Home - Blogs - Staff Blogs - Popular Blogs
Latest Blogs
by German Lopez 08.21.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Environment at 08:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting in Hamilton County has a minimum cost estimate: $18,676. The number represents about 0.009 percent of the county’s 2012 budget. Unfortunately, The Cincinnati Enquirer never bothered putting the number in any context, so its story read like the $18,676, or $406 an hour, will be a big expense for Hamilton County.

Ohio is a “middle-of-the-road” state when it comes to early voting. Several states — including New York, a fairly liberal state — have more restrictive voting rules.

Money Magazine named West Chester, a Greater Cincinnati suburb, in its top 100 list for best small cities to live in the United States. West Chester was No. 97 on the list.

The Washington Post has a good analysis on why natural gas produced from fracking could help combat global warming. The big concern for environmentalists is methane leaks during the fracking process. If methane leaks are too high and can’t be contained, natural gas could be worse for the environment than coal, at least in the short term. The analysis concludes that natural gas could be positive by itself in fighting climate change, but a much broader plan that includes more than natural gas will be necessary to reach scientifically suggested goals. It also points out there’s a lot of uncertainty behind natural gas and fracking, echoing CityBeat’s recent in-depth look at the issue.

The Ohio Board of Education made two big decisions at its meeting yesterday. First, it will delay the 2011-2012 report card, which grades different schools and school districts, until the state auditor finishes an investigation looking into school attendance reports. The attendance report scandal, which involves schools doctoring attendance reports to earn better grades, began at Lockland schools in Hamilton County. Second, the Board has officially launched its national search for a new superintendent of public instruction. The previous superintendent — Stan Heffner — resigned after a state auditor report found he was misusing state resources and advocating for legislation that benefited his other employer.

An auto manufacturer is laying off 173 workers in Blanchester, Ohio.

But Kings Island is looking to hire more than 500 workers for its Halloween season.

President Barack Obama has cleared some Ohio counties for federal disaster funding. Ohio lawmakers had previously asked for federal support after a wave of severe storms hit the state earlier in the summer. The storms were estimated to be the worst in Ohio since 2008, when the remnants of Hurricane Ike caused more than $1 billion in damage.

Miami University has been ranked a top 10 party school.

Newsweek is getting a ton of criticism for running a cover story this week filled with factual inaccuracies. Among many claims, the story makes the false implication that the Affordable Care Act increases the federal budget deficit. The story was written by Niall Ferguson, a conservative Harvard professor known for being consistently wrong.

NASA has already planned its next interplanetary mission: a robot drill for Mars.

by German Lopez 10.26.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Economy, Budget, Education, Environment at 08:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
sherrod brown

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.

The last debate for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat took place last night. The debate between Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel mostly covered old ground, but the candidates did draw contrasting details on keeping Social Security solvent. Mandel favored raising the eligibility age on younger generations, while Brown favored raising the payroll tax cap. Currently, Brown leads Mandel in aggregate polling by 5.2 points.

Mitt Romney was in town yesterday. In his speech, he criticized the president’s policies and campaign rhetoric and touted support for small businesses. The Cincinnati visit was the first stop of a two-day tour of Ohio, which is the most important swing state in the presidential race. But senior Republican officials are apparently worried Romney has leveled off in the state, which could cost Romney the Electoral College and election. President Barack Obama is expected to visit Cincinnati on Halloween. In aggregate polling, Obama is ahead in Ohio by 2.1 points, and Romney is up nationally by 0.9 points. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio says the use of seclusion rooms in Ohio schools should be phased out by 2016. The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Board of Education are currently taking feedback on a new policy draft that says schools can only use seclusion rooms in cases of “immediate threat of physical harm,” but the policy only affects traditional public schools, not charter schools, private schools or educational service centers. Seclusion rooms are intended to restrain children who become violent, but recent investigations found the rooms are used to punish children or as a convenience for staff. Currently, Ohio has no state laws overseeing seclusion rooms, and the Department of Education and Board of Education provide little guidance and oversight regarding seclusion rooms.

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and a City Council task force have a plan to make Cincinnati’s water infrastructure a little greener.

A study found Cincinnati hospitals are good with heart patients but not-so-good with knee surgery. The names of the hospitals that were looked at were not revealed in the study, however.

An economist at PNC Financial Services Group says 10,000 jobs will be added in Cincinnati in 2013.

