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by 02.02.2011
Posted In: News, Congress, Republicans at 02:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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John Boehner, Tabloid Cover Boy

Less than a month after he was sworn into office as House Speaker, the long-rumored extramarital affairs of John Boehner have landed him on the cover of the National Enquirer.

Boehner is featured on the bottom-right corner of the cover of the issue that's on sale nationwide Thursday. A photo of Boehner's face is featured next to the headline, “Speaker of the House John Boehner Accused in Sex Probe! (Details inside).”

Read More

 
 
by German Lopez 09.20.2012
Posted In: Courts, News, Business at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
xlcservices

Procter & Gamble Sued for Religious Discrimination

P&G and contractor allegedly fired Muslim worker who was humiliated by coworker

Two Cincinnati-based companies are facing a lawsuit over the termination of a former Muslim worker. The lawsuit, filed in an North Carolina court Monday, claims a woman named Safa Elhassan was fired from Procter & Gamble facilities after facing discrimination in the workplace.

Elhassan worked for P&G through XLC Services, a Cincinnati-based company that provides manufacturing services and warehouse management to other companies, at P&G facilities in Guilford County, N.C. 

The lawsuit charges P&G and XLC with religious harassment, religious discrimination, failing to accommodate after religious discrimination in the workplace, national origin discrimination, sexual discrimination, two counts of retaliation, negligence, unfair and deceptive trade practices, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit tells the story that led to the charges as follows: Elhassan, who wears a hijab and wedding ring for religious reasons, was employed at P&G’s facilities through XLC between 2004 and Sept. 16, 2011. During her employment, Elhassan followed P&G rules and regulations and kept “a performance record which was satisfactory or better.”

However, Elhassan was unaware of a company policy that banned jewelry in the workplace, even jewelry of religious significance. This policy was mostly not a problem for Elhassan because, as the lawsuit claims, “Other employees of different religions and national origins routinely wear jewelry under clothing and/or protective wear and are not punished or searched.”

That is until a woman named Ernestine Wilson allegedly approached Elhassan, forcibly searched Elhassan for her wedding ring and removed Elhassan’s hijab in front of coworkers, including men, according to the suit. Under Islam’s rules, a woman uses a hijab, which is a religious head and neck wrap, to maintain sexual modesty, and being exposed without a hijab to men who are not family is a major offense and source of humiliation.

Elhassan reported the forced search to higher-ups at XLC. After a few meetings, Wilson provided an apology, according to the lawsuit, but Elhassan claimed the apology was insincere because Wilson kept telling coworkers that she hoped Elhassan was fired. After Elhassan refused to accept the apology, she was suspended then fired, allegedly under the orders of P&G.

The lawsuit suggests that Wilson's actions were potentially connected to another workplace incident. The lawsuit says Elhassan was sexually harassed in the past by George (no last name provided), a man with whom Wilson was allegedly “engaged in a friendly, physical, and/or romantic relationship." Elhassan reported the incident, which got George fired. The lawsuit claims Wilson’s actions were in retaliation to George’s termination.

Since Wilson did work for P&G through XLC, Elhassan blames both P&G and XLC for the damages. The lawsuit claims she was unfairly fired in retaliation for not accepting Wilson’s apology. It also alleges that XLC forced Elhassan to sign a document she did not understand upon her termination without her lawyer present, even though Elhassan asked to have her lawyer read the document. The document, which P&G officials were supposedly aware of, allegedly sought to release P&G and XLC of any wrongdoing related to the termination.

Mary Ralles, spokesperson for P&G, responded to the lawsuit in an email: “As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on pending litigation, but I did want to make one correction. The individual was not (or ever) a P&G employee.”

The distinction Ralles made is that Elhassan was not officially employed by P&G, but she did work for P&G through her employment at XLC.

XLC could not be immediately reached for comment. This story will be updated if a comment becomes available.

 
 
by 01.17.2009
Posted In: 2008 Election, News at 09:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 

More Inauguration Coverage and Profiteering

CityBeat's inauguration page now includes a link to our alt weekly colleagues in D.C., the Washington City Paper, which features a huge inauguration guide for the millions of people already descending on their city. City Paper staffers are sending out constant updates on Twitter and a group blog, Inbloguration, including this multimedia gem from about an hour ago: "Here's a semi-live feed from my basement in Petworth, where whiskey-swilling guests collaborated on an unconscionably patriotic version of 'The Weight.' "

Read More

 
 
by German Lopez 10.05.2012
Posted In: Prisons, News, Government at 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
Liberty for Sale

Private Prison Violates State Rules

Audit finds Northeast Ohio prison in compliance with only two-thirds of state standards

A recent audit of the Ohio prison bought by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) found the private prison is only meeting 66.7 percent of the state’s standards. The report found a total of 47 violations in the CCA-owned prison, which the state government sold to CCA last year as part of a privatization push set out in Ohio’s 2012-13 budget.

The news comes slightly more than two weeks after CityBeat published a story looking at the many problems presented by Ohio’s policy to privatize prisons (“Liberty for Sale,” issue of Sept. 19).

“It was apparent throughout certain departments that DRC policy and procedure is not being followed,” the audit said. “Staff was interviewed and some stated they are not sure what to do because of the confusion between CCA policy and DRC policy. Some staff expressed safety concerns due to low staffing numbers and not having enough coverage. Other staff stated that there is increased confusion due to all the staffing transitions.”

The report says “there has been a big staff turnover,” and only one staff person was properly trained to meet Ohio Risk Assessment System standards. The audit found that a workplace violence liaison wasn’t appointed or trained. Inmates complained they felt unsafe and that staff “had their hands tied’” and “had little control over some situations.”

The local fire plan had no specific steps to release inmates from locked areas in case of emergency, and local employees said “they had no idea what they should do” in case of a fire emergency.

The audit also found all housing units provided less than the required 25 square feet on unencumbered space per occupant. It found single watch cells held two prisoners with some sleeping on the floor, and some triple-bunked cells had a third inmate sleeping on a mattress on the floor. 

Searches in general seemed to be a problem for CCA. Documentation showed that contraband searches were only done 16 days in August. When the searches were done, the contraband was not properly processed to the vault and was sometimes left in desks. The private prison also could not provide documentation that proved executive staff were conducting weekly rounds to informally observe living and working conditions among inmates and staff.

These findings, although major, are only the tip of the iceberg: Inmates claimed laundry and cell cleaning services were not provided and CCA could not prove otherwise, recreation time was not always allowed five times a week in segregation as required, food quality and sanitization was not up to standards, infirmary patients were “not seen timely,” patients’ doctor appointments were often delayed with follow-ups rarely occurring, the facility had no written confined space program, the health care administrator could not explain or show an overall plan and nursing competency evaluations were not completed before the audit was conducted. Many more issues were found as well.

The one bright spot in the report is ODRC found staff to be “very professional, friendly and helpful during the audit.” Inmates were also “dressed appropriately and found to be wearing their identification badges.”

