CityBeat Blogs - 2010 Election http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-34-64.html <![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Final results from a disputed 2010 judicial race will be announced later today. Workers at the Hamilton County Board of Elections are expected to finish the tallying of provisional ballots sometime this afternoon. A total of 286 ballots are being counted in a Juvenile Court judge race, in compliance with a recent order from a federal judge. Democrat Tracie Hunter seemingly lost to Republican John Williams by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast by county voters, but 286 ballots weren't counted because they were cast by people who showed up to vote at the correct polling place but were misdirected by poll workers and voted at the wrong precinct table. Hunter then filed a lawsuit, which she won.

After completing their prison terms, many ex-convicts have difficulty finding jobs due to their criminal records. As a result, some return to a life of crime to make money. The HELP program, which is operated by St. Francis De Sales Church in Walnut Hills, assists the ex-felons — or “returning citizens,” as they like to be known — to find employment. Now the church is lobbying state lawmakers to help them get some professional licenses restored.

Profits fell for one of Greater Cincinnati's largest companies in the January-March quarter, but the firm still beat Wall Street’s expectations. Procter & Gamble today reported profits of $2.5 billion for the quarter, down 15 percent from the same period last year. That translates to earnings per share of 94 cents, beating analysts' forecast of 93 cents. Sales were $20.2 billion, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Speaking of P&G, a group alleges that one of the firm's most popular products might pose a cancer risk for users. Tests run by an environmental group, Women's Voices for the Earth, found small amounts of a cancer-causing chemical called dioxane in Tide Free and Gentle and Tide Original Scent. P&G representatives, however, say the amounts of dioxane in the detergent aren't harmful.

An investigation by WXIX-TV (Channel 19) into the safety of semi-tractor trailer trucks on Cincinnati area roads has revealed hundreds of them aren't being maintained properly and one company in particular is under scrutiny by state and federal investigators. T&T Enterprises, a U.S. mail hauler based in West Chester, has been cited multiple times for not maintaining its fleet up to federal safety standards and not monitoring whether its drivers have had enough rest on long-haul trips throughout the Midwest and up the East Coast. The company didn't respond to the report.

In news elsewhere, the U.S. government said Thursday that it will move about 9,000 Marines off Okinawa in Japan to other bases in the Western Pacific, in an effort to remove a persistent irritant in the relationship between the two allies. The Futenma air base on Okinawa has been viewed as essential to deterring Chinese military aggression in the region, but the noisy air base’s location in a crowded urban area has long angered Okinawa residents and some viewed the Marines as rowdy and potentially violent.

The United States' economic growth slowed to 2.2 percent in the first quarter of the year, down from the prior quarter’s growth rate of 3 percent, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve. The economy has been growing slowly since the second half of 2009, and the recovery quickened throughout all of 2011. Early this year, though, economists forecast a weaker showing for the first quarter, mostly due to a decline in aircraft orders.

An Afghan soldier shot and killed an American mentor and his translator at a U.S. base, Afghan officials said today. The soldier opened fire at an American military base on Wednesday in the volatile Kandahar province. At least 18 foreign soldiers have died this year in 11 incidents of so-called “green on blue” shootings.

A federal judge has refused to order the Obama administration to release photographs and video of the U.S. military operation that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan almost a year ago. The government watchdog group, Judicial Watch, had requested the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) release any pictures or video footage of the May 1, 2011, operation. The CIA admitted it had 52 such records, but U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg said he wouldn't order their release. "A picture may be worth a thousand words," wrote Boasberg. "Yet, in this case, verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama bin Laden will have to suffice, for this court will not order the release of anything more."

A suicide bomber has killed at least five people in the Syrian capital of Damascus, a state TV news service reported today. It's the latest in a wave of explosions in Syrian cities in recent months, despite a diplomatic push to end the year-old uprising against the Syrian government. Thousands of people protested elsewhere to denounce persistent violence by President Bashar Assad's regime.
]]>
<![CDATA[Ballots Being Tallied in Disputed Election]]> Anyone who wants to observe the processing of provisional ballots in a disputed 2010 election is being invited to attend as the work is completed this week.

 

Officials with the Hamilton County Board of Elections have announced the processing will occur today, Thursday and Friday. A total of 286 provisional ballots are being tallied in a Juvenile Court judge race, in compliance with a recent order from a federal judge.

 

The ballots are being counted today until 4 p.m., as well as from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, and from 10:30 a.m. until the work is completed on Friday. The board’s offices are located on the third floor at 824 Broadway Ave., downtown.

 

Also, the Board of Elections will hold special meetings this week. Both will occur Friday; one at 10 a.m., the other at 4:30 p.m. Board members will discuss “pending litigation” related to the Hunter-Williams race.

 

Earlier this month a federal appeals court upheld a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott that 286 provisional ballots should be tallied in the 2010 race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams.

 

Hunter seemingly lost by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast by county voters, but 286 ballots weren't counted because they were cast by people who showed up to vote at the correct polling place but were misdirected by poll workers and voted at the wrong precinct table.

 

Hunter filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the ballots should be counted. Dlott had ordered the local Board of Elections to precisely determine how many ballots weren’t counted due to poll worker error, before she decided. That’s when local Republicans appealed the order.

Williams alleged poll workers correctly followed Ohio law and excluded the ballots, and that they shouldn’t be tallied. The GOP tried to get the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter, but it declined to hear the case in April 2011. That put the matter back in Dlott’s court.


