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by Danny Cross 05.07.2012

Morning News and Stuff

Plans to put a culture tax in front of voters have been put on hold due to a potential conflict with a Cincinnati Zoo tax renewal levy that will be on the 2013 ballot. Backers of the culture tax — a 0.25 percentage-point sales tax increase that would raise $30 million annually — fear that overlapping the tax increase and levy could be confusing and potentially hurt the chances of either to be approved. The culture tax will likely be put on the 2014 ballot.

City Council this fall will consider a new form-based development code that will allow individual neighborhoods to create their own codes that supporters say will reinforce neighborhoods' existing urban fabric while aiding in development. Supporters include the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Cincinnati Inc. “For developers, there is more predictability and basically no battles. And once they know the parameters, (developers) can really turn their creativity loose,” David Ginsburg, president and CEO of Downtown Cincinnati Inc., told The Enquirer.

The Enquirer on Sunday checked in on the state's higher education situation, finding that many recent college graduates and families of potential college students are wondering if college is even worth it considering the high cost — “total student loan debt is nearing $1 trillion, or more than $20,000 for each graduate” — and lack of guaranteed return — “government data this year show that fully half of graduates 25 or younger are either unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t use the skills they learned in college." No word on whether Enquirer-endorsed Gov. John Kasich thinks his kids should skip college and go straight into the service industry.

A record number of participants ran in this year's Flying Pig Marathon over the weekend. The winners were Californian Sergio Reyes, who also won the men's race in 2009, and Rachel Bea, a Kenwood resident.

Joe Biden says he is “comfortable” with same-sex marriage, though he doesn't know the answer to the question of whether a second-term Obama administration would come out in favor of legalizing gay marriage.

Europe's election results have gone and spooked the markets, due to political uncertainty in Greece and the defeat of French President Nicolas Sarkozy by Socialist Francois Hollande.

Vladimir Putin is back in business in Russia, amid protests.

Al-Qaeda has released a video of an elderly American hostage who says he will be killed if President Obama doesn't agree to Al-Qaeda's demands, which include ending military strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

An ad campaign linking global warming believers to terrorists only lasted a few hours before public outcry forced the Heartland Institute, a libertarian organization funded by a bunch of corporations who don't want to stop polluting the earth, to take them down. One billboard included Ted Kaczynski's mug shot with the words: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

Poll watch: “Romney polling well with independents as Obama campaign kicks off.

The supermoon was in full effect over the weekend, reportedly “wowing” viewers.

by German Lopez 08.31.2012

Early Voting Gets Another Weekend

Judge approves in-person early voting for weekend and Monday before Election Day

In a statement on Aug. 22, Secretary of State Jon Husted said of early voting, “The rules are set and are not going to change.” Husted made the comment in an attempt to end discussion over in-person early voting hours.

Unfortunately for Husted, a federal judge disagrees. In a ruling today, Judge Peter Economus said in-person early voting must be restored for all registered voters to include the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day. Husted will now work with county boards of elections around the state to decide the voting hours for those days.

The ruling is the outcome of President Barack Obama’s campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party suing Husted to extend in-person early voting. Before the ruling, only military personnel and their families were allowed to vote, which the Obama team and Democrats argued was unfair to non-military voters. With the ruling, everyone — including military personnel and their families — will be able to vote during  the three days before election day.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has vowed to appeal the ruling, but, for now, the news comes as a victory to Obama and Democrats in the ongoing struggle over early voting hours. 

Recently, Republicans have tried to block any statewide expansion of in-person early voting, citing costs and racial politics. Doug Preisse, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party and close adviser to Gov. John Kasich, previously wrote to The Columbus Dispatch in an email, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”

Republicans defended Preisse’s racially insensitive comment by calling it “background” and saying it was supposed to be off the record. But those defenses didn’t match Preisse’s defense of his own comment, and they didn’t deny the substance of the comment. CityBeat covered the racial politics behind early voting in this week’s issue (“Republicans Admit Racial Politics,” issue of Aug. 29).

Mike Wilson, the Republican candidate for state representative in Ohio’s 28th district, also voiced some concerns about the lawsuit. He said extending in-person early voting for everyone could make lines too long for military personnel and their families.

by Kevin Osborne 01.26.2012

Morning News and Stuff

It’s yet another gloomy, rainy morning in Cincinnati, so let’s let our minds take a voyage around the Internet and see what is going on in the world during the last 24 hours.

House Speaker John Boehner is probably cringing at a CBS News poll that found an overwhelming majority of Americans like the proposals mentioned in President Obama’s State of the Union address. And by “overwhelming,” we mean a whopping 91 percent of respondents. (You read that correctly.)