The findings shine some light into why ODRC Director Gary Mohr might have decided to stop privatizing Ohio’s prisons. On Sept. 25 — the same day the audit was mailed to Mohr’s office — Mohr announced his department would focus on sentencing reforms to bring down recidivism instead of saving costs by privatizing more prisons. The news came during the week CityBeat’s cover story on private prisons was in stands.

Mohr is one of many in Gov. John Kasich’s administration to have previous connections to CCA. He advised the private prison company “in areas of staff leadership, and development and implementing unit management,” according to the ODRC website. Donald Thibaut, Kasich’s former chief of staff and close friend, now lobbies for CCA. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine also helped CCA reopen its Youngstown facility in 2004 with a federal contract during his term as U.S. senator.

The report confirms a lot of what CityBeat found in its in-depth look at private prisons. The studies cited in CityBeat’s Sept. 17 story — including research by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio — found multiple issues in private prisons’ standards around the country. One study by George Washington University found private prisons have a 50 percent higher rate of inmate-on-staff assault and a 66 percent higher rate of inmate-on-inmate assault. The troubling numbers were attributed to lower standards at private prisons that keep costs low and profits high.

The lower standards are coupled with a private prison’s need to house as many inmates as possible, contrary to public interests of keeping re-entry to prisons low.

“It doesn’t make any difference to them whether or not a person eventually integrates back into society,” said Mike Brickner, communications and public policy director at ACLU. “Looking from a cynical approach, it actually helps them if that person (is convicted again) because they come back into their prison and they get money off them again.”

Poor living and health standards were also found in a Youngstown prison held by CCA in the 1990s. In 1997, the Youngstown prison was opened by CCA to house 1,700 of the nation’s most dangerous criminals. Within one year, 20 prisoners were stabbed, two were murdered and six escaped. The ensuing public outrage led to higher standards at the facility. The more stringent rules were credited for leading to the prison’s eventual closing as the facility was quickly made unprofitable for CCA.

Steve Owen, spokesperson for CCA, responded to the audit in a statement: “CCA is taking concrete corrective steps to ensure that this facility meets not only the ODRC's goals but our own high expectations for our facilities. We are working in partnership with the ODRC on a development plan, which will lay out a road map to meet our goals, and our team will meet bi-weekly with ODRC staff and officials until we have this matter resolved.”

 
 
by German Lopez 08.08.2012
Posted In: News, Human Rights, Sex at 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
mikedewine

Ohio AG Releases Disturbing Human Trafficking Report

Most common buyers of trafficking victims were law enforcement

The Ohio Attorney General’s office today released a report on human trafficking in Ohio which found that out of 328 self-identified human trafficking victims, more than one-third were trafficked while they were minors.

The victims were taken from all around Ohio, including Cincinnati. The report found that 63 percent of the victims had run away from home at least once, 59 percent reported having friends involved in selling, 47 percent were raped more than a year before being trafficked and 44 percent reported to be victims of child abuse.

In Cincinnati, the most common risk factors reported were dropping out of school and having an older boyfriend. Rape was third with 40 percent of Cincinnati victims reporting being raped.

In all of Ohio, the most common buyers for victims were law enforcement. Businessmen and drug dealers were second and third, respectively. In Cincinnati, the most common buyers were drug dealers, followed by factory workers, then truckers.

The report highlights the severity of human trafficking in Ohio. A 2010 report by the same commission found that 1,000 American-born youth had been trafficked in Ohio over the course of the year, and as many as 3,000 American-born youth in Ohio were at risk for trafficking.

Since the 2010 report, Gov. John Kasich has signed H.B. 262 into law, which outlaws human trafficking and enforces tougher rules.

However, the commission does not believe current law is enough, and it’s pushing for more rules against human trafficking. The new rules would identify trafficking as child abuse, place a focus on arresting and convicting buyers and invest in responding to adult sex trafficking. The commission also wants a better response to youth runaways, and it wants to establish better protocols for dealing with at-risk youth, especially in correspondence with school officials.

When contacted by CityBeat, the Ohio Attorney General’s office said they have no suggestions to specifically deal with law enforcement officials, which topped the list of buyers, who are involved in human trafficking.

The report was issued by the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission. It was authored by commission member Celia Williamson, who is also a professor at the University of Toledo. The full report can be found here.

 
 
by German Lopez 08.22.2012
Posted In: News, Media Criticism, Education at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
gregwilliams

Why Did UC’s President Step Down?

Williams out after three years, 'Enquirer' publisher/UC board member doesn't know why

University of Cincinnati President Greg Williams stepped down yesterday. According to reports, Williams walked into a UC Board of Trustees meeting, announced he was resigning effective immediately and left.

Greg Hand, spokesperson for UC, said Williams resigned for “personal reasons.” No further explanation was provided by Williams.

Santa Ono, UC provost, is taking over temporarily as interim president. In a tweet, he promised to give the university 150 percent.

Williams was at UC since 2009. A year after arriving, he introduced his UC2019 plan. The plan seeks to make the university into a top school by 2019. The plan also implied Williams had long-term plans for UC, making his abrupt resignation even stranger.

The Board of Trustees seemed happy with Williams — at least happy enough to give him a raise. On Sept. 20, 2011, the Board gave Williams a $41,000 raise, bringing his salary up to $451,000. He also got a $102,500 bonus.

The news took UC students by surprise. Lane Hart, student body president at UC, told the school's independent student newspaper, The News Record, he was “shocked” when he heard the news. 

To give credit where credit is due, when The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the story, the newspaper mentioned that Margaret Buchanan, president and publisher at The Enquirer, is on the UC Board of Trustees. However, The Enquirer did not mention asking Buchanan about the resignation — an omission that raised questions for Jim Romenesko, a popular journalism blogger. Since then, The Enquirer emailed Romenesko saying Buchanan did not know any extra information.

Buchanan's ties to local groups the newspaper frequently covers have failed to be disclosed in the past. Previously, CityBeat found in stories related to 3CDC, which Buchanan is also involved in as a member of the executive committee, The Enquirer overwhelmingly failed to report the possible conflict of interest. The newspaper only reported the connection one out of 32 times, although the number could be inflated due to The Enquirer’s system of posting duplicate articles. In one particular story, The Enquirer praised 3CDC but failed to bring up Buchanan’s role overseeing publicity and marketing there.

 
 
by German Lopez 11.07.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Voting at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
barack obama 2

Election Results 2012

Democrats, progressives make gains all around nation

A version of this article was originally published in Morning News and Stuff, but to wrap up this year's overly long election coverage, we figured it would be a good idea to republish the results as a standalone article. You're welcome!

The election is finally over. All election results for Ohio can be viewed at the secretary of state's website. All results for Hamilton County can be viewed at the Hamilton County Board of Elections website.