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble has new details about its effort to reduce costs and make operations more productive. The company announced a “productivity council” that will look at “the next round of productivity improvements.” The company also said it will reach 4,200 out of 5,700 job cuts by the end of October as part of a $10 billion restructuring program announced in February.

The world just got a little sadder. Chemicals in couches could be making people fatter.

On the bright side, we now know how to properly butcher and eat a triceratops.

by 12.29.2008
Posted In: Environment at 08:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Feathered Friends Condo

Waking up to the sounds of birds singing is one sign spring has arrived. A birdhouse all but guarantees a songstress in residence but few people have the skills or a grandfather willing to build the requisite abode. But the positive impact of birdhouses can be significant, according to Greenbird LLC.

Read More

by German Lopez 01.18.2013
Posted In: News, Environment, Energy, Economy, Redistricting at 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
ohio statehouse

Morning News and Stuff

State unemployment drops, GOP embraces redistricting, Cincinnati climate-friendly

Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.8 percent in November, according to new numbers from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent in December. The amount of unemployed dropped from 391,000 to 388,000. Unfortunately, the amount of employed also dropped, indicating that some people are leaving the labor force.

The Republican State Leadership Committee admitted the only reason Republicans kept a House majority was politicized redistricting. The admission from a memo titled “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013.” The report even singled out Ohio as a state that benefited Republicans due to redistricting. CityBeat previously covered the issue in-depth here.

Cincinnati is among three finalists in the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Earth Hour City Challenge. The contest judges efforts to combat global warming. Cincinnati, Chicago and San Francisco were chosen by WWF and global management consultancy Accenture for preparing their cities for a “climate-friendly future,” according to a statement from WWF.

At this point, it’s looking like Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposals will take months for legislators to sort through. The proposals include major changes to taxes, the Ohio Turnpike, education and Medicaid.

Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky signed a landmark water agreement to leverage Greater Cincinnati’s water technologies. The agreement seeks to spur legislation, according to the Business Courier.

The Cincinnati Zoo may need a levy to stay afloat.

Ohio hospitals spent $3.1 billion in free health care in 2010, up from $2.9 billion in 2009, according to an Ohio Hospital Association report. 

On the bright side, overall crime is down in Cincinnati. 

Bad news, everyone. Chipotle is likely to raise prices this year.

To avoid Obamacare’s health care requirements for businesses, some businesses may begin cutting jobs.

Some in the scientific community want to establish national parks on Mars. 

by Nick Swartsell 05.29.2014
Posted In: Environment at 01:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kasich to Sign Bill Delaying Renewable Energy Standards

Ohio would become first of 37 states to roll back such standards

Gov. John Kasich says he'll sign a bill that would freeze the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for two years and then weaken them after that.

Kasich announced his intention to sign SB310 shortly after the bill passed the Ohio House yesterday, paving the way for Ohio to become the first state to roll back already approved energy-efficiency standards. 37 states have passed some form of renewable energy standards.

Conservatives in Ohio's state house have taken to disliking the standards, even though the state passed nearly unanimously in 2008. Most memorably, Bill Seitz, a Republican state senator from Cincinnati, called them Stalinist last year.

Kasich yesterday called the current standards “unrealistic” and costly for Ohio’s economy.

But others, including conservative-leaning business groups, say the standards freeze will actually be more costly.

The Ohio Manufacturer’s Association says it fears the measure will increase energy costs and make Ohio less competitive industrially.

Honda, one of Ohio’s biggest employers, has also come out against the freeze.

Several last-minute provisions inserted during debate on the bill in the state Senate could make it harder for renewable energy companies to get loans or increase capacity. Another last-minute change jettisons requirements that power companies get half their renewable energy in the state of Ohio.

Ohio ranks fifth nationally in green jobs, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study says. Nearly 140,000 Ohioans work in industries related to renewable energy or environmental conservation.

Environmental groups have also criticized SB310. An analysis by the Ohio Sierra Club says that the average Duke Energy customer in the Cincinnati area will spend $117 more for energy over the next two years thanks to the standards freeze.

Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards aim to reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels in favor of greener renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy.

That law originally called for a 5.5 percent increase in the use of renewable sources of energy by 2017. Overall, the law aims to have 12.5 percent of all energy sold by power companies in the state coming from renewable sources by 2025.

