Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Smoke still rises from Ground Zero

Back to work after some post-election rest in New York City, where locals seem to be clinging to a more friendly mindset more than two months after the terror attack. It seems only the cabbies have returned to their old, impatient nature.

If you are planning a trip to Ground Zero (locals no longer refer to it as the site of the World Trade Center), be prepared for the smell of decaying human flesh. Very unpleasant. It can waft as far north as Soho. From the Rainbow Room atop NBC's world headquarters in Midtown, one can still see smoke rising from the downtown wreckage.

It is all very sad.

SOMETHING to watch: Admissions from top leaders at the Lucas County board of elections that they switched - without legal basis - a local option liquor sales initiative from one precinct to another have a bar owner in Springfield Township up in the air. Ohio law permits bar owners and others to seek permission for the sale of liquor on certain days, but requires them to first get permission from a majority of voters in their precinct. Elections are the tool to gain such permission.

Board workers initially misidentified the precinct in which the election should have taken place. Once the mistake was found, board director Antoinette Szuch and deputy Larry Loutzenhiser quietly moved the election to the proper precinct without notifying their bosses on the governing board of election or the secretary of state.

They also failed to tell the bar owner who had worked to get the measure on the ballot. The local option was defeated at the polls.

It is likely that no one would have found out about the precinct switch, except that the bar owner who wanted permission to sell liquor and wine on Sundays had hired a Columbus firm to campaign for its passage. The firm spent thousands of dollars campaigning in the wrong precinct on behalf of its client because it was never told of the problem or that the switch was made.

There are implications here for at least three other local option liquor measures that also appeared on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Those other options now bear watching because, while they passed, they may be invalid because they may have been placed on the ballot illegally.

The board of elections staff referred them to the four members of the elections board for certification to the Nov. 6 ballot 10 days after a deadline prescribed by state law.

The county prosecutor is looking into the matter.

UNCERTAINTY reigns over the political future of state Sen. Linda Furney, who will be kicked out of her General Assembly seat by term limits at the end of next year. Having failed in her bid to unseat Maggie Thurber as clerk of Toledo Municipal Court in the just-completed election, Ms. Furney now must consider other options. Her best options might have been to remain in the state legislature by angling for a seat in the Ohio House. However, she finds herself in something of a political pickle. Consider:

  • She now lives in the Ohio House district of Teresa Fedor, a fellow Democrat who proved very popular with voters in her first election last year. But when lawmakers recently redrew state House and Senate boundaries after the 2000 Census, they moved Ms. Furney's residence from Ms. Fedor's district to Jack Ford's district.

    That was tough news for Ms. Furney. Had she stayed in Ms. Fedor's district, she could have run next year for Ms. Fedor's House seat, while Ms. Fedor ran for Ms. Furney's Senate seat. Both would have had great chances of success.

  • At first glance, news of being moved into Mr. Ford's House district would be great for Ms. Furney, because Mr. Ford will soon be leaving his seat to take over as mayor of Toledo in January. But the news is not good for Ms. Furney because she is not eligible to be appointed to Mr. Ford's seat.

    That's because the change in House district boundaries doesn't become effective until after next year's election. Someone who lives in the district now will need to be appointed to Mr. Ford's seat when he gives it up at the end of the year.

    If Ms. Furney were to seek the seat next year, she would have to battle against an incumbent in the May primary election, probably Democrat Edna Brown, a popular Toledo city councilwoman.

    Such a challenge would likely not be looked on with warmth by leaders at party headquarters, and Ms. Furney's campaign could take on an air of desperation as she tries to find some public sector employment in the wake of term limits.

    Fritz Wenzel covers politics for The Blade. Email him at

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