President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in what can only be called an electoral college landslide. He won every single “battleground state” on CNN’s electoral map with the current exception of Florida, although the current lead and remaining demographics to be counted will likely tilt Florida to Obama. Despite the insistence of conservatives and mainstream media pundits, models like FiveThirtyEight that predicted a big Obama win were entirely accurate.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown also handily beat Republican challenger Josh Mandel. CityBeat covered the policy and campaign differences between the two candidates in coverage of the first, second and third debate and a cover story.

For the First U.S. Congressional District, Republican incumbent Steve Chabot beat Democratic challenger Jeff Sinnard.

The big takeaway from election night at a federal level: Billions of dollars spent on campaigns later, the U.S. House of Representatives remains in Republican hands, the U.S. Senate remains in Democratic hands and the White House remains in Democratic hands. In other words, billions of dollars were spent to change almost nothing.

At the state level, Issue 1, which called for a constitutional convention, lost. But Issue 2, which was an attempt at redistricting reform, lost as well. CityBeat covered the rise and details of Issue 2 in a story and commentary.

In the state’s legislature races, incumbents swept. Republican Bill Seitz beat Democrat Richard Luken for the eighth district of the Ohio Senate. Republican Peter Stautberg beat Democrat Nathan Wissman for the 27th district of the Ohio House. Democrat Connie Pillich beat Republican Mike Wilson for the 28th district of the Ohio House. Republican Louis Blessing beat Democrat Hubert Brown for the 29th district of the Ohio House. Republican Lou Terhar beat Democrat Steven Newsome for the 30th district of the Ohio House. Democrat Denise Driehaus beat Republican Michael Gabbard for the 31st district of the Ohio House. Democrat Dale Mallory beat Republican Ron Mosby for the 32nd district of the Ohio House. Democrat Alicia Reece beat Republican Tom Bryan for the 33rd district of the Ohio House. 

For the Ohio Supreme Court, Republican Terrence O’Donnell kept his seat against Mike Skindell. But Democrat William O’Neill beat Republican incumbent Robert Cupp, and Republican Sharon Kennedy beat Democratic incumbent Yvette Brown.

At the local level, Issue 4, which gives City Council four-year terms, was approved. Issue 42, which renewed a tax levy for Cincinnati Public Schools, passed. Issue 50, a tax levy for senior health services, was approved. Issue 51, a tax levy for mental health services, was approved. 

In Hamilton County offices, things got a bit more blue overall. Republican incumbent Joe Deters beat Democrat Janaya Trotter for the prosecutor attorney’s office. Democrat Pam Thomas beat Republican incumbent Tracy Winkler for the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas. Democrat Jim Neil beat Republican Sean Donovan for the sheriff's office. Democratic incumbent Wayne Coates beat Republican Wayne Lippert for the county recorder's office. Republican incumbent Robert Goering barely beat Democrat Jeff Cramerding for the county treasurer's office. Democratic incumbent Lakshmi Sammarco beat Republican Pete Kambelos for the county coroner's office.

In the lower courts, Republican incumbent Pat Fischer beat Democrat Martha Good and Republican Pat DeWine beat Democrat Bruce Whitman for the First District Court of Appeals. Democratic incumbent Nadine Allen and Republican Leslie Ghiz beat Democrat Stephen Black and Republican Heather Russel for the court of common pleas.

In other states, gay marriage and marijuana were legalized. Minnesota voted against a same-sex marriage ban. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin also became the first openly gay candidate to win election for the U.S. Senate. Overall, the night was a big win for progressives all around the country.

 
 
by German Lopez 12.20.2013
Posted In: News, Poverty, Education at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
city hall

Cincinnati Ranks No. 2 for Highest Child Poverty

Three Ohio cities make Children Defense Fund’s top five

Cincinnati ranked No. 2 for highest child poverty out of 76 major U.S. cities in 2012, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) of Ohio said Friday.

The numbers provide a grim reminder that more than half of Cincinnati’s children lived in poverty in 2012, even as the city’s urban core began a nationally recognized revitalization period.

With 53.1 percent of children in poverty, Cincinnati performed better in CDF’s ranking than Detroit (59.4 percent) but worse than Cleveland (52.6 percent), Miami (48 percent) and Toledo (46 percent), which rounded out the top five.

The data, adopted from the U.S. Census Bureau, also shows Ohio’s child poverty rate of 23.6 percent exceeded the national rate of 22.6 percent in 2012, despite slight gains over the previous year.

“When three of the top five American cities with the highest rates of child poverty are in Ohio, it is clear that children are not a priority here,” said Renuka Mayadev, executive director of CDF of Ohio. “Significant numbers of our children do not meet state academic standards because their basic needs are not being met.”

With the contentious streetcar debate over for now, some local leaders are already turning their attention to Cincinnatis disturbing levels of poverty.

Mayor John Cranley on Thursday told reporters that he intends to unveil an anti-poverty initiative next year. A majority of council members also told CityBeat that they will increase human services funding, which goes to agencies that address issues like poverty and homelessness, even as they work to structurally balance the city’s operating budget.

Outside City Hall, the Strive Partnership and other education-focused organizations are working to guarantee a quality preschool education to all of Cincinnati’s 3- and 4-year-olds. The issue, which will most likely involve a tax hike of some kind, could appear on the 2014 ballot.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.26.2012
Posted In: News, Environment, Family at 09:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
pollution

Cincinnati is 8th Worst for Air Pollution

Lung Association: Region is slowly improving

Cincinnati and Hamilton County fared poorly on a national list of places with polluted air that was released Wednesday.

The Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington metropolitan region ranked as the eighth-worst for air particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association.


Meanwhile, Hamilton County was given an “F” grade for its number of high ozone days, and a “D” grade for air particle pollution by the Lung Association.

The rankings were included in the group’s “State of the Air 2012” report. The annual air quality report grades cities and counties based, in part, on the color-coded Air Quality Index developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to alert the public to daily unhealthy air conditions.

The 13th annual report uses the most recent, quality-controlled EPA data collected from 2008-10 from official monitors for ozone and particle pollution, the two most widespread types of air pollution. Counties are graded for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution levels. Also, the report uses the EPA’s calculations for year-round particle levels.


Generally, the report found that air quality in America’s most polluted cities was at its cleanest since the organization’s annual report began 13 years ago. This year’s report details the trend that standards set under the Clean Air Act to cleanup major air pollution sources — including coal-fired power plants, diesel engines, and SUVs — are working to drastically cut ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot) from the air. Despite this progress, unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist and in some parts of the nation worsened.


More than 40 percent of people in the United States live in areas where air pollution continues to threaten their health. That means more than 127 million people are living in counties with dangerous levels of either ozone or particle pollution that can cause wheezing and coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks or premature death.


The Cincinnati region ranked 21st for high ozone days out of 277 metropolitan areas. Also, it ranked 39th for 24-hour air particle pollution.


