MEYER TOOL: The Camp Washington-based manufacturer of turbine engine components for jets is the subject of a complaint by the U.S. Labor Department. It alleges Meyer violated the federal affirmative action program in the early 2000s by discriminating against black applicants who sought entry-level jobs at the firm, denying them based solely on race. Because Meyer accepts federal contracts, it must abide by the program's guidelines, which ensures some qualified minority applicants will be hired. Meyer blames the problem on “bookkeeping errors” and insists it did nothing wrong. Still, it couldn't reach a settlement during three years of talks with Labor Department personnel. If the company wants taxpayer-funded contracts, it needs to be fair in its hiring.
THE BANKS: County commissioners recently approved the use of up to $2.5 million in loans to help secure “premier” tenants for The Banks riverfront shopping and housing district. Now word comes that the money will be used to lure the latest location of I Love This Bar and Grill, a chain restaurant partially owned by Country singer Toby Keith.
Twelve other locations exist across the U.S., all of which are known for their guitar-shaped bars, live musical acts and six flavors of chicken wings. Despite his often cloying songs like “Bullets in the Gun,” Keith seems like a nice enough guy during TV appearances. But we remember local officials once promising tenants that would be local businesses and reflect Cincinnati's unique heritage. We hope they honor that commitment and do so by more than simply moving Batsakes Hat Shop once again.
PLEASANT RIDGE: Cincinnati officials last week approved the city's first “community entertainment district” designation for this neighborhood. The new zoning will make it easier for a nonprofit like the Pleasant Ridge Development Corp. to revitalize its business district and create a “restaurant row” of ethnic-oriented eateries anchored by Emanu, an Ethiopian restaurant. The designation allows restaurant owners to apply to the state for a new liquor license and avoid broker fees that can run up to $40,000. This will save money that new restaurants can then spend on other start-up costs like renovation, kitchen installation or marketing. Kudos to Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan for pushing this through.
ROXANNE QUALLS: At the urging of Cincinnati's vice mayor, City Council approved an ordinance last week that holds lenders responsible for maintaining the homes that they foreclose upon. Until now, owners of foreclosed properties were cited for the deteriorating conditions of the properties — even when they haven't lived there and no longer control it since the lender foreclosed — because the title hasn't yet been transferred to a third party. As a result, ex-homeowners faced fines and jail time for nuisance properties, while city inspectors had a tough time forcing improvements. The change is designed to make it easier to lessen neighborhood blight on vacant properties, while also providing an incentive for lenders to keep houses occupied. Good job, Ms. Qualls!