Luckie, prosecutor confirm investigation; 2 Democrats say he won't seek re-election

Updated: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 2:46 PM
Published: Thursday, August 09, 2012 @ 7:27 PM
By: Laura A. Bischoff - Staff Writers

State Rep. Clayton Luckie and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien both issued statements Thursday confirming that the Dayton Democrat is under investigation but not for bribery. But the statements didn’t answer questions about what charges, if any, Luckie may face.

Earlier this year, O’Brien brought a criminal case against Columbus-area state lawmaker W. Carlton Weddington that led to Weddington resigning, cooperating with authorities and pleading guilty to bribery and other charges.

Luckie said in a written statement: “I assure my constituents that I have not been involved in any of that conduct, nor am I the target of said investigation. We have, however, discovered errors on some reports that are currently being addressed. I take these matters very seriously and have instructed my team to conduct a full review of the reports in question. Out of respect for the process, I will not be addressing any questions until my team has completed their analysis.”

It is unclear whether Luckie is referring to ethics statements, campaign finance reports or something else. He did not return messages seeking clarification.

Meanwhile, two Democratic sources said Luckie may agree to withdraw from the November ballot as early as today, giving the Montgomery County Democratic Party just enough time to run a substitute candidate. Former Dayton mayor Rhine McLin and former state senator Fred Strahorn are being considered as possible replacements, sources said. Monday is the deadline for political parties to replace candidates who withdraw from a race.

Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Owens said Luckie did not return his messages on Thursday and top party officials researched state law governing replacing candidates on the ballot. “There are some people that have expressed interest (in replacing Luckie in the race) if that were to happen but I’m not prepared to identify those people,” Owens said.

Initially appointed to the Ohio House, Luckie is seeking his fourth two-year term and is running against Republican Jeff Wellbaum this November.

Wellbaum’s campaign manager Paul Harris said, “We are certainly shocked and surprised by the allegations levied toward Rep. Luckie. Our response is to stick to a positive campaign about what Mr. Wellbaum will do for the citizens of the 39th District. Lower taxes, better veterans’ benefits, protecting the unborn and working with Gov. Kasich to bring people and jobs back to Ohio.”

The 39th District includes most of the city of Dayton.

Before going to the Ohio House, Luckie served on the Dayton School Board from 1996 to 2006. He lives in the Wright-Dunbar Historic District and works part-time for JEC Paper & Related Products where he made less than $10,000 last year, according to his financial disclosure statement filed with the state. His state representative job pays $68,000 a year.

In June 2010, Luckie and his wife Lisa Beth Willis filed for divorce just three months after the birth of their daughter. In the May 2011 divorce agreement, Luckie got a 2005 Cadillac Escalade, half of his wife’s 401(k) account and a house in Wright-Dunbar and one in Springboro. The couple agreed to joint parenting and they split up their $56,000 in consumer credit card debt: $36,000 for him, $20,000 for her.

In January 2012, Luckie got into a verbal altercation with his neighbor, Joseph W. Shaw, who is dating his ex-wife, according to a Dayton police report. Lisa Beth Willis said, “I have no comment on that.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown in minor car crash, uninjured

Updated: Friday, October 21, 2016 @ 4:27 PM
By: Jack Torry - Washington Bureau

            Sen. Sherrod Brown in minor car crash, uninjured
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks at the Fuyao Glass America plant, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, in Moraine. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (John Minchillo)

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and one of his staffers were treated for minor injuries and released from a suburban Cleveland hospital Thursday after Brown’s Jeep Cherokee was hit by a car which apparently ran a stop sign.

Brown and his staffer were returning from Columbus to the senator’s Cleveland home when the accident occurred at 4 p.m. The Jeep’s airbags deployed and Brown and the aide were taken by ambulance to University Hospitals Parma Medical Center.

There was no word on the condition of the driver of the other car, although it is believed he was not seriously injured.

