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, July 30, 2010

Ashtabula benchmarks for anybody?

What might be next for 11th Appellate Judge Colleen O'Toole, a Republican?

OK. O’Toole, who resides in Lake County’s Concord Township, didn’t get nominated in the Grand Ole Party May primary to seek re-election in November for her bench on the five-county 11th Appellate Court.

The GOP nominee is Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge Gene Lucci. He did win Lake and Geauga counties to overcome O’Toole’s victories in Ashtabula, Portage and Trumbull counties. Republican Lucci will run this fall vs. Democrat Tom Wright.

Some joke (?) that if Republican John Kasich wins the governship and Lucci the Appellate bench, Kasich could appoint Lucci to the Lucci Common Pleas bench or even any vacant 11th Appellate bench

But wait. What if fans and allies urge O’Toole to move soon into Ashtabula County to run for the next available bench there?

--David W. Jones

Monday, July 26, 2010

Time for Murphy's Law?

Wickliffe’s Bob Murphy, a Republican who’s running this fall for the seat of Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy, who’s got one of the largest in-hand warchests in the county?

Murphy’s endorsed by Commissioner Ray Sines and other fellow Republicans like Lake County GOP Chair Dale Fellows and County Auditor Ed Zupancic.

Murphy’s next fundie: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Wickliffe Community Center.

--David W. Jones

Friday, July 23, 2010

LaTourette votes to extend unemployment benefits

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, voted Thursday to extend unemployment benefits.

He said benefits for millions of Americans had been held hostage by partisan bickering in Washington, DC.

LaTourette said it’s unconscionable that benefits have been held up for so long.

The measure passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 272-152, and already passed in the Senate. President Barack Obama signed the measure Thursday into law.

“I would certainly prefer that these benefits be paid for, but I cannot in good conscience ignore the hardship and suffering of Americans and that’s why I voted to approve these benefits twice in the last few weeks,” LaTourette said.

The congressman said the delay has added unnecessary stress to those who are out of work, and pounding the pavement looking for jobs. He said it’s hard to fathom why the House and Senate leadership are so rigid in their refusal to attempt to offset even one cent of the costs of extending benefits.

“Some suggest that finding $34 billion to pay for this is an impossible burden, and that’s nonsense. An impossible burden is finding a job in this economy,” LaTourette said.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brown appointed to Senate Appropriations Committee

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was selected by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to serve on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

Brown will be seventh Ohioan in history to serve on the committee in its 140-plus year history.

He will join Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, who has announced he will retire after this year.

A vacancy on the committee was created after long-time Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.V., died last month.

More on this story to come in Saturday's print edition.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Ohio gun owners swinging to Democrats?

In a reversal of fortunes for top-level Ohio Democrats, Second Amendment supporters are abandoning Republicans.

Earlier this month the National Rifle Association announced its support for the reelection of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland - long a darling of gun owners.

Now comes word today (Thursday, July 22) that the Buckeye Firearms Association is endorsing current Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray for re-election as well.

On July 11 the Buckeye Firearms Association similarly endorsed Strickland's reelection.

"Cordray has exhibited strong support for the Second Amendment and for the rights of Ohio gun owners during his first term as Attorney General," the Buckeye Firearms Association said in its release.

The Association notes Cordray's friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court that recently struck down Chicago's handgun ban.

Also, Cordray is defending Ohio's preemption law against Cleveland as it relates gun laws.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge urges U.S. Senate to pass jobs bill

Representatives Marcia L. Fudge, D-Cleveland; Dennis Kucinich, D-Cleveland, and Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo; are urging the U.S. Senate to pass a comprehensive jobs bill.

Fudge issued the following statement:

“The Senate is poised to consider a jobs bill that will keep teachers in their classrooms, police on the beat and nurses on the job. These provisions are fully paid for by closing tax loopholes that benefit only a select few Americans. Of course, creating and maintaining jobs and rebuilding the tax base is the best way to reduce our deficit. As such, there is no reason why any Senator should stand in the way of this job-creation legislation. I challenge the Senate to offer their support, or at least get out of the way.”

-- John Arthur Hutchison

Sherrod Brown statement on unemployment benefits extension

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, issued the following statement Wednesday night upon passage of unemployment insurance extension by the U.S. Senate:

“Today’s vote is a victory for the more than 112,000 Ohioans whose unemployment insurance has been affected by obstructionism on the Senate floor. I’ve gone to the Senate floor day after day to read letters from these Ohioans aimed at reminding my colleagues that unemployment insurance isn’t welfare – it’s insurance that you pay into while you’re working so you can support your family and pay your bills if you get laid off.

