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by Danny Cross 06.19.2012

Morning News and Stuff

The ever-debated, never implemented property tax increase will continue to be nonexistent, as will a new police station, playgrounds, some public pools, Music Hall renovations and certain street repavings and building demolitions, according to The Enquirer. Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan will make the deciding vote against City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposed tax increase, which would add $46 to the owner of a $100,000. Also against disproportionately taxing rich people are Councilmen Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld, Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn. Quilivan says the government isn’t the right size and that the government should make the tougher changes before asking for more revenue.

Here are two ways to report the latest news regarding potential Duke Energy rate hike connected to streetcar construction:

• From The Enquirer:  Duke customers could face streetcar tab

• From The Business Courier: “Cincinnati, Duke making progress on moving utility lines

A 15-year-old girl was killed in Over-the-Rhine around 11 p.m. last night. She was reportedly standing with a group of people, though Police haven’t released any details about the shooter.

A new poll shows support for President Obama’s shift on immigration policy.

More Asians are immigrating to the U.S. than Hispanics these days.

Adult humans are 16.5 million tons overweight, which researchers say will threaten the world’s food security and environmental resources.

Approximately half of all new AIDS cases are occurring in the South, and the region is severely short on HIV specialists.

Attorneys for the Penn State football coach who showered with a bunch of boys are starting their defense by painting him in a positive light.

Spotify will stop charging $10 per month for use on mobile devices. Free now.

Facebook acquires Face.com. Ha.

Former baseball player Roger Clemens was acquitted of perjury charges, the latest in a bunch of wasted time by the federal government investigating athletes who can afford really good lawyers.

by Andy Brownfield 08.03.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, President Obama at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Obama Ramps Up Ground Game in Cincinnati

Northern neighborhoods can prepare for calls, canvassers

President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is upping its ground game in Cincinnati, opening its fourth field office in the city on Thursday evening.

The new College Hill office will be the source of phone calls and canvassers to the Mount Healthy, Northside, North College Hill and College Hill neighborhoods. The Obama campaign already has field offices in East Walnut Hills, Cheviot and Forest Park.

Obama’s Republican rival Mitt Romney’s campaign has three offices: in Kenwood, Westwood and Colerain. Staff contact Kelsey Romanchik said she didn’t know if there were plans to open more.

More than 150 people braved the sweltering Cincinnati humidity for the opening of the Obama College Hill field office. They were greeted by a drum line outside of the office, as well as inside a mainstay of any such campaign event — snacks.

Keynote speaker City Councilman Cecil Thomas sounded off many of the Obama campaign’s talking points, attacking Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, his refusal to release further tax returns and Romney’s tax plan, which a recent study by the Tax Policy Center says will raise taxes on the middle class by eliminating popular tax credits.

“Why in the world would I vote for someone like that?” asked Thomas.

by Kevin Osborne 03.08.2012
youth vote

Fewer Republicans, Youth are Voting

Ohio’s turnout better than national numbers

Voter turnout for Tuesday’s Ohio primary was a disappointing 13.9 percent but the turnout among young people — those aged 30 and under — was even lower.

Although the Republican primary in Ohio was highly contested, youth turnout was far below the amount that voted in the 2008 primary. Just 7 percent of Ohio youth turned out Tuesday to vote in the Republican primary, compared to 25 percent four years ago when there was both a contested Democratic and Republican primary.

An analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) found that about 131,000 young people voted Tuesday, with 37 percent choosing Rick Santorum, 28 percent choosing Mitt Romney and 25 percent choosing Ron Paul.

Despite the dismal number, Ohio still was above the overall youth turnout for the 10 contests on Super Tuesday. CIRCLE found that youth turnout was 5 percent in the seven primaries and three caucuses.

Combining the five Super Tuesday states in which exit polls were conducted with adequate youth samples, CIRCLE estimates that 88,000 total youth voted for Paul, with nearly 88,000 who voted for Santorum, about 86,000 for Romney, and about 43,000 for Newt Gingrich.

The candidates performed differently in each state: Paul came in first among youth voters in Virginia; Santorum, in Ohio and Tennessee; Romney, in Massachusetts; and Gingrich, in Georgia.

In all of the primaries and caucuses so far — excluding states where there were no exit or entrance polls about youth vote choice — youth vote tallies stand at approximately 201,000 for Romney, 200,000 for Paul, 162,000 for Santorum, and 87,000 for Gingrich.

