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by Hannah McCartney 03.09.2012
Posted In: Environment at 01:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
clean-air

Cincinnati Joins Clean Air Cities Campaign

Membership to help Cincinnati support regulations for healthier air

Cincinnati is the latest city to join the Clean Air Cities campaign, according to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity, who spearheads the campaign. As a member, Cincinnati joins the likes of dozen other cities, including Seattle, Wash., Berkeley, Calif., Tuscon, Ariz. and Cambridge, Mass.

Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution on Wednesday to join the campaign as part of council's "Green Cincinnati Plan," which has also initiated the use of SORTA's hybrid buses, the Cincinnati Energy Alliance, implementation of LEED-certified buildings and the Electric Car Parking Initiative.

The Clean Air Cities campaign is a nationwide effort to urge cities to be proactive in speaking to the Obama administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use the Clean Air Act to make worthwhile reductions in greenhouse gas pollution and slow global warming.  

The Clean Air Act is a federal law passed in 1970 that's designed to make sure U.S. citizens are breathing safe air; it requires the U.S. EPA to set forth national air quality standards to protect against harmful pollutants like ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead and particulate soot. With the standards, state governments are responsible for developing plans to meet the health standards by a given deadline. The Act also sets nationwide standards for other sources of pollution, including vehicles and power plants. Recently, large-scale polluters have lobbied for Congress to amend the Clean Air Act to mandate less stringent regulations on global warming emissions, and  legislation introduced in the House and Senate frequently fight to prevent the EPA's efforts to achieve healthful levels of pollutants in our air.

“We are making great strides toward a ‘greener’ city with our Green Cincinnati Plan. To continue to work tirelessly for improved air quality, we must also send a strong message of full support for the Clean Air Act to the EPA,” said Cincinnati City Council Member Laure Quinlivan in CBD's press release.

The EPA projected that in 2010 the Clean Air Act would save 23,000 lives and prevent 1.7 million asthma attacks and more than 68,000 emergency room visits and hospitalizations. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the act created benefits valued at $22.2 trillion in its first two decades; that's 42 times the amount invested in its regulations.

A 2011 report from Environment Ohio ranked Cincinnati the 16th smoggiest city in the United States, and a report commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force attributed 1,221 deaths in Ohio each year to pollution from coal plants. 

 
 
by German Lopez 10.18.2012
Posted In: News, Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party, Voting at 10:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
 
 
timburke

Senate Democrats Demand Investigation Into Voter Fraud Group

Claim True the Vote is unnecessarily intimidating voters

Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily intimidating voters.

In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4 Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a year.

Tim Burke, chairman of both the Hamilton County Board of Elections and the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the faulty voter registration forms, which groups like TTV typically cite as examples of in-person voter fraud, never amount to real voter fraud.

“Those nonexistent voters never show up to vote,” he says. “(The forms) were put together by people working on voter registration drives. Frankly, the intent wasn’t to defraud the board of elections; the intent was to defraud their employer into making them think they’re doing more work.”

In other words, people aren't submitting faulty voter registration forms to skew elections; registration drive employees are submitting the forms to try to keep their jobs.

To combat the seemingly nonexistent problem of voter impersonation fraud, TTV is planning on recruiting one million poll watchers — people that will stand by polling places to ensure the voting process is legitimate. The Democrats insist some of the tactics promoted by the group are illegal. The letter claims it’s illegal for anyone but election officials to inhibit the voting process in any way. Most notably, Ohio law prohibits “loiter[ing] in or about a registration or polling place during registration or the casting and counting of ballots so as to hinder, delay, or interfere with the conduct of the registration or election,” according to the letter.

Burke says state law allows both Democrats and Republicans to hire observers at polling booths. However, the observers can only watch, and they can’t challenge voters. Even if the appointed observers see suspicious activity, they have to leave the voting area and report the activity through other means.

The tactics adopted by TTV have an ugly history in the U.S. Utilizing poll watchers was one way Southern officials pushed away minority voters during the segregation era. By asking questions and being as obstructive as possible, the poll watchers of the segregation era intimidated black voters into not voting. In the post-segregation era, the tactics have continued targeting minority and low-income voters.

