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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 09.19.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, Poverty at 02:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

More Than Half of Cincinnati Children Live in Poverty

Census shows poverty on the rise in Cincinnati

More than half of Cincinnati’s children live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey released Thursday.

The 2012 rate represents a roughly 10-percent increase in the city’s child poverty rate in the past two years. In 2010, 48 percent of Cincinnatians younger than 18 were considered impoverished; in 2012, the rate was 53.1 percent.

If the number was reduced back down to 2010 levels, approximately 4,500 Cincinnati children would be pulled out of poverty.

Overall poverty similarly increased in Cincinnati from 30.6 percent in 2010 to 34.1 percent in 2012.

Black residents were hit hardest with 46.4 percent classified as in poverty in 2012, up from 40.8 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the poverty rate among white residents went from 19.8 percent in 2010 to 22.9 percent in 2012.

Hispanics of any race were placed at a poverty rate of 51 percent in 2012, but that number had an extraordinary margin of error of 15.5 percent, which means the actual poverty rate for Hispanics could be up to 15.5 percent higher or lower than the survey’s estimate. In 2010, 42 percent of Hispanics were classified as impoverished, but that number had an even larger margin of error of 17.9 percent.

The other local numbers had margins of error ranging from 2.2 percent to 4.9 percent.

The child poverty rates for Cincinnati were more than double Ohio’s numbers. Nearly one in four Ohio children are in poverty, putting the state at No. 33 worst among 50 states for child poverty, according to the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio.

In 2012, the U.S. government put the federal poverty level for a family of four at an annual income of $23,050.

Some groups are using the numbers to make the case for new policies.

“Too many Ohioans are getting stuck at the lowest rung of the income ladder and kids are paying the price,” said Hannah Halbert, workforce researcher for left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio, in a statement. “Policymakers — at both the state and federal levels — are making a clear choice to not invest in workers, families or kids. This approach is not moving our families forward.”

The federal government temporarily increased aid to low-income Americans through the federal stimulus package in 2009, but some of that extra funding already expired or is set to expire later in the year. The food stamp program’s cuts in particular could hit 1.8 million Ohioans, according to an Aug. 2 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

At a local level, City Council has consistently failed to uphold its commitment to human services in the past decade, which human services agencies say is making the fight against poverty and homelessness more difficult.

 
 
by 12.19.2008
Posted In: Business, News, Social Justice at 05:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Congressman: Cintas Settlement 'Despicable'

Two prominent Democratic congress members say a $3 million settlement between Cintas Corp. and federal workplace safety regulators is insufficient because it downgrades the severity of the company’s violations and gives it two years to install new safety equipment.

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by 07.11.2009
Posted In: Media, Financial Crisis, Business at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 

Enquirer Layoffs: The Aftermath

CityBeat has held off on posting the names of some people we've heard have been laid off from The Cincinnati Enquirer pending better verification, but we can now confirm two more departures.

 Assistant Business Editor Randy Tucker and Obituaries Writer Rebecca Goodman have left the newspaper's staff. Tucker was a victim of the layoffs; it's unclear whether Goodman was laid off or chose to leave since she recently graduated from law school.

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by 06.19.2009
Posted In: 2009 Election, Mayor, Republicans at 02:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)
 
 

Wenstrup Questions Mayor's Travel, Bodyguard

This week’s issue of CityBeat features an interview with Dr. Brad Wenstrup, the physician who’s the Hamilton County Republican Party’s mayoral candidate.

Wenstrup, who turned 51 on Wednesday, is an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Columbia Tusculum and is an Iraq War veteran. This is his first run for political office.

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by Will Kohler 01.08.2010
Posted In: LGBT Issues, Public Policy at 03:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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Blood Donation Ban Illogical

Last summer in the United Kingdom, Dij Bentley’s mother died from acute myeloid leukemia. Prior to her death, she developed an infection that required a blood transfusion. Family and friends were asked to donate blood in hope they would be a match.

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by 06.21.2010
Posted In: 2010 Election, Democrats, News at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 

Bernadette Watson Gets a New Gig

As Bernadette Watson decides whether to run for Cincinnati City Council again in 2011, she's keeping busy by helping a former council member get elected to state office.