Still, the region is improving. The region has had 19.4 fewer high ozone days annually on average since 1996, and 10 fewer high-particle pollution days since 2000.
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 05.23.2012
Posted In: State Legislature, News at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
ohio-no-smoking_sign

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Smoking Ban Constitutional

Judge rejects Columbus restaurant's argument that ban is "oppressive"

Since 2006, the Ohio Smoke-Free Workplace Act has banned indoor smoking at public establishments and places of employment, making Ohio the first Midwestern state to enact a state-wide ban. Despite controversy and contestment, that ban will continue to be enforced statewide.

The owner of Zeno's Victorian Village in Columbus who attempted to combat the law was shut down by a unanimous 7-0 vote in the Ohio Supreme Court today, which ruled that the state's six-year smoking ban is constitutional. 

Ohio's ban affects some 280,000 establishments across the state of Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). 

According to the Supreme Court of Ohio's case summary, Zeno's was cited 10 times for violations of the ban from July 2007 and September 2009, receiving multiple fines, none of which were paid. In protest of the violations, the director of the ODH filed a complaint against Bartec Inc., the corporate entity that owns Zeno's, requesting the bar to pay all outstanding fines.

Bartec and legal representative 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a nonprofit legal center, asserted that the smoking ban was unconstitutional, a violation of the state's policing powers and  that prohibiting smoking in an adults-only liquor-licensed establishment such as Zeno’s is "unduly oppressive," according to the case summary.

The ban and its enforcement, argued Bartec, constitutes an unlawful taking of property, meaning an improper confiscation of the owner’s control of the indoor air.

"The goal of this legislation is to protect the health of the workers and other citizens of Ohio. ...  It does so by regulating proprietors of public places and places of employment in a minimally invasive way.  We therefore hold that the Smoke Free Act does not constitute a taking,” wrote Justice Lanzinger in her opinion.

In her written opinion, Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger also cited 2002 Supreme Court decision, D.A.B.E., Inc. v. Toledo-Lucas Cty. Bd. of Health:

"We have previously stated that the General Assembly has the authority to enact a public-smoking ban. ... Although the Smoke Free Act was ultimately passed pursuant to a ballot initiative, the voters of Ohio also have a legitimate purpose in protecting the general welfare and health of Ohio citizens and workforce from the dangers of secondhand smoke in enclosed public places.  By requiring that proprietors of public places and places of employment take reasonable steps to prevent smoking on their premises by posting ‘no smoking’ signs, removing ashtrays, and requesting patrons to stop smoking, the act is rationally related to its stated objective.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the bar owes the state approximately $33,00 in violation fines, and the state has threatened to seize and foreclose the bar if the fines aren't paid.

See how Ohio's public smoking laws compare to those in other states across the U.S. here.

 
 

 

 

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by Natalie Krebs 05.06.2016 2 hours ago
Posted In: News at 09:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
portman

Morning News and Stuff

Obama commutes life sentence of local man; Ohio House moves closer to approving medical marijuana bill; Trump heightens rifts in Republican party

President Barack Obama on Thursday gave a Cincinnati man named Thomas Farmer a second chance when commuted his life sentence along with 57 other federal convicts. Farmer has been in a federal prison serving a life sentence since 1995  for charges of cocaine possession and distribution. Obama's latest round of commutes targeted those serving life sentences for drug-related charges and brings the president's total commute number to 306. 

• There's less than two months before the world will finally get the chance to journey to Grant County, Kentucky, to experience a real-life replica of Noah's Ark. After 14 months of construction, the project is apparently coming along smoothly — and even under budget. The controversial structure, which is based on the Biblical tale of one man single-handedly building a giant ark and cramming it full of two of every kind of animal, is set to open on July 7 and is expected to attract 1.2 million visitors in the first year. 

• The Ohio House is set to vote on legislation next Tuesday that could legalize medical marijuana for Ohioans. After months of committee hearings, a special House committee approved HB 523 Thursday evening, making it the first time marijuana legislation has ever made it out of committee and on to a full House vote. The bill would create a tightly regulated system for growing, dispensing and prescribing the plant and would permit it only be used in a patch, vapor, oil or other extract.

• If you're planning on getting out your wildest hat and watching the Kentucky Derby Saturday, as tradition goes, you're also going to hear the crowd sing along with University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band to Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home." But former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker believes some people are missing the racial undertones in the sweet-sounding, old-timey melody. Walker says the song, which was written by composer Stephen Foster as an anti-slavery song, actually has some pretty troubling lyrics related to slavery. 

• It's been less than two days since Donald Trump has taken the spot of the presumed GOP presidential nominee, and already the split in the Republican party is widening. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the country's highest-elected Republican, says he's not ready to endorse Trump for president. Trump responded to the comment saying he's "not ready" to support Speaker Ryan's agenda."

In Ohio, Democrats are already hoping that Republican Sen. Rob Portman's support of Trump will hurt his chances of re-election this November. Incumbent Portman is running against former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland for the U.S. Senate.

News tips go here. Enjoy your weekend, Cincy!
 
 
by Natalie Krebs 05.05.2016 26 hours ago
Posted In: News at 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_johnkasich

Morning News and Stuff

City to replace beheaded parking meters; study finds Central Parkway bike lane not causing more accidents; Kasich gives up on presidential bid

The city of Cincinnati has opted to replace the city's sad, beat-up, beheaded parking meters with multi-space meters requiring motorists to print out a ticket to put in their windshields, according to a memo from City Manager Harry Black. The new meters will soon be installed in 40 locations across the city, including Findlay Market, Court Street, Freedom Way and Washington Park. 

• There's been a lot of controversy around the Central Parkway Bikeway, with some in the city, including City Council members, asking whether it has caused more accidents along the busy street. But a study undertaken by the city and re-released yesterday seems to show that's not the case. A report by the city of Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering released yesterday by the office of City Manager Harry Black shows that the stretch of Central Parkway with the controversial bike lane has not had more accidents than comparable roads without the lanes. 

• Campbell County, Kentucky's government has approved a needle exchange program to help prevent the spread of diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV among heroin users. The Campbell County Court voted Wednesday to help fund a program that will create mobile van run by health professionals where users will be able to exchange used needles for clean ones. Covington hospital St. Elizabeth Healthcare agreed to provide space for the van on its grounds.

• Former City Council candidate Kevin Johnson was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts of drug trafficking and two counts drug possession after police found more than 550 grams of cocaine in his car during a routine traffic stop. Johnson, who came in 20th out of the 21 candidates for Council in the 2013 election, is being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center on a bond of $300,000. He is scheduled to appear in court on May 13. 

• After months of clawing his way through the GOP presidential primary as the ultimate underdog, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced the suspension of his campaign at a Columbus press conference yesterday. Kasich's announcement appears to have been a sudden call. Following another his defeat in Indiana's primary on Tuesday, Kasich's campaign said he would carry on. Yesterday, the Kasich campaign released a Star Wars-themed ad claiming he was "our only hope" just hours before his announcement that he is finally giving up his dreams of the White House.

