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by Hannah McCartney 03.13.2012
at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
plastic bottle cap art

Rumpke Now Accepts Plastic Lids

New rule will ease recycling process for many

Environmental nerds unite! In the past, recycling a plastic bottle has always required an extra step that sometimes-recyclers might not have known about; plastic bottle lids, such as those from pop or juice bottles, couldn't be recycled through traditional single-stream recycling. Rumpke Recycling sent out a press release Tuesday announcing that they'll now accept those lids as long as they're screwed onto the bottle.

Lids on plastic bottles haven't been accepted by Rumpke Recycling in the past because the bottles' manufacturers simply hadn't found a use for the plastic. Molly Yeager, Corporate Communication Coordinator for Rumpke Recycling, says they're always searching for manufacturers that work to find new uses for their products post-use. "People have been asking about recycling plastic lids for a long time," says Yeager. "It's going to be really exciting to tell them that they can now."

Before, a plastic lid tossed in a recycling bin would have to be manually sorted out and thrown in the trash. Now, manufactures that purchase plastic bottles from Rumpke will be converting the lids into new items, such as paint cans. 

Here's what Rumpke says to do with your plastic bottles and lids:

To ensure your plastic lids are recycled, follow these easy steps:
1. Empty the bottle. Bottles still containing liquid will not be recycled.
2. If possible, crush the bottle. Crushing the bottle helps remove any air from the container, which serves as a safety precaution when the bottles are baled and also helps bottles travel through the recycling process more efficiently.
3. Screw the lid back on the bottle. Detached lids may not be recovered.

Wondering what else you can and can't recycle in your community? Click here.

by Hannah McCartney 08.24.2012
Posted In: Environment, Urban Planning, News, Neighborhoods at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tucker's Restaurant Could Claim Cincinnati's First Parklet

"Tiny park" could provide green space to drab Over-the-Rhine area

There's not much green in the area of Over-the-Rhine north of Liberty Street, where Vine Street still finds itself home to a slew vacant buildings, vandalism and littered sidewalks. You won't find trees; just the occasional wayward clumps of grass that manage to triumph through cracks in the concrete.

That's an odd dichotomy to correspond with a neighborhood claiming the largest area of historic Italianate architecture in the country.

As efforts to preserve historic landmarks across the neighborhood continue to flourish, others are taking notice of another key element in revitalization that's been neglected: the presence of a safe, green public space that could spark a type of interest in urban renewal more conscious of natural greenery and it. That's been achieved in the area of Over-the-Rhine south of Liberty Street with the expansive Washington Park, leaving its northern counterpart noticeably more drab.

That sentiment is what propelled a trio of designers and architects to mold a proposal for a parklet in front of Tucker's Restaurant, an iconic Over-the-Rhine greasy spoon that attracts both locals and tourists in a somewhat deserted portion of the neighborhood, bereft of the nearby Gateway Quarter's bubbly atmosphere.

Mike Uhlenhake, a local architect, was first introduced to the parklet concept in San Francisco, where the parklet was founded and now flourishes. A parklet is exactly what it sounds like: a small, urban "park" that typically only occupies enough space to displace two parking spots. They're praised as a way to offer a public, green gathering point in urban areas where parks or wildlife are especially lacking; they might include trees, fountains, sculptures or small cafe tables.  Uhlenhake sensed the need for something similar in the northern area Over-the-Rhine, which remains largely untouched by the mass renovation efforts taking place just blocks away.

"That stretch [of Over-the-Rhine] really seems to lack life. It feels empty, like no people are ever on the street ... it needs a more homegrown feel," says Uhlenhake. "A place like Tucker's really deserves something like this if they want it."

When the University of Cincinnati Niehoff Urban Studio and the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati held the D.I.Y. Urbanism Competition this spring, Uhlenhake teamed up with two members of Flourish Cincinnati, Michelle Andersen and Becky Schneider, to create a formal entry for the contest, which can be found here or nestled in the back of Tucker's Restaurant on the rear wall.

