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by 01.08.2015 82 days ago
Posted In: Commentary at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
from the copy editor

From the Copy Desk

In case you need a dictionary with the Jan. 7 issue of CityBeat

Afternoon, readers!

So, there weren't many Words Nobody Uses or Knows in this week's issue. Our writers must not have been feeling so pretentious. Honestly, I found two, and one word was defined by the author IN the article. But it's just too great of a word to pass up in, so I'm going to expand upon it a bit in our vocab lesson.

Flibbertigibbet. Yes, this is a real word; it even has its own Wikipedia page. It's found in the headline and in the text of this week's Spill It.

flibbertigibbet (pronounced flibber-TEE-gibbit): a silly, scatterbrained, or garrulous person (n.)

It's a Middle English word, meaning it's from the dialect of the Middle Ages, the 12th to 15th century. Today it's mostly used as a slang term in Yorkshire. (The English use all sorts of fabulous words, don't they?)

Fun flibbertigibbet facts, according to the Google: The word has also been historically used as a name for a devil, spirit or fiend. In the book Charlotte's Web, the Goose says, "I am no Flibberty-ibberty-gibbet." Flibbertigibbet is also is the password used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to access Gryffindor's dormitory.

In this issue: "Late last year, veteran multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Chris Arduser released the latest addition to his stellar discography, a new solo album titled Flibbertigibbet (yes, it’s a real word, meaning 'a flighty or excessively talkative person')."

OK, the next and last word on my list is churlish. Again, this is a word I see a lot, but I don't actually know what it means. It's found in TT Stern-Enzi's piece: "The Future Is Now: A Sneak Peek at the Year".

churlish: a rude, selfish or mean person (n.); boorish or vulgar (adj.)

In this issue: "It would be churlish to focus on their misfires (Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho and Malick’s far-too-interior fever dream To the Wonder), even when such efforts, while frustrating, prove to be more inspired and riskier bets than the working hacks could ever imagine in a thousand years with all the riches of the world at their disposal."

That's all I've got, readers. Try and stay warm this weekend (although when it's 0 degrees out, literally ZERO, this may be futile).

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.08.2015 82 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news_chris_seelbach

Morning News and Stuff

I-75 protester pleads guilty to misdemeanor; extended video of Tamir Rice shooting shows officers tackling Rice's sister; Tacocropolis: Columbus suburb gets the country's most expensive Taco Bell building

Morning y’all. I’m not going to comment on how cold it is this morning, because you probably already know. Instead, I’m just going to say I cannot feel my feet.

Anyway, what’s up today? Glad you asked.

One of the protesters arrested at a Nov. 25 rally in solidarity with Ferguson, Mo., pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct yesterday. Rhonda Shaw was one of the seven activists arrested on I-75 after protesters briefly made their way onto the highway. Shaw was the only one not eventually released on bond in the aftermath of the arrests. A judge removed a requirement that six other protesters who had already paid bail wear electronic monitoring devices, after which they were freed. All six still face disorderly conduct and inducing panic charges and will be in court this month. Shaw did not pay bail and was not released. Hamilton County Judge William Mallory dismissed another more serious charge of inducing panic in Shaw’s case. The disorderly conduct charge is a minor misdemeanor punishable by a fine.

The protest mirrored similar actions around the country over the lack of indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown. The event drew more than 300 people and led to a long, winding march through downtown, Over-the-Rhine and the West End.  

• Councilman Chris Seelbach took a moment to remember Kings Mills transgender teen Leelah Alcorn during yesterday’s City Council meeting, reading an emotional statement addressed to LGBT individuals who are struggling with feelings of isolation. Alcorn committed suicide Dec. 28.

“You can survive the pain,” Seelbach said after reading from Alcorn’s suicide note, which she posted on Tumblr. “You can survive the isolation. You can because you're exactly who you're supposed to be. You're the person God made you to be, and you have the strength to persevere. It will not be easy. It may not get better with every day, but you can do it — I know you can.”

• A couple days ago, I told you Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld appears to have started raising money for a shot at Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s seat in 2016. If that’s true, he’d better start his hustle. Portman already has almost $6 million in the bank for the race, according to a campaign email. He’s also touting endorsements from a number of high-up Republicans including Gov. John Kasich. It’s unclear if the early saber-rattling is meant to scare away possible far-right primary challengers or send a message to an eventual Democratic contender for his seat, but it’s clear Portman has a big advantage at this early juncture.

