Just two more days of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, so here are a few recommendations for great shows you can still catch. (Look for reviews of these performances on CityBeat's Fringe page here.) Many Fringe performances are sold-out, so check in advance to be sure seats are still available: cincyfringe.com.
It’s that time again when I tell you all about the weird stuff that has happened in the last 24 hours or so. Cincinnati’s a crazy place, and the rest of the world isn’t far behind, so let’s get started.
• Remember those folks who hung the Greenpeace banners off the side of the Procter and Gamble building back in March? You know, the ones protesting P&G’s use of palm oil, the production of which leads to massive deforestation and loss of habitat for a number of endangered animals, including tigers? Of course you do. They were 50-foot banners with tigers on them, for godsakes.
No surprise, the nine activists responsible ended up in Hamilton County Court on felony counts. Today, lawyers for the group asked a judge to dismiss those charges.
The nine were charged with burglary and vandalism. However, there was no breaking and entering. One of the group, dressed in business attire with a fake badge, told security she had a meeting in the building and snuck the others in through a regular old door she unlocked.
The group’s lawyers insist burglary charges would only stick if the group had planned on committing another crime, and they say the political speech inherent in hanging banners off a building doesn’t count. They’re asking the courts to dismiss the charges on First Amendment grounds, saying the group is being punished for its political speech.
If that doesn’t fly, the activists could face up to nine and a half years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine. P&G claims the activists did $17,000 in damage to their windows while gaining access to the outside of the building, a charge the group denies.
• Yesterday, Mayor John Cranley explained his vision for Clifton as a place that pumps out the city’s future CEOs. The mayor said he’d like to make the area appealing to “the future Carl Lindners, the future Dick Farmers, the future folks who will build up business in this city” so they’ll stick around.
At an annual event held by the Uptown Consortium, a non-profit development group for the area, Cranley called the University of Cincinnati “the gateway to the upper-middle class” and Cincinnati State “the gateway to the middle class.” He said he’d like to improve the district, including centerpiece Burnet Woods, which he has descrbed as “creepy” in its current state. Specific ideas include a skywalk between the park and UC; more landscaped, Washington Park-like grounds; and more programing in the park.
• Today's job report shows that more than six years after the worst recession in recent memory we've finally regained number of jobs the country had before the plunge. Except we have 15 million more people now to fill those jobs, and the unemployment rate hasn't really budged much lately.
• But cheer up. It's National Donut Day. If you're me, every day is a donut day, but this donut day you can get some free deep-fried deliciousness down at Fountain Square. I started to ditch this news thing to go grab some, but it doesn't start until noon. Hey, free lunch.
from buying alcohol, everyone else can refinance loans for lower interest rates. But at
a time when charges for borrowing money have hit nearly historic lows, students have been
locked into their older, higher rates.
A new bill looks to remedy that and promises to not only pay for itself, but cut government spending.
So, students, graduates and budget hawks are happy, and everybody wins.
tricky part — paying for the program — is something called the
Fair Share Tax. The reduction in spending would come from the second part of the bill.
Also called “The Buffet Rule,” named after Warren Buffet and championed by Elizabeth Warren, the tax mandates a minimum rate of 30 percent on those who bring in a million dollars or more a year.
students loans without a refinancing option is a profitable business — the
government is set to take in $66 billion on interest alone from loans issued
between 2007-2013, according to the Government Accountability Office. Eliminating that money would have big budget implications. That's where the Fair Share Tax comes in.
The Banking on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would allow those with loans issued before August 9 last year to refinance at the rates passed in 2013 — 3.8 percent for undergraduate loans.
Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, are trying to gather support for the bill. Brown filed the bill with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Warren introduced the bill in the Senate on May 5. She, Brown and other Democrats will be pushing it in the upcoming week.
“Every dollar a current borrower pays in interest is a dollar he or she can’t spend on a car, on a mortgage, or on starting a small business,” Brown said in an email sent out on Thursday requesting signatures to support the bill.