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by Danny Cross 07.13.2012

Morning News and Stuff

A citizen committee has determined that levy-funded Hamilton County social-service agencies need to provide their services with fewer resources, advising that property owners pay the same levy rate despite decreases in property values that will reduce funding for groups that help senior citizens and people with mental illnesses. The decision by the 11-member committee will reportedly affect 30,000 residents who rely on such agencies to provide services such as meal delivery and counseling. In order to keep funding level the levy would have had to increase the cost for the owner of a $100,000 home by $6. 

From The Enquirer: 

Bosses of the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio had already agreed to live on less, but argued against some committee recommendations.

Those include:

• Raising the age criteria. Currently 9 percent of clients are between 60 and 70 years old. An agency spokeswoman said that’s because services are disability-based. Some “younger” seniors – those suffering from strokes and early Alzheimer’s, for instance – have more needs than older people.

• Requiring new clients to meet U.S. legal resident requirements. According to the agency, screening for U.S. citizenship would make the program ineligible to use Older Americans Act dollars, at a cost of almost $1.2 million a year. The spokeswoman said all clients live in the county.

Enquirer reporters Carrie Whitaker and Janice Morse broke from traditional journalistic standard on Tuesday by reporting the names of teenagers involved in an alleged theft and police chase. The three girls, ages 16, 14 and 12, were identified by full name and as being from Avondale and Pleasant Ridge. A follow up story on Wednesday reported two of the girls being released from the hospital. It also included the minors’ names and did not include a reporter’s byline.

Jean Schmidt sided with Democrats on an attempt to stop Republicans from cutting even deeper the funding for the national food stamp program. The legislation that passed will cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by more than $16 billion over 10 years. GOP lawmakers wanted it cut by $33 billion. 

Iran put on a missile show on Friday, demonstrating the accuracy of its long-range missiles and their ability to hit Western bases and Israel

Headline: “Wells Fargo Posts $4.6 Billion Profit, Up 17%.” Big ups, Wells Fargo!

Condoleezza Rice as Romney’s running mate? Sarah Palin says it’s a good idea. 

A nearly complete skeleton of a human ancestor has been found in South Africa. 

by Danny Cross 09.23.2011

Morning News and Stuff

President Obama came to town yesterday, rolled up his sleeves and told a group of 1,500 supporters to tell Congress to get to work on passing his jobs bill. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell reportedly stayed in Washington, called the speech “political theater” and then ate some steaks. These mopes fact-checked the speech, finding that the major points were accurate, including the fact that all McConnell and Boehner really want to do is defeat Obama and eat steaks.

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by Danny Cross 05.23.2012

Morning News and Stuff

We Are Ohio, the organization that helped repeal SB5 last year, says it will team up with nonpartisan Ohio Voters First to help put on the November ballot a constitutional amendment that would change the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn. The effort is in response to Republican-drawn redistricting maps that attempted to create 12 solidly GOP districts and four Democratic districts. The proposal calls for a nonpartisan commission to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries rather than letting politicians and anyone who gives them money do it.

The University of Cincinnati has released a study showing a considerable economic impact from construction of The Banks. Between construction contractors, new residents and visitors to the area's restaurants, the development reportedly will impact the local economy by more than $90 million a year.

The parent company of Cincinnati's Horseshoe Casino will host two informational sessions this week to offer local vendors information on how to bid on contracts for supplies and services the entertainment complex will need. The first takes place 6 p.m. tonight at Bell Events Centre near the casino site at 444 Reading Road, and the second is 9 a.m. Thursday at Great American Ball Park.

The Enquirer on Tuesday reported that the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University have agreed to move the Crosstown Shootout to U.S. Bank Arena for two years in response to last year's massive brawl. NBC Sports today reported that the presents of both universities issued a press release in response, stating that no final decision had been made.

The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University were both surprised to see today’s announcement concerning the future of the Crosstown Shootout. While both schools are committed to the future of the Crosstown rivalry, specific discussions are ongoing and no details have been finalized. We look forward to sharing our plans with the community at an appropriate time in the coming weeks.

If it does happen, The Enquirer's Bill Koch says it's reasonable, while Paul Daugherty says that's fine but kind of dumb.

President Obama is finding it rather difficult to even win primaries against nobodies in the South. Not that it's surprise or really matters, though.

Of course, there are reasons for these kinds of returns. Few Democrats are voting in these primaries where Obama faces only token opposition; only protest voters are truly motivated.

There's also the fact that Obama is an underdog to Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the states of Kentucky, Arkansas, and West Virginia; Obama lost all three in 2008 to John McCain.

Another potential factor: Race.

Just when you thought Sarah Palin was super reliable, she goes and backs a Utah Republican incumbent over a tea party supported candidate.

