Pass along a news tip by clicking HERE.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

University of Cincinnati Prez Nancy Zimpher: Favors Football Playoffs Over BCS

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- U.C. President Nancy Zimpher is the Big East Conference rep on the NCAA Division-I board, and she intends push at its meeting next week for dumping the BCS system. Zimpher -- who is despised by many U.C. fans because she forced out basketball coach Bob Huggins -- favors a football playoff to select the national champion. She says the nine-year-old Bowl Championship Series (BCS) creates too much controversy. LSU won the NCAA championship by crushing Ohio State, but critics contend those two teams many not have been the best in the land.

"I am in favor of the championship being decided on the field. I would be very receptive to a series of scenarios to see how we could break through this juggernaut, because it's not making anybody particularly happy right now."

Zimpher made her comments during an interview with David Harding, a staffer on the News-Record student newspaper. His scoop doesn't seem to have been noticed yet by MSM sportswriters. Zimpher said she's going to bring up her concerns at the NCAA board meeting.

"Determining champions of the field, in the aquatics center is really how it ought to go, but there are a lot of politics to this. Now a relatively new member of the NCAA board, Division-I, this is where the decision will come to rest and I will do my best to review options and listen to arguments and vote my conscience."

Ohio Clinical Study Seeks Toilet Paper Testers: Get Wiped Out On The Job

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Hill Top Research in Cincinnati says it is looking for men who are ready to sit down on the job and commune with a commode. And it will even pay them for the potty breaks. A recruiting ad appeared on page A-8 of today's Cincinnati Enquirer:

"If visits to the throne are making you feel like a king, you're the man for us! Test toilet paper at Hill Top Research! Qualifying men 18 to 65 years of age will receive up to $125 for their time & travel."

No details on what the exact qualifications might be when the testers start work on January 21. Perhaps being full of it is a requirement? Hill Top does market research and product testing for major corporations, including Cincinnati consumer products giant Procter & Gamble. It appears the poopers who will turn pro for the toilet paper tests are being sought in Cincy, Miamiville, St. Petersburg, Fla., and in Arizona and Manitoba.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Starting This Month: Congress Gets A $4,100 Annual Raise

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Gas money? The Senior League says a $4,100 raise ups the 2008 pay of a Member of Congress to $169,300. The money starts showing up in checks this month and puts the Capitol Hill crowd in the upper 6% of American households. But Congress people are hardly in the financial bracket of the CEO class, where paychecks can look like lottery jackpots. Details about the congressional pay hike were published in the Jan. 8 Federal Register, an official publication that announces government rules, regulations and administrative actions. Have any members of the Ohio delegation turned down the raise?

Meanwhile, the Senior League says 48 million elderly Americans on Social Security each will receive an average of $288 in cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) this year. That takes the SS checks to $12,948 per year. It contends Congress should have passed up its raise, or adopted some kind of pay for performance plan. Said Senior League Chairman Daniel O'Connell:

"It's outrageous that these elected officials continue to reward themselves with larger pay raises while they allow millions of seniors to go without basic necessities. This is yet another example of Congress delivering the best for themselves on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens."

Senior League officials complain that Congress "automatically receives a raise each year -- even if they're at an all-time law in public opinion."

Ohio's January Financial Report: Strickland Aides See 'Imminent Recession'

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- The monthly financial report that landed on Gov. Ted Strickland's desk sees minimal economic growth for the next six months and calls rising U.S. unemployment "a serious warning of imminent recession." It is a largely gloomy report that noted the state has been holding its own financially, with overall tax collections about $118 million less than projected in the current budget. However, there is little room for growth or new programs. Reading between the lines, there could be spending cuts if tax receipts go south.

Overall, Ohio seems certain to be buffeted if the economy declines. State Budget Director J.Pari Sabety delivered the 28-page economic summary:

"The trend of employment in Ohio remains flat, but the jump in the U.S. unemployment rate to 5.0% in December is a serious warning of imminent recession. Personal income growth is currently sufficient to support to moderate growth in consumer spending, but a further downtown in employment would likely lead to declines in both income and spending. The outlook remains highly uncertain. At the same time, however, the message of the leading economic indicators is more negative than it has been since the 2001 recession."

Sabety's memo to the governor noted that GDP growth is expected to be at about 2.2% in the fourth quarter and is "viewed as only the beginning of a serious slowdown."

Wall Street Foresees Horrible Year For Newspapers: Are They Killing Themselves?

