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by German Lopez 01.15.2014 98 days ago
 
 
scott stiles

Morning News and Stuff

City personnel changes spur backlash, county seeks MSD compromise, judge indicted again

The latest administrative shakeups at City Hall spurred controversy after the city administration confirmed City Solicitor John Curp will leave his current position and one of the new hires — Bill Moller, a city retiree who will become assistant city manager — will be able to “double dip” on his pension and salary ($147,000 a year). Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said on Twitter that City Council will discuss the personnel changes at todays council meeting. The hiring decisions are up to Interim City Manager Scott Stiles, but some council members say they should be more closely informed and involved. (This paragraph was updated after council members called off the special session.)

Hamilton County commissioners plan to vote on a resolution today that attempts to compromise with City Council on controversial contracting rules for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) projects. Both the Democrat-controlled city and Republican-controlled county agree the issue needs to be resolved soon so MSD can get on with a $3.2 billion sewer revamp mandated by the federal government. But it remains unclear whether the county’s compromise, which adds some inclusion goals and funding for training programs, will be enough for City Council. In December, Democratic council members refused to do away with the city’s contracting rules, which require MSD contractors to meet stricter job training standards and programs.

Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter was indicted on a ninth felony charge yesterday. The charge — for misusing her county credit card — comes on top of eight other felony counts for allegedly backdating court documents and stealing from office. In response to the first eight charges, the Ohio Supreme Court disqualified Hunter as she fights the accusations and replaced her with a formerly retired judge, who will be aided by the juvenile court’s permanent and visiting judges in addressing Hunter’s expansive backlog of cases.

A bipartisan proposal would allow Ohioans to recall any elected official in the state.

Duke Energy cut a $400,000 check to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority for redevelopment projects at Bond Hill, Roselawn and Queensgate.

Sixty-two people will be dropped from Hamilton County voter rolls because they didn’t respond to a letter from the board of elections challenging their voting addresses.

It’s official: Democrat Charlie Luken and Republican Ralph Winkler will face off for the Hamilton County Probate Court judgeship.

Facing state cuts to local funding, a Clermont County village annexed its way to higher revenues. But the village has drawn controversy for its tactics because it explicitly absorbed only public property, which isn’t protected from annexation under state law like private property is.

More Ohio inmates earned high school diplomas over the past three years, putting the state ahead of the national average in this area, according to a report from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.

Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear says he supports legislative efforts to increase Kentucky’s minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years.

One Malaysian language describes odors as precisely as English describes colors.

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by German Lopez 01.14.2014 99 days ago
Posted In: News, Budget, City administration, City Council at 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

Acting City Manager Shakes Up Leadership Positions

New assistant city manager could "double dip" into pension and salary

Cincinnati’s city manager, law and budget offices will see major shakeups in the coming months, the city administration announced Tuesday, and one of the new hires is a former city retiree who might tap into his pension while receiving a salary from the city.

Bill Moller is a city retiree who will be eligible to “double dip” into his pension and a city salary ($147,000 a year) when the city rehires him in February to fill an opening for assistant city manager, city spokesperson Meg Olberding confirmed in an email to CityBeat. Whether he does is entirely up to the interim city manager, Olberding wrote.

The possibility could draw criticism from city officials looking to balance Cincinnati’s structurally imbalanced operating budget. Last year, City Council drew opposition for its decision to hire Streetcar Project Executive John Deatrick and allow him to double dip on his pension and a city salary.

Update: Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said on Twitter that City Council will discuss the personnel changes at Wednesdays full council meeting, instead of a special session on Thursday as originally planned.

Moller will eventually replace Assistant City Manager David Holmes, who helped oversee efforts for The Banks and 2012 World Choir Games and filed to retire on April 1, Interim City Manager Scott Stiles wrote in a memo to City Council and the mayor.

“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,” Stiles wrote, noting Moller’s budget and finance experience in Cincinnati, Hamilton and Covington.

City Solicitor John Curp will also leave his current position to instead act as chief counsel for the city’s two utilities, the Metropolitan Sewer District and Water Works.

“The utility has been undergoing a merger of back office functions to save ratepayers money, and also has been expanding services and service areas to decrease costs,” Stiles wrote. John (Curp) has the private sector experience to assist the utilities with a market-oriented approach, and is uniquely positioned to understand both the particulars of MSD and GCWW as well as the areas in which they can expand.

