Beyond Civility

Two Hamilton County commissioners - Democrat Todd Portune and Republican Greg Hartmann - will be featured in Beyond Civility's new fall series of "Side-by-Side" conversations.

The two county commissioners will talk about their backgrounds and the influences that shaped their political views in a discussion on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at St. John's Unitarian Universalist Church, 320 Resor Ave., Clifton.

The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. and is preceded by a social hour with light refreshments at 5:30 p.m.

Beyond Civility

Beyond Civility, an organization that promotes civil discourse and understanding among people with differing political views, has something different planned for the next discussion in its "Back-to-Back" series - a debate on issues between a Democratic legislator and a former Republican lawmaker.

State Rep. Denise Driehaus, a Clifton Democrat, and former state senator and representative Lou Blessing, a Colerain Township Republican, will "present their opposing parties' arguments on some of the hot button public policy issues of the day."

One could hardly find two political figures whose beliefs are more far apart than Ken Blackwell and Jerry Springer.

Blackwell, the conservative Republican and believer in limited government and the power of the private sector.

Springer, the liberal Democrat, who went on from a career in Cincinnati politics and TV news to become an internationally known talk show host, and a liberal Democrat who believes that government is not the enemy but the friend of those trying to their lives.

Both come from vastly different backgrounds.

photo by Michael Keating

J. Kenneth Blackwell and Jerry Springer - political polar opposites who served together on Cincinnati City Council in the 1970s - will share the stage March 12 for Beyond Civility's "Side-by-Side" discussion series.

Springer, a former councilman and mayor who went on to international fame as a TV talk show host, is a liberal Democrats. Blackwell, a former state treasurer and secretary of state who ran unsuccessfully for Ohio governor in 2006, is a conservative Republican.

Now that Democrat David Mann is a declared candidate for Cincinnati City Council, he has stepped down as co-convener of Beyond Civility, a project aimed at promoting more civil discourse and understanding among people of different political views.

Mann will be replaced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black, who was appointed to the federal bench in 2010 by President Obama.

Black joins U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Beckwith, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush, as co-convener of the organization.


Listening Thursday night to P.G. Sittenfeld, a Democratic Cincinnati city council member, and Mike Wilson, the founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party, sit onstage at  Hebrew Union College might, one would think, produce some partisan sparks.

It did no such thing.

Instead, the crowd of about 200 in Mayerson Hall, heard two young men talk about their backgrounds, their early family lives, about the influences that led them toward politics, and about the need to listen – really listen – to what people of opposing ideologies and political persuasions have to say.

A discussion with Democratic Cincinnati council member P.G. Sittenfeld and Cincinnati Tea Party founder Mike Wilson will be featured at the second of four events sponsored by Beyond Civility, an organization that promotes civil discourse between people on both ends of the political spectrum.

The "Side by Side" series with Sittenfeld and Wilson will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10 at Hebrew Union College's Mayerson Hall in University Heights.