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by Cassie Lipp 02.03.2016 5 days ago
Posted In: Arts community, Visual Art at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Slice of Cincinnati: Cincinnati Art Museum's Conservation Department

It’s the 15th century, and remnants of the Middle Ages hang over Europe as it unknowingly waits for the Renaissance. In the dim candlelight somewhere in Spain shines an altarpiece painted to depict the lives of St. Peter and Jesus Christ along with images of the Virgin Mary and other saints. With its impressive strokes of paint and gold and silver leaf, Lorenzo Zaragoza’s “Retablo of St. Peter” is remarkable to behold.

More than 600 years later, the altarpiece rests under the skilled hands of Cincinnati Art Museum’s chief conservator Serena Urry. With only the clack of museum visitor’s shoes disturbing the quiet peace, the setting resembles the serenity of the piece’s original home.

Zaragoza’s piece has stood the test of time, more or less. While it has been admired by thousands of Cincinnati Art Museum visitors since the museum purchased the piece in1960, it was taken off exhibit in 2010 due to its poor condition. It is now back on exhibit through April 24, as visitors can watch Urry bring the retablo to life again through cleaning all 18 of its panels.

It’s a two-in-one exhibit, giving visitors an insider’s look at the work done by the museum’s conservation department while they view and learn about the piece. Established in 1935, the museum’s conservation department is one of the oldest in the country. Since then it has grown from one part-time paintings conservator to four professionally trained conservators, each of whom have their own specialization in paintings, paper, textiles or objects. The department is in charge of conserving the museum’s entire collection (with the exception of works that are on loan to the museum).

Urry proposed the exhibit because the retablo needed to be treated before it could go back on view in the galleries. However, this is no small task — the retouching is not expected to be complete for another few years. On view in the exhibit is only the first step of the process: cleaning and consolidating.

“Museums usually put conservation on view to the public when the work of art is simply too big to remove it from the gallery or garden,” Urry says. Before the retablo was taken off exhibit, it was the only piece in the room it occupied.
Conserving a work of art like the retablo first involves examining them closely under infrared and ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light reveals differences on the painting’s surface that are not visible to the naked eye; infrared light reveals what is underneath the paint on the ground layer.

Urry says determining the full condition of a piece of art before beginning its conservation treatment is the hardest part of conserving art. The two most important tenants that guide painting conservation are reversibility, which ensures that nothing will be done to the work that cannot be removed later, and dissimilarity, which means suing conservation materials that are not found in the original painting.

Of course, Uri’s conservation efforts are not the first for the retablo. With a piece of art this old, it is common for there to be many years of retouching — the first effort to conserve the retablo may have occurred around the early 1500s. It is believed that the central sculpture of St. Peter was created to replace the original lost piece.

Urry’s work includes using a variety of solvents, hand tools and a hot air gun to remove the effects of older retouching campaigns, such as discolored varnish and wax. This includes a layer of wax added by the Art Museum in 1960 to contain flaking. Since then it has become clouded with dust and grime, and the wax tinted to match the gold leaf of the painting has discolored to a greenish metallic hue.

After cleaning, painting conservation also involves structural treatments, such as modifying or replacing the canvas, its lining and stretcher. There may also be surface treatments done to conserve paintings, such as filling losses of paint, toning the fillings and adding layers of varnish.

“All of the paintings in a multi-piece work like this should be worked on together to ensure consistency,” Urry says. “The gallery space gives me an opportunity to have all of them on view as they are conserved.”

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.03.2016 5 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Sittenfeld proposes new pedestrian, cyclist safety efforts; ICE agents in Price Hill put immigrant community on edge; will Kasich get rolled over by Rubio?

Hey hey Cincy! How are you all on this fine spring morning? Wait, it’s early February? Guess I better change out of these jean shorts and put the slip-n-slide away. Bummer. Be right back.

OK, where were we now? News. Right. Let’s get to it.

Last night Xavier University held a packed town hall discussion on the state of Cincinnati 15 years after the police shooting of unarmed black citizen Timothy Thomas and the civil unrest that shook the city afterward. Here’s my story about that ahead of a more in-depth dive later. I also live tweeted last night’s event and you can find quotes from panelists on my feed.

• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has proposed a new measure aimed at increasing pedestrian and bicyclist safety, according to a news release sent out this morning. Sittenfeld’s proposed motion, which would ask the city to identify the area’s most dangerous intersections for non-car-drivers and present options aimed at mitigating the dangers there. Sittenfeld says his motion, which comes in the wake of a hit-and-run accident that killed a popular Cincinnati cyclist in Anderson last week, has support of the rest of Council. As a cyclist and a walking commuter, I very much hope the city follows through on this.

• A visit by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in East Price Hill has some members of the immigrant community and their advocates on edge. Agents with ICE showed up yesterday morning at an apartment complex that houses a few Central American immigrant families, and now some in the community fear the visit is the precursor to a larger raid by the agency tasked with enforcing America’s immigration laws. Late last year, the Obama administration announced it would begin more strictly enforcing those laws and deporting undocumented families who arrived after 2014. Several states have already seen raids from the agency.

• Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District spent hundreds of millions of dollars over nearly a decade without necessary city oversight, city documents and officials say, much of it through contracts to third parties for work it didn’t put up for competitive bids. The spending has its roots in a policy shift started in 2007 that gives large amounts of control to MSD director without proper oversight from city officials outside the department, according to this Cincinnati Enquirer story. City Manager Harry Black has vowed to change the way the department operates so that spending is more transparent and accountable.

• Welp, we’ve talked a lot about how Ohio Gov. John Kasich has his hopes pinned on New Hampshire as he chases the GOP presidential nomination. But then Iowa happened. Specifically, Republican young gun U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t do that terribly in the state’s caucus, the first contest in the country where primary voters pick their favorites for their party’s nominee. Rubio finished third behind surprise winner U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and real estate hustler Donald Trump.

Consensus among political pundits is that Cruz and Trump are unelectable, but that Rubio could consolidate support from establishment GOP power players, putting him in position to surge ahead in polls. That’s got political talking heads going all crazy like this (only replace “Ru-fi-o!” with “Ru-bi-o!”), which could make their punditry a self-fulfilling prophecy in places like… you guessed it… New Hampshire. Kasich has been doing markedly better in that state, which he has identified as his make-or-break stand. He’s scooped up the vast majority of newspaper endorsements there and is polling a strong third behind Trump and Cruz. But that could change if Rubio-mania continues. So will Kasich go on the offensive against the Florida senator, who has some pretty big weak spots in terms of his congressional attendance record, his personal finances and other issues? We’ll see. Primaries in New Hampshire are Feb. 9.

• Here’s a brief, but important presidential election update: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky suspended his presidential campaign this morning so he can focus on his Senate re-election bid. Once though to be a big contender this election, Paul’s less interventionist foreign policy ideas and criminal justice reform domestic policy ideas have failed to gain traction in a GOP primary race full of war-loving ideologues convinced a wave of illegal immigrants is coming to rob us blind. Go figure.

• Finally, we’ve seen a lot of journalism about how much the various presidential campaigns are raising in contributions, which PACs and Super PACs are spending millions on those candidates, and the like. But under-covered until now has been the little-known but completely vital pizza primary. How much has your choice for president spent on pizza? Spoiler alert: Ohio’s big queso Kasich hasn’t spent much dough on the cheesy stuff.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.03.2016 5 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Panelists and Community Discuss 2001's Ongoing Legacy

Police practices might be better, many say, but much work looms for Cincinnati 15 years after civil unrest

Xavier University held a packed town hall discussion last night on the state of Cincinnati 15 years after the police shooting of unarmed black citizen Timothy Thomas and the civil unrest that shook the city afterward.

Thomas was the 15th black Cincinnatian killed by police during the previous three years, and frustrations in the black community over those killings, and deep economic and social isolation, bubbled over in Over-the-Rhine and other neighborhoods around the city.

Even after a decade and a half, the town hall was as timely as ever: Last summer saw the death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose at the hands of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, and events in the past year and a half across the country have brought the issue of racially charged police violence front and center. As evidenced by the sometimes-contentious discussion last night, frustration remains even as Cincinnati has enacted some meaningful reforms in its approach to policing.

Charlie Luken, who was Cincinnati's mayor in 2001, gave introductory remarks to the crowd. Luken admitted that officials at the time were slow to pay attention to the signs of unrest.

