Recent editorials about President Bush and gay marriage indicate that the city's daily is neither as conservative nor as bland as it used to be. A look at the remaking of the big D since the death of J.W. Wolfe.

This story appeared in the May 2004 issue of Columbus Monthly.

Denny White just couldn't help it when he met with Dispatch publisher John F. Wolfe last fall for one of their periodic chats. "I was joking with him and told him I was going to check with the local board of elections to make sure he was still a registered Republican," says the sometimes playful chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "I said it because of what I'd seen on their editorial pages for about the last year and a half."

For White, the transformation of the paper has been startling. "They have gone from what I used to call the GOP Daily to a fair and balanced paper."

The state's top Democrat isn't the only one wondering about Wolfe. At the Dispatch's annual clinic-a gathering of the editorial staff held each February at the company's east-side retreat, the Wigwam-a reporter asked a similar question. "Mr. Wolfe," said Suzanne Hoholik, "are you becoming a Democrat?"

Somebody needs to check the water at 34 S. Third St. For decades-in fact, as far back as anyone can remember-the

Dispatch's support of all things conservative was as certain as the Scioto River running brown. That's not the case anymore. While careful observers have noticed an editorial page shift to the center over the past couple of years, there was no mistaking the decidedly unconservative opinions of three editorials in early February. One came this close to supporting gay marriages and the other two were so blistering of President Bush over the economy and Iraq that they prompted speculation the Dispatch might do the unthinkable: endorse a Democrat for president.

Yes, the newspaper that for so long was as bland as a gray suit isn't your daddy's Dispatch anymore. Yes, the very same newspaper that for many years was dismissed as a tool of the powerful Wolfe family's political and business interests. "The Dispatch just wasn't on the story a lot of times the way other papers were," says Sharon West, a journalism professor at Ohio State and a Statehouse reporter for the Horowitz papers in the 1980s. "It was more of a sense that the Dispatch had axes to grind-and people they went after and people they didn't."

An apparent turning point was the 1994 death of J.W. Wolfe, who, while hailed for his considerable civic and charitable contributions, was famous for his raw use of power to punish his enemies. Since then, under the leadership of J.W.'s cousin John F., the newspaper has made significant strides: beefing up sections, recruiting top talent, pursuing more ambitious stories. Since 1998, it has been named four times by journalism organizations as the best large-circulation paper in the state.

Most of the credit goes to the widely respected Mike Curtin, whose rapid ascension from reporter to editor to president of the Dispatch Printing Company is unprecedented at a paper that rarely allowed a nonfamily member to hold too much authority. "I don't think that overnight the frog turned into a prince," says Seymour Raiz, who was managing editor of the Columbus Citizen-Journal when it folded in 1985. "The single move that John F. made that has hastened the process and brought the rewards began with promoting Mike Curtin."

By all accounts, Curtin's moderate views have had a tremendous influence on Wolfe and the paper, from the editorial page's move to the middle to bringing on board liberal political writer Joe Hallett to naming a young but hard-charging Ben Marrison as editor. "Mike is a very balanced thinker," says family member Dick Wolfe, who lives in California but maintains close contact with John F. and the business. "He reasons things through-an extremely competent, skilled editorial person. He makes me feel comfortable."

But let's not get carried away. The Dispatch is still right of center on most occasions and the paper's own staffers realize it has room for improvement (particularly the Business and Accent sections). In some ways, the old Dispatch still shows itself. As one longtime watcher of the paper put it, "All of the sacred cows aren't out to pasture yet."

Still, it's a new era, especially after those February editorials. Listen to Bob Milbourne, who talks frequently with politicians and civic and business honchos as president of the leadership group Columbus Partnership (to which Wolfe belongs): "I've been hearing comments from people that the editorial policy is new and different and more progressive."

Imagine that, using the word "progressive" to describe the Dispatch. Better check the temperature in hell.

Luke Feck knows the pain of upsetting the Wolfes. Back in 1980, the Wolfes did the unexpected and hired an outsider as editor--Feck, of the Cincinnati Enquirer--to modernize the stodgy paper. He did so, to a point, over nine years until he was suddenly axed by John F. Wolfe-after the two repeatedly clashed over stories sensitive to Wolfe interests. (He was replaced by trusted insider Bob Smith.) As Feck told Business First at the time of the firing, referring to editing a newspaper with a publisher heavily involved in civic affairs, "You never knew what was going to rise up and bite you in the ass."