By this point in the 2008 primary campaign, Democrat Barack Obama had drawn more than six times as many youth votes as any of the Republican 2012 candidates, with about 1.36 million youth votes, although more primaries were contested on or before Super Tuesday in 2008.

Political observers have theorized there is an “enthusiasm gap” among Republican voters based on lower overall voter turnout in most of the states that have held presidential primaries so far. Turnout has been lower in eight of the 13 states when compared to the 2008 primaries — although Ohio isn’t among them.

Ohio’s overall voter turnout this year was 13.9 percent, higher than the 12.8 percent who voted in 2008, but lower than the 16.8 percent who voted in 2000, according to a review by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.

Based on final and official results from the six states whose primaries preceded Super Tuesday and near final and unofficial results from the seven Super Tuesday primaries, 7.85 million people voted out of 68.13 million eligible citizens, or 11.5 percent.

Turnout was 13.2 percent of eligible citizens in 2008, and it was 12.2 percent in 2000.

Founded in 2001, CIRCLE conducts research on young Americans’ voting and political participation, along with other forms of civic engagement. It is based at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, the Bipartisan Policy Center is a think tank that seeks to create policy solutions through “reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue.” It is based in Washington, D.C.

by Andy Brownfield 09.04.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, Media at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
reporter notebook

Reporter's Notebook: Mitt Romney Comes to Town

Amusements and things that didn't make it into our story

There are a lot of things that don’t make it into any given news story. When you attend an event as a reporter, such as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Union Terminal last Saturday (as I did), you wait in line for about an hour, then wait inside for another hour while security checks every visitor.

During that time, you’re talking to people who are attending, taking notes to provide color for the story (things such as what songs are playing, slogans on shirts or signs, the general mood or atmosphere) and getting information from the event staff, such as how many tickets were given out, how many people are estimated to attend, etc.

Then there are the speakers — about an hour of politicians talking. After that, there’s the counter press conference with local Democratic officials. Then you make phone calls to fill in any gaps.

With all of that material and the average reader attention span on 800 words, a lot of information gets left out of any given piece. So here are some things I found interesting from Romney’s visit that didn’t make it into my story that day.

  • The most popular attire seemed to be Reds items. Many event-goers wore Reds T-shirts or caps, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who spoke at the event, wore a Reds ballcap and opened his speech with “So Cincinnati, how about these Redlegs?” and talked about Jay Bruce’s homer the previous night.
  • U.S. House Speaker John Boehner attended the rally. I remember seeing him on TV at the Republican National Convention and commenting that he didn’t look as tan anymore. Must have been the cameras. In person, he was at least five shades darker than the pasty Portman.
  • U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot also spoke at the rally. While most speakers stuck to short speeches meant to pump up attendees and introduce Romney, Chabot got local. He encouraged attendees to vote against Issue 2, a ballot measure appearing in November that would change the way redistricting is done in Ohio. Currently congressional redistricting is done by the Legislature, which can give one party an advantage if they control both houses and the governor’s mansion. Chabot said Issue 2, which would set up an independent commission to redraw congressional districts, would allow special interest groups to take voters out of the equation and have the lines drawn by “unelected, unaccountable” people. (CityBeat covered this year's redistricting issue here and here.)
  • As politicians do, speakers from both Republican and Democratic camps tried to spin the message. Portman told rally attendees that we were in the midst of the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, a statement independent fact checkers determined to be false. UPDATE 9/5/12: According to Republicans in the Joint Economic Committee and a report by The Associated Press economic growth and consumer spending have recovered more slowly from this recession than any time since The Great Depression. A PolitiFact check of Romney's claim that it was the slowest jobs recovery was deemed to be false.
  • Meanwhile, in their press conference after the rally, Democrats had maybe a dozen local Cincinnatians in a small public area near Music Hall. Obama’s campaign provided signs and had them all crowd behind a podium where local politicians spoke. For the TV cameras, it probably looked like a sizeable crowd, which is an old trick.
    by Kevin Osborne 02.06.2012

    Morning News and Stuff

    Despite all of the incessant hype, there actually are other things going on in the world besides the Super Bowl. So, grab your beverage of choice, sit back and we’ll tell you about a few of them. (And we promise nary a mention of Tom Brady or Eli Manning. Well, after this paragraph, that is.)

