CityBeat Blogs - 2009 Election http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-34-60.html <![CDATA[Flynn Elected as Charter President]]>

He might not have won in November’s Cincinnati City Council elections, but Kevin Flynn has scored a victory elsewhere.

Flynn, who ran unsuccessfully as a Charterite in the 2009 and 2011 council elections, has been selected as the president of the group that endorsed him. The Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati announced today that Flynn has been elected president of the organization, taking over for Dawn Denno, who didn’t seek reelection.

Flynn is a real-estate attorney from Mount Airy who also teaches at the University of Cincinnati's law school. He has been confined to a wheelchair since a serious automobile accident in 2002.

During his first campaign in 2009 Flynn placed 13th among 19 candidates in council elections. The top nine vote-getters are elected to the group.

Last year Flynn finished in 11th place — ahead of three incumbents who lost reelection — among 22 candidates.

Flynn is excited about the new position.

“When we see the high level of partisan politics in our national and state governments, I appreciate the independent, creative leadership Charter fosters in our city,” he said in a prepared statement. “The Charter Committee will continue to focus on bringing the best governance to Cincinnati, including thoughtful changes to the city’s Charter, and to support a budget and budget process which serves the best interests of the citizens of Cincinnati.”

Formed in 1924, the Charter Committee helped end the corrupt political machine operated by “Boss” George Cox, a Republican who dominated City Hall and local politics, arranging tasks like fixing tax rates for friends and contributors.

Charter successfully pushed to create the city manager form of government, which was designed to depoliticize the daily administrative tasks of municipal government.

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<![CDATA[Harris Takes Detroit Schools Job]]>

Former Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Harris has accepted a major, high-profile job in Detroit, where he will live during the week.

Harris, 39, was hired Monday as the first executive director for Excellent Schools Detroit. The new organization is comprised of various education, government, community and philanthropic leaders who have developed a 10-year, citywide education plan to improve Detroit's public school system.---

The $200 million, one-of-a-kind initiative's goal is to ensure the school system is graduating 90 percent of its students by 2020 and having them enroll in colleges or other post-secondary training programs. Currently, the system is the worst-performing in the nation.

Among the groups involved with the effort are the Detroit Parent Network, Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

“Education policy is a really exciting field right now, and it's an area where I can make a real difference,” Harris said.

The ex-councilman was hired after the organization conducted a nationwide search.

From 2000-05, Harris served as executive director of Citizens for Civic Renewal, which built public support for smart growth policies and regional approaches for addressing some of Greater Cincinnati's development issues.

“We were especially impressed by his breadth of relevant experience, his proven track record in building and managing broad-based coalitions, and his passionate commitment to children’s well-being,” said Carol Goss, the organization's chairwoman, who also is president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation.

A West Price Hill resident, Harris was appointed in January 2009 to fill the unexpired term of Democratic Councilman John Cranley, who was facing term limits. After publicly challenging spending and deployment issues in the city's Police and Fire Departments as part of budget talks in summer and fall of 2009, he was targeted for defeat by the police and firefighters unions.

That November, Harris placed 10th in balloting for the nine-member City Council, missing the final spot by about 3,400 votes. Reportedly, his willingness to challenge public-sector labor unions was one of the factors that helped him win the Detroit job.

Harris, who is divorced, will spend weekends in Cincinnati to visit his two sons.

An Illinois native, Harris moved to the region more than a decade ago to attend graduate school at Miami University in Oxford. He most recently worked as a public policy officer at KnowledgeWorks Foundation and is an ex-Miami University instructor.

Also, Harris ran twice unsuccessfully for Ohio's 1st Congressional District seat against Republican Steve Chabot, in 2002 and 2004. 

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<![CDATA[Murray Is GOP's Choice]]>

Amy Murray came in 13th two years ago, but tonight she came in first.

The Hyde Park resident was the recommended choice of the Hamilton County Republican Party's Committee on Nominations and Candidate Development to replace Chris Monzel on Cincinnati City Council. Monzel left half-way through his council term Friday to serve on the Hamilton County Commission.---

Murray, who ran for City Council for the first time in 2009, placed 13th out of 19 candidates; she was the highest-ranking Republican of the 10 candidates who didn't make it onto council. Murray isa former Procter & Gamble employee who now owns a consulting firm that tries to attract Japanese companies to Cincinnati.

