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by Nick Swartsell 02.29.2016 87 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

City, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful at odds over blight data; activists march against Murray, Gaston deaths; Sittenfeld picks up newspaper endorsement

Hey all! Hope your weekend was a good one. Here’s your news today.

Recent funding shifts by Cincinnati city administration away from a prominent anti-blight organization have caused a rift between the city and the group’s supporters. Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black earlier this month informed City Council and Mayor John Cranley that he would be redirecting $100,000 from nonprofit Keep Cincinnati Beautiful to private contracting group Four Evergreen because the latter completes blight mitigation work cheaper and more quickly. But supporters of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful contest that claim, saying that the city’s data is inaccurate and that the group has actually reached its targets at a lower cost per lot.

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful chairman Brad Lindner, CEO of United Dairy Farmers, fired off a strongly worded letter to the city condemning the move and a Cincinnati Enquirer story that reported the city’s data without confirming it with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. Lindner said the purportedly erroneous data was “negligently presented to the public” and called the Enquirer’s reporting “sensationalized and mean spirited.” The paper says the data was presented in a Cincinnati City Council meeting, where representatives from Keep Cincinnati Beautiful were present but did not contest it. Enquirer leaders say the paper will continue to look into the issue.

• At least 40 racial justice advocates gathered yesterday in West Price Hill and Westwood to protest the deaths of Melvin Murray, Jr. and Paul Gaston after encounters with Cincinnati police. Gaston died Feb. 17 after he was shot multiple times by three CPD officers. CPD officials say he was reaching for a realistic-looking pellet gun in his waistband at the time. Murray died in a car accident following a pursuit by police. Murray’s family said officers in that pursuit failed to render aid following the accident and might have rear-ended Murray’s car, which was demolished after the incident.

Protesters at yesterday’s event gathered in West Price Hill, near the site of Murray’s accident, and then marched to Western Hills, near where Gaston died. There, they observed three minutes of silence symbolizing the three hours they say Gaston lay in the street after his shooting. Organizers are pushing for the dismissal and indictment of officers involved in both incidents. City officials say the officers acted appropriately in both situations, though they did condemn dash cam audio of the officers in Murray’s chase calling him a “dumbass” and other insults.

• The Queen City has landed on a dubious list, ranking 10th most distressed city in the country on a new list by The New York Times. The ranking was devised from seven factors, including percentage of adults who are employed, the percentage of adults who have a high school diploma, the city’s poverty rate, housing vacancy rate and other factors. Cleveland was the nation’s most distressed city, and Toledo also made the list at number four.

• With Music Hall’s major renovations just a few months away, the project’s leaders are showing the public just what kind of transformation they’re envisioning for the Cincinnati landmark. Those changes include a new lounge area behind the auditorium, fewer but wider and more comfortable seats, a more luminous lobby area and restoration of windows on the building’s façade that are currently bricked up. Those changes, along with many others, are projected to cost $135 million. State tax credits, the city and private donors have stepped up to cover most of that cost, but $5 million remains to be raised to fully fund the project.

• Finally, U.S. Senate hopeful and Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has picked up a powerful endorsement in his underdog Democratic primary race against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, one of the state’s biggest newspapers, has endorsed Sittenfeld over Strickland, saying the former is more specific about policy proposals and has shown a willingness to engage with important issues that Strickland hasn’t. You can check out the paper’s weird slideshow endorsement here. Earlier this month, Sittenfeld also picked up an endorsement from former Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste, a prominent Democrat.

Strickland still leads Sittenfeld by a wide margin in almost all polls and is currently neck and neck with incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman in polling around the general election. But Sittenfeld’s campaign points to the endorsements as signs his campaign is picking up steam ahead of the state’s March 15 primary.

by Staff 02.26.2016 90 days ago
Posted In: Fun at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your Weekend To Do List (2/26-2/28)

Oscar parties, art openings, rude puppets and Emma at Cincy Shakes



Pretty much all you need to do to sell theater tickets these days is attach Jane Austen’s name to a show. No zombies in Emma à la the current film adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but Cincinnati Shakespeare is on the bandwagon with another stage adaptation by Jon Jory, the longtime leader of Actors Theatre of Louisville; his renditions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility have been bestsellers for the classic theater company. This production is all about girls — directed by 12-year ensemble member Kelly Mengelkoch and featuring second-year ensemble member Courtney Lucien as Emma Wodehouse, the amateur matchmaker whose efforts don’t unfold quite as planned. Through March 26. $14-$36. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com. 

