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by Nick Swartsell 06.11.2014 43 days ago
Posted In: Prisons, Privatization at 10:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Liberty for Sale

ACLU Says Feds Should End Contract at Ohio Private Prison

Private prisons "a failed experiment," group says

Youngstown's Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, Ohio's only privately run prison, has had a fraught history since it was opened by Corrections Corporation of America in 1997. In its first year, the prison saw 13 stabbings, two murders and six escapes, far more than comparable prisons. 

Under a cloud of violence and mismanagement, the prison closed in 2001, only to reopen three years later on a federal contract to hold mostly undocumented immigrants who have committed federal crimes. 

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is calling for the federal government to stop contracting CCA to hold immigrant prisoners at the NEOCC, citing mismanagement at private prisons across the country.

“Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Ohioans,” says ACLU of Ohio Senior Policy Director Mike Brickner. “For-profit prisons have been a failed experiment here for decades. Violence increases, drug use is common and medical care is neglected, leading to facilities deteriorating rapidly. Despite all these problems, we continue to give taxpayer money to these for-profit companies that are subject to little oversight.”  

Critics like Brickner say private prisons create perverse incentives to maximize the number of incarcerated people and keep inmates in jail longer. Supporters say private prisons are cheaper because companies are compelled to run them more efficiently to turn a profit. 

CityBeat has reported on issues at the prison extensively. Problems with violence among prisoners and between prisoners and staff, drug use, unsanitary conditions, medical neglect and poor ventilation are common in the facility, according to inmates and some officials. 

In "Liberty for Sale," published in September of 2012, then-CityBeat reporter German Lopez explored some of the problems running rampant at NEOCC and other private prisons. Adding profit motive to incarceration has some serious implications, Lopez wrote:

The conflict between costs and adequate safety measures presents real-life, statistical consequences. A study at 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 than publicly owned and managed prisons. Another study, in the Federal Probation Journal in 2004, had similar results — it found that, compared to public prisons, private prisons have a 50 percent higher rate of inmate-on-staff assault and inmate-on-inmate assault.

Lopez also found that private prisons may not even be cheaper and more efficient in the long run — the main point supporters of the private prison system use to explain why they're preferable to state or federally run facilities.

CCA’s contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is up in 2015, and the ACLU is asking the federal government not to extend it. The call comes after a report done by the advocacy group found a number of human rights violations at other privately run prisons contracted to detain immigrant prisoners in Texas. The report found similar abuses at these facilities, with prisoners experiencing neglect, violence and unsanitary conditions.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 06.11.2014 43 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
640px-eric_cantor,_official_113th_congress_photo_portrait

Morning News and Stuff

Old smokestacks, Congress mulling cuts, hitting the high notes for dating success

All right, folks. Morning news time again.

The iconic Hudepohl smokestack you see from I-75 could end up in Over-the-Rhine. The city is looking at ways to save the old Hudepohl brewery, which it bought last month. The former Hudepohl headquarters, built in 1946 and used until 1985, includes four buildings on Sixth Street in Queensgate. It's currently abandoned. The complex includes the Hudepohl tower, a 170-foot-tall brick smokestack with the company’s named spelled on it in white bricks that has become a Cincinnati landmark. One set of plans being considered is the relocation of 70 feet of the tower (from just under the L in “Hudepohl” to the top) to Over-the-Rhine, where the company was originally founded in 1885.

• Right across the river, Covington is the eighth most affordable city in the country, according to a study by finance website NerdWallet.com. The study looked at a number of cost of living considerations, including housing costs and average prices for groceries. Columbus (15), Indianapolis (22), Lexington (53) and Louisville (89) also made the top 100 list, though Cincinnati is nowhere to be found.

An article in the new issue of Inc. Magazine prominently features Cincinnati’s startup scene. It highlights the city’s business incubators, co-working spaces, marketers and investors who are boosting the city’s tech profile. The author applauds strides the city has made fostering startups, and concludes that the region is on the right course for expanding innovation and tech-related jobs. 

Procter and Gamble has committed $1 million to the Regional Economic Development Initiative, an organization focused on bringing jobs to the Greater Cincinnati area. REDI is lead by a 15-member board of Cincinnati political and business leaders including Mayor John Cranley, Western and Southern CEO John Barrett and Reds minority owner Tom Williams, the board’s chair.

• The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today that payday lenders aren’t subject to a law governing short-term loans and that they can continue making loans to low-income folks at, like, 12 billion percent interest. Great, because that’s totally good for society and our economy.

• The House this week is considering a Republican-drafted spending bill for The Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The appropriations bill contains more than $1.8 billion in cuts to housing programs, commuter rail initiatives and efforts to help the homeless. The White House has slammed the bill, and it will face a tough ride in the Senate.

