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by 11.10.2010
Posted In: Public Policy, Public Transit, Urban Planning at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Streetcar Tours End Today

A sample of the streetcars that will be running on Cincinnati streets soon has been parked at Fountain Square for tours, but this afternoon is your last chance to check it out. The company that built it, United Streetcar of Clackamas, Ore., will be packing it up tonight and shipping it off for similar sightseeing visits to Salt Lake City and Fort Worth, Tex.

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by 02.13.2009
Posted In: Public Policy, Social Justice, News, Community at 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Abolitionists Win One

Three years ago Eddie Sanders Sr. invited CityBeat into his home to talk about the clemency campaign he and his family were just beginning on behalf of his nephew, Jeffrey Hill (See Killing a Family March 1, 2006).

After sitting on death row for 15 years for the murder of his mother while high on cocaine, Hill was expecting his execution date to be scheduled.

At the end of the interview he said the ideal outcome would be to see Jeff walk out of prison. Two years and 354 days later that incomprehensible dream became a reality.

Governor Strickland followed through with the Adult Parole Board's recommendation to grant Hill clemency with parole eligibility.

Hill is already being prepared to transfer to the Warren County Correctional institute from the Super Max prison in Youngstown where death row inmates are house.

The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center is asking everyone to write to Stickland and the Parole Board to express appreciation. IJPC sent out the following request via e-mail today:

To thank the Governor:

Call: 614-466-3555

Write to:

Governor's Office

Riffe Center, 30th Floor

77 South High Street

Columbus, OH 43215-6108

They also offer suggestions.

“Here are some things you may want to mention in your message about Jeff's case,” writes IJPC.

“Thank you for recognizing the disparities in the system and the important considerations the appeals process fails to address. 

“Thank you for being open to the possibility that human beings can change.

“Thank you for leading the state towards a new time of compassion.

“This is just one more example of how messy and complicated the death penalty is Ohio and we can't have it.”

To thank the Parole Board:

Call: 614-752-1159, ext. 2

Write to:

Cynthia Mausser, Chair of Ohio Parole Board

770 West Broad Street

Columbus, Ohio 43222

 
 
by 02.17.2009
 
 

Religion and Politics

Referred to as the "Stir the Pot" series, a film/discussion series at Grace Episcopal Church in College Hill (5501 Hamilton Ave. 45224) will show The Freedom Files on Feb. 22 at 4:30 p.m.
According to the ACLU, producers of the video series, the Freedom Files focuses on issues on some of the most volatile issues of our day including surveillance, sex education, freedom from abuse of power, school to prison pipeline and lesbian/gay families.

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by Kevin Osborne 02.23.2012
Posted In: Economy, Financial Crisis, Congress, Public Policy at 03:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
unemployment

Don't Believe the Hype About Jobs

There is an old saying that goes, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." It’s alternately been credited to writer Mark Twain and British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

No matter where it originated, though, the quote applies well to unemployment figures released by the U.S. Labor Department.

Earlier this month the Labor Department reported the nation’s unemployment rate dropped for the fifth consecutive month in January to 8.3 percent, its lowest level in three years. That is good news, but not quite as good as it first appears.

Using that measure, 12.3 million people are unemployed, which is a decline of 0.2 percent from December.

The number of long-term unemployed — those jobless for six months or more — was 5.5 million people, accounting for 42.9 percent of the unemployed.

Critics of how the government calculates the unemployment rate, however, say it’s misleading because it doesn’t count so-called “discouraged workers.” Those are people who are jobless and have looked for work sometime in the past year but aren’t currently looking because of real or perceived poor employment prospects. In other words, they’ve given up.

Federal data shows a disproportionate number of young people, African-Americans, Hispanics and men comprise the discouraged-worker segment.

Including those workers, the unemployment rate was 16.2 percent in January. Some analysts, however, believe that grossly understates the numbers. (The highest the rate got during the Great Depression was 25 percent in 1933.)

Here’s some context. In the modern era (1948-present), the U.S. unemployment rate averaged 5.7 percent — reaching a record high of 10.8 percent in November 1982 and a record low of 2.5 percent in May 1953.

As economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has noted, “we started 2012 with fewer workers employed than in January 2001 — zero growth after 11 years, even as the population, and therefore the number of jobs we needed, grew steadily.”

Krugman added, “at January’s pace of job creation it would take us until 2019 to return to full employment.”

In a little noticed report, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated last week that the rate of unemployment in the United States has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, making the past three years the longest stretch of high unemployment in this nation since the Great Depression.

Additionally, the CBO — which is the official, objective analyst for the federal government — estimates that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent until 2014.

If that’s not depressing enough, consider this: The share of unemployed people who have been looking for work for more than a year — referred to as marginally-attached workers— topped 40 percent in December 2009 and has remained above that level ever since.

The CBO stated the high unemployment rate’s primary cause is weak demand for goods and services as a result of the recession and its aftermath, which results in weak demand for workers.

To produce the largest increases in employment per dollar of budgetary cost, the agency recommended reducing the marginal cost to businesses of adding employees; and targeting people most likely to spend the additional income — generally, people with lower income.

“Policies primarily affecting businesses’ cash flow would have little impact on their marginal incentives to hire or invest and, therefore, would have only small effects on employment per dollar of budgetary cost,” the CBO’s report stated.

“Despite the near-term economic benefits, such actions would add to the already large projected budget deficits that would exist under current policies, either immediately or over time,” it added. “Achieving both short-term stimulus and long-term sustainability would require a combination of policies: changes in taxes and spending that would widen the deficit now but reduce it later in the decade.”

Let’s make that clear — economic stimulus for poor people who would actually spend the money is most effective, and to have an impact the federal deficit needs to increase in the short-term.

Republicans, are you listening?

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.04.2012
 
 
mallory

Mallory to Give State of the City Address

Event will be Tuesday at Aronoff Center

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory will deliver his annual State of the City address next week.

The address, which will be Mallory’s seventh since taking office, will be given 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. It will be held in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, located at 650 Walnut St., downtown.

When CityBeat asked what the theme would be for this year’s address, a spokeswoman for Mallory declined comment.

“Our office won’t be previewing or giving information out about the speech this year,” said Julianna Rice, a policy aide to the mayor.

Generally, because seating is limited, anyone wishing to attend must receive a ticket through the mayor’s office. For more information, call 513-352-3250.

Mallory, a Democrat, was sworn in as the 68th mayor of Cincinnati on Dec. 1, 2005 and was reelected in 2009.  He cannot run again in 2013 due to term limits.

Mallory’s election marked a new era for City Hall as the first two-term mayor under the city's new “stronger-mayor” system, as well as Cincinnati’s first directly-elected black mayor, and the first mayor in more than 70 years who didn’t first serve on City Council.

Mallory celebrated his 50th birthday on Monday.

 
 
by 12.10.2008
Posted In: Public Policy, Social Justice at 07:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Sixty years ago today, Dec. 10, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), became the standard for of our modern-day human rights principles. Many of those rights are bargained away or trampled on the way to achieving some other objective.

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by 11.04.2008
Posted In: Public Policy, Social Justice at 09:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Dirty Secrets

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is exposing 27 million of them Nov. 18 with a screening of Call Response, “a first of its kind feature documentary film that reveals the world’s 27 million dirtiest secrets: There are more slaves today than ever before in human history.”

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by Ben L. Kaufman 12.26.2012
 
 
enquirer

Curmudgeon Notes 12.26.2012

Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond

How a small weekly responds to an unimaginable disaster and scores a world scoop is a lesson in the best of journalism. Poynter online’s Julie Moos described what happened after Newtown Bee associate editor Shannon Hicks heard the initial call over her police scanner. 

Hicks drove the mile and a quarter and arrived behind the first dozen police officers. She started taking photographs through her windshield and captured her image of a line of children being led away from the slaughter. “I’m conflicted,” Hicks said about her photo. “I don’t want people to be upset with me, and I do appreciate the journalists, especially, who have commented, saying ‘We’re just documenting the news.’ It’s harder when it’s in your hometown and these are children we’re gonna watch grow up, the ones who made it. I know people are gonna be upset, but at the same time I felt I was doing something important.”

Fellow editor John Voket explained what was behind that image. “Police and school system have a protocol” for evacuation. “Children get into a conga line, shoulder to shoulder, and the only person that’s allowed to keep their eyes open is the locomotive at the front of the line, usually an adult. And every other kid has to keep their eyes closed from the minute they were exiting the classroom to when they got about a couple hundred yards into the parking lot.”

Voket arrived about 20 minutes later and colleague Hicks “passed the baton” to him. Hicks also is a volunteer firefighter. The firehouse is next to the school. “I literally put on my firefighter gear . . . I was there as a firefighter probably for not even more than 20 minutes before my editor said he wanted me back in the office to work with him to coordinate coverage from there.”

Voket continued reporting, but “We operate a little differently because our job is to take care of the community so we were inside helping to comfort victims and trying to provide human support without necessarily making reporting the No. 1 priority. The publisher came down to comfort some of the families a little later in the day.” R. Scudder Smith has been Bee publisher since 1973; he is the fourth member of his family to run The Bee since they founded it in 1877. The paper, which has a full-time editorial staff of eight, circulates to about two-thirds of the community of about 29,000. 

It was Friday and the weekly Bee front page was ready to print. It couldn’t be changed.  “We’ve been putting everything on our website,” publisher Smith told AP.  

Voket added that the traffic surge repeatedly crashed the website until the Bee acquired “an intermediary service to supersize our bandwidth . . . We got back up and running this (Saturday) morning.” The staff used social media to spread information about school lockdowns, re-routed traffic, and grief counseling. “Facebook and Twitter accounts have been a lifeline to our community and it shows because 20 percent of the community are following us.” The Bee also was  “looking at doing a special extra to be on the newsstands Monday.” 

For those of us outside Newtown, Conn., we can turn to the renewed duel over gun control. If it were a song, tired and familiar gun control lyrics would be among “Worst Hits Ever.” It didn’t take long for gun control advocates to embrace the Sandy Hook massacre and the bellicose NRA to opt for rare silence.  Obama renewed his unredeemed calls for gun control although he and Mitt Romney dodged the issue in the just-ended campaign. It was a hornets’ nest neither man opted to kick and reporters apparently were unable to raise with the candidates. 

After the Sandy Hook slaughter, fair and balanced Fox News banned discussion of gun control from the cable network. Maybe Fox News feared we really would decide if they really reported. New York magazine said the ban spotlights the “growing chasm between Rupert Murdoch and [Fox News president] Roger Ailes.” Ailes reportedly is a gun enthusiast. Murdoch, CEO of News Corp., which owns Fox News, had tweeted a call for stricter gun control, imploring for “some bold leadership action” from Obama. 

Let me be churlish when everyone else is sympathizing with families, survivors and first responders. Slaughtering 20 children is awful, but reporters and editors are familiar with how badly Americans treat urban, suburban, small town and rural children every day. In Obama’s Chicago and many other urban areas, gunfire is an omnipresent fact of childhood. Possibly one-fourth of all American children live in poverty as defined by federal guidelines. For these kids, federally funded school meals might be more than a complement to home meals. Health care for poor and malnourished children isn’t much better than their educations. Medicaid is among the anti-poverty programs high on the GOP priorities for absolute cuts and/or reduced annual increases. And let’s not even get into continuing coverage of physical and sexual child abuse, trafficking minors and lifelong handicaps from poor or nonexistent prenatal care or maternal drug and alcohol abuse. 

Only foolish or ignorant reporters credit pious assertions that legislation can prevent disturbed individuals from obtaining guns and killing as many people as they can. There are more than 310 million people in this country. Some are or will become seriously mentally disturbed and obtain one or more of the hundreds of millions of firearms Americans own. A Columbine or Sandy Hook could happen again any day. 

Focusing on the shooting victims rather than shooters might reduce any copycat effect. Stories and photos elevating killers to celebrity have been blamed for further rampages. Even though the killer never was identified, that was the inference drawn from Tylenol poisonings 30 years ago; copycats tried to poison Tylenol capsules. When coverage began to fade, so did copycat crimes. 

NRA leaders realized years ago that traditional (and valuable) Eddie Eagle gun safety comics and courses were insufficient to motivate and keep members and their dues. Fear and anger would be more effective. Real and imagined government controls became NRA’s cause. Few modern American movements have been as durable and effective as the NRA. 

NRA is powerful because we are a democracy. It can mobilize more than 4 million members and fellow travelers as voters, donors and voices in the news media. Elected representatives who want to keep their jobs quite reasonably try to avoid the NRA’s opposition.  Gun control advocates evince nothing like this single-minded devotion to their cause. 

In 1994, the Clinton administration won a10-year limit on the sale of assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines for their ammunition. I went to a gun store in Hamilton to cover a rush to beat the ban. Chinese assault-style rifles and curved high-capacity magazines were selling as fast as staff could pry open crates. As I watched, the price rose $10 with each new crate: demand and supply. Men who talked to me said they were buying because of the imminent controls on assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. A few admitted fear of civil unrest or some undefined federal assault. Most said they wanted a military-style rifle for shooting targets or empty beer cans and this might be their last chance.That 10-year ban died in 2004 when Republicans owned all three branches of federal government and didn’t seek renewal. However, recent killings that required assault-style weapons with large-capacity magazines might prompt reconsideration of the ban. Adam Lanza reportedly carried hundreds of rounds of ammunition in high-capacity magazines. No one knows why he didn’t use them.

Any gun control measure that’s not DOA will have to respect millions of long guns — rifles and shotguns — used by hunters, farmers and others.  That distinction is an important part of this story already handicapped by the paucity of journalists who hunt or otherwise own firearms. 

In addition to an unfamiliarity with firearms, partisan hyperbole also handicaps writing about guns and gun control. It can be hard to find neutral sources who share reporters’ interest in accurate coverage. Stenographic reporting giving “both sides” isn’t good enough; journalists must know enough to challenge obvious partisan misstatements. We are not obligated to report what we know to be untrue or to label it as such. 

Unfamiliarity with gun control cropped up in a recent Enquirer story about a failed armed robbery attempt inside a suburban Sunoco station. Employees with a handgun and a shotgun fatally wounded the would-be bandit. The Enquirer story said it was unclear whether the employees had conceal-carry licenses for those firearms. Unless someone somehow cloaked a shotgun’s 18-28” barrel, no conceal/carry permit is required. Unless the other Sunoco clerk carried the pistol under his clothes, he didn’t need a permit. Wearing it openly or storing it under the counter does not require a conceal/carry permit. So what was the point of that line in the story? Just because a cop might have said it doesn’t mean the reporter had to share it. That’s what I’m talking about.

Missing in much gun control coverage is Congress’ inability to craft sensible, workable bipartisan gun control specifics that can survive NRA opposition and Supreme Court scrutiny. Firearm confiscation is out of the question. So is universal registration which raises NRA-orchestrated fear of confiscation — by ATF, the UN or some other demon de jour —  to hysteria. Moreover, the court affirmed an individual Second Amendment right to own guns in 2010 but it did not rule out federal, state or local regulations governing firearm use.  

Reporters faced with new rage over shootings should remind partisans that we have gun control already. Forty nine states issue conceal/carry permits but specify where those handguns may not be carried.  Illinois — State No. 50 — is under court order to replace its ban with  a conceal/carry permit system. Many if not most municipalities bar gun owners from firing their weapons within city limits with the exception of self-defense. States commonly limit when hunters can use rifles and/or shotguns and they can require a certain size bullet for large-game hunting. Landowners may bar hunters from their property during state-sanctioned hunting seasons.

There are federal limits on how short a “sawed off” shotgun or rifle barrel may be. There are laws limiting ownership of silencers and fully automatic machine guns and submachine guns. Federally licensed firearms dealers must run background checks on prospective buyers and turn away those who fail or won’t comply. Dealers can deny convicted felons a gun under federal and many state laws. A legal purchaser may not buy a firearm for someone who would fail a federal background check. Mentally-ill customers can be turned away by dealers. 

Few of the roughly 12,000 Americans shot to death annually are killed with shot with shotguns or rifles. They’re shot with pistols. So when gun control is promoted, reporters should press advocates to say what they mean: handguns. 

• Before reporters share the lunacy of arming teachers, ask local cops how many rounds typically are fired from their handguns in an armed encounter . . . and how many of those bullets hit their target. Not many. It's very, very difficult for someone trained even at the level of police to accurately fire when adrenaline is pumping. The teacher might end up shooting more students than the intruder. Better to count on the low probability of an armed intrusion. Think about how rare this is. Awful when it happens, but very, very rare, even in communities where other shootings are far more frequent.

 
 
by 12.18.2008
Posted In: Public Policy, Social Justice at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Power to the People

After months of news reports about greed, illegal activity in the financial markets and the failure of numerous regulatory systems that were supposed to protect people without power it’s easy to feel powerless. But the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center offers a substantial list of accomplishments for 2008 that give a body a reason to get fired up and prove again the power of collective action.

In our world:

Nuclear Weapon Free World
Veteran Cold War Warriors Sam Nunn, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, and George Schultz all have called for the elimination of nuclear weapons. They have been facilitating meetings with all nuclear-weapon possessing states throughout the year, making it clear that “if the nuclear powers wish to be safe from nuclear weapons they must surrender their own.”

Four Countries Pledge to Go Carbon Neutral

Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, and Costa Rica sign on to the UN Environmental Program’s Carbon Neutrality network. 99percent Iceland’s homes already use geothermal or hydropower. www.yesmagazine.org

Landmark Win for Guantanamo Detainees!
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court (5-4) ruled that Guantanamo detainees have the right to challenge their detention in federal courts and that congressional legislation has failed to provide a reasonable substitute. www.ccrjustice.org

Pennsylvania says: “Sweat Shops Need Not Apply!”

Pennsylvania is the first state joining the State and Local Sweatfree Consortium. Over the summer, Gov. Rendell signed the landmark, first-in-the-nation, resolution which prohibits purchasing from sweatshops and promotes vendors and factories that meet standards for labor and human rights. www.jwj.org

Huge, Very Huge Victory for Clean Air

In November, Sierra Club effectively shut down 30 proposed coal-fired power plants by winning a victory before the EPA Environmental Appeals Board which would require all coal-fired power plants to use Best Available Control Technology for carbon dioxide. www.sierraclub.org

Prison Reform
Congress passed the Second Chance Act in March which provides $362 million on programs of education and job training for prisoners and their families to help prevent recidivism. The bill also offers alternatives to prison for parents convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. www.yesmagazine.org


Closer to home:

Recycling Workers Go Green
Workers at the Cincinnati Rumpke Plant spent 2008 educating our community, city policy makers and local activists about their low paying, dangerous and insecure jobs, which includes sorting the city’s recyclables. They inspired the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, the Sierra Club, the Blue-Green Alliance and many other local supporters to join the demand for a living wage for this “green collar” work and for a large increase in city-wide recycling. They won significant concessions from Rumpke regarding fees and safety conditions, and the city is developing a Request for Bids on a new recycling contract that guarantees a living wage ($4.00/hour increase from the their current minimum wage), and worker input into health and safety issues, as well as large increase in diversion from the landfill.

Ohio Voters Pass Issue 5: Retain Limits on Payday Loans
Voters approved a new payday lending law that cuts the annual percentage rate that lenders can charge to 28 percent and limits the number of loans customers can take to four per year. It is among the strictest laws in the country. Congress passed a 36 percent cap protecting military from this practice, and 15 states plus the District of Columbia also have chosen to control predatory lending by enforcing interest rates in that range.
www.responsiblelending.org/press/releases/

CPS School Levy Passes!
In March, after a spirited campaign led by parents, community groups, and labor unions, a much needed Cincinnati Public school levy was passed - overcoming significant opposition.

Leave No Child Inside Movement Grows in Cincinnati
From school gardens to green playgrounds, a national movement has taken root in Cincinnati to get children outside for healthy play. www.lncigc.org

OTRCH Begins Permanent Supportive Housing Project
Over the Rhine Community Housing “has received a grant of $987,743 from the Federal Home Loan Bank, through Union Savings Bank, to transform five buildings on Odeon Street into housing for the chronically homeless. There will be a single point of entry for the 25 units, with 24-hour engagement staff. The Odeon Street Permanent Supporting Housing Project, the first in this area, is based on a harm-reduction model successfully used elsewhere in the country. The concept is basically to house the homeless first, then work on sobriety and other issues. (Streetvibes)

 
 
by 10.03.2008
Posted In: Environment, Public Policy at 01:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Energetic Friday

Do something other than veg out in front of the boob tube tomorrow night. Join a conversation about a topic on everyone’s mind: energy.

Tonight at 6 p.m. the Imago Earth Center (700 Enright Ave., Price Hill) kicks off its First Friday Conversations with a 20-minute video of Al Gore’s New Thinking on the Climate Crisis. Imago’s 2008-09 season features the year-long theme “Enhancing Earth by Getting ‘Off the Grid.’ ”

“Drawing on a broad understanding of ‘the grid,’ we’ll look at many aspects of unplugging from the current models of growth and consumption,” says an event announcement.

For more info, visit www.imagoearth.org  or call 513-921-5124.

— Margo Pierce

 
 

 

 

 
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