When Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Berding, a Democrat, planned a campaign fund-raiser to mark his 40th birthday, the host committee read like a Who's Who of Republican corporate power brokers. The list, circulated via e-mail, is being cited by Berding's critics as further proof that the freshman councilman is a Democrat in name only, who shouldn't receive the party's endorsement this fall. Some Democrats are troubled by Berding's actions in recent city budget negotiations, his tendency to hold important policy discussions out of public view and his past campaigning against a fellow Democratic candidate, as well as his day job as an executive with the Cincinnati Bengals front office.
The invitation lists two suggested contribution levels, $140 and $500 per person. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, a Democrat, is the featured speaker at Berding's party. But the invitation lists about 25 members of the host committee who are active Republicans or have strong ties to the Cincinnati business community. They include financier Carl Lindner Jr.; Reds owner Bob Castellini; Jim Zimmerman, Federated Department Stores CEO; Stuart Dornette, Bengals attorney; John Taylor, PNC Bank CEO; John Schiff, American Financial CEO; and John S. Leffler, a major contributor to President Bush's campaign.
A mass e-mail by local Democrat Bill Joiner says, "While it is nice that for once a 'Democrat' will have substantial financial backing — and this is a list that has provided substantial financial backing for Republican candidates at every level — I believe that a price must be paid for this kind of support, and I believe that a price already has been paid by Jeff's actions in his first year on council."
Berding's supporters counter that his support shows an ability to work across party lines and that he doesn't follow ideological positions.
Progressively Better News
A three-story brick building at the corner of Central Parkway and 12th Street has been donated to the FreeStore FoodBank by Jeffrey & Darlene Anderson of Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc. The 48,000-square-foot building represents the largest gift ever received by the FreeStore FoodBank in its 35-year history, according to John Young, president of the agency.
The FreeStore will use the building for its Cincinnati Cooks culinary training program and catering business (see "Catering to Job Skills," issue of Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2006). The building will also house the agency's administrative offices. Separating these from the Mayerson Food Distribution Center in Bond Hill will free up space for expanded food bank operations, Young says. The new property, which previously housed a charter school called Cincinnati College Prep Academy, will not be ready for occupancy by the FreeStore until next year.
Buoyed by recent successes, the Peace Committee of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) is continuing to mobilize local opposition to the war in Iraq. When IJPC chartered a bus to a national demonstration in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago, the seats quickly filled (see "Together Against War," issue of Jan 31-Feb. 6). Urged on by IJPC supporters, Cincinnati City Council recently passed a resolution opposing escalation of the war in Iraq. Now the Peace Committee is thinking in larger terms, according to Kristen Barker, a coordinator for IJPC. The next step, she says, is "moving away from planning single events, instead thinking more critically and embarking on campaigns that allow us to design actions and events that build on one another and grow our movement so that we can build the political will to end this crazy war and to demilitarize our schools."
The Peace Committee meets at 7 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month at the Peaslee Center in Over-the-Rhine. To join the campaign to end the war, call Barker at 513-579-8547.
Other good news in the local progressive movement includes Susan Knight's return to Cincinnati. Two years after going to work for the Sierra Club in her hometown of Washington, Knight has moved back to Cincinnati, saying the organization generously agreed to let her set up shop here. Knight is the Sierra Club's national representative for the Blue-Green Alliance, which fosters political cooperation between environmentalists and organized labor (see "Blue Collar, Green Future," issue of June 28-July 5, 2006). Prior to working for the Sierra Club, Knight helped organize the 2000 protest against the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue and demonstrations against police violence and worked for the Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.
For more details on Jeff Berding's big fat Republican bash and other noteworthy social events, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at citybeat.wordpress.com.
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