So Feck knows about the differences between the old and new Dispatch. He lets go with a big laugh when asked whether the paper's recent editorial positions would have passed muster in his day. "I was in Florida in February," he says after regaining his composure, "but I heard they were quite tough on the president. Trust me when I say this, that would not have happened before."

He's referring to the two editorials blasting Bush that read more as if they'd been written by, say, the New York Times or another liberal editorial board. On Feb. 1, the Dispatch's editorial ("Buck stops at the top") ripped the president for the Iraq war and its chaotic aftermath: "The premise upon which U.S. troops were sent unprovoked into battle has been proved wrong and is costing the United States dearly. . . . More than 500 American soldiers have died and U.S. taxpayers are paying nearly $1 billion a week for a bloody project with no end in sight."

The paper lashed out at President Bush again on Feb. 8 ("Totally reckless"), this time over his deficit spending. "Having misled the nation on the drug benefit and Iraq, the president now asks the nation to believe that he is sincere about reducing the massive deficits he has run up. . . . It is becoming increasingly difficult to have any confidence in the fiscal policy of this administration."

Sandwiched in between those two was the Feb. 2 editorial entitled "A question of marriage," which all but backed marriage rights for gays and lesbians: "The constitutional drive to ensure that all Americans enjoy equal rights has two centuries of momentum behind it and will not be reversed, meaning that the religious argument against gays is unlikely to prevail."

While the editorial stances might have surprised outsiders, reporters at the Dispatch weren't quite so shocked. At that Wigwam clinic, John F.'s speech to the troops "went on and on about how disgusted he was with the current [Bush] administration," according to one attendee, and other sources say he believed the recently passed Defense of Marriage Act pushed by state Republican lawmakers was misguided.

Dick Wolfe says his cousin is "very concerned about the economic situation of the United States." He adds about November's presidential election, "I wouldn't be surprised if the Dispatch endorsed a candidate other than George Bush." If so, it would be the first time since 1916 (Democrat Woodrow Wilson) that the paper favored a non-Republican.

That flurry of unexpected editorials doesn't stand alone. Among other examples in the past two or so years: a February 2003 editorial scorching "anti-tax" Ohio Republicans for forcing "painful" budget cutbacks affecting schoolchildren and the elderly, and a July 2001 editorial calling for controversial stem-cell research to go forward. "The most dramatic change that has occurred has been that the ideological direction of the editorial page has swung widely to the center," notes one senior spokesman for a state governmental agency. Dick Wolfe, hardly a conservative, says he is "pleased to see a slow, cautious exploration of progressive concepts-you can even see it in the kinds of letters to the editor that never would have appeared in the paper before."

While the editorials at times are more moderate, senior writer Joe Hallett has maintained openly liberal stances in his weekly columns. Hallett has questioned Republican Maureen O'Connor's fitness for the Ohio Supreme Court, railed against the concealed-carry bill and knocked lawmakers who oppose tax increases. In one recent column, Hallett really got conservative teeth grinding by writing that faith-based funding, same-sex marriages and other hot-button social issues are more divisive than important.

That column prompted an angry letter to the editor: "Why should we have to choose between carrying the paper and being subjected to the liberal views of the editorial staff?"

"Who would have ever thought there would be a letter to the editor just screaming at theDispatchfor being so liberal?" says OSU's West. "That really said a lot."

The editorial board isn't the only place where changes have taken place in theDispatchnewsroom. The paper also has undergone an extensive redesign, added new sections (Connect and Faith & Values) and beefed up others (including Sports). Soon after being named editor in 1995, Curtin broke with the paper's tradition of silence and appeared on radio talk shows and in community forums, even acknowledging the paper's shortcomings while defending its strengths. And the paper itself has become more transparent, with current editor Ben Marrison writing frequently about its inner workings. (Curtin and Marrison, however, both declined to comment for this story. See "Some things don't change.")