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The newspaper industry is ailing, and Goldman Sachs sees its condition getting even worse in 2008. Advertisers and readers already are deserting, and the downturn is expected to accelerate as the overall national economy slows. If Goldman Sachs is correct, newsrooms should be shivering because bad times are going to be badder and more jobs will disappear as the industry contracts. Mediabistro noted today that the newspaper division chief at Gannett Co. Inc., the nation's largest newspaper chain, has decided to get out. Gannett owns The Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio's third largest metro daily, where budget cuts have been trimming staff along with space for comprehensive news coverage.

Meanwhile, Daily Bellwether contributor Bill Osinski -- a former Akron Beacon Journal reporter who also spent time on news staffs in Atlanta and Detroit -- sees the newspaper biz as culpable for its own decline. He thinks the budget cutting is a death wish. Osinski's take:

Newspapers On Suicide Watch
With recent studies showing that major newspaper corporations have lost an astounding 42 per cent of their stock value in the past year, one could be forgiven for concluding that rumors of the industry's death have not been exaggerated. But this could be a case of a self-fulfilling death wish.

To wit, imagine this transcript of a recent telephone conversation:
Operator: Hello. Suicide Hotline.
Caller: Yes. Max Media here. I'm trying to commit suicide, and I need help.
Operator: That's what we're here for, friend.
Max: No, no. I run a chain of newspapers, and I've been predicting their demise for years. I just need a little help in figuring out how to put me and my thousands of employees out of our misery.
Operator: But we're supposed to stop such things.
Max: Work with me a little here, will ya. Look, I've done all I can think of to ruin my business. I've had wave after wave of buyouts and layoffs, so I've run off most of my best and most experienced editors and reporters; I'm giving my product away on the Internet, even though I don't have a clue about how to sell ads in cyberspace; and I've dumbed-down the newspapers to the point where I'm driving off droves of readers every day.
Operator: Sounds like you're doing a pretty good job of doing away with yourself. But why are you so determined to stay in despair? Look, I still get the newspaper. I like it. I get lots of info I can't get anywhere else. And who's going to tell me what's really going on in my city when you're gone? Why don't you just wake yourself up, dust yourself off, stop trying to be like radio and TV?
Max: Hmmm. Put out a better product. What a concept.
Operator: See, I told you. Everything's not as bleak as it may seem.
Max: Nah. I'd rather be right and fail than succeed but prove myself wrong. Besides, I just can't wait to write my own obit.

Cincinnati Icon Joe Nuxhall: His Baseball Is Already In The Hall Awaiting His Arrival

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- That's the baseball 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall used when he pitched his first game for the Cincinnati Reds in June 1944. He was the youngest pitcher ever, and the ball is in Cooperstown on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Officials plan to announce next month if the beloved Reds' player and radio broadcaster -- the old lefthander who passed away in November -- will be enshrined.

Bellwether buddy Bill Osinski spotted the ball and snapped a picture the other day at Cooperstown while on a pilgrimage. He also passed along some interesting Ohio trivia about the national pastime:

"Sure, Dayton Ohio's Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the airplane. Big deal. Just down the road in Cinncinnati, two other Wright boys -- Harry and George -- invented professional baseball. You can look it up, or you can see it in the museum galleries.

"Harry Wright was the manager, co-owner and centerfielder for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, America's first pay-for-play baseball team. George played shortstop. In 1869, the Red Stockings barnstormed the nation, traveling 12,000 miles, playing -- and winning -- 57 games. Upon their triumphant return, a grateful group of Cincinnati fans gave them a 27-foot-long bat to commemorate their achievment.

"A few years later, Harry took his team and , with slight modification, their nickname, to Boston, where they became the Red Sox.
Cincinnati fans can find plenty of other exhibits in the Hall that mark their team's long history. There's a colorized photo of the 1882 Red Stockings, an 1888 scorecard cover bearing a portrait of pitcher Billy Serad, an 1887 jersey worn by star catcher Buck Ewing, an official World Series program from the 1919 series won by the Reds but tainted by the Black Sox scandal, and a ball pitched by the recently-deceased Joe Nuxhall when he broke into the big leagues at the historically young age of 15.

"Sorry, Orville and Wilbur. How can simply starting the era of manned flight stack up against all that?"

Ohio. Gov. Ted Strickland's Home County: Scioto Has Highest Poverty Rate In State

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Census Bureau is out with reams of new poverty data, and it shows that Scioto County in Appalachian Ohio -- the home of Gov. Ted Strickland -- has the state's highest percentage of poor residents, some 28.3%. Neighboring Pike County has 21.4% of its residents in poverty, followed by Adams County at 20.5%. All three counties are in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, which is now represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt. The poverty rate for Scioto gets even bleaker for those under age 18 -- some 36.3% are poor. Overall, the Census reports that 13% of all Ohioans live in poverty.

Other data shows that 36,108 kids in the Cleveland schools live in poverty. That is nearly as many as Cincinnati, 15,746, and Columbus, 21,954, have when their city school systems are lumped together.

The hill country of Appalachian Ohio has long been wracked by chronic hard times. This latest batch of data from Washington clearly indicates that any national economic growth which took place during this decade seems to have bypassed that region.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

OH-02 Dem Vic Wulsin: 6 Unions Now Backing Her Quest For Renomination

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Democratic congressional candidate Vic Wulsin has received a major boost from six unions -- including the American Federation of Teachers, which represents Cincinnati's classroom teachers. The unions Wednesday publicly endorsed her bid to recapture the OH-02 Democratic nomination, and the big bloc of labor support means money and volunteer workers are on their way to Wulsin. She is a public health physician who faces a March primary against Steve Black, a lawyer who switched parties and is running a well-financed effort seeking the Democratic nomination. OH-02 covers seven southern Ohio counties. The seat is currently held by conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, who barely defeated Wulsin in 2006.

Black was endorsed last year by the United Food and Commercial Workers. Besides the teachers, Wulsin now has support from the United Auto Workers, the Service Employees International Union, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, whose national headquarters is in Cleveland. Wulsin has more about the endorsements on her on her website.

Cincinnati Federation of Teachers President Tim Kraus pointed out that Wulsin's four sons all attended public schools. Democratic insiders know that was a shot at Wulsin's opponent. Black has been involved with The Seven Hills School, a pricey, private prep school where he served as board chairman. Said Kraus:

"Vic Wulsin knows the issues that Southern Ohio families face. Her four sons went to public school, and she's been on the front lines providing health care to people with no other options right here in Cincinnati."

All in all, a good day for Wulsin.

Black countered by accusing Wulsin of rejecting his call for seven debates across the district. He also said he would join Wulsin in refusing to accept Congressional health care benefits if elected. But at the same time, he described the pledges as hollow acts.

"These pledges do nothing to fix our broken health care system or help the hardworking people of this district who can't afford health care. If we're going to solve the problems facing Ohio families, we need an honest leader who will stand up for what is right and get results, not an individual who thinks feel-good pledges will solve the health care crisis or fix our broken system."

Inquiring minds are wondering: If the health care pledge is merely "feel good," rhetoric then why did Black opt to make it? Did Wulsin just maneuver Black into following her lead?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ohio Blog Sued By School Principal: Toledo Lawsuit Tackles Anonymous Comments

TOLEDO (TDB) -- SwampBubbles is now caught up in a legal fray that could test whether anonymous commenters on Ohio's blogs can hide their identities. And the lawsuit is likely to give consolation to targets who think they have been defamed and victimized by false statements. The blogosphere can be -- and often is -- a no-holds-barred environment. It is common practice for people to leave anonymous comments. They might suspect there is no trail back to the source. But there is a trail, and it can lead to trouble. Reconstructing the trail might be difficult, -- it can wind through out-of-state Internet service providers and other pit stops on the digital highway -- but it can be traced.

That trail and where it leads seems at the heart of a legal action over anonymous website comments that Leverette Junior High School Principal Steven Riddle considers defamatory. Riddle went to court over postings related to a sexual battery incident involving the arrest of a school employee last November. SwampBubbles is a community blog that covers news, politics and public affairs in NW Ohio. LisaRenee Ward at GlassCityJungle in Toledo has more about the legal fray in Lucas County.

This is the latest flap. Last September, a Republican Wood County Commissioner in Bowling Green was outed as a gay man by an anonymous comment left on Jeff Coryell's Ohio Daily Blog. It was a strategic leak designed to foreclose a bid for Congress in OH-05; there was no court action.

Now, the school principal's lawsuit before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook has LisaRenee musing about anonymous comments. She has concerns. Indeed, the lawsuit probably brings up an issue that needs to be aired: What is fair, and fair game for comment?

At The Daily Bellwether, I kept the comment moderation switch on for months, and limited comments because "anonymous" just made me feel uncomfortable. Then I switched to unmoderated last September and have allowed anybody say anything they wanted -- anonymous or not. In the past few days, I've been growing uneasy about some of the back-and-forth over the OH-02 Democratic primary. There have been some harsh attacks against Steve Black and Vic Wulsin written by "anonymous" people. Now, with lawsuits in the air -- and the courts unlikely to protect anonymous character assassination and assassins who use the Ohiosphere for their attacks -- the time may have come to flip the comment moderation switch on again.

Or, The Bellwether could say that it would vow never to reveal any information ever. That vow clearly would be impossible to keep. A court could order computers seized; it could order Blogger to give up data; it could pry open the browsers. There may be free speech on the Internet, but there may not be any cloak of anonymity for those doing the speaking. The Toledo lawsuit is probably going to make that a lot more clear in the months ahead.

Froggermarch Reminds Dems: 'It Takes A Clinton' For Trench Warfare With GOP

Hillary's Last, Best Chance

By froggermarch
The best use of staff and candidate time today for Hillary Clinton will be in the formation of a carefully-crafted concession speech for tonight. It should be gracious and complimentary of her two worthy rivals, not claiming victory in any form, but should be resolute to continue to fight for core Democratic principles and the traditional constituents of that great party.

In other words, pander.

The new age appeal of Barack Obama, and the populist message of John Edwards together gives the senator from New York a tremendous opening. By being the candidates of a new politics welcome to independents as well as younger voters, they have, by definition, turned their barackas (sorry) on the special or even not-so-special interests that still make up a large portion of the core of the Democratic Party. John Edwards has said he will not accept lobbyist money, not even from trial lawyers or unions; Hillary should assure them they will get the first seat at the table; that she will fight against "tort reform" and for higher wages and better working conditions for working people. She should talk Social Security to older voters, student aid to students, equal pay to women and sensible immigration reform to Latinos.

Oh, but she has already done that, you say. Really? This month? I haven't heard it, and I've been listening. Instead she has tried to out-Obama Barack, out-smile John Edwards and ride their respective messages as if it were she who is the rightful vessel of their appeal. She is not and never was. But as we are hearing ad nauseum in the week between Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama's phenomenal performance has been largely attributable to registered independents. The degree and influence of participation of that voting group will wane in larger caucuses and primaries as the influence of core party members waxes over the next two weeks. And those core Democrats hear the message of love, peace and understanding coming from the Obama campaign a little differently, I'm guessing, than it is currently being heard by the independent minded states of Iowa and New Hampshire. They hear it more as the foundation for compromise with a party that has screwed the country over royally. They don't want compromise. They want war. And the spoils of war. For that job, it takes a Clinton.

It may well be too late to attempt such an admittedly unattractive re-casting of her campaign, and I doubt she will go that direction but in my opinion it is her last best, shot Hillary gambled and to this point has lost, by using a general election strategy in Democratic primaries. I thought it was a flawed strategy from the beginning. Ironically, the Obama phenomenon may give her a chance to move to the traditional Democratic base that still loves Bill Clinton and fondly remembers peace, prosperity and the other "P", power.

Monday, January 07, 2008

U.S. Appeals Court In Ohio: Full Text Of No Child Left Behind Ruling Online Here

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has issued a 29-page decision that allows local school districts in 3 states and the National Education Association to revive a lawsuit challenging funding shortfalls in the No Child Left Behind Act. The complete text of the ruling is available here on The Daily Bellwether.

The 2-1 ruling by the Cincinnati-based appeals court found that the 2002 law -- a hallmark of President Bush's education reform efforts -- did not give the states and local schools clear notice that the measure would underfund its requirements for improving the academic achievement of U.S. students. In other words, the law made the states accountable, but failed to defray the cost of compliance.

The decision means the case now goes back to Chief U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedmann in Detroit, who tossed it out of court in November 2005.

America's 20 Most Annoying Liberals: Ohio's Sen. Sherrod Brown Doesn't Make The List

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Geraldo Rivera makes the Top 12? Dennis Kucinich rates only an honorable mention? And Sherrod Brown is nowhere to be found? Maybe Kucinich should forget about running for president and try to get a cable show. Right Wing News is out with the list of libs who get under its skin.

UPDATED OH-02 Dem Steve Black: Asks Wulsin For Debates; Topics Include Economy, Nat'l Security

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Steve Black wants at least seven debates held across Ohio's 2nd Congressional District with Vic Wulsin ahead of the March Democratic nominating primary.

