than a month, and with the Republican National Convention just three months away it’s time for the party’s vice presidential candidates to show their mettle, if by mettle you mean show how talented they are at talking mass stuff about President Obama. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie kicked off anti-Obama season by calling him the most ill-prepared president to take office during his lifetime, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal based his burn on things Obama actually did while in office, calling him the most incompetent president since Jimmy Carter (Ouch Jindal!). Among the haters hoping to join Romney in his quest to overcome his own business background, voting record, health care flip flopping and religion is Cincinnati’s own Rob Portman, whose biggest potential drawback — being white and male — has been initially viewed as less daunting than those of his competition, which include signing overly restrictive abortion laws and lacking the short game to contribute in competitive golf scrambles.
THURSDAY MAY 24
Campaign contributions are an important part of every politician’s support system, allowing the hiring of professionals to tell the public how cool they are and run TV ads articulating how big of a dick an opponent is. For this reason, there generally has to be something pretty weird going on for a politician to deny a contribution (“I did not believe in this business’ hiring practices, therefore I did not use their money to get reelected and then vote in favor of selling them a highway”). But when you’re on the wrong side of certain discussions — “The FBI is investigating a company connected to $100,000 in contributions to your campaign, bro” — a politician’s priorities can change in a hurry.
That’s exactly what happened today when Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel returned $105,000 from 21 donors affiliated with a northern Ohio direct-marketing company after the FBI wondered why so many employees of a single company would donate the maximum-allowable $5,000 even though they’d never donated to a political campaign and didn’t really make much money. Mandel’s campaign treasurer attributed the refunds to an “abundance of caution,” though she admitted that it was probably a little careless to cash 21 checks that showed up on the same day, each signed in purple ink and including a smiley face after the signature.
FRIDAY MAY 25
Back in April and early March, many Cincinnatians were all :-P as they looked ahead to another summer of fun in the sun at Mason’s longtime waterpark, The Beach. But their faces were more like :-( on March 9, when The Beach abruptly announced that it would not reopen for the 2012 season, and many went >:-O when the waterpark notified them that no refunds would be made for this year’s season passes. Today the park’s operators were all :‘( because they got sued by the Ohio attorney general for failure to deliver on the 8,800 passes that were sold before the company decided not to operate its waterpark anymore. The Beach in recent years had been facing increased competition from nearby competitors such as Kings Island’s Soak City waterpark and Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor waterpark that opened in 2006 in response to Mason residents’ preference to get their sun tans and recreation indoors rather than being outside and hot.
SATURDAY MAY 26
It’s natural to have some questions when the government decides to allow companies to drill holes miles into the earth near your house and blast a bunch of water and chemicals in there to get some natural gas out (“Is it safe? Will it be loud? Might it affect my DirecTV reception?”). Environmental groups today came out against new state regulations on fracking, a controversial natural gas extraction process, after a provision was added forcing anyone suing energy companies over trade secrets to prove current or potential harm from the process or chemicals that they can’t fully understand because they’re secret. The Ohio Environmental Council and the Sierra Club officially changed their stance on the legislation from neutral to negative, though they said Gov. Kasich’s requirement that chemicals be disclosed when drilling through underground drinking water sources was pretty reasonable for him.
MONDAY MAY 28
Anyone who has heard about how important bees are to the existence of humanity understands the fundamental frailty of our ecosystem (and maybe likes honey a lot or has really nerdy friends). Such an individual would have been interested in today’s news that the Asian longhorned beetle will soon reemerge in Clermont County and threaten to eat all the maple, horse chestnut, mimosa, birch, hackberry and many other types of trees. The beetles have been eating the insides of trees beneath the bark for the past year and will come out to eat the rest of the trees once the weather gets warm enough. Inspectors in Tate and Monroe townships have removed 7,400 trees but fear that another 8,300 have bugs in them.
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