Their proposal earned the People's Choice Award, which granted them $250 toward implementing the parklet. They've since partnered with local artist Alan Sauer, who assisted in the creation of Tucker's plot in Cincinnati PARK(ing) Day 2009, which staged a tiny patio in front of Tucker's featuring live music and chalk art.

Today, they're all working on putting together a PowerPoint presentation to present to City Council, which would provide an overview of the parklet, design sketches and an outline of its benefits. Once presented, City Council would just have to agree to give up the two parking spots directly in front of Tucker's; although Uhlenhake isn't exactly sure how much the parklet will cost, he's confident fundraising efforts will be all that's needed to foot the bill. Tucker's customers have been the main point of support, he says — dozens have offered to pledge some kind of help to make the vision come true after seeing the plan on Tucker's back wall.

This really needs to be a community project. The more people we can get to help, the better."
by Kevin Osborne 12.20.2011

Cramerding Runs for Treasurer

A longtime campaign consultant has decided to jump into politics himself. Jeff Cramerding announced today that he will seek the Democratic nomination to run for Hamilton County treasurer next year.

Cramerding, 38, of Price Hill, is a local attorney who has served as a consultant to numerous area politicians, mostly Democrats and Charterites. They include Denise Driehaus, David Pepper, Jody Luebbers and Chris Bortz.

Read More

by Hannah McCartney 05.08.2013
Posted In: Energy, Environment, News at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Duke Energy Tops List of Worst Utility Company Polluters

Four Ohio energy providers earn spot on Pear Energy's "Dirty Dozen"

Cincinnati's main gas and electricity provider, Duke Energy, has scored a No. 1 ranking, but it's not exactly one you'll be wanting to clap your hands about.

Remember when we blogged a couple of weeks ago about how Greater Cincinnati has some of the worst air pollution in the nation? Yep, the American Lung Association's report, "State of the Air," gave us an "F" for ozone pollution, a "D" for 24-hour particle pollution and a "fail" for year-round particle pollution. That put us at the 10th worst spot in the country for year-round particle pollution and 14th worst for ozone pollution.

Solar and wind energy provider Pear Energy, which currently operates in all 50 states, released yesterday its "Dirty Dozen" compilation, a list of the 12 utility providers emitting the greatest carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a type of greenhouse gas. CO2 emissions, of course, are the gunk released into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels like gas, coal or oil. Excess CO2 in our atmosphere is directly linked to global warming.

Coming from a company that wants to sell you energy itself, it's good to approach the list with a little skepticism, but the methodology seems transparent; according to the website, all rankings were determined by total CO2 emissions in 2010 of power producers with retail operations that have carbon intensities above the national average emissions rate (stats were sourced from Environmental Protection Agency data).

While Duke Energy was pinpointed as the nation's worst offender, several other Ohio energy providers also earned accolades, including American Electric Power (No. 2), NRG (No. 8) and First Energy (No. 11).

First Energy is the utility provider that in 2012 partnered with Duke Energy locally to bring Cincinnati an electric aggregation program, allegedly useful for both lowering electricity rates and increasing use of renewable energy sources with group buying power. Last month, CityBeat covered allegations that First Energy was focused on weakening energy efficiency standards under Ohio's Clean Energy Law, supposedly to protect prices from shooting up for its customers.

by German Lopez 03.21.2013
Posted In: News, Governor, LGBT Issues at 01:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Governor Opposes Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions

Kasich's spokesperson walks back earlier comments that supported civil unions

Earlier today, Gov. John Kasich seemed to come out in support of same-sex civil unions, but Kasichs spokesperson says the governor was using the term civil union loosely and the governor is still against changing the Ohio Constitution to legalize same-sex civil unions and gay marriage.

“The governor’s position is unchanged,” wrote Rob Nichols, Kasichs spokesperson, in an email. “He opposes gay marriage and opposes changing Ohio’s Constitution to allow for civil unions. He’s opposed to discrimination against any Ohioan and, while he may have used the term ‘civil union’ loosely in this instance, he recognizes the existing rights of Ohioans to enter into private contracts to manage their personal property and health care issues.”