The Ohio Governor's departure from the race means Trump, as the last GOP man standing, has pretty much secured the party's nomination. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was second behind Trump, suspended his campaign Tuesday after losing Indiana's primary.

News tips go here.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.05.2016 27 hours ago
Posted In: News at 08:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
bike and dine

Report: Central Parkway Crashes in Line with Other Streets Without Bike Lanes

Finding are similar to those released and then pulled by the city in March

There's been a lot of controversy around the Central Parkway Bikeway, with some in the city, including City Council members, asking whether it has caused more accidents along the busy street. But a study undertaken by the city and re-released yesterday seems to show that's not the case.

A report by the city of Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering released yesterday by the office of City Manager Harry Black shows that the stretch of Central Parkway with the controversial bike lane has no more accidents than comparable roads without the lanes.

Critics, including Councilman Christopher Smitherman, say that the lanes cause confusion because they require drivers to park in the right lane of the street instead of on the curb, where the bike lane now runs. Smitherman introduced a motion in February asking that the lanes be removed.

In 2015, according to Wednesday's report, Central Parkway between Liberty and Linn streets had 62 total car accidents, including seven involving parked cars.

In that same time frame, Glenway Avenue from Rapid Run Road to Gilsey Avenue, a similar stretch, had 91 accidents, including 13 parked car accidents. Another like stretch of road, Hamilton Avenue from Spring Grove Avenue to Bruce Avenue, had 51 wrecks including seven with parked cars.

"The number of crashes on Central Parkway is comparable to the number of crashes on similar streets," the report concludes. "Research published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that streets with protected bicycle lanes saw 90 percent fewer cyclist injuries per mile than those with no bicycle infrastructure."

The report also breaks down the crashes on Central Parkway by cause, as shown below.

The report is similar to one released and then rescinded by the city in March. Among the differences: The earlier report explicitly recommended that the lanes be retained. That language does not appear in the recently released study.

“Given the reduced risk of injury to bicyclists, the administration does not recommend removal of the bike lanes,” the March memo from City Manager Black reads. “However, DOTE will continue to monitor conditions, and improvements may be made in the future as best practices evolve.”

The new report says that the Cincinnati Police Department's Traffic Unit "did feel that the area is more congested and confusing," but also that CPD feels that should lessen over time as motorists and cyclists become accustomed to the new lane arrangement. "Both Police and DOTE both believe that as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians become more familiar with the area and with the rules for the bike lane operations, there should be fewer conflicts," the new report notes.

There are measures that the city can take to reduce the confusion around the lane, the report says, including additional signs and better traffic stripping. Those measures would cost about $30,000, money DOTE says it has available. By contrast, removing the lanes from the stretch between Liberty and Ravine streets as requested by Smitherman would cost the city $234,000. Removing the entire lane from Marshall Avenue to Elm Street, meanwhile, would cost $587,000, according to the report.

The Central Parkway Bikeway was completed in 2014 after multiple bouts of political wrangling. The protected bike lane uses plastic partitions to separate cyclists from drivers along the four-lane stretch of the Central Parkway running from Clifton, through the West End and University Heights and into Over-the-Rhine and downtown. The lane was initially proposed in a bike plan Cincinnati City Council passed in 2010, and Council in 2013 voted unanimously to build it using $500,000 in mostly federal money. 

While some neighboring business owners and the Fraternal Order of Police, whose headquarters are on the bike lane's path, have complained about accidents and parking woes since the lane has been introduced, nearby community councils have rallied around the lane. Clifton Town Meeting and the Over-the-Rhine Community Council have both passed motions this year supporting the lanes and asking for their expansion, citing the increase in economic activity and cyclist safety that studies suggest come with bike lanes in urban neighborhoods.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.04.2016 49 hours ago
Posted In: News at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_johnkasich

Reports: Kasich Will Drop Out Today

Campaign cancels planned stops, schedules 5 p.m. news conference in Columbus

With U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz departing the GOP presidential primary following last night's big win for Donald Trump in Indiana, Ohio Gov. John Kasich was, for a moment, Trump's sole challenger in one of the strangest primaries in memory.

Now, however, there are multiple reports citing a senior campaign advisor saying Kasich is dropping out of the race. The Kasich campaign has cancelled previously-planned campaign stops and scheduled a 5 p.m. news conference in Columbus, where iKasich is expected to make an official announcement.

Kasich was a long-shot candidate at best: Trump has 1,048 delegates and needs only 1,237 to end the race outright. Kasich, meanwhile, has only 153 delegates, still less than now-departed Cruz and long-gone U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Despite this, the Kasich campaign this morning confidently released a  Star Wars-themed video (it is May 4, after all) laying out a nightmare scenario for conservatives: It's 2017, and Hillary Clinton has trounced Trump in the general election, going on to nominate a Supreme Court justice and institute a raft of liberal policies. But there's hope, and that hope's name is... you guessed it: John Kasich.

Kasich faced a nearly-impossible path, however. To win the GOP nomination, he would have had to somehow prevent Trump from gaining the last few delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. Kasich would then have had to best Trump at a contested convention, convincing delegates that it would be better to vote for him than the candidate primary voters sent them to vote for.

Kasich continuing his campaign at this point would have flown in the face of even GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, who has called Trump the party's presumptive nominee. But Kasich did have a couple points to argue for his nomination in the very unlikely contested convention scenario: In what started as a huge primary field, more primary voters voted for some other candidate besides Trump. Kasich's campaign has also pointed to polls showing him winning against Clinton in a general election in November, something Trump has not been able to claim. (Most recent polls show Clinton widening her margins against Trump, though one has Trump neck and neck with Clinton. So far, it's an outlier.)

Kasich's political opponents in Ohio cheered the news.

“Since last March, Governor John Kasich has spent more than 200 days out of state, pursuing his presidential ambitions and ignoring the needs of the people of Ohio," the Ohio Democratic Party said in a statement, accusing Kasich of "gallivanting across the country" instead of working on issues in Ohio.


 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.04.2016 50 hours ago
Posted In: News at 09:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_berniesanders

Morning News and Stuff

Trump nomination nearly certain after Indiana win; Cincinnatian tapped to head Clinton Ohio campaign; D.C. developer holds onto blighted OTR properties

Good morning all. It’s news time.

I think you know what’s first on the agenda: last night’s historic Indiana primary results and the ensuing realization that, barring some unimaginable turn of events, Donald Trump will be the GOP’s presidential nominee.

