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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Whatever happened to --

Joyce Peck?

You know, the Lake County court reporter for 33 years through various judges including current Domestic Relations Judge Colleen Falkowski and, before that, Judges John Parks, Ross D. Avellone and Francine M. Bruening.

She’s retiring. Friday (May 28) will be her last day as the transcriptionist and professional trusted by anybody legal, especially judges. Randy Peck, her husband, still works for the county government.

County Commissioners Dan Troy, Ray Sines and Bob Aufuldish salute her with an official certification of recognition of her “unwavering dedication, tenacity and integrity."

Peck, the commissioners wrote, "drew universal respect and admiration from all she encountered, including the attorneys for whom she conscientiously prepared timely and accurate transcripts, court reporters and colleagues in Domestic Relations Court."

As a journalist who covered many a trial, this writer certainly knows Joyce Peck as one of the legendary pros in the Lake County Courthouse in Paineville, Ohio

--David W. Jones

Old Village CRA idea finally moving forward?

Mentor city and school officials continue to work out details for creating an Old Village community reinvestment area - affecting older portions of Center Street and Mentor Avenue.

The schools' blessing is sought because CRAs involve real property tax abatement, on commercial and residential projects.
In his latest report to council, City Manager Ken Filipiak said the administration is preparing to move forward in June or July - a year since the Old Village CRA was proposed. The staff now is finalizing the authorizing legislation for council's consideration, as well as program guidelines.

-- Betsy Scott,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Uh oh, LaTourette TV or not TV?

David W. Jones

Uh oh.

Anybody hear today (Wednesday May 26)) about U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, not liking what Fox reported on a bill he and other Republicans co-sponsored.

Citing LaTourette among his targets, a newscaster said, "These are the folks who would like to have you bail out the unions."

So speaking on the floor Tuesday in the U.S. House in D.C. in a talk viewers can see on CSPAN, LaTourette said:

“I think as a Republican, I’m supposed to love Fox News and hate MSNBC. Now, I’m going to tell you, I do hate MSNBC, but something just happened on Fox News that compelled me to come to the floor. ...I don’t know who the pin head and weenie is at Fox News that decided to put that story together.”

This isn't to be confused with Fox News laughing with the congressman in March 2009 when he commented on the stimulus plan:

“Well, today there’s another sucking sound going on in Washington, D.C. And that’s the tightening of sphincters on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue as people are having to explain who put into the stimulus bill this provision of law.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oil and politics sometimes do mix

You'd have thought the Greens have gone all giddy over the huge Gulf of Mexico oil discharge/spill that began more than one month ago.

The blame game has started with a constant stream of e-mails coming from conservation and environmental groups regarding the subject.

Along the flanks of the issue is the federal government and what critics charge is a lack of proper oversight. Also of consternation is the perceived ties between Big Oil and Big Government.

Of course, the critics have not left out BP for its role and what is being expressed as a poorly engineered response along with equipment the company knew was less than perfect for the difficult task this gear was assigned.

The fallout could mean a halt to deep offshore oil and gas drilling, an issue that was made necessary since near-shore fossil fuel production has long been denied.

Just how much all of this will play out in the long run speaks as much about the politics of business and energy policy as it does about best engineering practices and inventions.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Countdown, 1, 2--

Talking precinctly and succinctly, there are those once-tied votes for precinct seats held by people who run the two political parties in Geauga County.

So Elections Board Chairman Dorothy Stang on Tuesday had to do a coin flip on who won.

Of Democrats in Newbury Precinct E, it was 26 votes each for incumbent Linda Phillips and challenger Glen Quigley (former county recorder). Quigley won the flip.

Of Republicans in Burton Township Precinct B, it was also 26 votes each for incumbent Dan Whiting (township trustee) and challenger Jean Coe. Whiting won.

And next? Well, the board will return Friday morning and officially re-tally the numbers, this time by handcount. Anybody crossing their fingers?

- David W. Jones

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bednarcik is back

Erik Bednarcik is the first official candidate for Mentor's Ward 4 seat, up for election in November. The seat was vacated in January by Ron Micchia, who won his bid for an at-large term last fall.

Erik turned in his petitions and "designation of treasurer" form Thursday. He was among several candidates who applied for the temporary appointment to Micchia's seat. Lou Aliberti got that nod from council.

-- Betsy Scott,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No politics this night

It was all sweetness and glad-hand clasping during this past weekend's Outdoor Writers of Ohio's 71st Annual Conference at the Lodge at Geneva State Park.

Besides the group's journalist/members was Sean D. Logan, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Most exchanges between the parties were cordial and pleasant without a hint of the rough and tumble politics that swirls around the Strickland Administration and the Governor's effort to get reelected.

Even the affair of the indicted six Ohio Division of Wildlife officials was not on the agenda.

All of this should be as it was, given that Logan was a guest at a reception given by the group.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lake/Geauga a "sovereign nation"?

David W. Jones

Next, an “Ohio Sovereignty Amendment” on the statewide November ballot?
So far, yes. The Ohio Ballot Board has voted 3-1 to let the People’s Constitution Coalition of Ohio circulate petitions to enable the group to get almost half a million signatures of registered voters.
Why? Expand the right to bear arms. Let people “recall public officeholders by means of petition.” Make the county sheriff’s office “become expressly preserved in the Constitution.” Don’t let the federal government “mandate”: health care reform.
One leader is Mount Vernon’s Michael Young of Knox County.
Among Geauga County supporters are former Parkman Township Trustee Alan Wilson and his wife Debbie, plus Gregg Soltis of Claridon Township. Among Lake County activists is Steve Parker of Eastlake.
Any of this news out there yet?

