Friday, November 03, 2000

Accusations fly in commission race

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Five days before the election, the issue in the Hamilton County Commission race of Bob Bedinghaus, Todd Portune and Paul Naberhaus turned from stadiums to trust. And then back to stadiums.

        The three candidates appeared on Bill Cunningham's WLW-AM (700) radio talk show Thursday for a 90-minute sparring session.

        Democrat Mr. Portune, a Cincinnati councilman, and Libertarian Mr. Naberhaus will try to unseat incumbent Mr. Bedinghaus, a Republican, on Tuesday.

        Mr. Portune blasted the Republican Party for making television commercials that say he is in favor of gay marriages, and stating on a party Web site that he supports what abortion oppo nents call partial-birth abortions. Mr. Portune said Mr. Bedinghaus and the party have used two meaningless city council votes from years ago to say he is in favor of those issues.

        On abortion, Mr. Portune said he supports the Constitution and would uphold state laws regarding so-called partial-birth abortion. On gay marriages, Mr. Portune said he is in favor of equal rights for all people.

        “Ultimately, this race comes down to character,” Mr. Portune said. “The Republicans are so desperate to save Bob's job that they'll say anything.”

        Mr. Bedinghaus said Mr. Portune lied about his stance on the stadium sales tax when he told reporters that he supported the tax in 1996. Mr. Portune campaigned against the tax and had an alternative financing plan presented in the days before the vote.

        “It comes down to truthfulness,” Mr. Bedinghaus said. “Now he says he favored the sales tax, and yet he campaigned against it.”

        Mr. Naberhaus said he is the only candidate who offers voters a real choice and who would reduce big government.

        “Tweedledee and Tweedledum,” he said of his two opponents. “Why are both parties spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a job that pays $80,000 a year?

        “It's because of the amount of taxpayer money coming in and how it's doled out. Big government has come to Hamilton County — they tax everyone for the benefit of a few.”

        Both Mr. Naberhaus and Mr. Portune said that the commissioner, who was a champion for the sales tax to build two new sports stadiums, let taxpayers down after they voted to tax themselves.

        Mr. Bedinghaus said Mr. Portune, while at City Hall, helped create the cost overruns at Paul Brown Stadium by settling a lawsuit with the Bengals that forced the stadium to open by August 2000.

        Regardless, Mr. Naberhaus said it's everyday people who are being hurt by the half-penny increase in the sales tax to pay for the stadiums.

        “A family of four or six making $100,000 a year and spending it all is paying $500 in tax,” Mr. Naberhaus said. “That's money they can't donate to their church.”


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