Despite Gov. John Kasich’s claims to the contrary, the only miracle in Ohio’s economy might be how bad the state is doing compared to the rest of the nation.
The proof: Ohio’s economy was among just two states in the
nation that actually worsened during September through November compared to August through October, according
to the research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
Beyond Ohio’s borders, Alaska also worsened, two states remained stable and the rest of the nation moved in a generally positive direction.
In other words, while 46 states’ economies moved in a generally positive direction, Ohio actually got worse.
The measures come from the State Coincident Index issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia every month. The index combines several economic indicators to gauge the condition of each state’s economy. The research department then gauges whether the index improved or worsened after the latest month’s data is taken into account.
With the gubernatorial election now less than one year away, the sorry state of Ohio’s economy could prove a bad sign for Gov. Kasich’s re-election.
Kasich, a Republican, came into office as Ohio’s economy began dashing out of the Great Recession stronger than most of the nation — a trend Kasich took to calling the “Ohio miracle.”
Ed FitzGerald, Kasich’s likely Democratic challenger, has criticized the claim in the past few months as Ohio’s economy showed more signs of worsening despite Kasich’s promises that his policies would keep the state in the right direction.
One of those policies was privatizing Ohio’s development agency and effectively turning it into JobsOhio. In less than three years, the agency has been riddled in multiple scandals following accusations from Democrats that the JobsOhio board hosts various conflicts of interests and lacks transparency when recommending who should get state tax credits.
Kasich also pushed and approved an across-the-board income tax cut earlier in 2013 through the two-year state budget. But because the income tax cut came with a sales tax hike, left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio found Kasich’s tax cut heavily favors the wealthy, which calls into question whether the tax cut will actually help Ohio’s middle class or economy.
For FitzGerald and other Democrats, the challenge is advocating a progressive agenda that stands in contrast to Kasich’s policies. Although they have plenty of criticisms, it remains unclear what Democrats could do if — as looks almost certain — Republicans continue to hold Ohio’s legislative chambers.
Then there’s the question of whether state policies matter much, if at all. Economists generally agree that state officials tend to dramatize the economic impact of their policies when much bigger factors are at play, particularly as globalization reshapes the national and global economies.
For now, one thing is clear: Kasich’s policies haven’t been enough to turn around Ohio’s sinking economy throughout the past three months.
500 Miles to Memphis at the Southgate House Revival: Say goodbye to 2013 with the band, one of the best live groups in the area. 9 p.m. $8 pre-sale; $10 day-of. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-2201, southgatehouse.com.
Big Easy New Year’s Eve: Ring in the New Year New Orleans-style with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Morris Russell. The evening will feature jazzy Big Band favorites with trumpeter Byron Stripling delivering Dixieland favorites and a tribute to Louis Armstrong. Following the concert, there will bea ball hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, carnival-style dancing, dinner, live music and a champagne toast at midnight. Concert: 7:30 p.m.; ball: 10 p.m. Concert: $12-$90; ball: $175-$250. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.
SOLD OUT CityBeat and Know Theatre’s Speakeasy Party: A 1920s-themed speakeasy in the basement bar of the Know Theatre with casino games, dance lessons, food, martinis and a champagne toast at midnight. Benefits the Know Theatre. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $25. Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, RSVP to 513-300-5669 or knowtheatre.com.
Hamilton County Parks’ Family New Year’s Eve: A ton of family-friendly fun to fit in before the ball drops at 9 p.m. See live animals, balloon sculptors and magicians and play games, make crafts and more. 6-9 p.m. $4; free for 2 and younger. Woodland Mound, Seasongood Nature Center, 8250 Old Kellogg Road, Beechmont, RSVP to greatparks.org.
First Midnight: Performances by DJ ETrayn, DJ B Sarge and Peter Dressman plus hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast. Benefits Give Back Cincinnati. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. $40; $30 advance; $50 per couple advance. Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, 1000 Broadway St., Downtown, RSVP to ffecincinnati.com.
Happy Zoo Year: Ring in the New Year early at the Zoo with the Festival of Lights, a New Year’s Eve Madcap Puppet Theatre black-light show, party favors, costumed characters and appearances by Baby Zoo Year and Father Time. An early New Year countdown begins at 8:55 p.m. at the Wings of Wonder Theater with fireworks at 9 p.m. 5-9 p.m. Included with zoo admission: $15 adults; $10 seniors and children. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.
