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by Steven Rosen 10.08.2014 48 days ago
at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Key FotoFocus Events Begin Today

Today starts the key stretch of FotoFocus Biennial activities at Memorial Hall, which begin at 8 p.m. with Triumph of the Wild, a show of animated firms by Martha Colburn accompanied by music from Thollem McDonas, Tatiana Berman and the four-person Constella Ensemble.

On Thursday, programming at Memorial Hall turns to the theme of Photography in Dialogue. At 1 p.m., the film Gerhard Richter Painting will be screened followed by a response from Anne Lindberg. At 3:30 p.m., FotoFocus Artistic Director Kevin Moore and Contemporary Arts Center Director Raphaela Platow will discuss the FotoFocus show at CAC, The One-Eyed Thief: Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs. And at 5 p.m., there will be a forum on another FotoFocus-sponsored show, Vivian Maier: A Quiet Pursuit.

On Friday, Memorial Hall activities center on Landscapes. At 1 p.m., the film Somewhere to Disappear, With Alec Soth screens, followed by a response from Matthew Porter. At 3 p.m. is a conversation with photographer Elena Dorfman and 21c Museum Hotel curator Alice Gray Stites. At 4:30, photographer David Benjamin Sherry — the subject of a FotoFocus show — will be in conversation with Elizabeth Siegel. And at 6 p.m., Jeff L. Rosenheim, photography curator at Metropolitan Museum, lectures on "Shadow and Substance: Photography and the American Civil War."

On Saturday, the subject is Urbanscapes and events get underway at 1 p.m. with the film Bill Cunningham New York, followed by a response from Ivan Shaw. At 3:30 is a forum on street photography with three curators — Moore, CAC's Steven Matijcio and Cincinnati Art Museum's Brian Sholis. At 5 p.m. comes a discussion on the Fotogram project at the ArtHub, which opens today in Washington Park. Participants include its architect, Jose Garcia. And the big event gets underway at 8 p.m., when John Waters presents This Filthy World.

Sunday offers three forums, starting at 1 p.m. when Jordan Tate and Aaron Cowan discuss the FotoFocus show Inpout/Output with artist Rachel de Joode. At 2:30 p.m. is a conversation with Fred and Ruth Bidwell on Bidwell Projects and Tate's Transformer Station, Cleveland art project. At 3:30 p.m., there is talk about film with Moore, Colburn and Kristen Erwin Schlotman.

Attendance at Memorial Hall events requires a passport ticket, which cost either $25 or $75, depending on benefits ($15 for students), and are available at www.fotofocusbiennial.org.
 
 
by Mike Breen 10.07.2014 49 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, New Releases at 03:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Sounds of the City

A uniquely adventurous, location-based recording project will receive a fitting “listening party” this weekend

The Cincinnati Dronescape recording project stemmed from an idea forged by local resident Isaac Hand over the summer. Hand and a friend went around town recording sounds that they felt were “quintessentially Cincinnati.” The found sounds, Hand says, included “the sound of the Western Hills Viaduct, the train yards, the hum of the (University of Cincinnati Medical Center), the Moerlein Brewery” and other location-specific noises. 

They then distributed the sounds to various musicians, who mixed them into their own unique compositions. 


The results are featured on the mesmerizing and creative Cincinnati Dronescape album, which, along with Cincinnati Drones (an album featuring the original source-material soundscapes), is available to stream and download via cincinnatidronescape.bandcamp.com (see below; hard copies can also be found in local-music friendly record retailers in the area). The sonic adventurers featured on the album include ADM, umin, Molly Sullivan, Jarrod Welling-Cann, Zijnzijn Zijnzijn and several others. 




This Saturday at 7 p.m., the project participants will gather in the West End at the intersection of Gest and Summer streets (near Union Terminal) and play Cincinnati Dronescape from several cars simultaneously. Copies of the CD will also be available for purchase at the listening party event. For more information on the project and listening party, click here.

 
 
by Paloma Ianes 10.07.2014 49 days ago
at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Such + Such Recognized in West Elm Small Business Contest

Local design studio one of 20 finalists in the running for $25,000

Cincinnati-based design company Such + Such has been selected as one of 20 finalists for popular home furnishing retailer West Elm’s national “We Love Local Small Businesses Grant” contest. The grand prize winner will receive $25,000 and mentorship from West Elm while three runners-up will have their products featured in West Elm stores during the upcoming holiday season.