• The big national story this morning, of course, is that Virginia Republican and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary election to tea party challenger David Brat. Brat toppled Cantor even though the seven-term incumbent outspent him twenty five to one and is one of the most powerful Republicans in the country. A majority leader in the House has never lost a primary since the position was created 115 years ago. That's probably good news for House Speaker and everyone's favorite Southwestern Ohio spray tan aficionado John Boehner, who was feeling the heat from far-right Republicans looking to oust him from the speaker's seat. Cantor, who had an often antagonistic relationship with Boehner, was thought to be his strongest possible successor. Or, Cantor's loss may stress Boehner out even more, as the tea party torches get closer to the speaker's office...

• Finally, a newly discovered katydid has the highest-pitched vocalizations of any animal ever recorded. Scientists say the noises help attract the opposite sex, which is weird, because every time I’m in a bar and start hitting the high notes in my silky falsetto the opposite happens.

And that’s every thing that has happened in the past 24 hours, give or take. Follow me on Twitter at @nswartsell, where I retweet Parks and Rec quotes and news stories about appropriation bills. I’m a man of many moods.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 06.10.2014 44 days ago
at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_foodtruckinforjoshcare

Food Truck Festival for a Good Cause

Food Truckin' for Josh Cares benefits hospitalized children

Josh Cares, a local nonprofit that provides companionship and comfort to children hospitalized in critical and chronic care units at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, on Wednesday (June 18) will host its second annual lunchtime Food Truckin’ for Josh Cares festival. More than 10 diverse area food trucks will be on Fountain Square — from New Orleans to Go and C’est Cheese to streetpops and Dojo Gelato — providing entrees and desserts, which will be judged by a panel of celebrity judges (Elizabeth Mariner of Express Cincinnati; Ilene Ross, chef, editor of 513eats.com and contributing writer for CityBeat; and Jeremy Lieb, executive chef at Boca) in a contest to win the Golden Spatula Award. 

11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, June 18. $2 food tickets. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, joshcares.org.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 06.10.2014 44 days ago
Posted In: Campaign Finance at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
smitherman

Elections Commission to Hear Suit Against Smitherman

Suit alleges improper donations, questionable contracts

The Cincinnati Elections Commission will hold a hearing June 23 on City Councilman Christopher Smitherman’s campaign finances after Nathaniel Livingston Jr., a well-known Cincinnati radio personality and former City Council candidate, filed a rather colorful complaint against him.

The complaint filed with the Commission says Smitherman exceeded campaign contribution limits during his 2013 campaign and unfairly gave city contracts to family members.

But it also says so much more.

Livingston goes after Smitherman with the gloves off. He starts off his complaint with some choice words about the councilman, calling him “an arrogant politician who is closely aligned to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.”

Livingston goes on to say that “Smitherman has publicly stated that his life goals are to become a decamillionaire and President of the United States. Chris will do anything to obtain money and power.”

Dang. That’s harsh. With the first name and everything. But Livingston’s just getting warmed up.

“He basically makes money by selling mediocre insurance products to gullible individuals,” the complaint continues, questioning Smitherman’s credentials as a financial advisor.

Call out someone for their alleged tea party affiliation, sure, but casting aspersions on the value of a man’s insurance products is another thing entirely.

Low blows aside, the complaint says that Smitherman broke campaign finance laws when his brother, Albert Smitherman, gave him a total of $2,200 and his sister-in-law, Liza Smitherman, chipped in $2,700 for his campaign.

The limit for individual donations between city council elections is $1,100. The complaint is made on a bit of a technicality; both Albert and Liza gave their first contributions just days after the 2011 elections, and didn’t donate any other money in that earlier election. Cincinnati Election Commission rules do allow for carryover of funds from previous elections under certain circumstances.

Another donation of $500 by Liza Smitherman under the name Brewster Pumping LLC is also flagged in the complaint. That donation was made in October 2013, and the address listed for the contribution is that of Liza and Albert’s business, Jostin Construction LLC.

Livingston says this is evidence of corruption, and that Councilman Smitherman has been actively working to get jobs for the company. Jostin was subcontracted for $22,000 worth of work on the city’s streetcar project in November 2013, but later declined the job.

Livingston himself has been in trouble for campaign finances. In 2009, the Ohio Elections Commission sued him for $43,000 for not filing campaign finance information for his 2001 City Council bid. That suit was later dismissed.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 06.10.2014 44 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
an_lumenocity_365cincinnati

Morning News and Stuff

Ticket scalping, Section 8 shenanigans and drugs

Here's what's up today in Cincy, Ohio, and beyond.