The move should save ratepayers money by allowing both utilities to rely on Curp instead of outside legal counsel when legal issues arise, according to Stiles.

Although widely praised by city officials, Curp’s move is unsurprising given the politics surrounding Mayor John Cranley’s election. Curp offered legal guidance for the parking privatization plan and streetcar project, both of which Cranley opposes.

Terrence Nestor, currently the city’s chief litigator, will replace Curp as city solicitor until a permanent appointment is made.

Stiles announced other changes as well:

• Markiea Carter, currently a development officer, will move to the city manager’s office to act as assistant to the city manager.

• Karen Alder, currently risk manager for the city, will begin assisting Finance Director Reginald Zeno as the city’s deputy finance director.

Stiles is currently filling as interim city manager while the city conducts a nationwide search for a permanent replacement to former City Manager Milton Dohoney. Stiles could apply for the permanent role, but his application would need City Council support to win out over other potential candidates.

The city expects the city manager search to last through June, at which point further administrative changes could be expected if the city hires a new permanent city manager.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 01.14.2014 99 days ago
Posted In: News at 01:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
eat well cafe exterior

O'Bryonville's eat well cafe & takeaway to Close

eat well's catering operations remain open

eat well cafe & takeaway, the restaurant portion of chef Renee Schuler's successful eat well celebrations & feasts, will be closing Friday, Jan. 17, according to a post on their official Facebook page.

Lovely friends,

January 9th we marked the one year anniversary for eat well cafe and takeaway. The cafe was a lifelong dream of mine, and I am grateful I had the opportunity to see it come to fruition beautifully. It has been an adventure and a joy, and I have learned a lot. 


Having completed the first year, however; I have decided to quit dividing my energy between two businesses. Our last day of business will be this Friday January 17th, we will be closing after lunch at 2:00 pm.


The beautifully renovated space in O’Bryonville will be available for private events and meetings after the restaurant closes. 


I am very excited to get back full time to my first love, events and corporate catering. Eat well celebrations and feasts celebrates nine years in business this fall and enjoyed it's most successful year in 2013. You can reach us there at 859-291-9355, and like our facebook page: eat well celebrations and feasts. 


Thank you for your loyalty and support this past year and always. I will be at the cafe monday through friday this week and hope to see some of your smiling faces!

 
 
by German Lopez 01.14.2014 99 days ago
Posted In: News, Health care, Education, Environment at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
obamacare navigators

Morning News and Stuff

Obamacare misses target, state to investigate CPS staff, chemical spill forces local measures

In the third month of open enrollment, Obamacare failed to hit key demographic targets for young adults in Ohio and across the nation. White House officials say about about 39 percent of those who sign up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state-run marketplaces must be young adults. The idea is to get enough young, healthy enrollees to hold down costs as an older, sicker population signs up for health insurance made more easily available through Obamacare’s systems and regulations. But in December, only 19 percent of signups in Ohio and 24 percent of signups nationwide were young adults.

The Ohio Department of Education will recalculate report card data and investigate whether to punish staff after Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) and six other Ohio school districts that scrubbed student attendance data. By manipulating the data, schools can appear to be performing better, but the actions obviously jeopardize the authenticity of Ohio’s school accountability system. CPS says its internal investigations found no evidence of deliberate manipulation and the data errors shouldn’t be enough to alter the school’s standing in state report cards. For CPS and the six other school districts, the issues began after the state auditor in 2012 launched an investigation into school data scrubbing.

To avoid contamination from a W. Va. chemical spill, Cincinnati Water Works will shut down its water intake system along the Ohio River and instead rely on the water intake system at the groundwater treatment facility in Fairfield. Mayor John Cranley said the shutdown will last two days, or more than twice the roughly 20 hours required for the chemical slick to pass by. Consumers shouldn’t notice a difference, according to Water Works officials.

In the coming weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard will decide whether to allow fracking wastewater to travel along the Ohio River and other federal waterways and how strictly regulated the shipments should be. Fracking is a drilling technique in which millions of gallons of water are pumped underground to unlock oil and gas reserves, but the process produces a lot of wastewater as a result. CityBeat previously covered fracking and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.

With legislation repealing Ohio’s energy rules now stalled, Champaign County residents are challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s in-state renewable energy requirements in court. Supporters of the law claim the rules help foster a green energy sector in the state, while opponents argue the rules increase costs for businesses and consumers. CityBeat previously covered State Sen. Bill Seitz’s legislative attempts to repeal the rules here.