• Officials yesterday released the full-length security video showing the Cleveland police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, including the troubling aftermath of that shooting. The beginning of the video, which was released shortly after the incident, shows a Cleveland police cruiser rushing into the park where Rice was playing, which was across the street from his house. Officer Timothy Leohman jumps out of the passenger side of the cruiser and immediately shoots Rice, who a 911 caller said was brandishing a pistol that was “probably fake.” That much we already knew. But the extended video also shows two officers tackling and wrestling Tamir’s 14-year-old sister Tajai Rice, eventually forcefully hustling her to the police car. Meanwhile, no officers attempt to assist Rice, who is lying in the park bleeding to death. It takes nearly 15 minutes for officers to remove Rice from the scene on a stretcher. He later died at the hospital.

Loehman was fired from the Independence, Ohio police department in 2012 because he exhibited signs of being emotionally unstable and was subsequently passed over for jobs at a number of other departments before getting a job in Cleveland. Last month, the Department of Justice released an unrelated, year-long report slamming the Cleveland Police Department for its use of force and an apparent racial bias in its policing.

• Finally, a Columbus suburb is getting what can only be described as a monumental honor. The city of Westerville will soon be home to the tacocropolis, aka the capitol of crunch; in other words, the country’s most expensive Taco Bell location. Westerville officials call it a great redevelopment project, and the development company says they see the upscale Taco Bell as an investment.

“Westerville is a very discriminating city about what they want done and how they want it to look," Hadler Company President Stephen Breech said. "Sometimes you get subpar looks from a fast-food building — but this isn't that kind of a facility. It has a lot of brick on it and things like that."

The developer won’t divulge how much the project will cost, and Taco Bell will only confirm that it is the chain’s most expensive location, building-wise, in the country.

A lot of brick on it, indeed. I really hope the “things like that” he’s referring to are giant, gold plated monuments to the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, one of mankind’s greatest inventions.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.07.2015 83 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_01-07_danijo-martyns

Who Takes the GED?

Behind the statistics in this week's cover story are a diverse group of people working for better prospects

A few words on this week’s cover story about Ohio’s changes to the General Educational Development (GED) test. The piece first appeared in the Cleveland Scene, and it's a great, well-researched read. We did some significant reporting to localize it for Cincinnati, not all of which made it into the final article.

The GED is something a lot of folks don’t really think much about, and I admit I didn’t know a whole lot about it before digging in for our reporting. But the test is a vital lifeline toward a better life for folks who for one reason or another never got a high school diploma. 

Seven-hundred-forty-seven people took the test in Hamilton County in 2014. That's down from 2,388 in 2013.

As you’ll read in the cover story, new changes that took affect in 2014 have made it more difficult and expensive to take and pass the test and move on to a trade school, a community college or a better job. New standards require higher levels of interpretive abilities and background knowledge to pass the GED. What's more, students must practice for and take the test on a computer — a big challenge for some students struggling with poverty — and the base fee the state charges for taking the test has tripled.

I went to the East End Adult Education Center to find out more about how the test is getting harder and who is taking it. While I was there, I also learned a lot about what is at stake for folks trying to pass it. I’d like to introduce you to a few of them here. Even though all of their stories didn’t fit in the cover piece, I think they’re important to talk about.

DaniJo Doud, 32, was sitting with head tutor Marty Walsh and practicing for the test when I walked through the door of the center on Eastern Avenue.

Doud got pregnant when she was 16 and ended up repeating the 9th grade three times before dropping out of school. She later struggled with heroin addiction, though she can tell you the exact day she stopped using: May 28, 2012. Now, she’d like to go to a nearby community college to eventually become a drug counselor.

“I always thought I was dumb,” she told me, “but I’m not. I came here and started out on a fourth or fifth grade level. I’m now on a 12th grade level on everything. I’ll graduate this year, I’m sure of it. I want to do the work. I love coming here. I don’t miss a day.”

The center is one of just a few in Cincinnati that offer GED study and testing services. Others, including Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, also provide these services, though often to large classes instead of one on one.

