Sunday, July 29, 2001


Neyer has had enough contempt

        If you are still wondering why Hamilton County Commissioner Tom Neyer Jr. decided not to run for re-election next year, you should have been with us at the Reds-Tigers game a couple of weeks ago.

        It was the bottom of the second inning, the time when the Reds' marketing department plucks a youngster out of the stands and hands the public address microphone to him or her to announce the first Reds batter.

        This night, the lucky boy doing the honors happened to be named Neyer, and he did a bang-up job of announcing that Aaron Boone had stepped up to the plate.

        In the red box seats behind home plate, we were sitting behind a fellow in a faded Reds cap who swirled a cup of beer and practically sneered out the following to the guy next to him: “Probably that Tom Neyer's kid. Probably pulled some strings to get him up there. Politicians.”

        We really should have told this taxpaying citizen that Mr. Neyer is (a) not married, and (b) has no children, but at the moment, we were interested in what Aaron Boone was doing with the bat.

        But it was a fine example of the sometimes unearned scorn that politicians get. Mr. Neyer decided he didn't want any more of it. Given that he was a hearty supporter of the building of Paul Brown Stadium with some $450 million in public funds — a project that cost his friend and fellow commissioner Bob Bedinghaus his job last fall — he probably would have been the recipient of even more grief than that fellow could dish out.

        Mr. Neyer's Republican Party might like to see him leave early, in fact, to make way for Cincinnati Councilman Phil Heimlich. Mr. Heimlich has not exactly achieved sainthood in party circles, given that he backed GOP maverick Tom Brinkman for state representative last year, but the GOP thinks that with his anti-tax, anti-spending message, he could keep the seat.

        Hamilton County Democrats, on the other hand, have stars in their eyes over Neyer's departure; they see the possibility of winning a majority on the county commission for the first time since mastodons roamed the earth.

        The consensus is that some suburban, conservative Democrat such as County Auditor Dusty Rhodes or former state representative Jerry Luebbers might run, or perhaps an African-American Democrat such as state Sen. Mark Mallory.

        But the latest rumor racing around Democratic political circles is that former Cincinnati mayor Roxanne Qualls might be persuaded to come back from her new gig teaching at Harvard.

        Don't count on it. Three years ago, she was beaten by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot when she ran in half of Hamilton County. There are a whole lot more Republicans in the other half.

        Howard Wilkinson covers politics. He can be reached at 768-8388 or via e-mail at


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