Friday, May 14, 2010

A rising star on the right in Chardon?

Chardon City Council may be the launching pad for the political career of a young conservative. Mitch Hewitt was elected to council in November at age 29 and already appears to be making a mark.

The high school teacher and coach speaks authoritatively about his views, and other council members appeared impressed by his eloquence and persuasiveness at Thursday's meeting when he expressed his opposition to a new tax.

His delivery could use a little polish, but he has other qualities that often are a boon in the political arena. I have no idea of his aspirations beyond council, if any, but local leaders may want to take note.

To see Hewitt in action, check out the following link: and view the video entitled "Chardon councilman takes on license tag tax."

Betsy Scott,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ohio GOP eyes Lake County?

Columbus-based Ohio House of Representatives Minority Leader Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, is certainly making his rounds around Ohio as Republican candidates vie for election to two-year terms as state legislators.

If the Grand Ole Party retains its current seats, it’s only four or five such offices away from Democrats as the current House majority party in a General Assembly wherein the GOP is the Ohio Senate majority.

So no surprise that the GOP’s Batchelder will headline a Lake County fundraiser on May 24.

That will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Patrician Party Center in Eastlake for Willoughby Hills Councilman David Fiebig, the Republican candidate for the House seat in the 62nd District.

In November, it will Fiebig vs. state Rep. Lorraine Fende, D-Willowick, in a district spanning all western Lake County and Concord Township in the east side of the county.

Normally, a fundie for a state legislative candidate is local supporters and not always with a headliner like Batchelder capturing attention as he has already in other counties in Ohio.

Democrat Fende? Don’t worry. She’s had her share of statewide well-knowns, and will again.

- David W. Jones

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gov. Strickland outlines priorities for legislators

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland today outlined priority legislation for the Ohio General Assembly to carefully consider while in session for the next several weeks.

The governor in a news release called for legislative action on the following initiatives from his State of the State address in January:

* Elimination of the tangible personal property tax on generation for wind and solar facilities that break ground this year, create Ohio jobs, and begin producing energy by 2012.

* A bipartisan foreclosure bill that would keep hard-working Ohio families in their homes, protect homeowners from housing schemes designed by Wall Street, and stabilize Ohio’s housing market to stabilize the state's economy.

* Pass casino implementation legislation that would invest $200 million in urban workforce initiatives, including the Build Your Own Business initiative, the co-op internship program and the Ohio Workforce Guarantee program.

He is also asking the legislature to prioritize:

* A bipartisan bill that would close payday lending loopholes, upholding the goal and the spirit of the initiative overwhelming supported by Ohio voters two years ago.

* Providing funding for Ohio’s coal permitting program to create jobs.

* Renewing Enterprise Zones to spur economic growth and create jobs in Ohio’s cities and urban centers.

* A veteran’s education bill to increase the number of Ohio National Guard Scholarships available to our veterans.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Up, up and away?

David W. Jones

Did anything match up in the drive for candidates to get nominated in the Tuesday primary to run in November for four-year terms as governor and lieutenant governor in Ohio?

Well, for one thing, respective Democrats Ted Strickland and Yvette McGee-Brown got nominated by 620,963 unofficial statewide votes, and Republicans John Kasich and Mary Taylor were chosen by 735,790 votes.

Same unofficial gubernatorial votes in Lake County: 9,026 for the Strickland campaign and 10,468 for the Kasich election bid. In Geauga County: 3,902 for Strickland and 7,534 for Kasich.

Compared with a million-plus votes each on two state issues, all the Tuesday ballot tallies suggest is not that much interest in the governor’s race, at least in the primary.

What might voter turnout be on Nov. 2?

Well, in November 2006, it was Strickland chosen for governor with 2,435,331 votes over Republican Ken Blackwell’s 1,474,331.

In that final election, Strickland got 56,482 votes in Lake County and 22,154 votes in Geauga County. Blackwell got 28,675 votes in Lake County and 15,850 in Geauga County.
Independent candidates got barely 1 percent of the vote for governor.

This year, Strickland and Kasich have nowhere to go but up. But with a higher voter turnout?

- David Jones

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Economic politics of firearms i ndustry

If all things political boils down to economics then the firearms industry and its supporters should have even more clout.

At a recent Washington insiders breakfast, the National Shooting Sports Foundation said that last year the industry employed 183,424 people (up from the 166,200 employees in 2008) with a total wage impact of $8.2 billion.

In federal taxes alone the industry generated more than $2 billion while state taxes were worth another $1.91 billion.

Also, the sale of firearms contributed more than $450 million to state and federal wildlife conservation programs, distributed to the states using a complex formula that is based upon hunting license sales and size of state.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, May 3, 2010

Elections boards no longer hub on election night

Gone are the days when the local elections board office was the place to be for politicians, school leaders and ordinary citizens who eagerly awaited election results.

"Years ago, we'd go to the board of elections and camp out and wait for the election to be done," Ledgemont Superintendent Ron Donatone said today, on the eve of the primary election. Not much is accomplished by going in person now that technology makes the information available so quickly, he noted.

Lake County Elections Board has had results available on the Internet since 2005.
"They're all sitting at home enjoying a beer and watching it on the Internet," said Janet F. Clair, elections board director.

Geauga County Elections Board Deputy Director Robbie Halford said it is easier to get work done on election night now that live-time updates are online.
"We kinda miss everybody coming up. Sometimes it got to be annoying when they got in our faces. But everything's going Internet now," she said.

-- Betsy Scott,