Vice Mayor David Mann isn’t super happy about the fact that LumenoCity tickets sold out in 12 minutes yesterday morning and then popped up just as quickly on Craigslist and eBay. He’s requesting an investigation into the ticket giveaway to find out about any illegal sale of the free passes.

In a statement yesterday, Mann said he wants to make sure “all members of the public — including all neighborhoods and income ranges — have an opportunity to avail themselves of any opportunities to get tickets to this extraordinary performance in the future.”

The event was so crowded last year, organizers decided to give out tickets this time around. The tickets were available online and also at several branches of the library. Organizers stress only a small percentage of the available passes were given out online, and that more will be available ahead of the event, which takes place Aug. 1-3.

Here’s a heartwarming story about a city doing everything it can for its residents. Err, wait, no, this is actually a nightmarish scenario in which the city of Middletown has been working to eliminate a number of its Section 8 vouchers by investigating landlords and tenants and then kicking them out of the program for minor violations of law or policy, including late water bills. An Enquirer investigation found the city was actively working to eliminate many of its more than 1,600 HUD vouchers. HUD is now looking at shutting down the city’s public housing authority.

Nearly a quarter of Middletown residents live below the poverty level, according to 2008-2012 Census data. The city of 50,000 has more than half of the Section 8 vouchers in Butler County.

• Ohio is imposing new requirements on those receiving unemployment benefits, because not having a job is easy and awesome and if the state didn’t impose tons of busy work on those seeking benefits, everyone would crowd around the government teat.

Anyone receiving benefits in Ohio must update an automatic resume made for them on OhioMeansJobs.com, Ohio’s job search site, take three assessments on their skills within 14 weeks and fill out a survey within 20 weeks to figure out careers that might suit them. Recipients will still need to apply for two jobs a week as well. State officials say they hope this will help recipients transition to work more quickly, because clearly most job seekers have no idea what kind of skills they have and just plum forgot to put their resumes online somewhere. Ohio’s unemployment rate hovers around 6 percent. About 67,000 in the state were receiving unemployment benefits in May.

The Justice Department is giving support to a proposal to shorten the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders in federal prison. The move could save taxpayers more than $2 billion. Some measures to reduce sentences have already been approved, but the new proposal would make those reduced sentences retroactive, meaning those already imprisoned for nonviolent drug crimes may see freedom sooner.

There is a surprising amount of bipartisan interest drug sentencing reform, with libertarian-minded conservatives, rank and file Republican budget hawks and those on the left all calling for a new approach to the drug issue.

The federal government spent more than $25 billion on the drug war in 2013. More than half the inmates in federal prisons are there for drug-related crimes, according to studies by the federal government.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 06.09.2014 45 days ago
Posted In: Cincinnati, Events at 02:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
meatball kitchen

Father's Day Dining Specials

Meals and meal deals for the dads in your life

Father's Day is equally as important at Mother's Day. And so, on Sunday, June 15, area restaurants are offering specials meals and deals for dads.

BrewRiver GastroPub — Traditional brunch menu items including beer-inspired cocktails. All Dads receive free bacon-infused donuts, while supplies last. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-861-2484, brewrivergastropub.com.

King's Island — Dad's eat free on Father's Day with the purchase of another ticket. The park offers up a special barbecue cookout and family activities 11 a.m.-2 p.m. June 15 in the picnic grove. The all-you-can-eat buffet includes grilled baby-back ribs, all-beef hotdogs, fresh-grilled burgers, mac and cheese, baked beans, sliced watermelon, ice cream treats, iced tea and assorted Coke beverages. $15.99 adults; $11.99 juniors and seniors; park admission required. 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, visitkingsisland.com.  

Meatball Kitchen — Offering a special Father's Day takeout deal: from-scratch spaghetti with tomato sauce, a dozen meatballs, house salad, homemade garlic bread and four pieces of spumoni cannoli. $50. 2912 Vine St., Corryville, facebook.com/meatballkitchenusa.

Mitchell's Fish Market — A 14-ounce char grilled ribeye served with cold water lobster tail, smashed redskins and sautéed asparagus. $34.99. Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., mitchellsfishmarket.com.

Summit Restaurant at the Midwest Culinary Institute — On Friday (June 13) and Saturday (June 14), The Summit is offering a steak dinner for dads. Along with their regular dinner menu, they'll be offering a 14-ounce chipotle-rubbed sirloin, sea salted baked potato, baby carrots and a red-wine demi-glace. $27. 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu/eat-create-enjoy/the-summit/the-summit

 
 
by Danny Cross 06.09.2014 45 days ago
Posted In: Life at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
press club

Thanks, Cleveland Press Club!

CityBeat wins six first-place awards and earns high honor for photography

We thought it was a little weird when the Cleveland Press Club told us it “highly recommended” we attend its awards ceremony on June 6, largely because its representative put the words "highly recommend" in quotation marks and we couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic — maybe someone just wanted to see us drive 250 miles to pick up a bunch of “last-place” trophies. That sort of thing can be funny under the right circumstances.

It turns out we did pretty well, though, winning first-place in six non-daily categories, including the Best in Ohio: Alternatives contest. Our staff photographer Jesse Fox earned second-place for Best in Ohio: Photographer, a high honor as she was up against all the big papers and magazines in the state.


Here's a full list of winners and finalists in the statewide competition. CityBeat's work that earned recognition is listed below. Congrats to all, including our former colleagues who now work for the Cincinnati Business Courier and Vox Media. (Missu guys!)


Reviews/Criticism

FIRST PLACE: “Spill It” by 
Mike Breen


Features: General

FIRST PLACE: “The Linguistics of Legislation: Reviewing the outdated, overly conservative and just plain funny laws still on the books” by Hannah McCartney and Maija Zummo


Public Service

FIRST PLACE: "From the Inside: Inmates told CityBeat about violence, staff ineptitude and unsanitary conditions inside Ohio's private prison. Then came the surprise inspections." by German Lopez


Arts & Entertainment

FIRST PLACE: "Legally Banned: The secret complaints and controversial characters behind the firing of Loveland High School's drama instructor" by Danny Cross


Community / Local Coverage

FIRST PLACE: “Streetcar Coverage” by German Lopez


Best in Ohio: Alternatives

FIRST PLACE: Cincinnati CityBeat Staff


Best in Ohio: Photographer

SECOND PLACE: "Body of Work" by Jesse Fox (See images below.)



 
 
by Maija Zummo 06.09.2014 45 days ago
Posted In: Cincinnati, Events at 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
graeters

Graeter's "Official Ice Cream" of the Western & Southern Open

Makes sense

Graeter's has been named the official ice cream of the annual Western & Southern Open (Aug. 9-17) tennis tournament — which makes sense because Cincinnatians love Greater's and the W&S Open is in Cincinnati ... well, technically Mason.

Cincinnatians and W&S Open out-of-towners (nearly 200,000 fans from 50 states and 30 countries) alike will enjoy the ice-cold and creamy Oprah favorite in two full-service custom ice cream parlors at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. (Last year, the event sold more than 25,000 scoops, bars and shakes.)

The custom W&S Open menu will feature Graeter's French Pot ice cream, their new gelato, other confections and a custom flavor made for the event. Graeter's will unveil the brand new flavor, designed specifically for the W&S Open to be served both at the tournament and in their 31 family-owned stores, in early August.  

"The off-court food, drink and entertainment options have become a strong attraction of the event," tournament director and COO Vince Cicero says in a recent press release. "Graeter's Ice Cream is a world-class product that pairs well with the world-class talent on the courts."  

And both are a celebration of Cincinnati: The W&S Open, which was first played in 1899 at the Avondale Athletic Club, is the nation's oldest professional tennis tournament still played in its city of origin, and Graeter's was first established in Cincinnati by Bavarian immigrants in 1870 and has grown ever since.   

Visit graeters.com or cincytennis.com for more.
 
 
by Maija Zummo 06.09.2014 45 days ago
Posted In: Cincinnati, Contest, Events at 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
camp washington chili contest

Camp Washington Coney Eating Challenge

All the coneys you can eat in 3 minutes

Fountain Square's Freaky Friday Series gets meaty during the Camp Washington Chili Coney Eating Challenge (Friday, June 13).

This chili-crazy city has more chili parlors per capita and square mile than any other city in the United States, eating more than 2 million pounds of chili each year ... topped with 850,000 pounds of shredded cheese. If you're one of Cincinnati's chili freaks and enjoy speed eating, this contest is for you. In the contest, 12 people compete against each other in a timed event. The object is to eat as many cheese coneys as possible in three minutes.

Noon-1 p.m. Friday, June 13. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown. Register here.
 
 
by Maija Zummo 06.09.2014 45 days ago
Posted In: Beer, Events at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
the lackman

Avery Brewing Tap Takeover

Colorado brewery takes over taps at The Lackman

Boulder, Colo.'s Avery Brewing takes over the taps at The Lackman at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 12. 

On tap will be the brewery's Avery IPA, White Rascal, Karma, The Maharaja, plus a special tapping of their 21st Anniversary, Lilikoi Kepolo and a limited amount of their sour release, Rufus Corvus, by-the-bottle.
 
The Lackman, 1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. More info here.  
 
 

 

 

 
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