The John Edwards jury entered its fourth day of deliberations today because they need to see more prosecution exhibits.

A white supremacist was sentenced to 40 years in jail by a federal judge for a 2004 package bomb attack that injured a black city administrator in Arizona.

European researchers say they can figure out if Bigfoot really existed, if they can just get one of his hairs.

The film version of On the Road premiered at the Cannes Film Festival today, 55 years after Jack Kerouac's Beat Generation-defining novel was published. London's The Guardian says the “handsome shots and touching sadness don't compensate for the tedious air of self-congratulation in Walter Salles's road movie.”

by Danny Cross 10.17.2011

Morning News and Stuff

Here's how The Enquirer describes an Ohio Supreme Court decision allowing Democrats to challenge a ridiculous Republican attempt to unfairly redraw Congressional districts: “Court ruling throws 2012 elections into chaos.” Here's the same report by WLWT, minus the drama: “Ohio Supreme Court Allows Redistricting Challenge.”

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by Danny Cross 10.07.2011

Morning News and Stuff

The Ides of March opens nationally today. Here's what one of CityBeat's highly respected film critics thinks of it. And here's an interview with Max Minghella by another smart person who works here.

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by Danny Cross 10.27.2011

Morning News and Stuff

City Council conservatives made Mayor Mallory real mad yesterday, blocking his appointment of Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan to the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District. An initial vote actually allowed the appointment until appointed Republican Councilman Wayne Lippert heard that the other Republicans and Chris Bortz voted against it for various trivial reasons. Lippert asked for a re-vote and swung it the other way.

Mallory reportedly called out the conservatives, referring to them as "extremely unprofessional" and "horribly non-functional." According to The Enquirer, the normally even-tempered Mallory responded to their suggestions that they'd like to see someone else receive the appointment by saying, "that person's not getting appointed” and later adding, "I appoint a lot of people to a lot of things. And this will be remembered."

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by German Lopez 09.18.2012

Morning News and Stuff

President Barack Obama announced trade action against China while in Cincinnati yesterday. Obama said his team had filed a lawsuit at the World Trade Organization on the claim China is cheating in auto trade by offering “extensive subsidies” to its automakers and auto-part producers. China fired back with its own lawsuit for U.S. tariffs that raise the price on a variety of Chinese products — from steels to tires. Anti-China rhetoric has fast become the latest flavor of the month for the Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns, and China is not happy with it.

But the presidential race raced back to gaffes over trade policy when Mother Jones posted amazingly candid footage of Romney speaking to millionaires at a fundraiser. In the videos, Romney straightforwardly outlines campaign strategy. In one video, Romney said he doesn’t care about getting the vote of the 47 percent of Americans that don’t pay taxes because he doesn’t believe he can convince them to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” The Obama team retaliated in a statement: “It's shocking that a candidate for president of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as ‘victims,’ entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives. It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”

Ohioans love their local schools, a new survey shows. The survey also found Ohioans trust their local school boards of education with education-related decisions, but they really don’t trust the state superintendent, governor or legislature.

Hamilton County courts want to go paperless. The move would save money and space and make the system more efficient.

County budget meetings are still chugging along. Different department directors are still pleading for no cuts, but the commissioners insist cuts have to be made somewhere.

Cincinnati police announced a new Taser policy. The new policy disallows the use of frontal shots except in situations involving self-defense and the defense of others, reinforces the fact officers need to make sure such force is necessary and points out people have been injured due to Taser use. The new policy was brought about due to findings Taser use can kill in rare situations.

Cincinnati launched a national design competition for the decks over Fort Washington Way that will connect the Banks and Central Business District.

A new Hamilton County initiative to improve neighborhoods will tear down 700 dilapidated homes.

The streetcar’s yearlong delay got an explanation yesterday. A few issues are to blame, including the city’s ongoing conflict with Duke Energy over who has to pay for moving utility lines to accommodate for the streetcar.

The amount of people on Ohio’s death row is shrinking. After Donald Palmer’s execution, Ohio will drop to its lowest death row population since July 1995.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted launched a mailing campaign to clean up voter rolls. Using data from U.S. Postal Service National Change of Address Registry, Husted mailed 70,000 former Ohioans encouraging them to cancel their voter registration. The action is a lot tamer than Republican-led efforts to purge voter rolls in other states, which states like Florida, Iowa and Colorado have backed out of — at least for now.

Duke Energy unveiled its new logo.

A new meta-analysis found fish oil may not live up to its health hype.

NASA is now saying faster-than-light travel may be possible and feasible. The technology would allow spaceships to travel to Mars in minutes. Still, the theory does have some problems.