Since the dispute began, Williams was appointed to another vacant Juvenile Court judgeship in November 2011.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> More than 17 months after the election occurred, officials finally are ready to count some disputed ballots in a race for a judicial seat on the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. A federal appeals court Monday upheld an earlier ruling that 286 provisional ballots should be tallied in the 2010 race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams. Hunter seemingly lost by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast by county voters, but 286 ballots weren't counted because they were cast by people who showed up to vote at the correct polling place but were misdirected by poll workers and voted at the wrong precinct table.

Hamilton County commissioners met with state lawmakers Monday to discuss their legislative priorities for this year. They include trying to restore some of the cuts to Ohio's local government fund and reauthorizing a countywide 911 user fee, which is set to expire soon.

Monthly customers at the large Central Parking System lot along Cincinnati's riverfront are angry about a provision involving Reds games. Parkers must be out of the garage by 5 p.m. on game days or their key cards won't work, subjecting them to an additional event fee. A county official said monthly customers can get 24-hour access cards, but those cost $25 more than the regular $100 fee. (Just call it death by a thousand cuts.)

Northern Kentucky University will make what it calls an "historic" announcement today regarding the schools presidential search. Various reports indicate NKU's trustees have selected Cleveland State University Provost Geoffrey Mearns for the job. Current president Jim Votruba announced last month that he would retire at the end of this school year.

Cincinnati officials have selected an empty industrial site in Over-the-Rhine as the location for a streetcar maintenance facility. The property is located on Henry Street, between Elm and Race streets. Based on an independent appraisal, City Hall has offered to buy the site for $1.4 million but the owner is seeking an unspecified higher price, according to The Enquirer.

In news elsewhere, the U.S. Justice Department is under fire for remaining quiet about problems in the testing of forensic evidence at the FBI's crime laboratory. Officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people nationwide, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled, The Washington Post reported.

President Obama is being accused of ignoring a 2008 campaign pledge to impose a “windfall profits tax” on oil companies. As a candidate, Obama said he would tax large oil company profits that would flow back to families in $1,000 rebate checks, but hasn't mentioned the idea since taking office. An Obama aide told Politico the White House decided that it had a better chance at persuading Congress to repeal tax subsidies than enact the tax on oil and gas company profits.

Groundbreaking on homes fell unexpectedly in March, but permits for future construction rose to their highest level in nearly four years, Commerce Department data showed today. March's decline in housing starts was the biggest percentage drop since April of last year, although most of the fall was in the volatile multi-unit category, which declined 16.9 percent. Starts for single-family homes dropped 0.2 percent.

Australia has announced that its troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan nearly a year ahead of a previously scheduled 2014 withdrawal date. Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minster, said today that most of 1,550 remaining Australian troops in the nation were expected to return home by the end of 2013. The timetable means the largest force provided by any nation outside of the NATO alliance would leave Afghanistan a year ahead of the proposed December 2014 withdrawal date for all international forces. The United States currently has 90,000 troops stationed there.

A right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in a gun and bomb rampage in Norway last year has called his attack "spectacular,” claiming he would do it again if he could. As his trial continued for a second day, Anders Behring Breivik, 33, called himself a commander in an anti-Communist, anti-Islamic militant resistance movement called the Knights Templar.
]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> In a refreshing sign of sanity at City Hall, Cincinnati officials might change the way they go about drafting the municipal budget. Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who heads council's Finance and Budget Committee, is proposing the group adopt a new priorities-based process that involves more community input. Six council members support the idea, which means it probably will be adopted.

As first reported by The Daily Bellwether blog and later picked up by The Enquirer, a new tenant at The Banks shopping and residential district will get almost $1 million in grant and loan assistance from the city. Mahogany’s Bar and Grill, a soul food restaurant scheduled to open in spring, will get a $684,000 grant and $300,000 loan, if City Council approves the deal Thursday. The grant would cover design and construction costs, while the loan would be used to pay for furniture and equipment.

Legendary Soul and Funk singer Patti LaBelle is visiting two local Kroger grocery stores to celebrate Black History Month. The diva will visit the Queen City Centre store at 4777 Kenard Ave. from 1:30-2:30 p.m. today, where she will be joined by a choir from the School of Creative and Performing Arts, along with students from Rockdale Academy in Avondale. She will visit the Norwood store at 4500 Montgomery Road from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Thursday, where she will perform with the St. Bernard High School Choir and students from Evanston Academy. As Ms. LaBelle might say, “Gitchi gitchi yaya here, mocha chocolata, yaya here.”

As expected, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has broken a 2-2 tie vote by siding with the GOP members of the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Husted wants to appeal the decision of a federal judge who ordered elections officials to count additional ballots in a disputed 2010 juvenile court judge election.

In news elsewhere, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is defending comments he made in 2008 that he's a Satanist. No, not really, but he did say that The Evil One exists and has targeted the United States for destruction through the policies of President Obama. (Yes, that part is real.) Maybe Santorum would prefer being elected Pope instead of president. Someone buy the man an airline ticket to Rome, please.

The newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to overhaul rules on overdraft fees charged by banks. The agency plans to limit the costly charges. Last year, banks made between $15 billion and $22 billion from overdraft fees, which is excessive, agency officials said.

President Obama is about to ask Congress to scrub the corporate tax code of dozens of loopholes and subsidies to reduce the top rate to 28 percent, down from 35 percent, while giving preferences to manufacturers that would set their maximum effective rate at 25 percent, sources told The New York Times.

