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by Nick Swartsell 01.05.2015 56 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Three-hundred attend vigil for Leelah Alcorn; heroin in jail; check out the size of this CEO's package

Morning all. Hope your weekend was great. Let’s get to the news.

About 300 people showed up Saturday outside Kings Mills High School for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Leelah Alcorn, the Kings Mills transgender teen who took her own life last month. Many attendees were Alcorn’s friends and classmates, representatives from LGBT groups like the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network and trans-specific groups like the Heartland Trans Wellness Group. More than a dozen speakers addressed the crowd, including a number of trans people and their families. Their message: There is acceptance and support for people who identify as transgender or who feel they might be transgender.

“It really warms my heart seeing so many strangers and friends of Leelah coming out to support her,” said Abby Jones, who worked with Alcorn at Kings Island. Jones said Alcorn came out to her as transgender and shared the struggles she was having at home. Alcorn, born into a highly religious family, said in a suicide note shared to social media that she had trouble finding acceptance and help from her family, which sent her to religious counselors and tried therapies designed to convince Alcorn she was male.

• Heroin continues to be a huge issue in the Greater Cincinnati area, to the point where inmates are overdosing in jail. Local law enforcement and corrections officials are working to find out how inmates get the drugs while they’re behind bars. There have been a number of overdose incidents in Hamilton County jail, including two in the last 18 months, leading some to wonder whether guards are helping to smuggle the drug in. Officials say there’s no sign of that, and that inmates often smuggle the drug in by swallowing balloons filled with it before entering the jail or get it from visitors. In 2013, the county jail treated more than 9,000 heroin addicts. County jails in Northern Kentucky face similar levels of addicts and have also seen overdoses, a reflection of the swelling heroin epidemic happening outside the jails in the general population. Kentucky’s legislature will consider a number of often-contradictory bills in its upcoming session to address the problem. The bills seek to do everything from making treatment easier to attain for those arrested with the drug to increasing penalties for those caught with heroin without providing more funding for clinics and other treatment methods.

• Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on who will lead one of the world's most powerful deliberative bodies. Currently, that honor goes to Rep. John Boehner, who has spent two terms as House Speaker. Boehner says he expects an easy reelection from his party, but some conservatives are dead set against him. Among those is Boehner’s neighbor to the south, Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Northern Kentucky. Massie has signaled he won’t be supporting Boehner for the most powerful job in the House, though he isn’t revealing who he will vote for. Massie is a tea partier who has opposed Boehner in the past, though never quite so publicly. A few other tea party-affiliated Republicans in the House have also indicated they won’t be supporting Boehner and have said they’re searching for his replacement. It’s a sign that even if Boehner wins his job again (which he probably will) it won’t be easy going for him over the next two years.

• Will Kentucky religious organization Answers in Genesis sue the state over the fact it rescinded tax credits for a Noah’s Ark theme park based on Answers’ hiring practices? It could happen, supporters of the group say. The group has been building its park in Grant County and was originally awarded millions in tax credits by the state. However, those credits were withdrawn after questions arose about requirements by Answers that prospective employees fill out a testament of faith and other religiously oriented pre-employment materials. Opponents of the group say those materials violate equal employment rules and therefore make the Ark Park ineligible for public money. But supporters of the park say religious groups can be exempted from such rules.

• So, say you oversaw the loss of tons of peoples’ credit card and other personal data and basically had to quit your job or be fired. What happens next? If you’re retiring Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, you get $47 million. That’s Steinhafel’s retirement package, and it’s raising big questions about income inequality. You see, normal Target employees (you know, the ones who didn’t screw up big time and let the company get hacked) have only paltry 401Ks to fall back on when they get too old to stock shelves or sell those little pizzas in the café area. Experts say Steinhafel’s huge package (sounds weird when you say it that way) exemplifies another element of the continued divide between corporate bigwigs and every day workers and that other CEOs get similarly lush goodbye checks. So, if you want to be a millionaire, just, you know, make sure your company gets hacked and push for that golden parachute when you’re on your way out.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.02.2015 59 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Leelah Alcorn's mother expresses grief in first media interview; Ohio Against the World gets big ups from OSU win; NYPD's massive arrest slowdown

Hey hey Cincinnati! I hope your New Years Eve was as good as mine. I stayed out way too late and had more fun than you should be allowed to have while wearing a suit at CityBeat's speakeasy party. But enough about partying. Let’s get down to business.

Carla Alcorn, who has been mostly silent since daughter Leelah Alcorn’s suicide Dec. 28, gave her first interview with media Wednesday. Speaking to CNN, Alcorn expressed deep grief at the loss of the 17-year-old transgender teen from Kings Mills, whose given name was Joshua and who said in a suicide note that she had felt “like a girl trapped in a boy’s body” since the age of 4. Leelah’s suicide has sparked a national conversation about societal attitudes toward gender as well as the high rate of depression and suicide attempts among transgender people. The elder Alcorn told CNN that she forbade Leelah from obtaining medical procedures to help her transition toward more female physical traits because it was against the family’s religion.

"We don't support that, religiously," Alcorn's mother told CNN in an emotional phone interview. "But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy."

Controversy has arisen over the way some news outlets, Alcorn’s family and her school have identified Alcorn, using the name Joshua and male pronouns to refer to her.

• On a more upbeat note, a local fashion icon got some big attention yesterday after Ohio State beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and clenched a spot at college football’s championship game. As OSU pulled ahead late in the game, ESPN showed a fan in the crowd rocking an Ohio Against the World shirt, a brand dreamed up by Cincinnatian Floyd Johnson. OATW has already gotten a lot of national attention, but screen grabs of the ESPN shot showed up on Twitter and promptly exploded, sending the phrase Ohio Against the World trending worldwide. Full disclosure: I’m a huge OATW fan and own a few of their shirts, one of which I’m wearing as I type, so this may not be unbiased reporting I’m doing here. I could not care less about football (sorry Buckeyes fans) but it’s awesome that great local talent is getting much-deserved recognition. Go get yourself one of those shirts! Just be sure you’re buying the real deal when you hop online to order one and not one of these. Yes, yes, I get it. That’s supposed to be OSU’s font. Still not into it.

• Just a heads up: new parking meter times and rates go into effect today. Parking in Over-the-Rhine goes from 50 cents to $1 today, and you’ll have to pay from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. in OTR and downtown. The boost will be used to help pay for streetcar operating costs. Don’t fret if you don’t have change, though. The new meters take credit cards. 

• Tasha Thomas, the woman who was with John Crawford III in the Beavercreek Walmart where police shot him in August, died in a car accident yesterday. The accident occurred about 3 p.m. in downtown Dayton, authorities say. Thomas gained attention last month when a video tape was released showing Beavercreek police interrogating her harshly after the shooting. Crawford's shooting and other police killings of unarmed black citizens, including the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson Missouri, have ignited continuing protests across the country.

