In Cincinnati, an ankle MRI can range in price from $367.46 to $2,865.42, but weak transparency laws make it difficult for consumers to compare prices. But to make up for the lack of transparency, some companies are providing compiled price and quality data to paying employers. A previous report from Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute gave 29 states an “F” for health-care price transparency, Ohio and six other states a “D” and only New Hampshire and Massachusetts an “A.”
Ohio House Republicans killed Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid expansion plan, but Ohio Democrats are planning to introduce the expansion as a standalone bill. The expansion, which was one of the few aspects of Kasich's budget that Democrats supported, would have saved the state money and insured 456,000 Ohioans by 2022, according to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. CityBeat covered the Medicaid expansion and other aspects of Kasich’s budget proposal here.
In two 5-4 votes yesterday, City Council approved the executive director position for the streetcar project and a repeal on a “double dipping” ban. The city says it needs the measures to hire John Deatrick, the current manager of The Banks project, to head the streetcar project, but critics argue the city should not be making hires when it’s threatening to lay off 189 cops and 80 firefighters to balance the budget — even though the hire is through the capital budget used for the streetcar project, not the general fund that is used to employ cops and firefighters. CityBeat wrote more about the new position and the double dipping ban here.
This week’s commentary from CityBeat: “Religious Birth Control Exemptions Are a Double Standard.”
City Council also approved the Music Hall lease, which will enable extensive renovations. CityBeat covered some of the original details of the renovation plan when it was first announced here.
StateImpact Ohio has some information on how Ohio House Republicans’ plan for school funding differs from Kasich’s proposal. The big difference is Kasich’s plan was based on property taxes, which ended up being regressive, while the House plan is based on the average cost to educate each student, which makes it so less schools, particularly poor and rural schools that fell under Kasich’s plan, have their funding reduced. The House plan also expands performance-based pay and school choice, which Policy Matters previously found may hurt students and teachers. CityBeat covered Kasich’s proposal in further detail here.
Policy Matters Ohio posted an interactive map showing the county-by-county benefits of a state earned income tax credit. The credit, which mostly benefits low- and middle-income earners with children, is already used by the federal government and some states to progressively reward employment.
Freedom Ohio and Equality Ohio will debate the Family Research Council today over whether Ohio should legalize same-sex marriage. The debate will be streamed here. CityBeat covered Freedom Ohio’s same-sex marriage legalization efforts here.
The U.S. Postal Service will drop its threats to stop delivering on Saturdays after Congress denied the action.
A new study found humans tend to think strangers are staring at them.
Headline: “Why Are Monkey Butts So Colorful?”
Mayor Mallory and JT, just hanging at the White House. NBD.
Timberlake was at the White House this week (performing last night, April 9) to celebrate Memphis Soul music as part of the upcoming PBS In Performance at the White House series, airing 8 p.m. April 16.
Watch Timberlake perform some classic Otis Redding, along with snippets of a performance by Ben Harper and some more music:
As part of an effort supporting a state earned income tax credit (EITC), Policy Matters Ohio unveiled an interactive map today that shows the potential benefits to taxpayers in different counties.
For Hamilton County, about 19 percent of tax-filing households would qualify for the program. A 10-percent EITC would return about $15.6 million to households in Hamilton County, or about $225 on average for each qualifying filer. A 20-percent EITC would return about $31.2 million to Hamilton County, with each qualifying filer getting about $451 on average.
EITC is a tax credit that goes to working families, typically favoring low- and middle-income earners with children. It is already used by the federal government and several states to progressively reward employment.
Since then, Ohio House Republicans have rejected most of Kasich's tax proposals, instead downsizing the plan to a 7-percent across-the-board tax cut with no sales tax expansion.
Here is the interactive map, courtesy of Policy Matters:
Local Pop Rock crew Mixtapes' first track from their forthcoming full-length Ordinary Silence premiered today on The A.V. Club, The Onion's non-parody (yet still often funny) arts and entertainment website.
The little hyper-catchy slice of melodic heaven "Elevator Days" will be featured on Mixtapes new album, Ordinary Silence, which is scheduled for release on June 25 through California-based independent label, No Sleep Records. If radio had a brain, this tune would be a radio smash. But, well, you know …
Singer/guitarist/songwriter Ryan Rockwell says "Elevator Days" is "a song about being so stuck that short of running away or crying you feel hopeless,” says Rockwell. “It's a song about realizing that every day I judge everyone around me and never realizing I'm the one that needs to change. 90 percent of our problems with other people i think are actually ourselves, it can be an awful realization, and also a necessary one.”
Click here to listen to the track or check out the YouTube version below. If you pre-order the new album, you'll receive an automatic download of "Elevator Days."