At least four people were killed and 20 injured in Afghanistan after protests spread over the burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. military base. American officials apologized on Tuesday after Korans were "inadvertently" put in an incinerator at Bagram Air Field. Seriously, we're in our 11th year of this war, shouldn't we know proper protocol by now?
]]>
<![CDATA[Appeal in Elections Case Could Be Costly]]>

A pending decision about whether to appeal a federal judge’s decision in a disputed election could place Hamilton County taxpayers on the hook for legal fees in the case.

The case involves which provisional ballots to count in the Juvenile Court judicial race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams from the November 2010 election.

Hunter lost by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast. Some ballots weren’t counted, however, because although they were cast at the correct polling station, they were cast at the wrong precinct table, apparently due to poll worker error. Hunter then filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the board’s decision.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott ruled Feb. 8 that 286 provisional ballots should be counted in the race.

On Monday the Hamilton County Board of Elections split 2-2, along partisan lines, about whether to appeal Dlott’s ruling. Because there was a tie vote, the matter goes to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who likely will side with his GOP colleagues on the board and order an appeal.

Like the Republicans on the county elections board, Husted has said state law, not a federal judge, should be the final authority on which ballots are counted.

“I am concerned about the continuing involvement of the federal court in prescribing which ballots should and should not be counted in a county judicial race in Ohio,” Husted said in January 2011. “As Ohio’s chief elections officer, I maintain that it is of utmost importance that we take this stand to preserve the authority of state law to govern state elections, as interpreted by the Ohio Supreme Court.”

But the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals already has upheld a ruling by Dlott in the case once before. The appellate court ruled in January 2011 that the board should determine how many ballots were cast due to poll worker error.

The three-judge panel said not counting ballots that were miscast through no fault of the voter would be "fundamentally unfair." Still, it looks like the board will try its luck with the 6th Circuit once again.

It’s routine in cases like this for the victor — plaintiff Tracie Hunter, in this instance — to ask the court to order the defendant to pay legal costs. Although the exact amount of legal fees incurred to date wasn’t immediately available, it’s believed to be in the range of $800,000 to $1.5 million.

If an appeal is pursued, the county could be at risk of paying much more.  A lengthy appeal process could easily double what’s been spent so far, legal experts said.

The expense comes at a time when Hamilton County commissioners are cutting back sheriff's patrols and other county services to avoid a deficit.

Husted’s office hasn’t yet received formal notice of the board’s tie vote, a staffer said today. When it does, a legal review will be initiated.

“We will make a decision shortly thereafter,” said spokesman Matt McClellan. “We hope to make one soon.”

Interestingly, Dlott also commented in her ruling on the apparent unconstitutionality of Ohio law.

“Ohio’s precinct-based voting system that delegates to poll workers the duty to ensure that voters are directed to the correct precinct but which provides that provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct shall not be counted under any circumstance, even where the ballot is miscast due to poll-worker error, is fundamentally unfair and abrogates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law,” the judge wrote.

Dlott said she was unable to order a remedy, however, because the original complaint wasn’t based on a due process claim and the plaintiff had failed to notify the Ohio Attorney General, as she were required to do if she intended to challenge the constitutionality of Ohio law.  

Since then, though, the notice has been given. Conceivably, Dlott could rule on that issue in the not-too-distant future and order a remedy, namely declaring Ohio’s election laws unconstitutional and unenforceable.

]]>
<![CDATA[Rand Paul to Speak Locally ]]>

His father might be busy trying to score the GOP’s presidential nomination, but U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is taking the time to speak at a Town Hall-style meeting in Northern Kentucky next week.

Paul is scheduled to attend an event organized by the Northern Kentucky Tea Party on Feb. 24. It will be held at the Calvin Perry Community Center, 8536 W. Main St., in Alexandria.

The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. and last for about an hour. Paul will speak first, then answer questions from the audience.

In the Tea Party’s announcement of the event, Paul is described as “a true champion of freedom” who has “worked to stop the EPA's war on coal.”

Paul, 49, is the son of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who is seeking the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Elected to the Senate in November 2010, the younger Paul is also a practicing ophthalmologist in Bowling Green, Ky.

Paul made headlines during his campaign when he said he disliked portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce.

A restaurant or other private business with no government funding should be allowed to discriminate, he said. “In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior,” Paul added.

]]>
<![CDATA[Hunter, Dems Prevail in Election Lawsuit]]>

Nearly 15 months after the disputed election, a federal judge ruled today that Hamilton County elections officials must count roughly 300 provisional ballots cast in a 2010 Juvenile Court judge race.

U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott said that the Board of Elections violated the voters’ constitutional rights when it decided to count some provisional ballots but discard others based solely on the location of where they were cast.---

“The Hamilton County Board of Elections violated provisional voters’ right to equal protection under the law when, in determining whether provisional ballots were cast in the wrong precinct because of poll worker error, it considered evidence of the location where provisional ballots were cast for some, but not all, provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct,” Dlott wrote in her 93-page decision.

The dispute stems from the Juvenile Court judge race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams and the outcome of the November 2010 election.

Hunter seemingly lost by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast by county voters. Under Ohio law, if the margin of victory is under one-half of 1 percent, an automatic recount is triggered. But exactly which ballots should be counted was at the heart of a bitter political battle between the Democratic and Republican parties, with potentially far-reaching consequences.

The dispute centers on which provisional ballots should be tallied. Provisional ballots are those cast by a person who may or may not be eligible to vote, which are set aside for later review by elections officials.