• Women in Ohio and Kentucky are pushing back against a new form of birth control called Essure offered by major drug company Bayer. Essure claims to be a form of easy, permanent birth control. Sounds great, right? The problem is, the device, which is implanted, has reportedly caused headaches, severe nausea and other symptoms in some women, perhaps due to the fact it contains nickel, which many are allergic to. Women suffering these symptoms claim they were not told about the device’s nickel content. Other women have reported that the device has caused internal damage when it shifted inside their bodies, or that scans by doctors have been unable to find the device after it has been implanted. A number of activists, including women in Ohio, have called for a ban on the product, starting wide-ranging social media campaigns and filing a lawsuit. But doctors and the FDA say they can’t demonstrate a link between the device and health problems. They say the device is safe to use and that problems associated with the implant are probably psychosomatic.

• The ongoing national argument over police tactics is having very real consequences within the nation’s largest police force. After a gunman ambushed and killed two officers Dec. 20, New York City police have decreased arrests 66 percent as part of a work slow down, the New York Post reports. The choke hold death of Eric Garner this summer and a subsequent grand jury’s decision not to indict an officer in that death has led to civil unrest in the city, and police have taken offense. The situation intensified when the gunman in Brooklyn murdered two officers last month. Since that incident, officers have protested by turning their backs to Mayor Bill deBlasio at public ceremonies for a perceived lack of support from the mayor. They’ve also instituted a slowdown on their policing and have announced they’ll only be arresting people when they have to — in part for safety reasons, and in part in protest. But think about that for just a minute. Shouldn’t police always approach and arrest people “only when they have to?”  The New York Post reports that ticketing for incidents in the city has dropped 94 percent since the murder of the two officers. Arrests for drug offenses have dropped 82 percent. What are the rest of those arrests all about anyway?

 
 
by Maija Zummo 01.02.2015 59 days ago
Posted In: Comedy, Culture, Concerts, Humor, Fun, Food, Events, Eats, Drinking, Life at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List (1/2-1/4)

In case you didn't drink enough Wednesday night

You've had a day or so to nurse your New Year's hangover, so it's time to get out of the house. If you're looking for things to do this weekend to keep the party going, here's a list.

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical
Photo: Sandy Underwood
1. Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Rosemary Clooney has long been a favorite of Cincinnatians. The legendary singer from Maysville, Ky., began her career here on WLW radio, singing with her sister Betty. Her life went sadly off the tracks in the late 1960s, but she resurrected herself as a performer, having a kind of “flip side.” That’s pretty much the story told in Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical, on the Cincinnati Playhouse’s Shelterhouse stage. The wildly successful musical has been extended to run through Jan. 11. Tickets are sold out online, so call the box office. 

Dave Landau
Photo: Provided 

2. Comedians. Dave Landau at the Funny Bone on the Levee and Robert Hawkins at Go Bananas. Both rang in the New Year with parties at the respective comedy clubs, and are here throughout the weekend.


The Appleseed Collective
Photo: Rob Woodcox 
3. The Appleseed Collective plays MOTR Pub Sunday (Jan. 4). Since forming about five years ago, the dynamic Americana string band The Appleseed Collective has become one of the more critically acclaimed Roots bands in the land. Part of the group’s appeal is the breadth of what the members’ consider Americana. Instead of simply old-timey Folk with a few twangy flourishes, The Appleseed Collective touches on Ragtime, Bluegrass, Dixieland Jazz, Western Swing and even a little Gypsy Jazz.

Wendy's Bridal Show
Photo: Provided
4. Wendy's Bridal show at the Duke Energy Convention Center Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 3-4). Reading Bridal District anchor Wendy’s hosts a bridal show at the Duke Energy Convention Center. There will be more than 150 wedding professionals on hand, offering all the services you need to get you from “yes” to “I do.” There will be a bridal fashion show at noon and 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, samples from caterers and bakers, representatives from Tristate reception and ceremony locations, displays from wedding photographers and videographers, and design ideas from florists and décor specialists.

Bye Bye Liver: The Cincinnati Drinking Play
5. Drunk theater! Bye Bye Liver: The Cincinnati Drinking Play Saturdays through Feb. 28. The local version of this regional collection of “drinking plays” (Bye Bye Liver performances are also put on in Chicago, Boston, Nashville, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Milwaukee) combines sketch comedy and “social games” into a unique night of drinking in public while laughing at performers who will also be drinking. Warning: Shows do sell out, so check for tickets in advance. 


Photo: Jordan Frei
6. AnnapaloozaA diverse collection of local musical acts will band together on Saturday (Jan. 3) at Newport’s Southgate House Revival for a special cause. “Annapalooza” was organized by friends as a benefit for Anna Mouch, a local nurse who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma this year. The money raised from ticket sales (as well as various raffles and auctions) will help Mouch, who has a 1-year-old son with Sean Geil of local Folk faves The Tillers, pay for medical bills that have arisen from the intensive treatment she has been receiving. Scheduled to perform at Saturday’s benefit concert: Chris Mouch, Josh Eagle, Jake Book, Lenny Hall, Casey Campbell, Wilder, Dead Man String Band, Rattlesnakin’ Daddies, Mamadrones, BiBs & BaReFeeT, Shiny and the Spoon, Animal Circles, Perfect Norm, The Blue Rock Boys, Frontier Folk Nebraska, The Guitars and The Almighty Get Down. Annapalooza kicks off at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 (through ticketfly.com) or $20 at the door.

Festival of Lights
Photo: Cincinnati Zoo
7. The Festival of Lights run through Jan. 3. The Cincinnati Zoo illuminates for the annual PNC Festival of Lights — a spectacular light show with holiday-themed areas, symphonic synchronized light displays and wintry events. 

Mummies of the World
Photo: Cincinnati Museum Center 
8. Mummies of the World at Union Terminal. Discover how mummies are created, where they come from and who they are in an immersive, multi-media display at the Cincinnati Museum Center’s new once-in-a-lifetime exhibit, featuring real mummies and artifacts, some dating back as far as 4,500 years.

 
9. Fountain Square Ice Rink. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys balancing on foot blades while gliding on top of frozen water, you’re in luck: The ice rink at Fountain Square is open for another couple of weeks.

