Sunday, February 22, 2004

DeWine: Our choice over Dowlin

Hamilton County needs a board of commissioners willing to work with the city of Cincinnati in the critical areas of economic development, housing and transportation.

In the Republican primary race between incumbent John Dowlin and Pat DeWine, we believe DeWine best fits that description.

Dowlin has served the county well in many ways for the past 13 years, but he has a tendency to adopt an "us against them" attitude on issues involving the city, and that impedes progress.

Dowlin, of Sharonville, likes to identify himself as "the voice of the suburbs" on the commission, and complains about the "county" having to pay for such urban problems as the growing jail population.

Operating the jails and courts are major expenses for the county and a high percentage of those locked up are from the city, but so what? Every resident of the city also is a resident of the county. The county collects taxes from city residents just as it does from those who live in the suburbs.

There are plenty of services paid for by all county taxpayers that are used disproportionately by suburban residents - the sheriff's road patrol, county road repair and snow removal, to name a few.

The reality is that Cincinnati is the heart of Hamilton County, and the county's health is intrinsically tied to the city's. The county needs commissioners who can work with the city on projects such as The Banks, the convention center and mass transit for the good of everyone.

As a member of city council, DeWine has shown a knack for compromise with political opponents on managed competition, and the creation of a $100 million revolving loan fund to develop market-rate housing within the city.

DeWine is an advocate of a strong, countywide port authority to take the lead on such development projects as The Banks.

When it was formed two years ago, the port authority was envisioned as a city-county entity that would find innovative ways to bring such projects to fruition. But instead of cooperating, the county has waged senseless turf battles over bureaucratic control of the efforts.

Dowlin argues that the county does not now have the money it pledged to contribute to The Banks parking decks. In that case he should push for the port authority to do the job it was created to do. Instead, he seems willing to accept the unrealized dream of the half-empty riverfront.

We also are disappointed at the personal attacks a recent Dowlin campaign commercial made against DeWine. It is one thing to question the appropriateness of a politician's vote - quite another to attack him on personal family matters not connected to his official duties. The issue in question was DeWine's vote with a majority of City Council last summer to grant Convergys a $52 million job-retention tax subsidy so the company would keep its headquarters downtown. At the time of the vote, a woman DeWine has a relationship with was doing public relations work for Convergys as an employee of a local advertising agency.

While DeWine's vote was legal, it had the appearance of a conflict of interest and it would have been better for him to abstain on the Convergys vote. The issue passed 8-1, so DeWine's vote did not decide the matter.

Dowlin's attack ad represented a new low for political campaigning in Hamilton County. In his long public career, Dowlin conducted himself with dignity. That he stooped to such an attack in his final campaign is shameful.

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