The 14-track album was recorded with Eric Tuffendsam at Moonlight Studios in Fairfield, just like Mixtapes' debut release, Even on the Worst Nights, which came out just last year. The band is gearing up for a massive cross-country tour starting in May, which will culminate with a couple of weeks on the Vans Warped Tour. Mixtapes is slated to appear at the Warped Tour stop at Riverbend in Cincinnati on July 30.
Click here to read our interview with Rockwell from last summer.
Ohio House Republicans released their own budget proposal yesterday that does away with many of Gov. John Kasich’s proposed policies. The budget gets rid of the Medicaid expansion, the oil and gas severance tax and the sales tax expansion. It also reduces the state income tax cut to 7 percent, down from 20 percent in Kasich’s plan. The amount of schools getting no increased funding under a new school funding formula decreased from 368 in Kasich’s plan to 175 in the House plan, addressing issues that selective wealthy schools were benefiting too much from Kasich’s proposed school funding formula. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget proposal in detail here.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is criticizing the Ohio House’s proposed budget for defunding Planned Parenthood and redirecting federal funds to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). A study from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, which is highly supportive of abortion rights, found 47 percent of CPCs gave inaccurate medical information regarding a link between mental health problems and abortion, and 38 percent provided false information about the connection between breast cancer, infertility and abortion, among other findings.
The city of Cincinnati is asking Judge Robert Winkler to stay his previous ruling so the city can use emergency clauses to expedite legislation. City Solicitor John Curp says the city needs emergency clause powers in case of natural disasters and to advance economic development deals that need to be implemented before 30 days. The city previously used emergency clauses to avoid a 30-day waiting period for implementing laws, but Winkler ruled the clauses do not nullify the right to referendum, effectively eliminating the use of emergency clauses because the city now always has to wait 30 days in case of a referendum effort. The ruling was given after City Council used an emergency clause to expedite the lease of the city’s parking assets to the Port Authority to help balance deficits and fund economic development.
With the support of Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, City Council is looking to study youth poverty, homelessness and other issues to better prioritize city policy. The $175,000 study, which will be mostly privately funded, will look at multiple factors affecting the city’s youth, including crime, poverty, homelessness and educational opportunities. Simpson says the study will be the first comprehensive look at the city’s youth.
Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown’s bill to end Too Big to Fail was leaked to the press Friday, and The Washington Post has an analysis on what it does here. While the bill doesn’t explicitly break up big banks, it does severely limit big banks in a way that may encourage them to downsize. Brown will co-sponsor the bill with Republican La. Sen. David Vitter, making it a bipartisan compromise. CityBeat covered Brown’s efforts in further detail here.
Ky. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign is complaining someone bugged a meeting to listen in on staff’s plans for the 2014 election. Jesse Benton, campaign manager for McConnell, said in a statement, “Today’s developments ... go far beyond anything I’ve seen in American politics and are comparable only to Richard Nixon’s efforts to bug Democratic Party Headquarters at the Watergate 40 years ago.” During the meeting, McConnell’s staff alluded to labeling potential opponent Ashley Judd as “unbalanced” by bringing up past mental health problems. Meanwhile, recent polling found McConnell is no lock for re-election.
Scientists discovered evidence of “dark lightning,” which may emanate from thunderstorms alongside visible lightning.
About 48 percent of Cincinnati’s youth are in poverty — a statistic that has haunted Cincinnati and landed the city in third place for the nation’s highest poverty rates. Now, Councilwoman Yvette Simpson is trying to figure out the underlying causes to better prioritize city programs.
At City Council’s Livable Communities Committee today, Simpson and her staff gave a presentation supporting a citywide study that would give an in-depth look at the city’s youth and their issues, including crime, poverty, homelessness and educational opportunities. It would be the first comprehensive study of the city’s youth.
The $175,000 study, which Simpson says would be mostly funded through private donations, will work through three phases: Look at existing data to set goals and expectations, conduct surveys with 500 parents and 1,500 youth and gather 40 in-depth youth profiles.
Simpson told CityBeat the study would help the city establish better budget priorities for youth programs: “If resources were abundant, how much would it take for us to really be able to make a significant impact? But also understanding that resources aren’t abundant, where should we put the resources in order to make maximum impact?”
With better priorities, Simpson says the city would also be able to create better collaboration between the city’s many individuals, agencies and organizations that currently work to address youth issues. “When you work together, you’re going to be better,” she says.
That’s particularly important in Cincinnati, which Simpson says is “very disparate” in terms of wealth and resources. Simpson says she would like to leverage the city’s centers of wealth in a way that would better benefit some of the poorer, needier areas.
Simpson says the study is necessary because there is a lack of local data for the city’s youth, with Cincinnati Children’s Child Well-Being Survey being the only comprehensive local study in recent years.
To Simpson, the importance of understanding the city’s youth and how their situation can be improved has been validated by her personal experience.
