In decades of writing column, I don’t think I have ever started one on a personal note.

But with this most interesting year coming to a close, and a new one about to begin, I will, if you will indulge me.

For me, it has been quite a year.

After 29 years, six months and two days at the Cincinnati Enquirer, writing on politics and a myriad of other subjects, I took an early retirement offer from the Enquirer in April, leaving behind working on a daily basis with good friends and  opportunities to do interesting journalism too numerous to count.

The Prince Hall Shriners, who filled downtown Cincinnati in August 2011 with 25,000 members, spouses and family, liked the experience so much they are bringing their national convention back in 2015.

The Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine – better known as the Prince Hall Shriners  - is the oldest African-American fraternal organization in the world , founded in 1893 with 35,000 members in 227 Shrine Temples around the country.

In 2013, the Cincinnati mayor’s race is likely to suck most of the air out of the room, as it has since the city adopted direct election of the mayor in 2001.

But it is not the only important race in Cincinnati next year.

There is this little thing called a city council election; and it will be vastly different this year than any other since the city charter was created in the 1920s.

As of now, Cincinnati voters will be electing nine council members for four-year terms, instead of the two-year terms we have had since 1927.


The Ohio Casino Control Commission says Horseshoe Cincinnati has been granted a public opening date of March Fourth next year.  

The casino will be the last of four voter-approved casinos to open in the state in less than one year.  Construction at the site started in February 2011 and is now in its final stages.  

Casino General Manager Kevin Kline says in a statement efforts to hire and train about 1,700 new workers are on schedule and several hundred slot machines have already been placed on the gaming floor.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has restored the 11-ton weight limit on the historic Roebling Suspension Bridge.

In October, a routine inspection found some deterioration of one of the beams.  That led KYTC officials to impose a 3-ton weight restriction.

The repairs were finished Thursday.  A final inspection performed Friday determined the bridge could go back to the 11-ton weight limit.


Paycor has broken ground for its new headquarters in Norwood.  The Cincinnati-based human resources and payroll solutions provider will be moving into the $20- million facility in the spring of 2014.  CEO Bob Coughlin said it marks the beginning of a new era for the company as it broadens its focus from payroll to people management.

"Paycor has tremendous momentum today and this new headquarter project will allow us to keep that momentum by providing a better place for our employees and clients to collaborate, " said Coughlin.

Members of Ohio Action Now, a coalition of pro-Obama groups and individuals, plans a Friday rally near Republican congressman Steve Chabot's downtown office to urge him to support President Obama's plans to raise taxes on Americans making over $250,000 a year.

Chabot opposes Obama's plan.

Ohio Action Now leaders say they will present a report from Innovation Ohio, one of their member groups, that they say will show flaws in the budget proposal from House Speaker John Boehner.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls - who was Cincinnati's mayor in the 1990s - will formally announce her candidacy in the 2013 mayoral race Thursday morning in Walnut Hills.

The current mayor, Mark Mallory, who is term-limited out in 2013, will accompany Qualls at a gathering at a pottery factory on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills.

Mallory's 2009 campaign manager, Jens Sutmoller, will run Qualls' 2013 bid for the mayor's office.

One other candidate, also a Democrat, has announced his candidacy for mayor - former council member John Cranley.

Now that the votes are officially counted, it’s time to empty the notebook on the 2012 election and turn the page. Here are  some parting thoughts:

Big Blue: One of the enduring myths of American politics, if you talk to many pundits and politicos around the country, is that Cincinnati is rock-solid Republican country.

Maybe they confuse the city with the county and the region as a whole, which definitely has a red due. Or maybe it goes back to the fact that the Taft political dynasty came from the Queen City.

Cincinnati city council member Christopher Smitherman was re-elected to a fourth two-year term Tuesday as president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP, fighting off a challenge from a long-time union leader, Bob Richardson.

At Richardson's request, Tuesday's election was supervised by officials of the NAACP's national office, who would not release the final results of the election, except to say that about 1,100 members voted Tuesday at the NAACP's Bond Hill office.

Smitherman's entire executive committee was re-elected as well.