Sunday, September 24, 2000


Monkeys didn't like choices either

        Our favorite news story of the week came out of Jarratt, Va., where the state police found several motorists pulled over along Interstate 95, complaining that their cars had been pelted by fruit.

        Fruit tossed by monkeys, that is. It seems that three monkeys — authorities believe they escaped from a truck taking them to the state fair or a circus — had climbed an oak tree and started hurling bananas and crabapples at passing cars. Hit 'em, too.

        You might think this little episode was just monkeys being monkeys, happy-go-lucky critters doing what comes naturally.

        We tend to think otherwise. This was a statement. These were not happy monkeys; these were monkeys dealt a bad hand of cards by some P.T. Barnum wannabe, who wanted to haul them to some carnival midway, dress them up like Little Lord Fauntleroy and make them dance the Hokey Pokey.

        Well, they were having none of it.

        These boys didn't like their choices.

        And somebody was going to pay the price. With a crabapple on the windshield.

        Some voters in Hamilton County might feel a special kinship with the simian rebels, especially when it comes to making a choice in the Hamilton County commission race be
tween Republican incumbent Bob Bedinghaus and Democratic challenger Todd Portune.

        There are a lot of solid, cut-the-spending, lower-the-taxes Republican stalwarts in this county who are not thrilled by their choice — the same Republican voters who have kept the GOP in control of county government here for decades.

        This year, they are being asked by the party in power to go out Nov. 7 and re-elect Mr. Bedinghaus, champion of the stadium sales tax and co-author of the lease agreement with the Bengals for the $450 million Paul Brown Stadium.

        They are angry about how the sales tax money they voted for has been spent, and local GOP leaders fear they will take it out on Mr. Bedinghaus.

        Since Democratic candidates in Hamilton County can't win countywide office without the support of a considerable number of Republican and independent voters, these local Republicans who are unhappy over the stadium situation could end up deciding the Bedinghaus-Portune contest.

        They have five choices:

        1. They can cross party lines and vote for Mr. Portune, although this seems the most unlikely option for suburban Republicans, who generally view Democratic Cincinnati City Council members as favorably as they do scrofula.

        2. They can skip the race altogether — which might be more likely, given the fact that 21,124 GOP primary voters declined to give Mr. Bedinghaus a “courtesy vote” in the March primary.

        3. They can cast a ballot for the third candidate on the ballot, Libertarian Paul Naberhaus, although few will know who he is and what he stands for. Some say this would hurt Mr. Portune the most, because it would take away precious anti-Bedinghaus votes.

        4. They could suck it up and cast a ballot for their party's nominee, choosing party loyalty over their anger over the stadium deal.

        5. Or, if they're really ticked off, they could climb a tree and chuck crabapples all day long.

       Howard Wilkinson covers politics. He can be reached at 768-8396 or

Stadium debate may be pivotal
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