The agenda defined City Council’s first meeting of the new year — the first full session since council decided to continue work on Cincinnati’s $132.8 million streetcar project.
The meeting also showed that the Democratic majority — once fractured over the streetcar project and parking privatization plan — now appears to have formed a coalition on most issues facing the city. Perhaps more than anything, that could indicate the direction of Cincinnati for the next four years.
Most contentiously, the Democratic majority on City Council rejected a repeal of the city’s contracting rules for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) and Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) projects.
The rules dictate how the city and county will award contracts for the federally mandated $3.2 billion revamp of the local sewer system.
The city’s rules impose stricter job training requirements on city contractors and require them to fund pre-apprenticeship programs that would help train new workers in different crafts.
Councilman Chris Seelbach, a Democrat who spearheaded the rules, argues the requirements will help foster local jobs and job training.
But the Republican-controlled county government, which also manages MSD and GCWW, says the requirements unfairly burden contractors and favor unions. Last year, county commissioners halted MSD’s work on the sewer overhaul in protest of the city’s rules.
The county’s halt has put 649 jobs and $152 million worth of sewer projects on hold, according to data released by Councilman Charlie Winburn, a Republican who opposes the city’s rules.
With the federal mandate looming, county commissioners on Wednesday unanimously proposed a compromise that would create some job training and inclusion initiatives.
“We are approaching a crisis here in this dispute with the city,” said Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Republican who opposes the city’s rules.
Vice Mayor David Mann, a Democrat, said he will look at the county’s proposal. But he cautioned, “I’m not going to repeal it until we have a substitute. To have a substitute we have to have conversations. This could be the beginning of a framework.”
The issue could end up in court. The city’s lawyers previously claimed they could defend the local contracting rules, but the county insists the city would lose.
“Portions of what the city wants will not stand in court. Our lawyers should meet,” Hartman told Seelbach on Twitter.
If the city and county don’t act before February, Winburn said the
federal government could impose a daily $1,500 fine until MSD work fully
Supportive housing project in Avondale
A supermajority of council — the five Democrats plus Charterite Kevin Flynn — agreed to continue supporting state tax credits for Commons at Alaska, a 99-unit permanent supportive housing facility in Avondale.
Although several opponents of the Avondale facility claim
their opposition is not rooted in a not-in-my-backyard attitude, many
public speakers argued the housing facility will attract a dangerous
crowd that would worsen public safety in the neighborhood.
Supporters point to a study conducted for similar facilities in Columbus that found areas with permanent housing facilities saw the same or lower crime increases as demographically comparable areas.
Other opponents decried the lack of outreach for the project. They claim the project was kept hidden from residents for years.
National Church Residences (NCR), which is developing the facility, says it will engage in more outreach as the project moves forward.
Councilman Christopher Smitherman, an Independent, said council’s decision ignores what most Avondale residents told him.
“The supermajority of residents that I have talked to that are directly impacted by this project are against it,” asserted Smitherman, who is leading efforts against the facility in council.
Even if council decided to rescind its support for the Avondale project , it’s unclear if it would have any effect. NCR already received state tax credits for the facility back in June.
City Council unanimously approved a study that will look into potential race- and gender-based disparities in how the city awards business contracts.
The $690,000 study is required by the courts before the city can pursue initiatives that favorably target minority- and women-owned businesses with city contracts, which Mayor John Cranley and most council members support.
But Flynn and Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, a Democrat, voiced
doubts that the study’s findings will fulfill the legal requirements necessary to legally enact initiatives favoring minority- and women-owned businesses.
Given the doubts, Simpson cautioned that the city should begin moving forward with possible inclusion initiatives before the disparity study is complete.
“I do think we need to rally around a mantra that we can’t wait,” agreed Democratic Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.
Once the study is complete, several council members said it will, at the very least, provide valuable data to the city.
Other notable actions
• Council approved a tax budget that lowered the property tax millage rate from 5.7 mills to 5.6 mills, which will cost $500,000 in annual revenue, according to city officials.
• Council approved an application for a $70,000 grant that would fund local intervention efforts meant to help struggling youth.
• Council approved an application for a nearly $6 million grant to provide tenant-based rental assistance to homeless, low-income clients with disabilities.
• Council disbanded the Streetcar Committee, which the
mayor and council originally established to look into halting the
project. Streetcar items will now be taken up by the Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation Committee.
Arriving just in time to sabotage your New Year’s health resolutions, Gold Star
has added a Nacho Cheese Dorito-based dish to its menu. The nachos feature Gold Star's signature Cincinnati-style chili atop a mountain of
orange-dusted tortilla chips, complete with all the fixins: tomatoes,
jalapenos, black olives, a heap of cheddar, sour cream and chipotle ranch
dressing. No word yet on a Cooler Ranch version.
Patrons are encouraged to snap a nacho
selfie with the dish and post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using
#cincinnacho for a chance to win an Xbox One, iPhone or iPad
Mini, airline tickets, concert tickets, a smart TV
or, best of all, more free Doritos nachos!
Hamilton County commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution that seeks a compromise over Cincinnati's controversial contracting rules for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) projects.
Both sides agree the issue must be resolved soon to avoid a costly legal battle and allow MSD to fully continue work on a federally mandated $3.2 billion revamp of the local sewer system. But so far the Democrat-controlled city and Republican-controlled county have failed to reach an agreement.
"We really are approaching a crisis here in this dispute with the city," said Commissioner Greg Hartmann, who proposed the resolution commissioners approved Wednesday.
The county's proposal creates aspirational inclusion goals and funding for local job training programs for MSD and Greater Cincinnati Water Works. The county estimates the resolution will cost $550,000-$700,000 a year.
But it remains unclear if the county's measures will satisfy a majority of City Council, which as of December supported its own set of contracting rules.
The city rules require contractors to follow stricter standards for apprenticeship programs, which unionized and nonunion businesses use to train workers in crafts, such as electrical work or plumbing. The rules also ask contractors to put 10 cents for each hour of labor into a pre-apprenticeship fund that will help train newcomers in different crafts.
With the county proposal approved, commissioners say it's up to the city to make the next move in the dispute.
The county's proposal:
The Golden Globe Awards are a true Hollywood party. Awards are given out for television and film categories, so you get the playfulness of the Emmys and the movie stars of the Oscars without as much seriousness. And it is a widely-known fact that everybody gets their drank on throughout the ceremony. Globes were awarded Sunday night; here are some highlights.
Hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey served as ringleaders for this celebrity circus, supplying audiences at home and at the show with tons of laughs. Having a fine eye for detail (HA!), I appreciated that they swapped gown colors from last year’s show.
The duo threw hilarious digs at the nominees, calling Matt Damon a “garbage person” in reference to the caliber of A-listers and introducing the Wolf of Wall Street himself with, "And now, like a supermodel's vagina, let's all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio!" There were also super funny cutaway shots, like Julia Louis-Dreyfus acting like she was too good for this mess, puffing on an e-cig and refusing to take a selfie with Reese Witherspoon. Flawless!
Jennifer Lawrence accepted the first Golden Globe of the night — wearing what appeared to be a bed sheet secured with seat belts — for her role as a certified Real Housewife of New Jersey in American Hustle. She displayed her usual candor, expressing true befuddlement and, for lack of a better word, cute “awkwardness.” And America’s love affair with her continues.
Jacqueline Bisset was shocked — or intoxicated? —when she was announced as Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie for her role in Dancing on the Edge. Eventually she got her words together, speaking right over that "STFU" music and ended up defying the censor to get an s-word in that bitch. Go Jackie!
Behind the Candelabra nabbed Best TV Movie or Mini-Series, because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association doesn’t have a category for “Best Use of Bejeweled Thongs.”
Mad Men was SNUBBED! This year, but Peggy (aka Elizabeth Moss) got an award, at least, for Top of the Lake (Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie). And, seriously, she seems like a total sweetheart.
Bryan Cranston won Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama for Breaking Bad’s final season. The series also received the award (which was presented by Paula Patton dressed in a blooming tampon-inspired number?) for Best TV Series, Drama. Aaron Paul said it best: “Yeah, bitch!”
Best Original Score - Motion Picture went to Alexander Ebert for All is Lost. When the camera cut to this fancy hobo, I realized that’s the lead singer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros! Way to go, you crazy dude. Also: new hair icon.
One of the more surprising awards of the night was Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie — that’s a wide-spanning category packed with talent. The Globe went to Jon Voight for Ray Donovan, in which his character advised his grandson, who was sick with a stomach ache, “Maybe you need to faht!” in a heavy Boston accent (Read: This was one of the season’s highlights). But Rob Lowe was fucking robbed of that award. I’ll never forget that face (even if I could)!
Amy Adams(' side boob) received the award for Best Actress In A Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy for American Hustle. She and her girls accepted the award in a neckline ripped from the film. Adams is well on her way to becoming a mega-star, but I still keep confusing her with Isla Fischer!
The Globes have this weird tradition of selecting a Mr. and Ms. Golden Globe each year, which is basically a celebri-spawn that wears expensive clothes to help usher award winners out the correct stage exit. This year’s Miss was Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick’s daughter, Sosie Bacon. As for the Mister, Tina introduced her little-known adult son from a previous relationship.
Robin Wright, female perfection incarnate, was awarded for her role on Netflix series, House of Cards (Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama) The princess attended the show with new fiancé, Ben Foster. Get it girl!
Presenter Jim Carrey proved he’s still got it (despite several bouts of public cray over the past couple years)! I don’t know what made me laugh more: his Shia LaBoeuf sting or the face that he was announced as the star of Dumb and Dumber To.
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture went to Jared Leto, who portrayed a transgender AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club. He was really workin’ them ombré highlights (not in the movie, he actually has female envy-worthy hair for a guy). And despite making a period joke, I will always love him because he will always be Jordan Catalano to me.
Spike Jonze received Best Screenplay - Motion Picture for his human-OS love story, Her.
We all need to start watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine! Andy Samberg nabbed Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy for his new comedy. Seemed genuinely shocked and pretty adorable. And ICYMI, he’s married to Joanna Newsom.
Another award presenter fashion faux pas: Zoe Saldana's dress looks like a prom rag from Charlotte Russe circa 1999. She'd look hawt in a burlap sack, so her style cred will recover, but damn. I think I have an old purse from Claire's that would match.
Next up was Michael Douglas (Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie) for his role as Liberace in Behind the Candelabra.
Host Amy Poehler received her first Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation. She was massaged by/made out with Bono upon the exciting announcement.
Leonardo DiCaprio won his third Globe (Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy) for The Wolf of Wall Street. The actor, often overlooked at awards events (always the bridesmaid, never the bride, that Leo), seemed extremely gracious.
Rounding out the night, American Hustle was named Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy; Cate Blanchett (which is pronounced Blanch-it as I recently learned on NPR) nabbed Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for Blue Jasmine; Her male counterpart: Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama), for Dallas Buyers Club — a role for which he lost 45 pounds. Or, as Tina Fey put it, “what actresses call 'being in a movie.'" Matt wore a cool deep emerald velvet tux and gave his signature catchphrase: “Alright, alright, alright!”
The show closed with Best Motion Picture, Drama, which went to 12 Years a Slave. All in all, it was an entertaining night and the awards were pretty well-distributed. Next up is the Oscars with Ellen DeGeneres — only 46 days to go!
The latest administrative shakeups at City Hall spurred
controversy after the city administration confirmed City Solicitor John
Curp will leave his current position and one of the new hires — Bill
Moller, a city retiree who will become assistant city manager — will be
able to “double dip” on his pension and salary ($147,000 a year). Councilman
P.G. Sittenfeld said on Twitter that City Council will discuss the personnel changes at today’s council meeting. The hiring decisions are up to Interim City Manager
Scott Stiles, but some council members say they should be more closely
informed and involved. (This paragraph was updated after council members called off the special session.)
Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter was indicted on a ninth felony charge yesterday. The charge — for misusing her county credit card — comes on top of eight other felony counts for allegedly backdating court documents and stealing from office. In response to the first eight charges, the Ohio Supreme Court disqualified Hunter as she fights the accusations and replaced her with a formerly retired judge, who will be aided by the juvenile court’s permanent and visiting judges in addressing Hunter’s expansive backlog of cases.
A bipartisan proposal would allow Ohioans to recall any elected official in the state.Duke Energy cut a $400,000 check to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority for redevelopment projects at Bond Hill, Roselawn and Queensgate.
Sixty-two people will be dropped from Hamilton County voter rolls because they didn’t respond to a letter from the board of elections challenging their voting addresses.
It’s official: Democrat Charlie Luken and Republican Ralph Winkler will face off for the Hamilton County Probate Court judgeship.
Facing state cuts to local funding, a Clermont County village annexed its way to higher revenues. But the village has drawn controversy for its tactics because it explicitly absorbed only public property, which isn’t protected from annexation under state law like private property is.
More Ohio inmates earned high school diplomas over the past three years, putting the state ahead of the national average in this area, according to a report from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear says he supports legislative efforts to increase Kentucky’s minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years.
One Malaysian language describes odors as precisely as English describes colors.
Bill Moller is a city retiree who will be eligible to “double dip” into his pension and a city salary ($147,000 a year) when the city rehires him in February to fill an opening for assistant city manager, city spokesperson Meg Olberding confirmed in an email to CityBeat. Whether he does is entirely up to the interim city manager, Olberding wrote.
The possibility could draw criticism from city officials looking to balance Cincinnati’s structurally imbalanced operating budget. Last year, City Council drew opposition for its decision to hire Streetcar Project Executive John Deatrick and allow him to double dip on his pension and a city salary.
Update: Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said on Twitter that City Council will discuss the personnel changes at Wednesday’s full council meeting, instead of a special session on Thursday as originally planned.
Moller will eventually replace Assistant City Manager David Holmes, who helped oversee efforts for The Banks and 2012 World Choir Games and filed to retire on April 1, Interim City Manager Scott Stiles wrote in a memo to City Council and the mayor.
“At this point in time, Cincinnati needs not only someone who is proficient in all aspects of municipal finance, but in the aspects of the city of Cincinnati’s finances in particular. Mr. Moller has that experience,” Stiles wrote, noting Moller’s budget and finance experience in Cincinnati, Hamilton and Covington.
City Solicitor John Curp will also leave his current position to instead act as chief counsel for the city’s two utilities, the Metropolitan Sewer District and Water Works.
“The utility has been undergoing a merger of back office functions to save ratepayers money, and also has been expanding services and service areas to decrease costs,” Stiles wrote. “John (Curp) has the private sector experience to assist the utilities with a market-oriented approach, and is uniquely positioned to understand both the particulars of MSD and GCWW as well as the areas in which they can expand.”
The move should save ratepayers money by allowing both utilities to rely on Curp instead of outside legal counsel when legal issues arise, according to Stiles.
Although widely praised by city officials, Curp’s move is unsurprising given the politics surrounding Mayor John Cranley’s election. Curp offered legal guidance for the parking privatization plan and streetcar project, both of which Cranley opposes.
Terrence Nestor, currently the city’s chief litigator, will replace Curp as city solicitor until a permanent appointment is made.
Stiles announced other changes as well:
• Markiea Carter, currently a development officer, will move to the city manager’s office to act as assistant to the city manager.
• Karen Alder, currently risk manager for the city, will begin assisting Finance Director Reginald Zeno as the city’s deputy finance director.
Stiles is currently filling as interim city manager while the city conducts a nationwide search for a permanent replacement to former City Manager Milton Dohoney. Stiles could apply for the permanent role, but his application would need City Council support to win out over other potential candidates.
The city expects the city manager search to last through June, at which point further administrative changes could be expected if the city hires a new permanent city manager.
eat well cafe & takeaway, the restaurant portion of chef Renee Schuler's successful eat well celebrations & feasts, will be closing Friday, Jan. 17, according to a post on their official Facebook page.
January 9th we marked the one year anniversary for eat well cafe and takeaway. The cafe was a lifelong dream of mine, and I am grateful I had the opportunity to see it come to fruition beautifully. It has been an adventure and a joy, and I have learned a lot.
Having completed the first year, however; I have decided to quit dividing my energy between two businesses. Our last day of business will be this Friday January 17th, we will be closing after lunch at 2:00 pm.
The beautifully renovated space in O’Bryonville will be available for private events and meetings after the restaurant closes.
I am very excited to get back full time to my first love, events and corporate catering. Eat well celebrations and feasts celebrates nine years in business this fall and enjoyed it's most successful year in 2013. You can reach us there at 859-291-9355, and like our facebook page: eat well celebrations and feasts.
Thank you for your loyalty and support this past year and always. I will be at the cafe monday through friday this week and hope to see some of your smiling faces!
In the third month of open enrollment, Obamacare failed to hit key demographic targets for young adults in Ohio and across the nation. White House officials say about about 39 percent of those who sign up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state-run marketplaces must be young adults. The idea is to get enough young, healthy enrollees to hold down costs as an older, sicker population signs up for health insurance made more easily available through Obamacare’s systems and regulations. But in December, only 19 percent of signups in Ohio and 24 percent of signups nationwide were young adults.The Ohio Department of Education will recalculate report card data and investigate whether to punish staff after Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) and six other Ohio school districts that scrubbed student attendance data. By manipulating the data, schools can appear to be performing better, but the actions obviously jeopardize the authenticity of Ohio’s school accountability system. CPS says its internal investigations found no evidence of deliberate manipulation and the data errors shouldn’t be enough to alter the school’s standing in state report cards. For CPS and the six other school districts, the issues began after the state auditor in 2012 launched an investigation into school data scrubbing.
To avoid contamination from a W. Va. chemical spill, Cincinnati Water Works will shut down its water intake system along the Ohio River and instead rely on the water intake system at the groundwater treatment facility in Fairfield. Mayor John Cranley said the shutdown will last two days, or more than twice the roughly 20 hours required for the chemical slick to pass by. Consumers shouldn’t notice a difference, according to Water Works officials.In the coming weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard will decide whether to allow fracking wastewater to travel along the Ohio River and other federal waterways and how strictly regulated the shipments should be. Fracking is a drilling technique in which millions of gallons of water are pumped underground to unlock oil and gas reserves, but the process produces a lot of wastewater as a result. CityBeat previously covered fracking and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.
With legislation repealing Ohio’s energy rules now stalled, Champaign County residents are challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s in-state renewable energy requirements in court. Supporters of the law claim the rules help foster a green energy sector in the state, while opponents argue the rules increase costs for businesses and consumers. CityBeat previously covered State Sen. Bill Seitz’s legislative attempts to repeal the rules here.
Another tea party-backed candidate might challenge Gov. John Kasich in the Republican primary. The reveal comes just days after a tea party leader abruptly dropped his challenge against the incumbent governor.
If state legislators approve, Gov. Kasich will hold his state of the state address this year at Medina, Ohio, on Feb. 24.Three judges will cover for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter while she fights felony charges in court.
State Rep. Pete Beck of Mason, who was indicted on 16 felony counts for alleged fraud and theft, is facing a primary challenger.Cincinnati repaved 130 lane miles of road in 2013, according to city officials.
Duke Energy cut a check for the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority today to help redevelop Bond Hill and Queensgate.A blind student is suing Miami University for alleged discrimination that prevented her from completing coursework.
One vote made the difference in 43 of Ohio’s 2013 elections, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.Ky. developers are still pursuing the Noah’s Ark theme park, despite troubles raising funds for the project.
Today is the last day to vote for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.
An infection can turn swarming locusts into solitary grasshoppers, a study found.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:
Voting for the 17th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, celebrating the best of the Greater Cincinnati music scene, ends TONIGHT at midnight. Click here to cast your ballot for your favorite nominated local artists.
The CEA ceremony is set for Sunday, Jan. 26, at Covington’s Madison Theater. The show/party will feature performances from CEA-nominated artists Honey & Houston, Moonbow, The Yugos, The Upset Victory, Valley High, The Almighty Get Down and DAAP Girls, as well as a secret opening performance by an entity known (as of now) only as Saint Ain't Mangled Angels (those who read CityBeat regularly will likely be able decipher the thinly-veiled pseudonym).
Also added to the run of show for the CEA event is a special performance by Cincinnati Folk trio The Tillers, who released their fantastic Hand on the Plow album and toured the U.K. with Pokey LaFarge in 2013. The group, nominated for CEAs in the Folk/Americana, Album of the Year and Artist of the Year categories, will be paying tribute to their former bassist Jason Soudrette, who lost his battle with acute myeloid leukemia late last year.