[UPDATE 1: 5:00 PM -- Wulsin seems to have thrown cold water on Black's call for a series of debates. She said they have already made at least 24 joint appearances across the southern Ohio district. She also challenged Black to join her in refusing Congressional health care benefits "until Congress does its job and passes affordable health care for all."]

[UPDATE 2: 5:05 PM -- On the Republican side of OH-02, Weapons of Mass Discussion reports that U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt has picked up an important endorsement from the founder of the national right-to-life movement. Dr. John C. Willke, a Cincinnati physician, lined up with Schmidt last month. That gives her a boost in the GOP primary against Phil Heimlich and State Rep. Tom Brinkman, both stalwarts in the right-to-life movement, as is Schmidt.]

The text of the letter that Black sent Wulsin today seeking the Democratic debates reads as follows:

January 7, 2008
Dr. Victoria Wulsin
Cincinnati, Ohio

Dear Vic,
Unfortunately, we now live in a world where politicians rely on 30 second sound-bites and slick slogans to communicate with voters. Voters deserve better. The time has come for a substantive discussion about the issues that affect people’s daily lives.

With that in mind, I challenge you to join me in a minimum of seven (7) forums/debates throughout the 2nd Congressional District. Democratic voters must be able to make an informed decision on March 4th. They deserve to know exactly where we stand on issues ranging from the economy to national security, and who will be the strongest Democratic candidate to win in November.

It is time for a change of direction in this country. It is time for voters to hear where we really stand – beyond slogans and sound-bites. It is time for substantive discussion. I hope you will join me in standing before Democratic voters across the 2nd Congressional District and allowing them the opportunity to assess our respective candidacies.
Steve Black

Has Jesus Appeared Anywhere In Ohio? Episcopal Bishop Wants To Know

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Episcopal Bishop Kenneth L. Price of the 30,000-member Diocese of Southern Ohio has a hunch that Jesus has been showing up in the state. Very quietly, of course. None of the celestial rah-rah associated with the second coming. Price wants anyone who thinks they've recently spotted the Lord to send him an e-mail at He's included that address in a column he's written to track down any Ohio sightings:

"Seeing Jesus is not hard in our diocese, but often we take such sightings for granted. And so for the weeks of Epiphany, I would like to invite you to interact with me by being especially alert for such moments, and then e-mail me how you have seen Jesus in your own congregation or family life. Hopefully the sightings will be so numerous that I will not be able to share them all, but I will share those I can in a future column. Jesus is very much in our midst, and Epiphany is a good time to lift this truth up and take note of his presence in our lives."

The bishop doesn't come right out and say if he means actual apparitions of Christ, or just moments when a miracle or good deed occurs as if divinely inspired. He seems to be leaning toward the former. Clearly, he doesn't seem to have in mind kitschy religious stuff like the Giant Jesus super savior statue that's become a roadside attraction off Interstate 75 in Monroe, Ohio.

"If we keep our eyes open, if we are alert, if we are aware, there will be plenty of opportunities to 'see Jesus' all around us. Last month, I mentioned how I had been able to see moments of grace in our recent Diocesan Convention. Now in this Epiphany season, I would like to focus on moments in which we 'see Jesus.'"

Froggermarch To New Hampshire Dems: Cross Lines And Back A GOP Loser

Memo To New Hampshire Democrats:
Vote Romney

By froggermarch
Fellow Dems, it is time to come to the aid of the Mittster. And no, it’s not that I just love today’s “new-look” Mitt— the tie-less one with three hairs carefully tousled. That just makes him look like page 14, rather than page 4, of the Brooks Brothers’ catalogue. No, it’s because he’s lagging, he’s wounded and he needs us. That’s right, us.

And much more importantly, we need him.

Before you go thinking your favorite amphibian here has gone off the lily pad, consider: Any of the Democratic contenders can probably beat any of he current Republican contenders. With one exception: John McCain. McCain will offer a foreign policy advantage over Obama and Edwards and a personality advantage over Clinton. If McCain wins the New Hampshire primary he will quickly become the favorite to win the Republican nomination. Within days of that victory, Fred Thompson will abandon his run and throw his support to McCain (whom he campaigned for in 2000). Romney will have lost two straight and be abandoned by the pro-business Republicans to support the lesser of two evils in their opinion, McCain over Huckabee. McCain then goes on to win in South Carolina and Nevada and makes the Guliani strategy of waiting until February 5 seem to be even more quixotic than it does today.

