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by German Lopez 08.03.2012
Posted In: News, Governor, Taxes, Economy, Government at 08:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio has a lot of natural gas resources accessible by fracking, but are they worth $1 trillion? Gov. John Kasich seems to think so. Unfortunately for Kasich, prominent geologists have no idea how he got that number, and one geologist estimated Kasich is off by a “couple of zeroes.”

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent as the economy added 163,000 jobs in July. Economists have been calling for the Federal Reserve to help turn the economy around, but the Federal Reserve decided it will not take action in its latest meeting.

Cincinnati City Council is using words to try to push Cincinnati Bell to not outsource jobs. But Cincinnati Bell seems more interested in profits, not words.

An Ohio Inspector General report found Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner misused state resources and was in conflict of interest when testifying to the Ohio legislature. Some Ohio Democrats are now calling for the superintendent to resign and face criminal charges. The news continues a rocky past few weeks the Ohio Department of Education, which is now being investigated by the state auditor after reports of fraudulent data reporting.

The Ohio Libertarian Party is asking Democrats what took them so long to support same-sex marriage rights. My guess is politics.

In related news, same-sex couples will be making out at Chick-fil-A today. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee OKed the movement in the most passive aggressive way possible.

Prison companies are making big profits from illegal immigrants. Some opponents of private prisons say the system creates an enormous conflict of interest, but Republicans disagree. Prison companies are big campaign contributors for Republicans.

President Barack Obama will be speaking about taxes today. The president opposes the Republican plan to keep tax rates lower for the wealthy. Republicans say the president’s plan would raise taxes on small businesses, but the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that claim doesn’t check out with reality. The president will be broadcasting his comments at 11:45 a.m. here.

Some McDonald’s chains have started serving breakfast after midnight. The intoxicated will probably approve.

The Curiosity rover will be hitting Mars Monday. The rover is NASA's most ambitious endeavor in Mars yet.

In a discovery that changes everything, scientists have found it’s better for sperm to be slow than it is for them to be fast.
by German Lopez 05.22.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, Development, Budget at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Local job numbers improve, housing supply lags behind demand, The Banks gets price tag

Local job numbers continued their positive trend in April, with Cincinnati’s unemployment rate dropping to 6.9 percent and the rest of the region following suit. Michael Jones, research director at the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, attributed the job gains to improvements in manufacturing and continued growth in health care jobs. Still, the public sector continued to lag behind the private sector — a trend Jones says could change in the coming months as government budgets are adjusted to match higher tax revenues resulting from the recovering economy.

Downtown’s population growth slowed last year as available housing failed to match demand, according to Downtown Cincinnati Inc.’s annual report. In the past few years, the city has pursued multiple actions to meet demand, particularly through public-private partnerships. Most recently, City Council approved leasing the city’s parking assets to raise funds that would help build 300 luxury apartments, but that plan is currently being held up in court.

The second phase of The Banks riverfront project will cost $62 million, according to the report from Downtown Cincinnati Inc. That’s smaller than the first phase, which cost $90 million. The second phase of the project is expected to begin this fall, and it should bring 300 apartments and 60,000 square feet of street-level retail space to the area by the end of 2015. The Banks also plans to build a $45 million hotel, which is also expected to be complete in 2015. The funding for the projects is coming through multiple public-private partnerships.

After the final public hearing on the city budget Wednesday, Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan plans to introduce her own budget plan that would avoid all city employee layoffs. A statement from Quinlivan did not give much in the way of details: “My plan saves all city jobs and restores all neighborhood programs. It requires common sense and shared sacrifice of all city employees.” Most recently, council members Chris Seelbach and Roxanne Qualls co-sponsored a motion that would eliminate fire layoffs and reduce police layoffs to 25 by making cuts elsewhere.

The Ohio Senate plans to vote today on a measure that would effectively close down hundreds of Internet “sweepstakes” cafes around the state in an effort to eliminate illegal gambling activities. The cafes’ operators insist their activities are not gambling but rather a promotional tool that helps sell Internet time and long-distance phone cards.

Cincinnati’s zoning hearing examiner says he’s trying to reduce the time it takes to go through the zoning hearing process to less than 60 days.

Three major Ohio universities, including the University of Cincinnati, and four hospitals, including Cincinnati Children's Hospital, are teaming up to find out what causes premature birth.

Beginning July 1, some Ohio interstates will allow drivers to go 70 miles per hour. Find out which ones here.