The Senate Democrats make note of the ugly history in their letter: “It has traditionally focused on the voter registration lists in minority and low-income precincts, utilizing ‘caging’ techniques to question registrations. It has included encouraging poll watchers to ‘raise a challenge’ when certain voters tried to vote by brandishing cameras at polling sites, asking humiliating questions of voters, and slowing down precinct lines with unnecessary challenges and intimidating tactics. These acts of intimidation undermine protection of the right to vote of all citizens.”

TTV has already faced some failures in Hamilton County. Earlier this year, the group teamed up with the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (VIP), another Tea Party group, to file 380 challenges to the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Of the 380 challenges, only 35 remain. The vast majority were thrown out.

“For the most part, they tried to get a bunch of UC students challenged because they didn’t have their dormitory rooms on their voter registration rolls,” Burke says. “All of those were rejected. We did nothing with those.”

But he said the group did bring up one legitimate challenge. Some voters were still registered in a now-defunct trailer park in Harrison, Ohio. Since the trailer park no longer exists, Burke says no one should be voting from there. The board didn’t purge those voters from the roll, but the board unanimously agreed to ensure those voters are challenged and sent to the correct polling place if they show up to vote.

Still, TTV insists on hunting down all the phantom impersonators and fraudulent voters. In partnership with VIP, TTV is continuing its mission to stop all the voter impersonation that isn't actually happening.

VIP is brandishing the effort with a program of its own. That organization is now hosting special training programs for poll workers. The organization insists its programs are nonpartisan, but Democrats aren’t buying it.

Burke says it’s normal for Democrats and Republicans to hire poll workers, but if the Voter Integrity Project program puts the organization’s anti-fraud politics into the training, it could go too far.

“The job of the poll worker is to assist voters in getting their ballots cast correctly,” Burke says. “It’s to be helpful. It’s not to be belligerent. It’s not to be making voters feel like they’re doing something evil.”

He added, “If poll workers are coming in and deciding that they’re going to be aggressive police officers making everybody feel like they’re engaged in voter fraud and therefore trying to intimidate voters, that’s absolutely wrong.”

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 12.16.2011
Posted In: LGBT Issues, Community, Human Rights at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
lgbt1

LGBT Group Elects Officers

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Greater Cincinnati recently held its annual membership meeting and elected leaders for 2012.

Rusty Lockett and John Maddux were elected to another term as board president and vice president, respectively. Lockett formerly served as the center’s clerk before first being elected president in early 2010. Also, he has served as event chairman for Pride Night at Kings Island in September and is convener of the local LGBT Episcopal worship group, called Integrity.

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by Andy Brownfield 08.13.2012
Posted In: News at 01:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
 
 
ky copy

People Don't Want to Live in Kentucky?

To be fair, they ain't too hot on Ohio, either

The folks over at Gallup have told us something that some Cincinnatians already believe: Kentucky is a shitty place to live.

The Bluegrass State was ranked as the third-worst in the nation for livability because of its residents' affinity for tobacco, disinclination to go to the gym and for never seeming to find the time to go to the dentist.

The poll asked more than 500,000 adults questions about economic confidence, job creation, whether their bosses treated them like partners rather than underlings, whether they had been to a dentist in the last year and how easy it is to find clean drinking water.

Poll respondents also ranked Kentucky 49th for “learned something new yesterday,” and enough Kentuckians complained about finding a safe place to exercise to earn it the 47th rank.

Our friends and neighbors to the south fell amongst such company as West Virginia, Mississippi and Nevada.

Now before we Ohioans get too smug, we were ranked the ninth worst state for future livability.

We were near dead last (47th) for “city/area ‘getting better’ minus ‘getting worse’ ” and 45th for “low obesity.”

The top three states for future livability were places where nobody actually lives Utah, Minnesota and Colorado. Apparently they all like brushing their teeth and exercise more than the Tristate.

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 03.22.2012
Posted In: Cycling, Neighborhoods at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
100623bikeplan02

Riverside Drive Bike Lanes Delayed

City's Department of Transportation says delays could last up to two years

The last time we reported on the Riverside Drive bike lane project, Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation was considering postponing the long-awaited project because of future construction on I-471.

