Sunday, June 22, 2003

Ky. Politics

Bohman scored points with GOP, but at what cost?

Pat Crowley

Craig Bohman is about as welcome at Covington City Hall these days as Paul Patton is at a Chandler family reunion.

Patton dropped a political MOAB last week when he decided to pardon four cronies who had been indicted for breaking election laws in his 1995 gubernatorial campaign. The move keeps people off the stand who might start recalling who exactly was calling the shots in that campaign, if you know what I mean.

And it was a direct hit on the gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Ben Chandler, a Democrat who not only was prosecuting Patton's pals but who over the last eight years has repeatedly investigated the governor.

Bohman, a two-term Covington commissioner who aspires to higher office, made some friends of his own the last couple of weeks with his politically motivated, ill-conceived plan to pay for a tax cut by cutting 20 jobs at City Hall.

Now, there is nothing wrong with trying to squeeze more efficiency out of government. But the plan was so poorly received by city employees and other commission members that Bohman backed off just a few days after releasing it, saying the plan was "misunderstood."

Covington Mayor Butch Callery was livid, claiming Bohman only made the proposal to score points with the Kenton County Republican Party. Bohman wants to run for another office, possibly state representative or county clerk, but was told recently by GOP leaders that his support of Covington's human rights ordinance didn't play real well at Republican headquarters in Fort Wright. Seems some GOP leaders and contributors don't like the ordinance because it provides protection for gays.

So Bohman, according to Callery and others, wanted to show his Republican buddies that he is a fiscal conservative bent on cutting taxes along with the size of government.

"Craig Bohman," Callery said, "should be more concerned about Covington instead of trying to impress Kenton County Republicans out in the suburbs."

Bohman said he is dedicated to Covington, but if the Republicans liked his plan - and apparently they did - so be it.

"Anyone who knows me knows I am deeply concerned about Covington," Bohman said, "always have been and always will be.

"But I really have some legitimate long-term concerns with Covington's future ability to attract and keep businesses. I believe the best way to position ourselves to keep businesses and attract businesses was through a tax cut," he said. "If it impressed Republicans, that's great. But that wasn't my primary purpose."

But it certainly was a result. Bohman happen to drop in on last week's Kenton County Republican Executive Committee meeting, where he was patted on the head by party Chairman Greg Shumate and others for his tax-cutting plan.

Hopefully Bohman enjoyed hanging out at GOP headquarters, because he isn't exactly popular right now at Covington City Hall. His plan smacked of political expediency, as evidenced by how quickly he retreated when the heat came down on him.

Real conviction - not cheap political tricks - is what should impress Republicans. But maybe Bohman knows them better than we think. To cozy up to GOP donors and officials, you don't have to actually have a plan, just something that sounds good.

E-mail Patrick Crowley at Crowley interviews Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Gary Toebben this week on ICN6's On The Record, which is broadcast daily on Insight Communications Channel 6.

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