Howard Wilkinson: Politics and More

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Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU news team as the politics reporter and columnist in April 2012 , after 30 years of covering local, state and national politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. On this page, you will find his political blog, his weekly column, Politically Speaking; the Monday morning political chats with news director Maryanne Zeleznik and other news coverage by Wilkinson. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio gubernatorial race since 1974, as well as 14 presidential nominating conventions. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots, the Lucasville prison riot in 1993, the Air Canada plane crash at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983, and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. And, given his passion for baseball, you might even find some stories about the Cincinnati Reds here from time to time. 

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about all the news generated by Ohio Democrats last week: Former Ohio Attorney General Rich Cordray announcing he will quit his federal job, presumably to run for Ohio governor; and a bizarre Facebook post from Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill in which he detailed his sex life, creating a firestorm of criticism from fellow Democrats. 

It was becoming something like a Samuel Beckett play: Waiting for Cordray.

Nearly a year of waiting for Richard Cordray, the former state treasurer and Ohio attorney general, to make up his mind to leave as the first and only director the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ended Wednesday when Cordray sent a letter to his staff saying he would leave office by the end of the month.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

I am a great fan of Thanksgiving. I love the feast; I love the fellowship of being with family and friends; I love the idea of a holiday all about giving thanks for our blessings in life.

I love the fact that I don’t have to cook; my sister Barbara in Dayton is the principal chef.

Not that I don't contribute to the family feast. I put together a relish tray. That's right – a relish tray. It's not exactly slaving over a hot stove, but, hey, those Spanish olives don't jump out of the jar by themselves, you know.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about what happened in last Tuesday's election; and what the next four years might look like at Cincinnati City Hall. 

Here are some random observations on Tuesday's election – but by no means the last word on the subject.

You may think it is done, but it's not quite time to stick a fork in this election. There's a Cincinnati city council seat where 321 votes separate Republican Jeff Pastor and Democrat Michelle Dillingham for the ninth and final seat; and the fourth available seat on the Cincinnati Board of Education (100 votes separate incumbent Melanie Bates and challenger Rene Hevia).

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Pool reporter.

Most people outside of journalism don't know what that term means; and could not possibly care less.

I know, because I have been the local pool reporter on a countless number of visits to Cincinnati or environs by presidents, first ladies, vice presidents and others who have Secret Service protection.

And I consider it the worst job in journalism.

Jay Hanselman / WVXU

John Cranley has won another four years as Cincinnati's mayor in a romp over Council Member Yvette Simpson.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about Tuesday's election. Will it be a long night when the votes are counted? Depends on where you live. If you are in the city of Cincinnati, it may well be. 

Hamilton County election officials expect that state Issue 2  - not the mayoral or council races - will account for a possible spike in Cincinnati's election turnout Tuesday.

Some final, very random, thoughts on Tuesday's election:

Mega-bucks mayoral race: Does it really take something in the neighborhood of $3 million to get re-elected mayor, in little old Cincinnati, the 65th largest city in the United States?

Jim Nolan / WVXU

When you are on the road with a presidential candidate, campaign press aides will promise you the moon and stars to make you happy.

They promise to make sure you are fed, that you have plenty of time to file your stories, that you will have dependable transportation to get from one event to another.

They may even promise you some quality time with the candidate.

After a while, though, you learn to take these promises with a grain of salt.

Jim Nolan/WVXU

 

Candidates for Cincinnati mayor and city council make their final push before Tuesday's election as supporters and opponents of Ohio Issues 1 and 2 ramp up their campaigns.

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Next Tuesday voters will decide who will lead the City of Cincinnati over the next four years, Yvette Simpson or John Cranley.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik  Monday morning about the Cincinnati City Council election. It's the second the city has held where candidates are elected to four-year terms instead of two-year terms. Is it working; or should it be be changed? 

Jim Nolan / WVXU

I've done a lot of traveling in my years as a reporter, from one end of this country to the other. Lots of airports; lots of airport hassles; lots of long cab rides from airport to hotel.

And I've learned a thing or two about travel.

Jim Nolan/WVXU

 

As we near election day there is increased interest in how much current Cincinnati City Council members have accomplished this year, and the race for mayor between John Cranley and Yvette Simpson heats up. Ohio teachers say DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, is an education issue.

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This week President Trump engaged in Twitter battles with two members of Congress, Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona called the President's actions "a danger to democracy" from the floor of the Senate, and a congressional committee announced it would investigate a uranium deal with Russia under President Obama.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about Mayor John Cranley's attack ads on opponent Yvette Simpson over her stand on the Children's Hospital Medical Center expansion. (Ed. note: Yvette Simpson has pulled out of a Monday night debate sponsored by EmpowerU. The debate was mentioned in the beginning of the chat.) 

Ask just about anybody who knows John Eby of Westwood – Republican, Democrat or Charterite – and they will tell you the same thing:

John would have been a fine Cincinnati city council member.

But he never got that chance; and doesn't seem inclined to try again.

Eby, a director of engineering services at KZF Design, is most passionate about making his neighborhood, the largest in the city, an even better place for all residents to live and work and raise their families.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Meeting very famous people in politics and the media has always been part of the territory in my line of work.

It generally doesn't impress me much, especially when it is at a presidential nominating convention, where you don't have time to stand around and gape at celebrities. (With one exception, which I wrote about in this column a while back, when I encountered supermodel Christie Brinkley and chatted for a while at a taxi stand outside a Los Angeles hotel in 2000. That got my attention.)

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This November Ohioans will vote on Issue 2, which would require state agencies to pay no more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for prescription drugs.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about whether or not the endorsements both candidates for Cincinnati mayor are piling up really matter to voters. 

Mark Mallory is a fellow who plays his cards close to his vest.

The former mayor really hasn't been heard from much since he finished up his eight years as mayor nearly four years ago; and when he does say something publicly chooses the occasions carefully.

But now he's stepping out front again; and testing one of the age-old arguments of politics – do endorsements mean anything to voters?

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Dan Quayle.

Now, there's a name from the past you probably haven't thought about lately.

The 44th  vice president of the United States.

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Civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph Levin, Jr. founded the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 1971. Since then the civil rights organization has battled white supremacist groups though the courts, winning multimillion-dollar jury verdicts on behalf of their victims.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about the Cincinnati Board of Education's task of combing through 25 applicants for the seat of school board member Chris Nelms, who died last month. All of this is taking place while there is an election on the November ballot for four seats on the school board. 

Ohioans have until the end of the day Tuesday to register to vote in the November 7 election.

Wednesday begins Ohio's period of early voting, for both absentee ballots and those who wish to vote early in person at their county boards of elections.  

"The easiest way to register is actually online,'' said Sherry Poland, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

There's been all sorts of excitement in Cincinnati political circles this year – first, because there is a highly-contentious mayor's race between incumbent John Cranley and challenger Yvette Simpson.

Secondly, the city's politicos are wound up because there are no less than three open seats on the nine-member city council – the one held by Simpson, who can't run for both mayor and council; the one held by Republican Charlie Winburn, who is term-limited out; and the one held by Charterite Kevin Flynn, who could run but has chosen not to.

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Four of the seven seats on the Cincinnati Board of Education are up for re-election. One incumbent, Elisa Hoffman, chose not to run again. The race has drawn a large field of candidates – three incumbents and 10 challengers.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about Rob Richardson's run for Ohio treasurer and how it is emblematic of the rise of a new generation of Ohio Democratic candidates from the Cincinnati area. 

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