So far, 36 senators have signed it.
Last year, Congress lowered the rate of new loans but left existing rates the same.
Those higher rates are drowning graduates, keeping them stuck in their parents' basements, Warren said on the Senate floor last month.
“Make no mistake, this is an
emergency,” she said. “Student loan debt is exploding and it threatens the
stability of young people and the future of our economy.”
The Congressional Budget Office released a report on the bill Wednesday. The report found that lowering the rates of outstanding loans would increase spending by $51 billion, but with the new tax thrown in, the bill would also increase revenue by $72 billion between 2015-2019.
The report said deficits could be reduced in the next 10 years by about $22 billion.Congressional Republicans are sure to oppose the tax increase, considering most have signed Americans for Tax Reform’s taxpayer protection pledge to not raise taxes.
This won’t be the first time congressional Republicans have opposed the proposed tax. It was introduced in 2012 as the Paying a Fair Share Act and fell short of the votes needed to leave the Senate.
In the meantime, student loan debt totals $1.2 trillion, greater than all outstanding credit card debt.
Cincinnati passed its $358 million operating budget yesterday, and it’s great and all, except for the parts that aren’t. Nearly everyone on council applauded the fact that the budget is balanced, or close to balanced, or … well, I won’t replay that argument, but the city is getting close to leveling spending with what it takes in without layoffs or deep cuts to core programs.
But there are big concerns, too. Council members Yvette Simpson and Chris Seelbach questioned a few issues surrounding funding of certain non-profits and community redevelopment groups. These included $4 million borrowed from eight neighborhood TIF districts, cuts to the Neighborhood Business District Improvement Program, and some last-minute additions to the budget. Critics of the additions say they’re sweetheart deals built on cronyism. Some of the organizations in question have connections with big political players, including former Mayor Dwight Tillery’s Center for Closing the Health Gap, which will receive $500,000 from one of the Monday add-ons in the budget.
Simpson was the most vocal about the issues surrounding human services and neighborhood redevelopment funding.
“I was committed and part of an administration prior that was really invested in supporting neighborhood development in a significant way,” she said. “And we’ve cut $4.5 million to neighborhood development in this budget, and I think we’re going to regret that.”
• Council also passed Seelbach’s Domestic Partner Registry initiative yesterday, which will allow same-sex couples to register with the city so they can receive equal benefits from participating employers.
“Ten years ago, at this moment … some called this the most anti-gay city in the country, including me,” Seelbach said. “We’ve come a really long way, and this is one of the last pieces of the puzzle. Unfortunately, the state of Ohio doesn’t recognize marriage equality. It will soon, but until then, this is a tool.”
• A new national study by Homes for All Alliance to be released Friday shows that Cincinnati, like much of the country, is in an affordable housing crisis. More than 63 percent of households in Cincinnati are renters, not homeowners, according to the study. Of those households, half pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent, the federal threshold for unaffordable housing. Even worse, 30 percent of renters in Cincinnati spend more than half their monthly paychecks on a place to live.
A panel discussion on the study and affordable housing in Cincinnati is being held Friday at 6 p.m. at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. It will feature Vice Mayor David Mann, Over-the-Rhine Community Housing Director Mary Burke Rivers, Bonnie Neumeier from Peaslee Neighborhood Center and other advocates for affordable housing.
• The Ohio House yesterday passed a measure to allow electronic tolling, which could have big implications for the Brent Spence Bridge. The bridge is crumbling, and Ohio and Kentucky are currently working on a way to rebuild it. Engineers believe it will take $2.5 billion for a new bridge, and much of that money may have to come from tolls, lawmakers say. Though Ohio is (reluctantly) on board, voters in Kentucky have voiced strong opposition to tolls.
• In the “news that isn’t really new but that you should keep an eye on anyway” category, fixes for the Voting Rights Act are still stalled in Congress and probably will be for a while. The Supreme Court struck down a segment of the law regarding standards that determine which states will receive close scrutiny due to past voting rights violations. Congress can set new standards, but given that Congress can barely decide where they're all going to grab lunch these days, it looks like it could be a long wait.