At congressional hearings yesterday, U.S. senators criticized Apple for legally taking advantage of the complex American corporate tax system, but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul put the blame on Congress:

Russia is building robots to “neutralize” terrorists, and other researchers are working on robots that will attempt to rescue people after disasters.

The creator of the GIF says it’s pronounced “jif.”

by German Lopez 08.31.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Economy at 08:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is coming to Cincinnati tomorrow. He will be speaking at Union Terminal at 10 a.m., with doors opening for the event at 8 a.m. Romney is expected to need Ohio to win the presidential election, but he is currently behind Obama in aggregate polling by 1.4 points. Romney gave his speech at the Republican National Convention last night with a focus on jobs and the economy. The speech has been generally well-received by political pundits. However, there has been some news recently that when he was in Bain Capital, Romney looted a dying company for executive bonuses when the company owed the government millions of dollars. The story puts a damper on Romney’s “We Built That” mantra, which claims entrepreneurs create businesses without any government assistance.

Ohio’s texting-while-driving ban goes into effect today.

Strategies to End Homelessness is losing federal funding, but it will still continue efforts to combat homelessness in Cincinnati. The organization coordinates efforts between anti-homelessness groups in the area to prevent homelessness and assist people who have already fallen into homelessness.

California-based iHerb could bring 600 jobs to Northern Kentucky in the near future. The company, which has been in business for 16 years, is a seller for food supplements.

In 2010, the University of Cincinnati spent $11.1 million on its football program, but it came out with about $13.3 million in revenue. In comparison, Ohio State spent $34.3 million, but it took in $61 million.

A $10.4 million affordable housing program broke ground in Florence, Ky.

Ohio’s e-schools are having technical issues due to an influx of new students. Unfortunately, statistics show that influx of new students may be getting an inferior education.

The Ohio House is getting ready to pass public pension reform. The reform will raise premiums, lower benefits and make eligibility more difficult. Republicans say the plan will keep pension funds solvent at a time when budgets are tight.

Republican Speakers at the Republican National Convention have avoided two words: Tea Party.

Gina Rinehart, the world’s richest woman, says people are only poor because they’re lazy drunks. She says people should stop being lazy and work to become millionaires, although Rinehart inherited her wealth.

Clint Eastwood talked to an empty chair during his speech at the Republican National Convention last night.
by Kevin Osborne 02.16.2012

Morning News and Stuff

Greater Cincinnati's index of economic indicators was flat in December, indicating weak job growth in the coming months, The Business Courier reports. The index held steady at 97.5, the same as in November. That indicates "poor employment growth through winter and early spring," said the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which compiles the index. (Thank God Congress reached that jobs deal, right?)

Cincinnati City Council will appeal a judge's ruling that allows demolition of the historic James N. Gamble House in Westwood. Although the city's attorney said the likelihood of the appeal's success was low, council voted 6-3 to pursue one. Councilman Chris Seelbach introduced the proposal; he said the structure is a landmark that should be preserved.

She just wants a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t when she gets home. Kierra Reed, 22, is facing a charge of aggravated menacing after she allegedly attacked her boyfriend for not buying her a Valentine's Day gift. Reed began hitting and scratching Henry Brown, police said, and when he locked himself in a bedroom, Reed allegedly got a knife from the kitchen and tried to cut through the door to stab Brown.

U.S. officials have received a copy of the formal charges lodged by the Egyptian government against pro-democracy activists in the Arab nation. Forty-three people, 19 of them Americans, are to be put on trial for allegedly setting up groups without licenses and receiving illegal funding. Critics say the charges are bogus, and being pushed by pro-Islamist groups to prevent dissenting voices from gaining a foothold in the new Egyptian government.

Although it's only about one-third the size of the bill President Obama proposed in September, Congressional lawmakers agreed early this morning to a compromise version that results in a $150 billion jobs plan. The deal includes a 10-month extension of a payroll tax holiday that lets the average worker keep an extra $1,000 a year. Also, it would extend unemployment benefits through the rest of this year.

In a major turnabout, General Motors reported $7.6 billion in profit for 2011, a 62 percent increase from the previous year. Still, all isn't rosy for the automaker. It reported a $700 million loss in its European operations, and a $100 million loss in South America. The firm, which faced bankruptcy two years ago, saw sales rise 7.6 percent last year to more than 9 million vehicles.

The secret is out. Confirming what's been rumored for weeks, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the U.S. government is conducting secret three-way negotiations with the Taliban and his government. Karzai said he believes most Taliban are "definitively" interested in a peace settlement to end the 10-year-old war.

Despite the Obama administration's pledge to put an end to “too big to fail” banks, critics allege more are being created. The Federal Reserve Board has just approved a merger that makes Capital One the fifth-largest bank in the nation, over the objections of smaller banks and consumer advocacy groups.
by German Lopez 06.24.2013
Posted In: News, Streetcar, Economy, City Council, Commissioners at 08:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar vote today, sewer project compromise reached, "megadeals" fail expectations

The federal government is committing another $5 million to Cincinnati’s streetcar project, but the city must first close the budget gap that has recently put the project in danger. The U.S. Department of Transportation is also asking the city to restore certain aspects of the project, including a passenger information system and a screen or wall that would block power substations from public view. City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee is expected to vote on the project’s $17.4 million budget gap today. The latest proposed fixes from the city manager would pull funding from multiple capital projects, including improvements around the Horseshoe Casino, and issue more debt.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County announced a compromise Friday that will end the county's funding hold on sewer projects. As a result, the city will be required to rework its “responsible bidder” ordinance and repeal the “local hire” and “local preference” laws that incited county commissioners into passing the funding hold in the first place. The city says its responsible bidder law creates local jobs and encourages job training, but the county argues that law’s rules favor unions and push up costs on Metropolitan Sewer District projects. CityBeat covered the city-county conflict in further detail here.

Ohio is No. 3 in the nation for “megadeals” — massive government subsidies to corporations that are meant to encourage in-state job creation — but a new report found many of the deals rarely produce the kind of jobs initially touted by public officials. For Cincinnati, the risks of megadeals are nothing new: In 2011, the city’s $196.4 million megadeal with Convergys collapsed when the company failed to keep downtown employment at or above 1,450, and the company agreed to pay a $14 million reimbursement to the city.

As of Friday, Cincinnati is officially leasing its parking meters, lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority. The Port announced it had signed the lease Friday, putting an end to a four-day controversy over whether the agency was going to sign the lease at all. The city will get a $92 million lump sum and at least $3 million a year from the deal, according to city estimates. Current plans call for using the money to help balance city budgets and fund economic development projects, including the I-71/MLK Interchange.

The prison company that owns and operates a northeastern Ohio prison lost four contracts around the nation in June, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In May, CityBeat released an in-depth report looking at the Corrections Corporation of America’s handling of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, finding evidence of rising violence and unsanitary conditions.

About one in three Ohio children live in a home where neither parent has a full-time, year-round job, and a quarter now live in poverty. Although Ohio’s overall ranking improved in Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual report card on the well-being of children, the state worsened in three out of four economic indicators.

President Barack Obama will make a speech tomorrow unveiling sweeping plans for climate change. The president is expected to impose a series of regulations, particularly on power plants, with executive powers, which means the plans won’t require congressional action.

Ohio gas prices are still coming down this week.

Plants apparently do math to get through the night.

Some diseases, including some types of cancer, are now being diagnosed by smell.

Got questions for CityBeat about anything related to Cincinnati? Today is the last day to submit your questions here. We’ll try to get back to you in our first Answers Issue.

CityBeat is looking to talk to convicted drug offenders from Ohio for an upcoming cover story. If you’d like to participate or know anyone willing to participate, email glopez@citybeat.com.

by German Lopez 03.29.2013
Posted In: News, Budget, Economy, Fracking at 09:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
downtown grocery

Morning News and Stuff

City officials warn of budget cuts, budget woes pinned on Kasich, fracking causes earthquake

Yesterday, Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler gave a ruling that effectively opened the parking plan to referendum, but city officials said the decision poses major fiscal and legal challenges to the city. Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said the lack of a parking plan will force the city to lay off 344 employees, including 80 firefighter and 189 police positions, to balance fiscal year 2014’s budget in time for July 1, and City Solicitor John Curp said the ruling, which concludes emergency clauses do not eliminate the possibility of a referendum, greatly hinder the city’s ability to expedite the implementation of laws. The parking plan, which was previously approved by City Council, would lease the city’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to help balance the budget for the next two years and fund economic development projects, but the court ruling means the plan must be put on hold at least until a referendum effort is complete.

