The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on April 13, 2005 · Page 24
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 24

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005
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C2 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2005 FN LOCAL NEWS THE ENQUIRER Singer Jeffre has complex Dolitical views t's easy to write off the mayoral aspirations of 31-year-old boy-band crooner Justin Jeffre as a novelty candidacy with more style than substance. After all. Democrats were quick to point out, Jeffre's voting record shows he's shown up to the polls in Hamilton County all of three times in 14 years of eligibility - and never in an odd-numbered year when local offices are on the ballot He voted in the 1992 general election, the 2000 primary and the 2004 gener al. (There's also no indica-tion he voted elsewhere.) "Given his voting record and his penchant for trying to get VH1 or MTV in here, this sounds more like a publicity stunt than a serious attempt to address the issues that Cincinnati faces today," said Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Timothy M. Burke. "If you want to make the city better, you start by voting over a significant period of your adult life." But a closer examination of Jeffre's voting record - and his public statements about politics during his musical career - reveals a complicated political worldview. In fact, his biggest problem as a candidate may not be that he doesn't have any ideas. It's that his ideology is all over the map. Back to the voting record. The Finneytown native and Clifton Heights resident didn't vote in the 2000 general election for president He did vote in the primary -but not as a Republican or a Democrat. He was one of just 370 people in Hamilton County to officially declare Libertarian as his party affiliation. That year, Rolling Stone magazine profiled Jeffre for its "Rave" feature, asking him about his favorite people and things. On his list: Noam Chomsky, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist whose socialist-to-libertarian politics are about as congruous as a joint project of 98 Degrees and Primus. Training flights for UC students may resume today By Jennifer Edwards Enqu irer staff writer BATAVTA - In the days before his death, Michael Moreland celebrated his 21st birthday and told his family he was overjoyed at being paid to do what he loved: flying. "1 le said, 'I can't believe it,' " recalled family friend Mike Mittal, 62, of Union Township. "Anytime you talked about airplanes, he had a smile on his face." Moreland, a flight instructor from Cherry Grove, and his University of Cincinnati student pilot, Jonathon Miles, 19, of Green Township, died on impact Monday when the Cessna airplane they were flying on an instructional flight crashed into a Mount Orab field off Maple Grove Road. Miles, who was flying the plane, was working on an aviation technology degree from UC's Clermont College. The cause of the crash won't be determined for months but preliminary investigation and witness accounts indicate the plane stalled and spun before crashing nose-first into the ground. UC officials said Tuesday they plan to discuss the crash soon with Eastern Cincinnati Aviation Inc., which owns the airplane and has the contract to provide planes and flight training for the aviation program. University officials say they also will closely monitor the progress of the federal investigation and review its outcome. But, they stressed, they don't anticipate cutting ties with the company. "Accidents happen," said David Devier, dean of UC's Clermont College. "They have been very diligent from all indications from all the years they have been in business. I wouldn't say lucky or fortunate. I would say diligent and, up until now, there've been no problems." UC president Nancy Zimpher said her heart goes out to the relatives of Moreland and Miles. "I like to read a lot of political science books," Jeffre told Rolling Stone. "I had read one of his, and I was, like, Wow, that dude is so smart.' And Creeorv now rm a huge fan- He's vjrzgu y ahlp tn hrpalf thinus rfnwn Korte Inside City Hall about how different things work, like the government." Last year, Jeffre crashed an event at a Colorado bookstore where liberal talk-show host Al Franken signed his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Wlio Tell litem: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Describing Jeffre as a supporter of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, the Denver Post reported the exchange this way: "Jeffre accused the Democrats of working to keep Nader off ballots. Franken agreed that that was bad." And at a Democratic mayoral forum in Oakley last month, Jeffre emerged from the audience to ask Mark Mallory, David Pepper and