Another tea party-backed candidate might challenge Gov. John Kasich in the Republican primary. The reveal comes just days after a tea party leader abruptly dropped his challenge against the incumbent governor.

If state legislators approve, Gov. Kasich will hold his state of the state address this year at Medina, Ohio, on Feb. 24.

Three judges will cover for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter while she fights felony charges in court.

State Rep. Pete Beck of Mason, who was indicted on 16 felony counts for alleged fraud and theft, is facing a primary challenger.

Cincinnati repaved 130 lane miles of road in 2013, according to city officials.

Duke Energy cut a check for the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority today to help redevelop Bond Hill and Queensgate.

A blind student is suing Miami University for alleged discrimination that prevented her from completing coursework.

One vote made the difference in 43 of Ohio’s 2013 elections, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Ky. developers are still pursuing the Noah’s Ark theme park, despite troubles raising funds for the project.

Today is the last day to vote for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.

An infection can turn swarming locusts into solitary grasshoppers, a study found.

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by Maija Zummo 01.14.2014 99 days ago
Posted In: Openings, Cincinnati at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_meatball kitchen pop-up

Meatball Kitchen Opening on Short Vine

All kinds of meatballs; so many ways to eat them

Similar to street tacos and gourmet hot dogs, meatballs are the latest food trend out of big 'ol cities like New York and former New York restaurant and bar owner Dan Katz is bringing them to us.

You may have tried Katz's meatballs at any number of his Meatball Kitchen's pop-up dining experiences around town the past year or so, but now you can have meatballs every day from his brick-and-mortar location — or at least every day starting on Friday, Jan. 17.

Katz is opening his Meatball Kitchen restaurant Friday in the burgeoning Short Vine neighborhood, and will be offering fast food at family- and student-friendly prices. The Meatball Kitchen's menu focuses on meatballs made with beef, turkey or pork and also offers a vegetarian, gluten-free meatball option. Meatballs can be served on a sandwich, over pasta or on a salad. Entree prices will range from $6-$8, with side dishes available for $2 and house-made desserts for $2-$3. According to Katz, the recipes are innovative and all the ingredients are fresh — including those in the daily fresh-baked Focaccia bread.

In a press release Katz says, "I wanted to provide everyone a place where they can come and get a freshly made meal for $10 or less."

The restaurant will serve wine, beer and specialty cocktails. 

Meatball Kitchen is located at 2912 Vine St., Clifton. They'll be open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday and 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, with both counter service and takeout. More at meatballkitchenusa.com.

 

 

 
 
by Mike Breen 01.14.2014 99 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, CEAs at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
spill_it_cea logo

Last Day for Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Voting

Plus, The Tillers plan tribute to their late bassist at the Jan. 26 CEA ceremony

Voting for the 17th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, celebrating the best of the Greater Cincinnati music scene, ends TONIGHT at midnight. Click here to cast your ballot for your favorite nominated local artists.

The CEA ceremony is set for Sunday, Jan. 26, at Covington’s Madison Theater. The show/party will feature performances from CEA-nominated artists Honey & Houston, Moonbow, The Yugos, The Upset Victory, Valley High, The Almighty Get Down and DAAP Girls, as well as a secret opening performance by an entity known (as of now) only as Saint Ain't Mangled Angels (those who read CityBeat regularly will likely be able decipher the thinly-veiled pseudonym).


Also added to the run of show for the CEA event is a special performance by Cincinnati Folk trio The Tillers, who released their fantastic Hand on the Plow album and toured the U.K. with Pokey LaFarge in 2013. The group, nominated for CEAs in the Folk/Americana, Album of the Year and Artist of the Year categories, will be paying tribute to their former bassist Jason Soudrette, who lost his battle with acute myeloid leukemia late last year. 


Click here to purchase advanced tickets to the 2014 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. Proceeds benefit the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation.

 
 
by German Lopez 01.13.2014 100 days ago
Posted In: News, Health care, Barack Obama at 04:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
obamacarefail

Obamacare Misses Demographic Target in Ohio

State lags behind national average for enrolling young adults

In the third month of open enrollment, Obamacare failed to meet crucial demographic goals for young adults in Ohio and across the nation.