 
10. Sleeping Beauty at Ensemble Theatre. While most local theaters have swept away the artificial snow and stashed the Christmas decorations, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati continues to present its family-friendly holiday musical. It’s an amusing “fractured fairy tale,” but there’s a lot more than that. Using romance, comedy, action, Rock & Roll and opera, Sleeping Beauty is an entertaining take on the tale of a princess who snoozes away a century until she’s awakened by love. 
 
 
by Rick Pender 01.02.2015 59 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Start the New Year with a Show

With the holidays just behind us, there's a kind of a lull on local stages, but this weekend has a few offerings to consider. At the Cincinnati Playhouse there's a popular production that's been extended twice, so you still have chances to see Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical through Jan. 11. The show is a great recreation of the career of girl singer Clooney who grew up in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati and rose to stardom in the 1950s and 1960s, only to find that the music world's fascination with Rock 'n' Roll was putting her in the rear view mirror. But she figured out how to reinvent herself and overcome drug dependency, too. Susan Haefner acts the part and sings a slew of convincing renditions of Clooney's Pop and Jazz hits. Michael Marotta plays her therapist and more: He steps in and out of portraits of all the other people in Clooney's life, from her mother and her sister to big names like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. It's a very entertaining show, guaranteed to warm up an early January night at the theater. Tickets ($30-$85): 513-421-3888.

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is offering one final weekend of its "non-denominational" holiday fairytale musical, Sleeping Beauty. With songs by local composer David Kisor and an entertaining script by Cincinnati playwright Joe McDonough, this production is good for kids and adults. Acting intern Deirdre Manning steps out in the title role with a fine singing voice and fellow intern Terrance J. Ganser is her Rock star prince and her soulful savior a century later. But the real zip in the show comes from Deb G. Girdler's evil Wisteria and Michael G. Bath as Falcon, her devious assistant. Final performance is 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets ($18-$44): 513-421-3555.

Speaking of ETC, for the next week or so the theater is offering $10 off adult tickets to performances early in the runs of an engaging thriller The Other Place (Jan. 29-Feb. 3), the drama with historical context Detroit '67 (March 18-24) and a romantic comedy Outside Mullingar set in Ireland (May 6-12). Just mention the coupon code NEWYEAR15 when purchasing tickets in those date ranges online (www.ensemblecincinnati.com), in person or by phone (513-421-3555), and you'll save $10. That's a good way to get 2015 off on the right foot!

Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
 
 
by Samantha Gellin 01.02.2015 59 days ago
Posted In: Commentary at 09:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
from the copy editor

From the Copy Desk

In case you need a dictionary with the Dec. 31 issue of CityBeat

Good morning readers! I hope ya'll had a very happy New Year. It feels very futuristic to say that it's 2015, doesn't it? Maybe that's because 2015 is the year the awesome movie Back to the Future II was set in, and it predicted that we'd have all sorts of crazy things (like flying cars and hoverboards) by now. Alas, we're not even close to flying cars, but we ARE close to hoverboards: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/142464853/hendo-hoverboards-worlds-first-real-hoverboard.  I can only dream that one day hoverboards will replace cars.

Anyway, our latest issue looked back on the best movies, TV shows and music of 2014; a lot of it is compiled into easy-to-read Top 10 lists. So no excuse, pick it up!

Now onto Words Nobody Uses or Knows in this week's issue. Best word of the issue was obstreperous, found in Kathy Y. Wilson's editorial. (I'm noticing a trend here.)

obstreperous: noisy, boisterous, or unruly, esp. in resisting or opposing (adj.)

In this issue: "I’d love to amass all the obstreperous black drug dealers I know, converge on Hyde Park Square, blast Gucci Mane after midnight, spark blunts and then leave in a blaze of profane glory."

Brilliant. I can only imagine the horrified reactions of Hyde Park folks to this scenario.

Next best word of the issue was conviviality, in the piece "Dubbing the New Year" on electronic artist Ott.

conviviality: having to do with a feast or festive activity; fond of eating, drinking, and good company; sociable; jovial (n.)

January and February are the worst months of the year, I think.  Short days, slow, cold months, and holiday conviviality is over.

In this issue: " 'Loud music, positive energy, polite, friendly, welcoming people, bright clothes, good art, conviviality,' he says, 'and the occasional telltale smell of mothballs.' "

Moving on. Malfeasance, which reminds me so much of the sub par Disney movie Maleficent, is next. It's in Brian Baker's piece on Jade (the random local '70s band, not the ornamental rock).

malfeasance: wrongdoing or misconduct, esp. by a public official; commission of an act that is positively unlawful (n.)

In this issue: "Their strongest connection is Jade, a Cincinnati band from the early ’70s with great potential but which had its big break undermined by bad luck and malfeasance."

Next is a word that I see all over the place, but I don't actually know what it means and I've never bothered to look it up. When I saw quixotic it in this week's issue, I figured I should learn it, even if most of you already know it. It's found in our super handy list of the Top 10 Films of 2014.

quixotic: extravagantly chivalrous or foolishly idealistic; visionary; impractical or impracticable (adj.)

In this issue: "One of two films on this list I caught at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival (see Ida below), I was over the moon when this tale about cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s quixotic attempt to bring Dune to life reached area screens."

OK, that's all I've got. Take your arsenal of new words out into the world and have a happy weekend, readers.




 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.31.2014 61 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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News in Review 2014

Today's news and our top daily/weekly stories of 2014

Hey all! In a minute, I’m going to hit you with the list: the biggest, the most interesting and the most disturbing stories we covered this year on a daily or weekly basis. We’ve already given you our favorite news cover stories; those long-form pieces which we spent weeks or even months putting together. Now it’s time for the everyday stuff. But first, let me just throw a couple things your way that are making news on the last day of 2014.

Memorials are planned for Leelah Alcorn, the Kings Mills 17-year-old who committed suicide on I-71 Sunday after suffering with lengthy depression and isolation due to her transgender status. These memorials include a candlelight vigil in front of Kings High School Saturday from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  

In other news, the city came to an agreement with unions over its pension obligations last night. The deal, which took 10 months of negotiations, including a nine-hour marathon talk session between the city, employees and retirees, is complicated, but here’s the upshot: The agreement will allow the city to stabilize the pension fund, to which it owes $862 million, by whittling down retiree health benefits over time while putting $200 million from the health care trust fund into the pension fund. The city will also make a $38 million payment into the system next year.

On to the list. It’s a bit absurd to do these end of the year lists, right? I mean, ongoing stories don’t conveniently bookend themselves on New Years Eve, but tend to linger on and on (see: streetcar fight). But we have to stop somewhere and brag about our coverage, and the day we run out of calendar seems as good as any. So here are some of the big stories we covered in 2014:

1. Police Shootings and Race: A Familiar Story
Cincinnati is no stranger to controversy surrounding police shootings. So the unrest around an August incident in Ferguson, Mo., where a police officer shot an unarmed teenager named Michael Brown felt very close to home. The incident sparked civil unrest in Ferguson and across the country. Just days before, a similar incident occurred in a Beavercreek Walmart, where police shot 22-year-old John Crawford while he was holding a pellet gun sold in the store.

