Thursday, October 16, 2003

Blackwell enters Warren Co. fray

Suburban Insider

Compiled By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - In the battle between two Republicans vying for the Warren County prosecutor's seat, the challenger faces allegations of misleading campaign material - but he has gained the support of Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.

In a statement that a spokesman relayed, Blackwell said: "David (Fornshell) is a hard-working, pro-family conservative. I think he will do a great job for the people of Warren County. He has both the character and demonstrated competence to do the job."

Fornshell is challenging Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel, who wants to keep the job to which she was appointed earlier this year. Her campaign manager, Matthew Nolan, filed a complaint alleging that Fornshell's election materials gave a misleading impression that he already has the job. The materials say: "Republican, Fornshell, Conservative, Prosecutor."

The Ohio Elections Commission found reason to believe that a violation of elections law was committed, and is scheduling a hearing for Fornshell.

But Fornshell, who prosecutes Municipal Court cases in Blue Ash, says his campaign acted responsibly and corrected an error on its campaign materials even before the complaint was filed.

Dave Young, who is running for Warren County Commission next year, also received Blackwell's endorsement. These are the only two Warren candidates to get his approval so far.

Young also is endorsed by former Cincinnati Bengal Anthony Munoz.

Stoker mulls county run

WEST CHESTER TWP. - One of the Butler County's sharpest critics pulled petitions Wednesday to run for county commission.

West Chester Township Trustee Catherine Stoker says she is considering running next year.

Commissioners Mike Fox and Chuck Furmon are up for re-election.

Stoker, who was first elected in West Chester in 1993, unsuccessfully ran three years ago for the commission.

Stoker, a Democrat from San Francisco who faces a tough battle in this Republican stronghold, prides herself on being fiscally conservative.

Now, Stoker is eyeing the county seat - chiefly, she says, to clamp down on frivolous spending.

She most recently criticized Butler County Job and Family Services for spending $6,000 on a mandatory leadership retreat for all 200 employees - which included an afternoon of activities such as yoga and "Stamping for Fun" at a local Y.

"I guess you can say the salsa dancing and hot tubbing was the final straw," she said. "Butler County needs a watchdog to help bring some sunshine into county government."

Sunshine slips in W. Chester

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Butler County government may need some sunshine, as Trustee Catherine Stoker says, but the rays weren't shining too brightly last week in her township.

West Chester officials conceded Tuesday they "inadvertently" violated the state's open meeting laws last Friday at a meeting all three trustees attended that wasn't properly advertised.

State law says meetings among elected officials must be advertised to the public 24 hours in advance. That did not occur, township officials say, because there was a miscommunication.

They did not realize all three trustees were going to attend the meeting, which was held so officials could hear presentations from architects vying to work on the proposed community recreation center and to ask questions.

Township officials say they thought the construction project manager for the center, Messer Construction, Inc. would send out the notice.

Now, the township already has advertised to have the meeting again at 3:30 p.m. Friday to make sure the process complies with the law.

"We truly thought we were OK, (but) we were in violation," Stoker said. "Since we didn't meet the minimum requirements, we are redoing it. We have to. We don't want to take a chance on having someone declare whatever we decided invalid because we hadn't met minimum requirements for the Sunshine Law."

Award is totally off the wall

MONROE - A plaque presented to the city for excellence in financial reporting in 2001 was stripped off the wall at City Hall late Tuesday, the same night the latest audit was publicly discussed for the first time.

Bob Kelley, a candidate for City Council, asked leaders why awards presented by the state auditor's office to former City Manager Donald Whitman and former Finance Director David Collins for exceptional reporting practices still were hanging in the building's lobby.

The awards, he said, are especially inappropriate as Monroe struggles to overcome a financial mess that left a $3.1 million deficit in the 2003 budget and other woes - the result of years of sloppy finances.

Those awards, explained Bill Wessendarp, a certified public accountant with the Cincinnati firm that did Monroe's audit, are given based on the "good looks" of the financial statements, not for the financial practices.

Turning up the GOP heat

HAMILTON - In his quest to keep Greg Jolivette from grabbing his seat on the Butler County Commission, Mike Fox has gained three significant endorsements:

• Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 101, which represents the county sheriff's deputies.

• Sheriff Harold "Don" Gabbard, who traditionally has been very successful in raising money and influential in the party.

• Donald Cotton, the GOP's longest-serving central committee member, who has served in that capacity since 1963. Cotton wrote a letter to fellow Republicans, calling Fox "our most able candidate for county commissioner."

Stay tuned for the party's endorsement in Fox's race Oct. 29.

Union passes over ex-cops

HAMILTON - Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 38, which represents city police, endorsed the only two non-police candidates for City Council: Chris Flaig and Pat Moeller.

The lodge's news release makes no mention of George McNally, former city police chief, and Richard Holzberger, a former Butler County sheriff.

However, the lodge says it decided to endorse Flaig and Moeller "based on who is best for Hamilton, not just for the interests of law enforcement."

The lodge described Flaig and Moeller as "staunch supporters of law enforcement and our officers." But, the lodge said, those candidates are also "dedicated to making Hamilton a prosperous and family-oriented city."

Kilburn storms out

LEBANON - Warren County Commissioner Mike Kilburn stomped out of Tuesday's meeting after complaining that the county shouldn't spend a $35,000 federal grant to upgrade the emergency operations plan.

"I make the motion we say no and send this money back to Washington," Kilburn argued. "This is a rural, suburban, growing county emergency operations management system and they want us to talk about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism-type things. That is ridiculous.

"The federal government is broke and they've spent all this money on these things and they're robbing Social Security to pay for all this stupid stuff."

Suburban Insider is compiled by reporter Jennifer Edwards with contributions this week from Janice Morse, Steve Kemme and Erica Solvig. E-mail

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