A re-inspection of the privatized Lake Erie Correctional Institution (LECI) found the prison is “heading in a positive direction,” but the facility is still on pace in 2013 to maintain increased levels of violence similar to the year before, according to the report.
In 2011, LECI became the first state prison in the country to be sold to a private company after Ohio, under the urging of Gov. John Kasich, sold the facility to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) as a cost-cutting measure. Since then, multiple inspections found deteriorating health and safety conditions that anti-privatization critics warned of prior to the sale.
The audit, published on Oct. 8 but conducted on Sept. 9 and 10, comes from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC), Ohio’s independent prison watchdog.
The inspection was announced beforehand, unlike the unannounced audit on Jan.
22 that found a sharp rise in violence and various health problems. In other words,
CCA had time to prepare for the latest inspection but not the one
conducted earlier in the year, which could explain some of the mixed improvements.
“The CIIC inspection team’s overall sense is that conditions have improved,” the report claimed. “CCA has poured significant resources into the prison, including removing or changing staff, hiring on former (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction) staff, investing in additional security measures, and bringing in outside consultants.”
But for all the improvements, CIIC found issues of safety, security and inmate discipline linger: “Although improved slightly, the percentage of inmates reporting that they feel unsafe or very unsafe is still high.”
CIIC found inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff assaults remain on track to match 2012’s higher levels of violence. The previous CIIC audit found inmate-on-inmate violence had increased by 188 percent and inmate-on-staff violence had increased by more than 300 percent between 2010 and 2012.
Staff reportedly told inspectors that there was “significant progress” in rates of violence throughout 2013, but the provided statistics for the year don’t reflect an improvement.
In some areas, conditions measurably worsened: CIIC reported that a “significantly higher percentage of inmates” tested positive for illegal substances in the first eight months of 2013 compared to the same time span in 2012.
Disciplinary actions and use of force were noted concerns for CIIC, even though LECI staff apparently made strides to exert more control over the inmate population. The prison also has more serious misconduct than similar minimum- and medium-security facilities.
CIIC didn’t formally inspect medical services and recreational facilities, but inspectors received various complaints from inmates in both areas. The amount of inmate grievances against staff actions also remain higher than the years before CCA took over the facility, although CIIC found slight improvement.
Still, the report repeatedly praised CCA for its improvements, particularly in rehabilitation and reentry services, better performance of rounds and shakedowns, and stronger health services and records. One example: CIIC found inmates are receiving 47.9 percent more GED diplomas, which certify a high school-level education, than they did in 2011, putting LECI’s GED achievement level at the average for similar prisons.
Staffing issues also improved, although the staff turnover rate remains above the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction average and security officers reported poor morale because of low wages.
For some critics of privatization, the poor conditions come as no surprise. Before CCA bought LECI, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio repeatedly warned that the for-profit incentive encourages private prison companies to cut services, security and staff while maintaining as many prisoners as possible, since the prison’s pay is based on how many inmates it holds.
CityBeat previously reported on the deteriorating
conditions at LECI after inmates’ insider accounts, requested public records
and numerous state reports found increasing violence and health concerns
(“From the Inside,” issue of May 29).
The full CIIC audit:
Say what you want about our chili, but the Queen City is particularly savvy in the Twitter world, according to a new study from Indiana University.
A social media study that sought to pinpoint geographic areas that most frequently are hubs for information flow found that ol' Cincinnati was among a couple of much larger, more metropolitan cities like L.A., New York, D.C. that often acted as Twitter "trendsetters" — generating topics early on that eventually trend on a national level.
The study found that most of those areas corresponded with major air traffic hubs, although it's tough to pinpoint whether that's because news travels so quickly across state lines at airports or because major air traffic hubs just tend to be in densely populated cities, where information already spreads more quickly because social media users tend to be closer and more connected. As we all know, Cincinnati's airport is nothing particularly special — in fact, it's so expensive, lots of locals even avoid it when they can — so that theory doesn't really jive for us. And our population hovering around 300,000 isn't anywhere near the monoliths who earned trendsetter status.