'King Me'
Photo: Nina M Dot
Nina Wells, who goes by the artistic name Nina M Dot, opens her photographic exhibition at the Globe Gallery on Friday evening featuring lenticular portraits of local men of color contrasted with images of themselves dressed as kings. Wells aims to restore the perception of these men’s self-value by applying a what-you-see-is-what-you-become mindset. “It is a platform for men of color to better understand their value in this world,” she says in a press release. A recipient of People’s Liberty’s $15,000 Globe grant, the artist’s message of black male empowerment will be accessible to small group audiences on opening night in 20-minute increments to allow for a more intimate viewing experience. Opening reception 6-10 p.m. Friday. On view through May 7. Free. 1805 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, peoplesliberty.org, reserve viewing space at tinyurl.com/jc85f4m

Over the Rhine
Over-the-Rhine theatrical and community mainstay, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, turns 30 this year, and to celebrate they’re hosting a birthday bash to remember. 30 Rocks! will feature theater, live music, cocktails and tasty bites from a ton of local eateries like The Delish Dish, Funky’s Catering, Gomez Salsa, Macaron Bar and more. The party kicks off with dinner by the bite, followed by a performance from the cast of The Marvelous Wonderettes and a live concert from local and nationally acclaimed duo Over the Rhine. Fun cocktail attire suggested. 7-10 p.m. Friday. $125; $175 host/hostess (includes two drink tickets). Music Hall Ballroom, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, ensemblecincinnati.org.

If you search “social justice warrior” or “SJW” online, chances are you’ll see a lot of hate surrounding the term. It’s used pejoratively, a label for those who supposedly promote their socially progressive ideologies in aggressive and gratuitous ways. But that’s not what Kyle Shupe has in mind when it comes to the theme of the inaugural QueerCon 2016 — taking place this Friday at the University of Cincinnati’s Tangeman University Center — which is just that: Social Justice Warriors. Shupe is the co-chair for the conference along with Jo Teut, who came up with the theme. They’re both Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) second-year graduate students at UC who want to reclaim SJW and present it in a positive light. Read more about the event here. QueerCon takes place 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday at UC’s Tangeman University Center. Search “QueerCon 2016” on Facebook for more information.

'Avenue Q'
Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Watching Sesame Street as a kid, you learned you could do anything. Well, Avenue Q, up next at Price Hill’s Incline Theatre, is the R-rated answer to that mantra, a musical coming-of-age tale that revels in the anxieties of growing up — using puppets who say and sing stuff you never heard on PBS, operated by visible puppeteers. Watching Sesame Street as a kid, you learned you could do anything. Well, Avenue Q, up next at Price Hill’s Incline Theatre, is the R-rated answer to that mantra, a musical coming-of-age tale that revels in the anxieties of growing up — using puppets who say and sing stuff you never heard on PBS, operated by visible puppeteers. Through March 6. $23-$26. Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre, 801 Matson Place, E. Price Hill, 513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com

The Revolutionists
A world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (simultaneously with another, Native Gardens). In The Revolutionists, up-and-coming playwright Lauren Gunderson assembles a crowd of badass historical women, including Marie Antoinette and assassin Charlotte Corday, imprisoned during the French Revolution. She imagines how they might encourage, inspire and support one another during the horrific “Reign of Terror” as they await the guillotine. Their short-term future certainly distills their conversations about what’s important, but Gunderson leavens her irreverent fantasia with a lot of sassy humor. “The beating heart of the play,” she says, “is that stories matter, that art matters.” Through March 6. $30-$85. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, 513-421-3888, cincyplay.com

Rayland Baxter
Photo: ATO Records
DNA is no guarantee of talent — sometimes it skips a generation; sometimes the progeny of the musically gifted rebel against any expectations heaped upon them. But when the children of greatness embrace their roots and use them as a starting point to chart their own unique path, the results can be breathtaking. That could easily describe the situation of Rayland Baxter, whose father, multi-instrumentalist Bucky Baxter, has sessioned and toured with Bob Dylan, Steve Forbert, Ryan Adams, R.E.M., Steve Earle, Joe Henry and many others. Like many musical offspring, Baxter came to his creative epiphany after a long and conscious avoidance of what could be perceived as his legacy. As a child, he was exposed to his father’s work and his mother’s church singing, and a good deal of popular music. Read more about Baxter in this week's Sound Advice. Rayland Baxter plays Friday at Madison Live. More info/tickets: madisontheateronline.com.

Since his last visit to Cincinnati, Bengt Washburn has discovered a few things about himself. “I’ll just keep talking with more confidence,” he says. “That’s also what you do when you get older. You don’t get wiser, you get cocky and stupid.” Last year, Washburn did a string of military shows in Europe, including Kosovo, a place he found fascinating. “They’re pretty happy that we are there,” he says. “They have a high school called Bill Clinton High School in Kosovo. There’s a big banner with his face on it. That whole country is pretty happy with him.” Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com

Photo: Shen Yun Performing Arts 
China was once known as “The Middle Kingdom” and “The Land of the Divine,” said to be inhabited by heroes, sages, dragons, phoenixes and immortals. It was an era characterized by magic and splendor — an age that will be resurrected this weekend on the Aronoff stage. Shen Yun, the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company, channels this lost civilization through intoxicating movement and melodies; in fact, the group’s name literally translates to “the beauty of divine beings dancing.” It’s a striking visual and spiritual performance in town for one day only. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. $63.25-$123.25. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-621-ARTS, cincinnatiarts.org.