The delay is official. According the WVXU (91.7 FM), the city’s Transportation and Engineering Director, Michael Moore, told Laurie Keleher, the city liaison with the East End Area Council, in an email that the project was indefinitely postponed. The delay, said the email, could range from a year to two years.

The idea for Riverside Drive bike lane project came about in summer 2011. Bike transportation proponents argue that the installation of bike lanes on Riverside Drive is a crucial step into making the street a safe channel for commute and leisure for East End residents.

Currently, the road serves as a main thoroughfare for bikers and drivers from the East End to downtown, but problems with speeding and narrow paths along the side of the road pose serious safety risks for bikers. The plan to install bike lanes on Riverside Drive would potentially make the road less of a busy thoroughfare and more like a suburb road.

The city is concerned that construction on I-471 will divert traffic to Riverside Drive; the bike plan mandates the removal of one lane on the road, meaning that, potentially, Riverside Drive would become clogged with commuters.

According to construction plans, though, I-471 would remain open during the work. Columbia Parkway, which also runs from the East End downtown, is a far more viable alternative for commuters inconvenienced by I-471 construction. Speed limits on Columbia Parkway are higher than on Riverside Drive, and the infrastructure is markedly unfriendly for bikers, while Riverside Drive holds far more potential.

According to an email from the East End Area Council to City Manager Milton Dohoney, the city’s decision to halt progress on the Riverside Drive project essentially means they’re going back on their word. “The City of Cincinnati has invested considerable time and money in various plans ... all of which seek to make walkability and bicycling an integral part of daily life in Cincinnati.”

“We are dismayed that the City of Cincinnati Administration considers the convenience of the eastern suburban commuters who all speed through our neighborhood above the safety of the people who live and work in the East End,” reads the email.

Queen City Bike also expresses concern over any form of delay in the plan. "If this project is delayed, current budgetary realities lead Queen City Bike to believe that the lane reconfiguration would be lost for the foreseeable future. Any future reconsideration will almost certainly require rerunning the considerable analysis that went into the decision, effectively wasting the work done and taxpayer’s money spent so far. Therefore, Queen City Bike opposes any delay in the Riverside Drive lane reconfiguration," reads a post on Queen City Bike's website.

Want to contact the city's Department of Transportation? Click here.

 
 
by 12.11.2008
Posted In: Business at 02:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 

Sick of Unemployment? Try Humana

Humana announced Wednesday that they'll be adding 700 jobs to their Cincinnati operations by 2010. With the struggling economy, this is welcome news.

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by Hannah McCartney 02.08.2012
at 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
renewable-energy

A Greener Cincinnati? Energy Aggregation Explained

The Cincinnati City Council met on Monday to discuss the energy aggregation policy for the city, which, if implemented, could mean big changes in the way residents’ homes are powered.

In the meeting, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls introduced a motion outlining the possible use of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as renewable energy certificates, through an energy aggregation program that could be put into place as soon as this June or July. The motion was passed unanimously by the Budget and Finance Committee, meaning that the city will be preparing to send out requests for proposal (RFPs) to power suppliers within the next few weeks.

In November, Cincinnati voters overwhelmingly approved Issues 44 and 45, which gave the city the authority to negotiate aggregation purchase rates of natural gas and electricity for residents and businesses.

Wondering what exactly energy aggregation is? In Ohio, communities are allowed to pool funds together and purchase natural gas and electricity as a group. Because a community pools together, that means it can access the lowest rates — think of it like a trip to Sam’s Club. The more you purchase of something at one time, the lower rate per unit you can access.

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by German Lopez 09.10.2013
Posted In: News, Health, Health care at 02:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
cincinnati children's

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Loses Obamacare Money

Medical center blocked from helping uninsured navigate online marketplaces

Limitations imposed by Ohio lawmakers who oppose the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) have forced Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to give up a $124,419 federal grant that would have gone toward helping uninsured Ohioans navigate new online marketplaces for health insurance.

Specifically, the state law, which Gov. John Kasich signed on April 30 and went into effect on July 30, excludes any organization that receives payments from a health care payer, such as an insurance company, from being designated as a “navigator.”

