Blogs > Northern Ohio Local Politics

Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Geauga County, Bar None?

For the Republicans in the Tuesday primary for the five-county 11th District Court of Appeals, Geauga County Bar Association attorneys highly favor Eugene Lucci over Colleen Mary O’Toole.

Lucci votes: 36 highly recommended, 32 recommended, 5 not recommended and 6 no opinion. O’Toole votes: 47 not recommended, 10 highly recommended, 17 recommended and 5 no opinion.

Democrats Tom Wright and Neil Wilson seeking their party’s nomination Tuesday?

Wright: 9 highly recommended, 14 recommended, 4 not recommended and 52 no opinion. Wilson: 6 highly recommended, 21 recommended, 28 not recommended and 24 no opinion.

Hmm. All this is that writer’s guesses is that five-county draw will be Republican O’Toole and Democrat Wright both nominated.

-David W. Jones

See How They Run, Cuyahoga?

It’s not just Republicans and Democrats fighting amongst themselves in Lake and Geauga counties.

What about Bob Bennett, the former longtime Ohio Republican Party chairman who also once held the same GOP gavel plus the party state central committee seat in his hometown Cuyahoga County?

In a move reflecting a statewide effort by mavericks, Bennett’s being challenged in Tuesday’s Republican primary by tea party activist Mike Griffith for the 23rd District state central committee in Cuyahoga.

Ohio’s political parties have districts each electing one male and one female to a state central committee.

In this state, such members decide who will run the Grand Ole Party. So would the (very unlikely) ouster of Bennett and other counterparts in Ohio threaten Kevin DeWine, who is now the chair of the Ohio Republican Party?

Hmm. In the same 23rd, incumbent Colleen Wing is challenged by fellow Republican Tiffany Hoke, of Greater Cleveland Young Republicans.

In Cuyahoga’s GOP 24th District, it’s incumbent Nancy Suhadolnic vs. Molly Smith (excutive director of Cleveland Right to Life) and incumbent Dave Bailey (who’s also state GOP vice chair) vs. tea partier Ron Lisy.

In the same county’s GOP 25th District, its incumbent Valerie McPherson vs. Beverly Goldstein and Brittany Williams.

All this is just the Republicans.

What about members of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, precinct, state central and all, plus troubled Chairman Jimmy Dimora’s role being held by interim Chairwoman Patricia Britt?

Who will run the county Democrats after Tuesday?

Among Democrats, take a look at which contested or uncontested candidates favor County Prosecutor Bill Mason as The Only Democrat Standing.

No, silly, not Mason as county Democratic Party chair. But what if it were Lakewood Mayor Ed FitzGerald as Dimora’s full-time successor (especially if FitzGerald ran and lost for the elected county CEO).

You know, if the new Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chairwoman Georgene Welo all along (especially if she ran and lost for CEO)?

--David W. Jones,

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grendell, the governor and Mansiongate

Wire news stories explain enough about Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles’s report stating that “political considerations played a significant role” in a controversy involving Gov. Ted Strickland and his mansion.

That is, much to the pleasure of state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township, Charles’ investigative report stated that “political considerations played a significant role” in state public officials stopping a valid drug sting of inmates to save Strickland from embarrassment.

To read the rest of this blog, click here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Welcome to the club

With the Geauga County Republican Party in a county almost all its own for decades, now there’s the newly created Bainbridge Republican Club?

Yep. And no, silly, it’s not because that’s the Grand Ole Party’s home to Geauga's top Republican: U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township.

Maybe it’s partly because the last official ballot count there too many (arghh!) Democrats who cast ballots in Bainbridge (and in fact the whole county).

To read the rest of this blog, click here.

Brown urges Pelosi to block raises for Congress

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined a group of 14 senators in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,D-Calif., urging her to join the Senate in blocking the 2011 Cost of Living Adjustment for members of Congress.

“Ohio workers are more productive than ever, but too many are seeing their wages cut or their hours reduced,” Brown said in a news release. “As Ohioans work to rebound from this economic downturn, the last thing we in Washington should do is give ourselves a raise.”

Last Thursday, the Senate voted unanimously to block the automatic pay raise which would increase salaries by about $1,600.

Here is the essential text of the letter:

"We urge you to promptly bring up for a vote S. 3244, legislation passed by the Senate last week to prevent members of Congress from receiving a pay increase next year.

"We hope you will agree that, with so many Americans still looking for work or struggling to pay their bills, now is not the time for members of Congress to give themselves a $1,600 pay increase. We appreciate your efforts to prevent members of Congress from receiving a pay raise in 2010, and we urge you to ensure the same is true for 2011."