But if Romney wins, McCain is in trouble. He will have failed to win either of the first two contests and history says that would be very hard to overcome. Romney would have momentum, attention and the wind behind his boneless back. He wins Michigan, South Carolina goes back to the Huckleberry and Fred Thompson hangs around to sleep another day. Guliani becomes just viable enough to keep this party going for months to come. The GOP turns to GOOP, forced to settle their grievances in a caged-match on the convention floor. Since Romney has the most money and fewest principles, it says here he emerges from the fray.

I know you may want to get in on Barackomania. You’ll have your chance in the general election, when it really counts. Edwards will finish third in New Hampshire no matter how many votes are cast, so no loss there. And if you like Hillary, and think this is the time to make a stand to keep her in the race, let it go. That dirge played Thursday night at the southwest corner of a weathered gym in a town named Waterloo. Besides, the ultimate victory here needs to be in the general election, and at this point nothing would threaten the opportunity to win back the White House than the anti-Hillary fervor that would rally the Republicans behind McCain against her.

So, down your Maalox and step up to the Republican ballot. And take one for the cause, by voting for (gulp) Mitt Romney. 'Tis a far, far better vote you cast than you have ever cast before.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

OH-02 Dem Steve Black Gets Whacked: Viral Website Questions Farming Tax Break

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Democratic congressional candidate Steve Black is the target of an attack Website. It says that he is taking advantage of property tax breaks on his home that are intended to aid Ohio's farmers. The site links to Hamilton County records. It's a hardhitting slam that portrays Black -- a wealthy lawyer -- as someone who uses legal loopholes to dodge taxes that would support public schools and other local government entities. The site does not say who is responsible for the attack on Black. State law does allow agricultural exemptions, and there is no allegation that Black has done anything illegal.

Black is campaigning in the March primary against Vic Wulsin for the Democratic nomination in Ohio's 2nd Congression district, which covers seven counties in Southern Ohio. Here's a sample from the website, which labels Black a hypocrite:

"Well, it seems that the former Republican Mayor (sic), heir to a significant family fortune, and running for congress as a pillar of the community may have taken lessons from the 'culture of corruption' regarding rural issues and agribusiness. It appears the wealthy Mr. Black has been getting a big (CAUV) tax break on his Indian Hill estate."

Hamilton County Dems' Deal With GOP: Appears To Clash With Stated 'Principles'

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The deal between Hamilton County's Democrats and Republicans not to oppose each other's county commission candidate seems in conflict with the principles of the Ohio Democratic Party. The principles call for "strong public participation in a government chosen by election," a phrase that doesn't look to square with the private negotiations between party leaders whose goal was to tamp down opposition and foreclose competition at the ballot box this year.

There are 11 stated core values that were adopted in August 1998, a time when Democrats were in Ohio's political wilderness and Republicans held nearly all power at the state level -- from the governorship on down. Some of the principles that appear to have been discarded during the dealmaking:

1. "We believe that the best government is one that is efficient yet understanding -- a government that is based not on systems of bureaucracies, but on people, ideas and values."

2. "We believe there is no substitute for fair and equal representation and strong public participation in a government chosen by election."

11. "And we believe in pursuing these ideals with honesty and integrity, with respect for the freedoms that we in Ohio are proud to call our own."

It may be good politics for the Republican chief and the Democratic chief to sit down and divvy up county offices. But can that be done with "respect for the freedoms that we in Ohio are proud to call our own?" Inquiring minds are wondering: Does the art of the deal outweigh the value of a competitive, democratic election?

Cincinnati-Area J.C. Penney Stores: Returning To Era Of Dept. Store Customer Service?

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Maybe the notion that shoppers should get personal service will catch on in 2008. It used to be standard practice in the nation's department stores. Sales staff would have time to wait on customers and often ask, "May I help you" in a pleasant tone of voice. Perhaps that will elbow aside "subprime" to become the phrase of the year.

The venerable department store chain J.C. Penney seems to have taken quite a public step in the direction toward restoring personal service. Quarter-page newspaper ads appeared today saying its stores were offering appointments with "certified in-store" specialists who would aid women shopping for a particularly intimate item of properly fitting attire. The ad reads like this:

Visit Our Bra Fit Specialists!
01/06/2008 through 01/12/2008
Did you know that 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size? Come in for a FREE consultation with our professionally trained Bra Fit Specialists. In additional to free, personalized service, you can also find great deals on the lingerie you need to stay comfortable, stylish, and to just feel great. So, come in and make an appointment today!

Sure, it's ladies intimate apparel. But can men's bermuda shorts be far behind? The idea that help is available is what counts.