International New Year’s Celebration: Celebrate New Year’s traditions from around the world each hour in the Cincinnati Museum Center’s rotunda. Learn about the different countries and their culture, music, games and crafts. Stop by “customs” for special country stamps and write a letter to troops stationed abroad. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org.
Midnight in Munich: Celebrate the New Year in Germany with a German dinner buffet, German festivities and a champagne toast at 6 p.m. — midnight Munich time. 5 p.m. $30. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, RSVP to mecklenburgs.net.
Mike Davis New Year’s Eve Show: Las Vegas-style entertainment by Elvis tribute act Mike Davis. Includes a buffet dinner, coffee, soft drinks, beer and wine. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $50. Mariner’s Inn, 7391 Forbes Park, Sayler Park, RSVP to 513-465-9037 or todayselvis.com.
New Year’s Eve Ball: Two DJs on two levels plus an hors d’oeuvres buffet and champagne toast. 9 p.m. $30; discounts for 10 or more. Mount Adams Pavilion, 949 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, RSVP to 513-744-9200 or mountadamspavilion.com.
New Year’s Eve Bash at Blinkers Tavern: Regular menu available plus a three-course dinner, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Music by DJ Lunaman. 8 p.m. $65. Blinkers Tavern, 318 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., RSVP to 859-360-0840.
New Year’s Eve Black and White Ball: Includes a two-room suite at the Embassy Suites Blue Ash plus an open bar, dancing, DJ, buffet dinner, midnight continental breakfast and late check-out. Check-in at 3 p.m. $349. Embassy Suites Blue Ash, 4554 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, RSVP to 513-981-3752.
New Year’s Eve Blast on Fountain Square: Food vendors, beverage stations, souvenirs, dance contest, music by DJ Tweet and Rozzi’s famous fireworks at midnight. 8 p.m.-midnight. Free; VIP packages available. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, 513-763-8036, myfountainsquare.com.
New Year’s Eve at Bobby Mackey’s Music World: The 35th annual bash at Bobby’s with line dancing, live music, bull rides and hourly ghost tours. Music by Bobby Mackey and the Big Mac Band plus karaoke. 9 p.m. $10. Bobby Mackey’s Music World, 44 Licking Pike, Wilder, Ky., RSVP to 859-431-5588 or bobbymackey.com.
New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise: An Ohio River cruise with BB Riverboats including the sparkling Cincinnati skyline, a buffet, entertainment, champagne split at midnight and a late-night snack buffet and party favors. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $102 adults; $62 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., RSVP to 859-261-8500 or bbriverboats.com.
New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance: Hot buffet, snacks, a wine fountain, hats, noisemakers, music and attendees can BYOB. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $40. Lakeridge Hall, 7210 Pippin Road, Colerain Township, RSVP to 513-521-1112.
New Year’s Eve at the Funny Bone: A special engagement with comedian Basile. 7 p.m. $45. Levee Funny Bone, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., funnybone.com.
New Year’s Eve Gala at Vito’s Cafe: A five-course prix-fixe menu with music, balloons and champagne. Seatings at 6 and 9 p.m. $60; $15 for ages 9 and younger. Vito’s Café, 654 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas, Ky., RSVP to 859-442-9444.
New Year’s Eve at Go Bananas: Comedian Cy Amundson plus party favors, snack plates and a champagne toast. 7:30 and 10 p.m. $20 early show; $40 late show. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.
New Year’s Eve at Igby’s: Dress in cocktail attire for music by DJ Ice Cold Tony. Advance-order bottle specials available: two bottles of Grey Goose and a bottle of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut champagne for $420; one bottle of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut for $65. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $20. Igby’s, 122 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-246-4396, igbysbar.com.
New Year’s Eve Kids’ Countdown at Newport Aquarium: Q102’s Katie Walters takes over the Shark Ray Bay Theater for a kids’ celebration with music, dancing and giveaways plus a special appearance countdown by Scuba Santa at 5 p.m. Kids also get noisemakers and party hats to ring in the New Year. 3-5:30 p.m. Free with admission: $23 adults; $15 children; free two and younger. Newport Aquarium, 1 Levee Way, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com.
New Year’s Eve at The Lackman: Drink specials including $5 Bulleit cocktails and $3 select bottle beers. Complimentary champagne toast at midnight. 8 p.m. Free. The Lackman, 1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, lackmanbar.com.
New Year’s Eve at Mayday: Great Gatsby-style party with live ’20s-era Jazz and a three-course dinner. Champagne pairings available. Dinner followed by the Koi Pound Annual Carnivolution with DJs, LED spinners and other carnival antics. 6 p.m. dinner; 9:30 p.m. Koi Pound party. $30 champagne dinner; $45 sparkling wine dinner. Mayday, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, RSVP to maydaynorthside.com.
New Year’s Eve at Mynt Martini: A balloon drop, complimentary hors d’oeuvres from 8-9 p.m., music by Davey C. and a champagne toast at midnight. 8 p.m. $25 advance; VIP packages $400-$2,500. Mynt Martini, 28 Fountain Square, Downtown, RSVP to 513-621-6968.
New Year’s Eve at the Newport Syndicate: Multiple party rooms with music by the Rusty Griswolds, multiple pianists and Q102’s DJ Mark McFadden. Champagne toast at midnight with dinner buffet and open bar. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. $75 piano package; $100 premium; $125 VIP; $150 Best Seat in the House. Newport Syndicate, 18 E. Fifth St., Newport, Ky., 859-491-8000, cincyticket.com.
New Year’s Eve at Obscura: Includes a four-course prix-fixe menu. Seating begins at 6 p.m.; 8 and 10 p.m. seating includes a cocktail or wine pairing for $99; 10 p.m. reservation includes a champagne toast. $75-$99. Obscura, 645 Walnut St., Downtown, RSVP to obscuracincinnati.com.
New Year’s Eve at Perfect North Slopes: Skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing open until 1 a.m. with party favors and a DJ in the lodge. Fireworks at midnight plus a torchlight parade down the slopes by ski instructors and ski patrol. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Free (except for lift tickets). Perfect North Slopes, 19074 Perfect Lane, Lawrenceburg, Ind., perfectnorth.com.
New Year’s Eve at The Stand: VIP tables available. 8 p.m. Free. The Stand, 3195 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-871-5006, thestandcincy.com.
New Year’s Eve at the Rail House: Enjoy a New Orleans-style masquerade ball with live music by the Robin Lacy & DeZydeco plus a three-course prix-fixe dinner package. Show off your best Mardi Gras mask and win a bottle of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut to use to toast the New Year. Reservation times for the NYE dinner package are every half hour between 7 and 9:30 p.m.; early-bird seating 4-6 p.m. $39.95 dinner. The Rail House, 40 Village Square, Glendale, RSVP to railhouse1854.com.
No Hassle New Year’s Eve with Cincinnati Sports League: Party favors, two free Budweisers, one American Honey cocktail, a champagne toast, macaroni and cheese buffet and a chance to win a cruise to the Bahamas. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $25. Keystone Bar & Grill Hyde Park, 3384 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, RSVP to 513-321-2150.
NYE 2K14 Hosted by Grandmaster Flash: Includes a complimentary buffet and party favors plus packages for skip-the-line entrance, open bar, a meet-and-greet with Grandmaster Flash and more. Opening set by DJ Mike B of Animal Crackers. 8 p.m.-2:30 a.m. $75; $50 advance. PLAY, 35 E. Seventh St., Downtown, RSVP to 513-500-6923 or playcincy.com.
Pauly Shore at Boogie Nights: Ring in 2014 with comedian Pauly Shore at Hollywood Casino’s Boogie Nights nightclub. Shore will be mixing, mingling and emceeing the evening. 9 p.m.-3 a.m. $20; $35 per couple. Hollywood Casino, 777 Hollywood Blvd., Lawrenceburg, Ind., hollywoodindiana.com.
Red Wanting Blue: Celebrate New Year’s at the 20th Century Theater with music by Red Wanting Blue and Young Heirlooms. 9 p.m. $25 advance; $30 day-of; $40 VIP with access to a pre-show acoustic set, limited edition signed poster and meet-and-greet. 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-731-8000, the20thcenturytheatre.com.
Rumpke Mountain Boys’ New Year’s Eve Ball: Bluegrass band the Rumpke Mountain Boys host a New Year’s bash with New Old Cavalry and Flatland Harmony Experiment. 7 p.m. $25. The Thompson House, 24 E. Third St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-7469, thompsonhousenewport.com.
Silvestertanz: A German New Year’s Eve celebration with music by Alpen Echos, hors d’oeuvres, a sandwich buffet and dessert. Cash bar. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $22. Donauschwaben Haus, 4290 Dry Ridge Road, Colerain Township, RSVP to 513-385-2098 or cincydonau.com.
Star Lanes NYE: New Year’s Eve packages for day and night, including complimentary food, drinks and bowling. Nighttime 21 packages include three hours of bowling, shoe rental, passed hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and four well-drink tickets. Daytime family-friendly packages available. 21 event starts at 9 p.m. $50. Star Lanes, 1 Levee Way, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., RSVP 859-652-7252, starlaneslevee.com.
Stress Free New Year’s Eve: Music by DJ Simo. VIP tables available. 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Free. The Righteous Room, 641 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-381-4408, therighteousroom.com.
Track Bash New Year’s Eve Party: Turfway Park presents live horse racing, music by Doghouse and various packages including everything from buffet and party favors to a champagne toast. 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Packages $75-$150; free general admission. Turfway Park, 7500 Turfway Road, Florence, Ky., turfway.com.
Why? at The Comet: Locally based, internationally beloved Indie crew Why? will play its final show of 2013 at the intimate Comet in Northside. 10 p.m. Free. The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-8900, cometbar.com.
Wussy at the Northside Tavern: Wussy and Frontier Folk Nebraska close out 2013. 9 p.m. Free. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidetav.com.
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune will announce today whether he'll run for governor. If he decides to run, Portune will face off against Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald to decide which Democrat should face off against Republican Gov. John Kasich next November. Until now, it has been widely assumed that FitzGerald would take the gubernatorial nomination without a primary challenge. But if Portune enters the race, it could lead to a primary process that could hinder Democrats' chances in a pivotal state election.
Hamilton County Republican Party officials are looking into hosting the 2016 national GOP convention in Cincinnati, but they acknowledge their bid might come in too late. The 2016 convention would put the national spotlight on Cincinnati during a presidential election year, when presumably two new presidential contenders will have been picked by Democrats and Republicans to replace President Barack Obama. Hamilton County Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou said Cincinnati would be a great location for the convention, given the region's electoral importance to both parties, but he wants to make sure Cincinnati actually stands a chance before using time and resources to file a formal application.
Entertainment districts allow some businesses in Walnut Hills and nine other Cincinnati neighborhoods to receive their state liquor licenses more quickly and inexpensively, but some — particularly businesses facing new competition — are worried the increasingly popular economic designation will lead to more alcohol-serving establishments than Cincinnati can sustain.
Local startup incubator SoMoLend got state hearings over allegations of fraud pushed to February and March. The once-promising crowdfunding incubator previously partnered with Cincinnati, but the city cut ties with the business once allegations of fraud surfaced.
The Ohio Department of Health warned on Friday that flu activity is increasing across the state and Ohioans should get vaccinated.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol last week launched an enhanced registry of people who have been convicted of drunk driving at least five times.
Starting Jan. 1, regulations meant to crack down on puppy mills will require licenses for dog breeders and clean cages. The legislation enforcing the new rules was approved more than a year ago to curtail Ohio's reputation of being soft on large dog breeding operations.
Ohio gas prices spiked at the end of the year.
With the year drawing to a close, check out CityBeat's top stories of 2013.
The question you probably never asked has now been answered: Can a human fall in love with a computer?
At the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park you'll find the traditional Christmas favorite A Christmas Carol as well as The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) onstage through Sunday. It feels a bit odd to be watching Scrooge and the ghosts after Christmas Day, but the Playhouse's rendition is such a lovely show and Bruce Cromer's portrait of the old miser is so entertaining that you'll be charmed, I'm sure. And the Reduced Shakespeare guys doing the "comedy" piece know how to evoke laughter from the making of jokes in ways you haven't imagined. They're the guys who originated this amusing formula with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and they're making it work with this world premiere production. It's a nice bit of entertainment for a weekend between the holidays. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Holiday themed laughs are being served up at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through Sunday, too, with their eighth annual presentation of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some). No Shakespeare in evidence (although they're performing on the gussied-up set that was built for the previous production, Twelfth Night) but four of CSC's best comic talents are mashing up every imaginable tale you might think of that has a holiday connection — Charlie Brown, Charles Dickens, Rudolph, the Nutcracker, It's a Wonderful Life and many more. They'll have you laughing from start to finish, especially if you make a stop by the bar in the lobby beforehand. Not for the kids, but a lot of fun for anyone with an adolescent sense of humor. Tickets: 513-381-2273 x 1.
If you want a nice outing for the kids, I recommend Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati's holiday show, Around the World in 80 Days. Jules Verne's adventure classic about a hectic circumnavigation of the globe in 1899 has been musicalized and condensed in a way that children will enjoy it — but there's enough humor and talent onstage to keep adults entertained, too. ETC'S production actually runs through the weekend after New Year's Day, but if the kids are restless and you want to entertain them with live theater, this is a great choice. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
Construction on the $132.8 million streetcar project
restarted yesterday, marking an end to the nearly two-month drama
brought on by Mayor John Cranley’s election and his threats of
cancellation. City Council paused the project for a little more than
three weeks to conduct an audit on its costs, but the legislative body
agreed to restart construction last week after receiving a signed
agreement from the Haile Foundation that the philanthropic group will
provide $9 million over 10 years to help pay for $3.13-$3.54 million in annual operating costs.
An automatic increase on Ohio’s minimum wage at the start of the new year will benefit 330,000 Ohioans, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The higher wages should translate to a better economy for all Ohioans: EPI found the automatic increase will generate nearly $39 million in economic impact and 300 full-time jobs. Since a voter-approved measure in 2006, Ohio has been among several states who peg the minimum wage to increases in the cost of living.
More than 36,000 Ohioans will lose emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed tomorrow following a lack of congressional action, according to left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio. The emergency benefits were passed by Congress at the start of the Great Recession to help those hit worse by the economic downturn, but Congress failed to extend the benefits before it recessed for the holidays despite lingering signs of a weakened economy. Without the extension, Ohioans can tap into just 26 weeks of state-provided jobless aid; federally funded emergency benefits give the unemployed another 37 weeks to find work before losing government assistance.
Here are CityBeat’s top stories of 2013.
The annual review of the two-year state budget could include income tax cuts, said Ohio’s tax chief. The statement follows Gov. John Kasich’s announced push for another income tax cut to help spur Ohio’s slowing economy. The Republican governor signed a state budget that reduced taxes — particularly for the wealthy — earlier in the year, but Ohio’s economy still slowed down in the past few months as the state unemployment rate surpassed the national rate for the first time in years.
With the Ohio Supreme Court’s rejection last week of a
challenge to the state’s federally funded Medicaid expansion,
conservatives are conceding the battle is “over with” for now. Gov.
Kasich pursued the federally funded expansion without approval from the
General Assembly by going through the seven-member Controlling Board,
but Republicans, who largely opposed the expansion of a government-run
health care program from the start, fought against the board’s approval in court.
Gov. Kasich was “stingy” with his clemency powers during his third year in office, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Even though a review found Cintrifuse is a “Lead Applicant with strong position within SW Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Ohio Third Frontier denied state tax credits for the local startup incubator because, according to the state review group, Cintrifuse maintains an unrealistic goal to scale to 60 tenants in its first year and lacks strategy or process for the incubator services, graduation focus, an adequate staffing plan and a defined tenant award process.
Delta briefly provided very low air fares following a technical error yesterday.
Much to scientists’ frustration, 2014 could be a bad year for the flu after the adaptive virus evolves.
CityBeat met with drummer and instrumentalist Josiah Wolf (Yoni’s brother) at The Comet and spoke to him about Cincinnati, his new projects, upcoming shows and WHY?’s latest albums.
CityBeat: Cincinnati is your hometown. You and Yoni grew up here?
Josiah Wolf: I was born in Philadelphia but came here when I was, like, two. So yeah, I grew up here. I lived here all of my formative years…left when I was around 21.
CB: I saw that WHY? is nominated for the “Indie/Alternative” category for the Jan. 26 17th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (CEAs). How does it feel to be nominated?
JW: I don’t ever expect to win those things, but it’s nice that we’re on the radar of the city. We were nominated last year too and went down to The Madison. I think [the CEAs] have gotten bigger. It’s cool — it’s kind of a way of getting the music community and art community together.
CB: Do you interact with some of the local bands here?
JW: Uh, never, no. [Laughs] Just kidding. Yeah, I’ve met some good friends here and some good bands here. I’ve met a lot of people through WHY?’s other drummer Ben Sloan — a lot of his friends that he went to school with. They have a collective, The Marburg Collective, and they play at The Comet every Monday.
CB: Aside from WHY?, I know you’ve been working on some other projects, such as Dream Tiger with your wife, Liz. Can you tell me about that?
JW: I’m doing stuff for myself right now that is only in infancy. Some of that might be music I release myself or I might collaborate with Liz on it. Some of it might become WHY? songs. I have a lot of tracks that are in their beginning stages.
CB: So with WHY?, do the members work on music individually and then come together?
JW: Yeah, we do that a lot of the time. Every record is different, though. Like with the last record, Mumps, Etc., Yoni worked on almost all of that by himself. With the Golden Ticket EP, I did all of the music on that. Yoni wrote the songs on the piano and then he sent me the tracks and I put music around it.
CB: How is it different to do your own stuff versus stuff for WHY? or Dream Tiger?
JW: WHY? is kind of Yoni’s band in a way even though we’ve had times of collaboration. It’s my band also but he’s the main guy. Dream Tiger is Liz’s band. [Laughs] In both bands, I kind of take a side role. The difference is working with my brother versus working with my wife. They’re different but both are good in my life. Lately, I enjoy working by myself in a way, as far as coming up with ideas.
CB: You’ll be playing at The Comet on New Years Eve with WHY? for your last show of the year. How do you feel about that?
JW: I love The Comet. It’ll be a fun, low pressure show for us. I’m excited about it. I’d say that intimate shows [are] my preference.
CB: Which of your albums is the band’s favorite to perform? I know at the Fountain Square show this summer, you guys played a lot from Alopecia, which is one of my favorite albums. How do you choose which albums to play?
JW: Right now we’re focusing on the new record, Mumps, Etc. We do most songs from that but, yeah, we do a lot from Alopecia. Some Elephant Eyelash. We don’t really do much Eskimo Snow right now. The Alopecia songs do lend themselves to the live performances better than some of the other ones — they are more exciting songs in a way. For some reason, the Eskimo Snow songs are a little more difficult to pull off live [but] we do a couple.
CB: So Mumps, Etc. came out last year after a three-year break. How would you say the band’s sound has evolved in that latest album? And since then?
JW: That record was mostly Yoni as far as the arrangements go. He didn’t play a lot on it but the rest of us got the parts he arranged and learned them and embellished them a bit. The goal was to get a very clean, large sounding record with minimal instrumentation — not too cluttered. I think we did pretty good with that. When I listen back to the instrumentals, it’s clean, and that’s what we were going for. Nowadays, the newer stuff that we’re working towards is a little more homemade — a little more experimental. We’re trying to get back to some of that stuff and get away from being in a big studio. Next up, we’re going to record more at my house in my basement studio.
CB: And then there’s the September EP Golden Tickets from this year on the Joyful Noise label. It is a described as “a collection of personalized ‘theme songs’ for and about seven specific WHY? fans who were Internet stalked.” Can you tell me a little bit more about that project?
JW: It first came about through our web store three years ago, I believe, right around this time. We had this one t-shirt that was a misprint. All of the other shirts had a certain color but one shirt was gold. It was like a test print. Somehow we came up with this idea: How about we put up a contest online and say whoever gets the golden shirt will have a song written about them. And the first guy who bought the shirt — it was Hunter Van Brocklin, the guy — was sent the shirt and we wrote a song about him. That’s how it started. From there, we did another merch contest and then we kind of got away from the merch contests and did more of a charity after the Japan [tsunami]. We did an auction where whoever gave the most to the benefit got the song written about them that month — that was the golden ticket. So every month, it became a little different.
CB: When the fans found out about their “theme songs,” how did they react? Creeped out? Flattered? Shocked?
JW: Everybody liked it! At least nobody expressed a [creeped out] sentiment. Maybe some people were creeped out [Laughs], but people seemed to like it a lot. People wrote us about it. We were lucky; all of the people we selected were really cool people. If you’re going to put your information out there on social media, we can write a song about it. It’s all public information. We had a good time doing it. Yoni would send me the tracks and I would make the music around it. It was just a fun little project.
Check out WHY?’s website for more information about the band.
Right as we walked through the door, I noticed an eye-catching rainbow display of macarons; row after row of every imaginable color and flavor of the French meringue-based confection. We decided to peruse the bakery during our one-and-a-half hour wait to be seated (during which we spotted Funk musician George Clinton) and I remember practically drooling on the glass at the hazelnut, raspberry, espresso, violet cassis and even Earl Grey-flavored treats.
The petite and airy French macaron (pronounced “mah-kah-rohn” and not to be confused with the coconut cookie, macaroon) is made with egg whites, almond powder, confectioner’s sugar and food coloring. It has a crispy outside, chewy inside and velvety filling. I had only eaten macarons once before then, at a café in Hollywood earlier that week. Getting a box full of them after dinner was almost too good to be true.
Although I was happy to be experiencing them for the first time in Cali, macarons have been a fad in the past few years, popping up all over the place. Foodies among others have been dubbing them the new cupcake (because, you know, Cupcake Wars is a thing and cupcakeries are everywhere).
Upon returning to Cincinnati, I tried to find the city’s Bottega Louie. I wanted to discover a place overflowing with the ubiquitous macaron that is taking bakeries all over the East and West Coast by storm. After doing a few Yelp searches, I first ventured to The BonBonerie on Madison Road, not too far from my apartment. There were only two types of macarons there when I went — salty caramel and pistachio.
Although there was a limited selection of flavors, I was excited to order the pastries in my hometown and got a few of each. They were alright, but the meringue cookie outsides and filling were a bit thick and the macaron didn’t have its expected airiness. I wanted to find a place that offered a lighter pastry with a wider selection of flavors.
I later went to Aglamesis Bro’s in Oakley Square, one of my favorite ice cream parlors, to continue my search. Some of their reviews mentioned macarons. However, they didn’t have them when I went. I left with some black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream, so the outing wasn’t a total letdown.
I then attempted to go to the S&J Bakery and Café in Findlay Market on a Sunday, but was just a little too late. It was closed. Based on Yelp reviews, the macarons are good there (and are actually sold there) so I unfortunately missed out and need to go back.
The French Crust Café on Vine came up on Yelp under the “macaron” search and seemed promising, being a French café and all. There were reviews about desserts, such as pumpkin and chocolate mousse, topped with a macaron. Upon looking at the menu on the website, though, I didn’t see the pastries listed as separate items for purchase and decided to pass.
However, the one place that stuck out to me in the Yelp search — that I’ve been meaning to try for ages and ages, not just for the macarons but for the food in general — is Taste of Belgium in Over-the-Rhine. It’s a local favorite when it comes to brunch and desserts. I finally paid the bistro a visit over the weekend and, for the first time, felt like I was in a West Coast bakery.
I instantly spotted the macarons, which took up an entire shelf. There were eight holiday flavors — Rum Raisin, Sticky Toffee, Sugarplum, Eggnog, Gingerbread, a very decorated Candy Cane, Cinnabun and Snow Ball (Coconut).
I ordered a box of them and my sister and I ate them before we even got our brunch. We really couldn’t help it, seeing as to how they’re so pretty and bite-sized. These macarons were similar to the ones I had at Bottega Louie; they were slightly crunchy, had just the right amount of chewiness and were filled with the perfect amount of ganache.
While I’m not usually into fads, this is one that I’m glad is spreading within our constantly evolving city. It might have taken me a few months, but I can finally say that I’ve found the trendy yet timeless confections I’ve been craving. And it just so happened to be in time for the holidays, in very appropriate festive flavors.
When Ohio’s minimum wage automatically increases by 10 cents to $7.95 per hour at the start of 2014, roughly 330,000 workers will receive raises across the state, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
That could be good news for all of Ohio: EPI found the minimum wage increase will benefit the rest of the state through nearly $39 million in economic impact and 300 new full-time jobs.
“Ohio workers and the Ohio economy will both benefit from this raise for our lowest-paid neighbors,” said Amy Hanauer, executive director of left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio, in a statement. “The employees who benefit will turn around and spend money in our communities, stimulating growth here.”
The automatic increase is a result of a constitutional amendment approved by Ohio voters in 2006 that hiked the minimum wage to $6.85 per hour and pegged it to rises in the cost of living.
Ohio isn’t alone in the increase, however. Policy Matters estimates 10 other states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and New Jersey — automatically increase their minimum wages each year to keep up with inflation.
The nationwide minimum wage hikes “will generate over $619 million in new economic activity and support creation of 4,600 new full-time jobs as businesses expand to meet increased consumer demand,” according to Policy Matters.
The projections come at a time progressives are working on the national stage to increase the federal minimum wage, which, at $7.25 per hour, is becoming increasingly irrelevant as Congress fails to keep up with many states’ minimum wage expansions.
President Barack Obama’s Fair Minimum Wage Law would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015 and — perhaps most importantly — ensure the minimum wage increases each year to keep up with the cost of living. The left-leaning National Employment Law Project estimates the hike would help 30 million Americans and help grow the economy.
Opponents argue a minimum wage increase, especially one as
rapid as Obama’s proposal, would burden businesses with considerably
higher labor costs. They argue companies would drop
employees or raise prices to cope with higher expenses.
Advocates typically tout a minimum wage hike as a matter of basic fairness. They claim the federal minimum wage would be $10.55 per hour today if it kept up with inflation.
A federal judge on Monday ordered Ohio authorities to recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates. Although the ruling was narrow, many advocates of gay marriage argue the merits of the judge’s decision indicate a broader problem with Ohio’s marriage laws following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling against a federal anti-gay marriage law. The judge’s ruling came just three days after another federal court struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban on similar constitutional grounds.
Gov. John Kasich’s plan to get Ohio’s economy moving again: more tax cuts. But the policy announcement — unsurprising, coming from a Republican — comes on the same year Ohio’s economy slowed down even after Kasich and the Republican legislature passed tax cuts that heavily favored the state’s wealthiest.
Believe in Cincinnati saved the streetcar, argues The Cincinnati Enquirer. The group was formed shortly after Mayor John Cranley won the November election and threatened to halt the $132.8 million streetcar project for good. But the threats inspired a groundswell of streetcar supporters, ranging from concerned businesses to residents. And before City Council agreed to continue the streetcar project, Believe in Cincinnati in just eight days gathered 11,300 petition signatures for a charter amendment restarting the project. CityBeat covered the group in its infancy here.
Cincinnati ranked No. 2 for highest child poverty out of 76 major U.S. cities in 2012, according to the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). Cleveland and Toledo also made the unfortunate top five, CDF found.
Overtime pay at the Metropolitan Sewer District exceeded $2 million for the third consecutive year in a row, but the number falls below the accepted standard of less than 10 percent of total payroll. MSD Director Tony Parrott says overtime allows the agency to keep staffing numbers in check but still responsive to unexpected situations. Still, the overtime estimate arrives at a time Hamilton County commissioners are raising sewer and water rates to comply with federal mandates.
Cincinnati will tap into a state program for a major demolition blitz in 2014. The city plans to knock down 240 blighted and condemned buildings next year — far higher than the typical annual rate of 70.
Eight historic buildings in Cincinnati, including Memorial Hall, on Dec. 20 received roughly $6 million in state tax credits for projects totaling $71 million.
Rhinegeist Brewing plans to begin canning its craft beer in January.
Humans were getting the flu as far back as the year 1510, but it’s completely unknown if dinosaurs suffered from similar illnesses.
Cincinnati ranked No. 2 for highest child poverty out of 76 major U.S. cities in 2012, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) of Ohio said Friday.
The numbers provide a grim reminder that more than half of
Cincinnati’s children lived in poverty in 2012, even as the city’s urban core began a nationally recognized revitalization period.
With 53.1 percent of children in poverty, Cincinnati
performed better in CDF’s ranking than Detroit (59.4 percent) but worse
than Cleveland (52.6 percent), Miami (48 percent) and Toledo (46
percent), which rounded out the top five.
The data, adopted from the U.S. Census Bureau, also shows Ohio’s child poverty rate of 23.6 percent exceeded the national rate of 22.6 percent in 2012, despite slight gains over the previous year.
“When three of the top five American cities with the highest rates of child poverty are in Ohio, it is clear that children are not a priority here,” said Renuka Mayadev, executive director of CDF of Ohio. “Significant numbers of our children do not meet state academic standards because their basic needs are not being met.”
With the contentious streetcar debate over for now, some local leaders are already turning their attention to Cincinnati’s disturbing levels of poverty.
Mayor John Cranley on Thursday told reporters that he intends to unveil an anti-poverty initiative next year. A majority of council members also told CityBeat that they will increase human services funding, which goes to agencies that address issues like poverty and homelessness, even as they work to structurally balance the city’s operating budget.
Outside City Hall, the Strive Partnership and other education-focused organizations are working to guarantee a quality preschool education to all of Cincinnati’s 3- and 4-year-olds. The issue, which will most likely involve a tax hike of some kind, could appear on the 2014 ballot.