Pepper, Rothenberg spar over jail tax

Tom Schaefer, Ed Rothenberg, David Pepper and Joe Wessels

Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper and “We Demand A Vote” organizer Ed Rothenberg engaged in an often heated debate Sunday evening on “City Talk Radio.” The two debated – among other things – whether it was “right” and “ethical” to institute a sales tax increase without first giving the voters a chance to weigh in. Also, the two discussed whether waiting the extra months to allow a vote on a must-have for the county – in this case, the jail – is better than spending millions of dollars and wasting millions of dollars until a new solution can be found.

Turns out Rothenberg actually voted for the sales tax increase when it was on the ballot last November and lost, but now is working to get it on the ballot so there can be a public debate on the merits of the new proposal by Pepper and fellow county commissioner and fellow Democrat Todd Portune (last fall’s commission had a Republican majority). The county’s third commissioner, Republican Pat DeWine, who was a previous guest on “City Talk” to discuss this new plan, opposes the new sales tax – but does think the county needs a new jail.

It was a good, lively show with a few callers thrown into the mix including one caller, “Jen from Deer Park,” who sounds eerily familiar to Jen Winkelman of Madeira, one of Pepper’s aides. Plus, a guy who called right at the end and said he has been jailed at Hamilton County’s reportedly deteriorating Queensgate jail facility (one of the reasons officials cite for needing a new jail) and said it rates horrible for cleanliness compared – no joke – to the other area jails he has served time in around the Tri-State. Why couldn’t he have called earlier in the show?

To hear this and all the other exciting back and forth, subscribe to City Talk’s (new, now functioning) Podcast by clicking this link (coming soon to iTunes, Podcast.net and now available on Podcastalley.com). You can also download the show. You can also visit our Web site via our new domain name, www.citytalkradio.net.

And, as I have noted on this blog previously, some improvements to the off-air aspects of the show are coming soon. Myself, along with the show’s main host, Michael Sweeney and his team at MyCityLiving.com are working to make those changes. Stay tuned!

This week’s show will have two special segments.

First off, young professionals. Everyone hears the term, or just the shortened “YP.” What does it mean, what is going on to attract and retain this highly coveted part of the workforce and what does it mean for this region? City Talk will have on Mayor Mark Mallory’s YP Kitchen Cabinet President Candace Klein, along with two other guests (to be named soon) to discuss the topic.

Plus, Brewster Rhoads, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland‘s liaison in southwestern Ohio, will be our second-half guest, on to discuss the 6th Annual Ohio River Way Paddlefest, a two day festival on the banks of the Ohio River that includes jumping in a canoe and paddling down the Ohio River along with much, much more (music, food, outdoor education, among other stuff). Rhoads may bring some special guests with him and we will be giving away a registration (a $25 value) to Paddlefest to a caller. Tune in 7 to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 24 on SuperTalk FM 96.5 or listen online (or get that handy Podcast).

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

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