A City Council committee wants Cincinnati’s leadership to investigate whether workers in a Clifton Heights development project are being paid what they’re supposed to.
The Strategic Growth Committee on Wednesday passed a motion asking the city administration to report back on wage payments to workers on the U Square development. The project includes a parking garage as well as residential and commercial units.
Under Ohio law, workers on projects funded by cities must be paid a prevailing wage, which is equivalent to the wage earned by a union worker on a similar project.
The city only has money invested in the garage, and the state of Ohio recently ruled that workers on other parts don’t have to be paid prevailing wage.
Council members Wendell Young, Cecil Thomas and Laure Quinlivan produced a video in which they interviewed carpenters who said they were being paid less than the prevailing wage.
At issue is a letter from developer Towne Properties that says the company will pay all workers prevailing wage anyway. Arn Bortz with Towne Properties said his company cuts a check to subcontractors respecting that agreement, so if workers aren’t being paid the proper amount it’s their fault.
City Solicitor John Curp told members of the Strategic Growth Committee that under city and state law, the subcontractors are not required to pay workers a prevailing wage on parts of the project that are not getting public funding. He said the letter from the developer does not hold the weight as a legal contract.
Young, Thomas, Quinlivan and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld all expressed the need to overhaul the way the city enters into development contracts to better protect workers.
However, City Manager Milton Dohoney hinted that overzealous requirements for high wages could chase off some development projects.
He said that a project like U Square is tied to the Clifton location because of its proximity to the University of Cincinnati, but the city can’t be too restrictive when it comes to businesses that could expand elsewhere.
Dohoney said the city also doesn’t currently have the manpower to do the kind of aggressive enforcement that the council members were asking for.
Councilman Young countered that he would like to see the city be as aggressive with enforcement as they are with making economic development deals.
“We want to change the rules of the game to make sure everyone is treated equal,” Young said.
The University of Cincinnati has officially named Santa Ono as its new president in a unanimous approval by the UC Board of Trustees today.
Ono, who joined UC's staff in 2010, was UC's interim president since Aug. 21, when former President Greg Williams abruptly resigned due to “personal reasons.” Previously, Ono served as UC's provost.
“I am honored to serve as the 28th president of the University of Cincinnati,” Ono said in a statement. “I am not a new face on campus, but in many ways, the fact that I have been a part of the UC family for two years now makes today even more special for me. I am so very fortunate to be asked to serve in this capacity.”
Williams' retirement came with some controversy. After he resigned, the UC Board of Trustees gave Williams a $1.3 million severance package. The package was criticized by Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich, a Cincinnati Democrat who said in a statement, “I was disappointed to learn that the University agreed to continue paying former President Greg Williams a sum of $1.3 million over the next two years, considering the former president abruptly resigned six days before classes were to start this fall. It is disheartening to see such a great deal of public money spent in a manner that is inconsistent with the financial realities many colleges, students, and families face in the current economy. … The University’s tuition increase of 3.5 percent this year means students and families must incur a greater financial burden at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet. Certainly Mr. Williams’ payday will weigh on the minds of these students and parents, leaving them to wonder, ‘Does this kind of decision result in tuition and fee increases?’”
There was also some controversy involving The Cincinnati Enquirer. The newspaper's publisher and president, Margaret Buchanan, was serving on the UC Board of Trustees when Greg Williams stepped down, but The Enquirer failed to mention asking her about the resignation — an omission that raised questions for Jim Romenesko, a popular journalism blogger. In at least six follow-up stories, the newspaper also failed to mention Buchanan's connection to UC. Buchanan later resigned from the UC Board of Trustees to end the potential impression of a conflict of interest.
The Cincinnati Enquirer
gave some insight into what happened with Williams and the UC Board of
Trustees the day before Williams’ resignation. Apparently, there was no
sign of conflict in the correspondence and emails revealed under the
Ohio Open Records Act, but anonymous sources told The Enquirer that the relationship between Williams and the UC Board of Trustees was breaking down prior to Williams’ resignation. The Enquirer
could not get information from Margaret Buchanan, the publisher and president
of the newspaper that is also on the UC Board of Trustees; instead,
Buchanan referred reporters to Francis Barrett, another trustee.
nonprofit group says Mitt Romney’s health care proposals are more
expensive for Ohio than Obamacare. Families USA, a left-leaning group
that lobbies on health issues, says Romney’s plan would make families
pay about $10,100 a year on health care — almost twice the $5,100 paid
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced it will not
be privatizing more prisons. The announcement came less than a week
after CityBeat’s in-depth story on private prisons and the many issues
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said Josh Mandel, state treasurer and the Republican candidate for this year's senate race, is only doing as well as he is in polling due to $20 million in pro-Mandel spending coming from out-of-state sources. But the money doesn't seem to be helping much; Mandel is currently down by 7.5 points in aggregate polling.
celebrate Mandel’s birthday, Ohio Democrats gave him a new pair of
pants. Democrats said Mandel, who is Ohio’s treasurer and Republican
candidate for the U.S. Senate, will need the pants after earning “more
‘Pants on Fire’ ratings from Politifact Ohio than any politician in
is working on rainwater harvesting codes. A task force has made
progress on the issue in the past year, but Cincinnati has only had one
rainwater harvesting system installed since 2009.
A new manufacturer could be bringing 60 jobs to Northern Kentucky.
Ackman, an activist investor, has a few bad things to say about Procter
& Gamble. The problem? The public doesn’t know what those
exotic pet owners are acting slowly in registering their pets, putting
themselves at risk for jail time if they don’t register before Nov. 5.
In an interview with Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, President Barack Obama said he will go after China's unfair trading practices, but the United States will not “go out of our way to embarrass” China. Obama said the lighter approach typically produces better results.
The Cincinnati Reds rode their great home season to a 6 percent attendance gain.
Science says traveling into the future is technically possible, but traveling to the past “can only exist in the movies.”
Speaking of the past and science, Popular Science
posted an old article published in 1961 with predictions for the future’s
family cars. The article predicted invisible, self-driving cars that
could travel at 1,500 mph.