“Extending unemployment insurance isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do for our economy. According to one of Sen. John McCain’s top economic advisors on his campaign, each dollar spent on unemployment insurance returns $1.63 to the local economy as families use the money to buy groceries, pay their bills, and hold onto their homes.

“Passing unemployment insurance is an important step toward stabilizing our economy. We must continue to work alongside the private sector to create jobs, help unfreeze the credit market for small businesses, and rebuild American manufacturing.”

-- John Arthur Hutchison

What's "new" with Ds and Rs?

South Russell Village's Bill O’Neill, who's a Democrat running this fall vs. U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township?

O'Neill announces Mark Ditz as this fall’s "new" campaign manager succeeding, yes, O’Neill, who was his own campaign manager in the May primary.

Ditz once campaigned for former Gov. Dick Celeste, Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court candidates and Juvenile Court Judge Peter Sikora for Ohio Supreme Court.

P.S. On the GOP side, what's up with Highland Heights Ward 4 Councilman Lisa Marie Stickan?
Well, she's now the Young Republican National Federation chairperson. Same Stickan who's served numerous YR role regionally, statewide and nationally. Same Stickan, who’s a Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor, as chairperson.
Item in this writer's Sunday column, ahem, was back on May 16: “News out yet that Stickan will the foundation’s next chairperson?”
When the Lake County Republican Party holds a mult-county gathering this summer, Stickan might be one of the headliners.

--David W. Jones

Monday, July 19, 2010

Good time to retire

Lake Metroparks park service director Rick Stenger has said his final farewells to the agency he worked for the past seven or so years.

Add a couple of more years as a member of the agency's three-person board of park commissioners and Stenger's stint with the agency goes back a ways.

Actually, this is Stenger's second retirement. Even further back in time Stenger was the publisher for The News-Herald.

After consulting with his financial advisers, the 62-year-old Stenger came to the conclusion that now is as good a time as any to hang up his Lake Metroparks' spurs.

This will give him more time to spend with his family, Stenger says, along with a golden opportunity to train for next year's Ironman athletic competition in Hawaii.

"I love Lake Metroparks and that was the hard part about retiring. But there are no guarantees in life," Stenger said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Brown, Strickland statements on Wall Street reform legislation (updated)

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, issued the following statement upon the Senate passage of Wall Street reform:

“Today, we put Main Street first. This bill will ensure that American taxpayers will never again have to pay for the kind of risky Wall Street practices that put our economy on the verge of collapse and led to the loss of eight million jobs and six million homes. Wall Street banks took too many risks with Ohio jobs, pensions, and neighborhoods with their heads-you-lose, tails-I-win schemes.

“We must continue to support Main Street job creation by giving consumers, investors, and small businesses certainty that they are getting the fair credit and investment products that they need to help the economy grow. We must build on Ohio’s manufacturing heritage and help small and mid-sized manufacturers retool for the clean energy economy. And we must end tax breaks that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas while standing up for American workers and businesses by enforcing trade laws.”

Updated as of 4:11 p.m. Thursday, July 15, 2010:

Statement from Gov. Ted Strickland:

“Ohioans understand that the economic recession started on Wall Street. That’s why the Wall Street reform bill passed by Congress today is so important. It provides greater measures to guard against the kind of risky and abusive practices that led to the collapse of Wall Street banks and sent the country reeling into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Consumers will be better protected and taxpayer-funded bank bailouts will be prevented because of the important reforms in this bill.

“I applaud the members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation for holding Wall Street accountable. Sadly, some are already urging the repeal of this common sense reform, most notably the Minority Leader in the U.S. House. Apparently they desire a return to the very past practices that led us to this economic recession in the first place.”

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

$8 billion shortfall: Can OEPA and ODNR be joined at the hip?

Worries from officials in the past Voinovich and Celeste administrations point to a possible state deficit of $8 billion in the next state budget.

Even if every Ohio state worker was furloughed the deficit would still be $4 billion, these sources say.

Of equal concern is the consolidation of state agencies. That might even include enfolding the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency into the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Such a metamorphosis would be the envy of even BBC's "Dr. Who" and who is in his 11th incarnation.