We watched the Crawford case closely from the beginning. His shooting as well as a  number of others around the country that came to light afterward were especially pertinent in Cincinnati, bringing back memories of the 2001 shooting of Timothy Thomas by police in Over-the-Rhine. We covered the parallels between 2001 and now, followed local reaction to the recent police shootings and delved deep into racial tensions in Beavercreek. New incidents of questionable use of force by police officers continue to emerge, suggest this story is far from over. We’ll be following it just as closely in 2015.

2. Icon Tax Debate
Two of Cincinnati’s favorite buildings need big help. But getting the money to renovate historic Music Hall and Union Terminal has been a political struggle. An initial proposal by business leaders would have levied a .25 percent sales tax increase over time to fund renovations on both buildings. But Republican Hamilton County commissioners Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann balked at including Music Hall in that arrangement, opting instead to shorten the duration of the tax increase and only fix Union Terminal. That left supporters of OTR’s major landmark angry and triggered a campaign to unseat Hartmann in the November election, though that effort fizzled. Meanwhile, Music Hall may get the fixing up it needs after all: the building was awarded $20 million in tax credits in December that will go a long way toward needed renovations.

3. The Battle Over Cincinnati’s Last Abortion Clinic

After lawmakers passed restrictive new laws requiring clinics that provide abortions to have transfer agreements with area hospitals, and then turned around and barred state-funded hospitals from entering into those agreements, things looked bleak for the region’s two remaining clinics. The situation got even worse over the summer when the Ohio Department of Health revoked the license of one of those clinics, Women’s Med in Sharonville, after refusing to grant the clinic an exception to those new rules. The area’s last remaining abortion provider, the Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center in Mount Auburn, got a similar warning from the state in November. The clinic had been waiting a year to hear back from the state about its request for a variance to the rules on the grounds that its doctors have individual admitting privileges with area hospitals. Planned Parenthood, which runs the clinic, sued the state, claiming Ohio’s laws are unconstitutional and present an undue burden to women seeking abortions. The state blinked, providing the clinic with a variance and keeping Cincinnati from becoming the largest metropolitan area in the country without direct access to abortion services.

4. Transit: Fights and Forward Movement
From ongoing streetcar drama to fights over bike lanes to efforts to bring better rail service to Cincinnati, how we get around got a lot of attention this year. In the spring, a battle flared up over Mayor John Cranley’s diversion of funds away from on-street bike lanes to bike paths, and further controversy arose over a new bike lane being built on Central Parkway. One business owner concerned about a few parking spots temporarily ground that project to a halt before the city agreed to spend thousands of extra dollars accommodating the parking concerns. There was some other progress on bike-related projects this year as paths on the city’s east side, including plans that could also someday include light rail, continued to take shape. Bickering about how the city will pay for the streetcar dominated the daily news, with new panics about the project’s yearly operating budget and construction contingency fund cropping up constantly. Meanwhile, in a project of a much larger scale, a group of advocates launched a campaign this year to get daily rail service going between Cincinnati and Chicago. Unlike the streetcar, that effort has been surprisingly bi-partisan. That level of agreement has been rare in transportation fights. But all the back and forth is good on one level — it means Cincinnatians are actively thinking about and engaged in conversations around transit alternatives.

5. Cincinnati’s Big Developments: Concerns and Questions
There’s no denying Cincinnati has had a huge year in terms of development. Over-the-Rhine continues to change at a rapid pace and other neighborhoods are quickly following suit in their own ways. But developers and the city administration that courts them are powerful folks, and it’s always good to ask questions when millions are getting thrown around like Monopoly money. We delved into concerns over Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation’s move into northern OTR, where the city awarded it decision-making power over a whole swath of neighborhood surrounding Findlay Market even as residents and the OTR Community Council expressed serious concerns about the deal. We talked to residents and businesses in Clifton Heights, where the city enacted zoning changes and tax deals for an out-of-town developer who will build a large, student-centered apartment complex despite protests from some long-time residents there. And we took a deep look into what the new I-71 interchange means for Avondale and Walnut Hills, both largely black communities whose members have historic reasons to distrust highway projects. Will development surrounding a new highway on and off ramp in these historically neglected and low-income neighborhoods lift up residents there, or will it bulldoze them? The questions around Cincinnati’s big-budget developments remain, and we’ll continue asking them in 2015.

6. Charter School Drama
2014 was the year things got weird at Ohio charter schools. VLT Academy in Cincinnati shut down after a long, messy fight by the school to secure a sponsor organization over protests from the Ohio Department of Education. A charter high school in Dayton, along with several others run by Chicago-based Horizon schools, came under scrutiny from federal authorities after former teachers made multiple reports of records forging and sexual misconduct. Overall, multiple studies, including a CityBeat review of state education data for Cincinnati charters, found that charters don’t seem to perform any better on the whole than public schools, and in many cases, perform worse. Meanwhile, charters are held to lower standards than public schools. All that begs the question: what are taxpayers getting for the diverted funds that pay for these often for-profit schools?

7. The Persistence of Poverty
We covered a number of issues surrounding poverty in Cincinnati, from former staffer German Lopez’s excellent cover story on the city’s poverty problem to more specific issues like affordable, subsidized housing, increases in homelessness in the city and a proposed hate crime law that would protect the homeless. There was also some good news, as Lower Price Hill, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods received free Wi-Fi so students and residents could connect to the outside world. As one of the city’s biggest, most complex challenges, Cincinnati’s high poverty rate works its way into a number of other issues such as sex trafficking, the heroin crisis and others, meaning we’re just getting started in our coverage. Expect much more in 2015.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Some other big stories we checked out this year include German Lopez’s great piece on efforts to legalize marijuana in Ohio and our coverage of the court battle over Ohio’s gay marriage ban. When you’re all bored and hungover tomorrow, peruse our coverage from the last year. Then hit me up with what you’d like to see in the new year. What’s important to you that Cincinnati media is neglecting?  Find me at nswartsell@citybeat.com and @nswartsell on Twitter.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.30.2014 62 days ago
Posted In: News at 02:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Kings Mills Transgender Teen's Suicide Note: "Fix Society"

Note posted on Tumblr details teen's struggle with depression over treatment based on transgender status

A suicide note posted on Tumblr says Leelah Alcorn had trouble finding acceptance. The Kings Mills 17-year-old, whose given name was Joshua, identified as female. After her 16th birthday, she hoped to transition physically into what she felt was her actual gender. But her parents refused to grant her the necessary permission to undergo the medical procedures, according to a note published online the day after her suicide. 

Alcorn died Sunday after being hit by a semi truck on southbound I-71 near the South Lebanon exit. The letter, which appears to have been queued to automatically post on the teen's Tumblr page on Monday, says Alcorn killed herself because she felt isolated and misunderstood due to the fact she identified as a female. The note’s signature includes the name Leelah, and also the name “Josh” crossed out.

The Tumblr page friends say belonged to Alcorn features both suicide-themed posts and a number of more lighthearted updates, including the teen's art and numerous pictures of her dressed in both men’s and women’s clothing.

"If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender,” the note reads. “I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally 'boyish' things to try to fit in.”

The note recounts Alcorn’s struggle to find acceptance and help from family, who she says are devout Christians, and her peers. Her parents tried faith-based counseling, the note says, but that did little to ease her confusion and feelings of isolation. The note says that Alcorn hoped to begin transitioning physically (usually achieved through hormone treatments or surgery) at age 16, but fell into a deeper depression when her parents would not grant her permission to do so. 

A second note auto-posted today offers apologies to specific people identified as Leelah's friends, as well as again lashing out at her parents.

Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach shared the original note on social media Monday and said it’s evidence that the region, and the country, need to extend better treatment to transgender people.

“While Cincinnati led the country this past year as the first city in the mid-west to include transgender inclusive health benefits and we have included gender identity or expression as a protected class for many years... the truth is... it is still extremely difficult to be a transgender young person in the country,” Seelbach said in a Facebook post. “We have to do better.”

The note's closing paragraphs plead for change.

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights,” the note ends. “Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year.”

According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, more than 40 percent of transgender people in America attempt suicide at some point in their lives. A more recent study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the percentage spikes into the 60s for those without the support of family or peers.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating Alcorn’s death but has not returned a request for comment on the case.

The accident happened at about 2 a.m., according to police.

Originally, news media reported Alcorn's death as an accident and made no mention that she identified as female. Alcorn was a former student at Kings Mills High School who was well-liked by classmates, according to a release from the school. Alcorn was most recently enrolled in Ohio Virtual Academy, an online school.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Joshua's family and friends at this tragic time,” a representative for Kings Local Schools told WCPO. A post on the district's website gives a number which students at the school and friends of Alcorn can call to reach grief counselors and details for Alcorn's funeral. Alcorn's parents have asked for privacy in a statement released through the school.

Alcorn’s mother, Carla Alcorn, posted a message mourning the teen’s death on her Facebook page Monday.

“My sweet 16 year old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”

The message has caused controversy on social media sites for refusing to recognize Leelah Alcorn's preferred gender. Other responses on social media criticized Kings Mills Local School District's similar handling of Alcorn's gender. Both Kings Mills Local Schools' Twitter and Facebook accounts were down today.

 
 
by Staff 12.30.2014 62 days ago
Posted In: Culture, Drinking, Events, Fun, Holidays, Music, Life at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo-knowtheaternyespeakeasy-700x615

Party Like It's 2015

Places to drink, dance and debauch your way into the New Year

BARS 
An Elegant Affair New Year’s Eve at Igby’s 
Dress in cocktail attire and dance to music by DJ Ice Cold Tony. Advance-order bottle specials available: two bottles of Tito’s Vodka and two bottles of Perrier Jouet Brut champagne for $515. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $20. Igby’s, 122 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-246-4396, igbysbar.com

New Year’s Eve Ball at the Pavilion 
Two DJs on two levels plus an hors d’oeuvres buffet, party favors and champagne toast. 8 p.m. $30; discounts for 10 or more. Mount Adams Pavilion, 949 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, RSVP to 513-744-9200 or mountadamspavilion.com

New Year’s Eve at The Blind Pig 
Free buffet from 8-10 p.m., with a champagne toast at midnight. 8 p.m. $25; $20 advance; $75 table; $20 champagne bottle. The Blind Pig, 24 W. Third St., Downtown, 513-381-3114.

New Year’s Eve at The Lackman
Drink specials include $5 Bulleit cocktails. 8 p.m. Free. The Lackman, 1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, lackmanbar.com.

New Year’s Eve at Lachey’s Bar 
Only limited VIP packages available; includes eight tickets, full access to open bar, two bottles of champagne, personal cocktail waitresses and special VIP seating. Enjoy a special guest DJ, photo booth and party favors. Dress is formal. 10 p.m. -2 a.m. $1,200. Lachey’s Bar, 101 W. Seventh St., Downtown, facebook.com/events/355435507970572.

New Year's Eve at MOTR
A dance party with music from Founding Fathers, Fluffer and a DJ set by Sabastooge. Ball drop at midnight. 10 p.m. Free. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.

New Year’s Eve at Mynt Martini
Radio station KISS FM hosts a party with a balloon drop, music by Davey C. and a champagne toast at midnight. 8 p.m. $25 advance; table packages $1,000-$2,000. Mynt Martini, 28 Fountain Square, Downtown, RSVP to 513-621-6968.

New Year’s Eve at Obscura 
Includes unlimited signature and classic cocktails, select liquors, domestic beers, select wine, light bites and a champagne toast at midnight. 9:30 p.m. $100; $500 table for four. Obscura, 645 Walnut St., Downtown, obscuracincinnati.com.

New Year's Eve at Pulse
Includes complimentary appetizers (9-11 p.m.) and a champagne toast at midnight. For ages 18 and older. $15 pre-sale older than 21; $25 pre-sale 18-21. $20-$30 at the door. 700 W. Second St., Downtown, pulsecincy.com.

New Year’s Eve at The Stand 
VIP tables available. 8 p.m. Free. The Stand, 3195 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, RSVP to jrjoy@thestandcincy.com or 513-871-5006. 

New Year’s Eve at Unwind Wine Bar 
Music by DJ Kim with wine and drinks. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Free. Unwind Wine Bar, 3435 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park, unwindhydepark.com

No Hassle New Year’s Eve 
Drinks specials and a mac-and-cheese bar at midnight. $4 fireballs, Stoli drinks and cherry bombs. Complimentary champagne toast at midnight. 9 p.m. Free. Keystone Clifton, 249 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, keystonebar.com. 

Stress Free New Year’s Eve 
Music by DJ Simo in the back courtyard. VIP tables available. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Free. The Righteous Room, 641 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-381-4408, therighteousroom.com

RESTAURANTS 
A Bright New Year Beer Dinner 
Fifty West throws a New Year’s party with four courses paired with beer and featuring foods that symbolize good fortune in the coming year. 6-9 p.m. $55. Fifty West, 7664 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com

New Year’s Eve at Andy’s 
A special menu with a full bar, champagne toast at midnight, belly dancers and a DJ. 6 p.m. Free. Andy’s Mediterranean, 906 Nassau St., Walnut Hills, andyskabob.com

New Year’s Eve at BrewRiver GastroPub
Chef Michael Shields crafts a three-course meal. Drop an additional $20 and get a bottle of Casteller sparkling cava. 5 p.m.-1 a.m. $45. BrewRiver GastroPub, 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com.