2016 A'cat'emy Awards Extravaganza
Photo: Provided

Falling just before the 88th Academy Awards is a similarly minded ceremony with a big, cat-centric cause. The Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic is rolling out the red carpet for its fifth-annual A‘cat’emy Awards Extravaganza, a glamorous night of cinematic feline frenzy. Guests will enjoy dinner and drinks in addition to movie trivia, Oscar predictions, games, raffles and a silent and live auction. Then, witness movie magic — hopefuls have been submitting homemade, 30-second videos of their pets all month long; winning pieces will be announced and screened. Categories include Best Cat Action Film, Best Cat Comedy Film and Best Cat Drama Film. Proceeds benefit the clinic and their no-kill adoption center. 6:30 p.m. Saturday; 5:30 p.m. VIP preview party. $65 general admission; $100 VIP. The Phoenix, 812 Race St., Downtown, ohioalleycat.org

Cincinnati Home and Garden Show
Photo: Hart Productions
Those looking to remodel or build their own home (or simply pretend they’re at home in model kitchens and bathrooms) can head to the Duke Energy Convention Center this weekend for the Cincinnati Home and Garden show, which has helped Cincinnatians with their home, garden and building needs since 1969. The event features landscape and interior designers, remodeling specialists, retail stores, contractors and exhibits featuring the latest trends in home and garden. Through March 6. $13 adults; free for children 12 and younger. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, cincinnatihomeandgardenshow.com

Dive into the vibrant world of local art and culture with the Macy’s Arts Sampler, a weekend festival featuring free performances and activities. Now in its 30th year, the annual ArtsWave-sponsored fest features a wide range of activities in art, music and more. Try a creative writing workshop at the downtown public library, a craft workshop at Taft Museum of Art or art-making classes for the whole family at the Art Academy. Stop by a Madcap Puppet performance at the Cincinnati Art Museum or catch a performance by the Queen City Chamber Orchestra and others at the MYCincinnati firehouse on Saturday. Sunday, say goodbye to Music Hall before it close for renovations with an open house featuring dance, craft and drama workshops, plus a collaborative concert by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Ballet. Saturday and Sunday. Free. Various locations. Full schedule at theartswave.org.

The Syrian Shrine Circus returns this weekend for its 95th-annual family-friendly extravaganza. This three-ring circus will dazzle with death-defying aerial acts, animal attractions and the notoriously funny Shriner Circus clowns. Kids will also have the chance to ride and pet many different animals, including elephants, donkeys and camels, during intermission and after the performance. The circus benefits Shriners Hospital for Children, a network of 22 hospitals committed to pediatric care. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday. $10-$30; $5 parking. BB&T Arena, 500 Nunn Drive, Highland Heights, Ky., 513-751-4717, syrianshrine.org

People Working Cooperatively’s final Oscar celebration/fundraiser, the Hometown Hollywood gala, is themed “Back to Black and White,” and guests will be transported to old-world Hollywood. Formal black and white dress is a must for the red-carpet welcome. There will be themed entertainment, a three-course meal, silent and live auctions and a live telecast of the Oscars. Experience a night of Hollywood glamour for a good cause. Proceeds benefit PWC’s Modifications for Mobility Program, which provides home renovations and repairs to make sure elderly, low-income people with disabilities can continue to live safely in their homes. 5:30 p.m.-midnight Sunday. $150. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, 35 W. Fifth St., pwchomerepairs.org.

Chris Rock hosts the Oscars Sunday.
Photo: ABC/Andrew Eccles
Watch The Oscars in a theater setting at the Esquire as winners are announced live with host Michael Baldwin from FOX 19. Will Cate Blanchett win Best Actress in a Leading Role for the locally filmed Carol (also nominated for cinematography and costume design)? Will Leonardo DiCaprio finally take home a Best Actor Oscar? Along with the screening, the evening also includes food by La Poste (now Harvest) and the BonBonerie, trivia and prizes. Seating is limited. 7 p.m. Sunday. $12. The Esquire, 320 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, esquiretheatre.com

Christian Sands
Photo: Provided 
This season of the Xavier University Jazz Series has featured some truly remarkable and accomplished artists — like Chris Potter and Brian Newman — with even more great music on the horizon (Grammy favorite and Cincinnati native Fred Hersch plays April 3). This week, the series welcomes Christian Sands, a young piano virtuoso who has previously played Cincinnati with the Christian McBride Trio. For his first local solo visit, Sands — who is known for his mastery of a wide range of Jazz stylings — will perform “Southern Song,” which he wrote for Black History Month and which features a recording of a reading by the late poet Margaret Walker. 3 p.m. Sunday. $3-$28. Gallagher Student Center Theater, 3800 Victory Parkway, Evanston, xavier.edu/musicseries.

The Taft Museum of Art’s chief curator, Lynne Ambrosini, has spent 14 years organizing the Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape show that opens Saturday and believes it will be one of the museum’s most important presentations. Inspired by the fact that the Taft owns three Charles-François Daubigny oil paintings, Ambrosini’s exhibition aims to prove that this 19th-century French landscape painter served as a major, unheralded harbinger of Impressionism. The exhibition, for which you must buy a timed ticket, has 40 Daubigny paintings and also 15 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist ones by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Camille Pissarro. Through May 29. $15 adult; $10 child. 316 Pike St., Downtown, taftmuseum.org
by Natalie Krebs 02.26.2016 90 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Department of Veterans Affairs removes two top officials at Cincy's VA clinic; CPS earns failing grades from the Department of Education; Kasich holds on to his presidential bid after poor results in primaries

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines.

Two top officials at Cincinnati's VA Medical Center have landed in hot water with the The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. On Thursday, The feds removed Dr. Barbara Temeck, the chief of staff for the medical center, from her position. Officials from the department also proposed that Jack Hetrick, director of the regional Veterans Integrated Service Network, be removed from his position. Hetrick submitted his notice for retirement Thursday after he was informed of the department's proposal. The actions come in response to the results of an investigation by the VA Office of the Medical Inspector and Office of Accountability. The preliminary results found Temeck was referring veterans to clinics outside the VA as a way to cut costs for the clinic. The move resulted in many veterans reporting issues with the quality of care from other clinics and difficulties navigating the bureaucracy that came along with it.  

• Ohio's Department of Education released its state report cards for each school district Thursday, and based on its report card results, if Cincinnati Public Schools were a bratty 16-year-old, it'd be grounded for sure. The report cards rank districts based on students' results for state tests, district spending of public money and how well the school addressed achievement gaps for different groups of students. According to the scores, CPS is falling far behind in its graduation rates and how it handles students with disabilities, earning "Fs" in these categories. It is doing well with the gifted kids, however, earning an A in this category. Overall, the district got 2 "As," 1 "B," 1 "C," 1 "D" and 5 "Fs." But even though CPS's scores appear to be very sub-par, some have questioned the relevance of the information, which is based off of a standardized test the state no longer uses.

• The Tracie Hunter saga continues. Supporters behind former Hamilton County are claiming that officials have allowed critical computer evidence in her case to be destroyed. At a press conference Thursday, they claimed that special prosecutors or juvenile court officials allowed one computer with the vital evidence to be erased while mishandling the other computer's hard drive and called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the issue. Hunter was convicted in 2014 on a felony charge of mishandling confidential documents. She recently lost an appeal on the conviction and has asking the state's Supreme Court to review the case.

• Gov. John Kasich has held on tightly to his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, and he's not giving up any time soon. He told a crowd of his supporters on Wednesday that he will not be dropping out of the race. But political experts are speculating on how long Kasich will actually stay in following poor results in Nevada and South Carolina during the past week. Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges says he might do better in Mississippi, Virginia and Vermont, the neighboring state of New Hampshire, where he came in second behind Donald Trump in the state's GOP primary. But it's still going to be a long, difficult and unlikely road for Kasich to actually catch up to frontrunner Trump.

by Rick Pender 02.26.2016 90 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
stage door 2-26 - emma @ cincy shakes - courtney lucien as emma, caitlin mcwethy as harriet - photo mikki schaffner

Stage Door

Girlfriends, dungeons, classics and revolutionaries onstage this weekend

There’s an exciting array of theater on local stages this weekend, a perfect time to check out a live performance before you settle in for the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

It seems that all a theater needs to do these days is mention Jane Austen and fans line up for tickets. I’m sure that’s what Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has in mind with its production of Emma, opening tonight. It’s the story of an amateur matchmaker who loves to meddle in the love lives of others. But when her efforts on behalf of her friend Harriet go awry, Emma Wodehouse has to undo the damage. Cincy Shakes’ productions of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility broke box-office records, and there’s no reason that show adaptation (also by Jon Jory, who led Actors Theatre of Louisville for 32 seasons). Tonight’s the opening, and the show will be onstage at 719 Race St. through March 26. Tickets: 513-381-2273.

Last June, the Audience Pick of the 2015 Cincinnati Fringe was dungeon by the Hit The Lights! Theatre Company from New York City. In fact, the company has roots here in Cincinnati; its co-founder says, “We’re overjoyed to be returning to Cincinnati, our home away from home, to invite audiences into a more fully-formed dungeon than they last encountered.” The show is about a young man who enters the unknown to rescue something he holds dear. The show is inspired by kabuki, video games, horror movies and Pixar shorts, creating a world where darkness speaks louder than light. Two encore performances this weekend at Essex Studios (2511 Essex Place) in Walnut Hills at the Cincinnati Actors Studio and Academy (CASA, Room 282B), tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets: $15 at the door.  

It’s the final weekend for three shows on campus at Xavier University, presented in repertory: Miss Julie, a classic by August Strindberg; Betrayal, a heady drama by Harold Pinter; and Begotten, a world premiere by senior theater major Tatum Hunter. At the Gallagher Student Center Theater through Sunday. Tickets: 513-745-3939.

The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s world premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s The Revolutionists (on the Shelterhouse Stage through March 6) has another week to run. It brings together a quartet of badass women, under house arrest during the French Revolution — including Queen Marie Antoinette and assassin Charlotte Corday. Awaiting their likely demise by the guillotine, they encourage, inspire and support one another during the horrific Reign of Terror. Sounds serious but it’s a very funny, irreverent fantasia performed by an excellent cast. I gave this one a resounding Critic’s Pick. Through March 6. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

The characters might express the feeling that “It Sucks to Be Me,” but I don’t think anyone in the audience will feel that way watching Cincinnati Landmark’s production of Avenue Q at the Incline Theater in Price Hill. The darkly funny and very adult parody of Sesame Street has been staged by local stage veteran Elizabeth Harris with a cast of singers and actors who know how to bring puppets to life — politically inappropriate, from start to finish. It’s an evening of gasps, giggles and guffaws. Through March 6. Tickets: 513-241-6550.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

by Mike Breen 02.25.2016 91 days ago
Posted In: New Releases, Local Music, Live Music, Music Video at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

National Premieres for Cincy Rockers

Wussy debuts new music video on Stereogum, while ‘Revolver’ unveils new Electric Citizen track

A pair of Cincinnati Rock bands had new projects revealed today on a couple of popular and far-reaching music websites. 

Wussy’s music video for “Dropping Houses,” the first single from the band’s forthcoming Forever Sounds album, debuted on Stereogum this morning. The clip was made locally, directed by Lightborne’s Scott Fredette (who gets a shout-out in the accompanying write-up and also plays with local band Culture Queer). Check the clip out below.

Forever Sounds is released by the Cincy imprint Shake It on March 4 and the band plays a pre-release show this Saturday at Woodward Theater. Read CityBeat’s cover story on the band from last week here.

Meanwhile, another band with national/international attention on them growing, Electric Citizen, has its second album for the Riding Easy label, Higher Time, due for release May 13 (you can pre-order here). Today the website for popular Rock mag Revolver premiered a new song from the album, “Golden Mean.” Click here to listen

The Higher Time track “Evil” can be heard below.

Electric Citizen heads out on an extensive European tour supporting Wolfmother beginning in April. 

by Nick Swartsell 02.25.2016 91 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Harry Black

Morning News and Stuff

City manager: MSD delays could cost millions; Bill Murray in Cincy; court overturns ban on false statements in campaigns

Hey, hey all. Here’s the news today.

Is an ongoing argument between the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County about to cost users of the region’s Metropolitan Sewer District millions? That’s what City Manager Harry Black says. Black fired the next salvo in an ongoing tussle between the two governments yesterday when he announced that delays in a $3 billion ongoing sewer revamp ordered by federal courts could lead to a $1.4 million fine for MSD. Black laid blame for those delays on county officials, who recently filed in federal court alleging the city was in violation of a 2014 court order because it was ignoring county requests. Black says the county has been too slow to act in approving projects that need to be launched. County commissioners contend that's inaccurate, and that the city is to blame for the delays.

• More stuff about pipes: Following the incredibly alarming revelations that the water supply of Flint, Mich. has been giving residents there lead poisoning, concerns have been raised about the water supply in Cincinnati. While the city has been steadily replacing lead pipes for decades, and a Flint-scale lead panic seems unlikely, there are places where residents are more likely to have lead pipes on their private property leading into their homes. Here’s a handy map of places with the highest concentration of the pipes.

• Philanthropic group People’s Liberty, which is funded by the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation, announced the next recipients of its $100,000 grants yesterday. Brandon Black of Silverton will get one of those grants to launch a home rehab and repair apprenticeship program between Millennials and Baby Boomers. Northside’s Chris Glass will spend a year documenting Cincinnati neighborhoods with photography and creating programing around his work. The two were picked from 116 applicants and their fellowships will start April 4. People’s Liberty focuses on grants to individuals with change-making ideas in the Cincinnati area.

• I’m an idiot. Here’s why. A bit ago, a friend called me saying he had some extra tickets to the Xavier game last night and wondered if I wanted them. I’m a UC guy. I said no. Now, leaving out the fact that I could have sold those tickets, there’s another reason I’m really bummed. Bill Murray was at that game. I could have met Bill Murray. It’s not a huge surprise — his son Luke Murray is a coach for the team, but still. Oh, also, Xavier is in the middle of one heck of a season and won against No. 1 Villanova, which is nice and all, I guess.

• The following should make campaigning in Ohio easier for serial fabulists like a certain reality TV star running for president. A federal appeals court yesterday knocked down an Ohio law banning people from knowingly making false statements in campaign advertising. The 6th Circuit Court agreed with a lower court that said that the law violates citizens’ constitutional right to free speech. The case arose from a suit by anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List, which in 2010 got in hot water with the Ohio Elections Commission after it made statements linking President Barack Obama to abortion in misleading ways.

• A lot of folks are calling on Ohio Gov. John Kasich to get out of the GOP presidential primary after disappointing results in the last few states where party members have laid down their votes. Kasich is running behind Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz consistently, and establishment types think he’s siphoning valuable votes away from their only viable candidate at this point (that’s Rubio, btw). But at least one senior GOPer thinks Kasich should hang in there: former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich. The popular former senator predicted yesterday that Kasich would win Ohio’s March 15 primary and responded to questions about whether Kasich should bow out with a “hell no.” Voinovich did give Kasich some pointers on sharpening up his message, but didn’t really provide any insight on ways the Kasich campaign could win other states besides Ohio, which is, uh, looking to be a challenge.

I’m out. I’m hitting up Lexington for a conference starting tomorrow. Any cool places worth checking out? Hit me: Twitter. E-mail.

by Mike Breen 02.25.2016 91 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Festivals at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bunbury Announces 2016 Lineup

Riverfront music fest announces Florence + the Machine, The Killers and more for this year’s event

This morning, organizers of the Bunbury Music Festival — which returns to Cincinnati’s riverfront (on stages throughout Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove) June 3-5 — announced the lineup for this year’s event. This is Bunbury’s second year under the ownership of Columbus, Ohio-based concert promoters PromoWest Productions and its fifth overall. 

Scheduled to perform at the 2016 Bunbury festival: The Killers, Florence + the Machine, Mudcrutch (featuring Tom Petty), Tears for Fears, Haim, Ice Cube, Of Monsters and Men, Grimes, Big Grams, Umphrey’s McGee, The Neighbourhood, X Ambassadors, Elle King, G. Love & Special Sauce, Charles Bradley, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Bayside, The Wombats, The Dear Hunter, The Mowgli’s, Diarrhea Planet, Grizfolk, Cincinnati native Cal Scruby, Here Come the Mummies, Austin Plaine, Red Wanting Blue, Oddisee, Coleman Hell, Lany, Whilk & Misky, Connor Youngblood, PVRIS, Louis the Child, Foxing, Lydia, The Shelters and Holy White Hounds. 

Cincinnati-area acts booked to perform so far include Dead Man String Band, Dawg Yawp, Mad Anthony, Automagik, Leggy and Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome Sound.

Three-day passes are available now for $169 (single day tickets will also be available for $89). VIP ticket options are also available. Click here for more info.

by Cassie Lipp 02.24.2016 92 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY, Culture at 04:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Slice of Cincinnati: Building Value

Customers entering Building Value in Northside are greeted by a yard of bathtubs, sinks and other home furnishings. It might seem like a graveyard for building materials, but these old home fixtures are awaiting a new life.

This is confirmed by the set of child-sized lawn chairs by the store entrance. Upon closer inspection it’s clear that the chairs are actually repurposed shopping carts. Inside, customers bustle around the store through aisles of cabinets, shelves and other furniture looking for a new home.

All of the goods available for purchase at Building Value are either donated by homeowners who no longer use them or salvaged from demolished homes. Anything bought here can be given a new life in another home rather than sitting in a landfill.

While two men get out a tape measure to see if their dream cabinets will fit inside their kitchen, the store cat Bella Value perches atop the checkout counter as the clerk asks a customer to sign a donation form.

“With or without the cat’s help?” he asks. Bella seems indifferent to the man’s signature as he signs off on the goods he donated to the store.

“Bella doesn’t actually itemize or give customers value for their stuff,” store manager David Daniels says. “She is on payroll to take care of the mice.”

Building Value’s main mission is to employ people with disabilities and other workplace difficulties and give them the training needed to obtain positions in the construction field that pay livable wages.

Those who complete Building Value’s training program develop basic deconstruction skills. They may then be hired by companies like Messer Construction, a partner of Building Value.

“A combination of our program and our store work hand in hand,” Daniels says. “The deconstruction part tears down buildings and brings it back to the store; the store sells it so that we can make money to fund our mission.”

Instead of completely knocking a house to the ground, Building Value works to take it apart piece by piece so that almost all parts are salvageable and able to be resold in the store. All proceeds benefit programs at Easter Seals, a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for those with disabilities or disadvantages to realize their full potential. The tristate chapter of Easter seals founded the store in 2004.

“We’re trying to carefully remove items so that it can come here and get a second life as the same thing or maybe repurposed,” Daniels says. “Our biggest component here is how much stuff we divert from the landfill.”

The cheapest way to demolish a building is to completely raze it and dump all of the components into a landfill, Daniels says. Although Building Value does not demolish homes this way, having the service done by them may be comparable or cheaper because the items salvaged for resale are tax-deductible donations.

“The thing that separates us from another business is that all the material that comes back to the store is an actual tax write-off to the organization that offsets their bill,” Daniels says.

Daniels says Building Value will take the bricks, wood floors, windows, staircases, mantles and nearly any other part of a house. Customers could almost build a house from the store’s materials. While this provides a low-cost alternative for customers, it is also ideal for those who own older homes who may not be able to find the parts they need at stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Building Value’s inventory is more eclectic because it is sourced from donations and changes every week.

The customers who shop at Building Value are contractors, house flippers and those looking to repurpose old items — a group Daniels proudly calls “the Pinterest crowd.” Since the key to making money off these ventures is finding cheap materials, Building Value is an essential shopping destination for these customers.

Before Daniels became the store manager, he flipped old houses and was a frequent customer himself. He combines his skills from managing a Walgreens store with his knowledge of what homebuilders need to run Building Value.

“[At Walgreens] I was working a lot of hours, but I was never inspired,” he says. “This job inspires me — I come in on my day off every week.” Daniels says rather than working hard to help Walgreens profit, he is now working hard for a better cause. ”This store is a win-win situation,” he says. “The customers win, the company wins, the environment wins. Nobody is getting a bad shake out of this.”

For more information on BUILDING VALUE, visit buildingvalue.org.

by Nick Swartsell 02.24.2016 92 days ago
Posted In: News, Cycling at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
cincinnati_bike lane_dana ave1

Opinion: Removing Central Parkway Bikeway Is a Bad Idea

Efforts to improve safety — if that's really a problem — should focus on motorists, not cyclists

Today, Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman will introduce a motion to remove part of the Central Parkway Bikeway, citing safety concerns caused by confusion about parking along the route.

But removing the lane doesn’t make any fiscal or safety sense.

The city constructed those bike lanes mostly with a $500,000 federal grant. Removing them would cost money, money that city taxpayers would have to pay. There’s no federal grant for reversing things you did with another federal grant. Making taxpayers cough up money to remove safety infrastructure designed to protect cyclists from drivers because drivers aren’t paying attention to signage seems perverse to me.

But there are more profound reasons to oppose removal of the lane, including the fact that doing so shifts responsibility for safety further away from drivers and onto cyclists.

We hear fiscal conservatives like Smitherman telling folks they should live within their means because of the sacred conservative principle of personal responsibility. I don’t own a car, because I take my fiscal responsibility seriously and I’m not exactly swimming in cash. Because I don’t want to spend the money it takes to purchase and maintain a reliable car and I’m trying to be conservative about my debt load, I walk or take a bus when I can afford to be leisurely. But when I need to get somewhere quickly, I absolutely rely on a bicycle.

I’m not the only one, and statistics show plenty of bike riders are even more dependent on their two-wheeled modes of transportation than I am. Those stats show that most bikers aren’t fixed-gear hipster dorks or spandex-clad weekend cyclists. They’re low-income folks riding to work, to family or wherever else they need to go, exercising that good old American personal responsibility.

Across the country, according to Census data, about half of the people who commute to work by bike make below $25,000 a year. Now, that category (bizarrely) also includes motorcycle riders and those who rely on taxis, but it’s clear bicycles are the most cost-effective (and probably most widespread) of those options.

I ride alongside folks in this situation every time I go anywhere on a bike, but to most people — including some city officials, it seems — they’re invisible.

Despite advice from our honorable mayor, city laws don't allow the non-car owning public to ride bikes on sidewalks, and with good reason. Most pedestrian walkways are too narrow, and having a person on a metal object going up to 30 miles an hour isn’t a good mix with pedestrians.

So I, and other bikers, stay off the sidewalks because personal responsibility. That means I need bike lanes. So do other bike commuters.

For me, and for other cyclists, it’s personal, and it's a matter of life and limb.

I was forced off the road on Highland Avenue last summer by a driver who pulled right up behind me honking, then pulled up to my left and edged me off the road. I wrecked. It was scary as shit. I won’t show you a picture of the crazy, purple-brown bruise that adorned most of my right leg because that would involve me posting a picture of myself without pants on, but wanna see the big hole in my hand I got because some road-raging jerk wanted to make a point? It's gross!

Other cyclists, including Michael Prater, who was struck by a motorist and killed in Anderson Township, have faced far worse fates at the hands of irresponsible drivers. There are more stories, with varying degrees of severity, about cyclists injured by reckless motorists. You'd be hard-pressed to find the opposite.

Someone in those scenarios lacked some personal responsibility, and it wasn’t the people on bikes.

If cars are posing a safety issue on Central Parkway due to the fact that parking spaces have been moved out to the right lanes of the road, as Smitherman and others have suggested, perhaps the city should work on making sure drivers take some personal responsibility and watch out for other parked cars. Increased enforcement of traffic laws would be a good start.

If a driver is too preoccupied or confused to see a parked car and the accompanying signs warning them about those parked cars, how likely are they going to be to see us riding (legally) in the right lane? Further, if someone is too preoccupied to see an enormous metal vehicle ahead of them, should they be operating a motor vehicle at all?

We shouldn’t waste taxpayer dollars removing beneficial infrastructure to subsidize drivers’ lack of personal responsibility while making things less safe for folks who are exercising their own responsibility by commuting to work by bicycle on the street.

There are reams of statistics showing that bike lanes make streets safer and communities more economically viable. In-depth studies show that cyclists spend as much or more than drivers do in the communities they pass through and that bike lanes increase the number of cyclists passing through communities.

And the number of cyclists commuting to work is growing fast in Cincinnati. We’re still not a huge biking city, but we moved from 46th out of 70 major cities in 2013 when it comes to the proportion of cyclists riding to work to 39th in 2014 — a huge jump. Plus, the city’s fast-growing bike-share program, RedBike, means more newby cyclists are on the streets than ever before. All the more reason to increase cycling safety on our streets.