Monzel's vacancy technically will be decided by council's two remaining Republicans, Leslie Ghiz and Charlie Winburn. Generally, however, GOP members follow the advice of the party's committee.

"Ms. Murray ran a highly energetic campaign as a first-time candidate in 2009," said Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou in a prepared statement. "Her background in business, having worked at Procter & Gamble, and her activism in her community as a leader on her neighborhood community council make her an ideal candidate to replace Mr. Monzel. Amy Murray possesses the intelligence, character and dedication to service the citizens of Cincinnati.

"As our citizens have watched the latest budget drama unfold, it is very apparent that our Cincinnati City Council is in need of some common sense leadership. Amy Murray brings both incredible business experience as well as common sense and focus to this important role."

Other potential replacements interviewed by the committee were Wayne Lippert Jr., Sam Malone, Erik Nebergall, Mike Robison and Lamont Taylor.

Dr. Brad Wenstrup, the local GOP's mayoral candidate in 2009, decided not to seek the appointment. Wenstrup said he was too busy with other commitments.

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<![CDATA[Election Results, Reactions, Instant Analysis]]>

CityBeat's coverage of Election Night results and reactions is now up on our web site. Go to our Election Central section for stories from Kevin Osborne and Stephanie Dunlap on the unofficial results for Cincinnati mayor and city council, Cincinnati School Board and the various statewide, Hamilton County and city ballot issues as well as reactions from the winners and losers.---

Click here for photo galleries from polling places during Election Day and from gatherings Election Night at candidate parties and the Board of Elections.

Instant analysis from Kevin and Stephanie, plus my two cents: The power on Cincinnati City Council shifts from Mayor Mark Mallory's coalition to a new conservative majority as basically ultra-conservative Charlie Winburn replaces liberal Greg Harris, even as Mallory wins easy re-election. Winburn joins with Jeff Berding, Chris Bortz, Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel to form a 5-4 anti-Mallory bloc.

Issue 9 thankfully is voted down, giving the streetcar plan and other rail proposals breathing room for now. Even with anti-streetcar Winburn replacing pro-streetcar Harris, the plan should move ahead on council. Bortz, remember, introduced the streetcar proposal to council and remains its key champion along with Mallory.

Even in a down economy, every major tax levy issue passed. Cincinnati Public Schools, the Museum Center and the Cincinnati/Hamilton County Public Library were all sweating out levy requests, but voters were generous — each of those three levies passed with at least 60 percent of the vote.

Casino gambling is finally coming to Ohio, as Issue 3 passed pretty easily. Cleveland businessman Dan Gilbert, who will be building the Cincinnati casino at Broadway Commons downtown, says he's going to break ground immediately — maybe even today.

The Charter Committee, Cincinnati's long-time third political party, had a good Election Day yesterday. Its two city council incumbents, Bortz and Roxanne Qualls, were re-elected. Qualls finished first overall by a wide margin. The group's three endorsed Cincinnati School Board candidates won: incumbents Melanie Bates and Eileen Cooper Reed and challenger Vanessa White. Charter Executive Director Jeff Cramerding, who left his post in September to become a full-time campaign consultant, was a leader in the No on Issue 9 campaign.

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<![CDATA[Toeing the 100-Foot Line]]>

Hamilton County Board of Elections Executive Director Sally Krisel calls it the most common election-day problem: “We have to strictly follow the 100-foot rule.”

Election law prohibits protesters, proponents and campaigning volunteers from setting up signs or handing out information within 100 feet of a polling place. The rule, Krisel
explains, is enforced by the volunteer staff at the polling sites.---

“I can’t control the sidewalks,” says Hume Simpson, deputy judge for Precinct A in the 15th Ward. “If they’re walking, there’s not much we can do.”