The
East End Adult Education Center runs on grants and doesn’t charge students. It even offers scholarships to some students who can’t afford some or all of Ohio’s GED test fee. Adele Craft, the center’s executive director, says nearly all of the people who come here to study are facing economic challenges, or have had life hurdles that kept them from completing high school. Some are refugees.

You’ll read more about Sy Ohur in the cover story. Ohur came to the United States from Sudan in 2004, when the country was gripped by a bloody civil war that killed several hundred thousand people. Ohur fled here knowing almost zero English; Craft said he and other refugees who came around that time didn’t even know the alphabet. Ohur is now an American citizen with strong English skills. He has passed two parts of the GED previously, but then the test was redesigned and he’s had to go back to square one.

In the next room, 17-year-old Chris was studying math with his tutor Mike, going over some equations that — full disclosure — I didn’t really understand. Chris has been coming for a year. At first, he was compelled to come by court order due to problems he was having with truancy. Attending Riverside High School just wasn’t working out for him, he said, though he admits part of the problem was he had a hard time getting up early enough.

“But then I started coming here and started wanting to learn,” he says. “The teachers at school, they tried to help me out, but it wasn’t getting through to me like here. They’ve showed me different angles, different ways to look at things. It’s helped me out a lot.”

Chris, who lives just down the road, shows up every day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. He hopes to take the test soon. His immediate goal is to go to Cincinnati State and eventually transfer to a four-year college to become an architect.

The
East End Adult Education Center, one of just a few in Cincinnati that provides test prep and allows students to take the actual GED onsite, sees about 100 students a year. About 20 pass the test each year. As Craft shows me the phone book-sized study guide students must contend with, she tells me passing the test is sometimes a multi-year effort.

That effort has been getting more difficult in Cincinnati and across the state. Craft said holding students to a higher standard and getting them prepared for college is a great goal and that the new test does that well. But she doesn’t like that people looking to better themselves have a harder road ahead of them.

“It’s just a lot, lot harder,” she said of the new test. “It’s going to take us a lot longer.”

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.07.2015 83 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
boehner copy

Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar fund healthier than thought; Boehner wins speakership again, proposes fruit ladders to the stars; Ferguson grand juror sues St. Louis County prosecutor

Hey all! My colleague, CityBeat arts editor Jac Kern, just got engaged over the holiday and there’s champagne everywhere in the office right now. Congrats! Now I’m going to try to power through the distraction to bring you the news because I’m a soldier like that.

So the streetcar contingency budget, which is set aside for unforeseen complications and cost overruns, is healthier than previously thought, officials announced yesterday. Last month, streetcar Project Executive John Deatrick announced that the worst-case scenarios his office ran had the fund down to about $80,000 after everything was paid out. But after some political blowback, especially from streetcar foe Mayor John Cranley, Deatrick and company went back to the drawing board, reassessed costs and adjusted that figure. The new estimate is that the contingency fund has about $1.3 million left. What changed? Not much. Deatrick says the streetcar team renegotiated some contracts and scaled back a fence around the streetcar substation. That fence was set to be solid brick, but will now be partially steel. Some council members, including Chris Seelbach, expressed concerns that the project was being scaled back due to political pressure, but officials with the project say it will run the same distance with the same number of cars for the same amount of time and that it hasn’t been scaled back in any meaningful way.

• As the weather gets colder, demands on area homeless shelters are increasing, straining space available for those with nowhere else to go. While a funding increase council passed last month has given area shelters more money to work with, demand may outpace the increase.

"The demand for winter shelter has been greater than expected this winter," Strategies to End Homelessness President and CEO Kevin Finn said in a statement. "... Such increased and early demand could exhaust resources that we hope will last us through February."

• Local grilled cheese dynamo Tom + Chee is expanding, its founders report, with plans to open five new restaurants in Southern Texas, mostly in suburbs of Houston. The company has partnered with the Tunica-Biloxi tribe to bring the restaurants to the region. The new restaurants will join 13 others in Georgia, Nebraska, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee.

• Northern Kentucky residents who have been touched by the region’s heroin epidemic took their concerns to the Kentucky state capitol in Frankfurt yesterday. One-hundred-thirty Northern Kentuckians came to the rally asking for changes to state laws that could cut down the number of heroin overdose deaths. Among the policy changes advocates are asking for: repeal of a law that keeps Kentucky police from carrying anti-overdose drugs like Narcan. Police in Cincinnati and many other cities carry the drugs, which can mean the difference between life and death for overdose victims.