SB310 will pause upcoming standards increases and keep them at their current levels until 2017, when a smaller, 3.5 percent increase will kick back in.

Ed FitzGerald, Kasich’s Democratic opponent for the governor’s office, blasted Kasich over his support of the pause.

“Tonight, Governor Kasich's office announced that he intends to move Ohio's economy, families and environment backwards,” Fitzgerald said in a statement yesterday.

Kasich acknowledged that alternative energy is a big part of Ohio’s economy but said there are problems with the standards that needed to be ironed out.

Americans for Prosperity, the big-money conservative group backed by petroleum and gas magnates the Koch Brothers, has been a cheerleader for the standards delays. The group released statements today applauding SB310’s passage. Also supporting the bill were coal and gas powered utilities throughout the state.

by Danny Cross 09.29.2011

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio's new concealed-carry law will take effect tomorrow, allowing Second Amendment lovers the opportunity to reach into their pocket and feel the cold, smooth feel of safety while enjoying a non-alcoholic beverage at a bar or restaurant in Ohio. Seriously, y'all better not be drinking or the liberals will tell on you before you can get buzzed enough to go outside and fire a couple of funny shots up into the air.

Read More

by German Lopez 05.02.2013
Posted In: News, Energy, Environment at 01:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Boom, Bust or Both?

Fracking Flourishing in Water-Stressed Areas

Interactive map shows Ohio counties are part of national trend

A new interactive map shows hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is flourishing in U.S. areas where water is already scarce — a potentially bad sign for Ohio counties that are allowing the water-intensive drilling process within their own borders.

The map from advocacy group Ceres shows northeast Ohio counties with fracking activity are made up of low, medium-to-high and high stress areas, with most of the identified fracking wells in medium-to-high and high stress areas.

The website explains Ohio's experience is actually better than the national trend: "In the map below, one can see that almost half (47 percent) of shale gas and oil wells are being developed in regions with high to extremely high water stress. This means that more than 80 percent of the annual available water is being withdrawn by municipal, industrial and agricultural users in these regions. Overall, 75 percent of wells are located in regions with medium or higher baseline water stress levels."

Fracking is a relatively new drilling process that involves pumping millions of gallons of water underground to fracture shale and reveal oil and gas reserves. CityBeat previously covered Ohio's fracking boom in further detail here.

by 12.11.2008
Posted In: Environment at 07:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tree Planting, Not Cutting

Not worried about freezing your ninnies off to help the environment? Then the Friends of the Great Miami have a job for you!

Read More

by German Lopez 11.19.2013
Posted In: News, Energy, Environment, Taxes at 10:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Bill weakens energy standards, groups rally against global warming, county could cut taxes

Cincinnati’s State Sen. Bill Seitz says he will introduce a “compromise” bill that still weakens Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable standards but allows some of the current requirements for in-state renewable sources to remain for a few years. Environmental and business groups argue Seitz’s original bill would effectively gut the state’s energy standards and, according to a study from Ohio State University and the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, force Ohioans to pay an extra $3.65 billion in electricity bills over 12 years. But some utility companies, particularly Akron-based FirstEnergy, claim the current standards are too burdensome and impose extra costs on consumers.

Meanwhile, Ohioans on Nov. 16 rallied in front of the Ohio Statehouse to call on U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to support federal regulations that would attempt to curtail human-caused global warming. The regulations are part of President Barack Obama’s second-term plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants, which Environment Ohio says are responsible for 41 percent of U.S. carbon emissions — a primary contributor to global warming. Although some conservatives deny human-caused global warming, scientists stated in the 2013 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions contribute to global warming.

Hamilton County commissioners will vote on Wednesday on a plan that would increase the tax return received by property taxpayers. Republican Commissioner Greg Hartmann’s proposal would increase the rebate from $10 million to $12 million, or $35 for each $100,000 of property value in 2013 to $42 in 2014. But Democratic Commissioner Todd Portune, the lone Democrat in the three-member board, says he would rather focus on increasing the sales tax to make the stadium fund sustainable and not reliant on casino revenue, which could go to other investments.

Commissioners also agreed to not place a property tax levy renewal for the Cincinnati Museum Center on the ballot until there’s a plan to fix Union Terminal. The informal decision followed the recommendations of the Hamilton County’s Tax Levy Review Committee, which reported that it will only support the levy renewal if the city, county and museum develop a plan to transfer ownership of Union Terminal from the city to a new, to-be-formed entity and locate public and private funds to renovate and upkeep the terminal in a sustainable fashion.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced on Monday that he’s forming a heroin unit to tackle what he describes as a drug epidemic sweeping across Ohio’s communities. The effort, which is estimated at $1 million, will focus on education, outreach and law enforcement. David Pepper, DeWine’s likely Democratic opponent for the attorney general position in 2014, argues DeWine, a Republican, moved too slowly on the issue; Pepper says the problem began in 2011, more than two years before DeWine’s proposal.

Cincinnati council members Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman yesterday reiterated their opposition to the city’s responsible bidder policy, which requires bidders for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) work to follow specific standards for apprenticeship programs. The law has caused an impasse between the county, which owns MSD, and the city, which is in charge of management. The conflict comes in the middle of a federal mandate asking MSD to retrofit Cincinnati’s sewer system — a project that will cost $3.2 billion over 15 years. CityBeat covered the conflict in greater detail here.

Cincinnati’s Department of Public Services will expedite the delivery of bigger trash carts. The deliveries are part of Mayor Mark Mallory’s controversial trash policy, which limits each household to one trash cart that can be picked up by automated trucks in an effort to save money and avoid workers’ injuries. Mayor-elect John Cranley says the policy is too limiting and causing people to dump trash in public areas.

Cincinnati’s Metro is the most efficient bus service compared to 11 peer cities, but it ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to level of service, according to a study from the University of Cincinnati Economics Center. Metro plans to announce today that it will balance its operational budget without fare increases or service cuts for the fourth year in a row.

For Thanksgiving Day, Metro will run on a holiday schedule. The sales office will also be closed for Thanksgiving and the day after.

Ohio will receive nearly $717,000 in a multi-state settlement involving Google, which supposedly overrode some browsers’ settings to plant cookies that collect information for advertisements.

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday disbarred Stan Chesley, which means the local attorney can no longer practice law in front of the nation’s highest court. The controversy surrounding Chesley began more than a decade ago when he was accused of misconduct for his involvement with a $200 million fen-phen diet-drug settlement.

Some organisms might evolve the ability to evolve.

Follow CityBeat on Twitter:
• Main: @CityBeatCincy
• News: @CityBeat_News
• Music: @CityBeatMusic

• German Lopez: @germanrlopez

by German Lopez 04.26.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, Health, Environment at 08:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
ohio statehouse

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio may allow open containers, Medicaid may be on ballot, pollution afflicts region

State Sen. Eric Kearney, a Cincinnati Democrat, introduced a bill in the Ohio Senate yesterday that would allow opened alcoholic beverages in “entertainment districts,” which must have populations of more than 50,000 within one-half mile by one-half mile. Kearney said Over-the-Rhine would be an ideal benefactor of the new bill. “Senate Bill 116 will promote tourism and business development across the state,” Kearney said in a statement. “By modifying Ohio’s law, this will provide an opportunity for developments such as the Over-the-Rhine Gateway in Cincinnati and The Flats in Cleveland to create an entertainment experience and attract more customers.”

Supporters of the Medicaid expansion say they may attempt to put the issue on the November ballot if the Ohio General Assembly fails to take action by fall. Republicans in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate have so far rejected Gov. John Kasich’s pleas for an expansion, instead moving toward asking the federal government for a Medicaid waiver that would allow the state to make broader reforms. At least 90 percent of the expansion would be funded by the federal government. CityBeat covered the Medicaid expansion and other aspects of the Ohio House budget bill in further detail here.

The Greater Cincinnati region and Hamilton County ranked among the worst in the nation in the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report. The report, which used 2009-2011 U.S. EPA data, found Greater Cincinnati to be No. 10 worst for year-round particle pollution and No. 14 for ozone pollution. Still, the report did find overall improvement around the nation, with Greater Cincinnati making some advances in pollution reduction in the past few decades.

A new Ohio law going into effect today will require school coaches to acquire additional concussion awareness training. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross says the training will make it easier for coaches to identify symptoms of concussions and get help for students.

A University of Cincinnati study found it could be cost-effective to screen at-risk populations for hepatitis C.

A vegetarian lifestyle may fit some of CityBeat’s most beautiful employees, but Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble says pets need a more expansive diet.

Not only do they have multiple cultural traditions, but humpback whales also learn new tricks by watching their friends.