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, September 30, 2010

Eastlake's book$ clean again

Back before Ted Andrzejewski became the Eastlake mayor, the watchdog State Auditor’s office wasn’t too optimistic about town hall’s money handlers.
Back, then, the city had “cited for expenditures and encumbrances exceeding appropriations; not making deposits in a timely manner; appropriations exceeding estimated resources; and for not obtaining an amended certificate of estimated resources.” the auditor found.
Next, Eastlake got a good audit after getting out of fiscal emergency in 2008.
“(The city) should be commended for making all the improvements they have in such a short amount of time,” an auditor spokesperson said last year.
Then after undergoing the same checks of all its books in post-2008 through this year, Eastlake got another A-plus clean bill of fiscal health with such bookkeeping examiners’ comments as:
n “The city maintains careful watching over its financial operations.”
n “The city has a strong internal control system.”
n “The city remains open to protecting the citizens of Eastlake with full disclosure of the financial position of the city.”
--David W. Jones

Utilizing resources?

What’s Northeast Ohio’s FirstEnergy got to do with area Republicans and Democrats sitting in the Ohio House of Representatives in Columbus and campaigning for re-election?
Maybe nothing. But the lawmakers are concerned about the utility’s “all-electric home” issue before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
n State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township?
As readers saw, Grendell says he will appeal a Geauga County Common Pleas Court decision which dismissed a class action lawsuit by “grieved” homeowners upset with FirstEnergy’s alleged effort to make everybody go all-electric.
Grendell said he will act as a private attorney seeking no pay.
n Meanwhile, what about state Reps. Lorraine Fende, D-Willowick, and Mark Schneider, D-Mentor?
They join other House Democrats in co-sponsoring a bill to create the “PUCO Transparency Accountability (PTA) Bill” to watchdog  if  homeowners’ electricity bill start costing too much.
What do all the legislators have in common?  Democrats Fende, Schneider and fellow party members are up for re-election. Republican Grendell is running from cover for an available House seat.
So one way or another as Election Day rushes toward us, state legislators are maybe trying to light up our lives one way or the other.

--David W. Jones

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

LaTourette to oppose Senate NASA bill

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, said he will vote against a Senate-passed version of the NASA reauthorization bill because NASA Glenn and Plum Brook Station fare poorly in the bill, it puts a nail in the coffin of manned space travel, and it outsources our national security.

LaTourette issued a news release on this issue Wednesday afternoon.

He indicated he asked U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Cleveland, to help circulate a letter to members of the Ohio delegation to oppose the Senate version of the bill, arguing the House version is more protective of NASA Glenn and Plum Brook Station research and jobs. The letter is circulating now.

The Senate version of the bill is opposed by the Greater Cleveland Partnership and former NASA administrator Mike Griffin, LaTourette said.

The former NASA head yesterday urged House members to oppose the bill, calling it a “poor authorization bill.”

Griffin added:  “….it is time once again to ask ourselves whether we want to have a real space program, or not. If we do, then the Senate Bill won’t get us there.”

LaTourette said he cannot in good conscience support the Senate bill because it will lead to job losses at NASA Glenn and will reduce its funding for research. It will also force NASA to be completely dependent on the commercial sector for crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station.

“This Administration seems to believe our astronauts will soon be able to catch a ride on a private sector rocket to the space station, but no such vehicle exists. Under this bill, we’ll be dependent on Russia or China to get our astronauts to the space station, threatening our national security,” LaTourette said.

Hitching a ride will not be cheap, LaTourette added, noting that NASA in April signed a contract to pay nearly $56 million per astronaut for six Americans to fly to the space station on a Russian rocket in 2013-2014. Each astronaut will be able to bring just 110 pounds of cargo, and can return with just 37 pounds of cargo, plus trash.

LaTourette said it will be a sad day for NASA if S. 3729 passes.
“This is a bad bill, and I will not hold my nose and vote for it. You can’t be a supporter of NASA, manned space travel and NASA Glenn and support this Senate-authored bill,” LaTourette said.

S. 3729 will be voted on in the House later today.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Willoughby Hills, plus Fende with blessings?

Will Willoughby Hills Councilman David Fiebig, a Republican, have to watch the vote in his own town as he runs Nov. 2 vs. state Rep. Lorraine Fende, D-Willowick?

Who knows? But Fiebig might have to worry about the votes of Willoughby Hills Mayor Bob Weger, Council President and Councilman Frank Germano.

Word is getting out that all three might soon announce they’re endorsing Fende and she and Fiebig run in western Lake County and Concord Township?

Hmm. Of three Concord Township trustees, might two endorse Fende?

--David W. Jones

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Stricklands? It's Lake County time

It’s double duty for the Strickland family next week as the governor’s campaign steps up in Lake County.
Gov. Ted Strickland?
The Lake County Democratic Party will hold a rally for him from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday (Sept. 27) at the Wellness Center at Lake Erie College at Gillett and Walnut streets in Painesville. Right: Absentee voting will start the next day, Tuesday.
Frances Strickland, the governor’s wife?
The state’s First Lady will be at the county party’s Coordinated Campaign Office from 11 a.m. to noon Thursday  (Sept. 30) at 7529 Mentor Ave., Colonial Plaza, Mentor.
Democrats will also be canvassing (read stumping) from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2 (Saturday) at the same Colonial Plaza and the same hours the same day at McDonald’s in downtown Painesville.
--David W. Jones

Politics at their finest

Some Mentor council members and some who would like to be were upset this week when Councilman at large Ron Micchia got front-page exposure when council approved creating a Community Reinvestment Area for parts of the Old Village area.

The CRA is intended to encourage development and redevelopment in an area that isn't terribly conducive to such projects, partly because of lot constraints. Critics hammered Micchia (and the paper), accusing him of grandstanding at election time (He is running for his old Ward 4 seat).

Micchia made it into the story - and the accompanying video - because he proposed amending the ordinance to expand the CRA in the future. That would only be possible if the city commissioned a housing study of other areas of the city and sent it to the state for review.

Micchia's opponents point out that Scott Marn was behind the CRA proposal and that Micchia has an anti-development reputation.

"You may recall this is the same councilman who fought to turn down a neighborhood upgrade on Lakeshore Boulevard that would have replaced an aging and nearly vacant shopping center with a Sheetz," Councilman at large Ray Kirchner said. "This also put the city in the crosshairs of a lawsuit that I question whether we will be able to defend. He is also one of the councilmen who fought against the Center Street rezoning that would have propped up that corner with new housing."

Ward 4 challenger Erik Bednarcik had this, among other things, to say: "There are three other candidates for that seat who are all unhappy with The News-Herald's decision to offer free advertising for Micchia ... I am, personally, appalled and disappointed."

Former Ward 4 candidate Janet Dowling also took issue with "giving" Micchia  a "headline story," calling it unfair to the three others running. "For him to now be touted as Mr. Economic Development is reprehensible," she said, adding, "... thanks to Micchia and his 'friends,' it took us 13 years to get a couple of toilets down at the Lagoons.' "

Marn noted that, "The ENTIRE city could have been in the CRA, but this would take away tax dollars from the schools. Why would language have to be added to work better for the whole city? Answer: Campaigns and taking credit for something he didn’t do." One might wonder why nothing of that sort was said at the meeting. Is everyone playing nice now? Kirchner quietly and politely tried to point out the ramifications (or lack thereof) of the amendment, which council approved unanimously.
For the record, this reporter doesn't publicly endorse or oppose any candidate and Micchia was the second choice for the video interview. The story was covering what happened at a public meeting, not what goes on behind the scenes.

-- Betsy Scott,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting a bang at Cleveland's handgun expense

The Buckeye Firearms Council is chuckling over an effort by the city of Cleveland to have its citizens voluntarily register their handguns.

What the city is asking its handgun-owning citizens to do is voluntarily take their shooting irons to the nearest police station station (unloaded, of course). There, an officer will verify the owner's identification, check the firearm's make, model, caliber and serial number and then do a records check on the piece.

The idea seems so silly to the Buckeye Firearms Council that it has launched its own voluntary so-called "De-Registration" program.

Here, the council is asking Cleveland handgun owners to fill out a short form which will be then be sent anonymously via a postcard to Cleveland. The card will simply list the person's name as "John Doe," and avoiding listing any information about the firearm or its owner.

"... We cannot fathom the logic behind this announcement. Are they expecting criminals to register their guns? Not likely. And if any law-abiding citizens register, what will  authorities do with the information? It makes no sense," the Council says in its latest release posting.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meet candidates at luncheon forum

The Madison-Perry Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Meet the Candidates Luncheon Forum on Oct. 7. Chamber members, guests and the public are invited to attend at DeRubertis Party Center, 6521 North Ridge Road in Madison Township.

Doors open 11 a.m., lunch is served at 11:45, and the program begins at noon.

Candidates that legislate on behalf of the business community will answer questions from the Chamber moderator in a panel format.

Candidates scheduled to participate include:
  • State Representative 63rd District — Mark Schneider (D) and Ron Young (R)
  • Representative to Congress 14th District — Bill O’Neil (D)
  • Lake County Commissioner — Dan Troy (D) and Bob Murphy (R).
Cost is $12 per person and reservations are required no later than Sept. 30 by calling 440-428-3760 for reservations.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Mentor Cruise-in to be put in reverse?

Mentor City officials are planning to meet this week to discuss how to improve the annual car cruise-in that was moved to Great Lakes Mall this year.