-- John Arthur Hutchison,

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Giving credit where it's due

After all the world seems to have celebrated record-breaking rower Katie Spotz, her hometown is getting in on the act. Mentor City Council and the administration are looking for ways to mark her historic solo row across the Atlantic Ocean this past winter. At age 22, she was the youngest person to row across an ocean alone.

Ideas include making her grand marshal of the Its Better in Mentor Festival, preparing a resolution in her honor and presenting it during a ceremony in the reception area of city hall.

-- Betsy Scott,

Friday, April 23, 2010

See How They Run

By wondering out loud and asking news-noisy questions that turned into a lucky hit, did this scribbler’s Sunday print-edition column of March 28 correctly asking the right question?

You know: Might an independent join the crowd of candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives seat in the 98th District of Geauga County and eastern Cuyahoga County?

Or as mused: “Could a fifth candidate file as an independent for the same Ohio House seat in Columbus?”

In Geauga County, that could turn out to correctly be Chester Township businessman Mark Saric. As of late afternoon today (Friday, April 23) he had not filed candidacy nominating petitions. But did file notice with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, did create a Web for himself as “Candidate for State Representative 98th District” and did tell the Geauga Elections Board he is circulating petitions.

So the luckout syndrome might continue.

Such wondering led to the first stories on Republican Matt Dolan resigning as 98th state rep to run for the newly created office of chief executive office the allegedly corrupted Cuyahoga County government.

The next luckout was confirming former state Rep. Dick Hollington appointed as Dolan successor and then state Rep. Tim Grendell, Skip Claypool, Mary Briggs and Bob Cannon announcing for the same two-year term in that office.

Luckouts also led to the first story on Republican Hollington dropping out the race and leaving the May 4 primary to Republicans Claypool and Grendell, plus Briggs unopposed the same day by a fellow Democrat.

Now the ultimate GOP nominee (so far think Grendell) and Democrat Briggs will head to the Nov. 2 ballot to face the Constitution Party’s Bob Cannon and probably independent Saric. All reside in Geauga.

Of course, what if any of them drop out as did Dolan and Hollington?

P.$. Of the announced candidates, who filed required campaign warchest disclosures by Thursday’s filing deadline with the Ohio $ecretary of $tate’s Office in Columbus?

Of the only reports seen, Claypool raised and/or spent various amounts, leaving him with $902 toward the May primary.

Hmm. The Bainbridge Republcian Club endorses Claypool for state rep, Seth Morgan for state auditor and Eugene Lucci for 11th Appellate Court.

But fellow Republican Grendell starts with a $3,395 campaign fund balance to spend in the same next couple of weeks. On the other hand, as Grendell also reported, he has outstanding debts of (what?) $93,986 and loans owed of $28,625.

P.P.S. Talking about Cuyahoga County CEO candidate Dolan--didn't he joint Cuyahoga Auditor Jim Rokakis in calling for for Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and Auditor Frank Russo to resign from their county offices?

Which relates to a topic in this scribe's Sunday print column.

--David W. Jones

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Whatever happened to--

Nancy Donovan Farina?

A. She was a veteran but former longtime administrative aide to all three Cuyahoga County commissioners in their Cleveland HQ. Now she's the commissioners' administrative office chief and regional Noise Abatement Committee member at the Cuyahoga County Airport mainly based in Richmond Heights.

The Mentor resident is also savvy in Lake County, municipal (former Mentor City Council member) and regional government (as former staffer of two congressmen).

And now?

A. She was recruited to join the nonpartisan transition team planning for the voter-approved change of county government. Official team name: Finance and Administration Board of Revision's Subcommittee. It meets, yes, in county HQ.

A Democrat all day, Farina has worked for or with Democrats and Republicans. She is still also an independent-minded person savvy as to how all county and area offices work.

Is this news out yet on her latest transition and Farina now working with peers to revise county government?

--David W. Jones

Absentee, but still here

As Lake and Geauga counties go, maybe so goes Ohio.

So far at last look this week in this gubernatorial election year, Lake County has seen 3,635 absentee voters in the May 4 primary. It was a total 3,022 absentee voters in the gubernatorial primary of May 2, 2006.
For Geauga County in May 2006, it was about 1,400 absentee voters. It’s so far about 1,906 such voters.

But in the years for electing a governor, Lake County saw 22,758 absentee ballots cast in the presidential election year primary of March 4, 2008. Remember hordes of Democrats turning out in almost all states’ primaries to choose between Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

Party switchers among absentee voters in this year’s May primary? In Lake and Geauga counties, it’s a few more. Most are switching to the Republican Party.

Third-party absentee voters?
Lake County so far has seen only about 10 such absentee “Tea Party” voters, compared with about six in Geauga County. In both counties, the switch is mainly to the Constitution Party.

