Saturday, September 29, 2001

Court's mailing angers Dems

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Questions about a newsletter published by the Kenton County Fiscal Court appears to be a pre-emptive strike by Democrats as they prepare to formally field a candidate in the 2002 judge-executive race.

        Democrats call the newsletter a taxpayer-funded piece of campaign literature. The administration of the all-Republican Kenton County Fiscal Court claims it is an example of communicating with citizens.

        The squabble underscores the contest that will begin next week, when Fort Wright Democrat Patrick Hughes is expected to announce his campaign to unseat Republican incumbent Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd.

        Earlier this week, Edgewood lawyer Mark Guilfoyle, a top Democratic strategist, accused the fiscal court of playing politics with the taxpayers' money by producing the 16-page newsletter.

        “It's a shameful waste of money in a county that doesn't have it,” Mr. Guilfoyle said. “There are plenty of ways to communicate with people other than a glossy, 16-page, two-color newsletter funded by the taxpayers.

        “There is cable TV, Web sites, even a calendar of events and some basic information would be appropriate,” he said. “But this is terrible contradiction for a fiscal court that has raised taxes (three) times.”

        Mr. Guilfoyle also called the timing of the newsletter, which residents received this week, curious given that Mr. Hughes is preparing to make his campaign announcement.

        But Deputy Judge-executive Scott Kimmich staunchly defended the newsletter.

        “This is a good way of letting people know what is going on in county government,” Mr. Kimmich said. “It is absolutely not a campaign ad.”

        Mr. Kimmich said since taking office in 1998 the fiscal court has budgeted for four such newsletters, with each going to an estimated 66,000 households. The court has paid a total of $23,684 for its share of the four publications.

        He pointed out that the fiscal court only paid for four pages in the current issue. Other entities and agencies — including Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson, the Kenton County Public Library, the Sanitation District No. 1 and the Kenton Count Cooperative Extension Service — pay for their own pages in the newsletter.


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