Cincinnati is one step closer to joining nine other Ohio cities that have established domestic partner registries, which would open up more possibilities for equal employee benefits for same-sex couples.
A measure introduced by City Councilman Chris Seelbach to have the city set up the registry passed unanimously through the council’s Human Services Committee today. Mayor John Cranley and a majority of council have expressed support for the measure, and it seems likely to come up for a vote and pass during Wednesday's council meeting.
The registry, which would be run through the City Clerk’s office, would verify financial relationships between non-married domestic partners. The list would take a burden off employers, who currently have to independently verify financial relationships if they wish to provide equal benefits for partners of employees.
Couples would be required to show strong financial interdependency to qualify. Applicants to the registry would be eligible if they own joint property, have granted each other power of attorney, are named in each others’ will and meet other requirements.
Many large companies, as well as the city, already offer some form of domestic partner benefits. However, requirements can vary, and it’s expensive and time-consuming to set up criteria and then screen employees’ eligibility, especially for smaller employers.
The registry proposed for Cincinnati is based on one adopted by Columbus in 2012. It requires a $45 fee to register, which Seelbach says will pay for the program. If passed, Seelbach said the plan could be up and running in a few weeks.
Metro on May 29 announced plans to provide health and dental benefits to domestic partners of its employees, becoming the first employer to say it will utilize the registry once it passes.
Experience the flavors and culture of the Mediterranean without having to cross the ocean.
City Council is likely just days away from voting on the city's $358 million operating budget, but some sticking points remain. A deferred repayment of funds meant to improve eight neighborhoods around the city has raised concerns among some council members.
In 2011, the city borrowed $5 million from tax incremental finance districts in Avondale, Bond Hill, East Walnut Hills, Evanston, Madisonville, Oakley, Queensgate, and Walnut Hills. The money went to pay off debts to Cincinnati Public Schools. $2 million of the loan was scheduled to be repaid by next year, but the budget pushes that repayment off until 2017. The money was culled from increases in tax revenues following capital improvement projects in the neighborhoods. Officials in each say they need the funds to carry out necessary improvement projects. So far, only $1 million has been repaid. Council members Kevin Flynn and Yvette Simpson have raised concerns about the delay in repayment, with Simpson calling it "an assault on neighborhoods."
The $5 million borrowed from the neighborhood TIF districts will be the center of a lawsuit brought against the city by a private developer in Oakley.
Other possible hotspots in the budget include another $900,000 cut in spending that was meant to improve business districts in neighborhoods around the city and a looming fight over what to do with money for the city's bike program. Mayor John Cranley has indicated he wants to use the money for offroad trails, though the city's plan as originally written focuses on bike lanes on city streets.
Eighth Street downtown was closed this morning and City Hall evacuated after a... thing... was found nearby. The thing, which looked like the kind of bomb a zany Scooby Doo villian would plant, was later determined by fire crews to be "just a piece of junk" that probably fell off a truck.
Debate continues over what to do with the old School for Creative and Performing Arts building on Sycamore. Some would like to see a plan to turn the building into luxury apartments come to fruition, though others in the neighborhood have reservations, especially about a proposed parking garage that would eliminate green space around the building. Plans will be discussed further at a community meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at Rothenberg Academy.
A measure to make sure counties and municipalities across the state make public information available online is gaining momentum. Four bills in the Ohio House to create the DataOhio Initiative have passed through committees and are one step closer to becoming law. The bills would create grants for local governing bodies to digitize their budgets and spending information so they're more accessible to citizens.
The Obama administration today is expected to release its strongest proposals yet for fighting climate change, including EPA regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 30 percent before 2030.
Finally, a safety note. Tie down your inflatable summer fun devices, folks, or risk a tragic carpet ride. Tie them down well.
The Contemporary Arts Center has issued a call for proposals for a Summer Performance Series. The deadline is June 13. Here is the announcement:
The CAC is now accepting proposals for original performance works by artists and collectives from or currently living in the Greater Cincinnati area for the 2014 Summer Performance Series. This series is designed to celebrate the diversity of the local artist community, encourage the development of live art in the region, and provide a new opportunity for artists to showcase new projects and/or works nearing the end of their development.