“The fact that we were chosen to move forward in this competition has blown us away,” said Alex Aeschbury, co-founder of Such + Such, in a press release. “We couldn't have gotten here without the support of Cincinnati, and it’s fitting that Cincinnati will help take our brand to the next level.” Such + Such’s founders Aeschbury and Zach Darmanian-Harris, former students at University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, have provided design and fabrication services for a variety of clients nationwide, as well as some of Cincinnati’s local favorites Neon’s Unplugged, Sloane Boutique and the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Coinciding with the contest, Such + Such in August launched a product line featuring hand-crafted furniture and home decor pieces including coffee tables, stools and wall clocks. All of the pieces from this inaugural line are sustainably made from naturally felled ash wood locally sourced from the Ohio Valley.

Such + Such joins 19 other small companies from around the U.S. whose creations include pottery, hand-dyed textiles, organic soap and skincare and handmade novelty goods. These finalists will be judged based on online votes, originality, design, story, commitment to local production and depth of product assortment. Public voting is open through Oct 14, and can be done here. The winners will be announced Nov 19.

There will be a voting party hosted by PB&J, a local PR and design firm that merged with Such + Such in 2013. The party will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. tonight at the PB&J offices at 1417 Main St. 1A in Over-the-Rhine. Rhinegeist Brewery will be providing refreshments.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 10.07.2014 49 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
vote logo

Morning News and Stuff

Early voting starts today; John Crawford activists camp out in Beavercreek Police Department; 99 problems but a bridge ain't one

Hey all! Morning news time. The first bit of news I want to hit you with — today is the first day of early voting in Ohio. From here on out until the Nov. 4 election, you can vote on any weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be weekend hours starting Oct. 25. So. Go vote. Early voting was slated to start last week, but the U.S. Supreme Court put a stay on a ruling by a lower court that would have expanded voting hours across the state. Instead, Ohio gets the more restricted hours drawn up by the GOP-led Ohio General Assembly and administered by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

• A group of activists protesting the police shooting of John Crawford III in Beavercreek has been camped out in the lobby of the city’s police department for 24 hours now. About 15 members of the Ohio Student Association, a progressive activist group, spent the night in the station. They’ve indicated they won’t leave until they are granted a meeting with Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers. The group is asking for a meeting by Wednesday.

• Hey! Do you want to get married in a former women’s shelter? How about staying the night in a luxurious room that once provided comfort and stability for someone fleeing an abusive relationship or life on the streets? Western & Southern has just the ticket. The company has long been planning on turning the former Anna Louise Inn next to Lytle Park into a luxury hotel, and now those plans are coming into focus. W&S CEO John Barrett last Tuesday discussed the ongoing planning, saying the company envisions the building as a 106-room ultra luxury hotel that can serve as a destination place where well-to-do folks can have weddings and other special events. Awesome.

• Over-the-Rhine’s Chatfield College, a private Catholic institution specializing in two-year degrees for first generation college students, is undertaking a $3.4 million renovation project on two buildings in the neighborhood. The move comes as the college prepares to grow, making goals to go from 300 to 900 students over the next five to seven years. The buildings along Central Parkway will be renovated in a way that preserves their historic character, school officials say, as well as allowing the school to accommodate more students.

• Kentucky’s got 99 problems, but a bridge ain’t one, apparently. A decade’s worth of maintenance reports for the crusty ole Brent Spence Bridge, which carries I-75/71 across the Ohio River, show that its condition has been declining for years. The last report scored the bridge a 59 out of 100, the equivalent of a C- on the system’s rating scale. Yet the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which has official responsibility for the span, has spent just $1 million in repairs on the bridge in the past three years, as concrete crumbles and rust gathers. The official reason: The state is waiting for the 51-year-old obsolete bridge to be replaced or majorly overhauled. A replacement will cost $2.4 billion. Meanwhile, a group of powerful business and political leaders in the state calling themselves “No BS Tolls” (get it? Brent Spence? BS? Haha) have banded together to oppose one of the most likely funding options to raise all that money — toll roads. Both federal and state governments have repeatedly signaled that government funding is not available to replace the bridge.