“Our community, including me, was slow to grasp the depths of legitimate complaint," he said.

Luken said he doesn't condone violence but also called the unrest in 2001 “part of the American tradition.” He said activism during the unrest led to positive change, a significant shift from statements he made in 2001 when he remarked that “some of them seem to be out here just for the fun of it.”

Activist Iris Roley of the Black United Front argued that the historic Collaborative Agreement that came after the unrest by federal order was a positive step, but that much more work is still needed. For example, Roley advocated for expanded community presence for the Citizen’s Complaint Authority, which handles citizens’ complaints against officers under the city’s police reforms. In 2014, the last year for which data was available, complaints about discrimination rose by 100 percent from the year prior. Complaints about excessive use of force rose 30 percent and firearm discharge allegations rose by 60 percent. Only improper pointing of a firearm complaints went down, by 67 percent. Overall, allegations rose 39 percent over 2013, though those percentages are somewhat skewed by the small numbers involved. Of the 320 complaints filed with the authority, 67 were investigated.

"Children want to know what the people did for them," Roley said of Collaborative Agreement, which she says is still very relevant now. Still, “policing is so huge in the black community. I wish we could think about other things," Roley said, and, "it's more stressful now" because much of police oversight work is done at the city level, and less is in the hands of activists.

Rev. Damon Lynch III, a pastor in OTR in 2001 whose church has since moved to Roselawn, said police issues are just a part of the city’s race problem and that much of the rest of the racial disparity, including huge socioeconomic gaps, haven’t shifted in Cincinnati since 2001.

"Childhood poverty won't start the next civil unrest," he said, suggesting that the economic issues that set up those conditions are the real issue. 

Civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein echoed Roley in his analysis that the Collaborative Agreement was a good step and that strategies like problem-oriented policing are better than previous law enforcement techniques even if larger systemic problems keep racial disparities in place.

“The original ask (in 2001) from my clients was addressing economic inequity,” Gerhardstein said of the fight the Black United Front and other activists waged in court over police reforms following Thomas’ death. “You can't sue capitalism. That's a problem."

Cincinnati Police Department District 4 Capt. Maris Harold, meanwhile, maintained that policing in Cincinnati has gotten remarkably better in the last two decades, touting what she calls the data-driven “science of policing,” which she says can result in fewer arrests by targeting the few violent criminals in an area.

“Policing is a paramilitary organization," and thus, all about strategy, Harold said. That strategy before 2001 was, "zero tolerance, arrest everything that moves," Harold said, but, “unless you're an irrational person, you have to realize the strategy wasn't working." She says police have since realized a small number of people commit violence and that to be effective they must narrow in on those individuals.

Black Lives Matter activist Brian Taylor, however, argued that a shift in police tactics can’t mask deeper problems and that the most powerful way to address those inequalities is through street-level activism. If policing is paramilitary, Taylor asked, “Who is the enemy? Racism is institutional, bound to the system on a molecular level." Taylor brought up the fact that officers who corroborated Tensing’s story around the shooting of DuBose this summer are still on the force and what he says are lingering questions around the CPD shooting of Quandavier Hicks last summer in Northside.

Audience members had loads of questions surrounding the deeper issues that sparked the unrest in 2001, including socioeconomic inequalities and lack of jobs and educational opportunities in the black community.

Many audience members also decried what they see as the inequitable development of Over-the-Rhine, which came about during the years following the unrest when then-mayor Luken helped put together the Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation. 3CDC and other developers have subsequently spent nearly $1 billion redeveloping OTR, in the process changing parts of the neighborhood from a low-income community into a more upscale enclave.

 
 
by Steve Beynon 02.02.2016 6 days ago
Posted In: 2016 election at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Iowa Caucus: Razor-Thin Victory for Clinton, Cruz Takes GOP Win

It was a photo finish this morning for the Democratic candidates with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton squeaking by with an apparent victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with a 0.3-percent lead in the Iowa caucus. Some in the media such at the Associated Press aren’t ready to declare a victor.

The final results for the Democrats were Clinton with 49.9 percent, Sanders with 49.6 percent. The Clinton campaign claimed a humble win 3:35 a.m., hours after the Republicans found Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as their victor. However, some precincts are still unaccounted for and the Sanders campaign is calling for a raw vote count.