In the judicial race, 849 provisional ballots eventually were disqualified. Hunter and local Democratic Party leaders, however, believe 286 of those ballots should be counted because they were cast by people who showed up to vote at the correct polling place but were misdirected by poll workers and voted at the wrong precinct table.

Most of the disputed ballots were from precincts that are predominantly Democratic.

Hunter filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the ballots should be counted. Dlott had ordered the local Board of Elections to precisely determine how many ballots weren’t counted due to poll worker error, before she decided. That’s when local Republicans appealed the order.

Williams alleged poll workers correctly followed the state law and excluded the ballots, and that they shouldn’t be tallied. The GOP tried to get the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter, but it declined to hear the case in April 2011. That put the matter back in Dlott’s court.

Since the dispute began, Williams was appointed to another vacant Juvenile Court judgeship in November 2011.

Today’s ruling is a victory for Hunter and Democrats. It means 286 of the disputed ballots must be counted.

Dlott wrote, “Ohio’s precinct-based voting system that delegates to poll workers the duty to ensure that voters are directed to the correct precinct but which provides that provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct shall not be counted under any circumstance, even where the ballot is miscast due to poll-worker error, is fundamentally unfair and abrogates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law.”

The ruling concludes, “The Board shall count votes for the Juvenile Court Judge race as well as the other three races/issues on those ballots presently pending recounts in Hamilton County.”

]]>
<![CDATA[Reece Wants Election Monitors]]>

A state lawmaker from Cincinnati is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to send federal election monitors here to ensure all provisional ballots cast in the November election are counted.

State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Bond Hill) sent the letter this week. She stated that concerns about how provisional ballots were treated in the 2010 race for Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge prompted the letter, adding no significant progress has been made in dealing with the issue since that time.---

“We are not heading in the right direction on provisional ballots and efforts to correct the problem are being ignored,” Reece wrote in the letter. “Federal monitors will help restore confidence in the democratic process among voters.”

In the 2010 judicial race, Democrat Tracie Hunter seemingly lost to Republican John Williams by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast by county voters.

Under Ohio law, if the margin of victory is under one-half of 1 percent, an automatic recount is triggered. But exactly which ballots should be counted is at the heart of a bitter political battle between the Democratic and Republican parties, with potentially far-reaching consequences.

The dispute centers on which provisional ballots should be tallied. Provisional ballots are those cast by a person who may or may not be eligible to vote, which are set aside for later review by elections officials.

In the judicial race, 849 provisional ballots eventually were disqualified. Hunter and local Democratic Party leaders, however, believe 286 of those ballots should be counted because they were cast by people who showed up to vote at the correct polling place but were misdirected by poll workers and voted at the wrong precinct table.

Nearly 15 months later, the matter still is pending before U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott.

Hunter filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the ballots should be counted. Dlott ordered the local Board of Elections to precisely determine how many ballots weren’t counted due to poll worker error, before she decided.

Local Republicans appealed the order and tried to get the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter, but it declined to hear the case in April 2011. That put the issue back in Dlott’s court.

Dlott indicated in September that she expected to make a ruling in the case within 30 days, but that never occurred.

Ohio currently doesn’t have a uniform standard for counting provisional ballots when there is poll worker error.  The decision to count or toss out a provisional ballot when a poll worker makes a mistake is instead determined by each county Board of Elections.

Many Hamilton County voters feel disenfranchised by the uncertainty and the why the disputed race has been handled, Reece said.

A former Cincinnati vice mayor, Reece represents the Ohio House 33rd District, which includes eastern Cincinnati as well as Deer Park, Elmwood, Golf Manor, Norwood, Silverton, St. Bernard and parts of Columbia, Springfield, and Sycamore townships.

]]>
<![CDATA[Kasich Gets an 'F' Across the State]]>

If three unscientific, online polls are any indication, Ohio Gov. John Kasich probably shouldn't make plans for a second term.

The Columbus Dispatch, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Dayton's WRGT-TV (Channel 45) have each had polls asking people to rate Kasich's performance during his first 100 days in office and the results are overwhelming and the same: Most disapprove of his performance or give him an “F.”---

Nearly 76 percent of Plain Dealer respondents disapproved of Kasich's job, while 84 percent of Dispatch respondents graded him with an F.

Similarly, 93 percent of WRGT's much smaller poll gave the governor an F, too.

Given the results, CityBeat wonders if Kasich still believes he's doing the will of the people with his many wrong-headed plans and proposals.

]]>
<![CDATA[Brunner Touts New Watchdog PAC]]>

Just a few weeks after leaving office, ex-Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is trying to raise awareness about a political action committee (PAC) she helped create while campaigning last year for the U.S. Senate nomination.

Courage PAC is designed to increase grassroots advocacy and citizen activism on several issues, and perform a watchdog role on Ohio government now that Republicans fill most statewide offices.---

Although the PAC was formally created in July, its official kickoff was today.

Among the issues the PAC will be involved with include financial reform and foreclosures, fair elections, and transparency and accountability in government.

“Courage PAC gives frustrated (and happy) voters, regardless of party, a viable way to speak and be heard over the influence of money for the sound public policy that benefits many,” its Web site states. “Courage PAC gives citizens the chance to participate in a meaningful and effective way in their democracy.

“Citizens are encouraged to join Courage PAC to gain insight into some of the complex issues that may not at first appear to directly affect them,” it adds. “Citizens are encouraged to advocate as individuals by contacting their government officials, writing letters to the editor, signing petitions and engaging personally in making their views known. After all, democracy is at its best when citizens participate.”