Prior to the launch of HealthCare.gov, the Obama administration said it needs to enroll about 2.7 million young adults out of 7 million projected enrollees — nearly 39 percent of all signups — for the law to succeed.

The reasoning: Because young adults tend to be healthier, they can keep premiums down as sicker, older people claim health insurance after the law opens up the health insurance market to more Americans.

But the numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Monday — the first time the agency provided demographic information — show the law missing the target both nationally and in Ohio.

Roughly 19 percent of nearly 40,000 Ohioans who signed up for Obamacare were young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, according to the report. Not only does that fall below the 39 percent goal, but it also lags behind the national average of 24 percent.

In defense of the demographic numbers, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a blog post Monday that enrollments are demographically on pace with the 2007 experience of Massachusett, where state officials implemented health care reforms and systems similar to Obamacare through Romneycare.

Indeed, a report from The New Republic found just 22.6 percent of enrollees through the third month of Romneycare were young adults. That number rose to 31.7 percent by the end of the laws first year.


If Obamacare ends up at Massachusetts’ year-end rate, it will still fall behind goals established by the White House. Still, Obamacare would be in a considerably better place than it finds itself today.

The disappointing demographic figure comes after months of technical issues snared HealthCare.gov’s launch. Most of the issues were fixed in December, which allowed Obamacare to report considerably better enrollment numbers by the end of the year.

But the enrollment numbers — nearly 2.2 million selected a plan between Oct. 1 to Dec. 28 — still fall below the administration’s projections to enroll 3.3 million by the end of December.

It’s also unclear how many of those signing up for Obamacare actually paid for their first premium, which is the final step to becoming enrolled in a health insurance plan.

Given how Romneycare worked out in Massachusetts, it’s possible signups for Obamacare could pick up before open enrollment closes at the end of March. Based on previous statements from the White House, Obamacare’s success could depend on it.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 01.13.2014 100 days ago
Posted In: National food at 03:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
onflict kitchen

Conflict Kitchen Serves Food from U.S. Geopolitical Enemies

Pittsburgh, Pa. take-out serves cuisine from countries with which America is in conflict

Pittsburgh, Pa.'s Conflict Kitchen (221 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, Pa., conflictkitchen.org) is a new kind of "pop-up" dining experience. The restaurant serves only cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict, according to their website, and rotates the country of food based on current geopolitical events. 

Each iteration of the kitchen is complemented by events, performances and discussions seeking to expand the public's engagement with the culture, politics and issues of the current "conflict" country. Their mission, according to their site, is to use "the social relations of food and economic exchange to engage the general public in discussions about countries, cultures, and people that they might know little about outside of the polarizing rhetoric of governmental politics and the narrow lens of media headlines."

The kitchen is currently focusing on North Korea. In concert with the menu — which features items like Bibimbop (seasoned veggies on rice), Manduguk (vegetable dumpling soup), Haemul Pajeon (seafood and scallion pancake), Kimchi and more — they recently passed out candy on Kim Jong-Un's birthday (Jan. 8), the same free candy the dictator passes out to children under the age of 10 in North Korea on his birthday. Their food wrappers (it's take-out only) also feature interviews with North Korean defectors of varying viewpoints. The website also offers additional educational resources about the country in question.

They have previously featured food from Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba and Venezuela. Upcoming versions will feature food from Palestine/Israel.

Read more on locally based roadtrip planning website Roadtrippers' blog. Or visit conflictkitchen.org.


 
 
by Maija Zummo 01.13.2014 100 days ago
Posted In: fundraising, Events, Cincinnati, Openings at 03:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
breadsmith bread

Breadsmith Hyde Park Opening to Benefit ArtWorks

100 percent of proceeds from Saturday fundraiser go to youth development and community art projects

Breadsmith, a chain of independently owned retail bakeries, is opening a new shop in Hyde Park (3500 Michigan Ave., breadsmith.com). And before they open their doors, they'll be hosting an open house and preview to "raise dough" for ArtWorks — the local nonprofit organization that empowers and inspires the creative community to transform our everyday environments through employment, apprenticeships, education, community partnerships and civic engagement — from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18.           

One hundred percent of the sales of the bakery on Saturday will benefit ArtWorks and their youth development programs this summer.

“Breadsmith is committed to giving back to the community that we live and work in,” Ward Bahlman, owner of the Breadsmith and resident of Cincinnati, says in a press release. “We want to celebrate our new store by supporting the worthwhile projects of ArtWorks which is doing so much for our community’s landscape.”

Tamara Harkavy, the founder, CEO and artistic director of ArtWorks added, “ArtWorks is grateful to Breadsmith for donating their sales to our Adopt-an-Apprentice campaign that will directly support the 120 teen apprentices we’ll hire this summer to work on ten new community murals and other creative projects.” 

The fundraising event for ArtWorks will also include behind-the-scenes tours and free samples of Breadsmith's award-winning breads, muffins and sweets. Customers will get a look at the European-style interior design which allows them to see the “hand-made, hearth-baked” Breadsmith process. 

For more information visit artworkscincinnati.org.


 
 
by Kelsey Kennedy 01.13.2014 100 days ago
Posted In: TV/Celebrity at 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
downton

'Downton Abbey' Season Four, Episodes 1-2

Bringing the Latest in Uppity British Television

Downton Abbey Season Four is here, guys. Well, at least for those of us who live on this side of the pond and refuse to download PBS illegally. It’s here, and Masterpiece Classic has delivered that beautifully crafted stiffness that can only be described as “English” once again. Two episodes into the season and we’ve already had countless snide remarks and drama from both upstairs and downstairs, all while the ever-crumbling 20th century class system hangs over everyone’s heads. So, while I work on my interpretive dance to the opening score, here is your weekly analysis and recap.

Upstairs Recap:

The season premiere did not start out with the usual shot of Labrador butt; instead, a dark view of the abbey. Matthew’s death, comparably shocking to the beheading of a certain Game of Thrones character, left us all in pieces. Julian Fellows, the show’s creator – who is like the Hitchcock of period dramas – cruelly chose to skip ahead six months, robbing us of our chance to grieve with the Grantham family. What about the viewers, Julian? Am I the only one who spent the last year in darkly beaded clothing, mourning the death of beloved Matthew? I need closure, or at least a hug from Carson, the overly attached butler.  

While Lady Mary is busy perfecting her dead-behind-the-eyes look and ignoring her son George, Edith is living in scandal with an (almost) divorced man. “Poor Edith” is constantly trying to prove herself and her love to her father, who is so god forsakenly set in his old ways. Meanwhile, Lord Grantham mutters little gems like, “Who’s the glamorous pirate?” and “What does one say to a singer?” while secretly gambling away all of his family’s money.

Rose, the blonde cousin from the Highlands, has been a rogue element since last season. From dressing up in a housemaid’s outfit to sneaking off to smoking houses and dance halls, she seems to represent everything new and threatening to upper-class English society. Maggie Smith, who plays the matriarch and Dowager Countess of Downton, is as snarky as ever: “If I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the English upper-class”. Oh, Violet, how right you are.

And of course, with the ever-changing times comes the impeccable 1920s women’s fashion. Think neutral colors, beaded flapper outfits and perfectly pleated day dresses.

Downstairs Recap:

The lady’s maid we love to hate, Miss O’Brien, abruptly moved to India with some distant Scottish relatives, and there’s no telling when she’ll be back. But hold up, there’s a new bitch in the abbey: Edna Braithwaite. Last season, Braithwaite was fired from Downton because she was hitting on Tom Branson, the widower of the family’s youngest daughter. (RIP Sybil, you could have had a future in politics.) This season, Braithwaite’s weaseled her way into another job, and is taking full advantage of Tom’s vulnerability. (Seeing that his wife is dead and he doesn’t know how to mingle with high society.) And Thomas Barrow, the under-butler, stirs up trouble with quips like: “There’s no one so jealous as a lady’s maid,” because obviously everyone knows that. And the plot thickens.

Molesley seems to be developing a severe case of asthma to pair with his mid-life crisis while Mrs. Hughes intervenes in Carson’s personal life. Ms. Patmore continues to run around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to handle the stress of cooking for all of these stuck up rich people and eventually goes into full-blown panic mode.

Disappointingly, the end of this week’s episode leaves us with the unsettling rape scene of Anna, something that was both unexpected and horrifying to watch as a critic and lover of the show. I would advise viewers to watch with caution, as it may be potentially triggering for many. Let’s hope the rest of the season handles this delicate subject in a tasteful manner.

So, in the words of Isobel Crawley, “They say life must go on and of course it must.”

 
 

 

 

 
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