Marrison and Curtin also have aggressively expanded the paper's search for top talent. "It really used to be if you were a 26-year-old white man from the Mansfield paper or the Warren paper, that is really who the Dispatch used to hire," says one staffer. In 1999, the paper sent a strong message about its changing ways under Curtin's editorship by plucking from the Plain Dealer two of its stars--Marrison and Hallett. Since then, the Dispatch has continued to raid the Plain Dealer and other large papers in Ohio and elsewhere for veteran journalists; a short list includes Hoholik (the reporter who questioned Wolfe), Austin American-Statesman; Spencer Hunt (reporter), Cincinnati Enquirer; Paul Souhrada (assistant state editor), Associated Press; Geoff Dutton (projects team), Tampa Tribune. "Ben has spent money on hires that have really benefited the paper," says one staffer.

With a better cut of reporters working their beats, perhaps it's not surprising that theDispatchhas begun to break new ground with tough coverage. Several reporters mentioned stories done by the paper's environmental reporter, Mike Hawthorne-who has since moved to theChicago Tribune. Hawthorne's multipart series on the Scotts Company, detailing allegations about the company's indifference to worker safety during the latter half of the 20th century, was seen by many as the first time the paper tackled a big hometown company.

Meanwhile, Hawthorne's series of stories on invasive pests, which included a trip to China, seems to have expanded reporters' horizons. Says one reporter, "I think it is encouraging people to think bigger." This winter, Hallett headed to Iraq for a series of stories, while staffer Encarnacion Pyle is going to east Africa later this year to trace the story of Columbus's mushrooming Somali population.

Big-picture stories should get even more emphasis in the coming months as the Dispatch swings into motion a long-awaited projects team. "There was a lot of internal interest in those jobs," says one staffer. "People who were editors were even willing to go back to being reporters for that."

The conventional wisdom about the changes at the Dispatch hinges on a couple of simple explanations: First is the influence of Mike Curtin. "John and Mike are close," says Dick Wolfe. "They consult, arrive at decisions on a discussed basis." The second is that when J.W. Wolfe died, it freed John F. Wolfe to emerge from the large shadow cast by his second cousin and recast not only the paper's reputation, but also the family's way of conducting civic affairs. That is, a more aggressive and balanced newspaper and a thoughtful and analytical approach to leadership.

But, according to Dick Wolfe--who clashed with J.W., but is close to John F.--things are more complicated than that. Although J.W. was not involved in the daily dealings of the newspaper, Dick says he believed the chairman of the Dispatch Printing Company would issue directives at times for the paper to pursue foes. (There also was speculation then that staffers would chase or avoid stories based on what they thought J.W. wanted.) Dick says, however, that John F. insists J.W. wasn't ordering hatchet jobs-in fact, while he and J.W. had different styles, they essentially agreed on most matters.

Dick Wolfe cites another possible factor: Preston Wolfe, John F.'s father, a shy man with a keen interest in Columbus history. During his reign as president of the Dispatch Printing Company, he was actively involved in the paper; he retired in 1973 and died in 1990. Dick says he thinks the influence of Preston's starkly conservative views-and practice of hiring like-minded people-on John F. has dimmed over time.

Yet, it's hard to argue that J.W.'s death hasn't had some influence on the Dispatch's evolution. One longtime civic leader certainly thinks so. When asked if the Dispatch's changes would have occurred were J.W. still alive, he says: "We wouldn't be having this conversation."

Aaron Marshall is a staff writer for Columbus Monthly. Ray Paprocki is managing editor of Columbus Monthly.

Mike Curtin

The non-Wolfe in charge

There was a joke in the late 1990s that circulated through the Dispatch newsroom about the daily to-do list of publisher John F. Wolfe.

Monday: Get out of bed, shave, promote Mike Curtin.

Tuesday: Get out of bed, shave, promote Mike Curtin.

Wednesday: Get out of bed . . .

Curtin's rapid rise from reporter to company president is especially astonishing considering that his last name isn't Wolfe. His ascendancy to power shows not only John F. Wolfe's trust in Curtin, but also the apparent lack of talent, experience or interest among family members in a business long dominated by Wolfe bloodlines.

The 52-year-old Curtin began his career at the Dispatch as an intern in 1973 before working as a reporter covering City Hall, Franklin County government and the Statehouse-earning a reputation for writing fair, accurate and knowledgeable stories. He really began to make his mark in the 1980s, when he transformed the paper's mail poll into a finely tuned and often-cited barometer of local and state election results. Even back then he was a Wolfe favorite: When the publisher made an infrequent visit to the newsroom, he would seek out Curtin, whose judgment he not only respected, but also sometimes deferred to.