Brunner was the first woman ever elected as Ohio's secretary of state. While in that office, she enacted a number of elections reforms aimed at avoiding some of the controversies and problems that surrounded how the 2004 presidential election was conducted in the state. The reforms included requiring back-up paper ballots at polling stations with electronic voting machines; and ending the practice of “sleepovers,” the practice of poll-workers taking voting machines and ballots home with them the night before election.

Instead of seeking reelection, Brunner ran in the 2010 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate against Lee Fisher. She lost the primary and Fisher ended up being defeated by Republican Rob Portman in November’s midterm elections.

In a message to supporters, Brunner said more citizen involvement is needed to help counter the expanding corporate influence on politics and government.

“We find ourselves in a time of complex change as we strive to shed ourselves of economic woes and embrace the needs and desires of a new American demographic paradigm,” Brunner wrote.

“History has shown that when we speak together, we're stronger than the forces of money and institutional and established power structures that may not be as responsive to our needs as they used to be,” she added.

]]>
<![CDATA[Reece Introduces Voting Bill]]>

As Hamilton County elections officials continue to be stuck in legal limbo following conflicting state and federal directives over a local dispute, an area legislator is introducing a bill that could resolve the matter.

State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Bond Hill) announced plans this week to introduce legislation that would require provisional ballots be counted if they are cast in the correct polling location but in the wrong precinct. Reece, a former Cincinnati vice mayor, says the bill is a response to the dispute swirling around the November election to fill a judgeship on the Hamilton County Juvenile Court.---

The dispute stems from the race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams. After provisional ballots were tallied, Hunter trailed Williams by 23 votes, but Hunter filed a lawsuit that alleges some people were told to vote in the wrong precinct by poll workers. Hunter's campaign alleges that 286 people went to the right location to vote, but were directed to the wrong table.

Responding to Hunter's lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott -- a Democratic appointee -- ordered the Hamilton County Board of Elections to count more than 150 of the disputed ballots. But Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted -- a Republican -- and the GOP-dominated Ohio Supreme Court told the board to disregard the ballots. That's left local officials confused whether this is an issue that should be decided by state or federal authorities.

"I want to make sure that every constituent in my district is able to exercise their right to vote," Reece said in a prepared statement.  "Some of my constituents cast their ballot at the right polling location but in the wrong precinct due to the error of a poll worker.  They showed up to the right building, but they were misdirected.

"We should be fighting to make sure every person is able to exercise their vote, and not fighting to prevent him or her for exercising it," Reece added.

Joining Reece as co-sponsors on the bill are Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus), Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent).

Stinziano believes the rules should be made clear and uniform statewide, rather than be left open to interpretation by each of Ohio's 88 county boards of elections.

“As director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, my staff and I worked in a bipartisan way to protect voters from these kinds of mistakes,” Stinziano said. “We need to make these protections uniform statewide.”

It remains to be seen if the bill can gain support in the State Legislature, where Republicans are in the majority. 

]]>
<![CDATA[Mag: Boehner 'The Ultimate Beltway Hack']]>

Perhaps the perfect antidote to The Enquirer's fawning, superficial coverage of the new House Speaker is the profile of John Boehner that appears in the new issue of Rolling Stone.

West Chester's favorite son — who is now second in line to the presidency — doesn't come off well in the lengthy article by political writer Matt Taibbi, who quotes both named and anonymous sources from both sides of the political aisle who have worked with Boehner over the years.---

Here is Taibbi's description of Boehner, from the second paragraph: “He's a five-tool insider who can lie, cheat, steal, play golf, change his mind on command and do anything else his lobbyist buddies and campaign contributors require of him to get the job done.”

Ouch. And it gets more severe after that.

As expected, included is the well-known anecdote about the Orange One passing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to Republican lawmakers on the House floor in 1995, shortly before they were to vote on tobacco industry subsidies.

But also mentioned are less familiar tales about Boehner, including the weekly meetings he holds with “The Thursday Group,” comprised of lobbyists from Citigroup, MillerCoors, UPS, Goldman Sachs, Google and R.J. Reynolds.

Also included is the encounter he had with then-Congressman Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) last year, after Driehaus voted for the health-care reform bill.

Here's the excerpt:

Another Ohio Democrat, Steve Driehaus, clashed repeatedly with Boehner before losing his seat in the midterm elections. After Boehner suggested that by voting for Obamacare, Driehaus "may be a dead man" and "can't go home to the west side of Cincinnati" because "the Catholics will run him out of town," Driehaus began receiving death threats, and a right-wing website published directions to his house. Driehaus says he approached Boehner on the floor and confronted him.

"I didn't think it was funny at all," Driehaus says. "I've got three little kids and a wife. I said to him, 'John, this is bullshit, and way out of bounds. For you to say something like that is wildly irresponsible.'"

Driehaus is quick to point out that he doesn't think Boehner meant to urge anyone to violence. "But it's not about what he intended — it's about how the least rational person in my district takes it. We run into some crazy people in this line of work."

Driehaus says Boehner was "taken aback" when confronted on the floor, but never actually said he was sorry: "He said something along the lines of, 'You know that's not what I meant.' But he didn't apologize."

And here's what Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Boehner's predecessor as House Speaker, candidly says about his propensity for breaking into tears at odd moments.

“The cryfests have left Democrats rolling their eyes. 'He cries sometimes when we're having a debate on bills,' grumbled Nancy Pelosi. 'If I cry, it's about the personal loss of a friend or something like that. But when it comes to politics — no, I don't cry.'”

Sounds to me like Pelosi could take him in a fistfight.

