Although most of their focus is on this fall's campaigns for Hamilton County Commissioner and Ohio's gubernatorial and congressional races, the local Republican and Democratic parties are quietly gauging who is interested in mounting a city council campaign, and some familiar names have surfaced. Party insiders say former City Councilwoman Minette Cooper is mulling another run as a Democrat, while former councilmen Charlie Winburn and Sam Malone are considering jumping into the race on the GOP side. To further cement the "school reunion" feel, former Councilman Christopher Smitherman, who previously ran as a Charterite, might run again as an independent.
Cooper left city council in late 2003 due to term limits. Ten months before term limits also would have forced him from office, Winburn departed council in 2001. The Republican Party helped him get an appointment to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Winburn was the GOP's mayoral candidate in 2005 but finished a distant third in the primary. Party insiders say Winburn would return to council in preparation to make another run for mayor in 2009. He was spotted at city council's meeting last week and made sure to stand exactly behind Cincinnati School Board member Melanie Bates as she held a press conference on the steps of City Hall.
Malone won his first council term in November 2003.
Two years later he barely missed re-election, finishing 10th in the balloting for nine council seats when he was facing a misdemeanor domestic violence charge for allegedly beating his 14-year-old son with a belt. Malone was later acquitted.
Smitherman served one term on council before losing a re-election bid in November 2005. He was an outspoken critic of the city's financial practices and police violence, which raised the ire of the police union and then-Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen.
Next year only one member, Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell, will leave due to term limits. Another member, John Cranley, could also leave if he wins his congressional race against U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood). That means up to eight incumbents will be vying for nine seats, making any large-scale shakeup an uphill battle for challengers. Sometimes even the religious right manages, in spite of itself, to support equality. Thus the anti-gay Citizens for Community Values (CCV), based in suburban Hamilton County, finds itself recommending that families visiting Boston stay at the Chandler Inn Hotel, a bastion of support for that city's gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender (GLBT) community. Bay Windows, which bills itself as "New England's largest GLBT Newspaper," tested the CCV-backed service CleanHotels.com, which lists lodging where pay-per-view pornography is not available. Sure enough, the Chandler Inn pops up. Turns out the hotel doesn't have pay-per-view movies of any kind.
"The hotel is a proud supporter of the LGBT community, sponsoring the annual Boston Gay Rights Fund block party on Chandler Street every year at Boston Pride," the Bay Windows article says. "The gay-friendly hotel attracts a huge crowd each June at Pride, and its next-door neighbor is the famous gay sports bar Fritz. ... Conservative Christians traveling to Boston may get quite a shock when they check in to their religious right-approved digs."
The Cincinnati branch of the NAACP now accepts complaints about police, in partnership with the Citizens Complaint Authority.
"We have learned that many people want to file complaints but were uncomfortable going to police districts," says Karl Holloway, spokesman for the NAACP's Criminal Justice Committee. "Some stated that they felt intimidated by the police officers and that officers were hostile and cold."
The NAACP will accept police complaints from 4-5 p.m. Tuesdays at its office at 4439 Reading Road. For more information, call Holloway at 513-281-1900.
Last week Mayor Mark Mallory allegedly reneged on an agreement to support secret meetings for city council. At the Hamilton County Administration Building, meanwhile, Commissioner Todd Portune laughed off reports of a secret liberal cabal. Read about these and other mysterious political phenomena at CityBeat's Porkopolis blog: citybeat.wordpress.com.
Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 138) or pork(at)citybeat.com