In a statement, Brown thanked physicians and nurses at the hospitals, adding “without a doubt that my Jeep Cherokee, made with American steel by union workers in Toledo, made all the difference in allowing us to walk away from this crash, a little stiff, but unharmed.”

Brown’s dog was also uninjured in the crash.

Trade, minimum wage focus of Portman-Strickland debate

Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 @ 11:14 AM
By: Laura A. Bischoff - Columbus bureau

            Trade, minimum wage focus of Portman-Strickland debate
Ted Strickland and Rob Portman

In the second U.S. Senate debate Republican incumbent Rob Portman and Democrat Ted Strickland clashed over free trade, raising the minimum wage, gun control, and their support for presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The two men drew sharp contrasts with one another’s records and views.

Portman and Strickland on the economy

When asked about Clinton’s character and honesty, Strickland stood by his long-time political ally, saying she is qualified to be president and cares about children and families. “I believe she is an honest person. (That) doesn’t mean she hasn’t made mistakes and she has admitted some of those mistakes,” Strickland said.

The former governor criticized Portman waiting too long to pull his endorsement of Trump. Portman pulled his endorsement after a 2005 videotape recently surfaced of Trump saying he could kiss and grope women against their will because of his celebrity.

Portman and Strickland on foreign policy

Portman explained: “He was the Republican nominee, still is. He won it fair and square. I’m a Republican. I made the extraordinary decision not to support my own party’s nominee because I found his words that came out about a week or so ago to be so offensive and so wrong …. to me, that was the final straw but I didn’t make the decision lightly.”

Portman said he planned to vote for Trump running mate Mike Pence for president. That prompted Strickland to call Pence “the most anti-gay political leader in the United States of America. So I don’t think Mike Pence is a good second choice.”

VOTERS GUIDE: Compare the candidates on the issues. Learn about all the issues and candidates on the ballot.

Portman pivoted to attack Strickland for failing to speak out when Clinton referred to half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorable.”

Here’s where the two clashed on some major issues during the debate:

TRADE: Strickland criticized Portman’s support for free trade agreements, saying Portman has “never met a trade deal he didn’t like.” Portman, who served as U.S. Trade Representative for the Bush administration, strongly backed NAFTA and CAFTA. Portman, meanwhile, accused Strickland of failing to stand up against China over attempts to illegally dump under-priced steel on U.S. markets.

MINIMUM WAGE: Strickland said he supports increasing the federal minimum wage and said Portman voted against raising it to $10.10 an hour. Portman said he supports raising the federal minimum wage to match Ohio’s minimum wage of $8.10 an hour and then indexing it to inflation. In 2006, labor groups successfully pushed a statewide issue approved by voters to increase the minimum wage and tie it to inflation.

2008 ECONOMIC CRISIS: Portman criticized Strickland’s record as governor from 2007 to 2011, saying the Democrat drained the state’s rainy day fund, presided over the exodus of 350,000 jobs and left an “$8 billion deficit.” Strickland fired back that he used the rainy day fund because it was raining during the Great Recession and he noted that he balanced the state budget every year, as required by the state constitution. He pinned some blame for the Great Recession on Portman, who served in the Bush administration leading up to the economic crisis.

GUNS: Both men have at times received A-ratings from the National Rifle Association, which is now backing Portman. Both say they support the 2nd Amendment as well as some gun controls — Portman wants mental health checks incorporated into existing background checks for gun buyers; Strickland wants to close the loopholes that allow purchases made over the Internet or at gun shows without background checks. Both said they don’t want people on the no fly list to be allowed to buy guns, though Portman’s caveat is that there must be due process to make sure people are properly on the no fly list before being denied the chance to buy firearms.

The two men found common ground on the need for comprehensive immigration reform and to address the opiate and heroin addiction crisis.