Alicia Reece for their opinions on instant runoff voting - a popular idea with fringe parties because it concentrates the votes of political minorities while still giving them a choice of mainstream candidates. Jeffre is so much of a third-party partisan that he says hell seek the endorsement of the Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati. Charter appointed Reggie Williams to City Council in 1985 - despite the fact that the former Bengals linebacker had never voted. But to Charter Committee President Michael Goldman, Jeffre is the "Invisible Man." "I've never heard a thing from him," Goldman said. "I guess I'm showing my age, but I don't know who he is." E-mail gkorteenquirer.com "Until proven otherwise, we can only assume something went ' terribly wrong," she said Tuesday. "We will take all of the safety precautions that go along with this program." The crash was the first since UC began contracting 12 years ago with Eastern Cincinnati Aviation, which also manages operations at the Clermont airport Moreland, an instructor from Sporty's Academy at Clermont County Airport, had been flying since 2002. He became a certified flight instructor in November, said Bill Anderson, spokesman for Sporty's and Eastern Cincinnati Aviation. The 2002 Anderson High School graduate earned an associate's degree at UC's Clermont College and was working on a four-year degree at Embry-Riddle University's Blue Ash location, Anderson said. All instructional flights were grounded Tuesday, and UC provided a grief counselor for students in the aviation program. Training flights are expected to resume today. "Everybody here feels so badly, we are not sure that they ought to be flying," Anderson said. When Michael Moreland's parents learned of his death Monday, they were at the hospital with his gravely ill grandmother. On Tuesday, his family resumed its vigil at her bedside and was unavailable for interviews. However, his father, John More-land, a longtime commercial pilot who now flies for Cintas Corp., said he was proud of his son. . Miles' relatives declined comment Tuesday, but UC officials said the 2003 Oak Hills High School graduate enrolled at UC last winter after transferring from Purdue University and had a "superior" academic record. Miles made his first flight in September, had flown solo and was about to take a flight test for an FAA recreational pilot certificate, Anderson said. cenic Group: Little Miami's future at risk By Dan Klepal Enquirer staff writer One of Ohio's cleanest and most beautiful rivers is also one of the nation's most endangered waterways, according to the environmental organization American Rivers. The Little Miami River, designated as a National Wild and Scenic River by the U.S. Park Service in 1980 because of its water quality and natural beauty, was listed Tuesday with nine others around the country that face uncertain futures because of pressures from development, road projects and expanding population. Preserving the waterway is important for a number of reasons: It Statehouse Hundreds rally during vote - ----- .-,' J ,! -..f-kr -.-r-.A:- . J The Associated PressKiichiro Sato Social service advocates rally on the Statehouse steps Tuesday in Columbus before the House vote on the state budget. Police said between 1,500 and 2,000 attended the rally. Ohio House approves its version of budget By Jim Siegel Enquirer Columbus Bureau COLUMBUS - Speaker Jon Husted stood inside the House chamber Tuesday, where his Republican caucus passed a state budget guided by the mantra that limited spending is key to righting Ohio's wayward economy. Meanwhile, Tom Delaney, 33, of Cincinnati stood on the west lawn of the Statehouse, wondering how he will afford the monthly prescription drug costs to treat his hypertension without the disability medical assistance cut from the budget. Holding two signs to protest the Medicaid cut, Delaney joined about 2,000 advocates for education and social services for a Tuesday morning rally, hosted by a coalition of 370 organizations pushing for more funding of programs they deem vital. "This is to get us back to where we're supposed to be - we want to work and be taxpayers, but we can't right now," said Delaney, who is also a recovering drug addict. This is the only shot I've got." Despite the pleas, Republicans passed the two-year budget Tuesday night, 53-46, largely along party lines with no significant changes. The plan spends about $10 million more in state money than Gov. Bob Taft tax plan approved amid debate whether it's cut or hike By John Byczkowski Enquirer staff writer COLUMBUS - Gov. Bob Taft's tax proposal passed the Ohio House largely intact Tuesday night, a package Statehouse Republicans hope will jump-start the state's economy. "We are fundamentally changing, in this budget, taxes away from penalizing