The clarification walked back earlier comments from Kasich, who told Scripps Media, “I’ve got friends that are gay and I’ve told them ‘Look, (same-sex marriage) is just not something I agree with,’ and I’m not doing it out of a sense of anger or judgment; it’s just my opinion on this issue. He added, “I just think marriage is between a man and a woman, but if you want to have a civil union, that's fine with me.”

The comments to Scripps Media prompted a response from Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio, which is pushing an amendment that would legalize same-sex marriage in Ohio.

“I hope Gov. Kasich understands civil unions are banned by the Ohio Constitution as well and they are a cruel substitute for legal marriage,” he said in a statement. “We need equal rights and family security in Ohio for same-gender couples. That's why more and more Republicans are making the right choice and stepping up to support marriage equality.”

The comments from Kasich, who will run for his second term as governor in 2014 and is seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, come during a period of renewed soul-searching within the Republican Party. Most recently, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman announced his support of same-sex marriage two years after his son came out as gay. The change means both Ohio senators now support same-sex marriage.

A recent report from the Republican National Committee acknowledged a generational divide on the same-sex marriage issue: “Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.”

Not all Republicans agreed with the report, which sought to establish a new blueprint for Republicans in response to 2012’s electoral losses. In a recent blog post, Republican Rep. Steve Chabot wrote, “To me that (the report) sounds a whole lot like accepting things like gay marriage, and being more liberal on abortion. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a great way to alienate a lot of our base who are still with us. Big mistake.”

Still, the report’s findings are supported by recent polling. A poll from The Washington Post in September 2012 found about 52 percent of Ohioans support same-sex marriage, and only 37 percent are against it, with a margin of error of 4.5 points.

Another poll from Pew Research Center found support for same-sex marriage is growing, particularly because of the younger generations. Among U.S. adults, about 49 percent responded in support of same-sex marriage, and 44 percent were in opposition.

The Pew survey found a stark generational divide: Millenials — adults born after 1980 — had particularly pronounced support for same-sex marriage at 70 percent, and about 49 percent of Generation X individuals, meaning those born between 1965 and 1980, were also in support. But only 38 percent of baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — supported same-sex marriage, and only 31 percent of those born between 1928 and 1945 claimed support.

Supporting same-sex civil unions would have made Kasich a moderate by Republican standards. In the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, only former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman supported civil unions, and the rest of the candidates stood against same-sex marriage and civil unions.

In contrast, Democrats are now widely in favor of same-sex marriage. Marriage equality was embraced in the official Democratic platform in September 2012, and President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to support gay marriage in May 2012.

FreedomOhio’s amendment could be on the ballot as early as this year. CityBeat previously covered the amendment’s potential benefits and challenges, including some opposition from Equality Ohio, another LGBT group (“Evolution of Equality,” issue of Nov. 28).

Beyond giving equal rights to same-sex couples, gay marriage could also bring economic benefits to Ohio. A study from Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics LLC, found that legalizing gay marriage would grow Ohio’s gross domestic product, which measures economic worth, by $100 million to $126 million within three years. Statewide, that would sustain 740 to 930 jobs within the first year of legalization, 250 to 310 jobs within the second year and 170 to 210 within the third year. In Hamilton County alone, legalization would produce $8.2 million in growth, according to the study.

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up same-sex marriage in two high-profile cases next week. The cases will deal with Californias Proposition 8 law, which made same-sex marriage illegal in the Golden State, and the Defense of Marriage Act, a law signed by former President Bill Clinton that made same-sex marriage illegal on a federal level.

Update (4:45 p.m.): This story was updated to reflect comments from Rob Nichols, Gov. John Kasich's spokesperson.

by Hannah McCartney 02.16.2012
Posted In: Environment, Ethics, News at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

McDonald's Does Something Kind of Good?

Fast food conglomerate McDonald's isn't exactly known for its do-goodery for asses or animals. Despite the chain's greatest efforts, they just can't seem to catch a stroke of good PR. Just look at what happened when they launched their Twitter campaign, #McDstories, which ended up backfiring so severely that it's become the laughing stock of the professional PR world.

