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by Nick Swartsell 03.09.2015 82 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Mornings News and Stuff

New home for crime lab?; Seelbach pushes for streetcar plans uptown; is it time to abolish Ohio's death penalty?

Hey all! Hope your weekend was great. I spent my Saturday at the Neighborhood Summit, so mine was super fun because I’m a huge dork. If you’re like me and you’re into community building, urban planning, transit, or anything else at all city related, though, it’s kind of like our Midpoint. Highlights included a three-part panel discussion among Police Chief Jeffery Blackwell, activists Damon Lynch III and Iris Roley and other experts talking about how far the Cincinnati Police Department has come since 2001, as well as another set of presentations about immigration in Cincinnati.

Anyway, on to the news. Could labs on Cincinnati’s East Side currently occupied by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health be a new home for the Hamilton County crime lab? County Commissioner Todd Portune says he’s looking into that possibility. Last month, the federal government announced it was providing $100 million to build a new facility for NIOSH to combine the organization’s two labs in Cincinnati into one complex over the next few years. That could free up plenty of lab space for the county’s cramped and outdated morgue and crime labs, currently in a building built in the early 1970s. What’s more, some of that $100 million could go toward renovating the current NIOSH lab so the county crime lab could move in. The idea comes after county commissioners killed a plan to move the morgue, crime lab and other county offices to a former Mercy Hospital in Mount Airy donated to the county for a dollar. Commissioners have said it would cost too much money to retrofit that building for the new offices.

• A statewide task force on police-community relations put together by Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the wake of controversy over police shootings is coming to Cincinnati tonight. A public listening session will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Kingsgate Marriott, 151 Goodman Drive, near the University of Cincinnati. City Locals Councilwoman Amy Murray, Pastor Damon Lynch III and others make up the panel, which will produce a report in April on ways to improve relationships between police and community members. Kasich ordered the task force in December in response to nationwide consternation over police shootings of unarmed citizens of color across the country. In Ohio, the August shooting death of John Crawford III in a Beavercreek Walmart and the October killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on a playground in Cleveland have gotten national attention. Both held toy guns at the time of their deaths, and police say they seemed to pose a threat. But the families of both Rice and Crawford say police were reckless and did not act appropriately. They say the shootings are indicative of a larger cultural problem between police and communities of color.

• As political bickering continues to swirl around the streetcar’s first phase, Councilman Chris Seelbach is pushing the city to work on planning the rail project’s next leg. Seelbach has created a motion in council seeking to spur the city to begin work on plans that would take the streetcar uptown toward the University of Cincinnati and many of the city’s hospitals. The motion directs the city administration to give detailed accounting of how much the next phase of the project would cost and how it might be paid for with state and federal grants. Seelbach has also requested the city refine its process for engaging community members along the route to get better input on the project. Originally, plans for the streetcar treated the downtown loop currently being  built and an uptown jaunt as one phase. But then Gov. John Kasich pulled $55 million in state funding for the project, resulting in the current scaled-down scope. Mayor John Cranley, who has been a vocal opponent of the streetcar, has said it’s much too soon to begin focusing on the next phase before the first is even finished. But Seelbach and other supporters say the only way to tap into federal funds and other sources of funding is to have a plan in place and ready to go.

• Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of Ohio’s highest-profile Democrats, has endorsed former Gov. Ted Strickland in his run for the state’s other senate seat, currently held by Republican Rob Portman. That’s not a surprise — Strickland is one of Ohio’s other super high profile Democrats — but it does signal the challenge City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has ahead as he challenges Strickland in the Democratic primary for the seat. Sittenfeld, who announced his candidacy last month, has recently said he won’t back down from the race despite his big name competitor. He’s raised at least $500,000 for his run and told supporters last week that he’s all in for the fight. Though Brown endorsed Strickland, he was careful to praise Sittenfeld in his announcement, saying the 30-year-old has a bright future in politics.

• In the face of issues around execution drugs, a steady number of exonerations of those on Ohio’s death row and other factors, is it time to consider reforming or abolishing Ohio’s death penalty? Many feel strongly that it is, including unlikely conservative opponents to the punishment. Recent delays to executions caused by Ohio’s struggle to find a source for drugs that will end an inmate’s life humanely have renewed calls for the state to reconsider its death penalty entirely. This Columbus Dispatch story takes a deep look into the issue and is worth a read.

• Finally, March 7 marked the 50th anniversary of the violent clash between police and protesters in Selma, Alabama, an event that helped fuel new national civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act. Thousands visited Selma over the weekend to commemorate the anniversary, which was marked by passionate speeches by both President Barack Obama and outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder used his speech to question the future of the VRA, parts of which have been dismantled by recent Supreme Court decisions. Here’s a pretty in-depth New York Times piece about events in Selma over the past few days.

That’s it for me. You know the drill. Tweet (@nswartsell), e-mail (nswartsell@citybeat.com), comment, send me a telegram or a fax (do people still fax? Is that still a thing?) Here we go. Tweet me about whether you still use a fax machine or even know what a fax machine is. I kind of do.

 
 
by John Hamilton 03.09.2015 82 days ago
at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Forgotten Classics: Zulu

Reviewing lesser-known films that stand the test of time

When I mention war films, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably titles like Saving Private Ryan or, more recently, something like the controversial and much-debated American Sniper. But what if I ask about British war films? Maybe you’d think of Lawrence of Arabia and one or two others. What about the 1964 film Zulu? I’m going to guess that not that many are familiar with this one, let along the actual Anglo-Zulu War. But you don’t really need to know all the ins and outs of the conflict to enjoy and appreciate this movie.

The movie is based on the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift, in which roughly 150 British and Welsh soldiers faced off against an overwhelming number of Zulu warriors at a mission station in southern Africa. In a lot of ways it’s almost the British equivalent of the Battle of the Alamo — the difference in this case being the British soldiers won their battle, whereas all the defenders of the Alamo died.

Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, there are a lot of historical inaccuracies in the movie. But anybody who has ever seen a “Based on a True Story” movie should be aware of that by now.

To me, some of the best war films out there are not the ones that are overly patriotic and about ‘us vs. them,’ but ones that show us who the people are on both sides or, at the very least, films that don’t broad-brush the other side. With Zulu, we get that. Neither side is portrayed as the hero nor the villain; they’re two powerful forces, in their own way, who duke it out in combat. Both are proven to be worthy adversaries who don’t give up without a fight.