being productive, away from taxes that penalize earning a living, away from taxes on business (that penalize) for investing in the state," House Speaker Jon Husted said Tuesday. "We can't compete with China as long as we have a tax code that punishes people for investing in the very equipment they need to compete." The tax plan, as part of the state's $51 billion budget, passed the GOP-controlled House on a 53-46 vote, with eight Republicans voting against it, and one Democrat voting in favor. The budget moves on to the Ohio Senate. It is either the largest income tax river is a place where about 500,000 people a year go for biking, canoeing and other recreational activities; those people spend money in the process, contributing tens of millions of dollars for the local economy; and a vibrant river means higher property values for those living around the river, which means more tax dollars for local governments. The Little Miami is one of only two urban streams in the National Wild and Scenic River program. "This just reinforces the idea that protecting rivers it is an ongoing effort," said Eric Partee, executive director of Little Miami Inc. "It's easy to get caught up in some modest gain here and there. But here we are 25 years later, still How they voted Yes: Republicans Lou Blessing, Bill Coley, Courtney Combs, Tom Raga, Jim Raussen, Michelle Schneider, Bill Seitz, Joseph Uecker, Shawn Webster. No: Democrats Catherine Barrett, Steve Driehaus, Tyrone Yates; Republicans Tom Brinkman, Danny Bubp. Taft's original proposal, but is still the smallest spending increase in 40 years. The only way to increase funding for social services and education is improving the economy, Husted said. "It starts with reforming the status quo of the way we spend in this state," he said. "Once we do that, well be able to reprioritize spending and continue to give relief for Ohio taxpayers." Cuts to local governments that range from 10 percent to 20 percent are a key reason why Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, said he was one of eight Republicans to vote against the budget Tuesday. He's also concerned that much of the budget's tax relief is promised in future years. "I've been here long enough to know those promises are rarely kept, if at all," he said. Those hoping for change's in the budget will now turn their focus to the Senate, which will spend about cut in state history, or the second-largest tax increase, depending on your point of view. Taft's plan would lower income tax rates by 21 percent over five years, set the state sales tax rate at 5.5 percent, eliminate corporation franchise tax on profits, and kill most of the tangible personal property taxes on machinery, equipment and inventory. House changes would kill the rest of that tax, ending taxation of furniture and fixtures. Replacing those business taxes would be a new "commercial activity tax," or CAT, a tax of 0.26 percent on sales in Ohio to Ohio-ans. Supporters believe the new business tax structure would help the state's declining manufacturing industry and create jobs. "We have to grow our economy. If we can grow our median income to the national average ... we have $17 billion more a year in the pockets of average Ohioans," Husted said. But the CAT has been criti J enaan having to deal with very serious threats to the river. The Little Miami still needs our attention." Specific threats to the Little Miami include a proposed new bridge on the "horseshoe bend" portion of the river that environmentalists believe will bring thousands of additional cars every day and ruin the serene quality of the river with trash, noise and salt during winter. The 17 wastewater treatment plants along the river also pollute the water with phosphorus and other nutrients that, when combined with sunlight, cause algae blooms that rob the water of oxygen and kill fish. Six applications for new plants or expansions of old plants are being considered by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. eight weeks debating the plan. A number of budget observers think the Senate could get more optimistic revenue projections in May, potentially providing more money to spend. Sen. Gary Cates, R-West Chester, a member of the Senate Finance Committee that began preliminary budget hearings Tuesday, said while he expects tinkering, the House budget is a good one. The House budget closely follows Taft's plan to overhaul Ohio's business tax structure, while offering an income tax cut and increased taxes for cigarettes, beer, wine, and electricity use. On the spending side, the House made significant changes to Taft's education plan, spending $24 million more over two years. They also made several Medicaid changes benefiting nursing homes. On Tuesday, these changes were made: Added $25,000 per year for the Cincinnati Museum