It's hard to feel too bad about their misfortune; they've done a pretty good job of creating controversy for themselves without any help, including their kind of hilarious, brazen ad released in France featuring a gay teenager (video below), the leak to the public that their "vegetarian" fries were actually fried in beef fat and, perhaps most notably, their bad rap for using suppliers with disregard for animal welfare. The list goes on. Remember the McRib story released last November? News broke that McDonald's pork supplier, Smithfield Foods, was subjecting pigs to excruciating pain and mistreatment. The news didn't exactly come as a surprise, but consumers took it seriously when the Humane Society filed a lawsuit against Smithfield.

Regardless, it seems McDonald's realizes its bad press is its greatest weakness, and they've made some solid efforts to  improve. Most recently, the chain announced it would be requiring pork suppliers such as Smithfield to phase out gestation stalls — pig-sized cages where pigs are confined, unable to move around or sometimes stand up. Their plan has some strong supporters, including the Humane Society. However, the plan hasn't set a deadline requirement; that means it could several years of red tape and stalling before any real progress is made.

Interestingly, frequent McRib eaters probably aren't generally the type to be concerned about whether or not the pig they're eating got to stand up during its last days. Perhaps McDonald's is interested in expanding its already massive consumer pool to include more meat-eaters concerned about the sources of their food. Or perhaps they've realized that it's feasible to treat animals even a little more humanely and still make a stupendous profits. Is it possible?

by Kevin Osborne 09.12.2011

League Opposes Anti-Streetcar Issue

A prominent, nonpartisan group today announced its opposition to Issue 48, the proposed amendment to Cincinnati's charter that would block the creation of a streetcar system for at least a decade.

The League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area issued a press release today stating it opposes the amendment because the wording is so broadly written that it would prevent the development of any passenger rail system including light rail or commuter rail.

Read More

by German Lopez 10.12.2012
Posted In: News, Economy, Education at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
2012 report

Cincinnati No. 10 out of 12 Similar Cities

Report finds Cincinnati strong on housing opportunities and job growth, weak on migration

A new report has some sobering notes for Cincinnatians. Overall, the city ranked No. 10 out of 12 similar cities in the report’s rankings, with the city doing well in housing opportunities and job growth but not so well in other categories. The No. 10 spot is the same rank Cincinnati held in the 2010 report.

The report, which was put together by Agenda 360 and Vision 2015, compares Cincinnati to other cities in a series of economic indicators. The cities compared were Cincinnati; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Cleveland; Columbus; Denver; Indianapolis, Ind.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C.; and St. Louis.

First, the good news: Cincinnati has an unemployment rate lower than the national average, at 7.2 percent. As far as job growth, total jobs, per-person income and average annual wage goes, Cincinnati ranked No. 6. Cincinnati was also No. 5 in poverty ranks — meaning the city had the fifth least people below 200 percent of the federal poverty level among the 12 cities measured. For the most part, Cincinnati moved up in these ranks since 2010.

When it comes to housing opportunities, Cincinnati claimed the No. 2 spot, only losing to Indianapolis. That was a bump up from the No. 3 spot in 2010.

The bad news: Cincinnati didn’t do well in almost every other category. In terms of educational attainment — meaning the percent of the population 25 years or older who have a bachelor’s degree or higher — Cincinnati was No. 9, with 29.3 percent having a bachelor's degree or higher in 2010. That was a slight improvement from the No. 10 rank in the previous report, which found 28.5 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher in 2009.

Cincinnati did poorly in net migration as well. The city was No. 10 in that category, only beating out St. Louis and Cleveland. The silver lining is the city actually gained 1,861 people in 2009 — an improvement from losing 1,526 people in 2008.

Cincinnati also seems to have an age problem. The city tied with Pittsburgh for the No. 10 spot with only 60.2 percent of the 2011 population made up of people between the ages of 20 and 64. The report also says the city has too many old people, an age group that tends to work less, provide less tax revenue and use more government and health services. Cincinnati ranked No. 8 in terms of “Old Age Dependency,” with 20.4 percent of the city made up of people aged 65 and older in 2011.