But wait for the larger in-person, at-the-polls voting by chosen political party on May 4. All parties will get many more votes that day as they prepare to head for the nonpartisan November ballot.

P.S. Any talk of Trumbull County’s Tom Wright, who’s an 11th Appellate Court judicial candidate, getting some noted area Democrat Party endorsement by next week?

--David W. Jones

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Politics of Wildlife

Ohio's sportsmen and sportswomen are nervously eying the appointment of Carroll County farmer Kim Davis to the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council.

Davis - a Republican - was appointed by Ohio Department of Natural Resources director Sean Logan with the approval of his boss, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat.

Normally a ho-hum affair, this newest Wildlife Council appointment is sending warning signals through the Ohio outdoors circuitry. Not because Davis is either a Republican or because she's a farmer.

It is because she is in lockstep agreement with the Ohio Farm Bureau that Ohio's deer herd must be radically reduced, a point mentioned in a recent Outdoors with Frischkorn blog.

Davis supports a drop in the pre-hunting deer population of nearly 700,000 head to perhaps as few as 250,000 head. Such a drop will devastate hunting license sales and send communities that rely on the deer season for economic stimulus reeling.

It is equally surprising that Logan-Strickland have appointed a largely non-hunter/occasional angler to the Council. This has left such pro-sportsmens' organizations as the Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmens Alliance on alert status for how Davis will react - and vote - to Wildlife Division deer-management initiatives.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's the honor system at Mentor Lagoons Marina

In a report to Mentor City Manager Ken Filipiak and City Council earlier this year, Parks Director Bob Martin said that the fifth full season of the boat launch ramp produced revenues of $9,948 - less than half of the 2008 revenues. The reason? In 2009, the payment method was changed to a drop-box method to reduce operation costs. The boat launch attendants were cut from the budget.

"It cost more to have the attendants than we brought in revenue," Martin said. "We lowered the season pass rates and then used the honor system. Nobody was there to collect money. We had envelopes and a drop box and relied on people to complete the envelope and pay even though no one was there to actually pay."

That method will remain in place for the upcoming boating season for now, he said. However, he said the cost to pay a few attendants amounts to roughly the same as the revenue drop.

"We basically broke even," he said. "Would I like to have boat attendants? Sure. Can I afford them? Not at this time."

-- Betsy Scott,

Will it remain the four Steves?

Well, so far it’s a total $770,189 warchest in hand for U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, as he waits to see which one of three Democrats will be nominated in May to run vs. him in November.

As of the watchdog Federal Elections Commission’s campaign disclosure deadline on Thursday (April 15), that’s how it was in noontime check on LaTourette’s District 14.

At that time, nothing was seen for Democrat Bill O’Neill, who’s run before. But he said he started raising money only three weeks ago and has about $13,000. What about Democrats Mel Blanchard and John Greene Jr., who’ve both also run before for the LaTourette seat but not raised much money?

Downstate, Ohio does have some reruns for U.S. House seat. Watch the other three Steves.

In the Cincinnati area District 1, Democrat U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus raised $869,134 to prevail in a contested primary to be nominated to face a challenge from Republican Steve Chabot, whom Driehaus ousted.
Chabot has raised $704,669 with no fellow Republican challenging him.

In Columbus area District 15, Democrat U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy hit the $1 million mark. Former state Sen. Steve Stivers, who’s raised $561,416.

In Beavercreek area District 7, it’s GOP U.S. Rep., yes, Steve Austria ($438,548) way over a fellow Republican challenger. It’s also more than the respective $0, $22 and $0 for three Democrats in a primary.

So far it looks like a November faceoff for LaTourette/O’Neill, Driehaus/Chabot, Kilroy/Stiver, and Austria vs who?

Hmm. Any chance of LaTourette contributing a bit of money to his most challenged fellow Republicans, not only in the congressional races but in the Northeast Ohio contests?

-- David W. Jones,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Brunner campaign to stop in Willoughby Hills

U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jennifer Brunner and her Courage Express bus tour will make a stop Wednesday in Willoughby Hills.

Brunner, who is currently Ohio Secretary of State, will appear at National College, 27557 Chardon Road. The bus will be on site from 4 to 4:45 p.m.

Brunner plans to speak with students and faculty as part of her appearance, said Julie Daniels of the campaign.

Brunner is a candidate in the May 4 Democratic Party primary against Lee Fisher, who is the state's lieutenant governor.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Area county park boards - An all- boy's club?

Take the three area county park districts - Lake Metroparks, the Geauga Park District and Cleveland Metroparks - and see who sits on the three-person boards that decide each agency's fate.