Cincinnati earned the second spot just under L.A. as the most influential trendsetting geographic area in the entire country, followed by Washington, D.C, Seattle and New York. Washington Post blogger Caitlin Dewey hypothesizes our influence might have something to do with the city's fluctuating migration trends — we suffered a big population exodus from 2004-2010. Perhaps our emigrants just maintain really strong ties to the city once they realize they've left wonderful things behind like CINCINNATI CHILI.
From the study:
Whatever it is, we're doing something right. You could share your guesses in the comments, but maybe you should just #tweet #it #instead.
Instead of hosting the festival at one venue, this year’s
One More Girl benefit has expanded to six local venues in two cities
over three nights. The lineup for One More Girl showcases female solo
artists and bands with a female presence (mostly) from the Greater Cincinnati
area. Many of them also happen to be some of the best acts in the
region, playing a range of styles that includes everything from Hard
Rock and Pop Rock to Bluegrass, Folk and many other variations on the
Below are the lineups, links to venues and performers and a few samples from the some of the acts.
One More Girl on a Stage kicks off tonight in
Over-the-Rhine, with artists featured at four venues. There are no cover
charges at any of the venues.
8:30 p.m. Good Night Noises
8 p.m. Charmed & Tarnished (a new project from Kelly Thomas and Randy Steffen)
9 p.m. The Missy Werner Band
7:30 p.m. Holly Spears Band
12:15 a.m. Sassy Molasses
10 p.m. Jesse Thomas
Saturday’s OMG performances will be held on two stages at Newport’s York Street Café beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 or you can purchase a Friday/Saturday pass for $20 in advance, which will get you into both the Southgate shows and the ones at York Street (click here to purchase).
Third Floor Art Gallery Stage:
10 p.m. Carole Walker
11 p.m. Hickory Robot
Second Floor Stage:
10:30 p.m. Alone at 3AM
11:30 p.m. Kelly Thomas and The Fabulous Pickups
whether natives or transplants, love sharing their views on the city,
especially in the form of an editorial letter. Last month, “Jenny” shared her
feelings on the city’s apparent lack of inclusivity with The Enquirer.
After two years of living on the East Side, she still hasn't made any friends. :( On the flip side, back in July 2012, The
Enquirer published an op-ed
from a guy who moved from Chicago to Cincinnati and loves it, verifying that
Cincinnati is an actual real city and can stand with the rest of ‘em.
These types of accounts get shared on social media like a conversational plague, often times, I suspect, before said sharers have actually read the entire piece. Of course, any rational human knows the reality of our city, much like any other in the world, is somewhere in between — Greater Cincinnati, with all its progress and problems, is a huge place made up of extremely diverse neighborhoods. No two people will have the exact same experience, which is one of the reasons I enjoy living here. Chef David Falk of the Boca Restaurant Group also loves Cincinnati, as expressed in his recent contribution to Huffington Post’s Love Letters (which also has been shared by at least 15 of my friends on Facebook).
Falk, owner of Boca, Nada and Sotto, has lived all over the world, including Chicago, New York and Rome. He’s a Cincy native and, after traveling for culinary inspiration, he’s called the city home (again) for the past 12 years. Here are a few choice bits from his mini manifesto:
“I believe the same things that make a great restaurant make a great city: the connection between a vision and the people that carry it out, the structures that seem to rise from the mind to the sky and the progress of those who create them. Cincinnati, you are a city of creators. Restaurants, like cities, would not exist without the tireless ones, the ones that spend every ounce of energy toiling to make them great because they believe in the vision of visionaries.”
“All of your faces are flawed and beautiful and inspire in me the passion I felt when I first saw your skyline stretched over the river as I drove through the Cut-in-the-Hill.”
“When I left, Cincinnati's food scene was largely uninspired. Although, I must admit, I've always been intoxicated by your controversial chili. This strange Greek concoction maligned by some, fiercely defended by others, nursed me through so many hangovers (and contributed to a few). But you've changed and you're so much more.”
“Cincinnati, you and I both grew and changed while I was away. You are courageous; a romantic pioneer. I think I realized just how far you had come one night this summer, our city park ablaze with lights, lights that took an army of tech engineers to achieve, lights as a gift to your many lovers, 35,000 of them squeezed together in celebration.”
Go here to read Falk’s full Cincinnati Love Letter.
CityBeat yesterday revealed its endorsements for the City Council and mayoral races. Check them out here. Also, early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended.
JobsOhio and similar privatized development agencies in other states create scandals and potentials of conflicts of interests instead of jobs, according to an Oct. 23 report from Good Jobs First. The report found that privatized development agencies in seven states, including Ohio, tend to also exaggerate job claims and resist basic oversight. JobsOhio in particular is chaired by people who donated to Gov. John Kasich’s campaign. The agency also received public money without informing the legislature, and it gained a legal exemption from full public audits, public records laws and open meeting rules. Kasich and Republican legislators in 2011 established JobsOhio to replace the Ohio Department of Development. They argue JobsOhio’s privatized, secretive nature helps the agency establish job-creating development deals at the “speed of business.” But Democrats say JobsOhio is ripe for abuse, difficult to hold accountable and unclear in its results.
A bill that intends to bring uniformity to Ohio’s complex municipal income tax code got a makeover, but cities say the bill still reduces their revenues. Business groups are pushing for the bill so they can more easily work from city to city and county to county without dealing with a web of different forms and regulations, but cities are concerned they’ll lose as much as $2 million a year. Many cities already lost some state funding after Kasich and the Republican legislature slashed local government funding, which reduced revenues for Cincinnati in particular by $22.2 million in 2013, according to City Manager Milton Dohoney.
Opponents of Issue 4, the tea party-backed city charter amendment that would semi-privatize Cincinnati’s pension system, say it could force the city to cut services by 41 percent or raise taxes significantly. CityBeat analyzed the amendment in further detail here.
Converting Mercy Mt. Airy Hospital into a crime lab for the county coroner’s office could cost $21.5 million, well under the previously projected $56 million. Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco says it could be the most economical way for the county to get a crime lab, which the coroner’s office says it desperately needs. Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman says he’s still concerned about operating costs, but he’ll review the new estimates and advise county commissioners on how to proceed.
An Over-the-Rhine business owner says Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) “dropped the ball” with incentives for retail businesses, and he’s now looking to move his store, Joseph Williams Home, to the suburbs. Specifically, Fred Arrowood says 3CDC has done a lot to accommodate restaurants and bars, but it failed to live up to promises to attract and retain retail businesses. But 3CDC points to its own numbers: Spaces in OTR are currently leased in contracts with 20 businesses, 15 restaurants or bars and 14 soft goods retailers.
Cincinnati State and the University of Cincinnati yesterday signed an agreement that will make it easier for students with two-year degrees at Cincinnati State to get four-year degrees at UC.
The Cincinnati Enquirer hosted a City Council candidate forum yesterday. Find their coverage here.
Northeast Ohio Media: “Ohio abortion clinic closings likely to accelerate under new state regulations.” (CityBeat reported on the regulations, which were passed with the two-year state budget, here.)
Gov. Kasich and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, two Republicans widely perceived as potential presidential candidates in 2016, don’t register even 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, a key primary state.
Cincinnati-based Omnicare agreed to pay $120 million to resolve a case involving alleged kickbacks and false claims, according to lawyers representing a whistleblower. The company says the settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing.
Chef David Falk of Boca wrote a moving love letter to Cincinnati.
On Oct. 29, local residents will be able to give feedback to Cincinnati officials about the city budget — and also nab some free pizza. The open budgeting event is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 at 1115 Bates Ave., Cincinnati.
JobsOhio and other privatized development agencies have created scandals and potential conflicts of interests instead of jobs, claims an Oct. 23 report from Good Jobs First, a research center founded in 1998 that scrutinizes deals between businesses and governments.
The report looked at privatized development agencies in seven states, including Ohio, and found that many of the same problems and scandals appear from state to state.
“These experiments in privatization have, by and large, become costly failures,” the report found. “Privatized development corporations have issued grossly exaggerated job-creation claims. They have created ‘pay to play’ appearances of insider dealing and conflicts of interest. They have paid executives larger salaries than governors. They have resisted basic oversight.”
The report focuses much of its findings on JobsOhio, a privatized development agency that Gov. John Kasich and Republican legislators established in 2011 to replace the Ohio Department of Development. The agency uses tax subsidies and other financial incentives to attract companies to Ohio with the intention of creating jobs.