    A study by Chicago University’s Booth Business School found that the use of social media might be more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol. A team used BlackBerrys to gauge the willpower of 205 people between the ages of 18 and 85 in and around the German city of Würtzburg. The researchers say sex and sleep still appear to be stronger urges, but tweeting and checking email are more irresistible to some people than smoking or drinking.

    Read More

    by Andy Brownfield 08.08.2012

    Commissioners Vote to Keep Senior, Mental Health Levies Flat

    Tax levies will stay at 2008 levels, representing millions in reduced funding for services

    Faced with the choice of raising property taxes or funding senior and mental health services at their current levels, the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners voted on Wednesday to approve a ballot measure that would effectively cut tens of millions of dollars from those services if passed by voters.

    “It seems wrongheaded for us to ask citizens to pay more in taxes when their homes are worth less, when costs have gone up in their households and when in many cases their paychecks are down,” said Board President Greg Hartmann. “So we need to hold the line on those property taxes.”

    The tax rate would be held at the levels passed by voters in 2008, which would be an effective reduction due to declining property values. If Hamilton County voters approve the levies in November, senior services would see a $7 million reduction in funding over the next five years — down to $97 million from $104 million — while funding for mental health services would fall $17 million from $187 million to $170 million, Hartmann said.

    The money funds services such as meals on wheels, in-home care for seniors, counseling and drug and alcohol addiction and treatment services.

    The board’s sole Democrat — Commissioner Todd Portune — made the symbolic gesture of submitting an alternate proposal which would have funded services at the levels providers had requested, but it failed without support from either of the board’s two Republican members.

    Portune’s resolution would have increased property taxes by $5 for every $100,000 the property was worth. He said voters should be given the option to shoulder the additional tax burden. He later voted in favor of Hartmann’s resolution, saying the worst thing that could happen would be for voters to approve no levy.

    Commissioners also approved a resolution to formally review all healthcare services provided by the county in hopes of saving money by eliminating any that were duplicated at the federal level under the healthcare overhaul.

    Hartmann said he didn’t come to the decision to keep the levies at the current rate lightly and pledged to work with the recipients to manage the reduction.

    Many of those providers appeared at three public hearings held in the last month and with near unanimity asked commissioners to approve the increased rates — which would have kept funding even by countering the money lost from decreased property values.

    Patrick Tribbe, president and CEO of the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, didn’t outline specific cuts the agency would undertake, but told reporters after the commissioners’ vote that he would spend the next six months planning for the start of the next fiscal year, when the cuts would take effect.

    The Tax Levy Review Committee had recommended that the property tax rate remain flat instead of increasing. It suggested that service providers reduce their administrative costs and find areas to increase efficiency. 

    Many of the providers who spoke at the public hearings said they had already cut administrative costs about as deeply as they could and had very little room for to cut further.

    by Kevin Osborne 02.28.2012
    Posted In: 2012 Election, Democrats, Green Party, Republicans at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    Early Voting Ends Friday

    Deadline for mail-in ballots is noon Saturday

    Anyone hoping to avoid long lines at the polls on Election Day next week has a little more time to cast their ballots before the March 6 primary.

    Early voting — both at the Board of Elections and via mail-in ballot — is still underway. The deadline for mail-in ballots is Saturday, March 3, at noon. Early in-office voting ends on Friday, March 2, at 6 p.m.

    Early in-office voting is available 8 a.m.-6 p.m. each day this week, through Friday. The Hamilton County Board of Elections is located at 824 Broadway, downtown.

    For more information, call the board’s offices at 513-632-7039, 513-632 7040 or 513-632-7044 or visit the board’s website.

    by Kevin Osborne 03.23.2012

    Santorum: Vote for Obama Over Romney?

    GOP candidate backs off earlier comment

    Conservative presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is busy today trying to clarify a comment he made Thursday that indicated reelecting President Barack Obama would be better than electing Santorum’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney.

    Santorum’s comment, made in San Antonio, Texas, at the USAA insurance company, drew criticism from Romney, Newt Gingrich and other Republicans.

    "You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who's just going to be a little different than the person in there," Santorum said in San Antonio. "If you're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future."

    Romney quickly fired back about Santorum’s comment.