Trump dominated the Hoosier State yesterday, taking at least 51 of the state’s 57 delegates and bringing his total delegate count to 1,048. He needs only 1,237 to clinch the game outright, and some big states — including California and New Jersey — loom ahead. Racking up delegates is going to get a lot easier for Trump because his nearest opponent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, uh, cruised right out of the race after results came in last night. That leaves only Ohio Gov. John Kasich left running against Trump, but good luck if you’re a Kasich fan. Dude is still trailing the dispirited ghosts of Marco Rubio and Cruz’s campaigns with just 157 delegates and isn’t anywhere near Trump’s total. What’s more, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus last night said Trump will be the party’s presumptive nominee. Will Kasich drop out? Stay tuned.

• Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders had a big night in Indiana, winning 53 percent of the vote and taking 43 of the state’s 80 delegates. He still trails Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton 1,410 delegates to her 1,700. There are more states friendly to Sanders coming up, but unless he gets huge, huge wins in them or somehow convinces the Democratic party’s super delegates to side with him instead of the frontrunner, he’ll face an uphill battle.

• What does this new near-certainty around Trump’s nomination mean for Senate races? Bad news for the GOP, some Republican strategists fear. Some veterans of past Republican Senate campaigns put the odds that the party will lose control of the Senate at 75 to 80 percent as general election voters who might have sided with a more traditional and moderate Republican candidate stay away from the polls or vote Democratic. Some, however, see hope if candidates like Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman can distance themselves from Trump’s unconventional campaign. Portman is running a very tough race against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland.

• Here’s some local presidential race news: Cincinnatian Chris Wyant will run Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Ohio. Wyant worked for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and also as a managing director for Enroll Ohio, which encouraged state residents to sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Wyant has connections: His parents, Jack Wyant and Peg Wyant, both worked for Procter & Gamble before starting their own venture capital firm. In addition, Jack is a Cincinnati Reds co-owner and Peg is the CEO of Grandin Properties, a real estate company owned by the family that is very active in Over-the-Rhine. Wyant’s wife, Lauren Kidwell, also has ties to Obama’s past campaigns and his administration.

• You know that feeling when you order something online and can’t wait for it to show up? That’s kind of what city transit officials must feel like right now. Cincinnati’s fifth and final streetcar is on the way and should arrive sometime today. Expect Race Street, where the streetcar maintenance facility is located, to be closed around Findlay Market for a couple hours starting at 2 p.m. Unloading is expected to take about 90 minutes. The first streetcar arrived in October. All the cars must undergo rigorous testing, including empty runs around the city, before passengers can ride them. The city last week passed the 3.6-mile transit loop’s budget last week, and it is expected to start taking passengers in September.

• A Washington, D.C.-based developer will hold onto 10 properties it owns in Over-the-Rhine by addressing multiple municipal code violations on those buildings. The city of Cincinnati threatened to take action against 2414 Morgan Development, LLC, after seven of the company’s buildings were declared public nuisances for their advanced states of disrepair. That action would have included seizure of the buildings, but the developer has side-stepped having the properties placed in receivership for now by making some of the necessary repairs. 2414 Morgan says it is dedicated to renovating the buildings. The city says it doesn’t foresee putting the properties into receivership right now, but will look into further action if more issues arise.

• Finally, the organization that represents many of Ohio's businesses says it doesn't want marijuana legalization, but that if it has to happen, it would prefer a series of bills going through the state's legislature over constitutional amendments. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has weighed in on two different proposed constitutional amendments around legalizing medicinal marijuana, saying it would prefer lawmakers tackle that subject through the usual legislative process. Last year, a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing limited marijuana growth and sale by ResponsibleOhio was roundly rejected by the state's voters.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.03.2016 3 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_trump2_0316_ns

Morning News and Stuff

Indiana primary today; Cincy tops for working moms; new developments in East Walnut Hills

Hey all. Today is Indiana’s primary. Go vote if you live in Indiana. If you don’t live in Indiana, continue to gnash your teeth and pray that somehow this election season is simply some very long-term practical joke or a very committed performance art piece.

About the primary: On the GOP side, Donald Trump is leading in the polls. He’s enlisted the help of former Indiana University basketball coach and fellow freaky hair grower Bobby Knight to stump for him and occasionally throw chairs at the crowd/hecklers/his opponents. Formidable duo, to say the least. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, desperately needs a win tonight to keep his campaign afloat. He trails in the delegate count 565 to Trump’s 996 and so far has only managed to get in awkward arguments with folks in the Hoosier State. And then there’s Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has been content to beg Indiana’s 57 delegates to consider switching their vote to him at a contested convention should Trump not reach the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination outright. Solid strategy there.

• Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders are running neck and neck in the state. That doesn’t matter much, because Clinton’s lead over Sanders all but guarantees her the Democratic nomination. Sanders is fighting on, however, and has vowed to take his battle all the way to the Democratic National Convention in July. A Sanders victory wouldn't get him much closer to clinching the nomination (an impossible goal at this point) but would continue to keep his agenda — banking reform, universal health care and fully funded college education, among other goals — on the radar as the election moves forward.

• While we’re talking elections, here’s an interesting piece exploring the challenges facing the GOP come November. Turns out, Republicans could win Ohio and still easily lose the general election, at least according to the scenarios mapped out here. That scenario involves the Democratic nominee scooping up the 19 states and D.C. that Dems have won in the last six elections and taking Florida. If America’s goatee goes blue, it’s pretty much over for the GOP’s presidential hopes.

• Let’s get back down to some local stuff, shall we? This one is just in time for Mother’s Day. It turns out Cincinnati is one of the best cities in the country for working mothers, at least according to a study by Realtor.com. Cincinnati placed sixth in the country according to the ranking, which considered female employment rate, salaries and other career opportunity factors, childcare available and cities’ affordability. As the product of a working mom, I say that’s really cool if true.

• Things are happening in East Walnut Hills. Specifically, development things. A new project featuring nine single-family homes starting at $500,000 has been announced by developer Traditions Building Group. Those homes will stand on the site of the former Seventh Presbyterian Church on Madison Road near DeSales Corner. Some elements of the church will be preserved, it appears. Elsewhere in East Walnut Hills, plans are developing to turn the former YMCA on East McMillan Street into market rate apartments. City Center Properties, which owns the building, has applied for local historic landmark status that could help redevelopment efforts of the 52,000-square-foot building. The specifics of the redevelopment plans aren’t available yet, however, and Cincinnati City Council would have to approve the request for historic status. The YMCA building was constructed in 1930.

• Statewide news time: U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman are pushing for millions in funding to test Ohio’s various water supplies for lead following the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Brown’s legislation advanced in the Senate yesterday and would provide $20 million for lead testing in schools and day care centers. It would provide funding for public health measures around lead poisoning and make available low-interest loans to states that need to upgrade drinking water infrastructure. The legislation is part of a larger $9.3 billion water reform bill currently before the Senate.