Working in parallel with the CAC’s Black Box Performance Series, we ask artists to take bold risks while surprising themselves and the audience. All performance works will be considered, though a preference towards the multidisciplinary, and those that challenge the artist’s norms, will be of greater interest. Projects will be selected through a proposal process, with an emphasis on new works in development and/or emerging artists. Each artist will work with the CAC performance team to prepare and execute their performance, while be required to create their own work as well as the organization and preparation for the series, the CAC will provide the space, load-in and day-of support, marketing, sound equipment, and projector if needed.
The Summer Performance Series will occur at 7 p.m. each Monday during the month of August 2014 within the CAC Black Box, located in the Lower Level. Each evening, two artists from the series will be given the room to realize their production, at a maximum of 50 minutes in length. A stipend of $350 will be provided for each project for creative and developmental support.
Deadline: All proposals must be submitted via email, and received by 5 p.m. Friday, June 13, 2014. Please send all applications to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s Pride Week in Cincinnati, a time to celebrate and support the local LGBTQ community, promote diversity as well as equality and just have a good time as a plethora of events takes over the city.
The Pride party has been going all week and the fun continues tonight with the Skyy Vodka Pub Crawl featuring bars and clubs in Over-the-Rhine, Northside, Downtown, Newport and Covington. Shuttles run three loops with six busses stopping at 20 bars. A $10 wristband gets you on the bus all night and into any bars that have cover charges. Find details here.
Cincinnati Art Museum’s free Art After Dark series also takes a Pride theme this month. Stop by the museum before the crawl for performances by Young Heirlooms and the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus, gallery tours, giveaways and more from 5-9 p.m. Bar crawl wristbands can be purchased at the museum or Millennium Hotel, Below Zero, Rosie's Tavern or Chameleon between 8-10 p.m.
The much-anticipated annual
Pride Parade steps off at 2 p.m. Saturday with a slightly different route due
to streetcar construction: Seventh and Culvert streets to Vine Street to Fifth
at Fountain Square, down Eggleston Avenue. The parade will end at Sawyer Point,
where a family-friendly festival runs 3-9 p.m. There will be two entertainment
stages (be sure to swing by the CityBeat stage!), rides and games for kids,
food and drink. There will also be a public commitment/re-commitment ceremony at 6
p.m., free to all couples interested in participating. The ceremony will cap
off with a couples’ first dance. The festival ends with a fireworks display at
9 p.m. Find a full entertainment lineup here.
And be sure to check out this week’s Pride Issue. We’ve got interviews with local LGBTQ advocates, a calendar of events and more.
The 2014 Cincinnati Fringe Festival is in full swing this weekend (continuing through June 7). We’ve previewed each of the 30-plus performances and will be posting reviews of every show as well — check them out here.
Eccentric painter, sculptor, printmaker and collector of fancy antique oddities Hunt Slonem graces Cincinnati with his colorful, fabulous presence this week. The American artist has work showcased in more than 100 museums across the world — and now, Miller Gallery in Hyde Park. Perhaps best known for his neo-expressionist paintings of tropical birds and other animals, Slonem will be at the gallery for the opening Friday night. Meet the artist and peruse his works from 6-8 p.m.; The Exotic World of Hunt Slonem will be on display at Miller through June 29.
Jane’s Saddlebag in Union, Ky., is a unique attraction sprawling over 35 acres of land that features a general store, restaurant, wine shop, petting zoo, historic spaces and recreations. Located near Big Bone Lick State Park, Jane’s is great for a weekend getaway close to home. Visit this weekend as they host their second annual wine festival noon-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Sample wines from 20 local and regional wineries and shop handmade items from more than 40 craft vendors. Tickets are $12 and include four tasting tickets, a wine glass and live music. Go here for more info.
And it might’ve been Jean Renoir’s doing. The filmmaker’s honest, sideways smirk that’s good at whispering you in to laugh at life at or with him.
For me, he was the one whose 77-year-old face, through the gap of a narrow doorway, led me in to look upon his ruthlessness magnified, given new life by Richard Avedon and brought to light by Brian Sholis, the museum’s new curator of photography.