New Year’s Eve Dinner at Daveed’s NEXT 
Seatings at 5:30 and 8 p.m. $50 early seating; $75 late seating (includes a sparkling wine reception). Daveed’s NEXT, 8944 Columbia Road, Landen, daveedsnext.com

New Year’s Eve at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 
Enjoy upscale dining and a live performance by the Kelsey Mira Band. Happy hour begins at 4:30 p.m. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Free. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, 700 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-784-1200, jeffruby.com

New Year’s Eve at La Petite France 
A four-course dinner with entrees choices including filet mignon Oscar and roasted rack of lamb. 5 p.m. $49.95. La Petite France, 3177 Glendale-Milford Road, Evendale, lapetitefrance.biz

New Year’s Eve at The Mercer OTR 
A four-course NYE dinner with a champagne toast. 7 p.m. The Mercer OTR, 1324 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/themercerotr

New Year’s Eve at the Metropole 
Head to the 21c Museum Hotel for chef Jared Bennett’s farm-to-fireplace menu. Dinner served until 7 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., dinner jumps to a $95, four-course prix-fixe menu, which includes a champagne toast. 5:30-11 p.m. $95 prix-fixe menu. Metropole, 609 Walnut St., Downtown, metropoleonwalnut.com

New Year’s Eve at Nectar 
A three-course meal with several choices for entrees, dessert and starters. 5:30-10:30 p.m. $65. Nectar, 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, dineatnectar.com

New Year’s Eve at Parkers 
Parkers Blue Ash Tavern throws a NYE dinner party, featuring music by Jeff Henry. 9 p.m-1 a.m. Prices vary. Parkers Blue Ash Tavern, 4200 Cooper Road, Blue Ash, parkersblueash.com

New Year’s Eve at Via Vite 
Two separate seatings with chef Cristian Pietoso’s signature Italian buffet. Late seating includes a prosecco toast and cocktail or glass of wine. 6-8 p.m.; 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $50; $99. Via Vite, 520 Vine St., Fountain Square, Downtown, viaviterestaurant.com

PARTIES/EVENTS 
Axis Alley New Year’s Eve 
A DJ, noisemaker, balloon drop, champagne toast, bowling and shoe rental, appetizers and prize packages. 9 p.m. $50. Axis Alley, Newport on the Levee, 1 Levee Way, Newport, Ky., axisalleylevee.com

Cheers to the New Year at Rhinegeist 
Normal tap offerings, plus cocktails and champagne. 8 p.m. $10. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, eventbrite.com/e/new-years-celebration-at-rhinegeist-tickets-14780652329. 

CityBeat and Know Theatre’s Speakeasy Party 
A 1920s-themed speakeasy in the basement bar of the Know Theatre with casino games, dance lessons, food, martinis and a champagne toast at midnight. Benefits the Know Theatre. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $35 advance; $50 day-of. Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, RSVP to 513-300-5669 or knowtheatre.com

First Midnight Party 
Music by DJ Taryn Manning in The Pavilion and complimentary champagne. VIP options include table and bottle service. Benefits Give Back Cincinnati. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. $30-$550. Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, 1000 Broadway St., Pendleton, ffecincinnati.com

Fountain Square New Year’s Eve Blast 
Music by DJ Tweet, games and prizes, dance contests and more. Rozzi’s famous fireworks at midnight. Full bar service and drink specials available. Complimentary skating admission. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Free; $4 skate rental. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com

Lawrenceburg Event Center New Year’s Eve 
Live music from After Midnight and Gen X. Includes a buffet dinner, beer and wine, champagne toast at midnight and party favors. 8 p.m. $75. Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg Event Center, 91 Walnut St., Lawrenceburg, Ind., hollywoodindiana.com

New Year’s Eve Ball with Taken by Storm at Music Hall 
Celebrate the New Year in concert with Pops conductor John Morris Russell and a special guest appearance by Storm Large. After the concert, festivities continue in Music Hall’s Ballroom with a catered dinner, dancing and live music and a champagne toast at midnight. 7:30 p.m. concert; $22-$90. 9:30 p.m. ball; $175-$275. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org

New Year’s Eve at Bobby Mackey’s Music World 
The 36th annual NYE bash at Bobby’s. Music by Bobby Mackey and the Big Mac Band. 9 p.m. Free. Bobby Mackey’s Music World, 44 Licking Pike, Wilder, Ky., bobbymackey.com

New Year’s Eve Dance at Receptions Bridgetown 
A catered dinner with beer, wine and a champagne toast. Live music by Saffire Express. 8 p.m. $50. Receptions Banquet and Conference Center Bridgetown, 3302 Westbourne Drive, Bridgetown, 513-922-6777

New Year’s Eve BB Riverboats Dinner Cruise 
An Ohio River cruise with BB Riverboats includes a buffet, entertainment, champagne split at midnight and a late-night snack buffet and party favors. Moonshine provided by Old Smokey Moonshine. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $102 adults; $62 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., RSVP to 859-261-8500 or bbriverboats.com

New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance at Lakeridge Hall 
A hot buffet with drinks, a wine fountain, hats, noisemakers, music by DJ Larry Robers and an option to BYOB. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $40. Lakeridge Hall, 7210 Pippin Road, Colerain, 513-521-1112. 
 
New Year’s Eve at Embassy Suites Blue Ash 
An all-inclusive package includes a deluxe two-room suite plus an open bar, dancing, DJ, chef’s premiere buffet dinner, cooked-to-order breakfast and late check out. $349 per couple. Embassy Suites Blue Ash, 4554 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, RSVP to 513-981-3752. 

New Year’s Eve at Funny Bone on the Levee 
A special engagement with comedian Dave Landau. 8 and 10:30 p.m. $20 early show; $25 late show. Levee Funny Bone, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., funnybone.com/venues/levee. 

New Year’s Eve at Go Bananas 
Two sets by comedian Robert Hawkins. The later show features a cheese and veggie plate and champagne toast. 7:30 and 10 p.m. $20 early show; $40 late show. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com

New Year’s Eve at Perfect North Slopes 
Skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing open until 1 a.m., with party favors and a DJ in the lodge. Fireworks at midnight plus a torchlight parade down the slopes by ski instructors and ski patrol. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $35-$47 lift tickets. Perfect North Slopes, 19074 Perfect Lane, Lawrenceburg, Ind., perfectnorth.com
 
New Year’s Eve at Receptions Fairfield 
Second Wind Band performs live. Reservations include open bar, appetizers and the executive chef’s buffet with sinful desserts. Enjoy a champagne toast at midnight and a late-night chili bar. $149 per couple, tax and tip included. Receptions Conference Centers, 5975 Boymel Drive, Fairfield, RSVP to 513-860-4100. 