I’m out. Tweet at me. Email me. You know the drill.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.02.2016 4 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover-kasich-2

Morning News and Stuff

Poll: Ohioans want Kasich to drop prez bid; lawmakers mull eliminating most mandatory minimums for drug sentences; Bevin vetoes money for NKY river trail

Good morning all. Did you run the pig this weekend? I thought about it. For a few seconds. That should count for something, right? No? OK. Let’s talk news then. There’s a bunch of politics transpiring. Here it is:

A new poll says that only 38 percent of Ohioans want Ohio Gov. John Kasich to stay in the GOP presidential primary, in contrast to the 49 percent who want him out. But there’s an even more striking number in the Public Policy Polling survey: Fifty-eight percent of GOP voters want Kasich to bail on the race, compared to just 33 percent who think he should stay in.

• Is this one reason why taxpayers are tired of Kasich’s run? The Columbus Dispatch reports that his presidential campaign is costing taxpayers plenty when it comes to his security detail. The nine state troopers assigned to protect Kasich at all times racked up 1,800 hours in overtime as of April 16, earning an extra $82,400 in public money.

• One more Kasich tidbit: Our Big Queso is working hard in Indiana to woo voters… but not the voters you’re thinking of. Kasich is mostly ignoring the state’s primary voters and taking his case directly to the state’s GOP delegates, who will decide the presidential nominee in case of a contested convention. After the first round of voting at such a convention, those delegates will become “unbound,” meaning they no longer have to vote for the candidate voters in their state selected.

• Cincinnati restaurant mogul Jeff Ruby has rescinded a $25,000 reward offer in relation to the recent massacre of eight people in Pike County. The execution-style killings of the Rhodan family have drawn national attention and led to speculation that a Mexican drug cartel might be responsible for the carnage after marijuana growing operations were found on the Rhodan’s properties. Ruby has nodded to that speculation as a reason he’s pulling his reward.

• A task force put together by Ohio lawmakers has recommended eliminating mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws in the state. A working group that is part of the Criminal Recodification Committee, which is charged with reforming the state’s drug laws, says that the minimums should go away and that new sentencing standards should be put in place. That could reduce Ohio’s prison population, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says.

• Controversy in Kentucky, part 1: Comments Kenton County District Judge Ann Ruttle’s made while finding former Xavier women’s basketball coach Bryce McKey not guilty of sexual abuse have caused some consternation and concern. Ruttles said that the plaintiff in the case, who alleges McKey gave her alcohol when she was underage and touched her inappropriately, did not do enough to stop him and that her behavior was “almost... an invitation.” Advocates for sexual assault survivors have said that amounts to victim-blaming.  

• Controversy in Kentucky, part 2: Governor Matt Bevin late last week vetoed more than $300,000 in the Kentucky budget meant to help develop an 11-mile trail along the Northern Kentucky riverfront called Riverfront Commons. That will slow, but not stop, the project, which already has funds to establish portions of the trail in Dayton, Ludlow and Covington. Bevin cited “significant fiscal constraints” in the state for his decision. Trail boosters call the cut “disappointing.”

• Finally, this really is more the music section’s purview, but I’m going to mention it. Radiohead has erased nearly its entire web presence — tweets, Facebook, website, everything. Fans of the band and some music critics have speculated this is a sign of a new album on the way — the band is known for its innovative business and marketing (well, really, anti-marketing) approaches. But I have a more precise theory: Yorke and Co. are looking to capitalize on the increasingly prevalent nostalgia for the 1990s, a time blissfully before Twitter, Facebook, immersive website experiences, etc.

Prediction: The next Radiohead album will be announced on a new site that looks like something you’d make on Geocities circa OK Computer.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 04.28.2016 8 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
new1_boehner

Morning News and Stuff

Council finally approves streetcar operating budget; Rep. Driehaus upset with Hamilton County's poop problem; former Speaker Boehner says what he really thinks of the GOP presidential candidates

Big things happened at Wednesday's City Council meeting. Council finally voted to approve the streetcar's operating budget for the first year after spending the last month squabbling and kicking it back and forth between council and committee. The budget just barely passed in a vote of 5-3, with council members Kevin Flynn, Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn voting against it. Councilwoman Amy Murray was absent from the meeting. Mayor John Cranley, who previously said he would veto any operating budget that didn't get at least six votes, appears to have had enough of this streetcar drama. The mayor decided recently not to veto the budget even if it passed with a mere five votes.

Council also voted to approve a wage hike for city government workers, passing a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for full-time workers and to $10.10 an hour for part-time and seasonal workers. The increase will affect about one out of every five city workers, or about 1,166 workers. Cranley, who introduced the ordinance last month, called council's decision "morally right" and hopes the state will follow suit.

• Students at Northern Kentucky University will see a slight increase in their tuition next year. The NKU Board of Regents voted to pass a 3 percent increase in undergraduate tuition on Wednesday to keep up with rising costs at the university and a decrease in funding from the state. Next year, Kentucky residents can expect to pay an average of $130 more per semester while Cincinnati residents will shell out an extra $200 per semester and nonresidents will pay an extra $260. 

• State Rep. Denise Driehaus is upset with the closure of the Little Miami Incinerator. The incinerator was closed temporarily earlier this month after it was determined that it does not meet federal pollution standards. It served as one of two ways that Hamilton County disposes of human waste, and it's unclear when, or if, it will reopen. Driehaus, who is currently running for Hamilton County commissioner in the upcoming November election, released a statement Thursday morning condemning county for allowing the closure that she saw as avoidable and called for new leadership to better address the issue. 

"This could have and should have been resolved." Driehaus says in the statement. "We need leadership on the County Commission that will roll up their sleeves and work to resolve challenging issues instead of being content to play the blame game when something goes wrong."  

• Since former Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned from his post last October, it seems he feels more free to express his true feelings about the GOP presidential candidates. At an event at Stanford University on Wednesday, Boehner called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz a "miserable son of a bitch." Boehner also disclosed that he and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump are "texting buddies" and that he is also friends with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is currently running way behind Trump and Cruz in the election. However, it seems he and Kasich aren't quite BFFs as he also said that their friendship "requires more effort."

• In other election news, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced yesterday that former Hewitt-Packard CEO and GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina will be his running mate. Fiorina was one of the first GOP candidates to drop out of the race and endorsed Cruz in early March. Cruz is the first of any presidential candidate to announce a running mate and his announcement comes a day after as frontrunner Trump just declared victory in five states' Tuesday primaries, bringing the real estate tycoon even closer to securing the GOP nomination.

Stay dry, Cincy! And send any news tips here.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.27.2016 9 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar budget could pass today; bones found in Music Hall; Trump says Clinton plays "women card"

Good morning all. Here’s your news today.

The operating budget for the Cincinnati streetcar again looks likely to move forward in City Council today, barring any major surprises. Of course, that was also the case a couple weeks ago, when the budget stumbled over some last-minute objections by Councilman Kevin Flynn around contingency funding. Flynn’s course reversal left the budget with only five votes, which was not enough to overcome a veto promised by Mayor John Cranley. So back to committee it went, where it passed again yesterday. Cranley has indicated he won’t veto the revised budget, which would move about $550,000 in leftover construction funds into a contingency account, even if it only gets five votes. Flynn thinks leftover construction money should be used for startup costs.

• Hey, this is creepy, though not totally unexpected. Crews working to seal off some asbestos in Music Hall found human remains under the orchestra pit. No, they aren’t what’s left of some unfortunate clarinetists who were a little pitchy in their renditions of Rhapsody in Blue’s opening glissando or timpanists who missed a beat or two in a conductor's favorite Bach piece. The remains, which archeological consultants Gray and Pape say probably belonged to four people, seem to be holdovers from the pit’s 1928 construction. The historic hall, as well as the land around it in Washington Park, spent two decades starting around 1818 as a burial ground for indigent residents. Many of those grave sites were moved in the 1850s, but some lingered, and apparently still do. When Music Hall construction began in 1876, workers were faced with the task of removing the remaining bodies to places like Spring Grove Cemetery. Far be it for me to critique someone else’s work, especially when it’s work that I wouldn’t go anywhere near, but… seems like they missed a few spots. In addition to the remains under the orchestra pit, workers also found a number of grave shafts full of wooden coffins.

• If you’re a frequent flyer, you know the struggle: The Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, or CVG, used to be the last resort when you wanted to take a flight on the cheap. Places like Dayton and Louisville — or even Columbus — were cheaper enough to fly from that it made the drive worth it. But not any more, apparently. CVG’s fares are now lower than Dayton and Louisville’s airports, and the lowest they’ve been relative to other airports in more than 20 years. That’s in part due to the increase in airlines flying out of CVG, including low-cost carriers like Allegiant Air. CVG still trails Columbus and Indianapolis in terms of affordability, but not by as much as in the past, when our airport was the third-most expensive in the country. These days, it’s 22nd.

• As you might have guessed, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and real estate mogul Donald Trump came up big winners in yesterday’s GOP primaries. Trump swept every county in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, extending his delegate count to 949 of the 1,237 he needs to clinch the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, Clinton won in all those states except Rhode Island, where her challenger, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, prevailed. Clinton’s victories put the Democratic nomination all but out of reach for Sanders, though he’s vowed to stay in the race. Meanwhile, Trump has also solidified his position as the GOP frontrunner — his second-place opponent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, has only 544 delegates. Third-place contender, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, has just 153 — fewer than U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race weeks ago.

• With an ever-clearer picture of who the nominees for each party are likely to be, the frontrunners’ eyes are turning to the general election. And there are signs it’s gonna be an ugly, ugly race. Perhaps feeling his oats after his decisive victories, Trump yesterday bashed Clinton, saying that she’s only winning primaries because she’s a woman. If you thought Trump might tone it down for the general election in a bid to get more mainstream swing voters, including, you know, women, well… don’t hold your breath for too long on that. Key quote from Trump:

She is a woman, she is playing the woman card left and right,” Mr. Trump told CNN in a post-primary interview. “Frankly, if she didn’t, she would do very poorly. If she were a man and she was the way she is, she would get virtually no votes."
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.25.2016 11 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
texas-tedcruz_officialportrait

Morning News and Stuff

Mann asks Parks Foundation to open its books; Kentucky could build $10 million exit for ark park; Kasich and Cruz embark on a presidential primary buddy comedy

Good morning all. Hope your weekend was as perfect as mine. Let’s talk about news real quick.

Vice Mayor David Mann says the private foundation that raises money for Cincinnati Parks Board should open its books to public scrutiny. The Cincinnati Parks Foundation, a nonprofit group, came under scrutiny last year during a contentious bid for a property tax levy to fund parks improvements put forward by Mayor John Cranley. Voters passed on that proposal, but not before it was revealed that the park board spent money from the foundation on pro-levy campaigns. After the election, further revelations about board spending on travel and perks drew increased scrutiny to the parks board and triggered a city audit. Now, Mann says the foundation should undergo similar scrutiny.

• Speaking of investigations: Are the feds really looking into MSD? Last year, The Enquirer reported that Cincinnati’s metropolitan sewer district was under the microscope of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, presumably over its implementation of a multi-billion-dollar federal order to revamp the city’s sewer system. However, the FBI hasn’t asked for any of the things you’d expect if it was indeed probing the large public department, the Businss Courier reports. No subpoenas have been filed, no hard drives have been seized and no documents have been requested. If there’s truly an investigation happening, it’s very low-key.

• The state of Kentucky could allocate $10 million to revamp a highway exit leading to the religiously-themed Ark Encounter theme park. Watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State has cried foul at that expenditure, saying it amounts to Kentucky using taxpayer dollars to benefit a religious group. The money for the ramp improvements on I-75 and KY 36 made its way into the state’s budget, which is currently in the process of being passed. AUSCS says it doesn’t have any plans as of yet to oppose the money, but says it is continuing to watch the situation. Ark park owners Answers in Genesis say an earlier ruling allowing Kentucky to give tax incentives to the site has answered questions about the legality of such expenditures.

• The mass shooting of eight people in Piketon, Ohio last week has left more questions than answers, and authorities say they’re preparing for a long investigation. All eight victims were related and the shootings happened at three sites close to each other. Authorities say the shootings were expertly planned and executed and noted that two of the three crime scenes contained significant marijuana growing operations. Investigators have not commented on any possible link between the operations and the killings.

• The city of Cleveland has settled a lawsuit with the family of Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed in November 2014 by a Cleveland police officer. The family will get $6 million from the city. A Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to indict officer Timothy Loehmann in that incident. Loehmann leapt from a police cruiser that had stopped feet away from Rice at a Cleveland playground and almost immediately shot him. Rice, 12, had been playing with a toy pistol on the playground when a neighbor called the police. The caller stipulated the gun was probably fake, but dispatchers did not relay that information to officers.

• Do you ever think, "jeez, more papers should be like The Cincinnati Enquirer?" You may be in luck. Gannett, the national corporation that owns the Enquirer as well as USA Today and a number of other publications, has made an offer to buy Tribune Publishing, another large national newspaper chain. Gannett has offered $815 million for the chain, which includes The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other daily newspapers.

• Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, both GOP presidential primary hopefuls, will collaborate in future primaries to try and trip up frontrunner Donald Trump as he charges toward the party’s nomination. The Kasich campaign has indicated it will focus efforts on New Mexico and Oregon while staying out of Indiana in a move to help Cruz best Trump in that state. In return, Cruz has agreed to stay out of the two western states in a bid to give Kasich the edge over Trump there. The move — which will present Trump with one focused opponent in upcoming contests, instead of the split field he’s faced up to this point — seems calculated toward denying him the 1,137 delegates needed to clinch the nomination outright. Kasich in particular is counting on a contested convention in July, since he badly trails in the delegate count in the current contest.

I'm out. Tweet at your boy or send a good old fashioned email my way.

 
 
 
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