What such a merger would bring could very well spell a new, revamped, department with increased duties and likely a reduced work force.

All of which could prove fodder for State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township. Grendell long has been an advocate of merging and combining state agencies.

And for the morale-low Ohio Division of Wildlife this high-profile agency might see some significant changes also, sources say.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Mentor manager manages to impress

Word has it that the new Mentor City manager, Ken Filipiak, has been a breath of fresh air at city hall.

One insider, who says he liked both previous managers, says Filipiak is very personable, makes department heads' jobs "easy" when it comes time to provide reports at council meetings, that he's "scary smart" and that he has "great synergy" with Assistant City Manager Tony Zampedro.

Even the infighting on council has vanished, at least to the public eye, since Filipiak came aboard, in the spring. As many politicians like to say, it sounds like a "a win-win situation" for everybody.

-- Betsy Scott,

Monday, July 12, 2010

Strickland takes a shot (And gets NRA support)

On Sunday Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland participated in the Opening Shot of the National Rifle and Pistol Matches being held at Camp Perry in Port Clinton through mid August.

As far as I can remember no other Ohio governor has ever visited Camp Perry during the National Matches, let alone participated in the ceremonial first shot. The matches are co-sponsored by the Civilian Marksmanship Program and the National Rifle Association.

But what this demonstrates is the high regard the NRA has for Strickland, whom the association recently endorsed for a second term.

The appearance also highlights how much Strickland covets the NRA's and the shooting community's backing.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Oil and politics do mix

Everyone's favorite target of late are the oil-producing companies such as BP. That zeroing in includes law makers as well as environmentalists and outraged citizens.

Members of Congress in both the House and Senate have created no fewer than 40 bills dealing with oil drilling, clean-up costs and responsibilities, oil company and drilling oversight, government hearings on the Gulf spill and so on, reports the Pew Environment Group.

Pew has made a thumbnail tally of the to-date regulatory and punishment proposals along with the names of sponsors.

Some of the various bill names include: Big Oil Bailout Liability Act, Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, Stop Cozy Relationships with Big Oil Act of 2010, and No New Drilling Act of 2010.

One of the House proposals even calls for mandatory 55 mile per gallon fuel requirements for all vehicles by 2017.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, July 3, 2010

No dog-related issue on this year's ballot

Ohio's governor Ted Strickland is reassuring owners of sporting dogs and those who raise a litter or two of puppies that they won't become ensnared in bureaucracy.

This, as a result of a three-way compromise that involves the state, the Ohio Farm Bureau and the rabidly anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States.

In order to avoid a lengthy and costly initiative petition drive the Farm Bureau and the HSUS have reached an agreement. In exchange for dropping the HSUS-led efforts to bring before Ohio voters an initiative regarding animal husbandry issues, the Farm Bureau has agreed to enfolding modifications to certain farming practices, including a phase-out of constricting livestock pens.

For its part the Strickland Administration has accepted the responsibility to undertake legislation dealing with cock fights and dog breeding as well as issuing an executive order pertaining to exotic animals.

All of which has made the Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance a tad nervous. It is this organization that has been in the forefront of the restrictive dog-breeding movement.

Its arguments include that HSUS-backed legislation in Ohio and elsewhere would greatly damage efforts by sporting dog owners to breed pure-bred animals and also hamstring those dog owners who see only one or two litters a year.

But Strickland has pledged that any legislation requiring his signature will protect sportsmen's interests and still satisfy the HSUS.

Those assurances pleases the Alliance which has seen eight amendments added to pending dog-breeding legislation that tackles the issue of sporting dogs and part-time breeders.

"I know that Ohio sportsmen have worked hard to ensure that legislation includes provisions that ensure they are not treated as commercial operators. Consistent with our agreement, my support for the current version of the legislation (will) include those important protections for sportsmen and women," Strickland said.

"In other words. this legislation will in no way interfere with the rights of Ohio sportsmen and women."

The Alliance accepts Strickland's strategy and in the past has noted how in many previous times the governor has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ohio's outdoors community.

"We really appreciate the Governor making it clear that he will not allow any bill to become law unless it maintains critical protections for the sporting dog community," said Rob Sexton, the organization's vice president for government affairs.

Even so, a potential speed bump still exists. That pebble could become a rock, too. The Alliance has noted that the compromise calls for an executive order regarding the keeping of exotic animals but fails to define that term.