Center. Prohibited state Third Frontier funds to be used on projects associated with stem cell research and embryonic tissue. Allowed school districts to pass an income tax levy that does not assess retirement income. E-mail jsiegelenquirer.com cized by businesses such as grocers and auto dealers, who say it would raise prices of goods sold in Ohio. "I challenge you to find a state that has a successful CAT tax. Good luck," said Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Price Hill. "We will regret the day this tax was passed." Though the tax plan would cut income taxes, it would effectively raise the state sales tax to 5.5 percent from 5 percent, which it would have been July 1 after the current temporary 1-percentage-point tax expired June 30. It also would raise taxes on electricity, tobacco products and alcohol, creating a $2 billion increase in taxes over the two-year budget, he said. "This is not a tax cut," Driehaus said. "This is the second-largest tax increase in the history of the state of Ohio, and we get less for it." Rep. Dale Miller, D-Cleveland, said the state shouldn't give property tax relief to businesses without doing the same for families. E-mail johnbenquirer.com gered Bruce Smith, a wastewater plant engineering specialist with OEPA, said the state shares American Rivers' concern. The state will start requiring new or expanded plants to remove more phosphorus, he said. "I would say we are concerned about the direction of the Little Miami River's water quality," Smith said. American Rivers isn't listing the rivers facing the most chronic threats; rather it lists rivers with the most uncertain future. The idea is to bring the potential threats to the public's attention. American Rivers is a national nonprofit conservation group with about 40,000 members dedicated to protecting and restoring rivers and the variety of life they sustain. E-mail dklepalenquirer.com Electric expert added to fire team Miami students noted bad fuses By Sheila McLaughlin Enquirer staff writer OXFORD - Fire officials added an electrical expert Tuesday to the team investigating the fire at an off-campus rental home that killed three Miami University students. The consultant was added to the group of national, state and local fire investigators after survivors complained about recent problems with a fuse box at the 136-year-old brick home at 122 N. Main St. Tuesday was the third day investigators spent sifting through the charred rubble without determining what sparked the inferno early Sunday that killed senior Julia Turnbull, 21, of Milford; senior Stephen Smith, 22, of Bethesda, Md.; and junior Kathryn Welling, 21, of Bronx-ville, N.Y. "Right now, nothing has jumped up and said it did or did not cause the fire," Oxford Chief Len Endress said. He said the electrical expert was called in "since the kids talked about fuses being blown." . Sebastian Barsh, a 21-year-old senior finance major who lived at the home and escaped the 4:30 a.m. fire, has said residents called Coldwell Banker College Real Estate, the property manager, in February to report l series of electrical problems in the home. An electrician replaced an outdated fuse box with circuit breakers, he said. Investigators spent Tuesday looking for smoke detectors to determine if the house met the city's requirement of having one detector in each living area of the 13-room house. Remnants of eight smoke detectors have been found, including six required on the first floor, Endress said. One of two detectors located in front bedrooms on the second story did not have batteries. Investigators have yet to check the rear bedrooms where Turnbull and Welling were found dead. Smith was found at the base of a stairwell on the first floor, near the front door. Turnbull and Welling died from smoke inhalation, according to the Butler County Coroner's Office. The cause of Smith's death had not been de termined Tuesday. Several parents called university and city officials, concerned about the safety of rental housing in Oxford. About half of Miami University's 15,300 undergraduate students live off campus. "For many parents this has been a wake-up call that some of the off-campus options aren't what they want their kids to be living in," said university spokeswoman Holly Wissing. But Endress said the majority of off-campus rental housing is safe. He said the biggest problem is that students tend to overload outdated electrical systems. Nine students rented the North Main Street house, which was a year overdue for a city rental inspection. City code requires all rental properties to be inspected annually. Leonard Giambra, who owns the Main Street house and five other student rental properties in Oxford, could not be reached Tuesday. E-mail smclaughlinenquirer-xom 1

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