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by Staff 06.19.2015 109 days ago

Your Weekend To Do List (6/19-6/21)

A ton of stuff is canceled, thanks to Tropical Depression Bill

Tropical Depression Bill is slated to make his way through the Tristate on Saturday (WCPO weather report here) with heavy rains and the possibility of flooding. Many of this weekend's events have been postponed due to weather, including Paddlefest — with the exception of Friday night's River Music & Outdoor Festival at Coney Island — and CityBeat's Porkopolis Pig & Whiskey festival, which has now moved to Saturday, Aug. 1. The rest of the outdoor events listed below have not yet been postponed, but please call or check social media before you head out — we'd hate for you to be left out in the rain.

Gorge on goetta at MainStrasse's GOETTAFEST

Cincinnati has a lot of regional culinary specialties that non-Cincinnatians find weird (like, you know, Skyline), but goetta might take the cake. Made of ground pork, pinhead oats and spices, Cincinnati’s signature breakfast food has been ingrained into our city’s cultural DNA since it was first invented by German immigrants in the late 19th-century as a way to stretch a serving of meat into several meals. Cincinnati has a lot of regional culinary specialties that non-Cincinnatians find weird (like, you know, Skyline), but goetta might take the cake. Made of ground pork, pinhead oats and spices, Cincinnati’s signature breakfast food has been ingrained into our city’s cultural DNA since it was first invented by German immigrants in the late 19th-century as a way to stretch a serving of meat into several meals. 5-11:30 p.m. Friday; noon-11:30 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. Mainstrasse Village, Sixth Street, Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Photo: Micha Warren

Rock with THE JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION at Woodward Theater

Musical provocateur Jon Spencer chose the perfect handle for his new project when it was formed back in 1991 — Blues Explosion — and it continues to accurately reflect the visceral sound and fury emanating from his incendiary trio almost a quarter century later. The Blues Explosion’s numerous releases have been among the most scorchingly inventive and influential releases of the modern Rock age. Next year will be The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s 25th anniversary. And its recently released new studio album, Freedom Tower - No Wave Dance Party 2015, may well be the proof that the threesome is just getting warmed up. Read more here. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion performs Friday at Woodward Theater. More info/tickets: woodwardtheater.com.

Jungle Jim's International Beer Festival
Photo: Provided

Cure what ales you at Jungle Jim's INTERNATIONAL BEER FESTIVAL

Cure what ales you this weekend as Jungle Jim’s brings more than 400 beers to the table for its 10th-annual International Beer Festival. You can taste (and buy) brewskis from more than 100 breweries around the world while enjoying picnic-style food.  Beer buffs and experts will be in attendance to talk shop about the sudsy art form, and you can taste special brews and rarities. The fest kicks off with a firkin tapping, “a keg of beer that’s been fermented inside of the barrel it’s fermented in,” according to Jungle Jim. 7:30-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $50 daily; $20 non-drinker. Oscar Event Center, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

By This River at the Weston Art Gallery
Stop by the opening of BY THIS RIVER at the Weston Art Gallery

The Weston Art Gallery hosts an opening reception for a group exhibition curated by Michael Solway, director of the Carl Solway Gallery, featuring six American artists “exploring the sensorial, geographical, historical and ephemeral dispersal of water from rivers to oceans.” The show began as part of an ongoing conversation between Solway and Fluxus pioneer Ben Patterson regarding their long-held mutual instinct to live near major bodies of water, and will bring together recent works by artists working in photography, painting, sculpture, paper, video and sound, as well as a series of interactive constructions. Opening reception: 6-9 p.m. Friday. Through Aug. 30. Free. 650 Walnut St., Downtown, westonartgallery.com.

Vince Morris
Photo: provided 
Laugh with VINCE MORRIS at Funny Bone on the Levee
Columbus native Vince Morris has never felt more comfortable on stage. “I have enough material that I let the crowd take me where they want to go,” he says. “I’ll talk about fatherhood or social issues, but I don’t have a strict set list. I don’t like to be too organized.” Raised by a single dad, his material about fatherhood also comes from his own experiences helping to raise his 6-year-old daughter. Wednesday-Sunday. $12-$15. Funny Bone on the Levee, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., funnyboneonthelevee.com.

Kevin Hart
Photo: Provided
See the hardest working man in show business, KEVIN HART

Kevin Hart, everyone’s favorite little comedian and most likely literally the hardest working man in show business (in the past two years he’s been in seven movies, including Ride Along, The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard and on and on), brings his “What Now?” stand-up tour to U.S. Bank Arena. According to Billboard, “What Now?” is on its way to becoming the highest-grossing comedy tour of all time. 7 p.m. Saturday. $49.50-$150. U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway, Downtown, usbankarena.com.

Summer Solstice Lavendar Festival
Photo: Provided
From medicine to aromatherapy or as a fragrant ingredient in everything from cookies to tea, the Summer Solstice Lavender Festival allows attendees to stroll through blooming fields of lavender to pick a bundle and learn about its uses, as well as purchase lavender-infused body and food products. Going hand-in-hand with the herb’s calming properties, three-minute gong meditation sessions will be held all day, along with several workshops like lavender painting and wreath making. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free. Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm, 2387 Martinsville Road, Martinsville, peacefulacreslavenderfarm.com.