If it implies such animals as bears, lions and pythons then the Alliance has no problems. But if it includes such non-native species as the ring-necked pheasant - and which are a source of recreational hunting - then there could be another skirmish, Alliance officials have said previously.

Of equal concern as well is that few in the outdoors community believe they've seen the last of the HSUS. This group has long supported an end to recreational hunting and fishing as well as trapping.

Thus, many sportsmen believe, it is only a matter of time before another showdown arrives. And that duel could lead to a serious political challenge that will cost both sides dearly.

(Also filed as an Outdoors with Frischkorn blog).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, July 2, 2010

Humane Society gets its way

A year ago the Ohio Farm Bureau was prepared to take on the Humane Society of the United States - the most determined anti-hunting (and everything else) organization in the country.

And the state's farmers had the backing of the state's sportsmen. The latter know all too well that the HSUS has an agenda and is prepared to get its way, piece by piece if necessary.

And then this week the Farm Bureau announced a "compromise" along the Strickland Administration with the HSUS. All of which stunned the Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.

Among the points conceded to the HSUS were a number of farm animal provisions, some of which will take years to fully implement. The organization also got Strickland to back a legislative proposal dealing with the so-called "puppy mills" as well as possession of "exotic" animals.

It is these two provisions that most concerns the Alliance, says one of its spokesmen, Rob Sexton.

Sexton said the Alliance had eight favorable amendments inserted into the bill's language that would help protect breeders of hunting-style canines as well as hobbiest breeders (those who may see one or two litters of hunting dog puppies each year).

What the Alliance is seeking are assurances from Strickland that these protections remain in the proposal's final form.

"I think he'll do it. We'd like him to say that he'll support sportsmen's interests. He's never disappointed us yet (but) we're waiting for the Governor's response before issuing a statement," Sexton said.

Another point of possible contention is the definition of exotic animal, Sexton says.

If it encompasses only such critters as bears, pythons and alligators, that's fine.

The threat will come if the bill's language includes species like the ring-necked pheasant, which is not native to Ohio, Sexton says.

And as Sexton has said this is only one step in the Society's agenda to eliminate as much as possible animal husbandry as well as recreational hunting, trapping and fishing, noting that the organization was a huge backer in the failed initiative to ban dove hunting in Ohio.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Micchia at large again

Attorney Louis Aliberti, who's now the appointed Mentor City Council Ward 4 councilman?

He's at least temporary successor to former Ward 4 Councilman Ron Micchia who got elected in odd-year 2009 to a citywide at-large seat on the seven-member council.

Aliberti’s filed candidacy nominating petitions to run in the Nov. 2 election this even-year 2010 for remainder of term in Ward 4.

Hmm. Eric Bednarcik, a 2009 Mentor High grad who’s expressed interest in the Ward 4 seat? He’s obtained petitions to run this fall versus Aliberti.

Whoever wins in November this year then could run, yes, in November in the next odd year 2011 for the full four-year ward term.

That is, if Aliberti wins this year and runs next year, Bednarcik could run again vs. Aliberti in 2011. All clear?

But, wait, who runs in November 2011 for the seats of Wards 1 Councilman Bob Shiner (council president), Ward 2 Councilwoman Carolyn Bucey and Ward 3 Councilman Ed Walsh? They’re up for full-term re-election next year even as is whichever Ward 4 incumbent.

What about Council Vice President Micchia and fellow citywide at-large Councilmen Ray Kirchner and Scott Marn? They’re not up for re-election to their four-year terms until November of odd-year 2013. At-large victors would take office in even-year 2014. All clear?

And no jokes about any other mid-term changes of office along the way.

Besides, didn't we all go through this in 1990 when the same Micchia got appointed to the Ward 4 seat to fill, yes, a vacancy? Then he got elected at large, then back to Ward 4? Or something.

--David W. Jones

Democratic National Convention in Cleveland in 2012?

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today released the following statement in support of Cleveland hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

The Democratic National Committee today announced Cleveland as a finalist along with Charlotte, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

"I can think of no better place to play host to a 2012 national political convention than the city of Cleveland," Strickland said. "Cleveland has a rich history, and arts, entertainment and cultural offerings that, along with Lake Erie, offer convention planners a menu of options and potential visitors the promise of a great experience. Perhaps most important, Cleveland provides the ideal backdrop for what is sure to be a historic convention as the city embodies the diversity and determined hope of America."

--- John Arthur Hutchison

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