Ohio Democrats say Gov. John Kasich’s local government funding cuts are to blame for Cincinnati’s budget woes. In a statement, Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said, “Make no mistake, the only reason Cincinnati has been forced to debate firing hundreds of police and firefighters is because Gov. Kasich cut tens of millions of dollars to the city in his last state budget. As communities like Cincinnati struggle to deal with the last round of cuts, Kasich’s at it again, proposing to steal another $200 million from local communities to help pay for tax giveaways to the rich. If Kasich gets his way and passes his proposed handout to his friends, more communities across the state will see layoffs, skyrocketing local tax levies, and deep cuts to schools.” Kasich’s local government funding cuts have caused Cincinnati to lose $40.7 million in state funding over two years, according to Policy Matters Ohio. CityBeat covered Kasich’s local government funding cuts here and his budget proposal here.

A study found a wastewater injection well used for fracking caused Oklahoma’s largest-ever earthquake. The findings echo fears from Youngstown residents, who experienced an earthquake early in 2012 that was pinned on nearby wastewater injection wells, which are used to dispose of waste produced during the fracking process. CityBeat covered fracking, the relatively new drilling technique that injects water underground to open up oil and gas reserves, in further detail here.

In private budget news, a survey by Card Hub found Cincinnati residents have some of the nation’s worst budgeting habits. In the 30-city survey, Cincinnati ranked No. 28 for budgeting habits, ahead of only Tampa, Fla., and Orlando, Fla. Boston was ranked No. 1 in the nation.

The Port Authority is carrying out a demolition in Jordan Crossing that will pave the way for $75 million in redevelopment. Mayor Mark Mallory described his experience with the development, “This has been a source of frustration, but also a source of hope. … This area is prime for job creation and redevelopment.”

State legislators are once again trying to get student members of schools’ board of trustees the ability to vote — a move that would empower students in public universities. The bill was introduced last year, but it died a slow death after facing opposition from administrators at Ohio University and Bowling Green State University. Gov. John Kasich and Ohio State officials reportedly support the idea.

A Sunday school teacher at a local church near Dayton was fired after declaring her support for same-sex marriage.

Cincinnati Financial Corp. and Meridian Bioscience Inc. were named among the country’s most trustworthy firms.

Headline: Man accused of using fake penis for drug test.

New national science education guidelines say climate change should be in classrooms.

Caffeine-addicted bacteria die if they get decaf. Scientists say they want to use the bacteria to clean caffeine-polluted waterways.

by German Lopez 02.06.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, Budget, Streetcar, Taxes, Privatization at 10:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
p.g. sittenfeld.nar

Morning News and Stuff

Petition against privatization, Kasich sales tax hurts many, USquare development criticized

Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld is circulating a small business petition to stop Cincinnati from privatizing parking services. Sittenfeld threw his support behind the petition in a statement: “Individual citizens have made clear that they are overwhelmingly against outsourcing our parking system. Now we're going to show that small businesses feel the same way. I hope that when council sees that the small businesses that are the engine of our city are strongly against outsourcing our parking, we can then nix the proposal immediately.” The petition asks city officials “to find a smart, resourceful, sustainable alternative to address the budget situation.” City Manager Milton Dohoney says parking privatization is necessary to avoid laying off 344 city workers.

Gov. John Kasich’s expanded sales tax is going to hurt a lot of people. The tax is being expanded to apply to many items included in households’ monthly budgets, such as cable television, laundry services and haircuts. The revenue from the sales tax expansion will be used to cut the state income tax by 20 percent across the board, lower the sales tax from 5.5 percent to 5 percent and slightly boost county coffers.

City Council and local residents are not impressed with the USquare development. At a City Council meeting Tuesday, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls described the development: “I have to say that it is underwhelming. And that’s about the kindest thing I can say about it.  And also really repeats, on many different levels, virtually all of the mistakes that have ever been made in the city and in neighborhoods when it comes to creating public spaces.” But architect Graham Kalbli said he’s excited about the plan: “Because we’ve taken a vacant strip of land and really made kind of a living room for the Clifton Heights community. We wanted to do that, that was one of our overriding goals.”

The Hamilton County Board of Elections is subpoenaing 19 voters who are suspected of voting twice in the November election. Most of the voters being investigated filed provisional ballots then showed up to vote on Election Day.

David Mann is officially running for City Council. The Democrat has served as a council member, mayor and congressman in the past.

Traffic congestion isn’t just bad for drivers; it’s also bad for the environment and economy. The Annual Urban Mobility Report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found traffic congestion cost Cincinnati $947 million in 2011 and produced an an extra 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide nationwide.