Boehner, 61, is a Reading native who graduated from Moeller High School and was a plastics salesman before joining Congress in 1991. He's since been reelected 10 times with little opposition, and ran unopposed in 1994 during the height of Newt Gingrich-mania.

Other descriptions of Boehner in the article include:

** “the quintessential example of the kind of glad-handing, double-talking, K Street toady who has dominated the politics of both parties for decades;”

** “not so much as a bloodless partisan but as a clueless yutz;”

** that there exists in Washington a “perception of Boehner as more clown than tyrant;”

** along with “the widespread belief on the Hill that he doesn't really have much, if any, control over his Republican members.”

As an example of Boehner's “irrepressible hackosity,” Taibbi cites an instance when he once confused quotes from the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence at a public rally of true believers.

Most interesting, however, is Taibbi's account of Boehner's uneasy relationship with the burgeoning Tea Party movement.

He writes, “It's hard to imagine that in all of American political history there has been a more unlikely marriage than John Boehner and the pitchfork-wielding, incumbent-eating Tea Party, whose blood ostensibly boils at the thought of business as usual. Because John Boehner is business as usual, a man devoted almost exclusively to ensuring his own political survival by tending faithfully to the corrupt and clanking Beltway machinery. How? Let us count the ways.”

And then Taibbi does.

Taibbi interviews Chris Littleton, head of the Ohio Liberty Council, who remains wary of Boehner and his ilk.

“This is why in some states the Republican Party fought so fiercely against the Tea Party; in Ohio, the party spent nearly $1 million campaigning to stop Tea Party candidates from assuming jobs at the state level. 'They hate us more than they hate the left,' says Littleton. 'The left's just an enemy. We present a legitimate threat to them.'”

Although Rolling Stone's article broaches Boehner's rumored hard partying ways, a blog that's raising eyebrows takes it even further.

Drunk Boehner: The John Boehner Booze Watch chronicles the congressman's alleged excesses over the years. The blog was begun in November 2008, but became more active last year, perhaps in anticipation of Boehner's ascendency.

Oy. Somebody pass me a cocktail.





]]>
<![CDATA[Dems: GOP Hampering Vote Probe]]>

Subpoenas will be issued to more than 2,200 poll workers and others to solicit testimony about advice they gave to voters in Hamilton County precincts being investigated in a contested judicial race.

Local Democratic Party leaders said the issuance of subpoenas is “a ridiculously expensive and time-consuming proposition” that could be done more quickly and cheaply through other methods, but that process is being blocked by their Republican counterparts.---

In a joint statement issued today, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke and Caleb Faux, the party's executive director, criticized Republicans for being obstructionist in the probe involving contested votes cast in a race for Juvenile Court judge.

The controversy stems from the race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams. After provisional ballots were tallied, Hunter trailed Williams by 23 votes, but Hunter filed a lawsuit that alleges some people were told to vote in the wrong precinct by poll workers.

In the lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott ordered the Board of Elections to consider whether poll worker error did, in fact, cause some people to vote in the wrong precinct. Hunter's campaign alleges that 286 people went to the right location to vote, but were directed to the wrong table.

Dlott’s order requires votes cast in the wrong precinct as a result of poll worker error to be counted. As two of the four members of the county's Board of Elections, Burke and Faux asked that those votes be counted. But the two Republican members — Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou and Chip Gerhardt — voted against the motion.

Democrats are prepared to present the tie-vote to Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner immediately, so she can break the tie. But the Republican board members are using procedural maneuvers to delay forwarding their request to Brunner, Burke and Faux said.

Brunner, a Democrat, leaves office in a few weeks. She will be replaced by Republican Jon Hustead.

“In fact, the Republicans have voted against every motion that we have made designed to move the Court-ordered investigation forward. As a result, in order to get something done, we were forced to vote for the Republican proposal that will result in subpoenas being issued to 2,204 poll workers and any observers who were in the precincts in question on Election Day,” Burke and Faux wrote in their statement. “It is a ridiculously expensive and time-consuming proposition which will serve only to delay the completion of the investigation when the same thing could have been accomplished with simple questionnaires sent to poll workers and, more importantly, the voters themselves.

“For the most part, those voters do not even know that there votes have not been counted, but whose votes could well determine who the next Juvenile Court judge will be. (Those voters can call 1-866-644-6868 to find out if their votes have been counted, and if not, why not.),” the statement continued.

“The saddest part of all of this is that it did not use to be this way,” Burke and Faux wrote. “For years, our Board of Elections counted the ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct (as did other boards across the state of Ohio), but only those votes that the voter was qualified to cast. That is, if the voter happened to go to a wrong precinct that was in a different house district than they were entitled to vote in, the Board only counted those votes that the voter was properly qualified to cast. But when Ken Blackwell was the Secretary of State, he issued a directive that prohibited the counting of such votes and subsequently the then Republican controlled state legislature enacted that same prohibition into law. Each year since then, hundreds of Hamilton Countians have not had their votes counted, even though they were fully qualified voters and had voted in the right room.”

The Democratic duo hope Dlott's order will result in the law being changed.

]]>
<![CDATA[CCV Gloats About Election, Seeks Funds]]>

In a fundraising e-mail sent to its supporters Thursday, Citizens for Community Values (CCV) gloated about what it termed were Election Day victories over “the homosexual agenda.”

The e-mail, entitled “A Surge of Votes for Traditional Marriage,” implies the issue of equal marriage rights was the deciding factor in numerous races.---

It states, “The national press is ignoring the fact that November 2, 2010, was a turning point for candidates and judges who support the homosexual agenda.