• Finally, someone took DNA from a relative of Vincent Van Gogh, and, uh, 3D printed a copy of the artist’s ear, which he is said to have cut off in a fit of mental illness in 1888. It’s on display in a German museum, because paintings are kind of boring but Jurassic Park-like replicas of severed ears from long-dead artists are awesome.
“When I began thinking about my 20 years here, I didn’t just want to have a party. I wanted to celebrate what I love about the city and the things that make it so unique. Since it’s the home of the first professional baseball team, throwing out a first pitch went to the top of the list," de Cavel says in a recent press release. “I am honored that the Cincinnati Reds invited me to take part of a very American, very Cincinnati tradition."
Before the game, de Cavel will be at the Moerlein Lagerhouse at the Banks (115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown) to tap a keg of namesake beer — JeanRo Beer — that Christian Moerlein created in his honor. At 11 a.m., de Cavel will tap the limited-edition summer Hefeweizen. According to the aforementioned press release, "Beer, like baseball, is part of Cincinnati’s heritage and Jean-Robert wanted to have some fun with the brew and with his name. Much like his approach to food, the Hefeweizen has a contemporary twist on a classic profile."
For more about Jean-Robert and where to find JeanRo Beer, visit jrtable.com. Jean-Robert’s Table will be closed for lunch so that the staff can enjoy the game.
Local MC Puck has unleashed a great new track, “Weekend Warrior,” along with a solid accompanying music video (which includes a guest appearance from Cincy Hip Hop duo Those Guys). The young Hip Hop artist shows the positive effect and influence of Kanye West’s recent experimental work (and there’s even a Kanye nod in the background during the video). It’s a powerful listen/look:
Click here for more on Puck and below to download the new track for free:
You can catch Puck live on June 21 for free on Fountain Square as part of the "Beats by Self Diploma" concert series.
This idyllic and very productive farm doesn't earn a penny.
Welcome to the Giving Fields in Melbourne, Ky., a 10-acre farm operated by the Freestore Foodbank growing fresh produce for people who can’t afford to buy food.
"The people we feed are at high risk for diabetes and heart disease," says Jennifer Steele, director of community partnerships for the Freestore Foodbank. "We want to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer highly salted, highly sugared processed foods.”
Five years ago, less than 10 percent of the food the Freestore distributed was fresh; most was canned or boxed. Now, 40 percent of the Freestore's food is fresh or frozen, Steele says.
At the Giving Fields, farm manager Molly Jordan grows produce specifically for the Freestore’s food pantry and soup kitchen partners in Northern Kentucky."Our food goes to Northern Kentucky because the need is greater there," Steele says.
It’s easy to see why, since state laws make fresh food less available to Kentucky charities.
In Ohio, the Agricultural Clearance Program sets aside $17 million a year for Ohio farmers to sell surplus or blemished food to food banks. A similar initiative in Kentucky, still in its infancy, allocates only $600,000 for food banks to receive surplus produce annually.
At the same time, the number of Kentucky residents who depend on food donations is increasing. The Kentucky Association of Food Banks reported that 620,100 people now rely on food banks, an 84-percent increase from 2006.
The Giving Fields harvests fruits and vegetables for 117,000 meals in Northern Kentucky each season. Food pantries and soup kitchens receive the produce the day it is picked.
"The Kentucky Department of Agriculture also gives out recipe cards at food pantries so people can learn how to prepare the food we grow," Jordan says.
The farm relies on more than 1,000 volunteers — civic organizations, corporate teams, church groups and others — who work there each year. Jordan alternates rows of crops with wide strips of grass so volunteers can move easily throughout the fields. She also cultivates plants in tall wooden beds so people with limited mobility and senior citizens can weed and harvest, too.
At 10 acres, the Giving Fields is one of the largest food bank farms in the country, according to Feeding America, a nationwide network of U.S. food banks.
