The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio on Sunday asked Gov. John Kasich to halt the death penalty across the state, following the botched execution of convicted killer Dennis McGuire that reportedly lasted 26 minutes.
McGuire’s prolonged execution, the longest since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999, was carried out on Jan. 16 with a new cocktail of drugs that had never been tried before in the United States. The use of the new drugs came about after Ohio ran out of its previous supplies.
With its letter, the ACLU joined other groups, including Ohioans to Stop Executions, in calling for an end or pause to state-sanctioned killing.
“This is not about Dennis McGuire, his terrible crimes, or the crimes of others who await execution on death row,” reads the ACLU letter. “It is about our duty as a society that sits in judgment of those who are convicted of crimes to treat them humanely and ensure their punishment does not violate the Constitution.”
The letter adds, “We are mere months away from new recommendations from the Ohio Supreme Court Taskforce on the Administration of the Death Penalty that could alter our system for the better. On the eve of monumental changes, along with increasing problems with lethal injection, is not now the time to step back and pause?”
McGuire’s family also announced on Friday it would file a lawsuit claiming his death constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Five more people await execution in Ohio this year, according to the ACLU. It’s unclear whether the state will use the same cocktail of drugs following McGuire’s execution.
The ladies of upstairs, with their hair perfectly crimped and curled, are misbehaving as usual.
While the rest of the family pushes “Tony” (Ew) onto Mary, Edith is wearing fashionable arm bracelets and casually losing her virginity. Go Edith!
Edith’s lover, Michael Gregson, has finally achieved Lord Grantham’s approval by winning him some money he lost, so there’s that. Lord Grantham only ever cares about money, anyway. He shared a tender bro moment with Mr. Bates, but after he gave his advice he said, “My goodness that was strong talk for an Englishman.” Chuckles.
Is anyone else enjoying Isobel and Violet’s newly found ceasefire and camaraderie? They no longer fight about village rose garden competitions and anything else they can think of.
My favorite Violet wisecrack of the week: “If we only had moral thoughts, what would the poor churchmen find to do?”
So far this season, Rose has been very well-behaved. On last night’s episode, she seemed pretty preoccupied with sexy Jack Ross who rescued her from deep humiliation — but, of course, her family rejected him.
Tony Gillingham asked Mary to marry him and she is so not ready. Protip: If someone asks for your hand in marriage by using the fact that your ex-husband is dead, run away. I think “He’s dead, and I’m alive,” were his exact words. Solid point, Gillingham. The mere mention of Matthew’s name by someone who never knew him makes my skin crawl. Tony and Mary share a passionate kiss before (probably not) saying goodbye forever.
Ugh, more sexual assault: Edna took advantage of Branson’s emotional state and lack of sobriety by sneaking into his bedroom late at night. Then she tried to trap him into marrying her with a fake pregnancy. No one can replace Sybil, Edna — everyone knows that. So Branson had his tweed suits all in a bunch until Mrs. Hughes took care of business by basically chasing Edna off the estate (again).
Carson’s sweet and smaller storyline about his dead ex-girlfriend is still ongoing, and Mrs. Hughes gives him a small keepsake to remember her by. Also Carson is my new spirit animal because he is not a morning person: “I always think there is something foreign about high spirits at breakfast.” Me too, Carson, me too.
Jimmy is hitting on Ivy and Daisy hates it because she’s also technically a widow (RIP William, you were so handsome).
Anna has to lie about her assault while sitting next to her rapist at the breakfast table, and things get tense. Mr. Gillingham’s valet, Mr. Green, is forcefully creepy. On top of that, she is dealing with her extremely violent rape in a society that shames all types of emotion, particularly for women. Sound familiar?
What’s most troubling to me is creator Julian Fellowes’ view on the rape scene backlash. When the episode debuted in the U.K. in October, he defended the storyline: "If we'd wanted a sensational rape we could have stayed down in the kitchen with the camera during the whole thing and wrung it out," he told BBC. "The point of our handling is not that we're interested in sensationalizing but we're interested in exploring the mental damage and the emotional damage."
Mr. Fellowes, there is no such thing as an embellished or “sensational” rape. Rape is rape. Therefore, your argument that not showing the rape makes it less rape-y is completely invalid. Watching Anna being brutally attacked and listening to her screams can be just as triggering as the actual event.
Joanne Froggat, who plays Anna, said she supports Fellowes’ the depiction of this heinous rape scene. "I was really proud of the show for tackling a subject like this...I really do believe that Julian's written that in a way that is not gratuitous at all, he does very much go on to explore the emotional journey of Anna and Bates," she told BBC in October. "He's done a beautiful job of hitting the right note with it. I think we all just felt a big responsibility to get it right."
A Gaurdian commenter under the username Bidisha makes a valid point about using the rape for shock value: "The shock attack scene in Downton was harsh and terrifying — which rape is. It was also beautifully shot, like a horror film set in a Past Times catalogue. But we live in a real world context of endemic male sexual violence in which about 90% of rapes go unreported and only 7% of the remaining 10% are convicted … raped women are not objects to be used to shake up a dull plot or add juice to a sanguine character."
Here’s hoping Anna and Bates can have an empowering and happy ending — and in the words of the Dowager Countess:
“I hope you find a way to make friends with the world again.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald on Friday announced his new running mate: Sharen Neuhardt, a Dayton-area business attorney and twice-failed candidate for Congress. The choice boosts the ticket’s credentials with women and abortion-rights advocates, but it also reinforces support for pro-choice policies that upset many Republicans and conservatives. FitzGerald originally picked State Sen. Eric Kearney as his running mate, but Kearney dropped out of the race after multiple media reports uncovered he owed more than $800,000 in tax debt. CityBeat covered the gubernatorial race and how the economy could play into it in further detail here.
Mayor John Cranley on Friday reiterated his opposition to double dipping, even though he supports hiring an assistant city
manager who will take advantage of the practice. Because Bill Moller is a
city retiree, he will be eligible to double dip — simultaneously take a
salary ($147,000 a year) and pension — when the city hires him in
February. Cranley called the practice “abusive” on the campaign trail,
but he says it’s up to City Council to pass legislation that prevents it.
Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter on Friday pleaded not guilty to nine felony charges, including accusations of backdating court documents, theft in office and misusing her county credit card. The Ohio Supreme Court on Jan. 10 replaced Hunter until her case is decided. The felony charges are just the latest for the judge, who has been mired in controversy after controversy since before she won her election.
State Rep. Alicia Reece and other activists are pushing an initiative for the November ballot that would embed “voter rights” into the Ohio Constitution. The Democrat-backed constitutional amendment is in direct response to Republican-led attempts to shrink early voting periods and restrict access to the ballot.
A propane gas shortage in some parts of the state led Gov. John Kasich to suspend state and federal laws that keep propane suppliers off the roads on weekends.
State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s failed Senate campaign sold an SUV totaled in March — effectively averting an insurance review that might have clarified the vehicle’s use and insurance status — shortly after questions arose over the continued use of the vehicle months after Mandel’s Senate campaign ended.
Secondhand smoke increases the odds of hospital readmission for children with asthma, according to a study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Children’s Hospital.Google’s smart contact lens could help diabetics.
State Rep. Alicia Reece and other activists are mobilizing a campaign to get a "Voter Bill of Rights" on the Ohio ballot this November.
If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would preserve the 35-day early voting period, expand early voting hours, allow voters to cast a provisional ballot anywhere in a given county, advance online voter registration and effectively prevent legislators from passing stricter voter ID laws in the future.
But before it ends up on the ballot, supporters will need to gather 1,000 petition signatures to get the initiative in front of the attorney general and collect 385,247 total signatures by July 2 to file the petition to the secretary of state.
The Democrat-backed amendment is in direct response to attempts by Republicans, including Secretary of State Jon Husted and Gov. John Kasich, to shorten Ohio's early voting period and otherwise restrict access to the ballot.
A bill currently working through the Ohio legislature would trim the early voting period from 35 to 29 days and effectively end the "Golden Week" in which voters can register to vote
and file a ballot on the same day. It's expected Kasich and Republican legislators will approve the bill.
Republicans say the limits are supposed to prevent voter fraud and establish uniform voting standards across the state. Otherwise, some counties might establish longer early voting hours than others.
But some Republicans acknowledge that restrictions on early voting could suppress constituents that typically elect Democrats, obviously to Republicans' advantage.
"I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine," wrote Doug Preisse, close adviser to Kasich, in a 2012 email to The Columbus Dispatch.
The constitutional amendment could also help address concerns raised last year when the U.S. Supreme Court repealed parts of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the federal government to better regulate state-level restrictions on voting.
In response to some of the concerns, Democratic candidates plan to hold a voting rights forum in Cincinnati on Martin Luther King Jr. Day next Monday. Attorney general candidate David Pepper, secretary of state candidate Nina Turner and state auditor candidate John Carney are scheduled to attend.
The Voter's Bill of Rights:
Last weekend I drove out through Mariemont to the Walton Creek Playhouse where Mariemont Players has assembled a thoroughly enjoyable production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, a show once described as "whipped cream with knives." The theater, an old schoolhouse, has an intimate performing space, a perfect setting for this tale of mixed-up couples in early-20th-century Sweden. The show, simply and effectively staged by Skip Fenker, revolves around a free-spirited but aging actress who eventually sings "Send in the Clowns," Sondheim's best-known tune. The Sunday matinee I attended was all but sold out, so you should call in advance for a reservation: 513-684-1236. Onstage through Jan. 26.
If you're looking for some outstanding acting, you should definitely head to Cincinnati Shakespeare and watch Brent Vimtrup play the title role in Hamlet. He plays the role of the indecisive Prince of Denmark, pointed toward vengeance but filled with doubt. Vimtrup uses an expressive physicality and natural insight that makes long-familiar speeches ("To be or not to be," "What a rogue and peasant slave am I" and more) feel fresh and new. He's onstage for most of the three-and-a-half hour production, a highly watchable marathon. Tickets: 513-381-2273 x 1. Through Jan. 26.
Saturday at Bogart’s you’ll have a chance to see 10 of Greater Cincinnati’s finest up-and-comers as CityBeat presents the first “Best New Bands” showcase. The event coincides with our “Best New Bands” cover story, featuring profiles and info on all of the performers — grab a copy if you haven’t.
Below is the lineup, which includes all six of the local acts nominated in the “New Artist of the Year” category and four other favorites, plus some audio/video previews to whet your appetite. Click the artists’ name to read CityBeat’s stories (and some great original photography) about each. The stories include links to the acts’ websites and more music.
The doors open at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bogart’s and admission is just $5. Performers will be featured on two stages, so it will be non-stop music all night.
7:30 p.m. Pop Goes the Evil
8 p.m. Molly Sullivan
8:30 p.m. Injecting Strangers
9 p.m. ADM
9:30 p.m. Mardou
10 p.m. Austin Livingood
10:30 p.m. Archer's Paradox
11 p.m. Little Lights
11:30 p.m. Tweens
12:15 a.m. Electric Citizen
Mayor John Cranley told CityBeat Friday that he's still troubled by the practice of "double dipping," but he said the incoming assistant city manager is only eligible to receive a salary and pension benefits because of policy set by City Council.
Bill Moller will be rehired by the city in February to fill in as assistant city manager. Because Moller is a city retiree, he'll be eligible to draw a city salary ($147,000 a year) and pension benefits.
The concern: Allowing city workers to double dip, or tap into both a
salary and pension benefits, could encourage the kinds of abuse
already seen in other municipalities, where public workers can reach eligibility for
maximum pension benefits, retire one day and get rehired the next day to effectively receive both a salary and pension.
On the campaign trail, Cranley called double dipping "abusive" after City Council repealed a ban on the practice so the administration could hire John Deatrick, a city retiree, to lead the $132.8 million streetcar project.
Cranley said he will sign any legislation reinstating the ban on double dipping. As a council member, Cranley supported the ban when it was originally instated in 2008.
Under the previous ban, city retirees rejoining the administration would need to temporarily forfeit pension benefits or face substantial limits on salaries and health benefits.
Despite his opposition to double dipping, Cranley cautioned that he still supports Moller's hire.
"Obviously I like Bill Moller," he said. "But the city manager is working within current policy."
The city administration on Tuesday justified Moller's hire by pointing to his previous budget and finance experience in Cincinnati, Hamilton and Covington.
"At this point in time, Cincinnati needs not only someone
who is proficient in all aspects of municipal finance, but in the
aspects of the city of Cincinnati’s finances in particular. Mr. Moller
has that experience," wrote Interim City Manager Scott Stiles in a memo.
It remains unclear whether a ban on double dipping would influence Moller's decision to return to the city administration.
Word has been trickling out over the past few weeks about a new Country music festival in Cincinnati, organized by Bunbury Music Festival founder Bill Donabedian. Today, the first four artists slated to appear at the inaugural Buckle Up Music Festival were announced. The festival is set for the weekend after Bunbury — July 18-20 — and will use the same grounds at Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove along the Ohio River. (Think of it as Bunbury’s version of Coachella’s Stagecoach fest.)
The lineup will feature “upwards of 80 performers” and include both modern, commercial Country acts and variations on the Country theme — “folk, bluegrass, Americana, roots rock and more,” according to the press materials — something the initial lineup announcement reflects.
Legendary Country act Alabama (which for many years used the controversial Confederate Flag in its artwork, years before Kanye decided to reclaim it) and current Country hitmakers the Eli Young Band will be joined by up-and-comers J.T. Hodges (whose music has been described as “Country Soul with some Rock N’ Roll”) and eclectic Brooklyn-based Americana trio The Lone Bellow, which performed last November at Cincinnati’s 20th Century Theater (read CityBeat’s preview here).
A condemned Ohio killer took more than 20 minutes to die in an execution carried out yesterday with a combination of drugs never tried before in the United States. The execution was one of the longest since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. Throughout the nearly 25 minutes that Dennis McGuire took to die, he reportedly gasped and loudly snorted as family members and reporters watched. McGuire's attorney called the execution "a failed, agonizing experiment" and added, "The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their names." The new execution method was adopted after the previous drug's supplies ran out because a manufacturer declared it off limits for state-sanctioned kills.
State Rep. Alicia Reece and other activists are pushing a Voter Bill of Rights that could end up in front of Ohio voters in November. If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would preserve the 35-day early voting period, expand early voting hours, allow voters to cast a provisional ballot anywhere in the county and advance online voter registration. Many of those measures are controversial to Republicans, who have repeatedly tried to limit early voting in the past couple years. But to get the amendment on the ballot, activists will need to wade through the long, costly process of gathering roughly 385,000 eligible signatures by July 2.
Commentary: "Republicans Continue Hindering Access to the Ballot."
Cincinnati's campaign for universal preschool is looking for volunteers to help raise awareness and shape the final proposal. The big question is how tuition credits for local families, particularly low-income parents, would be funded under the proposal. Despite the remaining questions, voters could vote on the initiative in November. CityBeat covered the Preschool Promise in greater detail here.
The National Weather Service called a Winter Weather Advisory for most of the Cincinnati area until 4 p.m. today. Drivers should expect reduced visibility and one or two inches of snow, mostly before noon.
As expected, Ohio officials appealed a ruling that forces the state to acknowledge same-sex marriages on death certificates.
The University of Cincinnati is spending more than $500,000 this year on lights, cameras and off-duty patrols, among other measures, to address continuing concerns about violent crimes around campus. But some students and parents say the school should pursue more aggressive efforts, such as selling anti-crime tools in the campus bookstore.
Greater Cincinnati Water Works reopened local intakes along the Ohio River after the W. Va. chemical spill passed yesterday.
Cincinnati officials admit yesterday that a pile of old road salt should have been used before other supplies, but the city says it will use the remaining pile before purchasing more salt. Councilman Charlie Winburn raised questions about the salt after he discovered the $316,000 pile.
Cincinnati ranked fifth for number of bedbug treatments in 2013.
More than 50,000 employees will get job training through the second round of the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.
Extreme heat forced authorities to suspend the Australian Open for more than four hours yesterday and caused one athlete to hallucinate images of Snoopy.