The city of Cincinnati could soon seize seven buildings in Over-the-Rhine and one in Avondale if the owner doesn't make costly repairs by March 15. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jerome Metz declared the eight buildings "public nuisances" after previously requesting that the buildings' owner, Washington, D.C.-based 2414 Morgan Development, LLC, repair 11 of its buildings by Dec. 17 of last year. The developer has since repaired three of the buildings to meet the approval of city inspectors, but city officials argue the rest of the structures still contribute to neighborhood blight and pose safety hazards for the public and firefighters. The seven buildings located in OTR north of Liberty Street.
• Also in need of repairs: Cincinnati's parks. What do they need exactly? Well, they have years of deferred maintenance, but the Cincinnati Parks Board has been very slow to produce a detailed account of the state of the city's parks and the price of all the repairs required. City Council appears ready to approve an additional $4 million for repairs, but it's unclear what repairs the money would be going toward. Park leaders say it's too small of an amount to repair some of the parks in the worst shape, but they're also not just going to hang onto the money to do fund a series of projects. Meanwhile, Mayor John Cranley and advocates for the failed parks levy in November are still sore from their election loss. Cranley has claimed the $55 million that would have come from the levy could have covered all the deferred maintenance in the city's parks.
• Errors the city has made in calculating estate tax payments will cost it more than a half-million dollars. The office of Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes has discovered the city owes $614,514 in tax payments to the county. David Nurre, the auditor's assistant financial director, said in a letter to the city that the money will be subtracted from property tax money the county owes the city. The loss will add to the estimated $13 million deficit the city is facing for fiscal year 2017.
• A analysis of the report card data released by the Ohio Education Policy Institute last week by consultant Howard Fleeter found big differences between college- and career-readiness for low-income and high-income districts. It discovered more than a 23-point percentage gap for four-year graduation rates between districts whose economically disadvantaged students made up less than 10 percent of the population and those whose disadvantaged populations were 90 percent or higher. The analysis was requested by the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.
• I haven't seen the Oscar-nominated Carol yet, but I know Cincy's super excited about it because it was filmed here. Apparently, the city could see more celebrities like Cate Blanchett show up as the city works hard to attract filmmakers. A University of Cincinnati Economics Center study estimates that the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission has generated more than $54 million for the metro area's economy and created 8,800 jobs. The study also found that productions in 2014 and 2015 received $11.8 million in tax credits, footed by taxpayers.
After a series of attacks against against Bernie Sanders have seemingly backfired, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has begun to backpedal and soften their defensive rhetoric against the 74-year-old Vermont senator.
Like attacking GOP front-runner Donald Trump, attacks against Sanders seemingly makes him stronger. Clinton allies likely were not happy this week after Chelsea Clinton told a crowd in New Hampshire that Sanders would “dismantle Obamacare.”
She also told the crowd of potential primary voters Sanders would “strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance.”
Sanders’ campaign spokesman released a statement crediting Chelsea’s political combat on Bernie’s healthcare agenda as raising $1.4 million for the campaign.
“Thanks, Team Clinton…We’ve gotten 47,000 contributions. We’re projecting 60,000 donations. Even for our people-powered campaign, this is pretty darn impressive.”
At a meeting with potential caucus goers in Iowa yesterday, Clinton softened her fight against the democratic socialist, “Sen. Sanders and I share many of the same goals. I know Sen. Sanders cares about covering more people, as I do.”
Clinton added that Sanders' plans aren’t within the realms of reality as she urges Democrats to choose her practicality over his idealism. Since the last debate, Clinton has seemingly let go of the liberal crowd and has focused on appealing to voters with centrist politics and practicality.
“Sen. Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years — he’s
introduced his healthcare plan nine times,” Clinton said. “But he never got
even a single vote in the House, or a single Senate co-sponsored. Now he has a
new plan. You hear a promise to build a whole new system, but that’s not what
you’ll get. You’ll get gridlock. And endless wait for advancements that will
never come. The people I’ve met can’t wait.”
Politico reported Bill Clinton is getting more concerned over his wife’s
campaign in Ohio and Super Tuesday states. Hillary Clinton reportedly has no
campaign staff on the ground in Ohio and virtually no presence in other states
beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sanders on the other hand has been speaking across the country, gathering thousands of supporters at rally in places most people wouldn’t associate as supportive of a self-described socialist like Alabama and Arkansas. However, the Vermont senator has only made one appearance in Ohio so far.
His grassroots insurgency have been aggressive in Ohio ever since the Vermont senator announced his candidacy. Last summer, a local Sanders organization event drew in so many people the media assumed the senator would be in attendance himself.
More than 600
organizers and supporters gathered at the Woodward Theater; the high attendance
confused The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Rachel Maddow Show, which misreported that the senator would be at the event in person.
The Ohio primary is March 15.
The latest polling averages done by Real Clear Politics continue to show the trend of Sanders gaining on the former Secretary of State with her lead falling in early primary states. A CNN poll released Thursday shows Sanders eight points ahead of Clinton in Iowa. A Quinnipiac poll shows Sanders five points ahead in the Hawkeye state.
Real Clear Politics’ national averaging shows Clinton still leading at 51.2 points and Sanders holding second at 38. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley brings up the rear at 2.2. However, O’Malley did not qualify for the Ohio ballot.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is staging the original “game of thrones” — England’s Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) as retold by the Bard’s history plays — eight shows being presented in chronological order across five theater seasons. (Cincy Shakes is only the second theater company in the U.S. to present the history cycle in Chronological order.) We’ve already seen Richard II, Henry IV: Part 1 and 2 and Henry V. Now it’s time for the reign of Henry VI, which Shakespeare covered with three plays. This week starts the production of Henry VI, Part I, the story of Henry V’s only son who, in 1421, inherited the throne before his first birthday, after his father’s untimely death. A child on the throne opened the door to the dynastic struggles of the War of the Roses. (The cycle concludes next season with the bloody tragedy of Richard III.) Darnell Pierre Benjamin plays Henry, an unusual choice. Here’s what he says about taking on this role: “I’m a black male from St. Martinville, Louisiana. Despite how much I’ve always fixated my interests on the classics, I never thought that I’d have the honor of representing one of Shakespeare’s history kings.” He says he hopes “to open people’s minds and hearts to seeing the core of this story — a young man coming into his own as he learns that there are forces, both good and bad, that can alter his perception of himself.” Through Feb. 13. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
The Covedale Center just opened Neil Simon’s Chapter Two, a play about a widowed writer trying to start over while still grieving for his late wife. The story is rooted in Simon’s own experience, and the playwright’s famous one-liners are still there, but woven into the show’s humor is a story about coming to terms with death and moving on. Through Feb. 14. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
In Covington, The Carnegie is offering what sounds like an interesting production of The Wizard of Oz that opened last night. With musical accompaniment by the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, it’s a “lightly-staged” rendition with Harold Arlen’s famous score from the 1939 movie. Of particular interest is the scenic design by local artist Pam Kravetz, a unique take on the iconic landscapes of Oz, including Munchkin Land and the Emerald City. Just to remind folks passing by on Scott Avenue, you’ll see a giant pair of legs with striped stockings and ruby slippers to remind you that one wicked witch is dead. Through Jan. 31. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
For something completely different, consider The Realistic Joneses by Clifton Players, at Clifton Performance Theater on Ludlow Avenue. It’s about two couples named Jones, next-door neighbors who get to know one another despite fear and loneliness. Will Eno’s unusual play — part comedy, part drama — digs into secrets that aren’t often spoken aloud. It’s being staged by local theater veteran Dale Hodges with a cast that includes Carter Bratton, Mindy Siebert, Miranda McGee and Phil Fiorini. It’s onstage through Feb. 7. Tickets: 513-861-7469.
Next week there will be even more theater on local stages: Grounded, a one-woman show about a fighter pilot assigned to making drone strikes (Ensemble Theatre, Jan. 27-Feb. 14, 513-421-3555), BlackTop Sky, a tale of homelessness and friendship (Know Theatre, Jan. 29-Feb. 20, 513-300-5669) and Prelude to a Kiss, a sweet love story about changing places and understanding different perspectives (Falcon Theater in Newport, Jan. 29-Feb. 13, 513-479-6783).
I first encountered the phenomenon that is Josh Eagle on a warm August evening four and a half years ago. We were meeting for an interview to discuss his then new album with his band, Harvest City, A Good One is Hard to Find.
When I located him at Northside Tavern, he was seated in a corner of the patio, engrossed in a book, something lofty and cool as I recall. Before we'd said a word to each other, my initial impression of him was that he seemed like a homegrown Jack Johnson, a hippie surfer boy that had somehow been incongruously dropped, like David Bowie's man who fell to earth, in the landlocked limbo of Ohio. But as he wove his tale of creating his own unique brand of Americana/Roots/Folk and, by proxy, his life, it struck me — he was no stranger in a strange land. He recounted a boozy evening that spontaneously led to a stint on an organic raspberry farm in Hawaii, and how that experience blossomed into the epiphany that he had merely traded one paradise for another. It was clear his home had given him the inspiration, the brushes and colors with which to work, and his songs became the canvas onto which he could interpret and transfer his feelings about his real life experiences and the ephemeral melancholy and joy that resulted from them.
I went into the inteview as a big fan of the music, and left an even bigger fan of the man who made it.
Josh and I have subsequently crossed paths innumerable times, at MidPoint, Bunbury, the CEAs, local shows (his own and other bands) and at Class X Radio, where he guested one evening in 2013 to promote his self-titled third album before heading north to play a gig. Every time he and I have found ourselves in the same vicinity, the outcome was always the same — "Great to see you" pleasantries and personal updates, followed by a conversation that typically factored in triumphs, misfortunes, advances and reversals, all discussed with Josh's sublime sense of humor and the irrefutable logic that the bad times would pass and the good times should be savored while they lasted.
At his most downcast, Josh has always been optimistic, hopeful and upbeat. Those are the qualities that I will personally miss the most when Josh and his girlfriend Jacqueline Hull leave Cincinnati to begin a new leg on life's grand tour in one of the most adventurous locales on the planet, New York City. Jacqueline's marketing job has made her an offer that makes the relocation incredibly attractive, and Josh will do what he does best, which is make music and find work to fill the gap.
Before Josh and Jac's departure on Feb. 5, the pair will be hosts and stars of their own farewell tribute at Newport’s Southgate House Revival this Sunday at 2 p.m.tmp_1453480629691 It promises to be a raucous and emotional event.
"It's actually going to be in the afternoon, because I wanted kids to be able to come, like a family day," Josh says over lunch at Melt in Northside. "I want people to feel so warm and fuzzy that they're losing their minds, and what better way than to have the kids."
The possibility of a New York move came up last year when Josh did a bit of world traveling and he and Jac spent a few days in the environs of New York.
"I've always wanted to live in a place like that," Josh says. "I went to Paris, Barcelona and Madrid this past year, and you can't just pop into CVG and go straight there, you've got to go to a big hub. So when we got out at JFK, we decided to stop there for five days. We were like, 'Ha ha, we could do this,' joking around a little bit, not really considering it an option. But we knew our time had passed in Cincinnati. We felt like we had made great friendships and done great things here, but what else is out there for us?"
The gauzy NYC fantasy became an attainable reality when Jac discussed the idea of a transfer with her employer, and an actual offer turned the joke into a plan.
"Then it was like, 'What's Josh going to do?,’ ” he says. "I'm going to continue to do what I've always done — write songs, release albums, write stories and try to make it work. And usually I have. It's been great, it's been fun for me. But today I applied for a job at the Brooklyn Brewery, because I've got to have something else besides the arts that pays way too much to the landlord. But we're beyond excited."
Josh and Jac recently made an exploratory trip to New York to check out the housing situation and, against all odds, wound up finding an apartment in Brooklyn. With that part of the equation solved, the pair returned to Cincinnati with a rather strange sensation.
"We feel like that's our home already," Josh says. "We came back and we were a little melancholy. It was like, 'We just left our home. We just paid the guy a couple grand and we came back here. This feels weird.' But we're pumped, we're excited for the opportunities. To me, it's one of the greatest and definitely most diverse cities in the whole world."
Josh has several New York music contacts and plans to get settled and then continue to cultivate those relationships in order to re-launch his career. It's an odd construct for the singer/songwriter, essentially going back to square one with his music.
"First I've got to make sure that every place I play has a backline, which a lot of them do. I researched this," Josh says with a laugh. "I'm not going to be bringing my PA and my amp everywhere I go. I'll be pretty much guitar and harmonica in hand and I should be good to go. I'm really just reaching out in that way, and then seeing what other people want to play. I feel like I'm really starting from scratch again, but in the way I did when I was 15, 16 and I was figuring all this out. I've got a good amount figured out, and how to do it, it's just making the right contacts, and finding people that I like and that like me. Both sides. And Jacqueline and I have been singing together for the past year so if she'd be into continuing to do that, we'll continue to write songs together."
In the nearly three-year gap since his eponymous 2013 album, Josh has compiled somewhere between 20 and 40 new songs, which are in various stages of completion; somehow in the next couple of weeks, he's planning on doing some recording with the Harvest City's Tommy Cappel and The Ready Stance's Wes Pence. Last year, he and Jac assembled a video crew, cooked everyone dinner and the the crew shot the two of them singing their songs at their kitchen table, which they logically titled The Kitchen Sessions. The results are available to view on YouTube.
Josh has also devoted time to writing short stories, and has some unique ideas on how to distribute them into the wider world.
"My original idea was, instead of just doing a record, 10 songs and there it is, to do two songs a month, with a short story," Josh says. "Sadly, with the whole Spotify crap, it seems like people are doing bits of songs. Not that I want to give up on the idea of a full album, but this is just an experiment to see how receptive people would be to do that for six months. Twelve songs, and six stories. Is that the right math? I'm not a calculus professor."
To begin, Josh is planning to present the songs and stories independently and gauge the interest level. If it's sufficient, he'll look at the possibility of a publisher.
"I'll see how I feel about it and how other people feel about it first, before going into vast landscapes," Josh says. "But I'm having fun trying out the short story thing. Might as well do something with them. I'm sick and tired of reading them, that's for damn sure."
Josh and Jac's send-off show at the Southgate is shaping up to be a star-studded affair, with former members of the Harvest City and a slate of special guests lined up to bid the couple a fond if somewhat tearful adieu.
"My pals are coming, and it happens that they're really good," Josh notes. "Mark Becknell, who plays with Queen City Silver Stars and Frontier Folk Nebraska and does his own solo stuff, which is fantastic. Jeremy Smart, original guitar player for Harvest City, will be there and Matt McCormick, who used to play with Shoot Out the Lights and he's with Frontier full-time. That'll be the core. Then Joe Mitchell from the Mitchells will be coming in, David Faul from the David Faul Band, Travis (Talbert) and Michael (Hensley) from Frontier Folk. 2 p.m. is when (openers) The Mitchells will start, they'll do a set, Jacqueline and I will probably do some solo Kitchen Sessions stuff, and some fun covers. It's going to be a bittersweet day, for sure. A lot of 'Hey, haven't seen you in awhile, great to see you, goodbye.’ ”
Two weeks later, the pair will head east.
"I'll put the dog in the front of the cab and the cat on my lap and load our stuff in the U-Haul and bounce," Josh says. "We've been here a long time, but we've got that itch."
And with that, Josh will begin writing a new chapter in his big book of What Next. His time in Cincinnati has been fruitful, to be sure; he's recorded three well-received albums, two with Harvest City, his songs have been placed on Stalker, House and American Pickers, he took home the Singer/Songwriter Cincinnati Entertainment Award in 2012, and he's sitting on a pile of songs that could be the album that breaks him big, in New York and beyond. Not that he's fishing on that side of the boat, mind you. As he has always done, Josh Eagle will take things exactly as they come, he'll ride the crest of any wave the universe challenges him with and he'll ultimately coast safely into shore. Maybe he's a hippie surfer boy after all.
Good morning all. Here’s a quick rundown of the news today before we’re all buried in snow, or at least tweets about snow.
The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday ruled that suspended Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge Tracie Hunter can avoid jail for now as she continues to appeal her 2014 felony conviction. Meanwhile, a state lawmaker has called for an investigation into evidence that has disappeared related to other charges Hunter faced. Hunter was charged with nine felonies in her original case, including counts relating to accusations of forgery, misuse of a county credit card and improperly intervening on behalf of her brother, a county juvenile court employee charged with hitting an inmate. A jury convicted her on that last charged and she was sentenced to six months in jail in December 2014. A special prosecutor with the county recently dropped the other eight charges, but revelations that some computer evidence integral to those charges has been destroyed has prompted State Sen. Cecil Thomas, an outspoken Hunter supporter, to call for an investigation into the fate of that evidence. Hunter was due in jail at the beginning of this year, but will now stay free as she continues to fight to overturn her conviction.
• After a study commissioned by Cincinnati officials last year found huge disparities in the number of city contracts awarded to minority and women-owned businesses, the city is ramping up efforts to bring more equity to its procurement process. The study found about 2 percent of construction contracts from the city were awarded to women-owned businesses and only 1 percent to black-owned businesses, for example, even though women own 13 percent of construction companies and blacks own 21 percent. Now, the city is taking a number of steps to make it easier for those businesses to compete for and win city contracts. Officials held an information day Jan. 20 where business owners could find out more about how to get certified with the city and state so they can bid for so-called Minority Business Enterprise and Women Business Enterprise contracts. The city will hold another set of sessions Jan. 26 where businesses who sign up by calling 513-352-144 can fill out their certification paperwork in about an hour. The city’s new Department of Economic Inclusion says it has already certified about 100 MBEs and WBEs.
• A Hamilton County Court judge will soon decide whether the confession of a man charged with killing a transgender woman in Walnut Hills is admissible in court. Defense attorneys for Quamar Edwards say he has a long history of learning issues and substance abuse problems and that he was under the influence of marijuana when he confessed to killing Tiffany Edwards (to whom he is not related) a year and a half ago. Edwards’ attorneys have had him examined by two psychologists who have found him fit to stand trial, but they would like his confession, in which he details shooting the transgender woman on a remote street in Walnut Hills because “he felt threatened” thrown out as evidence.
Quamar Edwards said he picked up Tiffany Edwards, who he says he knew to be a sex worker, because she needed a ride. He decided to pay her for sex, but then changed his mind. At that point, he said, she became agitated and a fight ensued, during which he shot her. He later turned himself in for the shooting after he was identified on video footage. Sex workers, especially those who are transgender, are often vulnerable to violence and even murder at the hands of johns, and activists have cited Tiffany Edwards’ murder, along with other murdered transgender people in Cincinnati, as evidence of that vulnerability.
• There has been a lot of controversy around the idea of expanding Cincinnati’s coming streetcar north into Uptown. But the transit project’s first big expansion could actually go south if a group in Northern Kentucky gets its way. The Northern Kentucky Streetcar Committee is hoping to raise money to get a feasibility study on expanding the streetcar, which is currently set to run a 3.6-mile loop through Over-the-Rhine and downtown, across the Taylor Southgate Bridge into Newport and Covington. The group has been looking at the idea for the past year and a half, according to member and NKY businessman Ian Budd. The committee, which also includes Newport City Commissioner Beth Fennell, will soon ask the federal government for $300,000 for the feasibility study. If no grants are available from federal sources, Budd says the group will turn to private funding sources to get the ball rolling.
• Here's a short and disturbing story from our neighbors just to the north. We’ve talked a lot about the racial dimensions of childhood poverty and infant mortality in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, but we’re not alone in the struggle against those issues. A new report shows that black infants are twice as likely to die as white infants in Butler County, which contains the cities of Hamilton and Middletown as well as suburbs like West Chester. This article explores reasons why that is.
• Finally, let’s zoom way out. What are the greatest threats to the world in the coming decade, according to experts from around the globe? Pew Research Center polled a group of 700 academics, policy wonks and others, who said involuntary mass migration such as the Syrian refugee crisis and climate change were the biggest issues facing the planet in the coming years. Check out this piece for the fascinating, if totally depressing, trends driving those predictions.
I’m out! Hit me on Twitter, email, etc. to give me news tips or challenge me to a snowball fight.
It’s a Wednesday, and the line at Cuban Pete Sandwiches on Court Street downtown
stretches out the door during lunchtime. Hungry customers don’t mind waiting in
line for the only authentic Cuban cuisine in Cincinnati. The staff is prepared,
having pre-made 50 traditional Cuban sandwiches at the start of their shift.
The restaurant catches the attention of a Cuban man, who cuts all the way to
the front of the line and approaches Nelson Fonticiella.
“This isn’t real Cuban food!” the man tells Fonticiella.
Fonticiella, the restaurant’s owner and general manager, simply tells the surly
customer he has no idea. The man admits he has been looking for authentic Cuban
food in Cincinnati for years. He hasn’t even been able to find a restaurant
that uses Cuban bread for sandwiches.
Of course, he doesn’t believe that the man before him with green eyes, red hair
and freckles is Cuban —not until he samples the piece of bread Fonticiella
gives him. It’s so good that he orders a Cuban sandwich and eats the entire
thing while having a conversation with Fonticiella’s father. Just one sandwich
isn’t enough for him, so he orders a steak sandwich and scarfs it down in the
store before ordering a chicken sandwich to go.
“A real Cuban guy sat there and couldn’t resist eating two of our sandwiches,”
Fonticiella says later. “That’s about as complimentary as it gets.”
He knows for a fact Cuban Pete is the only restaurant in Cincinnati that
serves authentic Cuban bread, which he imports from Miami.
The bread cooks up nice and crisp when sandwiches are pressed, giving them the
perfect filling-to-bread ratio (as opposed to other styles of bread that can
make sandwiches too … bready).
Each week Fonticiella roasts 100 pounds of pork for his sandwiches and tacos. It’s
juicy, tender and flavorful.
“This is authentic as it gets. Besides, I’m cooking in an oven instead of
burying a pig in the ground,” he says with a laugh. “Eventually I’m going to
have to teach someone else how to do it, but I’m having trouble giving up my
secret pork recipe.”
The recipe comes from a leather-bound book he found in his grandmother’s attic
containing all of his great-grandfather’s recipes. Pedro — or Pete, as he was
nicknamed — cooked for his hungry baseball teammates in Cuba. Although he did
not make it to the U.S. when the family immigrated to Florida, his recipes did.
Fonticiella’s grandmother began to teach him how to cook when he was seven
years old. Now, his great-grandfather Pete’s recipes account for half of what
is served at Cuban Pete, including the chicken and steak. The other half are
The idea for Cuban Pete began eight years ago when Fonticiella opened a food
truck in Lexington, Ky. The business moved to Cincinnati three years ago after
Fonticiella frequented the city for concerts and saw the restaurant and music
scenes expanding. So far, he has not regretted his decision to move up north.
“The thing I love about Cincinnati is that everyone who is from here or lives
here is proud as hell to be from Cincinnati,” he says. “Everyone knows the ins
and outs and the history of their city.”
Although he originally intended to open up more Cuban Pete in other cities
such as Indianapolis, Fonticiella has decided to stay put in the Queen City. In
fact, he loves it so much that a second location will open by the end of the
summer. The new store will be located somewhere in northern Cincinnati, he
“I want to take the food and culture that has influenced me my entire life and
share it with places that don’t really have it,” he says. “Cincinnati is the
perfect place to start. Every day, I have people coming up to me telling me
it’s the best sandwich they’ve ever had in their life.”
“Ninety percent of the time when it’s not busy, you are going to see me sitting
and talking with the customers,” he says as a couple of regulars step into the
restaurant. He greets them by name.
While Fonticiella’s father lives in Lexington, he regularly commutes to
Cincinnati and hang around Cuban Pete. Fonticiella describes his father as
the quintessential loud Cuban; he is always out on the floor talking to
Understandably, customers’ favorite part of Cuban Pete is the food. I enjoyed
the authentic Cuban sandwich as well as the Chicky Boom-Boom sandwich. Seasoned,
marinated chicken is complemented by the perfect combination of sweet jerk
sauce and spicy Sriracha, paired with red onions and tomatoes.
Enjoy hand-cut fries as a side or fried plantains for a sweeter alternative. They’re sweet and enjoyable enough for dessert. You can also get some of Pete’s
amazing pork or chicken on a taco, which comes with pineapple cilantro salsa.
There are also breakfast options and different variations of the Cuban to try,
such as the creative Cincy Cuban with goetta.
The menu will be expanding with healthier options and desserts Feb. 1, with
house-made black bean burgers, salads with homemade dressing, and Tres Leches Cake.
All menu items are reasonably priced, especially considering the quality of the food. Cuban Pete serves the only authentic Cuban food in Cincinnati, and Fonticiella goes the extra mile when sourcing his ingredients. He can find his pork, drinks and ingredients for marinades locally from Jungle Jim’s, Findlay Market and Restaurant Depot, but the bread and bolo ham come from Florida.
Good morning, Cincy! Here are your morning headlines.
Eight of the nine City Council members have signed a motion to go forward with the purchase of four miles of railway needed for the Wasson Way trail project. The city has a $12 million purchase agreement with Norfolk Southern Railroad that is set to expire in July and will face additional fees if the deal is not closed by then. The only setback now for the trail project? Well, the city has to come up with the money for the purchase as well an additional $19 to $23 million to build all for sections of the trail from Montgomery Road to Wooster Pike. The project faced financial setbacks before, when the city was turned town for federal TIGER grant money. But it recently received $500,000 from a state grant and has applied for an additional $4.5 million in state capital funding for the project.
• There's more bickering at City Hall between Mayor John Cranley and some of the Democratic council members. According to emails obtained by The Enquirer through a public information request, tensions between council members Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young and the mayor have gotten so bad, the three declined Cranley's invitation for weekly meetings. Seelbach wrote in an email that, "It has to do with you treating people like shit," which was used in the the Enquirer's original headline for its article on the squabble. Apparently, they changed it shortly after to something more PG-rated, but not before the Business Courier manage to screen cap it.
• Cincinnati's grocery giant Kroger ranks third largest in the world, according to the National Retail Federation. It fell just behind Walmart and Costco and has moved up from its spot at on the list at No. 6 last year. Another Cincinnati giant, Macy's, was ranked at No. 35. National Retail Federation used 2014 fiscal year sales to compile its list of the top 50 retailers.
• Tenants at a South Cumminsville apartment complex say they are living in an unsafe environment that their landlord refuses to do anything about. Residents of Garfield Commons on Elmore Street say there's constant fighting and shootings around the building as well as issues with mold, fallen bricks and heroin users in the parking lot. One resident says she doesn't feel like she's living in a secure building that's guaranteed as part of her Section 8 housing benefits and that the building manager never answers his phone.
Even though we’ve just passed the halfway point of the 2015-2016 theater season, the over-achievers at Cincinnati Landmark Productions just announced plans for future productions at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts and the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater for 2016-2017.
Tim Perrino, CLP’s executive artistic director, says, “With our two venues, Cincinnati Landmark Productions has two great platforms to create exciting theater and palpable neighborhood vitality. We set a course for success with a summer of sellouts at the Incline in 2015, and we’re chomping at the bit to bring these just-announced shows to life in 2016 and 2017.”
The Covedale’s offerings are designed for mainstream audiences, while the Incline offers two distinct seasons — “Summer Classics” presents shows with broad appeal; the “District Series” produces more adult fare, both musicals and dramas.
The Covedale Center’s “Marquee Series” for 2016-2017 will offer:
The Incline’s “District Series” plans to produce starting next fall:
Still in the pipeline for the Covedale’s current season are productions of Neil Simon’s warm-hearted comedy Chapter Two (Jan. 21-Feb. 14) and two classic musicals, She Loves Me (March 1-April 3) and Brigadoon (April 28-May 22).
Queued up at the Incline for the balance of this season are the satiric musical Avenue Q (Feb. 18-March 6) and David Mamet’s hard-as-nails real-estate drama Glengarry Glen Ross (April 6-24). Those will be followed by the previously announced “Summer Classics” season for 2016, featuring three likeable musicals Anything Goes (June 1-26), Baby (July 6-31) and Chicago (Aug. 10-Sept. 4). The Incline’s summer season in 2015 completely sold out three productions — The Producers, 1776 and 9 to 5.
Good morning all. It’s snowing. Did you notice? OK. I’ve done my apparent journalistic duty to point out to you that it is precipitating, but that the atmosphere above Cincinnati is cold enough that said precipitation is coming down as a solid, not a liquid. Thought experiment: Are there more snowflakes coming down or pictures of that snow on Twitter from news organizations?