Leslie Ghiz is taking the judge’s seat a little early. The former city council member was elected to the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in November, but she was appointed to the seat early by Gov. John Kasich to replace Dennis Helmick, who retired at the end of 2012.

The magic of capitalism: Delta is already matching a low-cost carrier’s fares to Denver at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. 

The U.S. Postal Service is ending Saturday mail delivery starting Aug. 1. The Postal Service has been dealing with financial problems ever since a 2006 mandate from U.S. Congress forced the mail delivery agency to pre-fund health care benefits for future retirees. Riddled with gridlock, Congress has done nothing to help since the mandate was put in place. This will be the first time the Postal Service doesn’t deliver mail on Saturdays since 1863.

It’s unlikely zombies could be cured by love, but it’s possible they could be cured by science.

The next Michael Jordan has been discovered:

by German Lopez 09.04.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Economy, LGBT Issues at 09:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

A federal judge ruled that in-person early voting in Ohio must be extended to include the weekend and Monday before Election Day for all voters. The ruling is a result of President Barack Obama’s campaign team and the Democrats filing a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted to extend early voting. Attorney General Mike DeWine has vowed to appeal the ruling. Republicans have consistently blocked all attempts to expand early voting in Ohio, citing costs and racial politics.

Cincinnati manufacturing is on a big rebound, according to a new survey. The Cincinnati Purchasing Management Index, which is used to measure manufacturing in the area, showed some decline in July, but it is now bouncing back. The news could indicate a wider economic recovery.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in town Saturday. During his speech, Romney pointed fingers to “cheaters” like China, which Romney believes is unfairly manipulating its currency. (China has not been manipulating its currency for some time now.) Romney also rolled out his plan to restore America’s economy by emphasizing small businesses and cutting government spending. But the Brookings Institute says the unemployment rate would be at 7.1 percent if it wasn’t for government cuts passed by state and federal governments in the past few years. Romney also wants to cut back on the Environmental Protection Agency, which he says is hurting local jobs with too many regulations.

Some Democrats are calling for Husted to resign. Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie, both who were fired for attempting to expand in-person early voting to include weekends despite Husted’s uniform rules demanding no weekend hours, said in a press release Husted should resign for missing a critical deadline. The deadline was to establish the ballot language and argument against Issue 2, a ballot initiative supported by Ohio Voters First that would place redistricting in the hands of an independent citizens committee. If Issue 2 is not passed, politicians will continue drawing district boundaries, which typically leads to a process known as “gerrymandering” that politicians use to redraw districts in politically beneficial ways. In Cincinnati, gerrymandering has been used to de-emphasize the urban vote — or African-American vote, according to Doug Preisse, adviser to Gov. John Kasich — by redrawing district boundaries to include Warren County. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting issue here.

Competition in the Greater Cincinnati area has allowed some cities to pay less for trash hauling services. Rumpke previously held a stranglehold on the business, but that seems to be changing with the arrival of legitimate competitors — such as CSI and Forest Green.

The Obama campaign will open its offices in Cincinnati tomorrow. The Obama team promises to use the offices for a large ground game.

The Ohio Board of Regents is calling on some Ohio colleges to continue enrolling military veterans despite a temporary disruption in federal benefits, which was caused by a loss of records.

Former Gov. Ted Strickland might run again to knock Gov. John Kasich out of the spot. Strickland is expected to speak at the Democratic National Convention today.

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio seems to have his geography confused. At a speech, he said he wants senatorial candidate Josh Mandel of Ohio to win to "run Harry Reid back to Nevada.” Reid is a U.S. senator for Nevada.

U.S. home prices rose in July by the most in six years. The news could indicate a recovery in the housing market. The housing crash is generally attributed as the primary cause of the Great Recession.

The Democratic National Convention is heading into day two today. The convention is touting the new Democratic platform, which now includes support for same-sex marriage. At the Ohio delegation in the convention, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is often cited as a potential presidential candidate for the 2016 election, criticized Kasich.

A cure for baldness could be in stores as soon as five years from now.

by German Lopez 10.15.2012
sherrod brown

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.

The first of three debates for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat is today. Incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel will meet for the first time to prove who has the better vision for the state. Democrats have repeatedly criticized Mandel for dishonesty and dodging questions. Republicans have criticized Brown for supporting President Barack Obama’s policies, including the auto bailout and Obamacare. A more substantive analysis of the candidates’ differences can be found here. In aggregate polling, Brown currently leads by five points. The debate will be at 12:30 p.m. on C-SPAN.   

Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice president, will be in Cincinnati today. Ryan’s event will take place at Lunken Airport at noon. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, was in Lebanon Saturday. With the second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Romney tomorrow, both campaigns are turning up the events in Ohio, a state that is widely considered a must-win for both candidates. According to aggregate polling, Obama still holds Ohio by 2.2 points despite a nationwide post-debate bounce in the polls for Romney. 

Bicyclists rejoiced Saturday as McMillan Street was converted back into a two-way street. William Howard Taft Road will undergo a similar transition Oct. 20. The conversion of both roads came thanks to the approval of Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who pushed the motion in order to revitalize the business sector in the neighborhood.

The rest of Ohio’s school report card data will be released Wednesday. The report card data grades schools to see how school districts are doing in a variety of categories. The release for the data was initially delayed due to an ongoing investigation by the state auditor that’s looking into accusations of attendance reporting fraud at some school districts. Previously, the state auditor released preliminary findings criticizing some school districts and the Ohio Department of Education for some findings regarding attendance fraud.  

A new report found Cincinnati still has a lot of work to do. The city ranked No. 10 out of 12 similar cities. Cincinnati excelled in job creation and housing opportunities, but it did poorly in categories regarding migration and age.

Bob Taft, former Republican governor of Ohio, is going green. The Ohio Environmental Council is rewarding Taft for standing up for the environment during his gubernatorial term.

Ohio’s stricter laws for exotic animals convinced one pet owner to move her two tigers to Indiana.

Some guy broke the sound barrier with his body yesterday.

by German Lopez 01.30.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, Education, Voting, Budget, Taxes at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
capitol hill

Morning News and Stuff

Austerity hurts U.S. economy, voter suppression returns, state income tax benefits rich

Between October and December, the U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank by 0.1 percent — the first contraction since 2009. The downturn was primarily caused by the threat of conservative fiscal policies, particularly defense spending cuts. Dropping business inventories also helped drag down the economy. Otherwise, consumer and business spending was actually strong.

Some Republicans want another go at reducing voting rights. Rep. Mike Dovilla, chairman of the newly created House Policy & Legislative Oversight Committee, says he wants to consider measures that crack down on alleged voter fraud, including reduced voting times and a photo ID requirement to vote. But in-person voter fraud is not a real problem. News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found only 10 cases of in-person voting fraud in the United States between 2000 and 2012. That’s not even one case of in-person fraud each year. The real reason Republicans want to enact stricter voting measures is to hinder young, minority voters that typically support Democrats. One study found 700,000 young, minority voters were excluded by photo ID laws in 2012.

A Policy Matters Ohio report found Ohio’s income tax hits the poor and middle class a lot harder than the wealthy. The numbers from the report: “The top 1 percent of non-elderly Ohio families by income, who earned at least $324,000 in 2010, on average pay 8.1 percent of their income in state and local income, property, sales and excise taxes. By contrast, the lowest fifth, who make less than $17,000, on average pay 11.6 percent. Families in the middle fifth of the income spectrum, who make between $31,000 and $49,000, on average pay 10.6 percent.”

Cincinnati is extending its contract with Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) for a month despite an ongoing conflict, but the supposed conflict is really much ado about nothing. SORTA wants the city to guarantee it won’t use the transit fund for the streetcar, but City Council has already passed a resolution saying it won’t and Mayor Mark Mallory has repeatedly stated he will not use the transit fund for the streetcar. Due to the mayor’s race, the streetcar will be facing another contentious year at the ballot box, which CityBeat covered in-depth here.

More than 60 percent of Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurs are expecting a net profit in 2013. Most of them also expect to hire part-time employees, according to a new survey from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The survey is another sign of rising confidence in the U.S. economy.

The Dayton Daily News reports manufacturing is driving economic growth in Ohio, to the benefit of more than half of the state’s counties.

When defending Ohio's charter school and voucher programs, conservatives often tout the magic of “school choice,” but a Policy Matters report found school choice may hurt education standards in the state.

Ed FitzGerald, a popular Democrat from Cuyahoga County, is gearing up to run for the governor's race in 2014.

Scientists have taught bacteria to eat electricity. The trick could eventually be used to turn microorganisms into a biofuel source.