During Gov. John Kasich’s term as governor, local government funding has fallen by nearly half — from nearly $3 billion to about $1.6 billion — and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is leading an effort to get that funding back. With the support of Democratic officials from around the state, Sittenfeld is launching a website called ProtectMyOhio.com, which is gathering petition signatures that will eventually be sent to Kasich and members of the Ohio General Assembly.
Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler extended the temporary restraining order on the city’s parking plan yesterday, potentially delaying any ruling on the city's plan to lease its parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority for another two weeks. In response, the city said it’s approaching a “pressure point” for budget cuts for fiscal year 2014, which must be executed by July 1.
Ohio House Republicans are looking to bolster education funding to poor districts in response to criticisms of Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget proposal. A previous CityBeat analysis found Kasich’s budget proposal disproportionately benefits the wealthy in a few ways, including education funding.
City Council did not vote on funding for a feasibility study for Westwood Square Wednesday, but the vote could happen as early as next week. The delay came after the Westwood Civic Association said in a letter that the plan needs more discussion.
The controversial election bill moved through the Ohio House yesterday despite calls for more time for debate. The bill, which will now head to Kasich to be signed into law, limits the referendum process by giving referendum and ballot initiative petitioners 10 days to get more signatures if the initial batch is found to be inadequate. Under current law, petitioners can continually search for more signatures while the secretary of state and ballot board sort through signatures. Republicans argue the change makes the petition process fair and uniform, but Democrats say it goes too far in weakening ballot initiative and referendum powers.
The state’s $7.6 billion transportation budget, which includes plan to fund transportation projects around the state with Ohio Turnpike funds, breezed through the Ohio Senate Wednesday. It will reach the House for a scheduled vote today.
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced new efforts to help sexual assault victims around Ohio by ensuring each county has adequate services. The efforts are in response to a survey that found 59 percent of counties don’t have comprehensive services and eight counties have very few or no services. “It is our goal to ensure that a quick and compassionate emergency response is available to any victim of sexual assault at any time of the day, any day of the week and in any area of the state,” DeWine said in a statement.
The federal government released data that shows serious safety violations in hospitals that occurred since Jan. 1, 2011, and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Christ Hospital are both on the list.
Hamilton County ranked No. 65 out of Ohio’s 88 counties for health in a new survey from Patrick Remington at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. The study found suburban counties fare much better than urban counties, and premature death is at a 20-year low.
Accusations of inappropriate teacher behavior in Ohio are on the rise.
Voyager 1 is or may soon become the first object humanity has ever sent out of the sun’s reach.
Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler announced today that he will be extending the restraining order on the city's parking plan until April 3, potentially delaying any ruling on the city's plan to lease its parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority for another two weeks.
Winkler's office told CityBeat that the judge has been focusing on a murder case, and the delay will give him more time to review the details of the parking plan's case before giving a ruling. The delay does not necessarily mean a ruling is delayed until April 3, and it's possible Winkler could rule within the next two weeks, according to his office.
Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, says the city is approaching a "pressure point" with the latest delay.
"We respect the court's right to do that (the extension), and know that every day that we cannot make the parking deal happen is a day that we are closer to having to lay people off," she says.
Olberding says the city is so far unsure what the exact effect of the delay will be. The city has repeatedly warned that extending the legal conflict for too long will force the city to make cuts to balance the budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1.
City Council passed the parking plan in a 5-4 vote on March 6, but the plan was almost immediately held up by a temporary restraining order from Winkler after he received a lawsuit from Curt Hartman, an attorney who represents the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), on behalf of local activists who oppose the plan and argue it should be subject to referendum.
The legal dispute is centered around City Council's use of emergency clauses, which remove a 30-day waiting period on approved legislation, and the city claims they also remove the possibility of referendum.
In a hearing presided by Winkler on March 15, Hartman argued the city charter's definition of emergency clauses is ambiguous, and legal precedent supports siding with voters' right to referendum when there is ambiguity.
Terry Nestor, who represented the city, said legal precedent requires the city to defer to state law as long as state law is not contradicted in the city charter.
Cincinnati's city charter does not specify whether emergency legislation is subject to referendum, but state law explicitly says it's not.
Opponents of the parking plan say they’re concerned the plan will give up too much control over the city's parking meters, which they say could lead to skyrocketing parking rates.
The city says rates are set at 3 percent or inflation, but the rates can change with a unanimous vote from a special committee, approval from the city manager and a final nod from the Port Authority. The special committee would comprise of four people appointed by the Port Authority and one appointed by the city manager.
The city is pursuing the parking plan to help balance the city's deficit for the next two fiscal years and enable economic development projects, including the construction of a downtown grocery store ("Parking Stimulus," issue of Feb. 27).
Local pastry chef/chocolatier/confectioner Shalini Latour of Chocolats Latour has seriously taken chocolate bunnies to the next level of cute by Willy Wonka-ing them into a rainbow assortment of colors.
Chocolate naturally comes in brown (boring), dark brown (more boring) and white (really boring), so Latour applied some cocoa butter colors and turned her little Easter hoppers into periwinkle, lavender, flamingo, cantaloupe, sunflower and chartreuse rabbits. A chartreuse bunny! Brilliant.
Each candy is made of solid, fair-trade chocolate in dark, milk or white, which is then wrapped in a compostable cellophane bag. Bunnies are available in two sizes: 7 oz. ($9.50) and 20 oz. ($24). And, sure, the painted eyes are a tad freaky, but that's easy to get over — just eat the head first.
The remaking and re-imagining of classic films and TV shows is often met with high expectations and harsh reviews. Despite this, I was really looking forward to A&E’s new horror-drama, Bates Motel. Something of a warped prequel to Psycho, the thriller places a young Norman Bates and his mother Norma in charge of a previously foreclosed motel in a contemporary setting. With the swoon-worthy Vera Farmiga (big sis to American Horror Story’s Violet, Taissa Farmiga) starring as the mother to the future sociopath (who is portrayed by creepy-yet-cute Freddie Highmore), I really thought it was going to be awesome. It wasn’t. Check out my full reaction in this week’s TV column.
I know I should have lowered my expectations — prequels generally suck — but I was really pulling for this one. Sadly, I’ve felt more suspense in an episode of A&E’s Intervention that in this show where multiple people were murdered in the premiere. Dammit, Bates Motel, I was rooting for you!
Popular restaurant recommendation site Urbanspoon recently listed the most buzzed about bar-n-grills across America and Cincinnati topped the list with seven restaurant-bar mentions — matched only by Chicago, New Orleans and St. Louis. The restaurants include A Tavola, Adriatico's Pizza, Bakersfield OTR, Nada, Senate, Taste of Belgium Bistro and Terry’s Turf Club. With Covington’s Wunderbar bringing the local count up to eight, it looks like Greater Cincinnati is the place to go for beers and bites!
Usually when my mom shares with me something she found on the Internet, it’s either a pug photo shoot on YouTube or an MSN slideshow of inappropriate advertisements, but recently she sent me something even better. Check out this informational North Korean documentary footage of American life:
Ah, America: Where there aren’t any birds, except for the ones we all ate yesterday. Just a reminder, next time you order your snow coffee, make sure to ask if it’s local. Thanks for the cake, North Korea!
So the Catholics got a new pope last week. Remember: There’s always money in the Vatican!