Some attendees complained about the event, held at Mentor Civic Center the last several years. Mentor Economic Development Director Ronald M. Traub said the move was made, in part, to promote patronage at the mall.

Traub also said that some past cruise-in participants had disliked parking on grass at the Civic Center and/or expressed concern about dust coming from nearby athletic fields.

The event also was put on with a more modest budget this year. Sponsor Best of Show Automotive, which has faced difficulties at its Tyler Boulevard location, contributed $1,000 this year, down from $5,000 last year.

"We were still able to make it a free event," Traub noted.

-- Betsy Scott,

Associated Press looks at Ohio races

In Sunday's News-Herald were two stories from The Associated Press about candidates in the Nov. 2 election. John Seewer looks at three U.S. House seats in Ohio currently held by Democrats that Republicans are targeting. Julie Carr Smyth writes about statewide officeholders not seeking re-election, which means the party in power could easily change hands.

After reading those articles and watching the first debate between Gov. Ted Strickland and his Republican challenger John Kasich, I'm starting to look forward to Nov. 2. While I'm tired of the biting campaign commercials, I'm excited to see how the races are going to shake out. Will Republicans take U.S. House seats from Democrats? Will Democrats Attorney General Richard Cordray and Treasurer Kevin Boyce be able to hold onto their positions? Will the voters who helped Barack Obama win the presidency turn out for Democrats, Republicans or not at all? Will the tea party movement have an effect on the regular election? (Monday's RedBlueAmerica weighed in on that, and, as is usually the case, I find myself agreeing with both sides.)

I'm not sure if I'll be surprised at the outcome of the election, though at this point I have no idea what is going to happen -- nor for whom I'm going to cast my vote. Nov. 2 will be an interesting day, and I will be glued to the TV and elections boards' websites all night waiting to see what happen happens. Where will you be Nov. 2?

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

After Russo, watch Federal Judge O'Malley even more?

Resigned Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, who pleaded guilty to charges of corruption, to maybe be sentenced to 22 years in prison by Federal Judge Kathleen (Kate) O’Malley? That’s what they say.

The same O’Malley, a Richmond Heights native who was appointed to her bench by former President Bill Clinton--got nominated earlier this year by President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on Federal Appellate Court?

Plus, she’s getting a good reception in the U.S. Senate in D.C. where she was introduced in July by U.S. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. So O’Malley might soon be in the news again?

And if she’s appointed, her gets her current federal bench?
--David W. Jones

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gun owners rate political candidates

The pro-Second Amendment group Buckeye Firearms Council has released its voters' score card for the candidates running for various Ohio offices.

Among them are U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, State Sumpreme Court judges, Ohio Senate and Ohio House.

The Council gives its nod to Republican Rob Portman ("A rating") over Lee Fisher ("F rating") in the Senate race.

Reversing the backed political party, the Council picks current Democratic Ohio Governor Ted Strickland ("A-plus") over his Republican opponent, John Kasich ("C-minus"). However, Strickland's running mate (Yvette McGee Brown) gets an" F" rating  while Kasich's running mate (Mary Taylor) gets an "A" rating.

And current Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray - a Democrat - runs away with the Council's endorsement via an "A" over "D-rated" Mike DeWine, a Republican.

As for Secretary of State, Republican John Husted ("A-plus") easily beat his Democratic challenger Maryellen O'Shaughnessy ("F").

Likewise, for Auditor, Republican Dave Yost ("A-rated") is picked over Democrat David Pepper ("C-rated").

In the Treasurer's race, Republican Josh Mandel ("A-rated") gets the nod over his Democratic rival Kevin Boyce ("F-rated").

Though no rating is given for the Chief Justice of the Ohio Sumreme Court, current Justice Maureen O'Conner is recommended over Eric Brown.

No recommendation is made for the three-way race for State Supreme Court Justice which includes incumbant justice Paul Pfeifer.

And U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette (Republican) gets both the endorsement and an "A" rating from the Council. Not so fortunate is U.S. Rep. Marcy Fudge with an "F" rating by the Council.

In the Ohio State Senate series of race the only local  seat up is that is that now held by Nina  Turner and whom the Council gives a "D" rating with no race recommendation.

As for the Ohio House District 17, Republican Marlene Anielski ("A-rated") is selected over her Democratic challenger Kelli Perk, who either didn't return a Council survey or else has no Second Amendment rights voting history.

House District 7, incumbant Democrat Kenny Yurko is  picked with an "A" rating. Democrat state Rep. Lorraine D. Fende of House District 62 also gets the nod with an "A-minus" rating. Her Republican challenger David Fiebig is given a "D" rating.

Republican  Ron Young  in House District 63 receives the Council's blessing with an "A" rating. Perhaps interestingly that district's current representative - Mark Schneider - either did not return the Council's survey or else has no voting history relative to Second Amendment rights.

Lastly, in the House District 98 race, current state Sen. Tim Grendell is picked by the Council. Grendell received the Council's only "A-plus" rating for any Ohio House candidate. His Democratic challenger is Mary Briggs who earned a "B" rating from the Council.

For a complete run-down visit the Council's web site at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fende a farmer?

State Rep. Lorraine D. Fende, D-62 of Willowick, showed up at Monday's annual dinner meeting for the Lake County unit of the Ohio Farm Bureau.

But Fende not only has received the Ohio Farm Bureau's coveted "friends of agriculture" distinction she's also a member of the Lake County Farm Bureau.

What's more Fende took a Third Place ribbon for a cross-stitch design item in the recently concluded Lake County Fair.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Kasich vs. Strickland debate tonight

The first debate between Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and Republican challenger John Kasich tonight should prove to be quite interesting.

The event will be shown at 8 p.m. on Ohio News Network or on the Web:

Strickland will likely allude to Kasich’s time spent working for Lehman Brothers and try to paint him as an out-of-touch Wall Street executive.

He also may try to blame Republicans and former President George W. Bush’s economic policies that led the country and not just Ohio into recession.

Strickland might also talk about school funding and his plan approved last year by the Ohio General Assembly.

Kasich will undoubtedly focus on Ohio’s unemployment rate and the number of jobs lost during the past four years.

He also is likely to blame Democrats and President Obama’s administration for their handling of the nation’s economy.

The challenger also will be making his first appearance to many potential voters, so he needs to appear as if he is calm, but in charge with fresh ideas.

-- John Arthur Hutchison,

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ohio sees gun rights bills on eve of general election

Ohio state legislators are setting their sights on the bull's-eye of Second Amendment rights.

State Rep. Joe Uecker R-Miamiville (Clermont County) and 30 other representatives have penned House Bill 571. In a nutshell this proposal would allow concealed carry permit holders the right to store their loaded handguns in their locked vehicles while at work.

This proposal is backed by various state Second Amendment Rights groups but opposed by the state Chamber of Commerce as a property rights issue.

Also, the Ohio General Assembly is still mulling over a State Senate bill that would allow concealed carry permit holders the right to holster their concealed handguns when visiting a restaurant that also serves alcohol. Currently, such permit holders cannot do this.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

President Obama to appear Wednesday at Tri-C West

President Barack Obama will deliver remarks on the economy Wednesday afternoon at Cuyahoga Community College West Campus in Parma.

The event is open to invited guests only, according to the White House. Guests include students and faculty of Cuyahoga Community College, elected officials, and members of the Greater Cleveland community.

The president is scheduled to speak at around 2:10 p.m.

UPDATE: 11:49 a.m. 9/7/10

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, will join Obama in Parma.

Brown will first greet President Obama on the tarmac of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport prior to the President making a major address on the economy before Cleveland-area families, students, and faculty at Cuyahoga County Community College.

Brown is working alongside President Obama to pass the Small Business Jobs Act and to create jobs through a nationwide investment in transportation infrastructure.

UPDATE: 12:20 p.m 9/7/10

Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher will also attend the event, according to the governor's office.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Fran DeWine to appear Tuesday in Lake, Geauga

Fran DeWine, wife of Attorney General candidate Mike DeWine, will appear Tuesday in Lake and Geauga counties, according to the candidate's campaign.

DeWine will be in Geauga County at 9 a.m. to take a tour of the Geauga County Courthouse. One of the county elected officials will take her around and she will pass out copies of the 11th Edition of her campaign campaign cookbook to people at the Courthouse.

DeWine will then be at Bellasano Coffee and Cuisine in Concord Township at 10 a. m. to greet supporters and pass out copies of the cookbook.

--John Arthur Hutchison,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Updated: Kasich to appear Sat. at Great Geauga Co. Fair

Ohio GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich is slated to appear Saturday at the Great Geauga County Fair.

Kasich is scheduled to arrive around 1:30 p.m., rather than 12:30 p.m. as previously announced, and will meet volunteers at the Natural Resources gate and the Republican Party tent, according to the his local county campaign coordinator.

-- John Arthur Hutchison,


Updated: Fisher, Cordray, Trapp to appear Saturday at Great Geauga County Fair

Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray will appear Saturday at the Great Geauga County Fair in Burton Township, according to the Geauga County Democratic Party.

Fisher is slated to appear at 6:30 p.m. and Cordray will appear at 12:30 p.m. Both men will be at the Democratic Party tent at the fair.

Mary Jane Trapp, who is running for seat on the Ohio Supreme Court, will visit the Democratic Party tent at 2 p.m.

-- John Arthur Hutchison,

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