“It wasn’t until the 1970s when museums started taking photography seriously,” Sholis says. “The art world stopped writing it off as so mechanical and lacking real talent, so museums like this one began acquiring a lot of it.”
Which explains the 4,000-field, photographical rundown Sholis was sent before moving from New York to Cincinnati to take his curatorial position in 2013. The database was a list of every museum-owned piece of photography, and while studying it, Sholis noticed a pattern: two recognizable names in one row, repeated. An artist by an artist. Portraits of the Artist. You see where this is going.
“For people who don’t know much about the history of photography, they’re given another chance to connect here, and I wanted my first exhibition to be as welcoming as possible,” Sholis says. “Here, there’s twice the chance of hitting upon someone a visitor could recognize.”
Out of four-dozen artists-by-artists photographs, Sholis narrowed his exhibition selection to 14 of them, presenting Frida Kahlo by Bernard Silberstein, Picasso (with his son Claude) by Robert Capa and Miles Davis by Lee Friedlander, among others.
The dancer in me was especially drawn to modern mover Merce Cunningham by Barbara Morgan, who took Cunningham’s photo like he crafted his dances — with good faith in chance.
She shot the double-exposure by retrogressing her film after an initial shot and snapping Cunningham again in another position, not realizing the two bodies as one image until they’d been developed, much like Cunningham frequently rolled a die to dictate his movements and their sequences.
And while, like the individual pieces themselves, the idea of the exhibition is stimulating and timely (I don’t need to tell anyone about the portrait-in-the-form-of-iPhone-selfie phenomenon), the placement of the pieces is also noteworthy, and very thoroughly Sholis-thought-through.
The Mexican artist portraits are grouped together alongside a couple of painted face performers; partners in work and life, John Cage and Merce Cunningham share an intimate space on a portion of the gallery’s west wall; and Miles Davis is situated alone and dominantly, glaring over onlookers while avoiding awkward eye contact with Renoir (after being moved when Sholis saw the staring contest).
“These are more than just casual snapshots even though they look that way,” Sholis says. “These are kind of dialogues between the artists themselves and their creators, the photographers.”
And, of course, you.
If it's fun you're seeking, you might want to stop by the Carnegie in Covington, where Showbiz Players is presenting Spamalot. It opens tonight and runs through June 8. You probably know that this very amusing musical (it won three 2005 Tony Awards, including best musical) is "lovingly ripped off" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you can repeat lines from that 1975 cult hit, then this is surely the show for you. Tickets ($21.50-$24.50): 859-957-1940
Although it's not part of the Fringe, Marc Bamuthi Joseph's red, black & GREEN: a blues surely could be. The hybrid performance work leads audiences through four seasons in four cities: summer in Chicago, fall in Houston, winter in Harlem and spring in Oakland. Memories, hallucinations, dreams and lamentations are set in shotgun houses and subway cars, on park benches and in father-son conversations. I haven't seen it, but people I know have raved about the power of the work, which ranges from hilarious to poignantly sad. Joseph is a spoken-word poet, and his work is meant to be a conversation starter about sustainability and community building. It's being presented on Friday and Saturday evening by the Contemporary Arts Center at the Aronoff's Jarson-Kaplan Theater. Tickets ($18 for CAC members, $23 for everyone else): 513-621-2787
This is the final weekend for The North Pool at the Cincinnati Playhouse. (CityBeat review here.) Rajiv Joseph's anxiety-filled drama is a sparring match between a hard-nosed vice principal who thinks he knows something and a student, the son of Middle Eastern immigrants, who has things he wants to keep to himself — but it's not what the school official thinks. In fact, they both have secrets that are slowly, painfully revealed. Great script, great actors. This one is definitely worth catching. Tickets ($25 for students; $30-$75 for others): 513-421-3888
Gov. John Kasich says he'll sign a bill that would freeze the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for two years and then weaken them after that.
Kasich announced his intention to sign SB310 shortly after the bill passed the Ohio House yesterday, paving the way for Ohio to become the first state to roll back already approved energy-efficiency standards. 37 states have passed some form of renewable energy standards.
Conservatives in Ohio's state house have taken to disliking the standards, even though the state passed nearly unanimously in 2008. Most memorably, Bill Seitz, a Republican state senator from Cincinnati, called them Stalinist last year.
Kasich yesterday called the current standards “unrealistic” and costly for Ohio’s economy.
But others, including conservative-leaning business groups, say the standards freeze will actually be more costly.
The Ohio Manufacturer’s Association says it fears the measure will increase energy costs and make Ohio less competitive industrially.
Honda, one of Ohio’s biggest employers, has also come out against the freeze.
Several last-minute provisions inserted during debate on the bill in the state Senate could make it harder for renewable energy companies to get loans or increase capacity. Another last-minute change jettisons requirements that power companies get half their renewable energy in the state of Ohio.
Ohio ranks fifth nationally in green jobs, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study says. Nearly 140,000 Ohioans work in industries related to renewable energy or environmental conservation.
Environmental groups have also criticized SB310. An analysis by the Ohio Sierra Club says that the average Duke Energy customer in the Cincinnati area will spend $117 more for energy over the next two years thanks to the standards freeze.
Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards aim to reduce the state’s
reliance on fossil fuels in favor of greener renewable energy sources
like solar and wind energy.
That law originally called for a 5.5 percent increase in the use of renewable sources of energy by 2017. Overall, the law aims to have 12.5 percent of all energy sold by power companies in the state coming from renewable sources by 2025.
SB310 will pause upcoming standards increases and keep them at their current levels until 2017, when a smaller, 3.5 percent increase will kick back in.
Kasich acknowledged that alternative energy is a big part of Ohio’s economy but said there are problems with the standards that needed to be ironed out.
Americans for Prosperity, the big-money conservative group backed by petroleum and gas magnates the Koch Brothers, has been a cheerleader for the standards delays. The group released statements today applauding SB310’s passage. Also supporting the bill were coal and gas powered utilities throughout the state.
The organization’s Ridership and Development Director celebrated Metro’s announcement on Thursday that it will provide health and dental benefits to domestic partners of its employees.
Lahman said she has used same-sex partner benefits in the past, when she went back to school.
“[My partner and I] know first-hand what it means to have the flexibility and equality as others do in the workplace,” Lahman said at a press conference at Metro’s office. “This is just a fantastic day and I’m so proud that Metro is able to do the right thing.”
Metro is the first employer to say it will use Cincinnati’s domestic partner registry if the initiative passes next week in City Council. Should it pass, Cincinnati will be the 10th city in Ohio to have a domestic partner registry.
Mayor John Cranley and City Councilman Chris Seelbach attended the press conference and spoke in support of the move.
Cranley called it “symbolically and substantively right” and during the announcement shared a memory in honor of Maya Angelou, her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at former President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.
“She ended it with ‘Good morning,’” Cranley said. “I think this is a good morning for Cincinnati, a new day.”
Many of Cincinnati’s major employers, including Procter & Gamble, Kroger and Macy’s offer same-sex and domestic partner benefits.
Seelbach said while those companies already have systems to evaluate domestic partnerships, the registry will give other companies like Metro an easy way to provide those benefits.
“We are now leaders in the nation and the region to make sure everyone is welcome in our city, regardless of who they love,” Seelbach said. “Everyone should bring their full self to their workplace and be able to do that with health benefits for their partners.”
Seelbach said while Metro is the first to say it will use the registry, other companies like Cincinnati Bell have expressed interest.
Metro is a nonprofit tax-funded public service of the Southwestern Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) with around 850 employees.
One of SORTA’s executive statements says the organization is committed to a work environment that “promotes dignity and respect for all.”
Board Chair Jason Dunn said SORTA’s commitment to inclusion is a great business decision.
“It shows that we value our employees,” Dunn said. “It shows that not only is Metro on the cutting edge of transportation but also making sure we are open to talent and we are open to retaining great talent in our system.”
Same-sex partners with a valid marriage license, same-sex partners registered by a government entity and same-sex partners with a sworn affidavit will be recognized by Metro for domestic partner benefits, which will take effect January 1, 2015.