Juneteenth Festival
Photo: Provided
Celebrate the end of legal slavery in America at the JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL
Juneteenth, a national celebration of Emancipation Day and the legal end of slavery in America, will hold its 28th-annual festival at Daniel Drake Park. The nonprofit festival will include historical reenactments (including visits from Abe Lincoln and Harriet Tubman), exhibits, craft demonstrations, live music and a wide variety of food. An amalgamation of June and “nineteenth,” the name reflects the date in 1865 when General Gordon Granger reissued the Emancipation Proclamation. The event, whose popularity has skyrocketed, aims to bring Cincinnati’s diverse community together to celebrate freedom. A special Father’s Day concert caps the weekend on Sunday. Noon-9 p.m. Saturday; 2:30-6 p.m. Sunday. Free. Daniel Drake Park, 5800 Red Bank Road, Kennedy Heights, juneteenthcincinnati.org.

'Il Trovatore'
Photo: Provided
See Cincinnati Opera's first summer production, IL TROVATORE
Leading off the Cincinnati Opera's 95th season is Il Trovatore, Giuseppe Verdi’s melodrama based on that old staple of Italian opera known as “la vendetta,” or vengeance. Don’t focus on the plot, which was considered overblown even in Verdi’s day, though it does propel some of Verdi’s most familiar music, including the “Anvil Chorus.” And what a cast: bass Morris Robinson, tenor Russell Thomas and the highly anticipated debut of mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton in the role of the vengeful gypsy Azucena. Read more here. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday. More info/tickets: cincinnatiopera.org.

Colin Farrell in 'True Detective'
Photo: Lacy Terrell
Watch the season premiere of TRUE DETECTIVE
After a wildly successful debut season, the second iteration of crime-drama anthology True Detective is under a microscope. How can — or perhaps just can — the first season be topped? While a cop drama featuring Surfer, Dude stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson seemed forgettable on paper, True Detective rose to become one of the best programs of 2014. Season Two brings us a new setting, crime and cast: the disappearance of a California city manager leads to an investigation involving a dirty cop (Colin Farrell), a career criminal trying to go legit (Vince Vaughn), an uncompromising sheriff (Rachel McAdams), a damaged war-veteran officer (Taylor Kitsch) and the U.S. transportation system. Expect a more linear narrative set in the present day around various California locales, with more complicated characters to delve into. Writer/creator Nic Pizzolatto returns with rotating directors. While it’s counter-productive to harp on comparisons to Season One, it’s hard not to speculate if this season will be as strong or if it could be the Midas touch for the diverse cast — particularly Vaughn and FarrellSeason Premiere, 9 p.m. Sunday, HBO.

Bar Rescue (9 p.m., Spike) – Jon visits a bar that’s been a backdrop for a porn video.

Halt and Catch Fire (10 p.m., AMC) – Stress at Mutiny mounts as Cameron and Donna deal with the fallout from Sonaris in addition to money troubles. Elsewhere, Joe calls in Gordon’s help to get West Group’s computer systems running during off-hours.

Ballers (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., HBO) – Entourage: Sportz (alternate title) stars Dwayne Johnson as a retired football-star-turned-athlete-manager in Miami.

The Brink (Series Premiere, 10:30 p.m., HBO) – Three disconnected, unlikely men in U.S. government/military (Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Pablo Schreiber) are tasked with preventing World War III when a geopolitical crisis arises.

Photo: via IMDb 
See DOPE from director Rick Famuyiwa
Director Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood) has been rather quiet since Brown Sugar back in 2002, with only one other feature as a writer-director (2010’s Our Family Wedding) and a screenplay credit for Talk to Me in 2007. But he’s riding a strong wave of attention following the reception of his latest coming-of-age dramedy Dope at the Sundance Film Festival, which is not necessarily known as a hotbed for embracing stories about geeks in Inglewood, Calif. While there will certainly be gangsters, drug dealers and tough choices facing the film’s young college hopeful (Shameik Moore), Famuyiwa won’t forget to highlight the pop culture referencing teen dreams that will not be deferred nor deterred.

by Rick Pender 06.19.2015 109 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage Door: A Good Chance for Laughs, and the Opportunity to Dance the Night Away

There’s not too much theater going on as summer moves in with full heat. But there are enough laughs at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for several shows with the production of the great 2011 British farce, One Man Two Guvnors. It’s based on a play from the 18th century called The Servant of Two Masters, but don’t think that because it’s a classic it will be over your head. This show has slapstick, fart jokes, silly antics, sly innuendo and just about anything else that might induce laughter. Matthew Lewis Johnson is a comedy machine as the irrepressibly hungry (and hopelessly confused) Francis Henshaw, and he’s not the only one. At least a half-dozen of Cincy Shakes regulars dive into the hilarity headfirst. There’s also a great band playing tunes that sound like Pop numbers from the early 1960s; the story had been updated to the British seaside town of Brighton, where scandalous behavior was apparently the norm. Signing on to work for two bosses who have cross-purposes and connections that Francis doesn’t know about, he’s in for a raucous 24 hours as he tries to keep a lot of plates spinning — almost literally. Demand for tickets was strong from the opening last week (this show won awards in London’s West End as well as on Broadway in 2012, where James Corden played the manic Henshaw), so you’ll find two added performances to the announced schedule — this Saturday and next at 2 p.m. Tickets: 513-381-2273.

Tickets are even scarcer, apparently for The Producers at Cincinnati Landmark Productions new Incline Theater. That zany musical about trying to make money on a Broadway flop has been a big success, heavily subscribed from start to finish. You might try for the waiting list (513-241-6550), but don’t get your hopes up. Same goes for Commonwealth Theater Company’s production of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys at Northern Kentucky University, (859-572-5464) also in its final weekend. It’s a dinner theater production, and it looks like most of the seats at that table are taken, too.

Since you can’t get into either of those, how about a free interpretation of the movie Footloose on Saturday evening? The dance troupe Pones Inc. and Gorilla Cinema have joined up to present the film in a parking lot in Covington (at West Seventh and Washington streets) starting at 8 p.m. All the inspired dance scenes from the 1984 film about teens in a town where dancing is discouraged will be performed live, and you’re welcome to join in! No charge for admission; snacks and suds available for purchase. Check out the trailer:

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

by Nick Swartsell 06.18.2015 109 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

City passes budget; last-minute state budget change could shut down clinics; mourning in Charleston, S.C.