Clinton was awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents, versus 695.49 for Sanders. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley suspended his bid for the presidency only about an hour into the night.

Matt Paul, Hillary for America’s Iowa State Director, released a statement following Clinton’s caucus victory: "Hillary Clinton has won the Iowa Caucus. After thorough reporting – and analysis – of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates."

Sanders' spokeswoman Rania Batrice noted that one precinct remained outstanding, and said there were questions about the results in several other counties. "We definitely don't feel comfortable yet," she said early Tuesday.

NBC dubbed last night as the closest Iowa caucus for Democrats in history. The nail-biting battle for Iowa was literally decided by coin tosses to settle ties between the Vermont senator and former first lady. Some coin tosses went in Sanders' favor but some reports suggest Clinton made out with the most coin toss victories.

Neither candidate made a formal victory speech, however they both spoke to their supporters.

“Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” was chanted as the Democratic underdog took the stage to thank supporters. “Iowa, thank you,” he said. “Nine months ago, we came to this beautiful state. We had no political organization. We had no money. We had no name recognition and we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America.” Sanders went on to declare a “virtual tie.”

The smile on Sanders’ face was not the smile of a man that just lost a state — it was the smile of a man that knows he proved he can take on establishment politics.

Clinton gave a nod to Sanders’ strong showing in the Hawkeye state, saying, “I am excited about really getting into the debate with Sen. Sanders about the best way forward.”

“We have to be united against Republicans who will divide us,” she continued. “I intend to stand against it.”

Clinton started the race with a huge lead over Sanders, and while she can technically claim victory, her razor-thin win signals that her inevitability has drastically evaporated.

Some Clinton supporters might be worried the former secretary of state’s underestimation of Sanders’ populist campaign could lead to a repeat of 2008 when Barack Obama seemingly swooped out of nowhere and stole the election.

Polls showed Clinton as the presumptive nominee, with 60 percent when the fight for the Democratic nomination kicked off in May (Sanders had just 10 percent support). Few people in America knew who the Independent Vermont senator was.

The field of only two Democratic candidates goes into Tuesday’s New Hampshire with Sanders in the lead by 19 points, according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

Without a clear loss in Iowa, the momentum can give Sanders the needed financial and popularity boost to battle Clinton well into spring. "We're going to fight really hard in New Hampshire and then we're going to Nevada, to South Carolina, we're doing well around the country," Sanders said getting off a plane in New Hampshire this morning.

For young liberals around the country, the summer blockbuster was not the potential for the first woman president — it was a 74-year-old white Jewish career politician. Sanders is a frequent guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, which could be how some on the left initially knew about the Democratic socialist.

His rhetoric of lifting the weight of student debt and increasing the minimum wage plays well to the college crowd, who on average graduate with $29,000 of debt, according to the Department of Education.

Entrance polling of caucus-goers in Iowa showed that Sanders controlled the young vote with 90 percent of voters under 30 “feeling the Bern” along with voters making $50,000 or less. Clinton owned the female demographic with 57 percent, and moderate voters.

The Republican war for Iowa was not as much as an edge-of-your-seat ride. Sen. Ted Cruz claimed an early victory with 28 percent of the vote.

Donald Trump claimed a close second-place finish with 24.3 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio took an expected third-place with 23.1 percent.

Ben Carson ended the night with 9.3 percent of the vote, Sen. Rand Paul got 4.5 percent, and Jeb Bush came in with a disappointing 2.8 percent despite pouring $16 million into Iowa advertisement.

Despite losing Iowa, Trump gathered the second-largest amount of votes in Iowa caucus history — Cruz of course received a historic level of support with the most support in the state’s history.

Trump delivered a humble and short defeat speech.

“We finished second and I just want to tell you something — I’m just honored,” Trump said to supporters.  “I want to congratulate Ted and the I wanna congratulate all the incredible candidate including Mike Huckabee who has become a really good friend of mine. We will easily go on to defeat Hillary or Bernie who whoever the hell they throw up there” Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suspended his campaign last night.

Cruz didn’t mention Trump by name in his victory speech, but continued his firebrand politics that secured his Iowa victory.

“Tonight is a victory for every American who understands that after we survive eight long years of the Obama presidency, no one personality can right the wrongs done by Washington,” the freshman senator said.

Rubio delivered what sounded like a speech that was written in case the Florida senator secured Iowa. "So this is the moment they told us would never happen,” he said. “They told me my hair wasn't grey enough. They told me my boots were too high. They told me to wait my turn."

The polls missed foreseeing Cruz’s victory, but virtually all predictions going into Iowa showed Rubio taking third place.

The Ohio primary is March 15.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 02.02.2016 6 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Police Chief Eliot Isaac reveals new plan to fight crime; City Council to vote on ordinance against wage theft; UC closer to moving law school to The Banks

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are today's headlines. 

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac unveiled a new crime reduction strategy that would target certain high crime locations in the city. Isaac presented the plan called Place-based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories, or PIVOT, Monday to the City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee. The idea is law enforcement will start to tackle super specific places and try to change the culture at that location. The "place-based" strategy means targeting these locations is as important as targeting people as other new offenders will just take the place of those who are removed from a particular "hot" location. The plan detailed 20 spots across the city in neighborhoods including Avondale, Over-The-Rhine, Walnut Hill and East Price Hill. Many locations are are businesses that are known centers for criminal activity. Isaac the businesses targeted will not necessarily face closure--unless they are non-compliant with police. 

• City Council is set to vote on an ordinance today that would help protect workers from wage theft. The ordinance, which was written by Vice Mayor David Mann, would allow the city to cut tax-agreements and force repayment of financial incentives if a business is found guilty of withholding worker wages. Migrant workers are often victims of this because of language barriers and possible undocumented immigration statuses.

• The University of Cincinnati is closer today to moving its law school to riverfront development The Banks. The finance committee of the university's board of trustees has voted to approve that move, which still needs full board approval. Should the board approve the proposal, the university will need to raise funds for a new facility and select a site at The Banks. Discussions about moving the law school to the riverfront have been circulating around the university for at least four years and have  taken on more serious potential in the last few months.

• Xavier University tonight will host a town hall discussion on the state of Cincinnati 15 years after the city's civil unrest in Over-the-Rhine and other neighborhoods over the police shooting death of unarmed Timothy Thomas. Thomas was the 15th black citizen shot by Cincinnati police over the course of just a few years, and his death uncovered deep inequities in the city's policing and beyond. While national media has celebrated Cincinnati's historic collaborative agreement, which ushered in big changes to CPD, deep socioeconomic inequalities remain here and police shootings of unarmed black citizens remain a huge issue in other Ohio cities and nationwide. Tonight's discussion will include police reform activist Iris Roley, Rev. Damon Lynch III, Cincinnati Black Lives Matter activist Brian Taylor, civil rights lawyer Al Gerhardstein, and CPD Capt. Maris Harold. It starts at 7 p.m. at Xavier's Cintas Center.

• As Gov. John Kasich hangs out in New Hampshire trying to play nice with his fellow GOP presidential nominees, the Washington Post published a story on his attempted aggressive takeover of Youngstown City Schools. Last summer, Kasich's administration introduced a last minute amendment to an education bill that would put a state-appointed highly powerful executive in charge of the low income-area school district and would offer a cash-bonus charter, private, parochial or suburban schools that took Youngstown students. Kasich's crew made sure the bill and the 66-page amendment sailed through the legislature within a matter of days after they had worked with non-elected Youngstown officials for months to carefully craft the plan. The legislation was only halted by a legal challenge that its speedy passage violated legislative rules. The matter is still pending.  

• Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz pulled in the state's evangelical Christian voters out to help him beat business tycoon Donald Trump in the Iowa caucuses Monday night. While the two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, finished neck and neck. The Associated Press said that race was too close to call. This has probably left Clinton must be shaking in her suit as she heads off to New Hampshire--where Sanders' has the advantage of winning his neighboring state.

Story tips go to nkrebs@citybeat.com.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.02.2016 6 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Council Set to Pass Anti-Wage-Theft Ordinance

Legislation would allow city to revoke tax credits and bar employers caught cheating workers from future city contracts

Employers who don’t pay their workers might have new penalties to worry about after Cincinnati City Council’s Feb. 3 meeting.