At around 2:30, Hume spotted a pair of campaign boosters holding a sign and handing out leaflets too close to the polls. He calmly walked over to the couple and pointed to an area, marked with flags, that had been approved as a place for them to set up. They moved peacefully, and he later said that was the only infraction he’d had to address all day.

“We’ve never really had to call (the Board of Elections) for problems,” he says.

That reflects Krisel’s view of the issue.

“Usually, the poll workers take care of it,” she says.


Contributor Harrison Kreimer reports for the NMB, a collaborative local news bureau based at the University of Cincinnati. Learn more at ucjournalism.org.



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<![CDATA[Training Varies Among Poll Workers]]>

For some Hamilton County poll workers, the November 2009 election is taking place on the backs of their experience rather than training they’ve received.

“They did the training only for new people to cut back costs,” said Joyce Baitz, 80, a veteran volunteer with 26 years of experience.---

Board of Elections administrator Joe Mallory said training varies from year to year. Last year, for example, every poll worker attended a training workshop before hitting the polls for the presidential election. This year, however, the board has been more selective.

“It depends on how recent the training is,” he said.

New poll workers and the locations’ judges and deputy judges (the higher-level site volunteers) all attended training workshops. They received training manuals there, and Mallory said the manuals filled in for workshop training for the more experienced volunteers.

“Everyone receives a training manual,” he said.


Contributor Elise Manahan reports for the NMB, a collaborative local news bureau based at the University of Cincinnati. Learn more at ucjournalism.org.




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<![CDATA[PIO Takes Informational Skills to the Poll]]>

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) Director of Public Affairs Janet Walsh is spending today sharing information, but not in her usual manner. Walsh is outside the Hamilton County/Cincinnati Public Library’s main branch sporting a sweatshirt and sign that urge voters to support Issue 52, the renewal of the CPS tax levy.

“I’m a stand-in for all the principals and teachers that can’t be here today,” she says.---

While Walsh expects to be at the library “for a little while,” she adds that there are other levy supporters stationed at polling places across the city.


Contributor Emily Wendler reports for the NMB, a collaborative local news bureau based at the University of Cincinnati. Learn more at ucjournalism.org.


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<![CDATA[A Slow Day for E-Slate]]>

Each Hamilton County polling location has a $40,000 machine on hand to make voting handicapped-accessible, even though poll volunteers say the machines rarely see use.

“In the last three elections, we’ve had about three people using it,” says poll volunteer and District 6 Deputy Presiding Judge Tom Feldhaus.---

The five-year poll worker explained that most voters with disabilities prefer a more traditional voting method. Rather than using the E-Slate accessible voting machines, they simply fill out paper ballots at tables protected by privacy screens. District 6 presiding judge and 18-year poll veteran Tammy Fleming adds that voters who are unable to enter the building can use curbside voting services with the paper ballots.

Feldhaus explains that the voting machines fulfill a national mandate, part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And while the E-Slate machines might sit idle for much of voting day, he says they’re not unnoticed.

“People do appreciate it even if they don’t use it,” he says.


Contributor Harrison Kreimer reports for the NMB, a collaborative local news bureau based at the University of Cincinnati. Learn more at ucjournalism.org.



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<![CDATA[Candidates On: Annexing Other Areas]]> With about 12 hours left until the polls open, CityBeat concludes its coverage of the non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council with a question about annexation.

One possible method for Cincinnati to expand its tax revenues and population is to annex smaller communities that surround the city, such as St. Bernard or Delhi Township.---

Non-incumbents were asked, “What are your thoughts about Cincinnati possibly acting to annex some smaller communities to expand its tax base?”

Anitra Brockman (Green): “I think it would be a great opportunity for Cincinnati. With the obvious budget deficit, we definitely need to consider expanding the tax base.”

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “This should be under discussion not simply to expand our tax base but also to make costs more equitable across the region.  Currently, Cincinnati pays far more in human services costs than most suburban communities, while suburban communities often pay much higher fees for basic services like waste removal, water, as well as fire and emergency medical services.