“Here are just a few examples. On Election Day: In Maine, 22 legislators who voted for same-sex marriage were replaced by candidates who support marriage between one man and one woman; In Iowa, the three judges who forced same-sex marriage on the people of Iowa lost their positions; In Massachusetts, more than 20 candidates who support marriage between one man and one woman were elected,” it continues.

CCV's e-mail then quotes an unidentified gay activist to bolster its claims.

“According to one homosexual activist: 'Some of the most progressive legislators in tough races lost. It's a huge setback for the gay community to lose so many committed stalwarts. It's a little frightening.' While we rejoice in victories such as these, we also know this issue requires constant vigilance. Please, continue to stand for the truth in your home, church, and community.”

The e-mail then features a “donate today!” button.

Formed in 1983, the Sharonville-based CCV lobbies for various arch-conservative causes including blocking the availability of pornography to adults, overturning anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting gays and lesbians, and trying to close down striptease clubs. On its Web site, CCV lists its mission as promoting “Judeo-Christian moral values, and to reduce destructive behaviors contrary to those values, through education, active community partnership, and individual empowerment at the local, state and national levels.”

Promoting what's touted as God's will can be a lucrative business. In 2002, records show Burress made an annual salary of $87,581 plus benefits; his wife, Vickie, who works as CCV's "victim assistance coordinator," makes $28,167 plus benefits.

Cincinnati City Councilman Charlie Winburn is a frequent CCV ally. Winburn's chief of staff, David Miller, was the group's vice president of public policy and now serves as the organization's eyes and ears at City Hall.


]]>
<![CDATA[Making Every Vote Count]]>

With just five votes separating them on Election Night, Democrat Connie Pillich and Republican Mike Wilson are both appealing to supporters to help them contact people who cast absentee ballots that have problems.

Pillich, the incumbent in the Ohio House 28th District seat, was ahead of Wilson by five votes when ballots were counted on Nov. 3. But the Board of Elections still is counting absentee and provisional ballots, which could be the deciding factor in the hotly contested race.---

On Tuesday the Hamilton County Democratic Party issued a mass e-mail seeking volunteers to help in the Pillich-Wilson race, as well as in Tracie Hunter's race to become a Juvenile Court judge against Republican John Williams.

“This is an urgent appeal for volunteer help,” the party's e-mail stated. “Two races still hang very much in the balance in Hamilton County; Tracie Hunter's race for Judge of Juvenile Court and Connie Pillich's race for State Representative. Both are important races and both could be swayed by the votes of more that 1,000 absentee voters whose votes cannot currently be counted (most commonly because they failed to seal the inner envelope or to sign it).

“Volunteers are urgently needed to try and reach these voters and persuade them to go to the Board of Elections and cure the problem. Can you help? The (sic) coming Friday at 4 p.m. is the deadline,” the e-mail added.

Wilson's campaign also e-mailed a similar appeal to supporters this week.

Based on ballots tallied on Election Night, Pillich received 20,161 votes (48.72 percent) compared to Wilson's 20,156 (48.71 percent).

Pillich, an attorney and U.S. Air Force veteran, is a first-term state lawmaker from Montgomery. Wilson, a technical manager, lives in Springfield Township and is leader of the Cincinnati Tea Party.

The Pillich-Wilson faceoff has been hard fought, with allegations of smear tactics on both sides. The race was featured in Time magazine in October as an example of state legislature races that could affect who controls redistricting.

Also on Election Night, Williams held a small lead in the judicial race against Hunter. Williams had 112,359 votes (50.64 percent) to Hunter's 109,512 votes (49.36 percent).

About 11,000 provisional votes are being counted.

Provisional voters have two days left to provide proof of identity and correct problems with their ballots. Those voters may either go to the Board of Elections offices at 824 Broadway, downtown, or call 513-632-7000.

The elections board will meet Nov. 23 to certify all results.

]]>
<![CDATA[Elections: The Day After]]>

After a seemingly interminable campaign season filled with bizarre antics and toxic TV commercials, Election 2010 is finally over. Some people are recovering from partying on Tuesday night, while others might be beginning therapy to deal with what lies ahead for our county, state and nation.---

To access CityBeat's coverage of area Congressional races, click here.

To access our coverage of the Hamilton County Commission race, click here.

Meanwhile, any predictions for 2012? 

]]>
<![CDATA[County Race Gets Animated]]>

With new computer software programs available to create animated videos, this election cycle has seen several entertaining segments hit the Internet. Perhaps the best known video is one that shows an animated person trying to use reason with a co-worker who is a Tea Partier.---

But the video of most interest to Greater Cincinnati readers probably is this one about the race for Hamilton County Commission, between Republican Chris Monzel and Democrat Jim Tarbell. The four-minute, 52-second segment -- created by someone with the screen name "fakechrismonzel" -- is posted on YouTube and crystalizes several pertinent issues in the race.

Chief among the issues is Monzel's claim in a TV ad that, if elected to the county commission, he would work to stop Cincinnati's streetcar project.  The project, which is a city undertaking, involves no county government participation.

As the animated man says, "If he wants to stop it, he should stay on City Council." And wait until you get to the part about conservative activist Chris Finney.

Watch and enjoy. 