    “I am in this race to defeat Barack Obama and restore America's promise,” Romney said. “I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican. This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America. Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure.”

    Not to be left out, Gingrich took to Twitter to join in the symbolic thrashing.

    "Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.” Gingrich tweeted.

    This morning Santorum’s campaign released a statement that sought to clarify what the candidate meant. (How many times has that phrase had to be used in relation to Santorum in the past few months?)

    "I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous,” Santorum said in the prepared statement. “This is just another attempt by the Romney campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney's policies mirror Barack Obama's.”

    Santorum added, “I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it's easy to see why — Romney has sided with Obama on health-care mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts.  Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign's movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation.  If this election is about Obama versus the Obama-Lite candidate, we have a tough time rallying this nation."

    Santorum might be correct about the enthusiasm gap over Romney.

    A new poll found that more people offer negative than positive assessments of Romney. But, tellingly, this also is the case for Romney’s rivals — Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul.

    When Americans were asked what one word comes to mind when thinking about Romney, the top responses were “no” or “no way,” and “rich.” After those, the most frequently used words were “flip-flopper,” “idiot” and “arrogant.”

    Roughly twice as many respondents gave negative one-word descriptions of Romney rather than positive terms, 30 percent versus 14 percent; just 29 percent used neutral terms.

    The most frequently used terms for Santorum, with the exception of “no,” were “crazy,” “too conservative,” “extreme” and “idiot.”

    A mere 13 percent of respondents used positive words for Santorum, while 30 percent used negative words and 22 percent used neutral terms.

    Words most frequently offered about Gingrich were “old,” “no,” “no way,” “idiot” and “untrustworthy.”

    Thirty-nine percent of respondents used negative terms about Gingrich, compared to 10 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.

    The most frequent descriptions used for Paul were slightly better, but not by much: “no,” “old,” “Libertarian,” “honest” and “crazy.”

    Twenty-seven percent of respondents used negative terms to describe Paul, compared to 15 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.

    The national survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post. It surveyed 1,009 adults March 15-18.

    Of the respondents, 605 were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 404 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 176 who had no landline telephone.

    The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.

    by Kevin Osborne 02.20.2012

    Morning News and Stuff

    Today is Presidents' Day and even though it's a federal holiday, most readers probably don't have the day off from work. You can console yourself about this affront to George and Honest Abe by learning all about the holiday's quirky history. For example, it was the first holiday authorized to commemorate an American citizen (Mr. Washington) and was split among three different holidays until President Nixon decided to consolidate them in 1971. (Thanks for that, Dick.) And here's CityBeat contributer Ryan Carpe's account of interesting anecdotes involving several presidents from Ohio.

    Xavier University is facing yet another federal investigation for possible civil rights violations. The probe, the third since December, again involves allegations that campus officials didn't appropriately investigate and punish complaints of sexual assaults filed by female students. In the latest incident, 2011 XU graduate Caitlin Pinciotti charges that she was sexually assaulted in late 2008. She says the university allowed the student found responsible in a March 2009 campus disciplinary hearing to flout terms of his one-semester suspension and frequently return to campus.

    Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. looks back on his 41-year political career as he prepares to retire later this year. Leis, 77, was county prosecutor and a judge before being elected to his first term as sheriff in 1987. He is perhaps best known for his 1977 prosecution of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, which was later thrown out on a technicality, and his temporarily shutting down a photographic exhibit by Robert Mapplethorpe at the Contemporary Arts Center in 1990, both of which helped solidify Cincinnati's image as a backwards, culturally inept burg on the national scene.

    Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is in town today, stumping before Ohio's March 6 primary. Romney will visit Meridian Bioscience in Newtown this afternoon, then hold a $2,500-a-plate fundraising dinner at downtown's Great American Tower at 5 p.m.

    Do you plan on using the bridge that replaces the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River whenever it's finally built? Then you'd better have some change ready. Greater Cincinnati business leaders said tolls likely will be part of whatever financing plan eventually is cobbled together for the $2.3 billion project.

    In news elsewhere, a Washington Post analysis of various speeches and documents from years past reveals that GOP presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich criticized President Reagan and often took moderate positions on some issues until it became more politically expedient to portray himself as a staunch conservative.