“Since most people in the region live, work, shop and go to school across these political boundaries, it seems that the political boundaries should serve to support the way people actually live, rather than exist merely to perpetuate themselves.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “I am open to annexation if it is the will of the community but I don’t believe it is a long-term solution. We have to focus on increasing the quality of life in Cincinnati or our newly acquired residents will simply pack up and move out. If we promote the positives of Cincinnati while simultaneously focusing on the root issues of the challenges we face, the city tax base will grow itself without having to absorb neighboring communities.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “I feel that the future of Cincinnati must see a redefined tax and service base. We must move in the direction of shared services – where services can be improved and cost lowered. There is much duplication of service and cost between Cincinnati, Hamilton County and some of the adjacent communities.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “If smaller communities want to join us, that’s great. Many small communities may conclude that having their own departments and services makes no sense in this economic climate.”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “This is a conversation that must be had with Hamilton County (officials) in order to see if it is feasible to move forward with any annexation plans. Expansion of tax base is important and should be looked at seriously for the benefit of the entire Hamilton County area. Because we are the largest municipality in the county, we need to have a active part in making decisions that affect the entire county.”

George Zamary (Republican): “This, of course, would be more than just Cincinnati acting, but would require the approval of the communities being addressed. I believe this would have to be closely scrutinized because there would be additional costs associated with services to be provided.  It may not be a practical alternative at this time with the looming $51.5 million deficit next year. However, the concept of working collaboratively with these communities and share support services may be a reasonable alternative given the current economic climate.”
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<![CDATA[Candidates On: Changing Council Elections]]> CityBeat recently asked the non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council whether the charter should be amended to change the way future councils are elected.

The question posed was, “What are your thoughts on suggestions to either expand council terms to four years, or to elect council members by districts rather than at-large?”---

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “I believe district elections make the most sense, particularly if the districts corresponded to areas people were familiar with, such as their neighborhoods. Having more council members being paid less and elected by district strikes me as being a more representative system than what is currently in place.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “I am supportive of expanding council terms to four years so that members have the opportunity to move an agenda forward. As we have seen this year, council consists of one year of work and then one year of politicking with issues in order to garner votes. An expanded term provides the opportunity for a continued focus on city business.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “I would support any move that would yield better government. Yes, a four-year council term would put more focus on running the city and less on getting re-elected. Some combination of ‘at-large’ and district representation may provide us with better communication and responsiveness between council and the neighborhoods. However, I would need to see the specific proposal.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “As someone new to politics, I am amazed and horrified by the time and effort required to run for office. Anything we can do to lengthen the term will help our elected officials have time to concentrate on actual work instead of plan their re-elections. I definitely support four-year terms for council members instead of the current two-year terms, where people are basically in constant campaign mode.

“I think electing council member by districts makes sense. You’d think citizens would prefer to have a certain council person to call when they have an issue instead of not knowing which of the nine council members might actually give them the time of day when they have a problem. However, voters defeated representation by district the last time it was on the ballot.”

LaMarque Ward (Independent): “I think it could be a great option. I know for me running as an independent candidate, it would make it easier for guys like me to get elected. I also believe we would get more done for the community we serve.”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “Four-year terms would be more beneficial to our city and give council a time to not always appear to be in a campaign situation. It is important for some new council members to learn the process of being in office. At the end of your first year, it is time to begin thinking of running again. My campaign says I am ‘shovel ready’ and ready to go to work on the first day because of my experience, but others have not had that opportunity.

“I was a part of the Electoral Reform Committee put in place by former Mayor Charlie Luken. I believe running at-large is not the best way for our government body to be elected. There was a plan presented to council and in my opinion should be re-visited.”

George Zamary (Republican): “I would be willing to discuss the pro’s and con’s of each. I believe a district process would allow the opportunity for non-incumbents to more competitive in the election.”

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<![CDATA[You Can Vote No. Just Saying.]]>

I was researching details on the tax levies on Tuesday's ballot and grabbed the millage and property tax costs from the Hamilton County Auditor's web site when I saw this wisdom from Auditor Dusty Rhodes. It's right at the top of his home page next to his photo:

"It has become a fairly common practice on the part of those seeking to pass tax levies to make a point of saying that passage of the levy in question 'will not raise your taxes.' It may indeed be true that the amount of tax you would pay in future years would be no more than in prior years. However, it is also very true that if the levy were to fail, you would be paying less in those same future years than you had previously. ---I urge you to research each levy on November's ballot so you better understand how your tax money is used. If the levy passes you may indeed pay no more, but if it fails you will certainly pay less than you would if it passed, because all the tax dollars sought by the taxing entity associated with that levy will stay with you."