However, the report does have a positive note through all the numbers: “In fact, our current pace of growth, especially in the people indicators, exceeds many of our competitors and if this pace continues, our rank could be much improved by our next report.”

by German Lopez 07.11.2013
Posted In: News, Education at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Audit Finds More Problems at City's Largest Charter School

School administrators already accused of misspending hundreds of thousands of dollars

A state audit found more evidence of misused public funds at Greater Cincinnati’s largest charter school, including one example of salary overpayment and a range of inappropriate purchases of meals and entertainment. The school’s former superintendent and treasurer are already facing trial on charges of theft for previously discovered incidents.

The audit reviewed Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy’s (CCPA) records for fiscal year 2010, finding Stephanie Millard, the school’s former treasurer, was overpaid by $8,307. At the same time, founder and ex-superintendent Lisa Hamm used the school credit card for $8,495 in payments to the Cincinnati Bengals, Benihana Japanese Steakhouse, Wahoo Zip Lines, Omaha Steaks and Dixie Stampede.

“These two officials saw no boundaries in how they used taxpayer dollars,” State Auditor Dave Yost said in a statement. “With each audit, we find more of the same: total disregard for the trust placed in them.”

CCPA responded to the audit by stating it has terminated the credit card and replaced it with two debit cards, which supposedly have controls in place to require approval and keep track of who’s using the cards and for what.

The school is also reviewing contracts for the next school year to ensure no further overpayments are made, on top of requiring payments be board-approved.

In March, the school fired Hamm and Millard, and the two former school officials were indicted on 26 counts of theft in office. Their attorney, Mike Allen, claims the school board approved the spending, which could mean the women didn’t break any laws.

In June, another special audit found CCPA had inappropriately spent $520,000 for various unnecessary expenditures, including bonuses, Christmas gifts, Nutrisystem weight loss products and Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber concerts.

CCPA enrolls nearly 1,200 students for kindergarten through 12th grade, with more than 95 percent coming from low-income households, according to Ohio’s school report card data. The Ohio Department of Education gave the school’s K-12 building in the West End a “D” and its K-6 building in Madisonville a “B” for the 2011-2012 school year.

The school is set to receive roughly $6 million in state dollars in 2014, up 3 percent from the year before. That follows the funding trend for Ohio’s charter schools, which are generally receiving more state money in the recently approved two-year state budget.

by 12.29.2008
Posted In: Financial Crisis at 02:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wikipedia needs to "wiki" fundraising

All Wikipedia wants for Christmas is cash. In yet another terrifying display of our crashing economy, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is petitioning for donations.  Here's his open letter:

Dear Reader,

Today I am going to ask you to support Wikipedia with a donation. This might sound unusual: Why does one of the world's five most popular web properties ask for financial support from its users?

Wikipedia is built differently from almost every other top 50 website. We have a small number of paid staff, just twenty-three. Wikipedia content is free to use by anyone for any purpose. Our annual expenses are less than six million dollars. Wikipedia is run by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which I founded in 2003.

At its core, Wikipedia is driven by a global community of more than 150,000 volunteers - all dedicated to sharing knowledge freely. Over almost eight years, these volunteers have contributed more than 11 million articles in 265 languages. More than 275 million people come to our website every month to access information, free of charge and free of advertising.

But Wikipedia is more than a website. We share a common cause: Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's our commitment.

Your donation helps us in several ways. Most importantly, you will help us cover the increasing cost of managing global traffic to one of the most popular websites on the Internet. Funds also help us improve the software that runs Wikipedia -- making it easier to search, easier to read, and easier to write for. We are committed to growing the free knowledge movement world-wide, by recruiting new volunteers, and building strategic partnerships with institutions of culture and learning.

Wikipedia is different. It's the largest encyclopedia in history, written by volunteers. Like a national park or a school, we don't believe advertising should have a place in Wikipedia. We want to keep it free and strong, but we need the support of thousands of people like you.

I invite you to join us: Your donation will help keep Wikipedia free for the whole world.

Thank you,

Jimmy Wales

Good luck, Jimmy. "Wiki" is about as household as "Google" at this point. We internet-ophiles would miss you dearly.