The Freestore funds operational costs for the farm, collaborating with Doug and Sheila Bray of Wilder, who own the land, and the UK Cooperative Extension Office. The Giving Fields is now in its fourth growing season.
To volunteer at the Giving Fields, call the Freestore Foodbank at 513-482-7557 or email Tawanda Rollins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ON THE CITY ROOTS CALENDAR
June 7: Gardening for Pollinators Workshop
Honeybees, which are crucial to the production of local fruits and vegetables, are vanishing. Greenacres offers a workshop to learn how to attract butterflies, bumblebees, honeybees and other pollinators to your yard from 10 a.m. to noon at Greenacres Old Church, 8680 Spooky Hollow Road. $15. green-acres.org.
June 9: Garden Basics Class
Pest control, plant disease, watering and water conservation and other seasonal topics will be reviewed in this class offered by horticulturist Bennett Dowling at the Civic Garden Center from 6-8 p.m., 2715 Reading Road. $10; free to Civic Garden Center volunteers. civicgardencenter.org.
June 17: Foraged Foods Dinner
As part of its farm-to-table dinner series, Carriage House Farm features wild and foraged foods from the farm collected by botanist Abby Artemisia and prepared by Nuvo on Greenup. Artemisia will be on hand to talk about local foraging. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. at Carriage House Farm, 10251 Miami View Road in North Bend; $125 for dinner, drinks, tax and tip. Tickets available at nuvoatgreenup.com.
June 28: Medicinal and Edible Plant Workshop
Using plants for food and medicine connects us with our ancestors, say Wes and Diantha Duren of Marvin's Organic Gardens. Their workshop at the Civic Garden Center introduces useful plants to grow in home gardens and shows how to blend herbs to make tinctures and teas. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Civic Garden Center, 2715 Reading Road. $30; registration required by June 15. civicgardencenter.org.
Steven Kemple, who was featured last year in CityBeat’s Cool Issue for his innovative programming as the Main Library’s music librarian, runs a monthly Listen to This! session there at which the group (it’s open to anyone) hears in new ways selections from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s vast collection of recordings.
The sessions have been inspired, sometimes wittily so — North Korean music when Dennis Rodman visited that country, for instance. Or timely — when all of the underappreciated singer Harry Nilsson’s albums were reissued a while back, Kemple scheduled a Nilsson marathon.
But even by his high standards, the most recent Listen to This! was brilliant. Using a computer program, Kemple randomly selected 14 LPs — vinyl albums — from the collection. Then, on a portable record player, he played selections/excerpts from each — accompanied by group discussion. The informal name for the presentation was “Record Roulette.”
Those present consistently found unexpected connections in the different recordings, and also made serious and insightful observations. Even when you might think they would treat something like a joke — during an excerpt from The Speechphone Method, for instance, on which speech specialist Hazel P. Brown read pronunciations of words.
One person noticed how the way we say certain words has changed since this record’s 1959 release. And careful listening to Brown’s list-reading of words began a long conversation, not quite an argument, about whether she had a slight New England accent that softened some "R"s.
The evening started with the album Ballads by Niles, from the traditionalist balladic Folk singer and Kentucky native John Jacob Niles (who studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music — now University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music). The late Niles, popular in the 1950s, doesn’t get much airplay these days and several in the group weren’t familiar with him. Especially jarring, at first, was the high voice — it made some think of Tiny Tim — as he started singing “Mattie Groves.” But as it became clearer that Niles was using different voices to portray different characters, and that he had an operatic, storytelling approach to folk music, he impressed all present. This was a real find.
The other records from which we heard excerpts were:
·Songs of Corsica featuring Martha Angelia (It prompted a discussion about the Corsican language.)
·The Trial of the Cantonsville Nine by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. (This was a play based on an act of disobedience in 1968 — the burning of Selective Service-related files — by Catholic activists to protest to Vietnam War. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, was one of the nine. That was a long time — the younger members of the listening group weren’t familiar with it.)