But the report states JobsOhio “assembled a board of directors whose members included some of (Kasich’s) major campaign contributors and executives from companies that were recipients of large state development subsidies. It received a large transfer of state monies about which the legislature was not informed, intermingled public and private monies, refused to name its private donors, and then won legal exemption (advocated by Gov. Kasich) from review of its finances by the state auditor.”
It found similar issues in privatized development agencies in Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Rhode Island and Michigan. In some cases, the scandals have cost states millions of dollars with little job creation to show for it, according to the report.
The latest report concurred many of the findings in a similar 2011 report from Good Jobs First, which sought to warn states, including Ohio, about the potential risks of privatized development agencies.
For JobsOhio, a major cause for concern in the report is how difficult it is to hold the agency accountable. State legislators have approved multiple measures that shield JobsOhio from public scrutiny, including exemptions that exclude the agency from public records laws, open meeting rules and the possibility of a full public audit.
Some of the controversy also focuses on how the state funds JobsOhio.
“The proposal called for ‘leasing’ the state liquor profits ($228 million the year prior) for up to 25 years to JobsOhio, which would eventually issue $1.4 billion in bonds to pay for the use of the funds,” according to the report. “Critics charged that this was not a fair market price for profits that could potentially amount to $6 billion over the term of the agreement.”
The report laments that the privatized and secretive agency represents a shift for Ohio, which the report claims “was an early practitioner of online subsidy disclosure.”
Good Jobs First concludes privatized development agencies perpetuate an economic environment in which big companies already have too much say.
“The privatization structures we describe here, including the increasing use of corporate seats for sale on governing or advisory boards, absolutely favor large businesses that have the money and executive staff time to pay and play at such levels,” the report concluded. “But small businesses already get short shrift in economic development resource allocation, and they are still suffering the most in the Great Recession’s aftermath.”
The organization also takes issue with the idea that public agencies aren’t “nimble”: “In all of our years tracking development deals, we have yet to hear of a state agency that lost an important deal because it failed to provide labor market or real estate or incentive data in a timely manner.”
Asked about the report, Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols responded in an email, “We don't pay much attention to politically-motivated opponents whose mission is to combat job creation.”
Kasich and other Republicans claim JobsOhio’s privatized, secretive nature is necessary to secure job-creating development deals with private companies in an economic environment that, through the Internet and globalization, moves more quickly than ever before.
Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, claim the agency is ripe for abuse, difficult to hold accountable and unclear in its results.
State Auditor Dave Yost plans to release an audit of JobsOhio soon, but no specific date or time frame is set for the release. The audit was granted prior to state legislation that barred the state auditor from doing a full sweep of JobsOhio’s financial details.
The full report:
Park + Vine will be hosting its fifth annual vegan Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 21.
From 6-9 p.m., travel from Park + Vine to other Main Street businesses for inspiration from local restaurants, chefs and food producers for a Thanksgiving meal centered around festive plant-based foods plus appetizers, soup, salad, entrees, dessert and drinks.
Proceeds to benefit Uplands PEAK Sanctuary, which rescues and rehabilitates abused and neglected farmed animals. Tickets go on sale Nov. 1. parkandvine.com.
Dewey's Pizza opened its first location in Oakely in 1998. Since then, the local pizza chain has opened a total of 17 locations across Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland and St. Louis.
On Sept. 30 of this year, Dewey's Oakley closed for renovations, which include a slight expansion as well as an updated interior. The restaurant reopens for business 11 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 24. PIZZA!
More info at deweyspizza.com.
Though eclectic enough to be considered “AltCountry,” Terminal Union captures the heart and soul of vintage Country on Making Arrangements. What puts Terminal Union ahead of many of their peers — and makes these songs so riveting — is the emotional weight the frontmen inject into the writing and performances. Being able to make an immediate emotional connection with listeners is not something you can learn; it's innate.
On the song "Magnificent Sounds," the group pays tribute to another pair of artists who also came off as instinctively talented and able to bring a soul-stirring levity to practically every note played, seemingly effortlessly — Miles Davis and Townes Van Zandt. Veteran local musician Michael "Mad Dog" Mavridoglou provides some bonus passion with his warm Jazz trumpet riffs on the track, which somehow sounds completely at home in the band's Country/Roots context.