A new program in Kentucky will give state funds to three hospitals to provide Narcan kits to emergency overdose patients, including St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Fort Thomas. The hospital was chosen due to the high number of overdose victims it treats.

• It’s official. Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, has lived to fight another day as speaker of the house. Boehner held the most powerful perch in the House despite challenges from the far-right wing of the Republican party, who hold that he didn’t do enough to repeal Obamacare and cut the federal budget. Tea party-affiliated reps had a similar mutiny attempt last session, in 2013, when 12 voted against Boehner for speaker. This time, opposition doubled, as 24 conservative House members voted against him. Boehner still coasted to a win, but the drama highlights the continued fissures in the party. Even as it grows more powerful— the 246 seats Republicans hold in the House are the most they’ve had since the 1940s — it’s clear there’s little agreement about what should be done with that power. Perhaps in reflection of this mixed-up mindset, Boehner offered this lumpy, ill-formed bag of metaphors on the House floor after his win.

“So let’s stand tall and prove the skeptics wrong,” Boehner said. “May the fruits of our labors be ladders our children can use to climb to the stars.”

Fruit ladders to the stars, y’all.

Boehner was quick to deal out discipline to members who voted against him, having two Republicans who voted against him kicked off the House’s powerful rules committee, which sets the agenda for the House.

• One of the grand jurors in the Darren Wilson case is suing the St. Louis County prosecutor over what he says were misleading statements about the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson. Prosecutor Robert McCullough presented evidence to the grand jury after the August shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown by Ferguson Police officer Wilson. The grand jury member accuses McCullough of misleading the public about the grand jury’s deliberations and is asking to be able to speak publicly about the case in his suit. The juror, who so far has remained anonymous, is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. Brown’s shooting along with other police shootings of unarmed black citizens have triggered civil unrest and activism around the country.

• Finally, this isn’t really news related but I have to share it anyway. Here are the ladies of Downton Abby, which just started a new season, playing Cards Against Humanity. Warning: it gets a lil raunchy. Also, you’re welcome.

 
 
by Steven Rosen 01.06.2015 84 days ago
Posted In: Architecture at 03:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
courtesy cincinnati usa regional tourism network

More National Kudos For Over-the-Rhine Renaissance

OTR ranked as one of 10 best Midwest architectural sites by Conde Nast Traveler

Over-the-Rhine is getting more national praise — this time from Conde Nast Traveler, which on its website in December named OTR one of the 10 best architectural sites in the Midwest.

In “Seeking Frank Lloyd Wright: Best Architecture in the Midwest,” Ashley Petry writes:

Not too long ago, Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was one of the roughest parts of town. Now it serves as a case study in successful urban renewal, thanks in part to its notable architecture. The district is home to a large concentration of 19th-century Italianate architecture, and those ornate brick buildings now house trendy restaurants and swanky boutiques. While you’re in town, swing by the University of Cincinnati, whose new building complex was designed by architecture firm Morphosis.

What is remarkable about this is the company OTR's 19th Century Italianate architecture keeps on this select list — except for the Victorian "painted ladies" of St. Louis' Lafayette Square, the others are all Modernist or Contemporary masterpieces, many by the world's great architects.

These include Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago's Millennium Park as well as his contribution to Toledo Art Museum's complex; the bedroom at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin in Spring Green, Wis., as well as his contributions to Racine's SC Johnson company's headquarters (and home of one of its presidents), Eero Saarinen's Mid-Century Modernist Miller House in Columbus, Ind. (owned by Indianapolis Art Museum), Santiago Calatrava's breathtaking 2001 addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum and Jean Nouvel's 2006 Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Just a random thought here, but if Cincinnati's past architecture is worthy of such lofty company, should we be putting more thought into getting architects worthy of those mentioned above for our future projects? Calatrava has done some amazing bridges and the Cincinnati Art Museum in the past has had ambitious (but now-stalled) plans for a landmark Contemporary addition. 