Both support immigration reforms for millions of undocumented workers already in the United States. Strickland wants to carve out a pathway to citizenship. Portman wants to deport those with criminal records but allow others to remain in the U.S. legally if they pay a fine and any back taxes.

Portman portrayed himself as a bipartisan change maker who has gotten 45 bills signed into law, including one to address the opiate addiction crisis. He painted Strickland as an ineffective former congressman and failed governor. “The difference couldn’t be any more stark. My record is of getting stuff done. As I said, working across the aisle, making a difference in the lives of Ohioans,” Portman said.

Strickland, on the other hand, pitched himself as a public servant who will fight for working people. Strickland noted that he came from a family that struggled through hard times, lost homes and honest hard work and said that Portman’s story is rooted in wealth, power and privilege.

A CNN poll released Monday found that Portman holds a 16-point lead over Strickland among likely Ohio voters. The poll, taken Oct. 10-15, found 55 percent backing Portman while 40 percent support Strickland. Portman is leading with support from men, Republicans and independents. The same poll gave Portman an 21-point lead in September among likely voters in Ohio.

Monday’s hour-long debate marked the second of three scheduled between the two men. Next up: a debate before The City Club of Cleveland on Thursday.

Tipp City razes controversial house

Updated: Monday, October 17, 2016 @ 5:55 PM
Published: Monday, October 17, 2016 @ 5:52 PM
By: Jim Otte - Staff Writer

A one-story house in Tipp City that sat atop a large, corroding storm drain was demolished by the city Monday, wiping away years of controversy and finger-pointing in about an hour.

The controversy had pitted the owner of the house at 274 Miles Avenue, James Labosky, against the city council and administration. The city eventually bought the house and decided to demolish it rather than attempt some other repair.

For now, the property will become a neighborhood park.

After Labosky bought the house in 2001 he discovered the corrugated metal storm drain beneath it was corroding and he feared it would collapse and take the house with it. He asked the city to fix it and initially the city said it was his problem.

In a 2012 interview with the I-Team, Labosky said “I was out of work for a while and fought to save my home then and I’m fighting to save my home now.”

An engineer hired by Labosky said the city should have never allowed the builder to put the house over the storm drain when it was built in 1957 and added to later on.

Labosky hired an attorney, he said, after repeated attempts to convince the city to take responsibility for the problem produced no results. Last year the city agreed to buy the house for $128,000.

City Manager Tim Eggleston said buying the house was the city’s best, most financially prudent response. Eggleston said he was also concerned about the disruption of the flow of water from the large drain into a creek behind Labosky’s house.

“We were not sure of the ecology that developed along the stream so this was really the better option than plugging up the pipe and then possibly facing other issues down the road,” Eggleston said.

With the house gone, the city will be left with just under a quarter acre of property. The sidewalk will remain but the driveway and any trace of the house will be removed.

“At this point it will be a neighborhood park until council decides what to do,” Eggleston said. “With the drainage pipe there that’s what it will remain as. If the pipe ever collapses then the lot will be graded in such a way that we won’t have to replace the pipe. So there will be a lot of options down the road.”

Eggleston encouraged people who live nearby to contact the city council if they have ideas for future use of the property.

Reached Monday, Labosky said he is happy a family won’t have to “bear the burden of stress” the home could cause.

Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton in new Ohio poll

Updated: Monday, October 17, 2016 @ 1:06 PM
By: Laura Bischoff - Columbus bureau

            Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton in new Ohio poll
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Republican Donald Trump is leading Democrat Hillary Clinton by four points in the newest poll out of Ohio.

CNN has Trump at 48 percent and Clinton at 44 percent.

The poll was taken Oct. 10-15. The poll shows libertarian Gary Johnson at 4 percent in Ohio.

The poll finds women in Ohio evenly split, 48 percent for Clinton and 45 percent for Trump. Trump wins easily in Ohio among men, 52-39 percent.

Married women in Ohio break for Trump 54 percent to 40 percent for Clinton, according to CNN.