A group is ordaining Roman Catholic women priests despite Vatican opposition, and Debra Meyers will be Cincinnati's first woman to go through the ordination on May 25. Meyers told CityBeat the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests' movement is about pressuring the Catholic Church to be more inclusive, including with women, LGBT individuals and other groups that may feel left out by the Church's current policies. The full Q&A with Meyers can be read here.
In the latest budget plan, Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan is asking all city employees, including cops and firefighters, to take eight furlough days, which she says would save enough money to prevent all layoffs. That plan follows a motion co-sponsored by council members Roxanne Qualls and Chris Seelbach, which would eliminate all fire layoffs and reduce police layoffs to 25.
Hamilton County commissioners voted to stop all sewer projects yesterday in opposition to the city's "responsible bidder" policy, which requires most contractors working with the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) to have apprenticeship programs. City Council, spearheaded by Seelbach, passed the measure to encourage more job training options for workers, but the county government says the measure is unfair and puts too much of a strain on businesses working with MSD. The issue will likely head to court.
Commentary: "Good News Reveals Budget Deception."
At last night's budget hearings, Councilman Charlie Winburn repeatedly brought up the city's so-called "credit cards," which are really procurement cards that are often used by the mayor to entertain and attract businesses to Cincinnati. Winburn says the use of the cards is outrageous when the city is considering laying off cops and firefighters, and Councilman Chris Smitherman says the system needs more controls. The cards are set up so they can only be used by city employees for certain services, and City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. says the cards make the system more efficient, which means lower prices for the city.
A bill in the Ohio House revives the Medicaid expansion, which was previously opposed by Republicans as part of the budget process. Gov. John Kasich is one of the top Ohio Republicans who supports the expansion, but it's unclear how far the bill can move this time, considering many Republicans are still opposed. CityBeat covered the expansion, which would insure half a million Ohioans and save the state money in the next decade, in further detail here.
The Ohio General Assembly passed a bill
yesterday that would effectively ban Internet "sweepstakes" cafes,
which state officials say are prone to illegal gambling activity. State
Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, says the bill is a "shoot ‘em
and let God sort it out" approach because the bill generalizes against
all Internet cafes instead of imposing specific regulations that would
only target offenders. If Kasich signs the bill, it will become law.
The Ohio Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit advocacy group, submitted 589 petitions to the Ohio Senate opposing a measure that would force Ohio's public universities to decide between $370 million in out-of-state tuition revenue and giving out-of-state students documents required for voting. The measure was originally sneaked into the Ohio House budget plan, but Senate officials are removing it from the budget bill and appear likely to take it up in a standalone bill. CityBeat covered the original measure here.
Greater Cincinnati home sales are continuing picking up. There 2,388 homes
sold in the region in April, up 22.65 percent from the year before —
even better than March's 13.5-percent year-over-year rise.
Researchers are now suggesting rubbing a certain kind dirt on wounds.
In order to avoid deficits for fiscal year 2014 and beyond, the Contemporary Arts Center on Monday laid off four employees and Director/Chief Curator Raphaela Platow announced other cost-saving measures.
The four positions were associate curator of education,
exhibitions director, development director and director of communications and
community engagement. Additionally, Platow herself took a 20 percent salary
reduction for the upcoming fiscal year.
Platow said cost-saving decisions were approved by the Board of Trustees in April. The board has mandated that the CAC reduce its dependency on its endowment for operational expenses by roughly $60,000 a year for the next five years. The CAC estimates that cutback, as well as an expected drop in support from major funders, would create an operating-budget deficit for the next fiscal year without these moves. The operating budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in August, is $3.1 million.
She also said there are no plans to raise admission fees or reduce hours of operation.
While the four eliminated positions represent 16% of the institution’s staff, there will be several new hirings of “redefined and reorganized” job descriptions, she said. “By redefining, I mean changing to a different skill set and position, sometimes on a very different salary level. This is what we have to do to move forward,” Platow said.
A previously announced new curatorial hire, Steven Matijcio, arrives from North Carolina in June and will be involved in announcing the 2013-2014 exhibition season on June 26.
(More information will be included in The Big Picture column in the May 29 issue.)
Local job numbers continued their positive trend in April, with Cincinnati’s unemployment rate dropping to 6.9 percent and the rest of the region following suit. Michael Jones, research director at the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, attributed the job gains to improvements in manufacturing and continued growth in health care jobs. Still, the public sector continued to lag behind the private sector — a trend Jones says could change in the coming months as government budgets are adjusted to match higher tax revenues resulting from the recovering economy.
Downtown’s population growth slowed last year as available housing failed to match demand, according to Downtown Cincinnati Inc.’s annual report. In the past few years, the city has pursued multiple actions to meet demand, particularly through public-private partnerships. Most recently, City Council approved leasing the city’s parking assets to raise funds that would help build 300 luxury apartments, but that plan is currently being held up in court.
The second phase of The Banks riverfront project will cost $62 million, according to the report from Downtown Cincinnati Inc. That’s smaller than the first phase, which cost $90 million. The second phase of the project is expected to begin this fall, and it should bring 300 apartments and 60,000 square feet of street-level retail space to the area by the end of 2015. The Banks also plans to build a $45 million hotel, which is also expected to be complete in 2015. The funding for the projects is coming through multiple public-private partnerships.
After the final
public hearing on the city budget Wednesday, Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan plans to introduce her own
budget plan that would avoid all city employee layoffs. A statement from Quinlivan
did not give much in the way of details: “My plan saves all city jobs
and restores all neighborhood programs. It requires common sense and
shared sacrifice of all city employees.” Most recently, council members
Chris Seelbach and Roxanne Qualls co-sponsored a motion that would eliminate fire layoffs and reduce police layoffs to 25 by making cuts elsewhere.