• Now that we’re in Kentucky, let’s revisit the state’s nail-bitter of a Senate race. A new poll says Republican incumbent and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is now trailing challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, by two points, 44-46. Those results from the Bluegrass Poll seem like a big deal, but keep in mind other recent polls show McConnell with a slight to significant advantage. Translation: This race looks to be going to a photo finish. Grimes’ isn't exactly popular in the state. Nearly half of respondents to a recent poll think she's just an Obama crony. But even more than that said they want someone other than McConnell. Grimes' poll bump comes after her campaign dumped tons of money into new TV ads across the state, including some rather goofy ones where she lectures McConnell on how to hold a gun. The race looks to be one of the most expensive Senate contests in history.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 10.06.2014 50 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
john boehner

Morning News and Stuff

Hunter trial wrapping up; local organizations get $3 million for homeless vets; Boehner's opponent plays the long odds

Hey all. Morning news time.

Attorneys on both sides of the tense, dramatic trial of Juvenile Court Judge Tracie are making their closing statements this morning. Hunter is accused of backdating documents, improperly using a court credit card and intervening in disciplinary action against her brother, a court employee who allegedly struck a juvenile inmate. Hunter’s supporters say she’s a victim of a political witch hunt; her opponents say she thinks she’s above the law. The courtroom saw fireworks last week as attorneys, those watching the proceedings and even the judge in the case all lost their cool at various points. Closing arguments, which could stretch into tomorrow, look to be equally dramatic. After they're over, it's up to a jury to decide what to make of the spectacle.

• Bond Hill charter school Horizon Academy is drawing scrutiny for its use of work visas to bring in foreign teachers. The school is run by Chicago-based Concept Schools, which uses visas to employ 69 math and science teachers,
about 12 percent of its work force, in Ohio. That’s much higher than most schools, which mostly use the visas to attract language specialists. Seven foreign-born teachers currently teach at Horizon in Bond Hill. The H-1B visas the school uses are designed to allow highly specialized workers to live in the U.S. for up to six years. Critics charge that there are plenty of qualified math and science teachers living in Ohio who could fill those jobs and that Concept is engaging in a kind of cronyism. But the school says it has brought the teachers to Ohio legally and that recruiting from Turkey is necessary to get the highest-quality instructors. Since 2005, the school has brought 454 teachers to Ohio from Turkey and surrounding countries. Concept has been the subject of a number of investigations in Ohio, including one at one of its schools in Dayton over alleged misconduct and falsification of attendance records.

• City officials have delayed presenting a proposal that would charge Over-the-Rhine residents $300 a year to park in the neighborhood, but Mayor John Cranley’s fee idea is still alive. The proposed fee, which would be the highest residential parking fee in the country, would fund at least some of the streetcar’s $4 million annual operation costs. Officials were set to present the idea to City Council’s Neighborhoods Committee today, but negative response to the idea from some council members, including Vice Mayor David Mann, triggered a delay. City officials say they’ll take the feedback into account and float a modified version of the idea in a couple weeks.

• Two Cincinnati-area nonprofits serving homeless veterans will get $3 million from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Sen. Sherrod Brown announced last week. The Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries Rehabilitation Center and Talbert House both received about $1.5 million to provide health, transportation and financial planning services to Hamilton County veterans and their families who are homeless or may become homeless. A study by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio counted 175 homeless veterans in Hamilton County in 2013.

• Thousands of DUI convictions could be in question after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that drunken-driving defendants can challenge the results of breathalyzer tests by requesting accuracy data for specific breathalyzer machines. Defendants can request the data from the Ohio Department of Health, which provides the machines to law enforcement agencies across the state. Some have charged that the Intoxilyzer 8000 (which sounds more like something that gets you drunk rather than something that measures your drunkenness, but I digress) is inaccurate. Some Ohio judges won’t allow results from the machine to be used as evidence. The ODH has pushed back against the ruling requiring it release accuracy data, saying it presents a formidable and expensive requirement that will be impossible to fulfill. Defense attorneys pushing for the ruling, however, say collecting and releasing the data from the machines should be cheap and easy. CityBeat covered the situation here in June.

• House Speaker John Boehner’s Democratic challenger (yes, he has one) is under few illusions about his chances against the powerful, Butler County-based Republican rep. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t trying. Miami University professor Tom Poetter is crisscrossing the district knocking on doors and lambasting Boehner for his role in last year’s government shutdown, his opposition to the much-debated unemployment benefits extension and other issues. Polls show Boehner with a very comfy lead, and he’s looking right past the election and predicting he’ll remain House speaker.

• The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review same-sex marriage cases in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Lower courts ruled against bans on same-sex marriage in those states, and without review by the nation's highest court, those rulings will stand. That means the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage will rise from 19 to 24.

• Finally, here's a pretty neat NPR piece about women and their roll in the roots of computer programing. Though it's a field dominated by men in many ways today, many of the field's important early innovators were women.

 
 
by Mike Breen 10.06.2014 50 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Afghan Whigs’ ‘Gentlemen’ Turns 21

Cincinnati band’s landmark album to get the “deluxe edition” treatment from Rhino Records

Yesterday (Oct. 5) marked the 21st anniversary of the release of Gentlemen, the major label debut from Cincinnati-spawned rockers The Afghan Whigs, which helped catapult the band into the international spotlight. To celebrate the album reaching drinking age, Rhino Records is releasing a deluxe edition later this month under the name Gentlemen at 21. For the album’s birthday last night, the band (which recently performed a hometown show at the MidPoint Music Festival and is in the midst of a tour behind its new album, Do to the Beast) played an expansive set at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg. With tickets priced at $21, last night's show reunited the Whigs with special guest Usher, doing a version of the superstar’s “Climax” (the entities first teamed up at last year’s South by Southwest fest in Texas).

Due Oct. 28, the Gentlemen at 21 set will be available digitally and as a two-CD collection. A vinyl version of the original remastered album will also be released Oct. 28, followed by a three-platter deluxe vinyl edition with all of the bonus material, which is being issued for Record Store Day's Black Friday event on Nov. 28.


Gentlemen at 21’s bonus material will include all of the original demos for the album, which were recorded in Cincinnati at bassist John Curley’s Ultrasuede studio. The set will also feature rarities, including radio sessions and B-sides. The Whigs’ version of fellow Cincy greats The Ass Ponys’ track “Mr. Superlove” (originally issued on a vinyl single from local label Mono Cat 7, with the Ponys covering the Whigs’ “You My Flower” on the flip side) is also slated for the Rhino release. 


Here is Gentlemen at 21’s full track listing:

Disc One

1.     “If I Were Going”

2.     “Gentlemen”

3.     “Be Sweet”

4.     “Debonair”

5.     “When We Two Parted”

6.     “Fountain And Fairfax”

7.     “What Jail Is Like”

8.     “My Curse”

9.     “Now You Know”

10.   “I Keep Coming Back”

11.   “Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer”

 

Disc Two

The Demos

1.     “If I Were Going”

2.     “Gentlemen”

3.     “Be Sweet”

4.     “Debonair”

5.     “When We Two Parted”

6.     “Fountain And Fairfax”

7.     “What Jail Is Like”

8.     “My Curse”

9.     “Now You Know”

10.    “Brother Woodrow”

The B-Sides

11.   “Little Girl Blue”

12.   “Ready”

13.   “Mr. Superlove”

14.   “Dark End Of The Street”

15.   “What Jail Is Like” (Live)

16.   “Now You Know” (Live)

17.   “My World Is Empty Without You/I Hear A Symphony” (Live)

 

Tracks 1-8 Demos Recorded At Ultrasuede

Tracks 9-10 Instrumental Rough Mixes, Ardent Studios

Tracks 15-17 Recorded Live For KTCL At The Mercury Café, Denver, CO, May 10th, 1994

Also this past weekend, the Whigs’ YouTube channel debuted Ladies & Gentlemen, The Afghan Whigs, an hour and a half-long road documentary chronicling the band’s touring of Europe in the early ’90s. The film, produced by the Whigs’ longtime sound engineer Steve Girton, was screened at Newport’s Southgate House in 2005 during the Lite Brite Indie Pop and Film Test, but has otherwise only been circulated as a much-coveted bootleg. Check it out below:



 
 
by Nick Swartsell 10.03.2014 53 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Sen. Mitch McConnell

Morning News and Stuff

Officials release new information about Crawford shooting; local brewery breaks crowd funding record; breaking news–Congress is full of rich people

Hey all! It’s rainy and gloomy, but it’s also Friday, so there’s that. Grab a cup of your morning brew of choice (no beer or liquor just yet, please; let's maybe wait until at least noon for that) and let’s talk about the news.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation has released new information about the Aug. 5 police shooting of John Crawford III in a Beavercreek Walmart. The documents show that at least three other people proceeding Crawford had picked up and carried the unpackaged pellet gun Crawford had with him when he died. The reports also indicate at least one employee expressed concern about Crawford carrying the pellet gun because it was hard to tell if the weapon was real or not. The documents also reveal that the officers did not identify themselves as police, and that the officer who shot Crawford, Sean Williams, is not the one who gave alleged orders for Crawford to put the weapon down. However, the police story that officers shouted those orders is corroborated by at least three other witnesses in the documents, though the length of time they say police gave Crawford to comply with those orders varies from one to two seconds to five or more, depending on the witness. An Ohio grand jury declined to indict Williams in Crawford’s death, but the Department of Justice is investigating the case.

• Lincoln Heights fire fighters are back at work this morning after a lapse in the municipality’s insurance police left the department, as well as the village’s police force, off the job yesterday. The police department is still not back at work, and emergency calls for law enforcement are being handled by neighboring municipalities.

• Speaking of law enforcement: The University of Cincinnati has named a new police chief. Jason Goodrich, currently police chief for Lamar University in Texas, will become UC’s new director of public safety on Nov. 1. Goodrich has also been a police captain at Vanderbilt University as well as a chief at University of Indiana Southeast and Southern Arkansas University.

• A Cincinnati-area brewery is one of crowdfunding site Kickstarter’s most popular projects. Braxton Brewing Co. raised $30,000 in just 35 hours from funders on the site. The project set a single-day fundraising record for breweries on Kickstarter. Part of the boost probably came from the really cool Rookwood beer steins they're offering backers. I don't even really drink beer (I'm more of a whiskey guy) and I want one of those. Although one of those steins filled with Wild Turkey would probably mess me up real good. Anyway, Braxton is looking to open in Covington this winter.

• Walnut Hills has been quietly changing for a while now, stacking new development and rehab projects. Here’s an article about an upcoming rehab of a historic building on Madison Road and Woodburn Ave. that local group Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation hopes will spark more development in the area. It’s a preview of what may lie ahead for the neighborhood, one of Cincinnati’s first suburbs and, more recently, one of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods.

• Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rolled into Cincinnati yesterday to chat with The Cincinnati Enquirer, making his case for why Kentuckians in the Greater Cincinnati area should vote for him. His pitch is basically that voters should keep him in power because he’s, well, powerful, and could run the Senate if it flips to Republicans in November. Give him power because he’s powerful. Got it? Good. On more substantive issues, McConnell was wishy-washy, providing few details or practical policy ideas on the state’s heroin epidemic or the crumbling, highly trafficked Brent Spence bridge linking Ohio and Kentucky. Oh yeah, and he said Congress can’t get anything done because Democrats are bad, and that if he’s reelected and Republicans take the Senate he’ll run a smoother ship. Or, again, give him power because he could be powerful. He also wants to lower corporate taxes as a way to fix the gap between the wealthy and everyone else. Because giving the wealthiest, most powerful interests in the country a break on taxes is exactly what low and middle income people need. Give them power, because they’re powerful. Got it.

• Finally, speaking of Congress, wealth and power, here’s a Brookings Institution piece on just how many of our U.S. House members come from humble means. Spoiler alert: not many. There are 435 House members overall, and the article finds five who come from something other than a wealthy background. Here’s a quick takeaway: The median yearly income for an incoming House member in 2012 was $807,013. The median income for Americans overall is about $45,000.