]]>
<![CDATA[Sanity Prevails on Fountain Square]]>

CityBeat would like to thank everyone who joined us Saturday afternoon on Fountain Square for the broadcast of Comedy Central's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. We had no idea how many of you would venture down to the Square for a healthy dose of hot food, cold beverages and comedy from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but we were very pleased with the turnout. A nice crowd indeed. I'd even call it a “throng.”---

[Check out photos from the rally here.]

I enjoyed chatting with U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, who walked through the crowd shaking hands and handing out purple drink cups. Saying he might be “preaching to the choir” at the event — a reasonable Congressman interacting with reasonable citizens — Driehaus enjoyed the beautiful Fall afternoon like the rest of us, then was heading off to a number of campaign appearances the rest of the weekend.

My favorite music segment from the rally was when Stewart brought on Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) to sing “Peace Train.” Colbert interrupted the song, saying he had a better train to ride, and introduced Ozzy Osbourne to sing “Crazy Train.” Stewart and Colbert argued over which was the better song until the musicians walked off stage arm-in-arm. They then agreed they could both tolerate a “Love Train,” so the O'Jays came on to sing their ’70s hit.

I also enjoyed the video snippets where pop culture flameouts like JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater and one of the loony “real wives” of reality TV recanted their high-profile meltdowns and explained that perhaps they could have handled their adversity more reasonably and more calmly.

And Stewart's closing remarks were excellent, especially his comparison of real-life Americans to cars waiting in line for a one-lane tunnel: “You go, then I'll go. You go, then I'll go.” We are a reasonable people, despite how cable TV pundits portray the political extremes.

It looks like media reports are saying the rally attracted 200,000 people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., more than twice what Glenn Beck's pro-Tea Party rally attracted in August. Three cheers for sanity!

Speaking of sanity and reason, don't forget to get out and vote tomorrow. Find CityBeat's election endorsements and election news coverage here.

]]>
<![CDATA[The Power Behind Chabot's Throne]]>

Don't let the innocuous name fool you. The Campaign for Working Families has nothing to do with making life better for overworked or cash-strapped middle-class families.

Instead, the political action committee (PAC) is concerned with electing "pro-family, pro-life and pro-free enterprise" candidates to federal and state offices. Founded in 1996 by evangelical Christian and wannabe presidential candidate Gary Bauer, the PAC has pumped $124,950 into ads helping get Republican Steve Chabot reelected to Congress.---

Among non-local PACs, only the Susan B. Anthony List has spent more ($154,171) for Chabot. But unlike the List — an anti-abortion group waging a high-profile legal battle with Democratic incumbent Steve Driehaus over the content of proposed billboards — Bauer's PAC has been mostly a low-key presence, trying not to draw too much attention.

What, exactly, does the Campaign for Working Families hope for from the candidates it backs?

According to Right Wing Watch, sponsored by People for the American Way, the PAC “often supports right-wing Republican candidates over moderate Republicans” and “supports state ballot measures that reject gay and lesbian civil rights or those that increase restrictions on access to abortion.”

In the past, the PAC has endorsed such notorious — and, in some instances, disgraced — hardliners like John Ashcroft, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Rick Santorum, Tom Tancredo and Judge Roy Moore. It's also helped pass anti-gay marriage state ballot initiatives in Alaska, California, Nebraska, Nevada, and Hawaii.

The PAC describes itself on its Web site as taking “the guesswork out of identifying the true conservatives from the pretenders.”

Besides the PAC, Bauer is the president of American Values, a nonprofit organization "committed to defending life, traditional marriage, and equipping our children with" conservative values, and serves on the board of the Emergency Committee for Israel, a militantly pro-Israel group.

“A staunch supporter of President Bush's war on terrorism, Bauer is also a leading Christian advocate for a strong and secure Israel,” its Web site states. “Since the atrocities of Sept. 11, Bauer has devoted considerable time and energy to strengthening the shared values of the Israeli/American alliance.”

Ohio's 1st Congressional District covers roughly from Vine Street downtown westward to the Indiana state line and northward into Butler County. It includes such communities as Clifton, Evendale, Norwood, Reading, Springdale, White Oak, Woodlawn, Colerain Township and Delhi Township.

The question for voters as they go to the polls Nov. 2 is whether Bauer and his group reflect their values. By pumping that amount of cash into Chabot's campaign, the PAC will no doubt expect him to introduce legislation that furthers its agenda.

]]>
<![CDATA[Boehner in D.C. on Election Night]]>

Some critics have alleged Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) doesn't pay enough attention to the needs of his district, a charge he flatly denies. But come Election Night, Boehner won't be celebrating (or drowning his sorrows) in Southwest Ohio.---

Boehner, who will become House Speaker if the GOP gains a majority in the chamber, will be attending a swanky GOP-sponsored event at a hotel in Washington, D.C.

CQ Politics, the blog for Congressional Quarterly, reports that an invitation to the National Republican Congressional Committee's “Election Night Results Watch” indicates Boehner will attend the event at the Grand Hyatt. Also scheduled to attend is Mississppi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Once the blog obtained a copy of the invitation, the NRCC was quick to point out the free event is not a celebration.

"This event is not a fundraiser and it is not a 'party' — even if voters remove Democrats from power, you don't celebrate at a time when one in 10 Americans are out of work and our children's future is threatened by mountains of debt," NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said in a statement.

This week's issue of CityBeat, which hits streets Wednesday, features a profile of Boehner's opponent, Democrat Justin Coussoule. He is a graduate of the West Point Military Academy and an attorney.

“Our current representative, John Boehner, is continuing his philosophy of taking this district's votes and citizens for granted and will not even return home for Election Night,” said Brian Powell, Coussoule's press secretary.


]]>