New Year’s Eve at Springdale 18 
A screening of Unbroken in the Director’s Hall plus a champagne toast, dessert reception and a live feed of the ball drop on the big screen. Screening at 9:40 p.m. $20.50. Springdale 18: Cinema de Lux, 12064 Springfield Pike, Springfield, showcasecinemas.com

New Year’s Eve at the Syndicate 
Three parties in one. Features an open bar, dinner, champagne toast, party favors, late-night appetizers and entertainment by The Rusty Griswolds, DJ Mark McFadden and the world famous Gangsters Dueling Piano players. 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. $75-$150. Newport Syndicate, 18 E. Fifth St., Newport, Ky., newportsyndicate.com
 
Party with the Ponies 
Turfway Park presents live horse racing, music by the Danny Frazier Band, party favors, a champagne toast, balloon drop, DJ and light appetizers. 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. $85. Turfway Park, 7500 Turfway Road, Florence, Ky., turfway.com. 

Silvestertanz 
A German New Year’s Eve celebration, with an hors d’oeuvres buffet (9-11 p.m.) and live music from Alpen Echos. 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m. $25. Donaschwaben Haus, 4290 Dry Ridge Road, Colerain, cincydonau.com

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical 
The Cincinnati Playhouse’s extended run of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical has two performances on New Year’s Eve. 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $30. 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams, cincyplay.com. 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY
Great Parks Family New Year’s Eve Celebration 
A ton of family-friendly fun to fit in before the ball drops at 7 p.m. See live animals, balloon sculptors, magicians and play games, make crafts and more. 4-7 p.m. $5; free for two and younger. Woodland Mound, 8250 Old Kellogg Road, Beechmont, greatparks.org or 513-521-7275. 

Happy Zoo Year 
Ring in the New Year early with the Festival of Lights, a New Year’s Eve Madcap Puppet Theatre show, party favors, costumed characters and appearances by Baby Zoo Year and Father Time. An early New Year countdown begins at 8:55 p.m. with Rozzi’s Famouse Fireworks. 5-9 p.m. Included with zoo admission ($15 adults; $11 seniors and children). Cincinnati Zoo, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org

International New Year’s Celebration 
Celebrate New Year’s traditions from around the world each hour in the Cincinnati Museum Center’s rotunda. Learn about the different countries and their culture with music, games and crafts. Stop by “customs” for special participation stamps and write a letter to troops stationed abroad. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org

Kid’s Night New Year’s Eve at YMCA 
Camp Kern Get the kids out of the house on New Year’s Eve and drop them off at camp for s’mores, bonfires, rock climbing and more. Meals and snacks provided. Check-in begins 3 p.m. Dec. 31. Check-out 11 a.m. Jan. 1. $100 per child. Camp Kern, 5291 State Route 350, Oregonia, register at campkern.org or 513-932-3756. 

New Year’s Eve Kids’ Countdown at Newport Aquarium 
Head to Shark Ray Bay Theater for a kid-friendly NYE celebration with music, dancing and giveaways, plus a special appearance countdown by Scuba Santa at 5 p.m. Kids also get noisemakers and party hats to ring in the New Year. 3-5:30 p.m. Free with admission ($23 adults; $15 children; free two and younger). 1 Levee Way, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com

New Year’s Kids Cruise 
Countdown 2015 at noon. The cruise features party favors, a DJ, lunch buffet and characters from BB Riverboats’ pirate, princess and super hero cruises. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $32 adults; $20 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com

LIVE MUSIC 
500 Miles to Memphis 
Say goodbye to 2014 with 500 Miles to Memphis. 9 p.m. $12 day-of; $10 advance. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-2201, southgatehouse.com

RL Big Band and Nancy James 
Dinner, dancing, a champagne toast and live music from RL Big Band. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $65. Legends, 3801 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, legendscincinnati.com

New Year’s Eve with The Almighty Get Down 
Appetizers, a champagne toast and live music from The Almighty Get Down, Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle and Jamwave. 7:15 p.m. $25; $20 advance. 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, the20thcenturytheater.com.  

New Year’s Eve Show Featuring Ott. 
With Bluetech, Aytiko and Yheti. 9 p.m. $30; $25 advance. Madison Theater, 730 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., madisontheateronline.com

Rumpke Mountain Boys’ Grateful New Year’s Eve Ball 
Bluegrass band the Rumpke Mountain Boys host a New Year’s bash with David Gans, Born Cross-Eyed and Restless Leg String Band. 7 p.m. $25. The Thompson House, 24 E. Third St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-7469, thompsonhousenewport.com. 

Woodward New Year’s Eve with Wussy and Bobby Bare Jr. 
8 p.m. $10; $15 day of. The Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/thewoodwardtheater

Tweens at The Comet 
Trash Punk trio Tweens and The Harlequins. 9 p.m. Free. The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-8900, cometbar.com.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.30.2014 62 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_0917

Morning News and Stuff

Questions about I-71 interchange's benefit to Avondale, Walnut Hills; high-ranking GOP Congressman spoke at white power convention; whatever you're doing on New Year's is better than this

Morning all. It’s a slow news day around here, and we’re waiting for tomorrow for our obligatory end-of-year top 10 news stories list. But there are still some interesting things happening around the city and beyond in the waning days of 2014.

Police officers from around the region gathered last night to pay respects to two officers killed by a gunman in New York City earlier this month. Police from Covington, Kenton County and Campbell County attended a rally at a memorial for fallen officers in Covington to remember New York City Police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. A few dozen members of the public also gathered for the event. Ramos and Liu’s shooter, who had earlier murdered his girlfriend in a Baltimore suburb, later killed himself. The incident has become a controversial moment in the nation’s tense struggle over police killings of unarmed people of color. Ramos and Liu’s shooter mentioned ongoing anger over the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who died after an officer placed him in a choke hold. Activists decrying police violence have said the shootings of the officers are a tragedy and have called for peaceful protests.

• Cincinnati has gone all-in on a new highway interchange where I-71 passes through Walnut Hills and Avondale. But questions continue over whether that interchange will bring jobs and prosperity to some of the city’s poorest residents. It’s a tough question to answer because the project is fairly unique. Building a new highway on and off ramp in an already-built urban area is nearly unprecedented, and it’s tough to tell what will happen. That’s especially true since it’s unclear who will end up owning some of the 670 acres around the interchange officials say is blighted and in need of fresh development.  City officials tout a study by the UC Economics Center that predicts the new interchange could create 7,000 jobs. But other studies of highway development projects say it can be exceedingly hard to tell what their impacts will be. The city has more than $25 million in the project, so stakes are high. They’re also high for residents of the neighborhood — as we reported this summer, Avondale has a 40 percent poverty rate and has historically found itself cut off from the rest of the city economically and geographically. What’s more, some residents will need to move to make way for the interchange. As the project continues toward its November 2016 completion date, questions keep swirling.

