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Published: Thursday, 10/5/2006

O'Neill declines to seek Blade endorsement

BLADE STAFF

Scheduled to interview before The Blade's editorial board yesterday to solicit its endorsement, William O'Neill, a candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court, instead held a news conference at a union hall a block away to say that because of an ongoing labor dispute, he would not seek the paper's support.

"I cannot accept the endorsement of a newspaper that has locked out 215 of its employees," the Warren, Ohio-based Democrat and former union organizer said during a news conference in the Toledo Council of Newspaper Unions' offices on North Huron Street.

"I have no animosity with the newspaper, but you either are or are not from the House of Labor," said Mr. O'Neill, who currently sits on the Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals.

Luann Sharp, a spokesman for The Blade, said it was presumptuous of Mr. O'Neill to say he wouldn't accept an endorsement he wasn't necessarily going to get.

She wondered why he had not talked with The Blade about its position on contract negotiations before notifying the newspaper an hour before his scheduled appointment that he did not want to be interviewed by the editorial board.

"To me, it's kind of puzzling that a person seeking a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court would make a decision on such a contentious issue without talking to both parties, but I guess he did," Ms. Sharp said.

Mr. O'Neill said he had not learned of the newspaper's labor problems until Sunday.

Mr. O'Neill, educated as a journalist and a past organizer for the Communications Workers of America and a spokesman and lobbyist for the Ohio Civil Service Employees' Association, is challenging sitting Justice Terrence O'Donnell for his Supreme Court seat.

John Irish, chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party, said Mr. O'Neill initially approached local party leaders about conducting the news conference yesterday at county headquarters, but by "mutual agreement" the location was changed to the union hall.

Mr. O'Neill was not endorsed by the Ohio Democratic Party in the May primary election, which he won over Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge A.J. Wagner, who did receive the Democratic endorsement.

This is Mr. O'Neill's second attempt to unseat Justice O'Donnell. He lost to him in the November, 2004, election after The Blade endorsed Justice O'Donnell.



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