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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cordray, state's gun owners win

In what likely is his last major legal victory, out-going Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray won a 5-2 State Supreme Court victory today.

And Cordray carried the state's pro-firearms advocates with him.

At issue was a case presented by Cleveland, the city saying Ohio law permits such entities to control firearms. In this particular case, certain semi-automatic firearms commonly and incorrectly called "assault weapons."

Cleveland challenged a law passed in 2006 by the state legislature - which also had overridden a veto by then-governor Bob Taft - that said cities cannot usurp Ohio law. The city's claim was that the new law infringed on Ohio's home rule provision which grants municipalities certain law-making privileges.

Not so, said five state supremes while two others agreed with Cleveland's arguements.

"This is an important victory for every gun owner in Ohio," Cordray said. "Before 2006, Ohioans faced a confusing patchwork of local ordinances with different restrictions on gun ownership and possession. The General Assembly stepped in, enacting a comprehensive set of rights and responsibilities for every citizen seeking to exercise his or her Second Amendment liberties. We vigorously defended that law, and today the Court upheld it."

In defending the state law, Cordray received support from the National Rifle Association, Ohioans for Concealed Carry, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

And though Cordray received the election blessing of the NRA as well well as the Buckeye Firearms Association he still lost to his Republican challenger, former U.S. Senator and Lt. Gov. Mike DeWine. DeWine received an "F" rating from the NRA and even had an anti-firearms group cut a television commercial supporting his candidacy.

Ready, aim--

OK. Yes, gun owners in Ohio, Lake County, Geauga County and especially Cleveland in Cuyahoga County “may buy, sell, transfer, store of keep any firearm.:

So says the GOP-majority Ohio Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision announced this morning (Wednesday) to uphold a 2006 law opposed by GOP former Gov. Bob Taft but passed into law by the GOP-controlled Ohio Legislature in Columbus.

Filing a legal disagreement with Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court, Cleveland said the new law violates the city’s home-rule powers.

The court disagreed and the city filed an appeal. Cuyahoga’s 8th District Appellate Court then agreed with the city in a decision which went before the state court.

The OK Corral high court rejected the 8th District decision. Five SUPCO justices, Republicans all, said the appellate judges “erred.”

Disagreeing with their peers were lame duck SUPCO Chief Justice Eric Brown, who’s a Democrat, and Justice Paul Pfeifer, a Republican independent.

What might the current GOP-majority Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives, which has revolved itself from a Democrat to Republican majority, do when they assemble Monday with new GOP Gov. John Kasich?

Republicans? Didn't re-elected state Reps. Lorraine Fende and Kenny Yuko, Democrats both, get endorsed by the National Rifle Association? When Kasich was in Congress, didn't he NOT get endorsed by owners groups?

Ah. But such musings are just shots in the dark. And besides, what about being allowed to carry guns into restaurants and bars? Might that come up in 2011 before state legislators?

--David W. Jones

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Concealed carry permit issuance on the rise in Ohio

More Ohioans are drawing a bead on obtaining their concealed carry permit.

The latest posting from the Buckeye Firearms Association includes material supplied by out-going Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. It points to more and more Ohioans taking the mandatory class and then applying for a permit after successfully completing the program.

This state-supplied data indicates that for the third quarter of 2010 (the latest figures available), a record 208,350 Ohioans have the required permit to legally carry a concealed handgun. Typically, too, the Association says, the third quarter is the slowest of the four reporting periods.

During the third quarter fully 2,763 concealed permits were renewed along with 18 temporary permits granted. Those figures helped fuel a third-quarter-total figure of 12,287 permits issued; or almost 200 such permits approved each working day and as awarded by Ohio's 88 county sheriff departments.

Looking at the figures another way, reports the Association, five concealed carry permits are issued in Ohio every hour, 7 days a week.

Another factoid supplied by Cordray indicates that renewal rate for concealed carry permits is 79 percent with only about 750 such documents expiring during the third quarter.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, December 24, 2010

How your senators and representatives voted in Congress (12/23/10)

Republican George Voinovich cast his final votes as a U.S. senator this week. See how he and U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in Congress in the week ending Dec. 23, 2010:

Ohio in Congress, 20101223

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Voinovich joins Dems in voting for repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'

U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio
Retiring U.S. Sen. George Voinovch, R-Ohio, voted in favor of repealing "don't ask, don't tell," differing from Republicans and joining Democrats to repeal the ban, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law next week.

From The Associated Press:
"The repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' will be implemented in a common sense way," said Sen. George Voinovich R-Ohio."Our military leaders have assured Congress that our troops will engage in training and address relevant issues before instituting this policy change."

Read more details on the legislation (and the bill in full) here. See how all U.S. senators voted here.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

How your senators and representatives voted in Congress (12/17/10)

Keep track of how your elected officials are voting in Congress with Thomas Voting Reports.