Real news time. Suspended Hamilton County Court Judge Tracie Hunter found out yesterday that she won’t face retrial on eight felony counts. A previous jury couldn’t come to an agreement on those charges, but one in 2014 did convict Hunter of a ninth felony charge related to information she gave her brother, a Hamilton County Juvenile Court employee, as he faced his own charges for punching an inmate. Special prosecutor Scott Croswell III told Hamilton County Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker that retrying Hunter on the other charges would cost too much and cause further unnecessary acrimony here. Croswell said the state is satisfied with the count Hunter was convicted on. Since her conviction, Hunter has lost her law license and been suspended from the bench. She was sentenced in Dec. 2014 to six months in jail and a year of probation for the charges.
• Cincinnati will host a big-name startup convention this October, organizers announced yesterday. Colorado-based TechStars and locals Cintrifuse will host FounderCon from Oct. 18-20. In the past, the conference has visited major cities like Austin and Chicago and is expected to draw more than 1,000 corporate leaders and tech startup founders. The event looks to be another boost for the city’s startup economy. Startups in the city have raised more than $170 million in funding in the past few years, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.
• Another round of condos is coming to Over-the-Rhine. 3CDC has listed 36 new condos for sale ranging in price from $145,000 to $650,000 in the area around Race, Elm and Main streets and other locations. The new developments, three of which are already under contract to be purchased when they are completed, join another 54 3CDC has brought to the neighborhood in the past year and 347 it has developed in OTR since its founding in 2003. In addition to the condos, the developer plans 27 affordable units of apartment housing accompanying 23 condos and 11 townhomes at a new development on 15th and Race streets, though it’s unclear what level of affordability those units will have.
• A little further north, Findlay Market is nearing completion of its incubator kitchen. The kitchen features 8,000 square feet of shared-use space and is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs launch food-based ventures. The kitchen will be city-licensed, allowing businesses to produce food for sale there. Members will pay $75 a year for access to the kitchen. The space’s 10 kitchens will be accessible 24 hours a day and can be rented by the hour or by the month.
• Normally, going from city to city asking people about pot is the purview of touring musicians. But two Ohio lawmakers will go on a three-city tour soon to listen to residents’ opinions on medical marijuana ahead of possible legislative action on that subject. State Sens. David Burke, a Republican, and Kenny Yuko, a Democrat, will travel to Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati starting Jan. 30 to conduct the listening tour. Yuko has been a medicinal marijuana supporter for more than a decade, while Burke is “skeptical, but wants to listen.” This sounds like an amazing reality show. Yuko says the effort has been sparked by a new willingness among his colleagues in the state house to consider medicinal marijuana. Neither Yuko nor Burke say they support recreational use, however, so touring bands will need to be careful about their own traveling pot inquiries into the foreseeable future.
• Right now there’s a big fight going on in the Ohio legislature around a bill to reform the state’s unemployment benefits program. Lawmakers are working on changes that could reduce the number of weeks unemployed workers are eligible for the benefits from the current 26 weeks to somewhere between 12 and 20 weeks depending on the state’s unemployment rate. That, among many other measures in the bill, has advocates for workers and the poor up in arms.
They point out that unemployment rates vary drastically in different regions of the state, and that someone who lives in a high unemployment area could see their benefits unfairly reduced if the overall state unemployment rate is low. Labor leaders and Democrats in the state house have blasted the changes. The state House Democratic Caucus called the bill the biggest attack on workers since the infamous SB5 legislation enacted at the start of Gov. John Kasich’s first term. That bill sought to limit state employee collective bargaining rights.
Republican lawmakers and many business groups, however, stand by the proposed changes. Currently, Ohio’s unemployment trust fund is insolvent, and conservative lawmakers say their proposed changes are necessary to keep it going. Liberals, however, say the changes proposed by Republicans shield businesses from unemployment taxes at the expense of workers.
• Finally, your daily Kasich update. Ohio’s big queso has moved up a spot in at least one national poll. He’s now sixth in a USA Today poll. Is that sad or good news for Kasich? It’s hard to tell. He was seventh in the same poll last week. He’s ahead of former frontrunner Ben Carson, who has tanked of late. He’s also two spots ahead of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. Sadly, he’s still trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose campaign is widely seen as a disaster. Will Kasich keep climbing? Will he place high in the vital upcoming Iowa and New Hampshire primaries? I’m on the edge of my seat.