Tuesday, February 10, 2004

DeWine criticizes Dowlin's absences

Commissioner cites conferences

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin's Republican challenger lambasted him Monday for missing 17 percent of commissioners' meetings over the past two years.

"He has one duty under the statute, which is to show up for county commissioner meetings," said Pat DeWine, a Cincinnati councilman. "Most people would get fired if they didn't show up one day out of every five."

According to DeWine's analysis, Dowlin missed more meetings than even Commissioner Todd Portune, who was out for surgery much of the first half of 2003.

Dowlin said Monday that he represents the county at conferences and in other matters because his fellow commissioners haven't shown an interest in doing so.

"I spent $500 and came back with $10 million. Maybe I shouldn't have gone," he said of a trip to Washington in 1996 in which he pushed for a change that gives the county a bigger share of federal law enforcement money.

In Ohio, each county is overseen by a board of three commissioners.

A meeting can take place only if at least two commissioners are available. Hamilton County commissioners typically meet twice a week, or every other week during the summer.

Dowlin missed 28 out of 157 meetings in 2002 and 2003, according to DeWine's aides, compared with 22 absences for Portune. The Enquirer confirmed 27 of those 28 absences.

Former Commissioner Tom Neyer Jr. missed two meetings in 2002, and his successor, Phil Heimlich, missed two meetings in 2003.

Most of Dowlin's 2002 trips involved conferences and meetings of the County Commissioner Association of Ohio and the National Association of Counties, according to an Enquirer analysis.

He went to New Orleans, Tampa and Washington, but most trips were to Columbus.

The trips cost the county $7,003.


E-mail candrews@enquirer.com

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