See how U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in Congress in the week ending Dec. 17, 2010:

Ohio in Congress, 20101217

Ohio in Congress, 20101217 part 2

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crime-buster Ray Charles to stay?

Crime-busting Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles, the former Geauga County resident who also attended Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, might be back in the news again.

As a top watchdog, he's worked under Republican former Govs. George Voinovich and Bob Taft plus Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland, who will be succeeded by Republican John Kasich.

No matter who the boss is, impartial Charles has investigated his share of cases. Some were under Republican Taft (Coingate and the NE Ohio Department of Transportation). Some were under  Democrat Strickland (alleged sting operation at the Governor's Mansion).

Now it's being said Kasich will retain Charles, this time as public safety director. If so, that been officially announced yet?

--David W. Jones

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The Nov. 2 general election is over. Long live the next election in  2011 for many a municipal court bench or town hall office.

It's said that candidacy nominating petitions are now held in hand by Painesville Municipal Court Judge Mike Cicconetti. He'll  be up for another six-year term.

It's also said that hizzoner could be announcing an upcoming fundraiser to be held somewhere in his eastern Lake County court district.

--David W. Jones

Lagoons care continues to be a source of controversy

Mentor City Councilman Ron Micchia expressed his displeasure recently about the fact that the Lake County Port Authority isn’t providing funding to assist with the channel dredging at the Mentor Lagoons.

“Didn't the Port Authority take over the channel? Answer = yes. So why no help? No money, no interest; one, both and/or other reasons?"

Micchia noted that the city is considering buying a mighty expensive shovel-dredger to "do this job on our own, reducing annual costs for this project. ... Wondering if the Lake County Port Authority is and/or will contribute to helping pay for it? Think I know the answer already...”

John Loftus, executive director for the Port Authority, was asked to respond to Micchia's comments:

"It’s a bit frustrating to deal with these questions," he said. "The reason the Port Authority took on the lease for the channel was to qualify any improvement work to be eligible for state or federal funding. As the channel is owned by the Mentor-on-the-Lake Yacht Club, a private not-for-profit organization, it cannot qualify for State of Federal Grants.

"On the other hand, the Port Authority is seeking funds from the federal government to make a number of essential improvements. If the Port Authority or city of Mentor or Mentor-on-the-Lake are not in some sort of ownership position (a 50-year lease places us in that role), the project would not qualify for federal funding. The lease places all the ongoing responsibilities for operation and maintenance on the Yacht Club and its partners.

"The other reality is the Port Authority does not have funds available for dredging or buying equipment. Even if we had the money, I am not certain that buying dredging equipment is the most efficient use of funds. In my previous life at the Toledo Port Authority, we owned a dredge and ended up selling it because it was too expensive to operate and maintain. But that is only my opinion on the subject."

We'll see what happens if and when the dredger purchase comes up for a vote.

-- Betsy Scott,

Oho gun rights group has put its lobbying efforts on fully auto

Working against the clock, Ohio's gun rights activists still maintain their sights on two legislative proposals.
o much so that their Ohio General Assembly supports have demanded a discharge petition; a point they recently won by a goodly bipartisan margin in the Ohio House.

The first mater deals with modifying the state's current concealed carry law and which would clarify how permitted handgun owners can carry or store their weapons while in a motor vehicle as well in restaurants and bars that serve alcohol.

Second is a measure that would restore the right of gun ownership to some former misdemeanor violators.

Backing both measures and successful Ohio House discharge petition is the Buckeye Firearms  Association.

Much of the opposition - and anger directed at gun rights groups - is coming from the media, the Association says.

Which means that firearms owners still have their work cut out for them, the Association said further.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, December 13, 2010

How your senators and representatives voted in Congress (12/10/10)

Keep track of how your elected officials are voting in Congress with Thomas Voting Reports.

See how U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in Congress in the week ending Dec. 10, 2010 (part 2):

Ohio in Congress, 201012102 part 2

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

How your senators and representatives voted in Congress (12/10/10)

Keep track of how your elected officials are voting in Congress with Thomas Voting Reports.

See how U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in Congress in the week ending Dec. 10, 2010:
Ohio in Congress 20101210

--Danielle Capriato

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Friday, December 10, 2010

I the jury: Judge not, lest ye --

First it  was the trumor here and elsewhere.  Now it's the official announcement today ( Friday Dec. 10): The state will see its first black woman serving as an Ohio Supreme Court justice.
Democrat Yvette McGee Brown will take the bench being vacated by Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican who was elected as SUPCO chief justice.
Brown ran as lieutenant governor with defeated Gov. Ted Strickland, who now says he is appointing  Brown before he leaves office.
Hmm. The  appointee joins  a lot of Ohio vote-getters with the popular name of Brown. So she could be on the same 2012 ballot as U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio?
The new SUPCO justice won’t be such available prospects as Mary Jane Trapp, Richard Cordray or Kent Marcus. You know:
n Geauga County’s Trapp, the 11th Appellate judge who ran for but didn’t win a SUPCO bench.
n Ousted Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray
n Marcus, the former Kirtland Lyndhurst resident who’s Strickland’s chief legal advisor. (Hmm. If any federal bench became vacant in the right place, President Barack Obama could always appoint Marcus?)
And another thought: In the GOP May primary, Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge Gene Lucci defeated 11th Appellate Judge Colleen Mary O’Toole, a fellow Republican who lost her bench.
But on Nov. 2 in a very close race, Lucci lost to Democrat Tom Wright.
Next time Appellate Judge Trapp is up for re-election?
What if GOP fans and allies urge Lucci or even O’Toole to run for the Trapp bench? Of course if Lucci ran, won and vacated his Common Pleas office, some could urge Republican Gov. John Kasich to appoint O’Toole to the county bench.
But Trapp could run again for SUPCO and win. Then Kasich could still appoint a Republican to trapp's Appellate bench. Who?

--David W. Jones

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eric Brown faces judgment call

Former longtime Cuyahoga County resident Eric Brown, now of Columbus, isn’t on the Franklin County Democratic Party’s shortlist to be appointed a judge again by lame duck Gov. Ted Strickland.
Brown is among nine applicants for a bench in Franklin County’s Municipal Court District.
Strickland was defeated by Republican John Kasich on Nov. 2. But before Strickland leaves office, he could appoint Brown to the Muny Court bench.
Brown once served 14 years on the Mayfield School Board in Cuyahoga, then became a Probate Court judge down in Franklin County.
The same Brown was appointed by Strickland as chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. But Brown lost big time on Nov. 2 to Republican Maureen O’Connor, of Cleveland Heights in Cuyahoga. She defeated Brown decisively in Cuyahoga, Franklin and most other counties.
The Associated Press and other news media quote the Franklin County Democratic Party chairman as saying such losses don’t make a Brown a probable ballot victor to be elected if he gets appointed to the Muny Court bench. So the party is nominating other prospects.
Still, Strickland could appoint Brown. Who knows?
(And if not, Brown could move back to Cuyahoga and run for something?)

--David W. Jones

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Micchia keeps council guessing

As of Monday night, Ron Micchia was planning to retain his at-large seat, rather than take the Ward 4 post to which he was elected last month. That's what he told Mentor City Council President Bob Shiner when Shiner asked what seat he would be voting from so the proper paperwork could be prepared for tonight's regular meeting.

Other council members were notified and asked for appointment ideas to the ward seat. Some were upset by Micchia's decision and Scott Marn called it "pulling a Grendell," in reference to the state senator's similar move after being elected state rep.

Shiner says, according to the law director, Micchia now is planning to be sworn in to his Ward 4 seat afterall. Shiner had paperwork prepared with Micchia voting from both seats, just in case he changes his mind again before the meeting.

Stay tuned.

-- Betsy Scott;

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How your senators and representatives voted in Congress (12/3/10)

Keep track of how your elected officials are voting in Congress with Thomas Voting Reports.

See how U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township; U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted in Congress in the week ending Dec. 3, 2010:

Ohio in Congress, 20101203

Ohio in Congress, 20101203 part 2

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Friday, December 3, 2010

What goes around--

State Sen. Tim Grendell's been voted in as state Rep.-elect Grendell  to the lower-chamber Ohio House seat in Columbus.

But he retitled and retained himself to his upper chamber Ohio Senate seat in Columbus. So can there ever be enough copycat humor, wisecracks and cartoons about such duality?

And no, silly, that's not a takeoff on LeBron James, once of the Cleveland Cavaliers and now of the Miami Heat, back at the Q in Cleveland where he defeated himself--no, defeated his former basketball team--but it all looked like him totally at home playing in the, yes,Q.

So no jokes about James anointing himself  to one chamber in Florida, then deciding he'd rather play in the Cleveland chamber.

But what's all this maybe to do with Ron Micchia?

You know -- Micchia  got himself elected  from one Mentor City Council seat to another a few years back.

Then he did it again this year.That is,  the upper chamber citywide Councilman at large Micchia  got himself elected as lower chamber Ward 4 Councilman Micchia.

Peers now debate about whom they will appoint to Micchia's citywide seat. But what if (hello, Tim) Micchia declares he now doesn't want to serve in the Ward 4 seat? What if  he issues his own order  to serve out remainder of term in the citywide seat?

Then somebody must choose somebody to serve as the appointee in, yes, Ward 4?.

What goes around  comes around.

--David W. Jones

Thursday, December 2, 2010

LaTourette votes on bill to extend tax cuts for some, but not all

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, voted Thursday against House Resolution 4853, which extends some of the Bush-era tax cuts but raises taxes for others, saying it will harm Ohio small businesses.
“To raise taxes at a time when the economy continues to struggle and people are out of work is nuts. To treat some American taxpayers differently than others is nuttier,” LaTourette said.  “I was greatly encouraged the President was willing to negotiate with both parties on taxes and greatly discouraged that Speaker Pelosi had to lob a dead-end stink bomb on the House Floor that gums up the process.”
The bill, if it became law, could mean a tax hike for 123,000 small businesses in Ohio that file taxes as subchapter S corporations, meaning business and personal income are combined for tax purposes, LaTourette said.
he said this can create the misperception that the small business owner is wealthy because the business income and owner’s income are lumped together.
The bill passed by a vote of 234-188, but LaTourette said the Senate is not expected to consider it. Current tax rates expire at the end of the month. If Congress fails to act on the issue, all Americans who pay taxes will see their taxes rise next year, LaTourette said.
The congressman said he hopes negotiations regarding tax cut extensions continue, saying businesses across the country are reluctant to hire, invest or expand due to uncertainty about the future of current tax rates.


Sloganeering: "If elected, I will not serve"

Quick now--what’s state Sen. Tim Grendell , R-Chester Township, got in common with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who people wanted to run for president?

“If elected, I will not serve,” historians now quote Sherman in an abbreviated version of his statement.

On Nov. 2, Grendell the senator ran for and won a seat as Grendell the representative in the Ohio House.

He now says now that, yes, he got elected as a representative. But no, he said,  he will not serve in the lower chamber but will serve in the upper chamber. Sound familiar?

Sherman’s same brief quip was used by President Lyndon B. Johnson when asked if he’d seek re-election and by Vice President Al Gore when asked if he’d run for the presidency.

Reacting the same was Gov. Ted Strickland. He  was elected in 2007. Then even before he took office as governor, he was  rumored to be the wannabe vice president as  the 2008 running mate with President Barack Obama.

“Absolutely not,” Strickland quipped back then. “If drafted I will not run, if nominated I will not accept and if elected I will not serve. So, I don’t know how more crystal clear I can be.”

Whoever wants to be named to the vacant Ohio House seat that Grendell won but will not accept?

The applicant's  slogan nowadays could be: “If I am appointed, I will serve.”

P.S. Hmm. If not Republican Grendell for the Ohio House in Columbus, might it be Grendell for the  U.S. House in D.C.? You know,  if  U.S. Rep Steve LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, doesn’t seek re-election in 2012?

LaTourette? Has it been reported yet that he just got appointed to the U.S. House Steering Committee, which picks leaders of key committees in the next Congress?

If LaTourette picked himself as a gavel holder, could he accept the chairmanship, but then decline? "If appointed, I will not serve." Or something. (Just kidding.)

P.P.S. Does Grendell have two live campaign warchests? Is  it one committee disclosure sheet for the Ohio House and one for the Ohio Senate?

--David W. Jones
Publish Post

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ohio gun owners group urges passage of two proposals

With the state legislative clock ticking down the hours until the close of this lame duck session, the Buckeye Firearms Association is pressing for the passage of two proposals.

These include a proposed measure to fix state law as it relates to a legally licensed individual carrying a concealed weapon in a restaurant or car. The other is a "restoration of rights" bill that would bring Ohio into line with federal standards for restoring rights - including gun ownership - to those who lost them, mostly due to past criminal activity and any subsequent penalty completion.

Both bills originated in the State Senate where they passed handily. Each is now before the Ohio House, the firearms association says and which urges its members to take up pen, cell phone, Facebook and Twitter to press their elected House members for passage.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

It's now Grendell, law and order

State Sen. Tim Grendell is already busy trying to get legislation passed in the Ohio Senate even as he declines to accept the Ohio House seat to which voters elected him.

Right: Grendell, R-Chester Township, was busy Tuesday and Wednesday on a bill he co-sponsored with state Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, to modify Ohio’s human-trafficking law, according to Ohio General Assembly records.

The Senate Judiciary and Criminal Justice Committee, chaired by attorney Grendell, voted unanimously Tuesday on the “stand-alone” bill, which includes graphic descriptions of the sexual and slavery crimes involved. Reports and testimony also mention an alleged trafficking case involving Asian women in Grendell's Geauga County base.

Then the issue went before the full Ohio Senate today (Wenesday, Dec. 1) for unanimous bipartisan passage.

But the bill now faces a proposed amendment. In that measure, another senator wants to add more charges if such a case involves trafficking people for sexual or labor purposes.

That would be a controversy if the bill goes soon to Gov. Ted Strickland for his signature before leaving office.

For Grendell, the clock is ticking in more ways than one. And he'll remain in the news.

--David W. Jones