|Political Feuding Seemingly Spills Into Courts|
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Lawyer Chris Finney, a power in the local anti-tax and small government group known as COAST, has filed a lawsuit demanding access to e-mails Sharonville's Economic Development Specialist Tammy Riddle supposedly sent to 28 people in the run-up to last fall's Cincinnati city elections. Riddle is on the board ofCincyPAC, which openly supports construction of a streetcar system in downtown Cincinnati. Streetcars are anathema to COAST, which sees the rail project as a multi-million boondoggle. The YP's have tended to see the streetcars as potential economic drivers that can revive the urban core. They have prevailed over COAST in two citywide referendums. CincyPAC is a political action committee of young professional founded in 2007. Members tend to be progressives, but the group is not tied to any political party. So far, the group has not emerged as a powerbroker in the city, although it is somewhat influential and has potential if it sticks together. Clearly, it has gotten under COAST's skin.
So whose e-mails are being sought? This is what the demand letter attached to the lawsuit says,
"All electronic communications between Tammy Riddle and the following persons/e-mail addresses from January 1, 2010 to the present: Shawn Baker, Michael Green, Doug Brandt, Katy Crossen, Patrick Quinn, Aja Roberto, Jameson Muth, Darren Tolliver, Evan Nolan, Myron Rivers, Tamaya Dennard, Tara Bonistall, Amber Burke Sprengard, Lori Adams, Beth Race, Trisa Wilkens, Catherine Smith Mills, Ashley Mills, Sean Butler, Rusdyn Lindsey, Chris Ostoich, Bobby Maly, David Dawson, Mark Schmidt, Rob Richardson, Margaret McGurk, Candace Klein." (The Daily Bellwether is going to omit the e-mail addresses on commonsense grounds.)
Of course, there is more to the clash than streetcars, although the names make clear that is a key issue. Margaret McGurk, whose name appears on the list, is a former Cincinnati Enquirer reporter who probably no longer qualifies for the description young professional (sorry Margaret). McGurk, however, was a major player in the pro-streetcar campaign that so torqued off COAST. CincyPac was ripped earlier this year by Aja Roberto (who name is on the e-mail list), a former board member who quit claiming the CincyPAC endorsement process was rigged. She compared the YP group to a Soviet-style politburo. Then came a review of the strife in Ben Sherman's Cincy Voices, who took the view that Roberto seemed "likely just as “guilty” of being biased and partisan as any member of the Board of Directors currently sitting. At the very least, it draws into question any accusations of extreme bias coming from her corner." Sherman also went on to note that the YP's endorsed just one Republican in the November Cincinnati City Council race, probably because the GOP candidates were out of touch with the group's core values:
"Yes, they did go from three Republicans out of seven down to one, but that could simply be due to the current composition of the group as opposed to what it was 2009, or the fact that, frankly, most of this years Republican candidates seem to have gone out of their way to oppose many of CincyPAC’s stated values. At any rate, it certainly doesn’t prove 'bias' on the part of the Board."
As for Tammy Riddle, she seems to be a solid public employee who has been sucked into a COAST lawsuit that, at this point, appears to have little public purpose except to try to dig up material that might (or might not) embarrass people who disagree with its ideology. Riddle probably can send e-mails on the Sharonville computers about economic development matters (read streetcar) because her job involves economic development. This is her Linked In profile:
"Working in economic development is rewarding because it is a hybrid of real estate development, finance, and business development. It fosters entreprenural spirit and provides opportunities to provide real value to businesses in a constantly evolving marketplace. I began my career in economic development working with communities and developers at Property Advisors, analyzing data and planning development projects, matching market-based demand with sustainable planning. Now, as economic development specialist for Sharonville, I've initiated the City's business attraction/retention strategies, manage City JV development projects, and lead business expansion and relocation projects; including structuring public financing, incentive negotiations, and public/private partnerships. Despite the lull in the market, Sharonville has seen much activity in business expansion, relocation, and new development. I am intrigued to work with more businesses as they embark on growth, in what is the ‘new reality’ of the business world."
The lawsuit is Case No. C1100734 in Hamilton County's 1st District Court of Appeals. The hearing is set for May 29. For now, the court says it won't put the case on a rocket docket for quick decision-making. That looks like a bit of a setback for the COASTERs. But lawyer Finney is a fighter with a reputation for holding his ground and not quitting.