Sunday, November 14, 1999

Residents fired up over jail plans

Party-switching could be fallout of Kenton Co. decision

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The election is over, the General Assembly doesn't begin meeting until January and the holidays are coming up. Must be quiet on the political front. Hardly.

Fight but don't switch
        The group battling construction of the Kenton County jail in Elsmere continues to shake up the county's political establishment.

        The group has kept pressure on the all-Republican Kenton County Fiscal Court for voting to build the jail in a field across from an Elsmere neighborhood. Elsmere residents are angry the fiscal court went with the site in their city after bagging a location in Covington near Edgewood.

        Edgewood is a big Republican area where GOP candidates look for votes as well as campaign contributions.

        Now it's Democrats who are worried over word that some of the group's leaders want Elsmere Democrats to switch parties and join the GOP.

        Kenton County Democratic Party Chairwoman Shirley Huelsmann said she has heard that some Elsmere residents want to switch parties and back a slate of GOP candidates that would challenge the incumbent fiscal court in a primary during the next county-wide election.

        Two weeks ago at an anti-jail rally, a booth was set up for residents to switch to the Republican party.

        Democrats, obviously, want to keep the Elsmere folks in the party, especially with the talent for grass-roots organizing that the jail opposition group has demonstrated.

        “Registering Republican will not help these folks at all in getting the Republican Fiscal Court to change their minds,” Mrs. Huelsmann said. “In fact, it will only encourage the fiscal court to go ahead with their plan since it will basically strengthen the Republican Party in Kenton County.

        “Why would anybody opposed to the Elsmere jail site want to reward the Republicans on this issue?”

        Mrs. Huelsmann said if there is any party-switching, it should be to Democrat.

        “It was poor Republican leadership that led to the county courthouse fiasco, and it's poor Republican leadership that's to blame for trying to put this jail where it doesn't belong,” she said.

A tribute to the Vets
        Somewhat lost in GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer's visit to his hometown of Newport last week was the tribute paid to veterans during a ceremony Mr. Bauer attended.

        During the ceremony, local veterans groups laid a wreath at the foot of the monument near the Monmouth Street entrance to the Newport City Building. It was dedicated earlier this year and established through a joint effort of the city, Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli and members of the Lawler Hanlon VFW Post No.5662 and the James W. Costigan American Legion Post No.11, both of Newport.

        “I've always respected and appreciated veterans because they gave it all for the rest of us,” Mr. Guidugli said. “We never really had a veterans memorial in this city, but I thought this was the least we could do considering what all the veterans did for us.”

        Also attending the ceremony were Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini, Campbell County Commissioner Roland Vories and several members of the Newport police and fire departments.

        A whole lot of other public officials seemed to have other things to do on Veterans Day other than pay tribute to the men and women who fought and served to preserve democracy.

Name those mayors
        Name the mayors of Walton, Dayton, Lakeside Park and Bromley.

        Mr. Bauer was asked about a recent interview given by GOP presidential frontrunner George W. Bush, who was stumped when asked to name the leaders of India, Pakistan, Taiwan and Chechnya.

        “I don't have the faintest idea,” Mr. Bauer laughed when asked the same question by a reporter.

        He called the episode “gotcha journalism,” or a question from a reporter designed to embarrass a candidate.

        “But I think what Gov. Bush should have said, what bothered me about what he didn't say, is that what's important is your foreign policy philosophy.”

        Mr. Bauer said if asked that question he would have talked about how he has a foreign policy philosophy similar to former President Reagan.

        Mr. Bauer said he won't commit troops to foreign lands unless there is a national security risk, and he will rebuild the military and pump more money into defense spending.

        By the way, the answer to the mayors question is Philip Trzop, Bobby Crittenden, Frank Smith and James Miller. And yes, I had to look it up.

        And, no, I don't know the four foreign leaders, either.

NKU backer
        Some Dems were working the crowd at last week's groundbreaking for NKU's science center, saying that state Sen. Katie Stine, a Fort Thomas Republican, didn't vote for the 1998 budget that included the $38 million for the center.

        “That's not true at all,” Mrs. Stine said. “I voted for the budget, I attended the groundbreaking and I'm glad to see the work begin.”

        To prove her point Mrs. Stine even had a Senate staffer pull the voting records and fax them to a reporter.

What the Hay
        Boone County Commissioner Robert Hay, a Florence Republican, has inserted abortion into debates over development and zoning and advocated passage of the Answers in Genesis creationist museum.

        Now he doesn't want the fiscal court to put up $6,000 to match a federal grant that will be used by the Boone County Historic Preservation Board to develop packets on local history.

        Mr. Hay voted no because he opposes taking money from Washington, money that taxpayers in Boone County paid and deserve to get back, and because he was worried religion wouldn't be featured in the packets.

        We seem to have traveled a long way from separation of church and state to inclusion of religion in every public policy debate.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for The Kentucky Enquirer. His column appears Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 578-5581, or (502) 875-7526 in Frankfort, or by e-mail at