Council is poised to approve a new ordinance that would allow the city to rescind tax agreements and force repayment of incentives such as grants if a company is caught committing wage theft. The city could also bar a company caught not paying its workers from receiving future city contracts.

Council’s Budget and Finance Committee passed the ordinance 6-0 Feb. 1. Though it doesn’t create any new laws, the ordinance gives the city more options for enforcing existing state and federal anti-wage theft legislation.

Vice Mayor David Mann authored the ordinance, which came about through a push from the Over-the-Rhine based Interfaith Workers Center. Brennan Grayson, director of the IWC, says the ordinance is modeled on similar measures taken in other major cities.

A number of wage theft cases have been documented in Cincinnati and across Ohio. Between 2005 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor seized more than $6.5 million in wages construction companies shorted 5,500 Ohio workers laboring on public projects.

This summer, CityBeat wrote about immigrants who were initially shorted wages for their construction work on a fraternity near the University of Cincinnati. The workers were eventually able to gain back thousands of dollars in unpaid wages with the help of IWC.

Migrant workers are especially vulnerable to wage theft, often due to vulnerabilities that arise from limited language proficiency or, sometimes, their undocumented status.

“It’s no secret that people who don’t speak English are viewed as not being in a position to complain,” Councilman Wendell Young said at the budget and finance meeting.
Young would like to see additional measures that involve the city’s newly created Office of Economic Inclusion in wage theft-related issues.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.01.2016 7 days ago
Posted In: News at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Judge: Third Party to Take Control of Neglected Apartment Buildings

Five buildings owned by PF Holdings will be placed in receivership until repairs are made

Tenants of several Cincinnati low-income apartment complexes will see relief from the starkly sub-standard conditions found in those buildings after a court decision today.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Beth Meyer ruled that five buildings with more than 600 units of affordable housing owned by New Jersey-based PF Holdings company will be placed in receivership with a third party, effectively keeping it from collecting rent from tenants and the more than $5 millions it gets annually from the Department of Housing and Urban Development until repairs are made. Those funds and repairs will be handled by court-appointed receiver Milhaus Management, a property management company requested by U.S. Bank Wilmington Trust, which holds mortgages on the properties. 

CityBeat in March reported on conditions at The Alms Apartments in Walnut Hills, one of the properties placed in receivership. Tenants in that building suffered from lack of heating, plumbing problems, insect infestations and other substandard conditions. In November, the roof collapsed on another PF Holdings-owned building, the Burton in Avondale, due to heavy rains and lack of maintenance. All told, that building had more than 1,800 municipal code violations, city inspections late last year found. The total cost of fixing the buildings is more than $3 million, according to court filings.

Tenants at those buildings and others owned by the company organized to demand better conditions in their buildings with the help of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless and the Society for Legal Aid of Greater Cincinnati. Advocates and tenants say the company "willfully" hid conditions in the buildings and failed to do basic maintenance. They hailed today's decision as a step in the right direction.

"Finally, after a year of fighting, residents should start to see improvements soon," the Homeless Coalition said in a statement. "We still have a ways to go and a lot of work to do to ensure these buildings become what they should have always been, but today we took a major step forward at saving these invaluable affordable homes."

Trouble at the PF Holdings properties has come as the Greater Cincinnati area and many other areas around country face historic shortages of affordable housing. Federal guidelines say housing should cost no more than 30 percent of a household’s monthly income. However, 11 million people in the U.S. pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing, and that’s expected to swell in the coming years as rental markets across the country continue to heat up.

 
 
by Mike Breen 02.01.2016 7 days ago
Posted In: CEAs, Live Stream, Local Music at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cincinnati Entertainment Awards 2016: The Winners

Plus, watch a replay of the 19th annual CEAs right now

Last night at the Madison Theater in Covington, CityBeat hosted the 19th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, honoring Greater Cincinnati’s rich music scene. Check out this week’s CityBeat for a full wrap-up. In the meantime, here’s who won what:


World Music/Reggae: The Cliftones

Jazz: Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra

Singer/Songwriter: Kate Wakefield

Country: Taylor Shannon

Punk/Post Punk: Tweens

Indie/Alternative: Us, Today

Rock: Wussy 

Electronic: Black Signal 

Blues: The Whiskey Shambles

Bluegrass: Rumpke Mountain Boys

Folk/Americana: Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle

Hard Rock/Metal: Casino Warrior

R&B/Funk/Soul: Krystal Peterson & the Queen City Band

Hip Hop: Buggs Tha Rocka

Best Music Video: Molly Sullivan – “Before” 

New Artist of the Year: Dawg Yawp

Best Live Act: The Cliftones

Album of the Year: Honeyspiders – Honeyspiders

Artist of the Year: Jess Lamb


If you missed the show in person (or perhaps your memory is a little foggy), you can watch a replay courtesy of ICRC-TV below.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.01.2016 7 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Democratic state rep. candidate criticized for paper he wrote as student; Hamilton County administrator to step down; Kasich PAC fundraising sees slide

Good morning all. With the Iowa caucuses today, it seems like a good time to talk politics, and we’ve got a bunch of local political stories to touch on. Let’s get to it.

Cincinnati City Councilman and U.S. Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld is running neck and neck in with an opponent in the upcoming March Democratic primary, according to a new poll, but it’s not Ted Strickland. In a recent survey paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, about 10 percent of 1,138 Ohio Democrats said they would vote for Price Hill resident Kelli Prather, an relatively unknown candidate who has never held elected office before. That’s the same proportion of support that Sittenfeld received in the poll. Strickland received 61 percent of the vote in the poll.

Sittenfeld’s campaign has shrugged off that poll, saying it’s biased and designed by the Democratic Party to support Strickland — who the party has endorsed — in the primary. Sittenfeld has raised a good deal of money from some notable donors, but has yet to catalyze much needed statewide recognition. Prather, meanwhile, has received little news coverage or other attention. She’s an occupational therapist whose harrowing experience as a victim of gun violence in 2004, when her husband shot her, inspired her to run for office, she says. Sittenfeld and Prather will debate in Cleveland Feb. 22. Strickland has declined to attend that event.

• More drama within the Democratic Party: A candidate to replace outgoing State Rep. Denise Driehaus in Ohio House District 31 says the local party is sidelining him over a research paper he wrote in 2009 while he was a student at Yale University. Candidate Ben Lindy says Hamilton County Democrats might take away his party rights — access to voter files and mailing information, lower postage rates and other benefits of being part of the Democratic Party — because the paper is now being used in anti-union arguments in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. That paper was published by Yale Law Journal in 2011 and is currently being used by anti-union groups in a case that could seriously undermine organized labor. Lindy says that’s not fair. 

Hamilton County Democrat head Tim Burke has said  he doesn’t want to totally marginalize Lindy but that the content of that paper is “bothersome.” In the research, Lindy found that public schools in New Mexico with mandatory union membership had higher SAT scores, but also lower graduation rates, than schools where collective bargaining arrangements weren’t mandatory. Lindy says in the paper that the results suggest collective bargaining arrangements for teachers actually hurt low-income students. He’s stuck by that particular research, but says that overall he supports unions and opposes efforts to restrict union dues collection in the current Supreme Court case. But he also points to other Democrats who have beliefs outside the party, such as those who are pro-life, and says he doesn’t deserve to be drummed out of the party for his position.

• Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman will step down from his job as county government’s top appointed official in September, he told county commissioners Friday. Sigman has served in the role — in which he helps set county budgets and oversees economic development plans — since 2011. He’s recently had a rocky time in the position, however, having been removed from oversight of riverfront development The Banks by county commissioners after he made statements suggesting that the county should consider working with another developer. Initially, commissioners considered firing him over those statements.

• Here’s a break from politics for a business story: Will local giant corporation Procter & Gamble split up? There’s a buzz going around financial analysts and others in the business world that it could, or should, happen as the company sees slow sales growth. It might be too large to grow any more, some experts say, and should consider splitting the company up. While the company has made some progress under new CEO David Taylor, lack of major progress could cause stockholders to push for the split-up, something that has happened at more than 300 other large companies in the last five years. Proponents of that course of action at P&G say it would allow the resulting companies to better focus on particular sectors of P&G’s business. However, others say the company’s sales problem exists across all its various enterprises and wouldn’t be solved by breaking them up. Already, P&G has sold off 100 smaller brands that were not as successful as its core products.