Elsewhere, highlight tracks like “Comeback Kid” and “Devil’s in the Details” have the power of Steve Earle in peak form, while the piano-buoyed “One of the Ones” and “I Fell You” are wonderfully composed ballads that defy genre classifications — they are simply amazing, timeless songs.
Preview a pair of songs from Making Arrangements below. Visit terminalunion.com for more on the band and see them live this Saturday at Newport's York Street Cafe, where the group will be participating in the One More Girl on a Stage benefit show.
“Cincinnati chili is the worst, saddest, most depressing goddamn thing in the world,” Burneko writes, describing our hometown favorite as “horrifying diarrhea sludge.” It really stings (much like the raging heartburn that follows any successful Skyline adventure). Not every Cincinnatian ingests three-ways whole like a ravenous python. I like a coney or five-way every now and then, but I much prefer making it fresh at home (Skyline’s grainy, runny consistency can be a little off-putting, I’ll admit) — which, to all my Cincy-born friends who’ve moved away, is not only possible, but incredibly simple. Stop acting like you’re deprived of your native foods and get to browning some beef.
But I digress. Sure, I understand the outside disdain for this not-really-chili chili, but our artery-clogging lunch staple pales in comparison to No. 47, Alaska’s akutaq. Also known as “Eskimo ice cream,” this delightful dish is comprised of berries and WHIPPED FAT. Ain’t no way a cheese coney is grosser than fruit-laced lard.
Does someone shit-talking (literally?) your favorite snack make you wanna rage? Calm down with these manatees.
Winter is coming — well, the cool chill of fall is upon us — but Game of Thrones is still months away. So this new (and possibly the best?) Bad Lip Reading of Game of Thrones should hold you over until March/April. Comprised of scenes from the first season of Thrones (so maybe a slight, vague spoiler alert? Spoiler Threat Level: Blue), the latest BLR actually follows a plot, in which Westeros meets Adventureland. And it’s brilliant.
If only there was a Game of Thrones amusement park for real. Though if it were authentic, most people would probably find themselves getting beheaded at the food court before their visit was complete.
If you thought January’s Golden Globes ceremony was the best awards show in recent history, you were correct (Source: Me). Hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Few killt it and hence, they’ve been invited back to run the show in 2014 and 2015. As if the Golden Globes weren’t already the second-best awards show for watching for drunken celebrity hijinks (beat only by IFC’s Independent Spirit Awards), we can now rest assured there will be plenty of intentionally funny bits throughout the next two events. FOUR MORE YEARS!
Watch the always-talented Ohio State University marching band moonwalk like never before in their recent Michael Jackson halftime tribute (and prepare for a jaw-drop at 4:15 and 4:40).
Ever had to contact Netflix because streaming delays were cramping your Pretty Wild marathon (no judgment)? Like most 21st century customer service departments, Netflix allows users to chat live with a representative to help fix their issue. Of course, this function can be a goldmine for trolls or just plain unhelpful. Sometimes, however, the live chat customer service experience can be a positive and hilarious one.
Netflix customer service rep Michael kicked off the exchange in a jovial fashion, speaking like a ship captain:
When customer Norm responded in a similarly playful tone, it was smooth sailing form there. (I know, I need to take a seat now.)
Now I kind of wish my Netflix would malfunction…
The real reason anyone subscribes to Entertainment Weekly, their Reunion Issue, is on stands! The casts of Boy Meets World, Mystic Pizza, The X-Files, School of Rock and many more reassembled for the issue, proving yet again that women stars of the ‘80s and ‘90s looks strikingly more attractive now than they were two decades ago on screen.
Gillian Anderson, hubba hubba. DD: You pretty fine, too.
For more before-and-afters, go here .
When Beyoncé shares a Beyoncé-inspired DIY dance video, the world watches.
You know what they say, "Every time a young Asian guy dances to Beyoncé, an angel gets its wings."
Finally, someone sent a private messaged of this dog costume photo to CityBeat's Facebook page. Presented without comment, Muttley Cyrus: