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Democrats plan for '08, and Roxanne Qualls is back on city council

By Gregory Flannery · September 10th, 2007 · Porkopolis
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  Just before the do-si-do: Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell and Former Mayor Roxanne Qualls just before the pair officially switched seats.
Joe Lamb

Just before the do-si-do: Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell and Former Mayor Roxanne Qualls just before the pair officially switched seats.



Will Ohio again go Republican when we vote for president in 2008? Put aside for now the question of whether the GOP stole the state's electoral votes in 2004.

For the sake of argument, let's assume the election was fair. How then will Democrats prevent the same result next year? That's the subject of a program, "The Perfect Storm: Ohio '08," at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley. Doug Kelly, executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party, will speak.

Mistakes were made in 2004, according to Caleb Faux, executive director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

"I think there is little doubt that the Democratic Party was ill-prepared for the '04 presidential campaign, and we are working hard to make sure that is not repeated and to make sure that people are given the impression that their efforts are welcome within the party," he says. "I think, in some respects, they didn't feel that way in '04. Thus the Move On.org and America Votes organizations absorbed a lot of the energy that could have been more efficiently used had the party actually been ready for it."

The program will also include a straw poll about the presidential race.

"Ohio will have little voice in the choice of who receives the Democratic nomination, but this is a small chance to be heard," Faux says.

Brian Garry, Democratic candidate for Cincinnati City Council, says he suspects his campaign was the target of a break-in last week at the party's Hamilton County headquarters in Pleasant Ridge.

"The main Garry computers and other campaign related items were taken," he says. "Property of David Pepper, Cecil Thomas and the Dem Party was not taken."

This calls to mind some shenanigans four years ago, when Garry ran for council as an independent (see Porkopolis, issue of Oct. 1, 2003). While Garry was speaking to students at Walnut Hills High School back then, police officers impounded his van and then entered his home without a search warrant. Police decided the car had been abandoned, apparently because the headlights were on and the key was in the ignition. An officer who received a call directing him to find Garry left a handwritten note saying he'd entered Garry's home. Finding the door unlocked, he checked the residence and left a note behind.

Scoffing at the explanation, Garry told CityBeat, "There was no probable cause to go into my home. There was no suspicious activity. This was conjured up in somebody's head."

Musical Chairs in Politics
Turnabout is fair play, and the maxim held true when it came to swapping positions between Jim Tarbell and Roxanne Qualls. Tarbell stepped down from Cincinnati City Council due to term limits and arranged for Qualls, a former mayor, to finish his term to give her a leg up in the Nov. 6 election. Now Tarbell has been appointed by council to assume Qualls' seat on the board that oversees Cincinnati's bus system.

When Qualls returned to city council Sept. 4, she had to relinquish her seat on the board of trustees for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which operates the Metro system. SORTA receives most of its budget from council, so holding both seats would be considered a conflict of interest. Qualls was one of the city's appointees to SORTA, and Mayor Mark Mallory selected her replacement.

Tarbell had hoped to campaign this fall for a spot on the Cincinnati Board of Education, but his last-minute petition effort didn't yield enough valid signatures to make it onto the ballot.

Tarbell, who had served on council since 1998, is the former owner of Arnold's Bar & Grill downtown and the Ludlow Garage in the Clifton Gaslight District. He has been active in arts and urban revitalization issues in recent years and been a strong advocate for building a downtown streetcar system.

Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Berding has switched campaign managers for the second time in three months, replacing Dave Schaff. It's now likely that Berding will temporarily fill the campaign manager's spot with someone from his city council office.

Schaff is a longtime Democratic Party operative who previously worked for Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune and is president of the Oakley Community Council. Berding had hired Schaff earlier this summer to replace Miles Lindahl, his first campaign manager. Like Lindahl, Schaff was let go because Berding wasn't pleased with his performance, according to party sources. Schaff says he was offered the choice of taking a lesser position or resigning. Berding partially blamed the campaign managers for his unpopularity among some of the party's base and for not reversing his sagging poll numbers, sources added.

For updates about Jeff Berding's campaign woes and other news from the campaign, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at blogs.citybeat.com/Porkopolis.



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