The designation is necessary for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to receive the federal grant, which is part of national outreach efforts to enroll as many Americans, especially young adults, into Obamacare’s online marketplaces when they open for enrollment on Oct. 1.

Without the designation, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital was forced to give up the federal money, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital spokesperson Terry Loftus told CityBeat.

State legislators passed the restrictions to clarify regulations on navigators that avoid potential abuses and conflicts of interest.

But Obamacare’s supporters claim the state law is part of a nationwide effort from state and federal Republicans to make Obamacare more difficult to implement.

The federal government intends to sign up 7 million people into Obamacare’s online marketplaces, but 2.7 million have to be young adults to keep costs low. Otherwise, older, less healthy Americans will fill up the marketplaces, exhaust health services and drive up costs.

Supporters of Obamacare acknowledge that signing up so many young adults will be difficult, so they’ve taken to national and state-by-state education campaigns that tell young adults about the benefits and cost savings made available through the president’s signature health care law. These campaigns are being headed by various organizations that have been dubbed “navigators.”

But opponents, particularly Republicans, are preventing some of the efforts by investigating navigators and passing legislation in state governments that limits what navigators can do and who can be classified as a navigator.

Most recently, Republicans in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to groups participating in the navigator program with a series of accusations and questions.

“This is a blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate groups who will be working to inform Americans about their new health insurance options and help them enroll in coverage, just like Medicare counselors have been doing for years,” Erin Shields Britt, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told The Hill.

For the uninsured, not knowing about the online marketplaces could mean losing out on opportunities to obtain health insurance at lower costs. Recent reports have found that Obamacare’s online marketplaces and tax subsidies will lower costs for Ohioans in the individual health care market.

An Aug. 29 study from the RAND Corporation, a reputable think tank, found health care premiums will rise to an average of $5,312 under Obamacare in 2016. Without the law, premiums would reach an average of $3,973 that year. But when Obamacare’s tax credits are plugged in, the average Ohioan will only pay a premium of $3,131 — $842 less than he or she would pay without the law.

Avik Roy, a conservative health care economist and prominent critic of Obamacare, found even better results for Ohio. His model found premiums will drop by 30 percent in Ohio, although they’ll rise by 24 percent on average for 13 states, including Ohio, and the District of Columbia as a whole. Unlike RAND, Roy’s calculations don’t take subsidies into account, so the final cost for the average Ohioan is likely much lower.

The numbers only apply to Ohioans in the individual health insurance market. Under Obamacare, individuals will be able to enroll for health insurance through an online marketplace. The majority of Americans who get health insurance through their employers or public programs fall under different rules and regulations.

It’s unclear how much Republican opposition will ultimately play into the numbers. But for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, it means $124,419 less to help its neediest, less knowledgeable patients.

 
 
by German Lopez 10.12.2012
Posted In: News, Economy, Education at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
2012 report

Cincinnati No. 10 out of 12 Similar Cities

Report finds Cincinnati strong on housing opportunities and job growth, weak on migration

A new report has some sobering notes for Cincinnatians. Overall, the city ranked No. 10 out of 12 similar cities in the report’s rankings, with the city doing well in housing opportunities and job growth but not so well in other categories. The No. 10 spot is the same rank Cincinnati held in the 2010 report.

The report, which was put together by Agenda 360 and Vision 2015, compares Cincinnati to other cities in a series of economic indicators. The cities compared were Cincinnati; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Cleveland; Columbus; Denver; Indianapolis, Ind.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C.; and St. Louis.

First, the good news: Cincinnati has an unemployment rate lower than the national average, at 7.2 percent. As far as job growth, total jobs, per-person income and average annual wage goes, Cincinnati ranked No. 6. Cincinnati was also No. 5 in poverty ranks — meaning the city had the fifth least people below 200 percent of the federal poverty level among the 12 cities measured. For the most part, Cincinnati moved up in these ranks since 2010.

When it comes to housing opportunities, Cincinnati claimed the No. 2 spot, only losing to Indianapolis. That was a bump up from the No. 3 spot in 2010.

The bad news: Cincinnati didn’t do well in almost every other category. In terms of educational attainment — meaning the percent of the population 25 years or older who have a bachelor’s degree or higher — Cincinnati was No. 9, with 29.3 percent having a bachelor's degree or higher in 2010. That was a slight improvement from the No. 10 rank in the previous report, which found 28.5 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher in 2009.