Not that the county auditor is telling you to vote down all of those crazy tax levies and school levies. He just wants to remind you that "No" is an option in the ballot booth. That's very helpful, and I appreciate the reminder.

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<![CDATA[Candidates On: Evaluating Milton Dohoney Jr.]]> Coverage of the non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council continues with their thoughts about the job performance of the man who oversees City Hall’s daily operations and its roughly 6,000 municipal employees.

The question is, “Do you think the current city manager, Milton Dohoney Jr., is doing a good job?”---

Anitra Brockman (Green): “Whether I believe Mr. Dohoney is doing a good job is irrelevant. He obviously was chosen for the position because of his background and qualifications. Mr. Dohoney was selected as city manager to manage the city in a responsible manner, and I believe that there are obviously some areas of concern with this position because of the budget crisis we are facing. There must be accountability at the end of the day, or else the city will continue to be in financial trouble.”

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “Yes. It’s a tough job.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “In light of a nearly unprecedented financial crisis, I believe that our city manager is doing a good job. We have succeeded in balancing a budget without mass layoffs and ensuring basic services.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “The city manager is doing an adequate job, given what he has to work with. It is difficult to feel positive when we are in the middle of a terrible budget crisis with a $51.5 million deficit for 2010, a pension fund that is extremely under-funded, and looming layoffs for city workers.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “Yes. I think he’s earned the respect of most anyone paying attention. I admire his leadership on the streetcar issue and was impressed by his streetcar presentation at a forum organized by Giveback Cincinnati last spring.”

LaMarque Ward (Independent): “I think he is doing a great job. He keeps council well informed and states the facts.”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “Mr. Dohoney is doing, in my opinion, service for the city’s best interests as the CEO of the city. A respectful working relationship with council and mayor is important and, as we set policy and legislation for the city, we should be very respectful of the work Mr. Dohoney’s administration is doing and take their expertise into consideration when making decisions.”

George Zamary (Republican): “I think Mr. Dohoney has been placed in a precarious position of being unable to implement the budget set forth by council.”

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<![CDATA[Some Dems Angry at Quinlivan, Burke]]>

Some rank-and-file Democrats — including a few Democratic candidates for Cincinnati City Council — are angry with first-time contender Laure Quinlivan’s campaigning tactics, and are letting the party’s chairman know.

Quinlivan’s detractors dislike her public criticism of other Democratic incumbents on council, as well as her recommendation for voters to use “bullet voting” so their choices have more impact.---

Bullet voting entails only using some of the nine votes available to people in Cincinnati’s at-large race for City Council. By using the practice, observers say no “spillover votes” are cast for candidates that voters feel less strongly about, which tend to benefit incumbents.

In a recent mass e-mail publicizing her latest TV commercial sent to voters, Quinlivan wrote, “Voting tip: vote for only candidate(s) you really want on council. If you use all 9 votes, incumbents get reelected.”

Critics said it continues a pattern of Quinlivan making negative comments about the party’s other candidates.

They cite a Cincy Chic article in which she criticized fellow candidates Nicholas Hollan and Tony Fischer for receiving endorsements from the local AFL-CIO endorse when she didn’t. Quinlivan later got the endorsement after the union unendorsed Democratic incumbent Jeff Berding.

Also, they point to a recent Cincinnati Enquirer profile where Quinlivan was quoted as saying, “I looked at the people who were being considered and I was disappointed at the list; it was just people who had run for this office or that office before. I knew I had just as much qualifications to run for council as any of them, so I decided to do it.”

She made a similar remark for a CityBeat article.

Furthering their anger is a mass e-mail sent Sunday to local Democrats from party chairman Tim Burke. Referring to Quinlivan’s commercial, Burke wrote, “It describes her remarkable history of accomplishments as an investigative reporter. She is running a terrifically energetic campaign and would be a great asset on City Council.”

