Thursday, July 15, 2004

Finan quits as county's lobbyist after just 6 months



By Cindi Andrews
Enquirer staff writer

The Hamilton County commissioners' stormy six-month relationship with former Senate President Richard Finan ended Wednesday when he quit as their Statehouse lobbyist.

"I just decided it wasn't worth the effort," Finan said, declining to elaborate.

County leaders also declined to give a reason for Finan's departure, which was effective immediately.

But his letter landed a day after several lawmakers suggested the county might not get $14 million it was expecting from the state to help pay for its two new sports stadiums. It also came five months after Commissioner Phil Heimlich criticized Finan for chairing Commissioner John Dowlin's contested re-election campaign.

The tussles highlight a split in the Republican Party, which controls both the General Assembly and most Hamilton County offices. A conservative faction led by Heimlich and state Rep. Tom Brinkman is often at odds with the old guard, which includes Dowlin, Finan and state Rep. Bill Seitz.

Finan and his Columbus firm, Calfee, Halter & Griswold, were hired in January to push the county's interests in the General Assembly and state government for $3,000 a month. Invoices indicate his firm mainly worked on a county debt refinancing proposal.

Finan said he also discussed with some lawmakers the money that Hamilton County was counting on in the next two-year state capital budget, expected to pass late this year. The state promised up to $81 million toward Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park construction in 1998 but has paid just $67 million.

That was news to state Rep. Patricia Clancy, she said Tuesday. The Colerain Township representative said Finan had talked with her and others about funding for an arts and technical school on the riverfront, but he never talked with her about stadium money.

"The subject should have been broached before now, because people are working on the capital bill," Clancy said.

Finan lobbied for the school on behalf of Manchester Bidwell Corp., a Pittsburgh company that's proposing it. Finan is also registered as a lobbyist for six other clients, including the city of Cleveland, the Cincinnati Art Museum and Paramount's Kings Island.

Finan, of Evendale, spent three decades in the General Assembly, culminating with six years as leader of the Senate. He joined Calfee after term limits forced him out in 2002.

A longtime ally of Dowlin, Finan served as co-chairman of his re-election campaign this year. When Cincinnati Councilman Pat DeWine mounted a rare Republican challenge, Heimlich objected to Finan being both the county's lobbyist and a participant in a contested primary. Heimlich supported DeWine, who won.

E-mail candrews@enquirer.com




TOP STORIES
Collectors grin at smiley plates
Teacher pay starts lower in Ohio, Ky.
Rulings put courts in turmoil
Mason v. judge: Ouster debated
Four-legged recruit not drug dealers' best friend

IN THE TRISTATE
Objections from neighbors put kibosh on outdoor bar and grill
Ohio may do Brent Spence impact study
Finan quits as county's lobbyist after just 6 months
Green Twp. thwarts Lowe's
Litter pickup steals time, money from road repairs, study reports
Local news briefs
Shooting range input sought
Inattentive officer dies in cycle crash
Neighborhood briefs
Some corn lost to rain
Man executed for 1989 murder of woman, girl
Concealed-weapon law passes key test
State to conduct open-records seminars
Public safety briefs
Colerain Township upset by Rumpke's delay
Woodland Elementary administrator named
Once flush, now broke, city weighs tax increase
2 Butler County rape suspects skip court dates
Dayton focus group proves tough sell for both parties
Some did pass teaching test
Worker's death was electrocution

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Bronson: Gay marriage debate stifled by more mush
Good Things Happening

LIVES REMEMBERED
Bill Bunis turned from tennis, became sociology professor
Frank Florence Jr. was Baptist minister

KENTUCKY STORIES
Budget tensions thaw as Fletcher, House leaders meet
Judge says he won't make Fletcher convene session
Staples gets first approval
Hayden criticized for China seminar
Obstacle course teaches teamwork
Covington hires ombudsman
Covington woman charged for false abduction report