Read the full Conde Nast Traveler feature here.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 01.06.2015 84 days ago
Posted In: History, Food news at 02:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
zips cafe

Zip's Cafe Under New Ownership

No worries; the Cincinnati institution is staying true to its roots

Classic Mount Lookout burger joint Zip's Cafe is under new ownership — but don't freak out. Longtime general manager Mike Burke recently purchased the 88-year-old burger institution from Brian Murrie, who had owned the restaurant since 1996. 

"Over 18 years later, it's now time to pass the torch," Murrie said in a recent press release. "We've been side by side and had each other's backs for years. It's Mike's turn now."

Burke has been working at Zip's off and on since he was 15, and has been running day to day operations for the past six years. The restaurant is famous for its burgers, from its Zip Burger to its more adventurous and meaty Girthburger (a Zip Burger with a split mettwurst) and Train Wreck (a Zip Burger with shaved ham, a grilled mettwurst and three types of cheese). But they also have excellent onion rings — super crispy and the onions don't fall out of the breading like they do at other places. Also, if you're a vegetarian, they have both a garden burger and a black bean burger, which you can dress like a real burger-joint burger — American cheese, mayo, onion, pickle, tomato. 

We caught up with Burke to ask him a couple of questions about the transition and assuage any fears from longstanding Zip's fans about potential menu changes.

CityBeat: Since Zip's is a classic Cincinnati institution, people will want to know if the menu be staying the same under your control. Will there be any changes or updates?
Mike Burke: Zip's is so consistent, I don't foresee many changes to the menu. There may be some small additions here or there but I don't think the customers will notice a big difference around the restaurant … and I think that's a good thing!

CB: Since the restaurant has been part of your life off and on since you were a teenager, what does it mean for you to own Zip's?
MB: Zip's has been a big part of over half my life and at this point it is going to be even bigger for the second half. It is definitely a wild dream come true. It's owning an iconic part of Cincinnati history. To keep Zip's history of a neighborhood/city favorite and its quality and consistency the same is my biggest job moving forward.

CBWhat's your favorite menu item?
MB: Hands down my favorite menu item is the Girthburger. It's our regular burger topped with a signature mettwurst made for us at our butcher (Avril-Blehs on Court). It was named by former Bengal Pat McInally. I think it holds its own against any "designer" burger or sandwich in town. You can't skip our world famous chili either.

CBCan you relate one of your favorite memories of Zip's?
MB: Biggest memory: The former owner, Brian, hired me when he was the manager. About a month later he was the new owner. The two of us worked a busy Saturday lunch together and afterward were catching our breaths. I remember asking him, "B, do you ever just look around and think how fucking cool it is that you own this place?" His response, with a smile and a nod, was a very simple and proud, "Yes." Ever since then, it was a crazy dream. Back then, I never thought [owning Zip's] to be a possibility.  

Other than that, I will also never forget my jaw hitting the floor when my friend Patrick walked in with Jack White. One of the few times I have ever been star struck, for sure the only time while at work. He was a super nice guy and seemed to enjoy himself.


Go: 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout;
Call: 513-871-9876;
Internet: zipscafe.com;
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday.
 
 
by Sean M. Peters 01.06.2015 84 days ago
Posted In: Coffee, Food news, Openings at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
collective espresso northside interior

Collective Espresso Northside Now Open for Business

Collective Espresso now offers two of the city’s finest coffee shops found off the beaten path. 

Owned and operated by Dave Hart and Dustin Miller, Collective Espresso’s original alleyway location off Main Street in Over-the-Rhine quickly established itself as a worthwhile destination for caffeine-cionados. They’ve branched out with a second location between Happy Chicks Bakery and Fabricate on Hamilton Avenue in Northside. And their new spot has inevitably found itself on a similar easy-to-miss-but-hard-to-forget alleyway — enter through the swinging wrought-iron gate in front of Cluxton Alley, home to Cluxton Alley Roasters, which is renting them the space. 

The imposed sense of secrecy only adds to Collective Espresso’s allure. Staff and owners, who are usually steaming milk or doing pour-overs alongside each other, are extremely inviting, talented and knowledgeable in all things espresso. And though the new location boasts a fully functional coffee roaster (owned by Cluxton Alley Roasters), it’s not in the duo’s business trajectory to roast and sell their own coffee beans yet. 