One thing I love about this film is the use of sound. The movie seems to use chats, songs and sounds as a motif about the sides. Probably the most effective use is when the Zulus arrive, coming over the ridge making a huge clatter with their assegai (short spears) and shields. One of the officers in charge, Gonville Bromhead (played by Michael Caine in his first film), says that it sounds, “Like a train…in the distance.” This comparison works rather well. It’s this constant clamor created that gives the audience an idea that the British are up against an almost unstoppable force. And when the near 4,000 Zulus pop up on the ridge, it seals the envelope.

Along with the drumming, the Zulus also have their own war chants which are another form used to intimidate the defenders, but on the morning of the second day the defenders reply with their own battle cry, the military march “Men of Harlech.” I see this as director Cy Enfield’s way of showing that even though these men are in a war against each other, they do have similarities. But the beautiful medleys of the British and Zulus are disrupted with the continuous roar and volley of rifle fire. And at the end of the battle many lay dead; although they are victorious, there’s no cheers to be shouted. But the Zulus do offer a final chant of respect to their worthy adversaries.

At the end, Bromhead is asked by the more experienced officer John Chard (Stanley Baker) what he thought of his first action. Bromhead replies with “Sick,” and Chard follows it with, “You’d have to alive to be sick.” A clever indication of the creative team’s thoughts on war.

There are many other great things to say about the film. The dynamic between Baker and Caine is fantastic, and supporting performances from James Booth as the drunk, petty thief Henry Hook (one of the controversial inaccuracies) and Nigel Greene as the tough but kindhearted Colour Sgt. Bourne are great. The performances from then-Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his people are impressive. Also the cinematography by Stephen Dade is gorgeous, he makes every shot interesting. It almost reminds me of a John Ford Western.

 
 
by Staff 03.09.2015 82 days ago
 
 
girl scout cookie cake

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Cauliflower Buffalo wings, Amma's Kitchen, Pelican's Reef, Girl Scout Cookies

Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Jac Kern: This weekend I finally tried my hand at the cauliflower Buffalo "wing" trend. There's plenty of recipes out there (and I'm incapable of following any precisely), but most of them involve taking raw cauliflower pieces, tossing them in a simple water-flour batter, baking, tossing again in sauce and baking again at high heat until crispy. They're pretty much fool-proof and the taste exceeded my expectations. These need to get added to bar menus stat.

I also went to the Cincinnati International Wine Festival Saturday. I didn't do much eating (though there were mini Graeter's cones and grilled cheese and tomato soup bites floating around) but I did taste copious amounts of reds, whites, roses and sparkling goodness. Fun fact: There's a surprising amount of wine tasting accessories out there today. Wine glass harness, anyone?

 

Ilene Ross:
There are some weekends when you’re more thankful for your stretchy pants then others. Needless to say, this was one of them. 

Friday started my marathon food-fest with not one, but two lunches. The first was at Park+Vine after a meeting in OTR. As I sat enjoying the zesty new OITNB Burger (black beans, brown rice, orange zest and cumin mayo) with a side of mac and cheese, who should walk in but super adorable CityBeat photog, Jesse Fox, carrying a box of macarons from next door’s Macaron Bar. My second lunch that day was during a meal at my favorite Chinese restaurant, Oriental Wok in Hyde Park. I had chicken Pad Thai and shrimp toast. I could eat Oriental Wok’s shrimp toast every damn day because unlike most restaurants, which only wave shrimp over limp, lifeless bread, OWok liberally covers crispy, crunchy hunks of toast with huge chunks of the seafood. It’s divine. 

Friday night I attended the Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati’s 100th Anniversary Gala at the Hall of Mirrors in the Netherland Hilton with a group of friends. That place really knows how to throw a dinner. Surrounded by the splendor of the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Hall of Mirrors, we dined on marinated cucumbers and microgreens with soy sesame vinaigrette and rice crackers; grilled flank steak with Sichuan-style eggplant; and basmati rice with scallions. And for dessert, we had passion fruit cheesecake with toasted coconut. After dinner, our group headed downstairs to the Palm Court bar — easily one of the most beautiful rooms in the city — for cocktails, and proceeded to order pretty much all of the appetizers and desserts off of the bar menu. 

On Saturday, I hit Findlay Market to stock up for the week, binge-watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and ate nothing but popcorn. 

Sunday night was quite possibly the most fabulous birthday party I have ever had. My dear friend Summer Genetti —Pastry Chef at Lola Bistro in Cleveland — and I share March 11 as a birthday, so we decided to hold a joint birthday party at Myrtle’s Punch House to raise money for the Girl Scouts of Lower Price Hill. We had food donated from chefs Jason Louda of Meatball Kitchen, Andrew Mersmann of Django Western Taco and Jana Douglass of Happy Chicks Bakery. People showed up in droves to buy cookies, drink punch that Molly Wellmann had concocted to “coordinate” with the cookies, donate money, and eat the most spectacular birthday cake I’ve ever had in my whole life, which, of course, was baked by Summer. Best weekend ever. 

Nick Swartsell: Some friends and I went to Amma's Kitchen this weekend, which is always rad. They're a small place in Roselawn that is South Indian-style and all vegetarian, and there are a lot of dishes you can't find other places around here. Despite the lack of meat, I think they're my favorite Indian place in town. I got the Vegetable Jalfrezi — super good and spicy. One friend just chowed down on their samosas, which are some of the best around. Another got the Madras Thali, which is a crazy-huge plate full of different curries, soups, yogurts, rice and other stuff. The Rasam (a stew with tamarind juice, tomatoes and chilis) and Avial (veggies in a seemed like a coconut sauce) were both super good. There was also some kind of cilantro-y stew in the mix I didn't know the name of that was excellent.

Samantha Gellin: I ate at Pelican's Reef in Anderson. It's a seafood place tucked away in a strip mall and it's what I'd call a hidden gem. (Don't let the strip mall exterior scare you. The food is fresh and delicious.) We went on Saturday night and it was packed; there was a 30 minute wait. But it was well worth it: the warm bacon vinaigrette salad with grilled scallops I ordered was really, really good. The scallops were very tender and buttery, and the salad came with five or six, so no skimping here. My husband got a tuna steak "Oscar" style with grilled asparagus. That was also seriously delicious; very flavorful and cooked just right. The place is pricy (fish platters or specials can run you $16-$20) but the menu is large and does have other, less expensive options, like po'boys, non-fish sandwiches and burgers. It's a cozy and casual place but with upscale food. I'd definitely recommended it if you're craving really fresh, flavorful seafood or want to go out for a special occasion.

Maija Zummo: I went to Sotto Friday night for a friend's birthday party. As always, it was delicious. But instead of ordering my usual tonnarelli cacio e pepe, I shared an order of penne with vodka sauce and the tagliolini con tartufo with a friend (as well as some of their cost-effective house wine). The ribbon pasta was flavored with black truffle and truffle shavings and was amazing. I'm like a little truffle pig, so I feel like the pasta was relatively worth the $27 price tag. (I buy into the whole exaggerated-cost truffle economy, and truffle is a special treat on pasta if you don't eat meat.) Add in the quality of service at the restaurant, and I'll pretty much pay whatever. It's of the best places to dine in the city.

Garin Pirnia: Friday night the boyfriend and I braved the Bockfest crowd at Arnold's. We got there right after the parade ended, and it was packed to the gills. We were able to push our way up to the bar and order a couple of their 16 bocks on draft: a Warped Wing Abominator doppelbock and a Weihenstephaner Korbinian doppelbock. After, we somehow miraculously got a table in their upstairs section. We sat at a table next to a bathtub, and my boyfriend, who regularly eats food in the bath at home, joked, "I've never dined next to a tub before." I told him he should feel right at home. Their menu for that night was bock-centric and included a lot of weird foods such as camel nachos, goat (!) and elk meatballs. We both eschewed the exotic meats, and he ordered a bock Hot Brown and I ordered the wild mushroom ragout. It had mushrooms and shallots cooked in a creamy and spicy red wine reduction and beer sauce, and was mixed with bock beer grits. His sausage had fries on it, bock cheese and mustard. Note: Everything should be doused and cooked with beer. While we were dining, some guy in the nearby restroom kept cursing about something, and when he came out, he was chagrined to find out the entire upper floor heard him yelling. He apologized, saying he was jokingly yelling at his friend and didn't think anyone else could hear him. Ah, gotta love Bockfest! Go home, you're drunk.


 
 
by Staff 03.06.2015 85 days ago
Posted In: Animals, Culture, Concerts, Fun, Events, Drinking at 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List (3/6-3/8)

Wine! Beer! Goats!

Lots of booze-based, full-weekend events going on. Bockfest and the Cincinnati International Wine Festival Grand Tastings both kick off tonight — one with a goat and the other with a far classier couple, Gina Gallo of the Gallo wine family and her husband Jean-Charles Boisset, of France's Boisset Family Estates winery.

FRIDAY

Event: Bockfest

Cincinnatians not only love their beer, they also love to celebrate that they love their beer. They even love to celebrate the celebration of loving their beer. Bockfest, the oldest and largest German-style bock beer festival in the United States, is back to host a weekend of beer drinking, live music, German games, dancing, a 5k run and tons of sausage. The party kicks off 6 p.m. Friday with a parade led by a majestic bock — or to the non-German speaker, a goat — and a Sausage Queen, starting at Arnold’s Bar & Grill and ending with a ceremonial keg blessing at the festival hub, Bockfest Hall (1619 Moore St., OTR). The festivities continue in tents and overflow into surrounding participating venues, none of which will have an admission fee. A free shuttle will run a continuous loop among Bockfest sites all weekend long, taking you quickly from one keg tapping to another.

Along the route will be a traditional fish fry at Old St. Mary’s in OTR and a “veenie” vegan sausage roast outside Park + Vine. The festivities continue into the outdoor tent venues, and overflow into surrounding participating venues, none of which will have an admission fee. A free shuttle bus will run a continuous loop among the Bockfest sites all weekend long, taking you quickly from one keg tapping to another. To get a taste of history to sample with your beer, there will be tours of the city’s historical breweries and underground tunnels, plus a Bockfest Heritage Series at the Woodward Theatre, with speakers, presentations, displays and stein collections. The third annual Bockfest 5k run takes off from Bockfest Hall 10 a.m. Saturday to benefit the Flying Pig Marathon charities — a great way to burn off all that beer. Grab a “Continental Bockfest” of Amish chicken, hot bacon sauerkraut slaw and plenty of German sausage noon-2 p.m. Sunday at Bockfest Hall, before dancing the night away at a traditional German folk dance … or at least until all the beer runs out. Friday-Sunday. Free. Full schedule of events at bockfest.com.



Photo: Provided

Event: Cincinnati International Wine Festival

If wine gets better with age, it makes sense that the Cincinnati International Wine Festival would too. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the three-day fest is made up of winery dinners at local restaurants and grand tastings, plus a Saturday charity auction and luncheon at the Hall of Mirrors. The fest, which is a nonprofit, has raised more than $4.2 million for local charities during its lifetime. And if you can do good while imbibing samples of more than 800 wines from around the world, what’s better than that? Most winery dinners are sold out, but tickets are still available for Grand Tastings on Friday and Saturday, which allow expert and beginner oenophiles to taste rare, new and exciting wines while chatting with winemakers. Read our cheat-sheet for how to get your grape on here. 6:30-9 p.m. Friday; 2:30-4:30 p.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. $65-$125. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown. winefestival.com


Mort Shuman (left) and Doc Pomus
Photo: Felder Family Archive 
Film: AKA Doc Pomus
It’s been a long, slow journey for Doc Pomus — who died in 1991 without being widely known by the public — to become recognized as one of Rock & Roll’s greatest songwriters ever. But his cause has gained much momentum recently. One key element is the recent documentary
AKA Doc Pomus, which plays Friday at The Carnegie in Covington as part of the current Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival. It is followed by a tribute concert for Pomus featuring local acts The Hiders, Magnolia Mountain, The Perfect Children and DJ Mowgli. Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival presents AKA DOC POMUS and a tribute concert at 6 p.m. Friday at The Carnegie in Covington. More info and tickets: cincyra.org.



The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Film: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

For part two, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues along the same path, with a wistful, unfulfilled ache that lingers in each character, some moreso than others.

Douglas, having jettisoned Jean, pines for Evelyn. The two spend their days working through their retirement in Jaipur, and their evenings engaged in a most understated courtship. Norman, on the other hand, has settled down quite comfortably with Carol (Diana Hardcastle), a fellow pleasure-seeker, while Madge has a pair of eligible suitors hooked, but has an itch that neither is quite able to satisfactorily scratch for her. 

Muriel and Sonny have the most obvious big-picture storyline, thanks to the burgeoning success of the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sonny wants to expand but needs an infusion of cash and support, so the pair heads to the U.S. to negotiate with a branded chain headed by Ty Burley (the exquisitely bearded David Strathairn) who agrees, in principle, but sends an anonymous scout to check on things before making a final decision. 