Cincinnati did poorly in net migration as well. The city was No. 10 in that category, only beating out St. Louis and Cleveland. The silver lining is the city actually gained 1,861 people in 2009 — an improvement from losing 1,526 people in 2008.

Cincinnati also seems to have an age problem. The city tied with Pittsburgh for the No. 10 spot with only 60.2 percent of the 2011 population made up of people between the ages of 20 and 64. The report also says the city has too many old people, an age group that tends to work less, provide less tax revenue and use more government and health services. Cincinnati ranked No. 8 in terms of “Old Age Dependency,” with 20.4 percent of the city made up of people aged 65 and older in 2011.

However, the report does have a positive note through all the numbers: “In fact, our current pace of growth, especially in the people indicators, exceeds many of our competitors and if this pace continues, our rank could be much improved by our next report.”

 
 
by German Lopez 01.11.2013
Posted In: News, Prisons, Privatization at 02:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Liberty for Sale

More Bad News From Private Prison

Conneaut councilman asks state to intervene at CCA facility

Private prison critics have been proven right once again. Smuggling incidents are on the rise around Lake Erie Correctional Institution, which Ohio sold to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in 2011.

In a letter to Gov. John Kasich’s northeast Ohio liaison, Conneaut Councilman Neil LaRusch claimed a rise in contraband smuggling has forced local police to increase security around the CCA facility.

Since the end of 2012, four have been arrested and charged with smuggling. Another four were arrested Monday and police suspect they were in Conneaut for a smuggling job. According to the Star Beacon, the four suspects arrested Monday were only caught due to the increased police presence outside the Lake Erie prison.

LaRusch said Conneaut and its police department are already running tight budgets, and they can’t afford to continue padding prison security. He then asked the state and governor to help out with the situation.

The letter prompted a reaction from the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU), which has staunchly opposed prison privatization in the state. In a statement, Mike Brickner, director of communications and public policy for the ACLU, said, “Unfortunately, this is a predictable pattern with private prisons. Promises of lower costs quickly morph into higher crime, increased burdens on local law enforcement, and in the end, a higher bill for taxpayers.”

He added, “This is not an anomaly. It is a predictable pattern. The private prison model is built on profit above all else. These facilities will cut corners and shift responsibility to taxpayers wherever necessary to maximize profits.”

The governor’s office and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) could not be immediately reached for comment. This story will be updated if a response becomes available.

Update (5:00 p.m.): Col. John Born, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, responded to the councilman's letter. In his own letter, Born doesn't contradict that there's a rise in drug smuggling, but he gives the issue more context.

Born wrote criminal incidents at the Lake Erie prison have actually decreased. He acknowledges drug smuggling cases went up from four in 2011 to seven in 2012, but he says drug cases have gone down at the prison since 2010.

He also claims seven other state prisons have seen a greater rise in drug smuggling. Born frames the issue in a national context: Unfortunately, despite best efforts, the national problem of illegal drug usage and drug trafficking continues to plague our nation.

Regarding state assistance, Born wrote the Ohio State Highway Patrol does not have the authority to strengthen security in order to directly prevent drug smuggling: It is important to point out the Ohio State Highway Patrol's legal authority and corresponding duties prior to the sale of the prison and after the sale remain largely unchanged. Ohio troopers did not have original jurisdiction on private property off institution grounds while under state operations nor do they today.

He adds the Ohio State Highway Patrol has already deployed more cruisers at the prison, but he believes local law enforcement are still the best option for responding to incidents.

JoEllen Smith, spokesperson for ODRC, wrote in an email, DRC will be in communication with the parties involved to ensure any remaining concerns are addressed.

CityBeat previously covered private prisons in-depth (“Liberty for Sale,” issue of Sept. 19). Within a week of the story going to stands, ODRC Director Gary Mohr said the state would not privatize any more prisons. On the same day of his announcement, Mohr apparently received an audit that found the CCA facility was only meeting 66.7 percent of state standards (“Prison Privatization Blues,” issue of Oct. 10).

 
 

 

 

 
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