All the data shows bike lanes increase safety, economic activity and attractiveness to potential residents. What do bike lane opponents have? A few alarmist news stories like this one — which cites 33 accidents since the lane was completed but which provides no baseline number from before the lane was completed for comparison — and a letter from one community member who cites an accident that happened before the lanes were even put in.

Meanwhile, community councils — those bodies closest to, uh, the community — along the bike route aren’t asking city officials to remove the lanes. They’re clamoring for an expansion, citing studies that show increased economic activity along bike lane routes.

There are ways to do this without burdening the city’s rank-and-file taxpayers. If the city could negotiate just a little harder with big developers on a few deals in white-hot Over-the-Rhine, the money it usually gives out in rich tax abatements could instead over time be plowed into bike infrastructure that would probably attract tenants for those new apartments or customers to that new retail space anyway. Instead of big tax breaks, maybe the city could create tax increment financing districts in quickly redeveloping neighborhoods like OTR where the TIF funds are used to improve nearby bicycle infrastructure.

Other cities in Ohio and beyond, including Chicago, use TIF funds for projects with bike lanes, after all. Just spitballing here.

So let’s stop with this anti-bike-lane political nonsense and learn from other cities that have successfully implemented a comprehensive system for bike commuters. Requiring a little more personal responsibility on drivers’ part is a small price to pay when lives are at stake.
by Nick Swartsell 02.24.2016 92 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
rob portman

Morning News and Stuff

Smitherman wants to remove portion of Central Parkway bike lane; Covington City Commission approves art installations; Strickland, Portman neck and neck in U.S. Senate race

Good morning all. Here’s the news today.

Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman is set to introduce a motion in today’s Council meeting asking that a portion of the Central Parkway Bikeway be removed. The stretch of bike lane, which separates cyclists from the road with vertical plastic barriers, was constructed in 2014. Cyclists cheered the lanes, but a few business owners in the neighborhood groused about parking concerns. No parking spots were taken by the lanes, but cars along some stretches now have to park in the right lane of Central Parkway instead of on the curb. That’s caused safety concerns, which Smitherman cities in his call to remove the lane from the 1600 to the 2000 block of Central Parkway — about half a mile between Liberty Street north to where Central Avenue intersects Central Parkway. Some community councils, however, have expressed support for the lanes and would even like to see them expanded.

• Let’s keep talking about places for people to park their big metal death boxes, shall we? Nah, just kidding, cars are cool. But it’s also pretty cool that the Covington City Commission voted yesterday to temporarily give up five parking spots for a six-month art installation there. The art in those so-called parklets will range from stationary bikes that power a movie projector to an enormous xylophone, all designed to bring new activity and vibrancy to Covington’s Madison Avenue. It was a controversial decision, with some business leaders along the busy main street expressing concern about the lost parking, but city leaders say they hope to increase pedestrian traffic and business near the installations. The city also created four new spaces along Madison for temporary parking while the parklets are up.

• Guess who is stumping for the Trump in Northern Kentucky? One hint: He’s an attorney who has been suspended from practicing law by the Kentucky Supreme Court last year, and he shares a name with some prominent Hamilton County politicians. You got it. Eric Deters is running reality TV star Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes Boone, Campbell and 16 other counties in the state. The state’s Supreme Court suspended Deters last May for ethical violations, though Deters is currently fighting for reinstatement. He’s fought legal battles over previous suspensions as well. Trump’s campaign continues to steamroll other GOP primary contenders. He easily won Nevada’s caucuses, sending political commentators into new levels of dismay and panic.

Ohio’s U.S. Senate race is neck and neck between incumbent Republican Rob Portman and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. A new poll by Quinnipiac University released today shows the two virtually tied in the pivotal race, which is part of a larger wrangle for control of the Senate between Democrats and Republicans. Forty-four percent of those polled said Strickland had their vote, while 42 percent said Portman was their man. That’s not great news for Portman, who should be ahead by this point as the incumbent. Meanwhile, Strickland’s Democratic primary opponent, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, trails far behind the two main contenders, mainly due to lack of name recognition. The three campaigns have spent more than $2 million on the race thus far.

• Let’s keep talking about polls, shall we? Particularly, let’s chat about that same Quinnipiac poll, which also shows Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, besting either of the Democrats’ potential nominees here. Fifty-four percent of voters in that poll said they would choose Kasich, while 37 percent said they would choose former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if she got the nod. Thirty-five percent said they would choose Bernie Sanders if he were nominated. That’s better than any other GOP candidate in the field.

Marco Rubio came in second, more narrowly besting Clinton and Sanders. Donald Trump came in third, basically tying Clinton and Sanders. That last bit is illustrative of the differences between highly charged GOP primary voters and the general electorate. A poll we talked about yesterday had Trump walloping Kasich among GOP primary voters here. Kasich’s campaign has of course latched onto the results as he clings onto hope that the race will turn for him. Kasich took a beating in the South Carolina primary and the Nevada Caucuses, but his campaign staff is citing the poll as a reminder that, historically, the route to Republican victory in the general election goes through the heart of it all.