Of course, the secret inspector is slated to arrive just as Sonny’s in the final stages of planning and executing his wedding to Sunaina, so there are the typical examples of mistaken identity and botched plans that must occur along the way before the happy ending, right? Check.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is all about the innumerable chances life offers, and the fierce fighting spirit that burns in us no matter the age or situation in which we find ourselves. Intriguingly, that spirit, this time out, replaces the exotic location, and with new beacons (in the form of Richard Gere and a much better used Lillete Dubey as Sonny’s mother) presents a worthy second stay that could open the door for even more — not at all unwelcome — visits down the road. Opens wide Friday.



SATURDAY


Event: Men's Roller Derby
If you’re missing your weekly chance to watch dudes beat the tar out of each other now that football season is over, we may have found your replacement. And, no, it’s not hockey. It’s way too freaking cold to go sit around an ice rink. It’s not too cold, however, to huddle up with your friends at Sports Plus and watch a testosterone-filled roller derby battle between the Cincinnati Battering Rams and the Cleveland Guardians. Now, if we could just get them to update their uniforms with some booty shorts… 5 p.m. Saturday. $10-$12. Sports Plus, 10765 Reading Road, Evendale, cincinnatibatteringrams.com.


Photo: Provided
Art: Macy's Arts Sampler Weekend
More than 100 free performances and activities for thespians and admirers of the arts are jam packed into a single weekend at venues across Cincinnati during the Macy’s Arts Sampler. Brought to you by ArtsWave, Greater Cincinnati arts organizations of all shapes and sizes will get their turn on stage and in the spotlight, with free shows on Saturday and Sunday. Highlights from the weekend include puppet shows from Madcap Puppets, performances of the classics from Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, interactive activities like the family art camp by Art Academy of Cincinnati and an open house Sunday at Music Hall featuring self-guided tours, hands-on activities and performances throughout the building by the likes of Visionaries + Voices, Pones, Inc., Playhouse in the Park and more. See a full list of events online. Saturday-Sunday. Free. theartswave.org.


 
Art: Brighton First Saturday
At least one new gallery in Brighton will host its inaugural exhibition Saturday — i.e. Pear Gallery (2159 Central Ave., #8) — and no less than four exhibitions will be on view along the stretch of Central Avenue between the Ice Cream Factory and semantics gallery. semantics hosts the work of Cincinnati visual artist and musician Evan Lautzenheiser; Pear Gallery will pair (a play on the gallery’s name/curatorial mission) the work of sculptor Lindsey Henderson and painter Mica Smith; Molly Donnermeyer will show new work of her own at Live(In) Gallery with site-specific installations for each room of her home; and the Ice Cream Factory (2133 Central Ave., Brighton) will come alive from 7-11 p.m. with the illustrated event posters of Brighton resident and advocate for Cincy’s free DIY community calendar, Robert Inman. facebook.com/liveingallery, facebook.com/semanticsgallery, facebook.com/peargallery2159


Peter Pan at CCM
Photo: Mark Lyona
Onstage: Peter Pan
Don’t let the disappointing TV production of Peter Pan in December keep you away from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music’s production of this delightful show, where it will be populated by performers on their way to Broadway careers. The story of a mischievous boy who can fly and refuses to grow up will get a lively production, complete with flying effects. An escape to Neverland is something we all deserve this time of year, even if Captain Hook, his pirate crew and the voracious crocodile are lurking in the shadows. “Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.” 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $31-$35. Ralph Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village, University of Cincinnati, Clifton Heights, 513-556-4183, ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice.

Honey & Houston's debut album, Barcelona
Music: Honey & Houston
Fantastic Northern Kentucky Folk/Country/Americana foursome Honey & Houston celebrate the release of its debut full-length, Barcelona, this Saturday at the Southgate House Revival. It will be quite an impressive triple bill featuring three of the area’s best Folk/Roots acts — Young Heirlooms and Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome Sound are set to join Honey & Houston. 9 p.m. $5. 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, southgatehouse.com.


SUNDAY


Photo: Malcom Viles
Music: The Church
In the late ’70s, Australia exported a fair amount of bracingly unique Alternative Rock that rivaled anything produced by America or Great Britain. One of the Antipodean music scene’s leading lights in the subsequent ’80s was The Church, an aptly christened quartet that played with a hushed, psychedelic intensity and inspired an almost religious fervor among its rapidly converted fan base. Anchored by singer/songwriter Steve Kilbey and guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper, The Church scored an Australian hit out of the gate with its 1981 debut album, Of Skins and Hearts, and its massive first single, “The Unguarded Moment.” Released in the U.S. on Capitol, Of Skins and Hearts generated little attention and The Church eventually lost their American distribution when it ignored requests for more deliberate radio hits.The band’s second American chance came in 1984 with a Warner Brothers contract and the repackaged release of two EPs as the full-length Remote Luxury. The band’s breakthrough, 1988’s Starfish, was its best selling album at home and sold well over a half million copies in the U.S. (where it was its debut for the Arista label) largely on the basis of its signature single, “Under the Milky Way,” an Alt Rock classic. The Church plays at Woodward Theater Sunday. Find tickets/more info here.


Cincinnati Home & Garden Show
Event: Cincinnati Home & Garden Show
According to the current weather forecast, most of our yards will still be covered in snow during the entirety of the 2015 Cincinnati Home & Garden Show. As depressing as that may seem right now, spring is (hopefully) just around the corner and it has already sprung at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Wander through fairy gardens, let your significant other try to coerce you into buying a hot tub or swoon over kitchens the size of your entire OTR apartment. Seriously. Your only other plans this week are working and shoveling the walk … again. Through March 8. $13; free for kids. 525 Elm St., Downtown, cincinnatihomeandgardenshow.com.


The Walking Dead
TV: The Walking Dead
 
Watch out, Alexandria: “Smooth Face” Grimes is here, and he’ll take your place and your wife! This week we get a broader look at the seemingly safe haven and learn about the residents’ concerns, which include prosciutto. 9 p.m. on AMC.

See more picks here.
 
 
by Amy Harris 03.06.2015 85 days ago
Posted In: Live Stream, Interview at 10:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
the glorious sons 2014 promo (b&w landscape pc jess baumung)

Q&A with The Glorious Sons

Up-and-coming Canadian rockers play Newport this Sunday

The Glorious Sons are a strong up-and-coming act out of Canada (Kingston, Ontario, to be exact) with a Rock sound that’s a little rough around the edges, just the way they want it. 