“I was supposed to have a student shadowing me yesterday, who’s a very, very capable young man, but he’s homeless,” she says. “He didn’t show up yesterday because he slept outside the night before.”
Carrying out the study and recalibrating the city’s programs to provide more consistency, whether it’s through education or simply providing more permanent shelter, will have huge effects on the city’s youth, Simpson says.
The Youth Commission of Cincinnati was formed in the spring of 2012 to help local government establish better priorities and policies for youth programs. The study, which has been under planning and development since July, is meant to help accomplish those goals.
Country music is kind of one of those love-it-or-hate-it genres. You often hear people with limited exposure to music say “I listen to anything but Country;” at the same time, area Country music concerts draw huge crowds (CityBeat readers even voted the 2012 Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw show the best concert of the year. Sigh.) — and we’re north of the Mason-Dixie line. Sure, it’s pretty easy to make fun of the stereotypical redneck Country music lover, but Country is making its way more and more into the mainstream, popular stage with crossover artists like Taylor Swift. And you don’t have to be a toothless moonshiner to like her squinty-eyed ass, right?
Brad Paisley just set the genre back a few decades with his new single, “Accidental Racist.” The song is meant to explain how just because someone is southern and proud of his roots, doesn’t mean he wishes we still had slaves. See, all Paisley wants is to be able to wear a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt to Starbucks without some black barista thinkin’ he’s a racist (and who hasn’t been in that situation). Between that target of a song title and the poorly-written lyrics, Paisley’s gotten a lot of backlash. He appeared on Ellen Tuesday to rectify the song and his intention and started the conversation like any good non-racist should: by citing that one of his best friends is black (LL Cool J, who appears on the track).
The song is being pulled from YouTube and music sites faster than you can say “publicity stunt,” but you can see the lyrics here. One gem of note is LL’s chorus: "If you don't judge my do-rag/I won't judge your red flag/If you don't judge my gold chains/I'll forget the iron chains." See, guys? If you just stop being afraid of black guys who wear bling, all that white guilt can go away because we’re forgiven!
What’s that sound? Oh, it’s Conan O’Brien quietly weeping in the shower, because Jimmy Fallon is officially taking over for Jay Leno by this time next year. Fallon’s Late Night is by far my favorite of all the nightly talk shows, so I think he’ll kill it in the earlier slot with the help of his trusty house band The Roots and Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels as producer. The Tonight Show will move back to New York with this change, the first time in 40 years, when Johnny Carson hosted. Rumored Late Night replacements include current SNL “Weekend Update” host, Seth Meyers.
Imagine if you were the sibling of a popular ‘90s singer/actress, trying to make your own name in the business. You release a couple mediocre albums, leak a sex tape with your no-name girlfriend, even star in a VH1 reality show. Years pass and, somehow, that big-booty trick you propelled into the spotlight is now about 700 times more famous than you. What do you do? Well, if you’re Ray J, you release “I Hit It First,” a song with “Kim K” written all over it. And if lyrics like “She might move on to rappers and ballplayers/But we all know I hit it first” weren’t obvious enough, the single cover is a pixelated photo of Kanye’s baby mama:
Cincinnati on TV Alert: The Cooking Channel debuts a new series, America’s Best Bites, on April 20 (a perfect program to accompany your munchies. Yes, I am 17 years old). Hosted by Natalie Forte, the show travels across the country to showcase local fare and favorites. Nothing revolutionary here, but Cincy’s own Daniel and Lana Wright of Abigail Street and Senate will appear on the show’s third episode. Check out Abigail Street on ABB at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4.
Move over sloths. Step aside, oil-covered birds getting Dawn baths. My new favorite quirky cuties of the animal world are pets with cleft palates.
You say deformity, I say givemeonenoooowwwww
Meet Lentil. This little pup has had a rough road due to his irregular palate, but thanks to a feeding tube and a wonderful foster family, this little bean is growing to be healthy and adorable. Follow his heart-melting story on Facebook.
Palate mutations are not just exhibited in dogs, though. Take it from Lazarus, vamp-kitty!
Lazarus was a sickly alley cat when he was rescued, but now maintains a relatively normal kitty life, even without a nose and several teeth!
And, on the topic
of online pet stalking, it would be remiss to not highlight the animal Internet
trend du jour: dogs in pantyhose.
Big thanks to HBO for the shout out in their new HBO Go commercial!
Musician Matt Baumann, who performs as the Folk act WolfCryer, and several area Folk/Americana musicians are teaming up this Wednesday to help a local music venue that has given them a home over the years.
The club Geez’l Pete’s (508 Madison Ave., Covington) is having financial difficulties to the point where the electricity has been shut off. This Wednesday, a “Save the Pete!” benefit will be held at the club, with music starting at 6 p.m. and running on three performance spots — busking on the street outside, “backporch” jamming and acoustic performances inside the club by candlelight.
“Geez'l Pete's is a hub for many local musicians,” Baumann says, “and the only one that I know of that keeps a library and store on site for the albums from most of the local musicians.”
There is a suggested donation of $5 and beer and booze will be available to purchase. Artists scheduled to appear include WolfCryer, Daniel Van Vechten, Dave Rohs, Tim Caudill and Tony Hall. Mark Utley of Magnolia Mountain headlines the night at 10 p.m. Click here for more info.
Next Wednesday, April 17, Baumann and Co. will present another similar benefit at Geez’l Pete’s for the same cause. Kelly Thomas is the scheduled headliner, performing at 9:30 p.m.
Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino topped state casino revenues last month, translating to $1.4 million in casino tax revenue for the city in March. If the trend holds — a huge if, considering March was opening month for the Horseshoe Casino — the city would get $16.8 million a year, which would be above previous estimates from the state and city but below estimates presented in mayoral candidate John Cranley’s budget plan. Cranley and other city officials say casino revenue could be used to avoid laying off cops and firefighters to balance the budget, but the city manager’s office says it wouldn’t be enough.
Two City Council decisions yesterday will allow the current project manager for The Banks to take over the streetcar project. The two 5-4 decisions from City Council came in the middle of a tense budget debate that could end with the layoff of 344 city employees, including 189 cops and 80 firefighters. But John Deatrick, who could be hired as executive director of the streetcar project as a result of the measures, says his salary would come from the capital budget, which is separate from the general fund that needs to be balanced in light of structural deficit problems.House Republicans are poised to reject Gov. John Kasich’s proposed Medicaid expansion. The expansion, which was part of Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget proposal, would have saved the state money and insured 456,000 Ohioans by 2022, according to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. But it would have done so mostly with federal funds, which state legislators worry will not be there years down the line. The Medicaid expansion was one of the few aspects of Kasich’s budget that state Democrats supported. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget in further detail here.
PolitiFact Ohio gave Kasich a “Pants on Fire” rating for his claim that his transportation budget and Ohio Turnpike plan “would make sure we have lower tolls than we’ve had through the history of the turnpike.” PolitiFact explains: “Yes, the bill aims to keep tolls from rising faster than the pace of inflation -- a practice that would stand in contrast to KPMG’s findings from the past 20 years. And, yes, the bill freezes tolls for 10 years on a small, targeted cross-section of turnpike users. But not only are higher tolls a part of Kasich’s plan, they are integral to the concept. The increased revenue will allow the state to issue bonds to finance other projects. Furthermore, the inflation cap is not written into the law, and the state has an out from the local EZ-Pass freeze.”
Melissa Wegman will be the third Republican to enter the City Council race. Wegman is a first-time candidate and businesswoman from East Price Hill. She will be joining fellow Republicans Amy Murray and incumbent Charlie Winburn.
The struggling Kenwood Towne Place will be renamed Kenwood Collection as part of a broader redesign.
One program in President Barack Obama’s budget plan would task NASA with pulling asteroids to our moon’s orbit, where the asteroids could then be studied and mined. The Obama administration says the program will only involve small asteroids, so big, killer asteroids will not be purposely hurled towards Earth.
New evidence suggests some two-legged dinosaurs were strong swimmers, further proving that unless we have extra asteroids to cause an extinction event, we might want to leave them dead.
Last night, Jane Smith, singer for the Cincinnati area band Belle Histoire, appeared as a contestant on the NBC singing competition, The Voice. None of the judges "turned around" (the show's sign of approval, but, really, isn't it rude not to look at someone singing for you?), but Smith earned some fans with the appearance.
Lyndsey Parker, who covers the show for Yahoo's music blog, was one such fan, writing, "Whyyyyyyy didn't any of the judges spin for this awesome girl? Biggest Voice fail of this season so far, for real. Obviously the judges could not see how adorable Jane was, with her perfect Marlo Thomas hair-flip, sweet Keane-painting eyes, and Zooey 101 style…but surely they must have heard the potential in this Belle Histoire frontwoman's throaty performance of Florence + The Machine's 'You Got The Love.' I don't understand why no one turned, since they'd turned for less impressive singers this season. Of course, the four coaches who rejected Jane then spent 10 minutes annoyingly gushing about how great she was, which only made me wish there was such a thing as a Do-Over Round on The Voice. Le sigh. If only Cee Lo Green hadn't sat out Season 4. I have a feeling Cee Lo would have totally hit his button for Jane."
Click here to read more about Smith and her on-the-rise Indie Pop Rock band Belle Histoire, then check out the band's music video for "My Dear," from the group's debut album Dreamers, below. And click here to listen to the first single from Jane's solo project Decker, "Swing," which was released to iTunes today.