Of the nine total number of appointed park board members between the three agencies only one is a woman. That is long-time Lake Metroparks' park board member Ellen Foley Kessler.

There are currently no women serving on the the board of park commissioners for either the Geauga Park District or Cleveland Metroparks.

The Geauga Park District did have a woman park board member up until four of years ago. That was Betty Cope who was also the face behind Cleveland's Public Broadcasting station WVIZ.

Cleveland has had two female park board members, the last one completing her term in 1988.

All park board members are appointed by the respective county probate court judge. And the appointing judge in all three cases is a male.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, April 9, 2010

Making the rounds

Has 11th Appellate Court Judge Mary Jane Trapp gone to almost all 88 counties as she runs for a bench on the Ohio Supreme Court?

As a Democrat, she's certainly got a lot of party endorsements in all regions of the state. Now as the May 4 primary hastens, she'll be at Gavi's Restaurant from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 19. Attorney Randy Klammer, who's hosting the event, says the event will be packed mainly with Lake County supporters.

--David W. Jones

She's on the way

Sarah Palin, the Republican former vice presidential candidate, in for a “Tea Party Express” stop Sunday (April 11) at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea.

State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township, who’s running for state representative in Geauga County and eastern Cuyahoga County, among the speakers from 3 to 5 p.m.?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Former Mentor official weighs in

Former Mentor engineer, city manager and council candidate John Konrad continues to keep an eye on city business. Today he sent a scathing e-mail to the council clerk to pass along to City Council.

It had to do with his displeasure about an idea from community development staff to assist small-business owners with some start-up renovation costs, in an effort to boost struggling neighborhood retail centers.

"Does council really think $10,000 to small businesses is appropriate in these difficult financial times for many of their residents? It would be a slap in the face of all voters who supported the City’s 2 percent income tax renewal. Please reconsider using this 'new tool' only when the City has tens of thousands of dollars to spare in its budget for basic services.

"Does calling the used resources fines and forfeitures really mean it doesn’t cost the City dollars that could be used more appropriately elsewhere? Please don’t insult the intelligence of Mentor’s voters."

For the record, the proposal from city staff is in its infancy and still needs buy-in from the city manager before it makes it to council for consideration.

--Betsy Scott,

Health care debate continues in Ohio

State Sen. Tim Grendell continues to be upset over the fact that Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray won’t join in a lawsuit with other state attorney generals who oppose the new federal health care law.

At least 14 state attorney generals have signed on to the the court action to claim the legislation has no constitutional merit.

Grendell, R-Chester Township, also has introduced legislation, Senate Bill 224, that would make it Ohio’s policy for people living in the state to be able to choose not to have health insurance.

It also would ensure that Ohioans are not assessed a fine or fee as a result of their choice.

“It is most unfortunate for Ohio that Attorney General Cordray is no longer acting as the lawyer for the people of Ohio,” Grendell said. “Instead he now acts as a federal judge who is unilaterally passing judgment on the constitutionality of the abusive federal healthcare bill, instead of letting Ohioans have the constitutionality of that legislation tested in federal courts."

Cordray, a Democrat who is seeking re-election, said he drew upon his experience as an appellate lawyer and law professor to research the request and make his decision.

“Based on my review of Ohio law and H.R. 3590, and my experience with federal constitutional law, I do not believe that the lawsuits filed against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have any legal merit whatsoever,” Cordray said. “As a result, I believe it would be a waste of taxpayer resources for Ohio to join any such lawsuit, and we will not be doing so.”

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Next SUPCO chief justice?I

It’s interesting that some news media speculate that that the governor could fill the bench of the late Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Moyer with:

Nancy Rogers, who is the former Ohio U Law School dean and former interim Ohio attorney general.

Or with Franklin County Probate Court Judge Eric Brown, who is running for chief justice.

Both have strong Northeast Ohio connections.

Prior to her college role, Rogers was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Lambros in Cleveland. She also practiced in the Glenville-area office of the Cleveland Legal Aid Society.

Before moving to Columbus, Brown was a 14-year member of the Mayfield School Board in eastern Cuyahoga County.

No assumptions here on who might be the chief justice.

--David W. Jones

Background checks (Why the wait?)

Applicants for concealed carry permits will need to exercise patience later this month.

That is because the FBI expects delays in doing background checks for all non-criminal justice purposes.

The reason has nothing to do with politics nor any perception the Obama Administration is anti-Second Amendment, either.

Instead, the reason is because the FBI will be consumed with performing background checks on approximately 484,000 federal Census employees, an issue facing crucial need.

As a result, from about April 28 through May 1 a delay in performing other background checks is a certainty.

The delay, by the way, impacts all FBI background checks and not just those for concealed carry permit applicants.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn