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, October 28, 2010

A tool to make voting easier

If you're having trouble deciding among the U.S. Senate and House candidates in these next few days before the election, consider checking out Project Vote Smart's VoteEasy tool, which takes your position on various topic to match you up with the candidates most like you.

Choose your state and enter your ZIP code, then select an issue to input how you feel and how important that is to you. The Senate and House candidates (pictured on yard signs) will move on the lawn depending on your answers, so you can see how each one's opinions compare to yours. Click on the yard signs to learn more about each of the candidates, including their education, experience, voting record, and interest group ratings and endorsements.

Still looking for information on candidates, races and voting? Check out The News-Herald's election page.

-- Cheryl Sadler

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You know it's the week before an election when...

.... seemingly minor issues become major topics of debate.

Take Mentor City Council's special meeting this week. It was scheduled after a vote on a minor rezoning for a subdivision on Becker Avenue was blocked last week by three ward councilmen and Councilman at large Ron Micchia, who is seeking his old Ward 4 seat again this election.

Micchia was concerned that the church across the street would be required to tie into the sanitary sewer line and that it could be costly. He was told by the administration and the developer that the only entities that could determine that were the county and the EPA, regardless of whether the property was rezoned, according to Councilman at large Ray Kirchner.

"He insisted on playing games and, after much back and forth, we forced a vote to suspend, which failed because Walsh, Bucey & Aliberti went along with him," Kirchner said, "even though Walsh said there was nothing the city could do about it."

It was later learned that the church had tapped in several years ago. Ward 4 candidates John Krueger and Erik Bednarcik accused Micchia of being politically motivated.
Micchia defended himself, saying there were too many unanswered questions to vote last week. The exchange between he and Kircher got heated, according to witnesses.

The item ultimately passed 7-0.
"Seven days off the normal schedule," Micchia said. "That's not consequential.
And in seven more days, perhaps the council meeting will be a bit more subdued.

-- Betsy Scott,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Poles apart, LaTourette and Strickland get endorsements from pro- and anti-hunting groups

In a world of political parallel universes incumbent Democrat Governor Ted Strickland and incumbent U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) have received endorsements from the opposite poles of sportsmen-related issues.

Both Strickland and LaTourette have the unqualified endorsement of the National Rifle Association. And now each has garnered the likewise enthusiastic support of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the political action arm of the Humane Society of the United States which is generally regarded as the nation’s most potent and richest anti-hunting, anti-fishing and anti-trapping organization.
That the HSUS’ Legislative Fund is backing Strickland rankles several former Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials, including those who were appointed during Republican administrations. And at least one of these officials - Mike Budzik, retired chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife - has formally endorsed Strickland’s Republican opponent, John Kasich.
Budzik has even cut a recorded telephone message that was recently sent to Ohio sportsmen and which calls for the support of his candidate of choice.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsement stems from Strickland’s backing of an agreement with the HSUS to tighten farm animal care standards in exchange for the group’s withdrawal of a statewide referendum on the issue.
Strickland’s NRA endorsement arrived because of the governor’s long-standing support for Second Amendment rights issues and pro-sportsmen’s positions.
That the HSUS’ political wing is backing Strickland does not surprise Budzik, though it certainly upsets him.
Consequently, Budzik and Kasich say that Ohio’s farmers as well as sportsmen were blind-sided by Strickland’s actions.

“I really think that it speaks clearly to the sportsmen,” Budzik said in a telephone exchange this morning.
“He left sportsmen and the Ohio Farm Bureau out in the cold with this farm issue, and he was wrong in believing that sportsmen weren’t concerned about it. That wasn’t good and someone (on his staff) let him down.”

Budzik said also that he took his share of flack because he wanted to help Kasich, even though the former congressman had a checkered career related to Second Amendment issues while in the House.

I sat down with him and established a dialogue. He admitted to me that he made ‘some bad moves,’” Budzik said.

However, Budzik did say that Strickland has proven supportive of both Second Amendment rights issues along with those matters dealing with hunting, fishing and the like.

Yet the governor has zigged where and when he should have zagged, Budzik said as well.

“You need to peal away the onion. I’m a little surprised that (Strickland) has allowed the politicizing of the department and removed the civil service protection of assistant chiefs, for example,” Budzik said.

Other local Congressional endorsements announced by the Humane Society Legislative Fund include those for Democrats Dennis Kusinich, Marcia Fudge and Betty Sutton, all incumbents.

In the group’s legislative score card LaTourette received a 62, Fudge a 92, and Kucinich and Sutton each rated a perfect 100.

This blog will be updated if Strickland or LaTourette respond to a request for comment. And this item also will be posted on The News-Herald’s Outdoors blog.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


The buzzword before next week's election should be "redistricting," and an Associated Press article in Tuesday's News-Herald focuses on just that:
The GOP could capture new Senate or House majorities in a dozen to 18 states — along with critical new power to redraw district maps and influence elections for a decade to come. Three of the biggest prizes are New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. All three states are expected to lose seats in Congress as a result of the 2010 census, and that's sure to ignite boundary fights. A party's congressman on the wrong end of redistricting can find the district he's represented for years no longer exists.

That's right: Ohio likely will lose at least one of its 18 Congressional districts, which means someone is losing his or her job. Ohio's population loss since the 2000 Census is putting us in position to lose representation in Washington, and the party that is elected into power next week will determine how the next Congressional districts are drawn.

Wondering how that works? The ReDistricting Game (at can explain that better than I.

Created by the USC Game Innovation Lab and developed for the USC Annenberg Center for Communications, The ReDistricting Game lets users redraw Congressional districts while keeping the current representatives happy. Once you have the correct number of residents in each district, you get feedback to make sure you have done what the party leaders want you to do. That could include drawing districts your party will win, or drawing districts that will keep all the constituents in office, regardless of party. Once you submit your plan for approval, the State Legislature must vote in favor of your plan. Then the governor has to sign it. Then it has to successfully make it through challenges in court to be accepted.

The game can get pretty difficult as your progress through levels, but it is a pretty fun way to learn about a topic that only makes it into the news every 10 years. If you're a political person who likes puzzles, you'll probably enjoy figuring out how to get this one to work. (And the game has some subtle wit, like with the characters Libby Rahl and Connor Servative.)

After playing the game, check out a current map of the Congressional districts in Ohio here. This is the last election for which these 18 districts will exist. Which districts are going away? How will the new ones be drawn? It depends a lot on who is voted into office next week.

-- Cheryl Sadler

Labels: ,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bargain time, collective or not?

Whether a Democrat or Republican is elected governor next week, it does seem as if the state’s Local Government Fund shares will shrink for many towns and everybody else all over Ohio.

So might any Ohio Municipal League mayors or council members, including those in Lake County, ponder consulting local state legislators about all this?

You know, might anybody suggest amending state laws to hold down any local costs in, say, town hall collective bargaining between council, the mayor and police and fire departments, unionized or not, in agreements already reached or potentially pending?

Could that same conversation be proposed next by the Ohio Township Association members?

--David W. Jones

One week left and gubernatorial candidates not wasting a minute UPDATED

With the race for the governor's job tightening to within two points, candidates Ted Strickland - the Democrat incumbent - and John Kasich - his Republican challenger - are pulling out all the stops to attract the votes of hunters and anglers.

The latest moves comes from the Kasich camp. There, the team is utilizing the services of retired Ohio Division of Wildlife chief Mike Budzik in a recorded telephone  message forwarded to Ohio sportsmen.

In his sales pitch Budzig notes his long-standing Republican roots and that Kasich stands four-square on the issue of Second Amendment Rights, once even receiving an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association.

Budzik was appointed chief by the-then Republican governor Bob Taft. He also in his recorded message poo-poos the talk from the Strickland forces that Kasich is not any longer a friend of gun owners.

Just what the outcome will be remains in the arena of speculation though clearly sportsmen are being tugged from both directions. Part of the reason for this  is because the NRA's political victory fund has endorsed Strickland's reelection as Ohio's governor.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, October 22, 2010

TV or not TV, Schneider, Young, etc?

In the Democrat-majority Ohio House of Representatives in Columbus, who’s helping the Nov. 2 contenders based on pre-general election warchest filings with the Ohio secretary of state?
That is, since campaign finance reports on Thursday (Oct. 21), have you seen any Northeast Ohio TV attack ads or mailers involving contestants for seats in the Democrat-majority Ohio House? You know, such as:
n State Rep. Mark Schneider, D-Mentor, and Republican Ron Young
n State Rep. Lorraine Fende, D-Willowick, and Republican David Fiebig
n State Rep. Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, and Republican Tony Hocevar
n State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township, versus Democrat Mary Briggs, Constitutionalist Bob Cannon and independent Mark Saric for an Ohio House seat
The S.O.S. filings page says House Speaker Armand Budish, D-Beachwood, so far has netted $854,000 to help his fellow Democrat candidates and House Minority Leader Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, has $421,000 to help his fellow Republicans.
Might each party’s House Legislative Committee also have millions in hand to write more checks? Who is to be or not to be after the election is over?