The shop has already enjoyed a soft opening and is currently open the same hours as the OTR location (7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday). The Northside shop also serves Collective’s same critically acclaimed coffee drinks, which recently received accolades from Food Network star Alton Brown, who grabbed a “spot-on” cortado when he was in town for his show at the Aronoff.

Go: 4037 Hamilton Ave., Northside;
Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.06.2015 84 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
pg sittenfeld

Morning News and Stuff

Sittenfeld eyes Senate; Christ Hospital fights lawsuit; Shocker: Congress mostly male, mostly white

Hey all. Hope your morning commute was safe and warm amidst the cold, nasty dusting of snow we got last night. I’m still glued to my space heater here at home, so I’ve yet to venture out into the grossness.

Here’s what’s up today:

It looks as if Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is seriously checking out a run for U.S. Senate. Sources close to Sittenfeld told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the 30-year-old Democrat has begun raising money for a bid at Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s seat. It’s a big jump from councilman to senator, and Sittenfeld may have some more experienced competition for the nod as the Democratic candidate. Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has shown signs that he may be interested in running, as have former Ohio Congressional delegates Betty Sutton and Tim Ryan. However, Sittenfeld has laid some groundwork for a run, visiting all corners of the state in the past year on issues of taxes and the economy. He also has a number of Senate-themed website names on lockdown, including pgforsenate.com, sittenfeldforsenate.com, and surelysittenfeldsoundssenatorialsam.com (I made that last one up). He hasn’t made it official yet, and there’s no telling if he would stay in the race should someone more experienced like Strickland officially throw his hat in the ring. But party leaders like Hamilton County Democratic Party chair Tim Burke and Ohio Democratic Party head David Pepper say he could be a serious contender depending upon how things shake out ahead of 2016.

• Mount Auburn-based Christ Hospital is fighting a lawsuit claiming the health organization submitted $28 million in claims to Medicare that cannot be proven.  The hospital claims the money was used to train doctors rotating into the hospital from other health organizations between 2007 and 2012, but former employee Glenda Overton says in her lawsuit that the claims the hospital filed were not documented in accordance with federal law. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2013, but federal judge Timothy Black just struck down the hospital’s request to dismiss the case Dec. 31. The hospital could be on the hook for more than $90 million in damages if a jury finds it is guilty of misrepresenting claims.

• One of Mayor John Cranley’s staff members made a pretty prestigious list this week. Daniel Rajaiah, Cranley’s director of external affairs and the head of the mayor’s immigration task force, appeared on Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 list in policy and politics. Rajaiah has been at City Hall just over a year, but then, he hasn’t been out of college much longer than that. Rajaiah graduated from the University of Dayton in 2013. While at UD, he led the College Democrats of Ohio for a year. The magazine highlights his work on the immigration task force as well as his time at his college post, where he helped get 43,000 people registered to vote.

• Meet the new bosses, who look very much the same as the old bosses. As Congress prepares to start a new session today, let’s look at how representative our representatives are. Four out of five members of Congress are male, and four out of five are white. Women make up just 19 percent of the House of Representatives and 20 percent of the Senate, despite, you know, being half of the general population. Meanwhile, blacks make up just 10 percent of the House and a whole 2 percent of the Senate, despite representing 14 percent of the U.S. population. People of Hispanic origin make up just 8 percent of the House and 3 percent of the Senate. They account for 18 percent of the general population. Only three of Ohio’s 16 reps are women. Only two are black. The saddest part? What I just described to you is the most diverse Congress in history. America!

• Finally, remember how much of a fight it was to get a few miles of those streetcar tracks in the ground? I put forward this next bit of news only to demonstrate conclusively that we live in an entirely different dimension than some other parts of the country. Officials broke ground today on a high-speed rail project that could eventually shuttle people between Los Angeles and San Francisco at 220 mph. That means you could escape the hellish traffic hole that is the city of angels for the bay area, which is rapidly becoming one big Google campus, in just over two hours. Amazing. Sorry, LA and SF. I'm just kidding. I love you and your lack of below-freezing temperatures. 

Hit me with your news tips, heckling and/or chili recipes: nswartsell@citybeat.com and on Twitter: @nswartsell.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.05.2015 85 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
crowd

Morning News and Stuff

Three-hundred attend vigil for Leelah Alcorn; heroin in jail; check out the size of this CEO's package

Morning all. Hope your weekend was great. Let’s get to the news.

