Wednesday, August 13, 2003

City Hall

Election reformers OK'd despite GOP objections

Greg Korte

A month behind schedule, Cincinnati City Council confirmed nominees to the Election Reform Commission last week. The 13-member panel will look at changes to the way City Council members are elected and report back by next February.

On its face, the commission provides a good mix of viewpoints - if not demographics:

Mayor Charlie Luken named Chairman Don Mooney Jr., who also chairs the Cincinnati Planning Commission; Jeff Berding, a "strong mayor" proponent who works in the Bengals' front office; E. Lynn Brown, an Episcopal bishop and Elijah Scott, an Avondale activist.

Charterites nominated lawyer Chris Bortz; Marilyn Ormsbee, a staffer to former Councilwoman Bobbie Sterne and Art Slater, a long-time activist and supporter of proportional representation.

Democrats nominated Sally Krisel, a Board of Elections worker; John Marroneof the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, and Bernadette Watson, co-chair of the Cincinnati Democratic Committee and the mayor's chief of staff.

Republicans named Tom Brinkman Jr., a state representative and author of a proposed district plan; Carl Stich Jr. of Mariemont, a former assistant county prosecutor; and Rick Witte, brother of council candidate Pete Witte, who has his own district plan.

The panel's biggest challenge may be in keeping all those people at the table. The two Republicans on City Council - Pat DeWine and Chris Monzel - voted against every one of the appointments, including the GOP's own slate.

Neither councilman explained publicly why he was now opposed to a process he initially supported. They left for vacation last week.

But Republicans were none too happy about having City Hall dictate election reform from the top down, and their votes sent a message about how committed the GOP is to the process.

Campaign trail: If someone walks up to you at a church festival or community council meeting and tells you he's running for Cincinnati City Council, don't believe him - unless his name is John Connelly, Terry Deters, Brian Garry, Glenn Givens or Christopher Smitherman.

With 10 days left until the filing deadline, they were the only candidates who had filed petitions as of Monday afternoon. At least 19 more are still circulating petitions.

Candidates need 500 valid signatures and a $75 filing fee to run. It takes 435 fewer signatures and $3,425 more to run for governor of California.

Press release of the week: "Expansion Excitement Hits Cincinnati!" proclaims a news release written by Dan Pinger Public Relations, touting the city's $160 million expansion of the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.

Today, the city will hang banners with the words "expansion" and "excitement" from the building.

Overheard: "Metal detectors? How about lie detectors?"

- Charterite candidate John Schlagetter, on a plan by Vice Mayor Alicia Reece to beef up security at City Hall.

City Hall reporter Gregory Korte can be reached at or 768-8391.

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