Then came the rash of promotions-five of them from 1994 to 1999-that culminated with Wolfe naming him president and associate publisher of the Dispatch Printing Company.

That last move shifted Curtin's responsibilities further away from the newsroom and closer to the heart of the company's business and civic affairs; his day-to-day charge involves overseeing the entire Dispatch empire, which includes WBNS television and radio stations, an Indianapolis TV station, the Ohio News Network cable operation and Capitol Square Ltd. (the Wolfes' real estate development operation), among other concerns. And Curtin is now the guy to see when taking the Dispatch's temperature on civic and political matters.

That's heady stuff for a Catholic kid who grew up in a working-class neighborhood off Third Avenue. Shoot the breeze with current and formerDispatchreporters about "John F.'s adopted son" and quickly the word "respect" comes up. "I would think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who had anything bad to say about him," says a staffer.

"I was the lowliest reporter in the newsroom, but he always took time to stop and talk to me," says Jeff Ortega, a former Dispatch reporter, recalling Curtin's newsroom strolls as editor.

Meanwhile, the thoughtful and reserved Curtin is considered "very sharp" by those who deal with him on issues facing theDispatch'seditorial board. "He's very well educated on the issues and asks good and appropriate questions," says one informed source.

Curtin may not have changed much over the years, but his digs have gone big-time. Earlier this year, he plunked down $730,000 for a house in Marble Cliff-just a few miles from where he grew up.

Ben Marrison

Mr. Personality

In 1999, when Ben Marrison became editor of the Dispatch at age 36, he likely was the youngest person to run the paper. His quick ascent was so stunning that Marrison, who could pass for John F. Wolfe's son, once joked that it was because "I look like the publisher."

His promotion was surprising not only because of his age, but also for the fact he'd been at the paper not quite nine months after leaving the Plain Dealer as its Statehouse bureau chief to become managing editor/news at the Dispatch.

He started his career as an intern at the Toledo Blade (after graduating from Bowling Green State University) before moving to the Plain Dealer to work as a reporter covering the suburbs, City Hall and the Statehouse. He was considered a rising star at the PD, so his hiring was quite a coup for the Dispatch.

But when Marrison was named editor after his predecessor, Mike Curtin, was bumped to the boardroom, there were questions about his experience in managing a newsroom where many of the staffers were older than the boss.

After four years, it seems those same questions still exist. While Marrison is credited with overseeing the paper's continual improvement, his brash personality seems to divide the newsroom.

"He's kind of immature, but he doesn't hold grudges, which is really important in that job," says one reporter. "He's a nice guy and he's really approachable and not intimidating at all."

His detractors say Marrison can be a "bully," however, and point to an incident a little more than a year ago with projects editor Doug Haddix, who had prepared a detailed outline for a new projects team. According to Dispatch sources, the two had a sharp disagreement over the proposal in Marrison's office and Marrison either ran the outline through his paper shredder or threw it into a trash can.

In a July 2000 Columbus Monthly article, Marrison was asked about his management style. He said, "I push people. That's my job. I push them to get the best out of them."

John F. gets funny

For years, Dispatch publisher John F. Wolfe has been described as serious and reserved-not comfortable in the spotlight. He's still that way, except during the paper's annual newsroom retreat at its east-side enclave, the Wigwam. About seven years ago, Wolfe agreed to play cameo roles in the irreverent in-house films directed by Frank Gabrenya, the paper's film critic, and shown during the get-togethers.

Sources say Wolfe looks forward to his bit parts, which help make him seem more accessible to employees. Based on staffers' reports, here is a collection of his work:

• For his debut, he faked a heart attack at his desk after getting news of a stock market crash. He then popped his head up and delivered his line-a la "Saturday Night Live"-"Live from the Wigwam, it's Saturday morning."

• Two years ago, the film was a parody of The Wizard of Oz, featuring a group of Munchkin Dispatch reporters, who talk in high voices (with the aid of helium), and Wolfe as the Mayor of Munchkinland. As Wolfe speaks in his normal voice to "Dorothy," he turns to the camera and deadpans: "I don't do helium."

• This year, in a spoof of a car dealer's popular TV commercial, Wolfe played himself being berated by a landlord angry about a news story. At one point, Wolfe hits a button under his desk marked "closet monkey"; columnist Joe Blundo emerges wearing an ape suit and a Blue Jackets jersey and beats the landlord with a hockey stick. Wolfe's line: "That's what 10 percent ownership will get you."