About 300 people showed up Saturday outside Kings Mills High School for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Leelah Alcorn, the Kings Mills transgender teen who took her own life last month. Many attendees were Alcorn’s friends and classmates, representatives from LGBT groups like the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network and trans-specific groups like the Heartland Trans Wellness Group. More than a dozen speakers addressed the crowd, including a number of trans people and their families. Their message: There is acceptance and support for people who identify as transgender or who feel they might be transgender.

“It really warms my heart seeing so many strangers and friends of Leelah coming out to support her,” said Abby Jones, who worked with Alcorn at Kings Island. Jones said Alcorn came out to her as transgender and shared the struggles she was having at home. Alcorn, born into a highly religious family, said in a suicide note shared to social media that she had trouble finding acceptance and help from her family, which sent her to religious counselors and tried therapies designed to convince Alcorn she was male.

• Heroin continues to be a huge issue in the Greater Cincinnati area, to the point where inmates are overdosing in jail. Local law enforcement and corrections officials are working to find out how inmates get the drugs while they’re behind bars. There have been a number of overdose incidents in Hamilton County jail, including two in the last 18 months, leading some to wonder whether guards are helping to smuggle the drug in. Officials say there’s no sign of that, and that inmates often smuggle the drug in by swallowing balloons filled with it before entering the jail or get it from visitors. In 2013, the county jail treated more than 9,000 heroin addicts. County jails in Northern Kentucky face similar levels of addicts and have also seen overdoses, a reflection of the swelling heroin epidemic happening outside the jails in the general population. Kentucky’s legislature will consider a number of often-contradictory bills in its upcoming session to address the problem. The bills seek to do everything from making treatment easier to attain for those arrested with the drug to increasing penalties for those caught with heroin without providing more funding for clinics and other treatment methods.

• Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on who will lead one of the world's most powerful deliberative bodies. Currently, that honor goes to Rep. John Boehner, who has spent two terms as House Speaker. Boehner says he expects an easy reelection from his party, but some conservatives are dead set against him. Among those is Boehner’s neighbor to the south, Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Northern Kentucky. Massie has signaled he won’t be supporting Boehner for the most powerful job in the House, though he isn’t revealing who he will vote for. Massie is a tea partier who has opposed Boehner in the past, though never quite so publicly. A few other tea party-affiliated Republicans in the House have also indicated they won’t be supporting Boehner and have said they’re searching for his replacement. It’s a sign that even if Boehner wins his job again (which he probably will) it won’t be easy going for him over the next two years.

• Will Kentucky religious organization Answers in Genesis sue the state over the fact it rescinded tax credits for a Noah’s Ark theme park based on Answers’ hiring practices? It could happen, supporters of the group say. The group has been building its park in Grant County and was originally awarded millions in tax credits by the state. However, those credits were withdrawn after questions arose about requirements by Answers that prospective employees fill out a testament of faith and other religiously oriented pre-employment materials. Opponents of the group say those materials violate equal employment rules and therefore make the Ark Park ineligible for public money. But supporters of the park say religious groups can be exempted from such rules.

• So, say you oversaw the loss of tons of peoples’ credit card and other personal data and basically had to quit your job or be fired. What happens next? If you’re retiring Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, you get $47 million. That’s Steinhafel’s retirement package, and it’s raising big questions about income inequality. You see, normal Target employees (you know, the ones who didn’t screw up big time and let the company get hacked) have only paltry 401Ks to fall back on when they get too old to stock shelves or sell those little pizzas in the café area. Experts say Steinhafel’s huge package (sounds weird when you say it that way) exemplifies another element of the continued divide between corporate bigwigs and every day workers and that other CEOs get similarly lush goodbye checks. So, if you want to be a millionaire, just, you know, make sure your company gets hacked and push for that golden parachute when you’re on your way out.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.02.2015 88 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Leelah Alcorn's mother expresses grief in first media interview; Ohio Against the World gets big ups from OSU win; NYPD's massive arrest slowdown

Hey hey Cincinnati! I hope your New Years Eve was as good as mine. I stayed out way too late and had more fun than you should be allowed to have while wearing a suit at CityBeat's speakeasy party. But enough about partying. Let’s get down to business.