The band isn’t trying to fit into a cookie cutter world of the music industry but deliver an authentic sound that connects with audiences. The Glorious Sons are currently on a U.S. club tour, but one listen to their new EP shows big things are on the horizon. They are currently touring with 10 Years, Otherwise and Luminoth. The tour comes to the Thompson House in Newport this Sunday (tickets/more info here). Get on the bandwagon early and come out to enjoy a night of great Rock music. 

CityBeat spoke with frontman Brett Emmons to discuss the grind to get to where the band is today.

CityBeat: I know you are on this tour with 10 Years and Otherwise. How did this tour come together?

Brett Emmons: Our agent put the offer on the table for us back when we were on tour with Airborne in Canada. I am not really sure how it all came together but we knew if we went on tour with (10 Years) in the States, they wanted to come on tour with us in Canada. We have a pretty big draw in Canada whereas nobody really knew us in the States before we started this tour. So we sat down for breakfast and started talking with each other and we decided we were going to do the tour. We looked forward to it and two months later we were on the road with 10 Years. 

CB: I recently listened to the album this week and I have to be honest, I think it is one of the best things I have heard in a long time and I have specific questions about some songs on the album.

BE: Thank you.

CB: One of my favorite songs on the album was “Amigo.” Could you tell me a little bit of the backstory behind that song and how it came about?

BE: One thing when you are writing tunes, at least for us, it follows like every other song, a loose story with a lot of feelings. When I start writing, I never know what the ending is going to be like or what the song is going to completely look like. I know what the song’s direction is going to be but I never start the story at the end. It is about my time in Halifax when I was there a couple years and there was a particular person that I was hanging around with a lot and writing a lot of music with. It’s about his fall from grace during the time I was hanging out with him and my fall from grace as well. It is about watching someone with so much potential self-doubt themselves and losing it all because they were scared.

CB: You brought up writing the lyrics. Can you talk about the band’s process and how you put the songs together and write together?

BE: We all do help with lyrics, too. If there is a lyric that is not covered right, everybody has their input; there are five guys and five guys who think they are songwriters and so you are never really short on ideas. 

Usually somebody will bring something to the jam room and we will either be jiving with it or not jiving with it. What happens, someone will start playing something or singing something and somebody else will join in and a third person will join in and you will have five guys trying to whittle this broad thing into a song. Other times it may start with a bass riff or playing. We don’t have an equation for it and I don’t think we should. It is basically about spontaneity and just people working together doing their thing. Everybody has their job and everybody likes to do it. It comes pretty easy right now. Who knows? I imagine when we are 40 we will be dead tired. 

CB: The thing I felt was interesting about the album was all the songs sound different. Sometimes I get albums and every song sounds the same, basically. I thought it was unique that, song to song, there was a different flavor you would get while listening. 

BE: Yeah. That is what we thought, too. A lot of bands tend to use digital songs now and try to find what their sound is. We just rock and roll. We didn’t know what we wanted to sound like or what we wanted to be. We are just five guys playing instruments trying to write songs and whatever way they come out is the way we want people to hear them. 

When you listen to the Stones, not every song on a Stones album sounds the same. If you think about that, nowadays, I feel like too many people are trying to fit themselves into a genre rather than finding out what happens.

CB: When did you know that this is what you wanted to do for your career?

BE: In high school I was asked to sing for a band and I didn’t know how to sing. I couldn’t sing worth a shit and I started singing with that band. They kicked me out of the band because they wanted a real singer. I bought an acoustic guitar and I took one of my favorite songs and I practiced it for months. I practiced singing it and I practiced playing it until my voice sounded good enough. Then I put a band together and we beat (the band I was kicked out of) in the Battle of the Bands and I won best singer at the show. For the first time I put together a song and started singing and realized how fun it was and I could be myself. When I started writing songs, I could put myself on paper and give myself a sound and words. That’s when I realized I wanted to do it. 

Growing up my brother (Glorious Sons guitarist Jay Emmons) was in a band, a guitarist in a band. I grew up watching him play my entire life. When I really started playing, we started jamming together. It was always a dream of ours to throw a band together and play music together for a living. We didn’t know it would be this good but we just wanted to pay our bills with music and write songs. That has ended up happening and we are pretty happy.

CB: I have been talking to several bands that have siblings that play together. Are there any issues with that, being with your brother all the time?

BE: No. We argue a little bit because we are brothers and the most open with each other. He has always been my best friend and my rock. I grew up with him, taking advice from him, basically worshipping the ground he walked on. We are best friends. Playing in a band with your brother can go one of two ways — you can be assholes to each other or be real and good to each other, which is what we do, even though we are assholes sometimes.

CB: You said earlier you played one song over and over, what was that song?

BE: It’s a song called “Wheat Kings” by Tragically Hip, it’s a Canadian band. I’m not sure you would know them but they are Rock royalty, maybe Canada’s favorite band of all time within country. They come down here and play but in Canada every show they play is in a sold-out stadium. 

CB: One of the songs on the album is “The Union,” which is also the title of the album. It seems to have a social and political message. Was that on purpose?

BE: No, not really. I’d like to clear this up, so I’m glad you asked. A few people get a bad taste in their mouth about the chorus: “I’ll never join the union because I never wanted it easy.” When you listen to the song it is just a metaphor for life and growing up and wanting to be different and still wanting to question things and question society and be the dirty little kid that you were when you were young and not caring about what people thought. There are some ties to the subject a little bit. My father’s shop was almost shut down when we were younger by a union. It was kind of an ode to him because he was able to maintain his shop without the union. He went from having 10 employees to having one employee. We went through some hard times but he was able to keep the family together and keep the shop up and running and to this day provide a comfortable life for us. 

It is not a political stand against any union in any way. It is about growing up and not doing what everyone wants you to do.

CB: A lot of bands are collaborating now and playing together. I know you guys are just starting out but is there anybody you’d like to do a dream collaboration with?

BE: I’d love to pick Bruce Springsteen’s brain a little bit. Words, mostly. He is one of my favorites of all time. That is a huge dream though. In Canada, we collaborate with people like The Trews and heroes from that country and it would be cool to see what it would be like to write with Kings of Leon or bands like that. Mainly, we are more focused on collaborating with each other. Everyone in our band knows what we want. We work well together. I guess it would be fun to collaborate with (KoL’s) Caleb Followill or The Tallest Man on Earth or someone like that but, again, these are big, big pipe dreams.

CB: You mentioned The Trews. I know you worked with (Trews guitarist) John-Angus MacDonald on your first and second EP. What was that process like and why did you choose him? I recently talked to Godsmack and they were talking about the role of their producer and that he keeps the peace and how they really trust and listen to him. Why did you choose MacDonald and how did you work together?

BE: When we chose him … he chose us actually. We were playing a competition and we won it. He was one of the judges and came up to me after the show and said he wanted to see what it would be like to produce one of our albums. My brother grew up going to Trews shows and we were all fans of The Trews. Basically, that was the most excited I have ever been in my entire life. It felt like our shot and it really was. He took a chance on us. We got into the studio and we started playing our tunes and listening to him and fighting with him a bit too on things. 

We didn’t really look for a producer. At the time, I don’t think I even knew what a producer did. I had never had a producer on any of my albums before and I never really made an album that had cost any amount of real money. We got in there and he showed us the ropes of what it was like to work in a real studio. We let him go off when he had a good idea or a good pass. When I felt like what he was doing was against my vision, I’d take a hard stance and he’d have to prove me wrong or he’d listen to me. He was really the guy who found our band and took a chance on us. He is the reason we are doing this for a living right now. We love the guy and he has been so good to us. He is one of our best friends. He took us on tour. It has been such a great experience with him. 

CB: It sounds like you guys are excited to be on the road. What is your craziest tour story so far?

BE: It was on our first tour in Canada. It was in late November, just before December. The snow was falling and it was starting to get really cold. The bus we were on broke down on the highway and was unfixable. We had to rent a U-Haul truck because it was the only thing that had a hitch on it and we weren’t going to leave our trailer that had all our gear in it. For two weeks, we slept in the back of a U-Haul moving truck while two people drove, in the Canadian cold. It was a tough couple weeks, but then again, we knew stuff like that was going to happen, if you spend your life on the road, especially with your vehicles. But you get over things like that. When we finally got off the U-Haul, we were home in Kingston. It made being home that much better.


 
 
by Rick Pender 03.06.2015 85 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
peter pan at ccm -  photo mark lyona

Stage Door: Pirates, Indians, Lost Boys and Little Women

I wanted to start today's note about theater opportunities for this weekend by bringing your attention to my CityBeat column here, a tribute to my late friend Tom McElfresh, who passed away in February. Tom was a Cincinnati theater critic in the 1970s and ’80s who I brought on board as my back-up at CityBeat in 1998. For a dozen years, his enthusiasm for theater — as well as his sometimes blunt observations — kept CityBeat readers informed about shows on local stages. If he were still writing, he'd be encouraging you to go see a show.

I was at UC's College-Conservatory of Music last event for the opening of a short but spectacular run of the Peter Pan, the legendary Golden Age musical from 1954. This is an eye-popping production of the show with familiar tunes such as "I've Gotta Crow," "I'm Flying" and "I Won't Grow Up," backed up by an orchestra of nearly 30 players. That's about double the number that you'll find in the pit at touring Broadway shows; and these players are decked out as pirates! Even more spectacular are Dean Mogle and Rebecca Senske's funny, over-the-top costumes for Captain Hook (played with delicious deviltry by Nathaniel Irvin) and his crew, Tiger Lily (Samantha Pollino, an athletic dancer) and her storybook Indians and Peter (alternating between Clara Cox and Hannah Zazzaro) and his Lost Boys. Mark Halpin's big circus-inspired set is fun to watch, and guest director and choreographer Joe Locarro's staging is inventive and wonderfully danced by the big cast, especially "Ugg-a-Wugg," with nearly 20 closely synchronized performers. Oh, there's flying, too. It's a shame this one doesn't have a longer run, but that's what happens at CCM, where productions come and go quickly. The final performance is a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Get there to see this one — and take a kid with you. Tickets: 513-556-4183.

The March sisters whose story is told in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women remain popular after more than 150 years. You can find a spirited adaptation (CityBeat review here) of the novel onstage at Cincinnati Shakespeare through March 21, featuring the company's excellent actresses, especially Maggie Lou Rader as fiercely independent Jo, who aspires to be a writer. Tickets: 513-381-6673, x1.  A musical adaptation of the story about the sensitive, imaginative girls who grow into strong, diverse women during and after the Civil War is happening at Footlighters, the community theater that performs at the Stained Glass Theater in Newport. It too is running through March 21. Tickets: 859-652-3849.

Still worth seeing are Chapatti (CityBeat review here), the heartwarming story of two lonely senior citizens who love their pets but need more human companionship, at the Cincinnati Playhouse through Sunday (tickets: 513-421-3888) and Clifton Players portrait of the contentious and dysfunctional Weston family in the Pulitzer Prize-winning sprawling three-act drama August: Osage County (CityBeat review here), surprisingly well staged in the intimate Clifton Performance Theatre, which has just 40 or so seats for each performance (tickets: 513-861-7469) through March 13.

If you missed Theory of Mind, the Cincinnati Playhouse's February touring production for young audiences about a kid on the autism spectrum, you can catch it for free at Music Hall on Sunday at 2 p.m. The charming show is about a socially awkward kid trying to find his way in the world of dating; it's not only endearing, it's quite funny. The performance is part of the Artswave Sampler Weekend, sponsored by Macy's to draw attention to the annual fundraising campaign on behalf of the arts.

Once upon a time dinner theaters were a big thing.That's not so much the case in 2015, but La Comedia continues to thrive in Springboro, 40 miles north of Cincinnati. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, it's one of the largest theaters in America where you can enjoy a buffet meal before a show — and it's the only one still operating in Ohio. It just opened a two-month run of Rodgers and Hammerstein's legendary musical South Pacific. This organization knows the formula for combining dining and theatergoing — and you can't beat the sweet potato soufflé! Tickets: 800-677-9505.

I want to close with a shout-out to Gina Cerimele-Mechley, winner of the 2015 recognition for outstanding arts educators from the annual Overture Awards. She's been part of the local theater scene for years, and if you watch this video nomination from her students at Cincinnati Music Academy, you'll see why she's made a difference. Here's a remark she made: “My strength as a teacher is constantly being a student. I learn the strengths of each individual student and try to hone those skills into something marketable. When a student has completed working with me I want them to be able to stand on their own two feet and make their own choices.”

Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.05.2015 86 days ago
Posted In: News at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
gaymarriage

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Cases April 28

Ruling will decide the fate of same-sex marriage in Ohio and three other states

The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing that will decide the fate of same-sex marriage bans in Ohio and three other states. On April 28, the court will hear arguments over whether same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Ohio’s ban passed as an amendment to the state’s constitution in 2004. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and other ban supporters say upholding the ban is about protecting voters’ rights to enact laws via the democratic process. But opponents equate same-sex marriage to now-protected civil rights such as provisions upholding voting rights and school integration that had to be upheld by decisions from the courts. They also cite more recent polls that show attitudes toward same-sex marriage are shifting.

Last year, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court in Cincinnati upheld the bans in the four states in a 2-1 decision, agreeing with DeWine’s argument. But there are signs the Supreme Court may not agree.

Other circuit courts across the country have thrown out similar bans. And in June 2014, the nation’s highest court struck down a 1996 federal law that effectively banned same-sex marriage in a narrow 5-4 decision. The five justices opposed to the federal bans included reliably liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer as well as moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who many legal experts believe represents the crucial vote for matters pitting liberals against conservatives on the court. All five justices who voted to strike down the federal ban remain on the court, though some have joined its more conservative wing in upholding other bans, most notably California’s 2008 ban.

Among the four cases to be presented in arguments over Ohio’s ban is a lawsuit against the state by James Obergefell of Cincinnati. Obergefell sought to be listed as the spouse of his terminally-ill longtime partner John Arthur on Arthur’s death certificate. The state refused to allow that, even though the two were legally married in another state. Arthur died in October 2013. 

After oral arguments, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the cases sometime in June.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 03.05.2015 86 days ago
Posted In: News, Beer, Events at 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
saber tooth logo

Rhinegeist to Release Saber Tooth Saturday

The rare Imperial IPA is only available to-go in bombers

If you live for IPAs or are just looking for a reason to get a lil tipsy this weekend, Rhinegeist is releasing its highly sought after and limited Saber Tooth Tiger IPA with a party on Saturday. 

The "prehistorically hopped" Imperial IPA has a bit of a bite, with notes of papaya, mango, peach and a clean, bitter finish (IBU 95). The launch party will be your first chance to get ahold of the beer, and the only place to get it to go. Each person is allowed to take home two 22-ounce bombers of Saber Tooth. That's it. They won't be filling growlers, howlers, crowlers or any other "owlers." 

The brewery opens at noon. Live music from Peter Dressman starts at 1 p.m., followed by Grady Burton at 4 p.m.

Free. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinegeist.com.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.05.2015 86 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Rhinegeist crowlers

Morning News and Stuff

Bummer news for Rhinegeist in KY; UC Law chooses first female dean; DOJ's report on Ferguson is frightening

Hello Cincy! Here’s a brief rundown of what’s going on in the news today.

As I told you about earlier this week, Cincinnati City Council passed a new dog law that levies steep civil penalties (up to $15,000) for dog owners who don’t control their pets. The law was changed just slightly before passage, cutting out criminal penalties that duplicated already existing state laws. Council also wrangled over the streetcar again (surprise) and passed a measure that would increase the highest possible salary for assistant city manager to more than $160,000, a big bump. That move came with some argument from council members Yvette Simpson and Chris Seelbach, who felt raising prospective salaries at the top sent the wrong message when frontline workers are receiving just a 1.5 percent increase in pay. Council did also approve a small cost of living allowance increase for non-union city workers as well at their meeting yesterday, however.

• Local craft brewers Rhinegeist got some bummer news yesterday from the state of Kentucky, though other craft brewers may feel differently about a bill that passed the state Senate. That bill, HB 168, prohibits brewers in Kentucky from also owning distribution companies. That’s bad news for Rhinegeist because the company is just three months into its River Ghost venture, which was to distribute their beer as well as other spirits in the Bluegrass State. Other craft brewers are elated by the prospective law, however, because it also prohibits brewing giant Anheuser-Busch from owning distribution in the state. Smaller brewers say giant brewing companies put their own beers front and center in their distribution, muscling the little guy out. Anheuser-Busch will have to sell or close its two distributing businesses in the state.

• The University of Cincinnati College of Law now has a female dean for the first time in its 182-year history. UC announced yesterday that it has chosen Jennifer Bard for the top position at the law school. Bard is currently a law professor and assistant provost at Texas Tech University. She’s highly regarded: She was also a candidate for the top job at three other law schools. Bard, who has a background in bioethics and public health, will do double duty at UC, also serving on faculty at the university’s College of Medicine.

• We here at CityBeat’s news desk (“we” being pretty much just me and editor Danny Cross sometimes) talk a lot about affordable housing here in the morning news and in our more in-depth reporting. And while it’s true that the rental market is seeing an affordability crisis, with rents going up and affordable units going down, the home ownership market is a different story. Cincinnati is one of the most affordable cities in the country in terms of owning a home, according to a recent ranking by website Next City. Cincinnati ranks fourth in the country, behind just Pittsburgh, Cleveland and St. Louis in the estimated yearly salary needed to afford the average house in the city. Of course, that’s still a firmly middle-class salary: about $33,500, which aligns pretty neatly with the city’s median household income of $33,700.

• Think back about four months or so, if you can, to a flap about Ohio Gov. John Kasich allegedly saying that he didn’t think Obamacare could be repealed. The Associated Press insisted Kasich made the assertion during an interview, while the governor said he only meant that Medicaid expansions in the states that had accepted money from the federal government couldn’t be repealed. Kasich asked for a correction. AP stood its ground. Sound nitpicky? Kind of, but it was a really big deal because repealing Obamacare is a GOP obsession and any Republican, especially one of Kasich’s stature, saying it wasn’t possible risked all sorts of slings and arrows from the party. Now, as Kasich seeks to gain the GOP nomination for president, and as Obamacare hangs on a Supreme Court decision, Kasich has finally wrung a correction out of AP. The news group now says it misunderstood him and that he meant to say that Medicaid couldn’t be repealed, not Obamacare in total. Right.

• The Department of Justice will not seek civil rights charges against Officer Darren Wilson or the Ferguson Police Department in connection with the August shooting death of unarmed black citizen Michael Brown. But they are not happy with the department. At all. The DOJ issued a scathing and, quite frankly, terrifying report about the Ferguson PD, citing numerous instances of racial bias, inappropriate use of force and seeming violations of citizens’ rights. Eighty-eight percent of the department’s uses of force were against black residents of the city, according to the DOJ. The report claims that the department has been functioning as little more than a revenue-collecting arm of the city’s government and that ticket quotas were established solely for the purpose of raising funds for the city. The revelations come as the country continues to grapple with questions around race and police use of force.

That’s it for me. I’m off to put together next week’s feature and an upcoming cover story and will be out tomorrow doing so, so this is goodbye for the week. I'll miss y'all! What do you want to see CityBeat dive into next? Hit me with it on Twitter: @nwarstell or e-mail me at nswartsell@citybeat.com.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.04.2015 87 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
streetcar

Morning News and Stuff

3CDC eyes Ziegler Park; streetcar contract drama; an unclear sentence could cost millions their healthcare

Hey all. Let’s get this news thing going before the snow comes once again and grinds everything to a halt. Or just dusts the ground with a little inconvenient powder, depending on how much you trust weather forecasters.

Yesterday I told you a bit about 3CDC’s presentation to City Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee. During that meeting, 3CDC head Steven Leeper said the developer might cross the $1 billion threshold this year for investment made in the basin since it began in 2003. Let’s dig into my notes a bit and talk in more detail about a couple things regarding Over-the-Rhine the developers have planned.

One of the noteworthy projects on the group’s radar is a redevelopment of Ziegler Park on Sycamore Street. The park is across from the former SCPA building and just a block from Main Street’s active corridor of restaurants, bars and apartments. 3CDC head Steve Leeper said Ziegler’s revamp would increase the number of basketball courts and other active features currently found there. Removal of the courts at Washington Park during its 2010 revamp by 3CDC caused controversy among neighborhood residents, many of whom used the courts regularly. Leeper promised that while Washington Park’s character is more “passive” in nature, Ziegler would be a much more “active” park.

“There will be a lot more athletic activities going on there,” Leeper said, “and hopefully it will attract kids from the neighborhood who can spend their time in those athletic endeavors like we all did when we were kids."

• Leeper also outlined progress on three facilities for individuals without homes — two in Queensgate set to replace the Drop Inn Center and City Gospel Mission facilities currently in Over-the-Rhine and a third in Mount Auburn built to replace the Anna Louise Inn downtown. These projects have been controversial — advocates fought hard for years to keep the Drop Inn Center at its location in OTR and a protracted legal battle stretched on for many months between Cincinnati Union Bethel, which runs the Anna Louise Inn in Lytle Park, and Western & Southern Financial Group, which eventually purchased the property against CUB’s wishes. The new spaces are a bit further from the city’s center, though they do have a larger capacity.

• Speaking of the Drop Inn Center, its winter shelter will be open the rest of this week in response to dropping temperatures, according to a release sent out by the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Usually, the winter shelter is closed by this time of year, but with winter taking its time going away, the shelter will stay open a bit longer.

• Here we go again: More streetcar drama could be coming our way. There is currently a potential fight brewing over who will operate the transit project. Council has set a limit of $4.3 million a year on bids for running the streetcar. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority is taking bids on the contract, and there’s controversy over whether to use union employees for the job or not. Some council members favor that move, even if it costs a bit more, and they’ve asked  SORTA to negotiate with the Amalgamated Transit Union, which also runs the city’s bus service. But ATU has accused SORTA of dragging its feet on contract negotiations and trying to undercut the union by demanding a separate collective bargaining agreement for running the streetcar. SORTA says a separate agreement is necessary because the scale of the streetcar — just 30 employees at most — is much smaller than 750 people who run the city’s bus service. Union officials, however, says that SORTA is trying to get the lowest bid possible out of the union in order to drive other bids down as well. My guess is we’ll be hearing a lot more on this one. A decision must be made on the operator of the project by July.

• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld today said he will stay in the race for U.S. Senate, ending speculation he might bow out after former governor Ted Strickland entered the race last week. Sittenfeld will face Strickland in the Democratic primary. The winner will face incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, unless he is felled by a primary challenger — an unlikely possibility.

“Since we launched our campaign, I have been more grateful than I can express for the enthusiasm, encouragement and support we've received,” Sittenfeld said today in a statement on social media and his website. “So I want you — my supporters and friends — to hear it from me directly: I'm all in. Ohio needs a forward-looking leader to replace Rob Portman and the broken culture in Washington that he's long been part of.”


• You might be able to walk around The Banks with a bit of the ole’ alcheyhol on Opening Day. For a while now, lawmakers in Ohio have been trying to pass legislation that would allow cities to designate open container districts where folks can have a beer out in public. It looks like the legislation is good to go, with enough support at the State House, and now local officials are telling the Ohio General Assembly to hurry the dang thing up so we can chug a couple Moerleins in public to celebrate the Reds beating the Pirates April 6. The bill looks likely to pass the House, hopefully with the two-thirds vote margin needed to put it into effect immediately. Local State Sens. Democrat Cecil Thomas and Republican Bill Seitz have introduced a bill in the Senate to speed the process up there as well. Now that’s what I call bipartisanship. If the bill passes, council will have to scramble to create and approve the districts, one of which looks likely to be the area around the stadium. Ladies and gentlemen, you have a month. Get to work.

• Hey! Do you want people fracking in state parks? It could happen soon whether you like it or not. Four years ago, Gov. John Kasich signed into law a provision allowing fracking on state land. He then pulled a fast one and declined to fund the commission that would give drillers approval for fracking permits on that land, basically circumventing the law he signed. Very clever. But the Ohio General Assembly, which is currently dominated by pro-fracking Republicans, is working to pass a bill called House Bill 8 that would bypass that commission. Proponents of the bill say it’s meant to help private landowners who want to sell drilling rights to wells that might end up under state land. But critics note that under the current version of the bill, so called “surface impacts,” or drilling directly on state land, are not outlawed and would be permissible if the law passes. The bill heads to committee next week and looks to pass there, after which it will be considered by the whole House.

• In national news, Supreme Court arguments begin in King vs. Burwell today, a lawsuit which could revoke health care subsidies for 7.5 million people currently signed up under the Affordable Care Act under the federal exchange. The core of the case is the contention that the language of the 2009 law does not allow the federal government to issue subsidies to people who went through the federal exchange, and that only those living in states that created their own exchanges are eligible for government help with their health care bills. It’s a nitpicky suit turning on a few words in a turn of phrase, but it could completely unravel Obamacare by making it unaffordable for those in the 34 states that did not or could not establish their own health care exchanges online. Many agree that’s the point of the suit, in fact — another attempt to repeal the healthcare system by throwing a legal wrench into its works. Just think! A pedantic semantics debate could leave millions without access to health care. And you thought clear writing wasn’t important.

That’s it for me. Hit me with those tweets and those e-mails: @nswartsell or nswartsell@citybeat.com

 
 

 

 

 
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