Glenn Sheller

Mystery man

In a short time, Glenn Sheller has presided over some of the most moderate-dare we say liberal-editorials in the history of the Dispatch. It's fitting for a man who is liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal affairs, according to a former colleague.

To understand something about the politics of Glenn Sheller, who was named the editor of the Dispatch's editorial page in March 2003, it helps to know how voting machines work in York County, Pennsylvania.

That's where Sheller lived before joining the Dispatch as an editorial writer in 1994; voters there can pull a single lever to cast votes for one political party in every race.

"He's not the kind of guy that would just yank the Republican knob straight across the table," says Larry Hicks, a columnist at the York Dispatch and York Sunday News, where Sheller worked. "I would suspect that he looks at every candidate and every issue very closely."

A registered Republican, Sheller "places a great deal of importance on honesty and integrity," says Hicks. "I wouldn't say he's an intellectual, but he's curious about a lot of things and a big reader."

A Dispatch staffer calls Sheller "basically a libertarian" and says the 49-year-old Pickerington resident was widely considered to be the best editorial writer on staff when he was promoted to the top spot, replacing the retiring Dick Carson.

Hicks says Sheller had a "fabulous" sense of humor around the York newsroom. "What I miss most of all about Glenn are the humorous exchanges we would have on a daily basis," he says. "He had a real ability to laugh at himself and enjoy himself."

Still, Sheller is kind of a mystery man to some. "Sheller is a little bit more reactionary than Dick Carson," observes a civic type who frequently visits the paper's editorial board. "He's kind of tough to figure out, though."

Some things don't change

While significant strides have been made at the Dispatch, it's also clear that some things remain the same. A few examples of how old habits are hard to break.

Conflicts of interest: For more than a century, the Wolfe family has been deeply involved in the politics and civic affairs of Columbus, with John F. Wolfe carrying on that tradition today. He and his billionaire friend Les Wexner are considered the city's most powerful Titans and the leading forces in the new civic leadership group, the Columbus Partnership. In the past, the Dispatch routinely has been criticized for ditching good journalism to protect its own interests. One glaring example was AmeriFlora, the estimated $95 million uber-flower show in 1992 run by Wolfe; despite dismal attendance, key resignations, cost overruns and legal action, the Dispatch offered up a daily dose of puff pieces.

Today's most prominent conflict for the paper is the Dispatch Printing Company's 10 percent ownership stake in the Arena District and its main attraction, the Columbus Blue Jackets. While the paper has been tough on the Blue Jackets during their current season on the stink, some critics complain it hasn't been rough enough on a squad that just ended its fourth dismal year.

Also, stories about the paper's business partners (such as Nationwide Insurance) and downtown development issues-DPC owns considerable other real estate in the center city-will be read with a critical eye by skeptics.

Exercising political muscle: With John F. Wolfe in charge, no longer is the political landscape decorated with the shattered careers of politicians who crossed the family-as it was when J.W. Wolfe ran the show. That's not John F.'s style.

But John F. has shown he can get tough. Just ask state tax commissioner Roger Tracy, whose lifelong dream to hold statewide office was dashed in 1998 when Wolfe let it be known that the Dispatch would aggressively oppose his run for the Ohio treasurer's office. The longtime enemy of the Wolfe family dropped out of the race before it even really began.

Sacred cows: In the old days, it was easy to spot a few of the Dispatch's favorite things: Ohio State, the Columbus Zoo, mayors Greg Lashutka and Buck Rinehart (until he lied about having an affair with a cabinet member) . . . In the early 1990s, Roger Snell, a top-notch Dispatch reporter, quit after he said three major stories were not published, the last about the money troubles of civic leader and Wolfe business partner Dan Galbreath (who has since died). "Decisions were not made for journalistic reasons," said Snell after his departure, "but for Wolfe reasons."

Those sacred cows seem harder to find now. The Dispatch gave notice of its changing ways with a 1998 special section that took a hard look at "The big bucks of OSU sports."

However, there is the feeling among some-but not all-current and former reporters interviewed for this story that certain topics are still too sensitive to touch: for instance, Wolfe buddy Les Wexner. And if stories on such topics do run, they may get underplayed. Insiders point to a 2003 story about the Jack Nicklaus Museum by reporter Alice Thomas. The story detailed how $2 million earmarked for a science center project at Ohio State was diverted at the last minute to help build the shrine to Jack on Olentangy River Road. The story was sent to the bottom of the Metro page on the Saturday of last year's Memorial Tournament, while a lighthearted Joe Blundo column about the golf event ran on the front page.

And don't mess with the city's nonprofit hospital system, which the Wolfe family helped establish. The paper has written at least a dozen critical editorials in just two years about the for-profit New Albany Surgical Hospital.

No comment: Rarely has the reserved and publicity-shy John F. Wolfe granted an interview request-and, in the old days, his top executives followed his lead. For this story, Wolfe declined an interview request, as did his top executives.

Timeline to Respectability

June 10, 1994: The death of J.W. Wolfe, family patriarch, head of the Dispatch Printing Company and the city's most powerful man; perception was the Wolfes used the paper to reward friends and punish enemies. His second cousin, John F. Wolfe, Dispatch publisher, took control of the family's considerable wealth and influence.

Dec. 12, 1995: Mike Curtin, a longtime and highly respected Dispatch reporter, named editor, replacing the loyal and conservative Bob Smith, who was given the honorary title of editor in chief until he retired April 13, 1996. Curtin's hiring sent a message that the paper might become more aggressive and balanced in its news coverage.

May 11, 1997: Curtin's first high-profile change created a position, Metro columnist, that has long been a staple at other big-city dailies. (Veteran City Hall reporter Barb Carmen was chosen as the primary Metro columnist.)

June 20, 1998: Dispatch chosen best large-circulation newspaper in Ohio by the Press Club of Cleveland.

July 15, 1998: Curtin named associate publisher. (He remained editor.)

Jan. 13, 1999: John F. Wolfe signaled a major shift in the family business by handing over significant control to non-Wolfes; he promoted five executives to key roles, including Curtin as president. (Curtin also remained editor and associate publisher.) Wolfe's decision meant Bill Wolfe, the only other family member holding a significant position, would retain a secondary role-overseeing event marketing and philanthropy. (Bill Wolfe resigned June 3, 2000.) Two of John F.'s daughters, Rita and Katie, moved into career-track positions with the company.

Jan. 24, 1999: The Dispatch raided the Plain Dealer and hired Columbus bureau chief Ben Marrison and politics reporter Joe Hallett; Marrison became managing editor/news and Hallett the paper's politics editor (later a senior editor/columnist).

June 13, 1999: Dispatch picked as best large-circulation newspaper in Ohio by the Associated Press.

Nov. 10, 1999: Marrison named editor. Curtin retained titles of president and associate publisher and began to assume some of John F. Wolfe's civic and business responsibilities.

December 1999: Dispatch sports editor George Strode retired, replaced by Danny Goodwin, who oversaw the transition to a livelier section. Goodwin was replaced April 27, 2003, by his number-two-longtime sports staffer Ray Stein-when he moved to the news desk.

Jan. 2, 2000: Mary Lynn Plageman promoted to managing editor/news, becoming the highest-ranking woman in the paper's history. (Plageman, citing personal reasons, stepped down to a lesser position in late 2002. Veteran reporter and editor Alan Miller was named as her replacement Jan. 4, 2004.)

November 2000: Gary Clark, the former Plain Dealer managing editor of news and once Marrison's boss, was named city editor, replacing the well-liked Mark Ellis. (Clark left in 2002 to work as managing editor for the Denver Post; longtime news staffer Carol Ann Lease was promoted to city editor.)

June 2001: Dispatch named best large-circulation newspaper in Ohio by the Press Club of Cleveland and also the Associated Press.

July 1, 2002: Unveiling of the redesigned Dispatch, including narrowing the width of the paper. As part of the Dispatch's recent move to making newsroom decision-making more transparent to readers (such as the Sunday column, "The Inside Story"), the paper ran nearly 20 stories about the redesign on June 30.

March 2003: Editorial page editor Dick Carson retired, replaced by editorial writer Glenn Sheller. Within a year, there was widespread notice of the paper's editorial page modifying some of its conservative positions.

Aaron Marshall is a freelance writer and Ray Paprocki is managing editor of Columbus Monthly.