Quinlivan is a former reporter for WCPO-TV (Channel 9), where she headed the I-Team. She was fired in November 2007, and is now suing her former employer for discrimination.

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<![CDATA[Candidates On: Axing the City Manager's Job]]> CityBeat’s continuing coverage of non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council today features a question about the city manager’s position.

We asked the candidates, “Do you believe the city manager’s position should be abolished in favor of giving executive authority to the mayor, as has been suggested in the past?”---

Anitra Brockman (Green): “I do believe that while we have the city manager position in place, we must ensure that the individual in the position is being held accountable and responsible for their role by the mayor and the City Council.”

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “I believe there are liabilities and benefits to both positions.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “I do not support abolishing the role of city manager as his position provides for many of the day-to-day functions throughout city departments. While the mayor could certainly oversee the daily operations of the city, it would serve to diminish his effectiveness as an ambassador of the city that has succeeded in bringing more jobs and economic development.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “I do not favor abolishing the city manager’s position. The city manager is a professional who has years of experience running cities from an operational standpoint.  A mayor doesn’t always have those skills. However, I would support a more inclusive interview and evaluation process for the city manager position.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “No. The mayor has plenty to do, and we need a city manager who is not a politician to run day-to-day operations.”

LaMarque Ward (Independent): “No, checks and balances are fine for me. There has to be a fair and honest debate on the issues.”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “Not abolished, but some reform to give the mayor more executive authority – I am in favor of a ‘strong/executive  mayor’ form of government.”

George Zamary (Republican): “No.”

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<![CDATA[Candidates On: Budget Showdown (Part Two)]]>

Today’s installment of CityBeat’s questions for non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council is a follow-up to Thursday’s question.

In light of the recent budget showdown on City Council and the dispute about whether the Police Department should get an up-front, blanket exemption from the threat of layoffs, we asked, “Do you believe it’s appropriate to ask the police union for concessions in a time of deficits?”---

Anitra Brockman (Green): No. I was taught a valuable lesson as a business professional, you must lead by example. A manager/department head should never ask an employee to do something that he/she would not first do themselves. I commend the few council members who have written checks back to the city in lieu of the budget issues and these council members are “leading by example”.  I fully stand in support of the police, fire and city workers who help to keep our streets clean and neighborhoods safe.

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “I believe it is appropriate to take any path that will prevent police layoffs. Keeping the current complement of officers on the street during this budget crisis is a win for the city of Cincinnati.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “I firmly believe that public safety is unquestionably one of the most important functions of local government. If the police force was able to function at the required levels to maintain public safety then it is absolutely appropriate to ask the police union to join with other unions in making the necessary concessions to avoid layoffs.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “As City Manager Milton Dohoney has pointed out, labor is the largest part of our city budget so avoiding some form of cuts in times like these is difficult. As I noted before, longer range forecasting and planning would take some of the pain out of any cuts necessary. (Union) President Kathy Harrell has forwarded a more business like approach using attrition and decreased hiring as its reduction drivers. Managed reductions, over time with (union) involvement are clearly superior to a reactive and secretive approach.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “Yes. We cannot exempt public safety departments from budget discussions. In the real world when times are tough, we all do more with less. We should focus on “smarter” policing driven by data and the latest technology.”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “Yes.”

George Zamary (Republican): “Yes. It is appropriate. Council must also work with the police union in determining the best way to accomplish the necessary savings.”

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<![CDATA[Candidates On: Budget Showdown (Part One)]]>

CityBeat’s ongoing coverage of the non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council continues with a question on council’s recent budget dispute, about where reductions should be made and whether police officers should face possible layoffs.

In the first part of a two-part question, we ask, “During the recent budget showdown on City Council, what — if anything — could’ve been done differently?”---

Anitra Brockman (Green): “The budget should have been forecasted at least 5-10 years in advance. There should have been constant evaluation of programs, procedures and policies to find out if they are or are not being effectively utilized. It is completely unacceptable that the city continues to pay for redundant services, and underutilized programs and services. We must trim the fat so that the city can get out of this rut, and progress.  Also, there must be accountability and responsibility when taxpayer dollars are concerned and that has not been occurring. I definitely feel that the budget issues should be addressed immediately, and not wait until after the November election.”

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “I believe any negotiation should be approached with a spirit of partnership and should be conducted with the focus on reaching common goals rather than an adversarial approach. It’s been well documented within the literature of negotiation theory that a mutual gains bargaining approach produces the most benefits.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “City Council, all nine members, should have worked together towards the common goal of finding workable solutions to the problem instead of drawing political lines and falsely labeling one side as anti-police and the other as pro-police. That type of rhetoric doesn’t move the conversation forward to find a measurable result. It is important to note that ultimately, the majority of council was able to balance the budget by providing a plan that would have prevented any layoffs.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “I don’t want to over simplify this but we need to be less reactive and do a much better job at forecasting, budgeting and priority setting. Our planning and forecasting horizons must be pushed further out and the process for dealing with shortfalls and issues must be well established and clear to all. More and better information sooner and clear priorities would have made this a very different event. Lastly, we need to be more open in the priority setting process. Let’s reach out to our business, non-profit and academic partners and make the process transparent.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “I believe we need council members with the training, experience and tenacity to research important and complex issues like the budget, way ahead of “deadlines”…before we’re in a crisis. This budget deficit should not have surprised anyone in leadership. We need people capable of doing independent research and planning, people with great communication skills who can earn the trust of all the involved parties (unions, employees, citizens).”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “I believe the final budget approved was for the best with no layoffs and allowed us to continue to provide quality public services to the city of Cincinnati. Putting employees in a position to make very difficult decisions, the possibility of city services being cut, should have been more of a consideration and not become a fight about who had the best plan. We must remember majority rules and that is the process. As we move forward, elected council members should work on solutions that will bring all members together, compromise, do what is best for the residents of the city and make decisions that benefit the entire city and not always constituent based. My wisdom and experience will add to this type of process.”

George Zamary (Republican): “Better communication between the two sides. Mayor Mallory and five members of council excluded the other members from their discussions and kept calling for the minority to find other solutions. This caused increased tensions as both sides argued publicly over who was right and wrong. The mayor should have taken the reigns working with all members of council and allowing for transparency in the process.”

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<![CDATA[Candidates On: Issue 9 and Rail Spending]]> As part of CityBeat’s ongoing coverage of non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council, today we offer responses to another question from our recent questionnaire.

The question is, “Where do you stand on the charter amendment (Issue 9) that would impose restrictions on all rail-related spending by the city?”---

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “I believe it is misguided and unfair. The federal government and Ohio Department of Transportation are prepared to spend over $600 million to add one lane of highway to a mere eight miles of I-75 and we don’t get to vote on that. If anyone thinks adding highway lanes in the middle of a city relieves congestion, just head down 75 and see how fast traffic moves on the 12-lane highway that cuts through the middle of Atlanta. Yet some folks here want us to hold up potential investment simply because the streetcars use rails instead of wheels.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “First and foremost, I am of the belief that rail transit is the way of the future for this country. Having traveled extensively abroad, I have experienced first-hand the ease and low cost of mass rail transit. We have the option as a city to either be on the cutting edge of the new transit medium or wait until others take the lead and simply fall into line with other reactive cities. 

“When given the option, I will always push for Cincinnati to be a proactive city on the cutting edge. This charter amendment is bigger than just the streetcar and puts all rail transit in jeopardy. Gov. Strickland has talked about a 3C corridor connecting Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland and President Obama has discussed regional transit with Cincinnati serving as a hub. I do not want Cincinnati to again pass the opportunity to lead the charge in rail transportation.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “I am against the restrictions imposed by Issue 9. My understanding is that the groups that put forth this initiative did so because they do not trust the decision-making ability of the current council on large fiscal issues. This is why I am running – you can trust me to make good, sound decisions. We must be able to trust the people that we elect to do what is right for the city. If not, we can make changes every two years by our vote.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “I am against it. Vote ‘no’ on Issue 9. This silly amendment will tie the hands of government leaders for years to come and ensure Cincinnati falls behind, as other cities progress.”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “I am not in favor of the current charter amendment that will slow/stagnate the progress of transportation issues in our city.”

George Zamary (Republican): “I oppose the charter amendment.”


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<![CDATA[Six Incumbents Snubbed by Women's Caucus]]> With two weeks left until Election Day, the Cincinnati Women’s Political Caucus has issued a mass mailing informing voters about its endorsed candidates this year for City Council, mayor and school board.

Although it’s no surprise that City Council’s right-leaning minority — Republicans Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel, Charterite Chris Bortz and Democrat-in-exile Jeff Berding — didn’t win the organization’s endorsement given their past statements about women’s reproductive rights, two moderate Democrats who are incumbents also didn’t make the cut.---

The Women’s Political Caucus didn’t endorse City Councilmen Greg Harris and Cecil Thomas.

Its endorsements included the rest of the Democratic slate: Laketa Cole, Tony Fischer, Nicholas Hollan, Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Bernadette Watson and Wendell Young.

The organization’s recommendation for mayor is Democratic incumbent Mark Mallory.

Also, its endorsed candidates for Cincinnati school board are Ceair Baggett, Joyce Hooks, Catherine Ingram and Lisa Schare.

Founded in the early 1970s, the Women’s Political Caucus was designed to help get more women elected or appointed to public office.

In the intervening years, its mission has expanded to include working to eradicate sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, ageism, violence, poverty, discrimination against the disabled and discrimination on the basis of religion, and ensuring reproductive freedom and freedom of sexual orientation.

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<![CDATA[Candidates On: Recalling Mayor and Council]]> As CityBeat did in the 2007 election cycle, we’ve once again sent a questionnaire to various non-incumbent Cincinnati City Council candidates to get their reactions on a broad range of issues.

Seven of the 12 non-incumbents chose to answer our questions. Others either didn’t respond or couldn’t meet the deadline.---

During the next few weeks, we will print the responses from the non-incumbents to a different topic each time. Also, this week’s CityBeat cover story features an overview of the candidates.

Today’s question is, “Would you support a charter amendment to allow for recall of the mayor and council members?”

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “No. We just voted around 10 years ago to separate the election of the mayor from council and give the office a longer term. This proposed amendment would just make each mayor or council member’s term a perpetual election. People don’t want that.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “This issue boils down to demanding accountability. If a council member or mayor commits an egregious offense that warrants their recall then the process for their removal should be in place.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “I would consider such an amendment for the mayor as the mayoral term has increased from two years to four.  Council is elected every two years, and while our current system is not perfect,  it gives the citizens and taxpayers ample opportunity to let their voices be heard by their vote.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “No. Voters can always make that decision in the next election.”

LaMarque Ward (independent): “Yes, some people get political influence and go in the wrong direction but it only should be done in extreme cases of untrustworthy actions complete lost of confidence in there ability but council should have to vote also.  Actions like these will keep people honest, fair and focused on the task at hand.”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “No.”

George Zamary (Republican): “No.”

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<![CDATA[LULAC Hosts Candidates Night]]> Cincinnati’s branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) will host a candidates forum Wednesday night that include many of the people running for Cincinnati mayor, City Council and the Board of Education.

The event will be held at the Su Casa Hispanic Center gym, 7036 Fairpark Ave., in Carthage. It will last from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.---

Candidates who have confirmed their attendance include Mark Mallory and Brad Wenstrup, the mayoral candidates; and City Council candidates Anitra Brockman, Kevin Flynn, Leslie Ghiz, Greg Harris, Nicholas Hollan, Chris Monzel, Amy Murray, Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas, Bernadette Watson, Wendell Young and George Zamary.

Also, school board candidates that will participate are Melanie Bates, Eileen Cooper Reid, Jason Haap, Mary Welsh Schlueter and Vanessa White.

Founded in 1929 in Corpus Christi, Tex., LULAC is the oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States. The group works to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC chapters nationwide.

For more information, contact Jason Riveiro via e-mail at jriveiro@lulacohio.org.

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