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Sunday, September 14, 2003

Hot corner: Nipping at the heels of the newsmakers



A snappy idea

New York City bellied up to the bar last week with Snapple in a $166 million deal that gives the fruit juice company exclusive rights to quench the municipal thirst.

The carbonated, sugary soft drinks now washing down New York children's lunches will be banished as vending machines filled with Snapple juices and bottled water are installed in each of the city's 1,200 public schools. The schools will get $8 million a year out of the deal, about $3 million of which will pay for sports programs. The juice company will put together an advertising campaign based on its identification as New York's drink of choice.

Snapple outbid Pepsi, Veryfine Juices, Poland Spring and Florida Natural to wet New York's whistle in a deal that was put together by the city's recently appointed director of marketing.

So why can't Cincinnati swing such a deal? We swig along with the best of them and there surely must be some beverage we would be willing to belt back for a buck.

Naked came the councilman

And speaking of cheeky advertising, Cincinnati City Councilman Jim Tarbell and his wife, Brenda, appear on the 2004 Civic Garden Center's calendar just the way Adam and Eve tended their garden.

This is the center's second year of putting out a fundraising calendar that features 12 months of gardening buffs. Tarbell, known for pushing the window box beautification campaign in Over-the-Rhine, said the idea "was a no-brainer for me." The Tarbells are posed with a window box of strategically placed posies. The calendar goes on sale Oct. 2, just in time for the council campaign season.

We have always admired Tarbell's "outside-the-box" thinking - as long as he continues to stand behind it.

State of sad affairs

It may be the opening shot in the 2004 Ohio governor's race: Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, trying to use the state's arcane "initiative statute" law, is circulating a petition this weekend to repeal the recent one-cent state sales tax increase that his fellow Republicans enacted to salvage the budget. He wants to start a "citizens' movement" that will change the way the state does business.

"My goal is to bring fiscal discipline back to Ohio," Blackwell says - but the tax-repeal publicity couldn't hurt him at primary time next year, either.

How could Blackwell's probable rivals for the GOP nomination - Attorney General Jim Petro, Auditor Betty Montgomery and Treasurer Joe Deters - match him? Well, let's see - circulate petitions for a four-day workweek, free college tuition, a mandatory World Series between the Reds and Indians... The mind boggles.

A nation remembers, a network forgets

This week's tackiest 9/11 moment: As NBC showed children reading the names of their parents and other World Trade Center victims at Ground Zero shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday, the Today Show's Katie Couric and Meet the Press' Tim Russert talked right over them, repeating a familiar litany of complaints about George W. Bush - he's divided the nation, he's alienated our allies, he's ruined the economy, etc. At least co-host Matt Lauer had the good taste to interrupt, saying they meant no disrespect to the children or victims. But shame on Couric and Russert for being so eager to start their Bush-bashing commentary that they couldn't wait until NBC cut away from the readings.




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