The Ohio Senate plans to vote today on a measure that would effectively close down hundreds of Internet “sweepstakes” cafes around the state in an effort to eliminate illegal gambling activities. The cafes’ operators insist their activities are not gambling but rather a promotional tool that helps sell Internet time and long-distance phone cards.
Cincinnati’s zoning hearing examiner says he’s trying to reduce the time it takes to go through the zoning hearing process to less than 60 days.
Three major Ohio universities, including the University of Cincinnati, and four hospitals, including Cincinnati Children's Hospital, are teaming up to find out what causes premature birth.
Beginning July 1, some Ohio interstates will allow drivers to go 70 miles per hour. Find out which ones here.
At congressional hearings yesterday, U.S. senators criticized Apple for legally taking advantage of the complex American corporate tax system, but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul put the blame on Congress:
The creator of the GIF says it’s pronounced “jif.”
Local joblessness fell sharply in April, continuing a positive trend as Cincinnati’s economy recovers from the Great Recession, according to new data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).
“We’re continuing to see the same positive trend at both the local level and the state level,” says Michael Jones, research director at the University of Cincinnati Economics Center.
Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.9
percent in April, down from a revised 7.4 percent in March and 7.4
percent in April 2012.
In the past, the unemployment rate sometimes dropped as people gave up on looking for work and left the civilian labor force, but the April report reflected genuine improvements in the local economy. The civilian labor force and amount of people with a job were higher, and the amount of people without a job dropped.
The news was similarly positive for the rest of the region. Greater Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent, down from 7.2 percent in March and 7 percent in April 2012. Hamilton County’s rate hit 6.3 percent, down from 6.9 percent in March and 6.8 percent the year before.
Jones says the health care sector has been one of the leading areas of growth in the local economy, but the April report also showed strong gains in manufacturing — allaying fears raised in recent months that the industry, which Jones calls “volatile,” was beginning to recede.
“We’re starting to see that upward swing again,” Jones says. “We’re not back on track ... but we’ve erased the last couple months of losses.”
Still, the public sector has continued to decline, reflecting budget cuts made at all levels of government in the past couple years.
Jones says it’s common for the public sector to lag behind the private sector, so it’s possible there will be government job gains in a few months once government budgets are updated to match higher tax revenues resulting from the recovering economy.
In Ohio, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in April, down from 7.3 percent the month before. Nationwide, the rate was 7.1 percent, down from 7.6 percent.
Job numbers are obtained through household surveys by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which uses the data to measures the amount of people employed relative to the civilian labor force. The numbers are adjusted for seasonal factors at state and national levels, but not at the local level. Since the numbers are obtained through surveys, they are often revised with stronger data in later months.
I recently watched Parks and Recreation in its entirety over the past two weeks, so if I cancelled plans with you, it’s not because my cat was sick. I was watching hours and hours of Netflix. Sorry. It goes without saying that I’m now fully obsessed with Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson), who, as it turns out, actually is married to Megan “Tammy Two” Mullally and actually is a master woodworker. Anyway, Offerman was on Jay Leno last week to promote his upcoming film, Kings of Summer. He also performed a song he wrote for his wife (NSFWish), "Rainbow Song." Apparently he’s sung this ditty on a few other talk shows, but I’ll take anything to get me through to P&R Season Six — which has been confirmed!
Saturday’s SNL finale was filled with lots of weirdness and sads. Ben Affleck did a so-so hosting job, but there were a lot of awkward moments from the start. Ben’s monologue referred back to his Argo Oscar acceptance speech (is that really as timely as your could get, SNL writers? Oh, wait. There was also a Gigli joke. Oy.) about how he loves his wife but marriage is work and blahblahblah because I guess some people thought that was kind of shitty for him to say. Well, Mrs. Affleck, Jennifer Garner, came out to faux-bicker with him but it mostly came off as a desperate “We’re married and we love each other, OK?!” confirmation. Was anyone even worried about them? Also, it really looked like he was crying when he introduced musical guest, Kanye West. Kim K's baby daddy debuted two songs from his upcoming album, Yeezus, and he was in full performance art mode (also, the censors let hella N-words slip through the cracks.)
Then came the tears. Last week it was announced that Seth Meyers will be leaving the show to host Late Night next year; Bill Hader also said this would be his last season. The two went out with a bang during a Weekend Update segment with Bill’s flamboyant city correspondent, Stefon. (Oh, and Amy Poehler co-hosted Update for old time’s sake.) Stefon took us on a wild ride that included a wedding, Anderson Cooper and all those crazy, presumably made-up characters from his club reviews (including Menorah the Explorer and human traffic cones).
There had also been additional reports that
Jason Sudekis and 11-year vet Fred Armisen were heading out. Though Jason
hasn’t made an official announcement, he joined Fred and Bill onstage for a
reprisal of Fred’s fictional Punk pioneer, Ian Rubbish. Fred’s Portlandia co-star Carrie Brownstein,
Kim Gordon, Aimee Mann and others rocked the stage with The Bizarros. :'(
Beyoncé may or may not be pregnant — Gawker considers all the possible “conspiracé theorés” here. As I go set up Google alerts for an official announcement (and ponder if/how this would affect her summer U.S. tour, specifically the Nashville concert that I will be attending), go look up the name of your Destiny’s Child with the Bey Bey Name Generator. And check out her newly leaked single, “Grown Woman” (the song from that epic Pepsi commercial).
Spinderella cut it up one time! The true star of Salt-N-Pepa, DJ Spinderella, will be in town at the Aronoff Center with Shaquille O’Neal and a slew of comedians for Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam June 1. Seriously, that’s a real thing.
And here's Taylor Swift being grossed out by Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez's Billboard Awards PDA: