Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My Fountain Square

I really like the Fountain Square website. It shall be a new link on this page shortly! Check it out. They do need a mailing list I think.

1 comment:

  1. Heimlich & Chabot-two peas in a pod, and the Enquirer covers for them both. I wonder if we'll see this story in the Fishwrap;

    Chabot aims earmarks at places linked to donors

    http://www.hillnews.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/Frontpage/091906/chabot.html

    Several Cincinnati institutions with close ties to Rep. Steve Chabot’s (R-Ohio) top campaign supporters are in line to win $1.6 million in earmarks through the fiscal 2007 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.

    The earmarks would go to the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center, all of which claim members of Chabot’s inner circle of contributors and fundraisers as members of their boards of directors, according to The Hill’s review of district-specific projects in the spending bill, federal campaign-finance reports, an invitation to a Chabot fundraiser, and Web listings of the institutions’ leadership.

    “There’s not a connection” between the donations and the earmarks, said Gary Lindgren, Chabot’s chief of staff. Lindgren said the earmarks are for major institutions and that it stands to reason that board members would be politically active.

    “You’re talking about some of the predominant institutions in the city of Cincinnati,” he said.

    Eleven men and women who were identified as hosts or co-hosts on an invitation to a March Chabot fundraiser featuring House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) serve in leadership roles with the organizations in Chabot’s district that would receive federal money.

    It is not clear what relationship, if any, exists between the campaign donations and the federal money lined up for the pet causes of the donors. Indeed, it can be difficult for the public to understand why federal dollars are apportioned the way they are.

    “The suspicion has been that the way money works in politics is that those who give get, and this example appears to confirm that,” said Ellen S. Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation.

    Chabot is not the only lawmaker who has earmarked funds for an entity supported by a campaign contributor or top fundraiser.

    Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), for example, secured $175,000 for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. Agassi, the recently retired tennis star, has long been a big-dollar Berkley donor.

    “You could look at almost any district, and the people who sit on boards of museums and institutions will be wealthy and donate to campaigns,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. Schatz noted that Chabot has won high marks from CAGW in the past.

    But others wonder whether the institutions whose board members donate to Chabot or other politicians have an inside track when it comes to winning earmarks.

    “It raises questions about whether this is a worthy project or whether this is being done to benefit a set of wealthy campaign contributors. I don’t know,” Miller said. “If the one that’s getting the money has campaign donors sitting on the board and the other one doesn’t, then that’s kind of a bingo for people. It’s a light bulb.”

    University of Cincinnati political scientist Barbara Bardes said, “The organizations are certainly worthy.” But she said she was surprised by the congressman’s work to get funding for the arts, calling it “so out of character for Steve Chabot.”

    Chabot is a longtime critic of pork-barrel spending and of federal funding for the arts.

    “I wasn’t sent up here to bring pork back to my district,” he told the Cincinnati Post in 1995. In previous Congresses, he has cosponsored bills that would have abolished the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, agencies that provide federal grants to the arts.

    Chabot has been criticized in the past for failing to bring projects back to Cincinnati. But Chabot’s 1st District would get $2.3 million in Labor-HHS earmarks in fiscal 2007, an amount in line with those of other politically vulnerable members, according to The Hill’s analysis of the bill’s 1,810 earmarks.

    Democrats are targeting Chabot this year. Republicans are equally committed to keeping a loyal ally in office. One way to do that is to provide extra money for his district through the appropriations process.

    The list of Chabot donors who sit on the boards of prospective earmark recipients includes Geraldine “Ginger” Warner, a board member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra who held the Hastert-headlined event at her home in the ritzy Indian Hill neighborhood in Rep. Jean Schmidt’s (R) 2nd District.

    The CSO would get $300,000 for its Sound Discoveries program under the Labor-HHS bill.

    H.C. “Buck” Niehoff, Ronald D. Brown, Chip Gerhardt and Dee Gettler, all of whom were listed on the Chabot invitation, are members of the board of the Cincinnati Museum Center, which would get $500,000 to digitize its materials to make them accessible to other museums and the public. The foursome has kicked $7,550 into Chabot’s campaign coffers this cycle.

    Web development experts say $500,000 is no small investment but that certain tools could drive the cost to that level.

    “There’s a lot you could do with half a million,” said Tom Nagel, president of Midwest New Media.

    Jason Huck, the lead Web developer at Core Five Creative, which has worked with the Cincinnati Museum of Art, agreed that the sum is large but said museums sometimes have special Web needs that can be costly.

    “It certainly wouldn’t be out of the question,” he said.

    Niehoff and Fran Barrett, a $4,200 donor, are members of the University of Cincinnati’s board of directors. The school is in line to land two earmarks totaling $350,000 for its Teacher Quality Partnership.

    Lee Carter, Phillip Long and Tom Williams, all co-hosts of the fundraising event, serve on the board of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The center would get $150,000 in Labor-HHS funding for a job-training program for people with disabilities.

    Williams and Robert J. Kohlhepp, a $4,200 Chabot donor, are on the board of Xavier University. The Labor-HHS-Education line item for Xavier is $300,000 for unspecified technology upgrades.

    Gene Beaupre, director of government relations at Xavier, said Chabot has a long-running relationship with the university and its president, Father Michael J. Graham, and that Xavier students have interned in Chabot’s congressional office.

    “There’s a lot of connections there. He’s very well aware of the university,” Beaupre said.

    Another host of the fundraiser, billionaire Carl Linder, had not given to Chabot as of the most recent quarterly campaign-finance reports, which covered the period of April through June. Linder, a big shot in national Republican fundraising circles, is listed as a founder of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

    Chabot also sought and received funding for other programs, including $200,000 for an after-school education initiative for poor children.

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