--David W. Jones

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The mayor is in

Chardon Mayor Phil King says he will continue to host monthly "town hall" meetings after his inaugural session at the log cabin on the square Wednesday night.

A press release about the meetings invited residents and business owners to come share any issues, concerns or suggestions, or to ask questions of the mayor.

"There were eight people that showed, which is really encouraging for the first one," King said, noting that they weren't the usual residents that faithfully attend City Council meetings.

Discussion topics ranged from sidewalks to zoning, landscaping to ballot issues. The informal setting with chairs arranged in a circle may have put attendees at ease.

"I thought it was pretty cool," King said.

The meetings are scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month.

-- Betsy Scott,

Sportsmen eyeng this year's election

With the November 2 election just days away the outdoors community is ramping up its look at candidates.

So much so that groups like the National Rifle Association are pulling out all the stops, sending endorsement notices to its members in Northeast Ohio and which back Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) for reelection as well as Democratic incumbents Ted Strickland for governor and Richard Cordray for attorney general. Even the organization's "American Rifleman" and "American Hunter" magazines have localized false front covers that promote their chosen candidates.

Now the pro-sportsmen Safari Club International says that a random survey of 500 self-identified sportsmen point to nine in 10 of them saying they "very likely" will vote in November.

Other points in the SCI-sponsored survey say that 47 percent of the respondents believe that their interests are under-represented in Washington. Also, 93 percent of those surveyed are concerned about gun ownership rights with 74 percent saying they are "very" concerned, the SCI says.

And 60 percent of the respondents say they are very concerned about potential new laws that will restrict access to ammunition and protect the environment.

Sportsmen likewise say they fret over the federal government usurping authority over the states in regards  to wildlife management ; this, by 92 percent.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mentor watches Krueger in Ward 4

Right: John Krueger will hold that fundraiser from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 20) at Cabanna’s Island Restaurant in Mentor as he runs for that Mentor City Council Ward 4 seat.
Anybody else hear about the surprise movers who will show up to boost his campaign as they help get more money into his warchest?
Or is that not a surprise, since the Kruegers have a longtime following in Mentor.?

--David W. Jones

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Strickland aims for gunowners' votes; so do other Democrats

Ohio's Gov. Ted Strickland is leaving no stone unturned in his search for votes as he seeks reelection.

Most recently Strickland has posted a television commercial where he points out his pro-Second Amendment stance, his A-plus rating and his endorsements from the National Rifle Association as well as the Buckeye Firearms Association.

Then Strickland takes a swipe at his Republican opponent, former U.S. Rep. John Kasich. who is hardly an NRA darling with a once "F" rating.

Times certainly have changed for Democrats as it relates to the Second Amendment and other issues of interest to sportsmen and sportswomen.

Not including state races, the NRA has thus far made endorsements for 2 Democratic senatorial candidates and 61 Democratic House candidates. By comparison, the NRA has endorsed 23 Republican Senate candidates and 197 Republican House candidates.

While that difference may seem like a large gap the fact that the NRA is backing any Democrat is news-worthy; which is why the national media has picked up on the story.

And no less an authority than David Kopel notes that the NRA has broken ranks with die-hard Republicans who say the pro-Second Amendment group should support only candidates of its party.

Obviously that ain't going to happen. In its mission statement regarding the backing of candidates, the NRA says: "The NRA-PVF (Political Victory Fund) is non-partisan in issuing its candidates grades and endorsements. We do not base our decisions on a candidate's party affiliation, but rather on his or her record on Second Amendment issues."

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dolan gets more endorsements?

Former state Rep. Matt Dolan, now moved out of Geauga County and into Cuyahoga County where he runs on the Nov. 2 ballot for the voter-created countywide office of executive?
What about some of the reform leaders who got that change of government approved in the first place in Issue 6 on the ballot?
Right: People like former Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zannoti, Hispanic Roundtable Chair Jose Feliciano and Thompson Hine partner Steve Kaufman, who helped lead the effort?
Word out so far today (Monday) is that all three endorse Dolan. Hmm. In an announcement to be made at the county Elections Board HQ, where absentee voting continues?

--David W. Jones

Friday, October 8, 2010

Geauga bar polled on judicial candidates

The Geauga County Bar Association this week released a poll conducted of members regarding candidates for the upcoming contested judicial elections Nov. 2.

Eighty-nine responses out of 179 ballots were returned by the deadline, representing 50 percent of the Association. Three ballots were not included due to discrepancies.