·“March from the River Kwai” by Mitch Miller & His Orchestra, from The 50’s Greatest Hits (The whistling prompted a suggestion for a night of whistling songs.)
·Africa: Ceremonial & Folk Music (We discovered the wrong record had been in the jacket for who-knows-how-many-years — we heard the jazzy track “Americanization of Ooga Booga” by South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela.)
·Classical Russian Poetry read in Russian by Yevgeny Yevtushenko and English by Morris Carnovsky
·“April Come She Will” from Collected Works of Simon & Garfunkel, the closest to rock ‘n’ roll the night got.
·From the seventh realm, a Modernist classical work from the 1920s by Arthur Fickenscher for piano and string quartet (This unfamiliar work, from an unfamiliar composer who pioneered microtonal music, was moving – and had us wondering how many other 20th century composers are out there waiting for rediscovery.)
·Pianist Ronald Smith on a 1977 recording of Twelve Studies in All the Minor Keys, Opus 39, by 19th century French pianist and composer Charles Alkan
·The Best of John Williams (Hoping to hear Star Wars, we discovered this John Williams is the classical guitarist, not the film composer. Entertaining nonetheless.)
·In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, performed by the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center under the direction of Jules Irving (Interestingly, the computer picked two plays about political trials of post-war American leftists. Oppenheimer, one of the chief architects of the A-bomb, was persecuted in the 1950s during the height of McCarthyism for wanting international control of the bomb. From what we heard, the 1964 play had interesting and unusual multimedia aspects, possibly a precursor to the John Adams opera Doctor Atomic.
We were ready to end with some silly pop by now, maybe the Chipmunks or Weird Al Yankovic, but instead the computer chose for us Three Short Operas by Bizet and Romberg’s The Student Prince from a Readers Digest collection, Treasury of Great Operettas.
Afterwards, we discussed it’d be great to have these “Record Roulette” vinyl sessions on a regularly scheduled basis, maybe every other month, so they could build the larger following they deserve.
Kemple posts information on a Facebook event page.
Meanwhile, his remaining June events at the Main Library — at 7 p.m. — are a lecture next Wednesday, June 11, by noted Cincinnati musicologist David Lewis on Mamie Smith, the famed Cincinnati-born singer of early 20th century Blues and Jazz; a multi-act Experimental Music at the Library session on June 18 with headliner Wrest, a free jazz trio with percussionist Ben Bennett , saxophonist Jack Wright and bassist Evan Lipson; and on June 25 another Listen to This! session.
Protesting illegal firings, low wages and erratic scheduling, Walmart workers are taking a stand this afternoon in Cincinnati by walking off their jobs.
Workers will protest outside the Walmart on Ferguson Road at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon with Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, according to a press release sent out this morning.
Today’s strike is part of a larger strike movement happening in 20 cities across the country this week, leading up to the annual shareholder meeting.
The meeting is this Friday and hundreds of worker shareholders are making the trip to Arkansas as part of a union-backed workers group called OUR Walmart. They plan to request a living wage and family-sustaining jobs, calling for the new CEO Doug McMillion to “take the company in a new direction,” the press release said.
A typical Walmart worker is paid less than $25,000 a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average retail worker makes only $21,000 per year and cashiers even less.
Walmart employees say they have to rely on food stamps while their company received $7.8 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in 2013.
OUR Walmart advocates for a $25,000 base salary for all employees.
“A minimum $25,000 salary at Walmart would not only help families, it would boost job creation, consumer spending, and the company’s bottom-line,” the press release said.
The major employer is currently on trial for worker rights violations involving firing workers who went on strike last year at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
The country’s largest and most profitable corporation is also tightening its belt; Walmart took $740 million out of its cost structure in the past year because its operating income grew faster than sales.
Walmart has had to make some changes lately in response to worker’s claims.
In March, the pregnancy policy was updated after an OUR Walmart campaign, allowing for more accommodations for pregnant women.
In April, the retailer changed its internal scheduling system, making it easier for part-time workers to pick up extra shifts online.