DEAN REGAS: The death of Jack Horkheimer in August left the hosting duties open for Star Gazer, the five-minute TV show on astronomy seen on many PBS stations late at night. Horkheimer appeared on the mini-show, based in Miami, Fla., for a whopping 34 years. Now producers are trying out potential replacements on a temporary basis and one of the lucky few given the nod was Dean Regas, assistant director at the Cincinnati Observatory in Mount Lookout. Regas filmed episodes that appeared in December and this month, and is one of the contenders to win permanent hosting duties when the selection is made in July. Horkheimer's folksy style and contagious enthusiasm will be hard to top, but we're confident the handsome, dapper and brainy Regas is the right person for the job. Go get 'em, Dean. (Winner)
FREEDOM CENTER: As CityBeat first reported in September 2009, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center still is trying to become part of the National Parks Service, so its funding problems can become a matter for Congress to handle. The museum on downtown's riverfront has been plagued with financial woes since it opened in 2004, even though its groundbreaking was attended by glitterati like Oprah Winfrey and Laura Bush.
A museum executive once promised the facility wouldn’t require taxpayer funding but it's received at least $875,000 from Ohio and $800,000 from Cincinnati in the past to help pay off construction debt and handle other problems. Now, amid the city's budget crisis, City Council approved another $300,000 for the museum in the New Year. It's time to seek help from Congressmen Steve Chabot and John Boehner in the transfer. Meanwhile, maybe the museum should ask Oprah for a grant?
BUS RIDERS: As part of last month's municipal budget debacle, Cincinnati City Council decided to take $2.4 million from the public transit account this year so it could help pay utility bills for street lights. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which operates the Metro bus system, says the action violates the city's funding contract with the agency. City voters approved a measure in 1972 that allocates three-tenths of 1 percent of earnings tax revenues for transit purposes, and SORTA believes officials are playing fast and loose with the intent by targeting cash toward street lights. The funding cut could lead to reduced service or fare increases later this year, and the agency's board members have hinted at possible legal action to stop the transfer. Why is it that some of the neediest among us — like people without automobiles and health insurance — are being asked to bear the brunt of our elected officials' reluctance to stand up to the labor unions at City Hall? It's time to stop targeting the defenseless.
U.S. CONSTITUTION: Republican members of the new 112th Congress may profess their love for the U.S. Constitution, but they apparently have trouble abiding by it. On Jan. 6, the second day in session for the new Congress, Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) cast votes on various matters, and Sessions had chaired the Rules Committee during a hearing to discuss repealing the health-care reform law. The problem is, the pair hadn't been sworn in the day before, choosing instead to attend a fundraiser. That led to all sorts of legal and procedural maneuvering to validate the actions taken by the wayward congressmen. We'd like to suggest that the situation 1.) speaks to what the true priorities are of many GOP politicians and 2.) shows a penchant for mangling our government's guiding document. This isn't a promising sign of what the next two years might hold.