Carla Alcorn, who has been mostly silent since daughter Leelah Alcorn’s suicide Dec. 28, gave her first interview with media Wednesday. Speaking to CNN, Alcorn expressed deep grief at the loss of the 17-year-old transgender teen from Kings Mills, whose given name was Joshua and who said in a suicide note that she had felt “like a girl trapped in a boy’s body” since the age of 4. Leelah’s suicide has sparked a national conversation about societal attitudes toward gender as well as the high rate of depression and suicide attempts among transgender people. The elder Alcorn told CNN that she forbade Leelah from obtaining medical procedures to help her transition toward more female physical traits because it was against the family’s religion.

"We don't support that, religiously," Alcorn's mother told CNN in an emotional phone interview. "But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy."

Controversy has arisen over the way some news outlets, Alcorn’s family and her school have identified Alcorn, using the name Joshua and male pronouns to refer to her.

• On a more upbeat note, a local fashion icon got some big attention yesterday after Ohio State beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and clenched a spot at college football’s championship game. As OSU pulled ahead late in the game, ESPN showed a fan in the crowd rocking an Ohio Against the World shirt, a brand dreamed up by Cincinnatian Floyd Johnson. OATW has already gotten a lot of national attention, but screen grabs of the ESPN shot showed up on Twitter and promptly exploded, sending the phrase Ohio Against the World trending worldwide. Full disclosure: I’m a huge OATW fan and own a few of their shirts, one of which I’m wearing as I type, so this may not be unbiased reporting I’m doing here. I could not care less about football (sorry Buckeyes fans) but it’s awesome that great local talent is getting much-deserved recognition. Go get yourself one of those shirts! Just be sure you’re buying the real deal when you hop online to order one and not one of these. Yes, yes, I get it. That’s supposed to be OSU’s font. Still not into it.

• Just a heads up: new parking meter times and rates go into effect today. Parking in Over-the-Rhine goes from 50 cents to $1 today, and you’ll have to pay from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. in OTR and downtown. The boost will be used to help pay for streetcar operating costs. Don’t fret if you don’t have change, though. The new meters take credit cards. 

• Tasha Thomas, the woman who was with John Crawford III in the Beavercreek Walmart where police shot him in August, died in a car accident yesterday. The accident occurred about 3 p.m. in downtown Dayton, authorities say. Thomas gained attention last month when a video tape was released showing Beavercreek police interrogating her harshly after the shooting. Crawford's shooting and other police killings of unarmed black citizens, including the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson Missouri, have ignited continuing protests across the country.

• Women in Ohio and Kentucky are pushing back against a new form of birth control called Essure offered by major drug company Bayer. Essure claims to be a form of easy, permanent birth control. Sounds great, right? The problem is, the device, which is implanted, has reportedly caused headaches, severe nausea and other symptoms in some women, perhaps due to the fact it contains nickel, which many are allergic to. Women suffering these symptoms claim they were not told about the device’s nickel content. Other women have reported that the device has caused internal damage when it shifted inside their bodies, or that scans by doctors have been unable to find the device after it has been implanted. A number of activists, including women in Ohio, have called for a ban on the product, starting wide-ranging social media campaigns and filing a lawsuit. But doctors and the FDA say they can’t demonstrate a link between the device and health problems. They say the device is safe to use and that problems associated with the implant are probably psychosomatic.

• The ongoing national argument over police tactics is having very real consequences within the nation’s largest police force. After a gunman ambushed and killed two officers Dec. 20, New York City police have decreased arrests 66 percent as part of a work slow down, the New York Post reports. The choke hold death of Eric Garner this summer and a subsequent grand jury’s decision not to indict an officer in that death has led to civil unrest in the city, and police have taken offense. The situation intensified when the gunman in Brooklyn murdered two officers last month. Since that incident, officers have protested by turning their backs to Mayor Bill deBlasio at public ceremonies for a perceived lack of support from the mayor. They’ve also instituted a slowdown on their policing and have announced they’ll only be arresting people when they have to — in part for safety reasons, and in part in protest. But think about that for just a minute. Shouldn’t police always approach and arrest people “only when they have to?”  The New York Post reports that ticketing for incidents in the city has dropped 94 percent since the murder of the two officers. Arrests for drug offenses have dropped 82 percent. What are the rest of those arrests all about anyway?

 
 

 

 

 
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