    Nuclear inspectors from the United Nations are visiting Iran to verify that its uranium enrichment work is peaceful in purpose and isn't designed to make weapons. International tensions have risen due to speculation that Israel may soon carry out a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

    It's not just the United States and Europe that's having problems with deficits. Japan is posting a record trade deficit in January as fuel imports rose sharply following last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster. January's deficit totaled $18.5 billion, the highest since the nation began record-keeping in 1979, officials said.

    Canada is threatening a trade war with the European Union over the bloc's plan to label oil from Alberta's vast tar sands as highly polluting in a key vote scheduled for Thursday. Canadian officials believe it would set a global precedent and derail its ability to exploit its tar sands, which are the biggest fossil fuel reserve in the world after Saudi Arabia.
    by Danny Cross 05.18.2012

    Morning News and Stuff

    After 18 months in the courts, Democrat Tracie Hunter has won a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judgeship, but a GOP challenge to the court's acceptance of Hunter's challenge is likely to follow. Republican John Williams led hunter by 23 votes on election night 2010, but Hunter filed a lawsuit over provisional ballots cast at incorrect polling stations that weren't counted. After a recount of 286 provisional ballots, Hunter moved ahead by 74 votes. Republican board of election members reportedly plan to argue that the 286 should not have been recounted.

    The Enquirer's Mark Curnutte today offered an analysis of recently released census data that shows a steady growth of the regional Hispanic population and a growth of minority population in areas outside the city that were once largely white. Cincinnati's data suggests that the city and region are slightly different than the nation's overall trend, which in 2011 for the first time found a majority of the country's under 1-year-old population minority (50.4 percent), up from 49.5 percent in 2010.

    Included in The Enquirer's story, which included a profile of a Mexican-American Florence family that moved to Northern Kentucky eight years ago from Los Angeles:

    A decrease of 1.3 percentage points in Hamilton County’s black population under 5 was countered by increases in the black population under 5 in each of the region’s six other core counties: Butler, Clermont and Warren in Ohio and Boone, Campbell and Kenton in Kentucky.

    Overall, the regional population of Hispanic children under 5 years rose from 7,583 in 2010 to 8,032 in 2011, a proportional increase of 0.4 percentage points to 6.1 percent.

    The family of a teenager fatally shot by a Cincinnati police officer on Fountain Square last summer has filed a federal lawsuit alleging police used excessive force and violated 16-year-old Davon Mullins' constitutional rights. Police say Mullins pulled a handgun, but the lawsuit says he had been disarmed before officer Oscar Cyranek shot him multiple times.

    Cincinnati's Bike Month revelers and Over-the-Rhine residents received some good news this week when Reser Bicycle Outfitters announced the opening of an OTR location. The store could open by June 1 in the 1400 block of Vine Street.

    Legislation regulating ownership and breeding of exotic animals has been approved by the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, 17-4. Senate Bill 310 could get through the full House and Senate next week and be signed by Gov. John Kasich soon afterward. The ban on the acquisition, sale and breeding of certain species would take affect 90 days later.

    Europe is preparing for Greece to completely duck out of the Eurozone. The world markets are feeling the pressure.

    Mitt Romney has released his first general election TV ad. And he's giving cookies to the media.

    Former Senator John Edwards will learn his fate today, as a jury was set to deliberate this morning on charges that Edwards used campaign funds to conceal an affair during his run for president.

    More than 200 pages of documents, photos and audio recordings were released yesterday offering further details about what happened the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

    The documents include an FBI audio analysis of the 911 call placed by a resident that captured yells and screams. Two FBI examiners said they could not determine whether it was Martin or Zimmerman yelling because of the poor quality of the recording and the "extreme emotional state" of screamer.

    The AP is live-blogging Facebook's stock market debut. Why does Bono have so much Facebook?

    Cell phone maker Nokia has accused Apple of programming bias into its interactive Siri voice search by making it answer the question “What is the best smartphone ever?” by stating “"Wait... there are other phones?" The answer had apparently previously been “Nokia's Lumia 900.” Apple won't say whether or not it changed Siri's answer after finding the glitch.

    A new study suggests that nighttime fasting can go a long way toward keeping you slim even if you eat bad stuff during the day.

    Scientists have found a car-sized turtle shell.

    The private space launch is scheduled for 4:55 a.m. Saturday, and there will be alcohol involved.