• State Rep. John Becker, a staunch conservative representing suburban Cincinnati, has been busy during his freshman term, according to a recent profile in the Columbus Dispatch. The former anti-abortion activist has authored tons of right wing legislation — 27 bills, in fact —  and has courted a similarly prodigious amount of controversy. He’s been outspoken about police shootings of people of color, even commenting that he “wasn’t sure who the victim was” in the case of Mike Brown, an unarmed black man shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. He has suggested that similar shootings in Cleveland and Beavercreek involved drugs or “suicide by cop.” He’s also questioned why Planned Parenthood isn’t considered a hate group. That’s all charming stuff. Becker was reelected in November and will enjoy an increasingly conservative House — Republicans will hold 65 seats there next session. Up next on his agenda: abolishing the state’s income tax. Great!

• In national news, the Washington Post reports that House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, spoke at a white supremacist conference in 2002. The third most powerful member of the House appeared at a European-American Unity and Rights Organization convention in New Orleans hosted by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke when he was a state representative. Representatives for Scalise’s office say he was unaware of the group’s connections with the white power movement and was in the midst of a statewide campaign rallying support for lowering taxes and other conservative ideas.

“For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous,” Scalise told the Times-Picayune as the story was breaking last night.

The revelation comes as Republicans look to make a new start with an expanded majority in the House and a newly minted majority in the Senate. Meanwhile, Democrats are pummeling Scalise over the revelations.

• Finally, if you’re not satisfied with Cincinnati’s New Year's Eve offerings (I can’t imagine why. There are about a million things to do) take heart: Whatever you get into is probably better than watching a giant nail drop in this Pennsylvania town. It's not even metal. It's wood. The, uh, nail dropping will commemorate a historic nail factory. Get wild.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.29.2014 63 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
hunter

Morning News and Stuff

Hunter not going to jail just yet; majority supports body cameras for cops; the infamous "Interview" ticket scalper

Hello, Cincy. I hope your holidays were great and you got whatever you wanted during the gift-giving rituals for whatever you celebrate. I got socks and a dress shirt and I’m actually pretty hyped about them. Wait, does that mean I’m old now? Oh no.

Anyway, news. The saga of Tracie Hunter continues. It looks like the former Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge will get a reprieve from jail for now. The Ohio Supreme Court last week upheld her request for a stay on her six-month sentence until after an appeal of her felony conviction can be heard. Hunter was convicted of having unlawful interest in a public contract in October, one of eight felony counts the county brought against her. The jury hung on the other seven counts.

The charge that stuck is usually punished by a fine and probation. However, Hamilton County Judge Norbert Nadel sentenced Hunter to the jail term because of her stature as a judge, he said. Hunter’s supporters say she’s a victim of politics and that her aggressive attempts to reform the county’s juvenile justice system made some powerful enemies. Her critics say she broke the law by misusing court-issued credit cards, improperly handling court records and other infringements. 

The case has been complex and contentious. Hunter’s attorney filed three motions for a new trial, all of which were denied by Nadel, and three jury members who initially voted to convict Hunter on the felony count later recanted their votes, though it was already too late by that point. Attorneys with the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, which is representing Hunter in the appeals process, say her appeal could take a year. Hunter supporters rallied Sunday in Bond Hill to show support for the suspended judge and call for changes to county’s juvenile justice system, which they say has huge racial disparities. 

• So you might have heard about that building that fell down in CityBeat’s neighborhood over the weekend. The vintage 1865 structure near the corner of Court and Race that last held a box factory partially collapsed for unknown reasons Saturday, scaring the crap out of nearby residents and, just as tragically, blocking CityBeat editor Danny Cross’s parking spot. There were no injuries, though two other cars that were parked there at the time were heavily damaged. Nearby buildings are structurally sound, engineers with the city have said.

• Another group protesting racial disparities held a vigil Saturday night in Washington Park in remembrance of those who have died at the hands of police across the country. The vigil drew about 30 people, who held candles and paid respects to Mike Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice and others who have died in incidents with police. The vigil was the latest in ongoing protests around police killings of unarmed black citizens, including now-infamous incidents in Ferguson, Mo., Beavercreek, Cleveland, New York City and others across the country. Grand juries have failed to indict the officers who shot or otherwise caused the deaths of unarmed citizens in many of these incidents, setting off large-scale incidents of civil unrest in cities across the country.  

• Even as protests and a bitter national argument about race and police forces plays out, Americans are unusually united about one thing: Police should wear cameras. Eighty-six percent of respondents to a national survey indicated they support body cameras for officers, according to the Washington Post. A large majority of respondents also agreed that deaths caused by police should be investigated by independent prosecutors who have no ties with the departments they're investigating.

• If you’ve been following statewide politics this year (say, perhaps, by reading this blog right here), you know that one of the biggest political fault-lines in Ohio is the state’s implementation of the new federal Common Core public education standards. Supporters say it better teaches critical thinking skills and prepares students to be competitive in the global marketplace. But there are plenty of detractors across the political spectrum. Those on the right say the new standards amount to a federal takeover of local school districts and the state’s own standards. Those on the left hate that the new standards rely on standardized testing. Conservative lawmakers this year drafted bills to repeal the standards despite the fact that some prominent conservatives in the state, including Gov. John Kasich, support them. Those lawmakers, including Republican State Rep. Andy Thompson of Marietta, have recently signaled they’ll be at it again in the new year working to repeal the standards, and they appear to have a good deal of support in their quest. Check out this year-end rundown on Common Core by education news site State Impact for a deeper look at the drama over the standards.

• Finally, let’s talk about The Interview. First, the new Seth Rogen thing about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was coming out as expected, on schedule and painfully similar to every other Seth Rogen movie. Then Sony got hacked and people thought it was the North Koreans and the movie was shelved because of some vague threats about violence at theaters that decided to show it. Now, as the argument about whether North Korea really even did the hacking rages on, Sony has decided to release the movie on a limited basis anyway at places like Clifton’s Esquire Theater.

The movie has done poorly in its initial release in the real world, grossing less than $2 million. However, it’s done much better online, where it’s racked up more than $15 million in rentals and sales for Sony, which spent more than $40 million to make the two-hour insult to humanity’s intelligence. The brisk online business is good for Sony but bad for the local man who spent $650 on tickets to the premier, hoping to cash in on a sold-out crowd hungry to see what all the fuss was about. The online release deflated this intrepid scalper's Christmas cash dreams. He’s asked the theater for a refund, but the Esquire has refused. There are so many things to shake our heads about in this story. I’ll leave you to ponder the state of our society.

 
 

 

 

 
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