Hey all. Here’s what’s up this morning.


Cincinnati City Council yesterday passed its $1 billion fiscal year 2016-2017 budget despite worries that wrangling between council and the mayor could spiral into a partial city government shutdown. The budget council passed looks similar to the one proposed by City Manager Harry Black, though it includes the full $3 million for United Way-vetted human services agencies council requested last November. Black’s original budget funded traditional human services at a much lower level.

The budget process this time around was full of last-minute deals and switcheroos by various council members. Vice Mayor David Mann, for instance, stepped across the line between his fellow Democrats on council and Mayor John Cranley to help engineer the final deal. Mann’s negotiations sometimes caused chagrin among his fellow Democrats — his vote against giving infant mortality agency Cradle Cincinnati $275,000 made that priority vulnerable to a veto, which Cranley took advantage of. All told, Cranley vetoed six ordinances containing Democratic council priorities, including a $400,000 grant for Clifton Market and $150,000 for bike lanes. Council had a majority of five votes on those spending measures but couldn’t muster the sixth to override the mayor. You can read all about the fiscal fun times in our coverage here.


• One thing council didn’t pass yesterday was an agreement about who will operate the streetcar. That means the Southern Ohio Regional Transit Authority will step in to decide which bid to take — most likely the cheaper turnkey option, in which an outside management company chooses its own workers instead of unionized SORTA employees. That option came in at about $4 million, just under the city’s $4.2 million budget for operating the streetcar. Another management bid approved by council’s budget and finance committee Monday involved a company overseeing SORTA employees and came in at $4.7 million. SORTA officials have said in the past that they can’t take up a bid for which they don’t have the money, so it looks like the cheaper option will happen by default, despite pro-union Cranley and five Democrats on council backing the more expensive option.


• But hold up, wait, there’s controversy around those bids. The head of the Amalgamated Transit Union says SORTA is “playing games” with the bidding process and that a cheaper option involving unionized workers might be available. ATU head Troy Miller has been emailing council members saying that one of the bidders, a company called First Transit, didn’t make it as a final bid despite having a cheaper plan that used union workers. That plan would have cost about $4.1 million, just under budget. The company has called that option a turnkey proposal, but says it would use union members. Here’s more on that story in this article by WCPO.


• Speaking of SORTA, and in less divisive news, the agency has released real-time streaming bus-arrival data, which has enabled for the creation of a new app that allows users to track the progress of Metro buses. That app was developed by local tech company Gaslight and will be available starting today. That is amazing. Like, an app that actually does something useful in my life on a daily basis instead of just having me take pictures of the food I’m eating or posting about dogs or something.


• 3CDC will use at least some of the $45 million in federal new market tax credits it just received to change up Ziegler Park in Over-the-Rhine, officials with the development group announced today. The project, which will expand and renovate the park, according to 3CDC, is expected to cost $27 million. Programming in the park, including fitness classes and basketball leagues, will be part of the project. The development group has said it will not be eliminating basketball courts or the pool at the park, a major sticking point with community members during the developer’s changes to Washington Park on the other side of OTR in 2012.


• More last-minute changes to the state budget mean that some women’s health clinics that provide abortions might be in danger of closing, at least temporarily. Ohio law requires clinics to have admitting privileges with local hospitals, or to obtain a variance from the Ohio Department of Health. A new tweak to those laws in the state budget would require those clinics to obtain their variance from the state within 60 days or shut down. Planned Parenthood’s Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center in Mount Auburn and the Women’s Med clinic in Dayton both operate on variances. The Planned Parenthood site in Cincinnati waited a full year to receive its variance last year and is currently awaiting another one. Women’s Med has waited two years for its exception. The state Senate expects to pass the budget today, after which it will negotiate its version with the Ohio House of Representatives ahead of a June 30 budget deadline.


• Finally, I don’t even know what to say about this other than to express some kind of unutterable sadness and anger. As you’ve probably already heard, nine people were shot to death while they prayed in a church in Charleston, South Carolina last night. The African Methodist Episcopal Church is an iconic, historically black church that has been serving black congregations since 1816. Charleston's Emanuel AME church, where the shooting took place, has been there since 1891 and has been a symbol of both refuge and resistance for the black community there. The suspected shooter, who was caught on video, is 21-year-old Dylann Roof, whose social media presence shows affiliation with or sympathy for white supremacist groups. Authorities are calling the shooting a hate crime. Among the dead, according to relatives, is South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, a civil rights leader and also the church’s pastor.

by Nick Swartsell 06.17.2015 110 days ago
Posted In: News, Budget at 04:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
city hall

Council Finally Passes FY 2016-2017 Budget

Spending plan restores human services funding, but Cranley vetoes other Democratic priorities

Cincinnati City Council today passed its FY 2016-2017 budget, a $1 billion spending plan that hews closely to the one drawn up by Mayor John Cranley and City Manager Harry Black, but with boosted human services funding originally left out of the plan. 

The budget boosts police officers and will spend $110 million on road repair and fleet maintenance, big priorities for Cranley. Cranley called the budget "great" today as it passed, saying it is structurally balanced and forward-looking.

But not everyone got what they wanted from the process, and heightened tensions between the mayor and council may have left some hard feelings. Cranley and council have been fighting back and forth during the budget process. This morning, Cranley compared Democratic council members to children on a WLW talk show. Democrats have fired back with their own harsh words.

Despite the political wrangling, the final budget resulted from a deal cut this morning between the mayor and members of council, including council conservatives and Democrat Vice Mayor David Mann. The compromise provided an extra $500,000 in funding for traditional human services vetted by the United Way, an amount above the $2.5 million in the city administration's previous budget proposal.

That brings human services up to the $3 million for United Way-chosen human services organizations council unanimously requested last November, an amount initially left out of Black's budget. The city aims to fund human services at 1.5 of its capital budget, a goal it hasn't hit in a decade. Today's deal brings the city to .8 percent of the capital budget.

But the deal also left the council's five Democrats facing a mayoral veto on other spending priorities: individual ordinances calling for a $400,000 grant to co-op Clifton Market, $150,000 for bike lanes, $24,000 for new bus stops in Bond Hill and more money for community organizations. 

"If the trade-off is we don't get bus shelters in Bond Hill or work on bike trails or public support for Clifton Market I think it is worth the trade-off," Mann, the Democrat who helped broker the deal, said during today's council meeting.

Those individual ordinances were the result of a move by Cranley to split up Democrats' original omnibus budget counter-proposal. That put the individual pieces at the mercy of Cranley's veto. Each measure received only five votes on council. Six are needed to override a mayoral veto. True to his word, Cranley vetoed all four of the ordinances he took issue with. Cranley says the move increases transparency and keeps extra pork out of the budget. Democrats, however, have accused the mayor of playing politics, noting that the city administration's $375 million operating budget still came in omnibus form. Several, including Democratic Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, have said that amounts to ignoring the majority of council.

A standoff over Cranley's capital budget and Democrats' unfunded priorities led to speculation that Cincinnati might undergo a partial government shutdown, but today's deal and subsequent vote effectively funds the city's government when the current budget expires June 30.

City Hall was less successful in making a decision about streetcar operations today, however. City Council couldn't agree on either of the two operating bids presented by the Southern Ohio Regional Transit Authority, meaning that SORTA itself will now make the call. That means the agency will probably select the cheaper turnkey solution, in which a management company will be able to hire outside employees instead of using SORTA's union workers. That bid came in at $4 million for the first year of operations, under the city's maximum of $4.2 million. A union-friendly management bid came to $4.7 million. SORTA says it legally cannot enter into a contract for which it does not have funding.

by Nick Swartsell 06.17.2015 111 days ago
at 09:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Big day at City Hall; questions about Fairfield pool arrests intensify; state GOP nixes proposed fracking taxes

Hello Cincy. Let’s talk about the news today. It's going to be a crazy one with lots of action, or inaction, at City Hall.

Speaking of that: Mayor John Cranley had some choice words about Democrats on council as he took to WLW this morning to discuss the budget. Cranley explained his reasoning behind splitting up council's suggestions for the capital budget into separate ordinances, a move council Democrats have called “overtly political.”

“This is a real breakthrough — to be able to say we’re going to bring more transparency to these votes so we can isolate spending,” Cranley said. He then took some shots at council’s five Democrats. “Someone’s gotta play the heavy. Someone’s gotta say, ‘We can’t just pay for everything.’ Someone has to put them on adult supervision.”

Cranley’s comments come as council and City Hall are poised for a knock-down, drag-out battle over the city’s budget. Today’s council meeting should be very interesting — originally, council was expected to pass the city's financial plan today, but the political wrangling between Cranley and council could mean that key parts of the budget plan won’t pass at council's meeting. That has set off worries from some that the city could face a partial government shutdown. The city has until June 30 to pass its budget, but Democrats have expressed confidence a deal can be reached in that time.

Questions continue about a series of arrests June 9 at a Fairfield pool that some say amount to racially charged excessive use of force by police. Fairfield police pepper sprayed and arrested Krystal Dixon, 33, and members of her family after Fairfield Aquatic Center staff said the family refused to leave the facility. Staff members have said the family was asked to leave because one of the children didn’t have swim trunks. Dixon said she had trunks for the child, but that staff insisted they leave anyway. Police arrived and the incident quickly devolved into a tussle between officers and several pool-goers. Two adults, including Dixon, were arrested on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. A 12-year-old girl was charged with assault and a 15-year-old was charged with resisting arrest as well. Both were charged with disorderly conduct. Video of the arrests shows the police pressing Dixon's 12-year-old niece against a patrol car. Dixon and her supporters say the incident happened because she and her family are black. Forest Park faith leader Bishop Bobby Hilton has called the incident police brutality and said that the girl suffered broken ribs and a broken jaw at the hands of the officers. Police dispute this and say the officers acted appropriately. Dixon was in court today and will have a pretrial hearing on her charges July 8.

• The building that currently houses the Drop Inn Center in Over-the-Rhine could soon be a new theater for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. The building is one of a number of locations that have been considered for the CSC, which has outgrown its current rented location on Race Street. The city’s 2016 budget has set aside $200,000 toward renovations of the location on 12th and Elm streets. The Drop Inn Center, which has been renamed Shelterhouse, will now be two locations — a women’s shelter in Mount Auburn that opened last week and a men’s shelter that will open in the fall in Queensgate. Cincinnati City Council approved the move last year.

• Speaking of shelters moving out of downtown: Plans and graphics have been released for the luxury hotel that will occupy the former Anna Louise Inn building in Lytle Park. Eagle Realty, the real estate arm of Western & Southern Financial Group, purchased the property from Cincinnati Union Bethel after protracted legal battles. CUB had operated a shelter there for more than 100 years. The Anna Louise Inn is now located in Mount Auburn.

