Cincinnati City Council took the first step Tuesday in repealing the city's ban on owning Pit Bull terriers. Council's Livable Communities Committee voted 5-1 to support repeal, saying it was unfair to single out a specific breed for harsher treatment. Experts have said Pit Bulls aren't inherently vicious, and that their treatment and training by their owners is responsible for any bad behavior. Councilman Cecil Thomas opposed the repeal, stating he was concerned about “enforcement issues.” The full City Council could make a final decision as soon as this afternoon. CityBeat examined the ban in-depth here.
Police Chief James Craig met Tuesday morning with 19 ministers and community leaders in an Avondale church. Craig wants to create a partnership with clergy to combat youth violence and shootings. It was the second such session that Craig has held this month. Since police presence was increased in Avondale April 2, no more shootings have occurred in the neighborhood.
A Cincinnati police officer was hospitalized after being hurt for the second time on the job. Officer Jerry Enneking has survived four car crashes while on-duty. The 23-year police veteran was rear-ended in a five-car crash Tuesday. Seeing another driver trapped, Enneking ignored his own injuries and helped rescue the person.
Tim Tebow, the prayerful quarterback for the New York Jets, will be in town today for two events at Cincinnati Christian University in Price Hill. The first already is sold out, but there are $500 tickets still available for a banquet. Both events will focus on how Tebow balances his life in the NFL with his faith.
The School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in Over-the-Rhine is being awarded a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The SCPA competed with more than 300 other groups for the cash, which will be used to support the school's Master's Artist Series and Artists in Residence programs for the next school year.
In news elsewhere, an ex-drilling engineer for BP Oil has been arrested on charges of intentionally destroying text messages sought by federal authorities as evidence in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The charges of obstruction of justice filed against Kurt Mix, in the Eastern District of Louisiana, are the first criminal charges connected to the oil spill. If found guilty, Mix could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each count.
As expected, Willard Mitt Romney swept the five Republican presidential primaries held Tuesday. The former Massachusetts governor got 67.4 percent of the vote in Connecticut, 56.5 percent in Delaware, 62.4 percent in New York, 58 percent in Pennsylvania, and 63.2 percent in Rhode Island. Most of the other GOP contenders have conceded the nomination race to Romney.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, the United States had the worst job creation record in decades, suffered the worst recession since the Great Depression and borrowed billions of dollars from China to support two wars. If you've been wondering how Romney or other Republican politicians running for office would do anything differently, wonder no more. Alexandra Franceschi, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said in an interview last week that the GOP's economic platform will be the same as that under Bush, just “updated.” There, voters: You have been warned.
A Brooklyn district attorney is resisting a public records request to divulge the names of 85 Orthodox Jews arrested on sex charges there during the past three years. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes says the "tight-knit" nature of the Orthodox community makes it impossible to disclose the identities of abuse suspects without also identifying their victims. A Jewish newspaper might file a legal challenge to the decision.
Despite numerous cuts to government spending in the name of austerity — or perhaps because of it, if you listen to some economists — the United Kingdom has now officially sunk into a double-dip recession, its first since the 1970s. Economic indicators reveal the U.K. economy has performed even more weakly since the current financial crisis began than in the Great Depression.
Good thing Council members in February went into a Government Operations Committee meeting and came out with two different options for four-year terms. They have scheduled three upcoming hearings seeking community input on the proposals. One option involves all nine members running in the same election every four years, along with a “staggered terms” option that would involve four or five members running every two years. Both options retain Council’s eight-year term limit.
A majority of Council supports four-year terms, according to Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan. The chosen proposal will go on the November ballot, and, if passed, will go into effect with the 2013 election.
“Council will be more productive and collaborative with four-year terms,” Quinlivan said in a news release. “Leaders in every major city in Ohio and most every city we compete with have four-year terms to enable strategic planning and long-term vision.”
An online survey is available here for those who cannot attend a hearing. The following is the schedule of remaining public hearings:
Tuesday, April 24: 6 p.m. at Southern Baptist Church, 3556 Reading Road, Avondale
Monday, May 7: 6 p.m. at Oakley Recreation Center, 3882 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park
Tuesday, May 22: 6 p.m. at Price Hill Recreation Center, 959 Hawthorne Ave., Price Hill
Jobs, jobs, jobs. That is what Republican House Speaker John Boehner said would be priority No. 1 for Republicans after sweeping the House of Representatives and many state legislatures in 2010. This, Republicans said, was why they were elected: People wanted to see changes in the economy fast.
But, apparently, there was one other priority.
Almost immediately after coming into office in 2011, Virginia Republicans set the national stage for vital women’s health issues. House Bill 1 — the first bill Virginia Republicans chose to take on — was a personhood bill, a bill that define life beginning at conception. Not only would the bill have banned abortion, it would also have banned the birth control pill, which sometimes prevents birth by stopping the implantation of a fertilized egg.
An impartial observer might wonder why a personhood bill would be a top Republican priority. After all, the same election that put all these Republicans in power also had a personhood bill overwhelmingly rejected in Mississippi — a state so socially conservative that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans want to make interracial marriage illegal, according to a recent poll from Public Policy Polling.
Nonetheless, this was the issue Virginia Republicans decided to give serious attention. In an economy with a 9 percent unemployment rate at the time, this was the most important issue to Virginia Republicans.
Ohio wasn’t much luckier with its crop of Republicans. Five months after inauguration, the Ohio House passed its “heartbeat” bill, or H.B. 125. To this day, it’s the most radical anti-abortion bill in the country. Not only would it ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, but the bill makes no exceptions for rape, incest or life-threatening circumstances.
Ohio and Virginia were not alone. Republicans were pushing anti-abortion, anti-contraception bills all around the nation. Pennsylvania, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas all made national headlines with their own bills. In more than 20 states, bills have been introduced to restrict insurance coverage of abortions, according to ABC News. At the federal level, Republicans have made funding for Planned Parenthood a top issue time and time again, and insurance companies covering contraception recently became such a big issue that the White House had to step in.
So much for keeping the government out of health care. The same political party that clamored for small government now couldn’t wait to regulate women’s health care. Apparently, the economy is too much for the government to handle, but every woman’s uterus is fair game.
There has been some backlash. After Virginia tried to pass a bill that would force doctors to give patients seeking abortion a transvaginal ultrasound, women’s health advocates in states across the nation organized protests, leading to governors and state legislatures beginning to back down in their rhetoric. Even Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who originally supported the transvaginal ultrasound bill, has been downplaying his involvement in Virginia’s anti-abortion, anti-contraception bills.
Now, Mitt Romney, the likely GOP nominee for president, is facing some of the backlash. In a recent Gallup poll, women came out severely against Romney. In the category of women under 50, Obama held 60 percent of voters, while Romney held only 30 percent. That’s right, Obama now leads with women under 50 by a two-to-one margin.
But while that may stop some rhetoric, the bills and laws are still coming forward. The Ohio heartbeat bill is still being pushed by some Republicans in the Ohio Senate, and a personhood initiative could show up in Ohio’s 2012 ballot after a stamp of approval from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Mississippi also plans to reintroduce its personhood initiative in the 2012 ballot, and other states are beginning to pass around petitions for their own initiatives as well.
In the end, one is left to wonder what could stop social conservatives. Public backlash and poor polling don’t seem to be enough to stop the Republican war on women, and in some cases it might have actually emboldened them.
Some critics of Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said video footage of a speech at a campaign event shows him starting to utter a racial slur while referring to President Obama, then cutting himself off mid-word.
While speaking to a group of supporters in Wisconsin on Tuesday, Santorum said, “We know what the candidate, Barack Obama, was like. The anti-war, government nig--, uh…” before stopping abruptly, then adding, “America was, uh, a source for division around the world. And that what we were doing was wrong. We needed to pull out and we needed to pull back.”
Although the uncompleted word sure sounds like it began with “nig” and what Santorum said next in the sentence didn’t flow naturally with the other words, a campaign spokesman today denied that the uncompleted word was “nigger.”
In January Santorum told a crowd of supporters in Iowa that he didn’t “want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.”
Here is the clip of Tuesday’s speech. The remark causing controversy is spoken around the 34:30 mark. You can decide for yourself.
Conservative presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is busy today trying to clarify a comment he made Thursday that indicated reelecting President Barack Obama would be better than electing Santorum’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney.
Santorum’s comment, made in San Antonio, Texas, at the USAA insurance company, drew criticism from Romney, Newt Gingrich and other Republicans.
"You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who's just going to be a little different than the person in there," Santorum said in San Antonio. "If you're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future."
Romney quickly fired back about Santorum’s comment.
“I am in this race to defeat Barack Obama and restore America's promise,” Romney said. “I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican. This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America. Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure.”
Not to be left out, Gingrich took to Twitter to join in the symbolic thrashing.
"Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.” Gingrich tweeted.
This morning Santorum’s campaign released a statement that sought to clarify what the candidate meant. (How many times has that phrase had to be used in relation to Santorum in the past few months?)
"I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous,” Santorum said in the prepared statement. “This is just another attempt by the Romney campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney's policies mirror Barack Obama's.”
Santorum added, “I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it's easy to see why — Romney has sided with Obama on health-care mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts. Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign's movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation. If this election is about Obama versus the Obama-Lite candidate, we have a tough time rallying this nation."
Santorum might be correct about the enthusiasm gap over Romney.
A new poll found that more people offer negative than positive assessments of Romney. But, tellingly, this also is the case for Romney’s rivals — Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul.
When Americans were asked what one word comes to mind when thinking about Romney, the top responses were “no” or “no way,” and “rich.” After those, the most frequently used words were “flip-flopper,” “idiot” and “arrogant.”
Roughly twice as many respondents gave negative one-word descriptions of Romney rather than positive terms, 30 percent versus 14 percent; just 29 percent used neutral terms.
The most frequently used terms for Santorum, with the exception of “no,” were “crazy,” “too conservative,” “extreme” and “idiot.”
A mere 13 percent of respondents used positive words for Santorum, while 30 percent used negative words and 22 percent used neutral terms.
Words most frequently offered about Gingrich were “old,” “no,” “no way,” “idiot” and “untrustworthy.”
Thirty-nine percent of respondents used negative terms about Gingrich, compared to 10 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.
The most frequent descriptions used for Paul were slightly better, but not by much: “no,” “old,” “Libertarian,” “honest” and “crazy.”
Twenty-seven percent of respondents used negative terms to describe Paul, compared to 15 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.
The national survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post. It surveyed 1,009 adults March 15-18.
Of the respondents, 605 were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 404 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 176 who had no landline telephone.
The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.
Nearly two years after she filed the lawsuit, a congresswoman who lost in the March primary election has dropped her legal action against a political opponent.
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township) told The Enquirer today that she decided to drop her defamation lawsuit against Madeira businessman David Krikorian. Schmidt filed the suit in June 2010, and had sought $6.8 million in damages.
Krikorian is claiming victory in the dispute, and told CityBeat the lawsuit was an intimidation tactic by well-funded special interests.
“Her lawsuit was entirely without merit,” Krikorian said. “It was meant to silence and intimidate me and cost me money. It did not work.”
Krikorian ran as an independent against Schmidt in 2008; he unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for the same seat in 2010 and again this year.
During the ‘08 campaign, Krikorian distributed a pamphlet alleging Schmidt had received “blood money” from the Turkish government in return for her opposition to a congressional resolution that declared Turkey had committed genocide against Armenia during a 1915 conflict.
But the lawsuit proved to be Schmidt’s undoing. She received more than $400,000 in free legal assistance from the Turkish Coalition of America to support her suit. In August 2011 the House Ethics Committee ruled that Schmidt received an “impermissible gift” but didn’t “knowingly” violate the law. She was ordered to repay the coalition, which she has yet to do.
Shortly thereafter, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonpartisan watchdog group, dubbed Schmidt as one of the most corrupt members of Congress.
All of the drama took its toll: Schmidt lost the GOP primary earlier this month to challenger Brad Wenstrup. He defeated her 49-43 percent.
“It’s time to move on,” Barrett Brunsman, Schmidt’s spokesman, told The Enquirer today about dropping the lawsuit.
The Turkish Coalition of America was among Schmidt’s top contributors, donating $7,500 to her 2010 reelection campaign through its political action committee, and donating $7,600 to her in 2008.
Schmidt also traveled to Turkey at least twice while in office. The coalition picked up the tab for one of the trips.
Politico reported March 12 that Schmidt was in Washington, D.C., on Election Day, March 6, at a private luncheon with Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan.
“At times, Rep. Jean Schmidt has been closer to Turkish interests than those of her Cincinnati-area constituents,” Politico’s Jonathan Allen wrote. “Never was that proximity problem more telling than on Tuesday, when Republicans denied Schmidt renomination to run for another term.”
When Allen sought comment for the article, Brunsman refused to confirm if the meeting occurred and sent an email that stated, “I think you have lost your way.”
For his part, Krikorian said the experience has taught him that Ohio needs to pass legislation that penalizes lawsuits filed solely to silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their opposition. Such a tactic is known as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP.
“I think the Ohio Legislature should consider passing an anti-SLAPP statue to prevent these kinds of abuses of the legal process,” he said. “This lawsuit was an attempt to intimidate and silence me by Rep. Schmidt and the Turkish lobby.”
Krikorian apparently lost in the March 6 Democratic primary by just 59 votes to William R. Smith, a virtual unknown from Pike County who didn’t campaign, answer questionnaires or grant interviews. A recount is under way and Krikorian has asked for a federal investigation of Victory Ohio Super PAC, which made robo-calls on Smith’s behalf but isn’t registered with the Federal Election Commission.
Krikorian picked up 14 more votes in Hamilton County on provisional ballots once the results were certified. Meanwhile, Clermont County certifies its results on Tuesday.