 
 
by Rick Pender 10.03.2014 53 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 08:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
antoinette lavecchia in i loved, i lost, i made spaghett_ photo sandy underwood

Stage Door: Spaghetti, Macbeth and More

Last night I was at the Cincinnati Playhouse for the opening of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, a charming one-woman play based on Giulia Melucci's foodie memoir from 2009. The frame of the show is that it's set in a stylish kitchen where actress Antoinette LaVecchia prepares a meal while sketching out her numerous disconnects in search of love, feeding boyfriends but finding herself starving. Four couples pay a bit more ($35 apiece beyond the ticket price) to sit at tables directly in front of her kitchen where she serves antipasti, salad and spaghetti Bolognese that she prepares as she talks about a series of amusing but unpromising relationships, convincingly painting portraits of her ill-fated choice in men. La Vecchia is so natural in the role (which she originated in 2012 and has played at several regional theaters since then) that you'll feel like you're one of her best friends. Running through Oct. 26, this Shelterhouse production gets a Critic's Pick. Tickets ($30-$75): 513-421-3888

I also thoroughly enjoyed New Edgecliff Theatre's production of The Little Dog Laughed (at Hoffner Hall, 4120 Hamilton Ave., Northside). The four-actor comedy by Douglas Carter Beane is about Diane, an acerbic agent, and Mitch, the actor whose career she's advancing. He's found a boyfriend he really likes (even though boyfriend is a male prostitute with a girlfriend), but she's convinced that this news could ruin his chances … and hers. Kemper Florin is a hoot as the motor-mouthed agent, spouting all sorts of crazy theories about how things should be in monologues that directly address the audience. The entire cast does a fine job, and I gave this one a Critic's Pick. Tickets ($20-$27): 888-428-7311


Area universities have two classics to offer. At UC's College-Conservatory of Music in a brief weekend run (through Sunday) it's Shakespeare's classic tragedy, Macbeth. In an unusual twist, the production features third-year female drama student Laura McCarthy as the power-mad military man who seizes the throne of Scotland. Tickets ($27-$31): 513-556-4183 … South of the Ohio River, Northern Kentucky University presents Euripides' The Bacchae, a play first performed in 405 B.C. The tale of power, revenge, decadence and debauchery takes place in Thebes, where citizens are torn between worship of the god Dionysus and the centrality of reason and humanism. Sunday will be the conclusion of a two-week run of the production. Tickets ($14): 859-572-5464

The musical Dirty Dancing, based on a hit movie from 1987 about young love at a family resort in the Catskills, wraps up two weeks of performance at the Aronoff Center. The touring production, presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through Sunday, features some dazzling video and lots of dancing. The story is pretty predictable, but it's one that people love. "Don't put Baby in the corner." Tickets ($39-$89): 513-621-2787
 
 
by Samantha Gellin 10.02.2014 54 days ago
Posted In: Human Rights, LGBT Issues, LGBT at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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City Kicks-Off Domestic Partner Registry

Cincinnati’s LGBT community can celebrate another move toward legal equality today — City Council kicked off its domestic partner registry this morning on the steps of City Hall.

The registry is designed to give couples in a domestic partnership a legal record of their relationship. This will make it easier for employers or hospitals to extend health care benefits to partners of employees.

The measure was unanimously passed by City Council back in June.

Chris Seelbach, who spearheaded the project and is the city’s first openly gay councilman, called the registry “…one of the last pieces of the puzzle to bring full equality to the laws and the policies to the city.”

Many large companies already offer domestic partner benefits, but the registry will help small companies that don’t have the time or resources to verify a couple’s status.  “The city has taken on the legwork for proving what domestic partnerships are, so that small companies don’t have to come up with a whole variety of ways to determine that,” said John Boggess, board chair of Equality Ohio, an LGBT rights group.

Boggess noted that Cincinnati is the 10th city in Ohio to offer a registry; Toledo, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland are a few that already do.

Ethan Fletcher, 30, and Andrew Hickam, 29, a couple from Walnut Hills, were the first to sign up on Thursday morning outside of City Hall. “We’re excited that this is actually going to be the first legal document affirming our commitment to each other,” Hickman said.

He and Fletcher are one of six couples suing the state of Ohio in federal court for the right to marry. “This is a great a step towards, eventually, full marriage recognition,” Hickman said.

The registration will run through the City Clerk’s office and cost $45, which is “budget neutral” for the city, Seelbach said.

Still, officials were quick to note that the fight towards full equality for Ohio’s LGBT citizens isn’t over. Karen Morgan, steering committee co-chair on Greater Cincinnati’s Human Rights Campaign, said “Ohio remains one of the only states where citizens can be denied housing or employment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.” In addition, Ohio doesn’t allow same-sex couples to adopt children or transgender people to change their names on their birth certificates.

“We celebrate today with what has happened…but we also realize that there’s still a very long road to go before all Ohioans are valued,” Boggess said.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 10.02.2014 54 days ago
Posted In: Business at 01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Living wage

Cincinnati Unveils Living Wage Initiative

Program will recognize businesses paying employees at least $10.10 an hour

While Congress has been wrangling back and forth for months about raising the federal minimum wage, the City of Cincinnati is doing what it can to encourage businesses to pay their employees enough to get by.

The Cincinnati Living Wage Employer Initiative will officially recognize employers paying their employees at least $10.10 an hour, the same hike congressional Democrats have been pushing in the House and Senate. The program looks to reward businesses and nonprofits that take the step, providing a website, cincinnatilivingwage.com, where consumers can check to see which businesses pay employees a fair wage.

Though the program is voluntary, the hope is that positive recognition and consumer pressure will encourage businesses to pay employees a wage that allows them to be self-sustaining.

“Although the city of Cincinnati cannot legislate a higher minimum wage–that’s left up to the state–we do feel we have a crucial role to play in creating a culture of living wage employers,” said Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld at an Oct. 2 news conference announcing the initiative, which he’s helped push.

“Cincinnati cannot wait on Congress to take action,” he said. “But our local businesses and organizations can raise their minimum wage voluntarily and immediately, and individuals can make conscientious consumer decisions about spending their money with those employers.”

So far, four organizations, including the city, are listed as partners in the initiative. One is Cincinnati-based Grandin Properties, whose CEO Peg Wyant appeared with Sittenfeld at the Oct. 2 announcement.

Another is Pi Pizza, which is opening its first store in Cincinnati downtown at Sixth and Main Streets on Oct. 13. The company, based in St. Louis, has paid non-tipped workers at its seven locations in Missouri, Washington DC and elsewhere $10.10 an hour for five months. The company looks to employ about 100 people in Cincinnati.

Pi Pizza CEO Chris Sommers estimates about 75 percent of those employees will be hourly and not working for tips, meaning they’ll benefit from the wage boost. Sommers said the increased payroll costs are more than balanced by reduced employee turnover rates and increased productivity.

“We did it without raising prices, and we did it after extensive quantitative and qualitative analysis to make sure we could pay for it and that we could still grow and expand to cities like Cincinnati,” Sommers said of the wage boost.

He encouraged other businesses to make a similar commitment.

“If Pi Pizza can do it, you can do it,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s good for business–more people walking around, with not only more money to put gas in their cars, more money to get their cars fixed, but also more people to buy pizza. And that’s important, right?”

Boosting the minimum wage has caused a deep debate in the United States. Proponents, including President Barack Obama, who called for the boost to $10.10 during this year’s state of the union address, say that low-wage workers don’t make enough to survive easily or raise families, boosting dependence on government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. Opponents, however, including Republicans in Congress like House Speaker John Boehner, say that it will cost businesses more and stifle job growth. Republicans also say that most low-wage jobs are held by high school students, part-time workers who aren’t trying to sustain themselves independently or raise families.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data, however, show that two-thirds of minimum wage workers are over the age of 19. Sommers said that few, if any, of the 107 employees at a recent orientation for Pi Pizza’s Cincinnati location were young students.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25, though 23 states, including Ohio, have a higher minimum. The highest wage in the country is in Washington State, where employers must pay adult non-tipped workers at least $9.87. Ohio’s minimum wage is currently $7.95, which will increase to $8.10 in January, thanks to a 2005 constitutional amendment that pegs the state’s minimum to inflation. Even at this new state minimum wage, however, a worker working 40 hours a week will still gross less than $17,000 a year. At $10.10, the same worker would earn $21,000– enough to put a family of three just above the federal poverty level.

“While even the higher hourly wage will leave some people vulnerable, the extra earned income represents the difference between people being able to sustain a basic existence or not,” Sittenfeld said.

 
 

 

 

 
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