• And now, back to politics. Two political action committees supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich as he vies for the GOP presidential nomination saw a significant slowdown in fundraising in the second half of last year, recently released financial disclosures show. Super PACs New Day for America and New Day Independent Media Committee, both of which were formed to tout Kasich’s bid, saw about $6 million in contributions from July to December last year. That’s little more than half the $11.7 million those PACs took in in the first half of the year. Much of that money came from big donors with ties to large corporations.

Under campaign finance rules, Super PACs have no contribution limits but cannot coordinate directly with candidates’ campaigns. Kasich’s fundraising has trailed other candidates in the heated primary race. Similar super PACs for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio raised  $30 million last year, for instance. The PACs supporting Kasich have seen an uptick in fundraising, however, in the last couple weeks, as primary season starts in earnest. Kasich hopes some of that support pays off in Iowa tonight, where he’s trailing far-right candidates like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in polls of Iowa’s staunchly conservative caucus-goers.

That’s it for me. Enjoy this warm weather while it lasts, eh?

 
 
by Rick Pender 01.29.2016 10 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kathleen wise as the pilot in grounded at ensemble theatre - photo by ryan kurtz

Stage Door

Going to war — one way or another

There are so many things happening on local stages it’s a bit of a challenge make recommendations. But every one of these productions has some sort of conflict at its heart.

Grounded opened Wednesday night Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. George Brant’s a one-woman script is about a fearless fighter pilot whose career is cut short by an unexpected pregnancy, marriage and parenthood. Her new job is to fly military drones from a trailer outside Las Vegas; but she goes home to her family every night — and before long, she has trouble sorting out the boundaries between her two worlds. Kathleen Wise makes her ETC debut with this challenging performance, a woman who knows her way “in the blue” as a pilot, but must navigate new paths when she’s relegated to the “chair force,” wandering remotely “in the gray,” targeting “personality strikes.” Michael Haney is back in town to stage this one, and he always succeeds with making solo shows a powerful experience. Grounded is a pressure-filled, cautionary tale, gripping but not easy to watch. Nevertheless, it’s compelling theater. Through Feb. 14. Tickets: 513-421-3555.

Karen Zacarías’ Native Gardens, a world premiere, opened at the Cincinnati Playhouse last evening. Her Book Club Play was a Playhouse hit in 2013; this time around the subject is a tad more serious, but it’s handled with deft humor as neighbors battle over styles of gardening — formal vs. natural — and choices driven by cultural differences. New neighbors Pablo and Tania are of Hispanic descent, moving in next door to Frank and Virginia, who are as waspy as can be. You can imagine where that goes: Straight down the road to audience gasps as the couples insult one another when boundaries are crossed. The 80-minute show wraps up neatly — maybe a little too much so. But there’s no denying this is a show that has lots of comic appeal involving circumstances many people will recognize. Through Feb. 21. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

Tonight is the opening for Black Top Sky at Know Theatre. Christina Anderson, a resident playwright with New York City’s New Dramatists, makes her Cincinnati debut with this show about the residents of a housing project. Ida, 18, befriends Klass, an unpredictable young homeless man. Their friendship forces Idea to make a choice: Embrace the struggle for justice or embrace a life with her successful boyfriend. Kimberly Faith Hickman, who staged 2014’s The Twentieth-Century Way for Know, is back from New York to direct. Andrew Hungerford, Know’s artistic director, chose this show because he was “struck by the poetry of the language, the visual poetry of the stage directions and the gut-wrenching timelessness of the story.” He adds, “It flips from humor to heaviness at the speed of light.” Onstage through Feb. 20. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

Shakespeare’s chronicling of King Henry VI took three plays back in the 16th-century; Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has rearranged them into two productions, one onstage now and another coming next season. This portion details the roots of the War of the Roses, with relatives vying for power — it’s truly a historic “game of thrones.” It’s also is a predecessor of today’s action movies, with lots of combat — and the fiery presence of Joan of Arc (played with zest by Caitlin McWethy), as England’s zeal for dominance in France runs a parallel track to the jockeying for position among royal relatives back home. Through Feb. 13. Tickets: 513-381-2273. 


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

 
 

 

 

 
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