• Cincinnati’s Metro bus ridership is falling. The question is why. Ridership on the city’s public bus system fell 5.7 percent between January and April 2015, SORTA data shows. That’s troublesome to the transit authority. Most of the drop has come from lagging numbers on suburban express routes, including those going between downtown and Madeira, West Chester and Anderson Township. The falling numbers are tough because SORTA has considered asking taxpayers for more money next year in the form of a sales tax increase so it can expand service. Could this year's relatively low gas prices have played a role? I don't know, but it seems like a fair question to ask, considering many of the routes with falling ridership serve areas where tons of people also own cars they can drive if they chose. Meanwhile, it’s not all doom and gloom. The transit agency’s Metro Plus initiative between downtown and Kenwood has increased in ridership by more than 10 percent. Metro Plus mimics light rail by running more often and more quickly by virtue of fewer stops.

• Did controversial former attorney Eric Deters take a bunch of swag from a local restaurant? That’s what a recently filed lawsuit says, but Deters denies it. Deters was leasing out a building in Independence, Kentucky to Angelo’s Family Restaurant. The restaurant told Deters that it couldn’t pay the rent anymore and was closing. Its owners allege that Deters then locked up the doors to the building and sat on $10,000 worth of the restaurant’s stuff. Deters says the restaurant owes him $400,000 on the lease and that he’s just locked the building up until he and the restaurant settle up. The Angelo family, however, charge that Deters has sold, given away, or consumed their property — restaurant stock and equipment — and that they didn’t violate the terms of their lease.

• In state news, GOP state lawmakers have eliminated a tax on oil and natural gas drilling proposed by Gov. John Kasich from the state’s budget. The taxes on fracking-derived oil and natural gas have been a big priority for Kasich, as it was designed to help plug holes in the budget left by his proposed income tax cut. Twenty percent of the taxes collected would have also gone to counties in Ohio in which fracking takes place. Lawmakers cut that proposal, saying there wasn’t enough time to reach an agreement about it. They’ve instead pledged to create a task force to look into the idea later. The Ohio General Assembly is expected to vote on the budget this week. It must be passed by June 30, when the current fiscal year budget expires.

by Staff 06.17.2015 111 days ago
at 08:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
larry gross

Remembering Larry Gross

Longtime staffer and columnist Larry Gross passed away June 15, 2015. He was 61.

CityBeat is sad to announce the passing of longtime staffer and columnist Larry Gross, a great friend, an innovative and thoughtful author and a longtime supporter of independent media. He was 61. 

To honor his memory, we're re-publishing his November 2014 column, "Should I Die Tomorrow," in which Larry reflects: "I have a feeling if my life really does pass before my eyes, I’m gonna die knowing I had a pretty good one. For that, I’m feeling thankful and blessed."

His family asks that in lieu of flowers or donations to consider supporting a locally owned business, alternative newspaper or artist whose work speaks to you.

"Should I Die Tomorrow"
By Larry Gross

Just so you know, I’m writing this in mid-afternoon in late October. I know this column will run in CityBeat in early November and will be my last one before Thanksgiving. I’m assuming I’m going to live long enough to get these words to my editor. Of course, you know what happens when you assume. 

Actually, I seldom assume anything. There’s no guarantee I will live to see another day. Death isn’t something I think about all that much, but when I do, it doesn’t scare me like it did when I was a kid. Hell, I’m 60 years old now and feel lucky to have lived this long. I think the older you get, the more you put things in proper prospective, and today, in late October, I’m thinking about my life and also the people I love who have been in it. 

Should I die tomorrow, I know my daughter is going to be just fine. She has a management job at Kroger — started out as a bagger there when she was a teenager. I like to think she gets her strong work ethic from me. If that’s not the case, just let me think it anyway. She got married in September of 2013 to a great guy who also works for Kroger. I guess I’m not supposed to like my son-in-law, you know, taking my little girl away from me and all that, but I do like him and know he loves my daughter and will protect her when I’m gone. 

Should I die tomorrow, I know my son is going to be OK, too. He just got engaged to a wonderful girl, owns his own home and has a great job at General Electric. When he was a little boy, it concerned me that, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel close enough to him. That changed after he came to live with me a few years after my wife and I divorced in 1994. The trials and tribulations and the give and take between us during his teenage years brought us closer together. I look back on those days and cherish them. He knows this, as I’ve told him many times. 

Should I die tomorrow, I’ll be grateful to my ex-wife who I have remained friends with since our divorce in 1994. I still see her about once a month. I think we get along better as friends instead of husband and wife. We’ve always got plenty to talk about — especially when it comes to our two wonderful kids. 

Should I die tomorrow, I’ll be thankful to my parents who did the best they could for their children. They made mistakes — hell, all parents do — and some of those mistakes affected me later in life. I’ve worked through the issues. You know, you do what you have to do to make life work. 

Should I die tomorrow, and this is something I never thought I would say, I’ll be glad my mother pushed my brothers and I into being country music entertainers when we were little. We never became “stars,” but we met a lot of real stars that most kids would never get a chance to meet. I mean, how many kids can say Loretta Lynn kissed them? Because of my mother, I can. 

Should I die tomorrow, I’ll be thinking of my twin brother who has passed before me and my younger brother, who is still alive. Some brothers drift apart in adult life, but not us “Gross kids.” Despite our sometimes differences, we always stayed close. 

Should I die tomorrow, I’ll look back on those 30-plus years of being an accountant with gratitude. I’m glad I had the mindset for that kind of work. Sometimes it was interesting, but seldom, if ever, exciting. Having said that, it paid the bills, bought the houses, purchased the cars and put my kids through school. I can’t ask for anything more than that. 

Should I die tomorrow, I’ll be thankful for October 17, 1997. That’s the day I got fired from an accounting job and decided to start pursuing my life-long dream of wanting to be a writer. It took plenty of practice and a lot of rejection, but now, over 17 years later, I think I can say I’m a writer without feeling strange saying it. I think I made it. My audience may be relatively small, but I’ve gotten the kind of readers I wanted to get and I’m grateful for the people who have read me throughout the years. I try to never take any of them for granted. 

Should I die tomorrow, I’ll be anxious to see if my life really will pass before my eyes. I’m kind of hoping it does. I have great memories of grandparents, aunts, uncles and old friends. I want to relive those memories before I take my last breath. 

I have a feeling if my life really does pass before my eyes, I’m gonna die knowing I had a pretty good one. For that, I’m feeling thankful and blessed. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Read thoughts from Larry's son on Larry's blog here.
by CityBeat Staff 06.16.2015 111 days ago
at 03:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Week's Dining Events

This week's dining events include Margarita Madness, Jungle Jim's International Beer Festival, Bacon Fest and more. Most classes and events require registration; classes frequently sell out.


Margarita Madness —
Head to Newport on the Levee for CityBeat’s annual Margarita Madness party. Local restaurants compete to win best margarita, as voted by the public and a panel of special guest judges. Rain or shine. 5:30-8:30 p.m. $40. Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., citybeat.com.

Taste of the NFL — The Cincinnati Bengal’s 13th-annual Taste of the NFL features dinner-by-the-bite from more than 40 of the Tristate’s favorite restaurants, with Bengals players, coaches and alumni. Event includes silent auction and more to benefit the Freestore Foodbank. 6:30-9:30 p.m. $150. Paul Brown Stadium, Downtown, 513-482-7539.

Lobstapalooza — Enjoy this culinary crustacean in myriad ways: in soup, in salad, on a sandwich, as an appetizer, in a lobster cocktail, in a quesadilla, curried, steamed and whole … the list goes on. Through July 3. Prices vary. Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.


Chicken and Waffles — Learn to make bacon waffles with roasted chick, herbed waffles with breaded chicken, chicken gravy and Sriracha-honey topping. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Cook and Connect — A cooking class and professional networking event. Learn to make a simple dish surrounded by art, music, cocktails and local professionals. 6:30-8 p.m. $20. Kennedy Heights Arts Center, 6546 Montgomery Road, Kennedy Heights, facebook.com/simplynetworking1.


Jungle Jim’s International Beer Festival — Features more than 400 beers from more than 100 different breweries, rarities, obscurities and brewery exclusives. 7:30-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $50; $20 non-drinker. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Gifts from the Summer Kitchen — Share summer gifts all season long. Make and share bread and butter pickles, espresso-balsamic barbecue sauce, raspberry-lemon biscotti and more. 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com. 

Henke Winery 19th Anniversary — Free cake and half-priced appetizers, plus special wine prices to celebrate the winery’s 19 years. 3-11 p.m. Free. Henke Winery, 3077 Harrison Ave., Westwood, 513-662-9463.

Great Parks Dinner Series — A murder mystery with a side of dinner; a full side actually — it’s a buffet. Figure out whodunit in this adults-only interactive murder, “A Night at the Oscars. 6:30 p.m. $35. Mill Race Banquet Center, 1515 W. Sharon Road, Winton Woods, greatparks.org.


Celestial Sips Wine Tasting  — A wine tasting under the stars. Taste three biodynamic wines, take a tour of the Observatory and stargaze (if clear). 8-10:30 p.m. $60. Cincinnati Observatory Center, 3849 Observatory Place, Mount Lookout, cincinnatiobservatory.org.

The Porkopolis Pig & Whiskey Festival — A fun-filled day of barbecue, whiskey sampling and live Americana and Bluegrass music. Sample food from Cincinnati’s best barbecue restaurants and more than 30 varieties of bourbon, scotch and whiskey. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Free; prices vary for food and drink. The Shoe at Horseshoe Casino, 1000 Broadway, Pendleton, citybeat.com.

Hops with Pops: Pre-Father’s Day Party — Head to Mt. Carmel to celebrate dad a little early with sweets and meats, including barbecue, smoked brisket and special craft beers on the brewery’s patio. 1-7 p.m. Prices vary. Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, 4362 Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road, Mount Carmel, mtcarmelbrewingcompany.com.

Father’s Day Steak and Ale — Head to The Summit restaurant at the Midwest Culinary Institute for a steak dinner, grilled on the patio if weather permits. Call for pricing, time and reservations. The Summit at the Midwest Culinary Institute, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, 513-569-4980.


Bacon Fest — Head to Coney Island for a Father’s Day full of bacon dishes from local food trucks and restaurants. 1-8 p.m. Free; free parking for dads. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, coneyislandpark.com. 


Summer Favorites from My Assyrian, Armenian, Persian and Turkish Family — A menu featuring chef David Warda’s family’s blend of Near East cuisines. Learn to make Persian cold buttermilk-yogurt soup, grilled Assyrian lamb patties, Turkish stuffed eggplant and more. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

by Jac Kern 06.16.2015 111 days ago
at 02:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

The long-awaited Entourage movie is now in theaters, and for those looking for what’s essentially a supersized episode of the HBO show (which follows this secret formula: celebrity cameo + expensive car + boobs + “Baby bro!”), the movie version delivers. Is it one of the greatest movies of the year or even week? Of course not. But it stuck close to the source material, more so than, say, its lady-counterpart Sex and the City.

In celebration of this tribute to BFFs and fame, Funny or Die’s Gil Ozeri embarked on the ultimate Entourage binge complete with his own entourage of dozens of your favorite actors, writers, comedians and all-around funny people.

Did you ever wonder if those cheesy Lifetime dramas are intentionally ridiculous? Exhibit A: Upcoming unauthorized Full House movie. Exhibit B: (Already? Yup.) The unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 movie. Like, do they know how bad these productions are and do it to be funny or do they just not care? And who are "they"? I don’t know! But I do know that someone over at Lifetime has an excellent sense of humor, as evidenced by this trailer for upcoming thriller A Deadly Adoption — starring two of the most hilarious humans out there, Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell.

One of Seinfeld’s myriad memorable moments came when George’s fiancée died from licking a bunch of cheap wedding invite envelopes laced with toxic glue. (The scene was even referenced on The Hills, and that’s a perfectly acceptable detail to recall, thankyouverymuch). Rumors circulated about why the character was written off, and Jason Alexander revisited the episode and the reasoning behind Susan’s departure on The Howard Stern Show.

Here is a pug recreating Kim Kardashian's pics from her (gag) selfie book, sent to me by my mom — HI MOM! (She's definitely not reading this.)

Dr. Ruth, Carrie Bradshaw, Patti Stanger and all other real and fictional relationship experts can go ahead and step to the side, because Aziz Ansari is the new authority on love and dating. The Parks and Rec star’s Modern Romance book is out now, and it offers a glimpse at relationships in the digital age. Peep this awesome trailer (there’s trailers for books now, I guess):

I saw Aziz’s local performance on his Modern Romance tour last year and if that was any indication, this will be a seriously poignant (and obviously funny) read. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a hardcover or if finishing a book is too much of a commitment for you (Aziz probably has a chapter on people like you), check out this Time article, adapted from the book.

Father’s Day is this Sunday. Enjoy these dad jokes.

Elusive fashion trolls Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen turned 29 this weekend, and the twins emerged from their tiny woodland nook to celebrate in a truly shocking way. Not only did the girls throw an Olympics-themed field day bash (I thought smoking cigarettes was their most strenuous form of activity?!), but they wore…they wore…printed athletic T-shirts!!!


Also, the Game of Thrones finale aired and obviously I just can't even go there right now. The atrocity of Olsens in Beefy-Ts is more manageable than that shit.

by Nick Swartsell 06.16.2015 111 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Cincy budget battle gets real, folks freak out; Fairfield police accused of improper use of force; half of Ohio charter school's students found to be fictitious

Good morning y’all. Did you hear that the city government is grinding to a halt? Only not really, not yet at least.

You see, the city must have a financial plan in place by July 1 and there’s a battle afoot over the city’s capital budget. That funds a lot of things like road repairs, fleet updates and the like. But it’s different than the operating budget, which, you know, keeps the city government operating. You can find out more about the battle in our coverage yesterday, but it basically boils down to a struggle between city council, which is trying to get some of its priorities included in the capital budget, and the mayor, who has broken what is usually a single, omnibus budget ordinance down into individual pieces so he can veto parts he doesn’t like. Make no mistake: not passing a capital budget would be bad, bad, bad. It would mean that the city was out of compliance with state law, opening city government up to lawsuits and even temporary state oversight.  But the folks at City Hall have two weeks to hammer something out. In the meantime, at least we have the Cincinnati Enquirer to explain this situation to us. Yesterday’s headline blared, “Cincy faces government shutdown,” while an editorial today councils folks to “take a deep breath” because “the process is working as it should.” Great to see our intrepid daily has started reporting from multiple alternate dimensions instead of the single alternate dimension it normally covers.

• Last year, the federal tax credit geyser ran dry in Ohio for a minute, leaving groups like 3CDC and Cincinnati Development Fund without federal tax credits. It was the first time ever no projects in the state received credits. But that dry spell was short-lived. This year, 3CDC and CDF will get $45 million and $42 million respectively in new market tax credits for development projects. 3CDC has been Cincinnati’s major developer in downtown and Over-the-Rhine in the past decade, spending almost $1 billion in OTR in that time. CDF, meanwhile, has provided a quarter-billion dollars in loans in Greater Cincinnati, most of which have gone to affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods.

• Forest Park faith leader Bishop Bobby Hilton today made accusations that police in the city of Fairfield broke a 12-year-old’s jaw and fractured three of her ribs during an incident at a pool last week. Police were called to the Fairfield Aquatic Center last week to remove a group of teenagers who refused to leave after they were asked to vacate the area. Fairfield Police Chief Michael Dickey says the officers were defending themselves during the incident, a claim he says is backed up by video footage he’s witnessed. Dickey said he had not heard about the girl’s injuries until he was informed about Hilton’s news conference.

• A battle over tax credits isn’t stopping a Noah’s Ark themed attraction in Northern Kentucky. Religious group Answers in Genesis is going ahead with construction on the $84 million Ark Encounter park in Grant County despite a court battle around $18 million in state tax credits for the park. The application for those credits was eventually rejected by the state because of the group’s religious work and hiring stipulations that make potential employees profess their faith. Answers says it won’t use those hiring practices at the Ark Encounter park, but the state still says the attraction is part of its religious ministry, not just a tourist attraction. The project is about 20 percent complete, Answers says.

• Lawmakers in the Ohio Senate have walked back on a plan to eliminate the state’s historic preservation tax credit program for two years. Republican lawmakers tucked a provision that would have frozen the program as the state transitioned from a tax credit-based system to a grant system. That caused widespread criticism from across the state, convincing lawmakers to back off the proposal. Initially, it looked like $25 million in tax credits awarded to Cincinnati’s Music Hall  would be in jeopardy if the proposal was adopted, though lawmakers said that project and others already promised credits would receive them. Now, thanks to the uproar, Republicans in the Senate say they’ll remove the provision from the budget and form a commission to study shifting from credits to grants in the future.

• A really quick hit: a state audit at a now-defunct charter school found that half of the school’s students didn’t exist. State Auditor David Yost revealed yesterday that half of the 459 students listed by General Chappie James Leadership Academy in Montgomery County were fictitious. Yost says that the discrepancy seems to be a result of fraud and not simple record-keeping errors.

• Finally, on to national news. You’ve probably already heard about the strange case of former Washington State NAACP head Rachel Dolezal, who has for many years presented herself as a black woman even though both of her parents are white. Dolezal was thoroughly and embarrassingly outed by her parents recently, a move that rocketed Dolezal to all the wrong kinds of viral fame over the weekend. And it’s only gotten weirder from there: in an interview today, Dolezal says she's identified as black since the age of five and still considers herself black, in part because she has biracial children. But the story gets more befuddling still. Reports show that Dolezal sued Howard University, where she attended an MFA program, over what she claimed was discrimination… because she was white. This entire situation is so confusing and problematic I don’t even know what to say, so, there you go.

Hit me up on Twitter or send an old-fashioned e-mail, why don’t ya?

by Nick Swartsell 06.15.2015 112 days ago
Posted In: News, Budget at 03:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
city hall

Council's Big Bad Budget Adventure

Council, mayor wrangle over spending priorities as deadline ticks closer

Cincinnati City Council's Budget and Finance Committee today wrangled over the city's upcoming, $1 billion budget, passing the operating portion of that financial plan but leaving a fight over capital spending for another day.

Basic services like police and fire aren't under threat in the budget battle — those are paid for from the city's $375 million operating budget, which council looks poised to pass. But other services could be temporarily shelved and the city could face legal action or state oversight if it doesn't pass a complete budget before its June 30 deadline.

A complex dance for power between council Democrats and Mayor John Cranley has left the capital part of the budget, which funds everything from road improvement to economic development to bike lanes, at an impasse.

The majority coalition of council members say Cranley is trying to block their will, but Cranley says the group is trying to force a shutdown.

“A majority of City Council seems poised to vote down the City’s Capital Budget and threaten a government shutdown because members couldn’t get their pet projects funded,” Cranley said in a harshly-worded statement June 15.  “Because some councilmembers were upset that their pet projects weren’t included, the City will not be able to repave our roads or replace our aging police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances.”

The five Democratic council members — Yvette Simpson, Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld, Wendell Young and David Mann — have prioritized six expenditures in the budget that Cranley opposes. Those priorities were by and large left out of City Manager Harry Black's initial budget, so Democrats drew up their own omnibus budget proposal, which Cranley looked likely to veto wholesale, since he can't line-item veto things. At least, not officially.

Cranley says the budget Democrats on council have presented is structurally unbalanced because it uses one-time sources of money to pay for some of council members' spending priorities.

Cranley takes issue with six spending priorities Democrats on council have promoted, calling them wasteful. Those priorities include $400,000 for Clifton Market, a co-op looking to fill the vacant former Keller's IGA in Clifton, $24,000 for high-tech bus shelters in Bond Hill, $150,000 for repairing and building new bike lanes, an extra $500,000 for the city's human services fund, bringing it up to a level council unanimously voted to fund last year, and extra funds for the health department. Those extra expenditures would be paid for in part by pausing some of the city manager's proposed extensive $100 million in road repairs.

"I cannot support these items and hope that City Council won't either, but I am referring these items as stand-alone ordinances to the Budget Committee so that council will have the opportunity to have an up-or-down vote on all of the City Council requests," Cranley said in a statement this morning. "The people of Cincinnati created a Charter in which six votes are required to overcome a mayoral veto.  We should not try to subvert the Charter we took an oath to uphold."

Council Democrats met with Budget and Finance Chairman Charlie Winburn late last week to hammer out a compromise, and it looked as though things would be O.K. In the meantime, however, Cranley moved to have council's budget priorities broken down into 19 individual ordinances, giving him the ability to veto them on what amounts to a line-item basis.

"We worked with his budget chair. We sat down with Charlie Winburn and worked out a budget that his budget chair supported," Young says. "And then we get, 'you're trying to bankrupt the city.' If we're working with Charlie and something Charlie says he supports, and suddenly Cranley's having a hissy fit, we don't even know what it's all about. That's where we are."

Winburn said Cranley didn’t take up the compromise budget because he wasn’t “in the loop” about it.

Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld called presenting the operational budget as an omnibus document and council's captial budget as a series of ordinances "weird" and "overtly political." Sittenfeld said he felt like a majority of council's wishes were being disregarded by the move.

“Treating different items so differently raises suspicion I think for any member of the public,” Sittenfeld said. “I don’t see why funding for the health department or human services or Clifton Market would be separate. Some things are protected behind the veil of an omnibus, and some things aren’t. I’d say put it all together, and if the city administration or the mayor doesn’t want to do that, it’s kind of on them whether or not they want to shut down the city government.”

The maneuvering has caused the current impasse as the four Democrats in today's budget and finance committee meeting balked at voting for the administration's capital budget. That raised alarms from council conservatives, including Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman, who both cautioned against going down the road toward "a government shutdown."

That language echoes statements Cranley made in a news conference this morning when he accused council Democrats of attempting to shut down city government over their priorities and compared them to Republicans in Congress. Councilmembers Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young shot back.

"I defy anybody to look at the budget we've proposed and see how that shuts the city down," Young said. "That's just not what we're trying to do. I'm really offended that he'd even say that about us."

"The concern that we as members of council have is that a budget was prepared by the city manager, and then the mayor had the opportunity to weigh in on it, and then it got to us," Simpson said. "It's our turn as policy makers to say, 'here's where we would make adjustments.' "

Council was scheduled to vote on the budget June 17, but it's unclear whether it will pass at that meeting. The city has until June 30 to pass a budget. If it does not, Cincinnati's city government could be subject to legal action, or even state oversight, as it is required by state law to have a full budget passed. The city's current budget expires July 1.