Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Inside City Hall

City Democrats urged to get organized

At the Labor Day Picnic, Steve Reece yelled at fellow Democrat David Pepper with a bullhorn, calling the councilman a "sellout" for voting too often with Republicans.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Dennis White can't compete with Reece for sheer volume. But at a campaign rally in Bond Hill last week for Reece's daughter, Vice Mayor Alicia Reece, he had the same general message.

He said he doesn't just want Reece to win, but to beat every other candidate - including other Democrats.

In a room full of labor leaders, White urged the crowd to "treat your elected officials like children."

"If they're doing something that doesn't agree with you, stop giving them the candy," he said.

The issue here, of course, is "managed competition." Labor leaders call it a euphemism for privatizing city (and often union) jobs. Republicans - and some Democrats - say it's a way to bid out city services to get the best deal for the taxpayers.

"Some of my critics say I'm too close to organized labor," White said. "I tell them to get over it."

White also exhorted the local party to get organized.

"Alicia was telling me that you guys don't even put out a sample ballot in an off-year election. That's nuts," he said. "Trust me, the Republicans are going to mail out the sample ballots to their hard-core voters."

Then again, the Republicans seem to agree on a lot more than Democrats do.

• • •

Signs of the times: When Police Capt. Jim Whalen came to the Law and Public Safety Committee and said he couldn't evict homeless people because the city sign shop hadn't made "No Trespassing" signs, incredulous Republicans seized on it.

Republican Chris Monzel even took the issue to the campaign trail, lamenting to the College Hill Forum how hard it was to get anything done at City Hall.

The story, it turns out, was a little more complicated. And Tony Berning - the city employee whose job it is to make signs - feels unfairly maligned.

Whalen had indeed submitted a request for the signs to the Department of Transportation and Engineering, where a Nameless Bureaucrat sat on it, figuring that the homeless issue would be tied up in federal court.

Once police called the sign shop directly, Berning dropped everything, said his union president, Randy Moore of Cincinnati Public Employees Local 250.

Berning made the signs, and the Department of Public Services installed them. "And we still don't have a work order," Moore said.

• • •

Best of the West: Of all the groups making endorsements in City Council races, West Act is the only one that unabashedly puts one neighborhood's issues first.

West Act, now in its second campaign, asked candidates for their stands on Section 8 housing, police deployment and neighborhood development in Westwood and Price Hill.

Endorsed candidates are Laketa Cole, D-Bond Hill; John Cranley, D-East Price Hill; Terry Deters, R-East Price Hill; Pat DeWine, R-Oakley; Sam Malone, R-Bond Hill; Chris Monzel, R-Winton Place; Pepper, D-Mount Adams; and Pete Witte, R-West Price Hill.

West Act sent a questionnaire to every candidate except Damon Lynch III. "We know where he stands on issues," said organizer Mary Kuhl.


City Hall reporter Gregory Korte can be reached at gkorte@enquirer.com

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