Watson has been named as campaign manager for Alicia Reece, a Democrat who is seeking to keep the Ohio House 33rd District seat. Reece, an ex-Cincinnati vice mayor, was appointed to the seat in March to replace Tyrone Yates. Yates, who was facing term limits, was appointed to a municipal judgeship.

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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 12.03.2008
Posted In: News, Community, Media, Financial Crisis at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Bloodletting at The Enquirer

As expected, the ax fell quickly at The Cincinnati Enquirer this week as its parent company demands mass layoffs before year’s end.

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by Hannah McCartney 03.05.2012
Posted In: Governor, Government, Ethics at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
prison_profit

ACLU of Ohio Protests Privatizing State Prisons

Says it will add to state budges, hurt public safety and lead to unnecessary incarcerations

There are certain institutions in the U.S. that we don't like to think of as strictly profit-seeking endeavors. It can be difficult to swallow that (supposedly) do-good establishments like retirement homes, textbook companies and hospitals exist to bring in revenue rather than serve the needs of a community without waiver. In Ohio, one state prison is already that a business and others could soon follow suit. 

In September of 2011, Ohio became the first state in the nation to sell a state prison facility to a private prison company when the Lake Erie Correctional Institute in Ashtabula County was sold to the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest prison operator, for $72.7 million.

The idea to privatize Ohio prisons was concocted by Gov. John Kasich in an attempt to fill an $8 billion hole in Ohio's budget. The sale brought in an extra $50 million to use in balancing Ohio's prison budget.

Kasich's budget strategy included an overhaul of Ohio's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which means that private prison facility owners would actually benefit from more incarcerations. Now, CCA has made an offerto  48 U.S. states to buy and privatize state prisons. The offer, the Corrections Investment Initiative, outlines CCA's plan to spend up to $250 million on state, local and federal entities and then manage the facilities. According to the CCA's statement from Harley Lappin, Chief Corrections Officer at CCA, they're only interested in buying facilities that are willing to sign over rights of ownership to the CCA for a minimum of 20 years, and states must agree to keep the facilities at least 90 percent full.


With six million Americans in the corrections system, the U.S. already has the highest rates of incarceration in the world — including per capita and in absolute terms surpassing countries like Iran, China and Russia. CCA'S website glorifies its mission as noble; a video on the home page shows a patriotic, proudly waving flag. Text touts its strategies as forward-thinking and altruistic, noting that they are "protecting public safety, employing the best people in solid careers, rehabilitating inmates, giving back to communities, and bringing innovative security to government corrections."

The ACLU of Ohio has issued a statement strongly opposing the change; it argues that privatizing state prisons will add debt to state budges, hurt public safety and lead to more unnecessary incarcerations. According to "Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization," a report published by ACLU-Ohio, privately-run prisons only offer a short-term infusion of cash, not long-term savings. "Cost savings in privately run facilities [like those run by CCA] are achieved by cutting the pay of workers," says Mike Bricker, ACLU Director of Communications and Public Policy. Corrections officers in private facilities make significantly less and receive far less benefits than those in public facilities. This difference, he says, results in an astronomically higher turnover rate in private facilities. "When something bad happens, they leave," he says.

The high turnover rate makes for a consistently less experienced staff, which means officers aren't as well-prepared when a bad situation does arise. He cites an example when cutting corners came at a high price: A CCA-run Youngstown facility that opened in 1997 brought in 1,700 violent inmates from Washington, D.C. at what was supposed to be a medium-security prison. Over the course of a year, there were 16 stabbings, two murders and six escapes; the situation became such a concern to the community that Youngstown sued CCA in 1998 and the facility was shut down.

According to Brickner, the smallest incident is enough to negate the short-term revenue from privatizing prisons; when the main objective is profit, privatized prisons want to book non-violent offenders who won't be in facilities for a long period of time. That means cells become overcrowded when minor offenders could be in rehabilitation, and extremely violent detainees tend to be managed improperly.

"It is inherently wrong to allow private businesses to make a profit off the incarceration of others," said Brickner in an ACLU press release. “Our state’s prison system is bloated, and private corporations have a vested financial interest to ensure our prisons remain full. If state officials have any hope of shrinking our prison population, we must implement transformative criminal justice reform policies and reject interests that grow our prison system.”

Brickner suggests that concerned citizens contact their elected representatives to express their opposition to privatizing prisons. Read the ACLU's full report on privatizing prisons here.

 
 

 

 

 
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