The poll results are not to be interpreted as an endorsement of any candidate, but are solely a compilation of the responses of the voting members, the press release stated.

The below results, from left to right, show whether candidates are highly recommended, recommended, not recommended or bar members had no opinion:
Chief Justice, Ohio Supreme Court (Full 6-year term, commencing 1/1/2011)

Eric Brown - 14, 18, 12, 42

Maureen O’Connor - 31, 24, 17, 14

Justice, Ohio Supreme Court (Full 6-year term, commencing 1/1/2011)

Judith Ann Lanzinger - 22, 23, 14, 27

Mary Jane Trapp - 63, 14, 2, 7

Judge, Court of Appeals, 11th District (Full 6-year term, 2/9/2011 term)

Eugene A. Lucci - 44, 21, 13, 8

Thomas R. Wright - 15, 22, 13, 36

Judge, Court of Common Pleas of Geauga County (Full 6-year term, commencing 1/1/2011)

David L. Fuhry - 67, 13, 4, 2

Barbara J. Moser - 13, 27, 15, 31
-- Betsy Scott,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Absent any other knowledge--

Just as Ohio goes in absentee voting, so goes the nation if you compared 2010 with the same kind of election in 2006.
Through this week it’s been about 6 million early voters nationally casting ballots in the November general election, which is up from 4 million four years ago around the country, USA Today reports.
That matches what elections boards said about two weeks ago in Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga counties.
But the figures don’t yet get near matching the record number of absentee voters in the presidential election year of 2008 in Ohio and other states.
Still, let’s see what happens as time goes by.

--David W. Jones

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tis the season

Mentor Ward 4 candidate Erik Bednarcik is learning about the joys of campaign season when it comes to placing yard signs. On Tuesday, the 19-year-old filed a police report after his signs were removed from three properties twice.
A witness reported seeing an older, white man taking the second set of signs. Bednarcik later learned that the owner of the development took out the signs, even though the tenants granted permission for the sign placement.

"I suppose tenants are no longer allowed to access the first amendment," Bednarcik said.

Welcome to politics.
-- Betsy Scott,

Troy mayor may not be endorsed?

On Nov. 2, it will be Wickliffe Republican Bob Murphy versus Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy, who’s a Willowick Democrat.
Hmm. What if Troy is or will be officially endorsed by all elected Wickliffe executive and City Council members, not to be confused with County Commissioner Bob Aufuldish, the former Wickliffe mayor who already supports Troy.
So Troy could be officially favored by current Wickliffe Mayor Bill Margalis, Council Prexy David Krych and council members Jim Bala, Ron Ely, Mark Iafelice, Sherry Koski, Ed Levon and Ed Matyja? Or is this announced already?
But, wait, what if Democrat Troy is next endorsed, if not already, by two other mayors, both Republicans?
The trumor is that Willoughby Mayor Dave Anderson and Waite Hills Mayor Art Baldwin both favor Troy.
Maybe all this will be confirmed by the deadline for any upcoming Sunday column.
All not to be confused with some of those Republican Willoughby Hills electees officially endorsing state Rep. Lorraine Fende, D-Willowick.
--David W. Jones

Friday, October 1, 2010

NE Ohio watchdogs, Ds and Rs

As reported Friday, it’s now the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s top lawyer fired for intercepting e-mails seen as confidential messages to another agency not under his jurisdiction.
That DPS firing created a smile for some people with current or former Northeast Ohio bases.
n The emails, for example, were legally supposed to be going only to Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles, not to the DPS.. Charles is the Columbus-based veteran crime-busting watchdog over many a government agency and politician Democrat or Republican.
He’s also the same Charles who once resided in Geauga County and who once attended Lakeland Community College based in Lake County’s Kirtland.
It was the same Charles who got all those Lake and Geauga people busted in a separate case last year involving the Ohio Department of Transportation regional office. But never mind:
n State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township?
Right. He called together the Senate committee which rejected re-appointment of the DPS female director, the fired lawyer’s former boss. The current DPS chief is the one who fired the lawyer.
n Kent Markus, a Democrat and lawyer who is Gov. Ted Strickland’s chief legal counsel?
The same Markus used to live in Lake County’s Kirtland and Cuyahoga’s Lyndhurst.
For the governor, Markus was monitoring everything and everybody in the whole Public Safety case.
The Columbus media quoted Markus as stressing that the fired email snooper acted without the governor’s knowledge or permission.
n In the race between Democrat Strickland and Republican John Kasich, it might be interesting to see how these latest developments affect the contest in the next few days.

--David W. Jones