Hey all. The tide has turned. Nearly every morning, I stop into one of a few downtown spots to grab a donut and (lately decaf) iced coffee on my walk to work. In the summer, this was unremarkable, but as the weather has gotten colder, it’s become something cashiers laugh at me about. Thing is, I have very poor impulse control and can’t wait more than a couple minutes to start drinking and always burn the hell outta my mouth on hot drinks. Today, though, I actually got hot coffee. It’s that cold out. “Finally,” the cashier said.
So yeah, news. A federal judge has recused himself in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Health over Ohio’s restrictions on clinics that provide abortions. Judge Timothy Black has sent the suit back for reassignment because he served on Planned Parenthood’s board 25 years ago. While he says he would follow legal precedent in deciding the suit, he wants to avoid any appearance of bias and is passing the case off to another judge.
• Former Mason mayor and outgoing Republican State Rep. Pete Beck has for months been facing charges that he committed investment fraud by luring investors into putting money into an insolvent company called Christopher Technologies. Beck was chief financial officer of the company. His case has yet to get underway as prosecutors continue to try and get documents with details about his investors. Beck was indicted 18 months ago. His attorneys say the state is taking too long and should drop the case, but attorneys for the AG’s office have said no way. Beck’s co-defendant Janet Combs, who runs Ark by the River Fellowship Ministries, has pleaded no contest to charges in connection with the case and will be testifying against Beck when his case goes to trial next year. Combs’ church, which judges have called “a cult,” has been ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to victims of the investment scheme.
• Another local government has signaled support for efforts to make high-speed rail between Chicago and Cincinnati a reality. The city of Wyoming passed an ordinance yesterday requesting a feasibility study for the project from the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments. Hamilton County Commissioners have also backed the idea of a study to see how much such a project would cost. The effort is being led by non-profit All Aboard Ohio. The group has its quarterly public meeting tonight in Over-the-Rhine at 6 p.m.
• A bill passed yesterday by the Ohio House’s Education Committee would eliminate minimum salary requirements for teachers in the state. Supporters say the bill will make it possible to institute better merit pay for teachers. Opponents say it will just pit educators against each other. The bill should go up for a vote in the full House of Representatives sometime this week.
• Proposals for changing Ohio’s redistricting process for both congressional and state legislative districts are floating through the Ohio General Assembly. The plans, proposed by Republicans, would remove input from courts and the governor from the redistricting process. Instead, state legislators of both parties would vote on redistricting maps, and if they can’t agree, the maps will go on a ballot initiative for voters to decide. Conservatives call this method fairer, but some experts say it will only make Ohio’s already terribly lopsided redistricting process worse. Oh, great.
“It is the dominant party that holds the whip in its hand and can beat the opposing party, the minority, into subjection with it,” said Ohio State University law professor Dan Tokaji. “As a practical matter, the minority party has no real leverage under this proposal.”
• So, this is super-creepy. An Uber exec, frustrated about negative press coverage his company has been receiving, said the company should hire opposition researchers to dig up dirt on journalists who report negative stories about the company. Uber’s Senior Vice President of Business Emil Michael made the comments during a swank dinner hosted by a political consultant for the company and attended by VIPs like Ed Norton and Huffington Post publisher Arianna Huffington. Michael suggested Uber should spend a million dollars to fight back against journalists by digging into their “personal lives,” and their “families,” even throwing out a name or two of specific journalists they could target. Uber later said that the conversation was supposed to be off the record, and Michael said his comments were merely hypotheticals and don’t “reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.”
Oh, of course. Saying you want to dig up the personal lives of people who criticize you and then saying "just kidding!" isn't creepy at all. Carry on.
Modern Blues/Rock guitar hero Joe Bonamassa might not be a household name, but he has a gigantic fan base. Tonight, many of those fans will fill Music Hall to watch the six-string superstar do his thang. I just drove by Music Hall and he has multiple trucks and busses parked around back, one adorned with the motto, “Always on the Road,” a reference to how he has built such a big following.
Bonamassa does make records, though. His most recent is Different Shades of Blues. Here’s what CityBeat’s Brian Baker had to say about the LP in his preview of the show (click here for the full preview):
Bonamassa’s latest album, Different Shades of Blue, is a full-tilt electric experience, kicking off with a brief taste of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” — Bonamassa was peeling off Hendrix licks when he was 7 — and roaring into incendiary originals like the scalding “Oh Beautiful,” the funky “Love Ain’t a Love Song,” the relentless “Never Give All Your Heart” and the sinewy title track.
Tonight’s show starts at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $79-$125.
• Danish Dance Pop trio New Politics headlines a triple bill of up-and-coming bands playing Bogart’s tonight. The group joins fellow on-the-verge acts Bad Suns and SomeKindaWonderful for the show.
New Politics were in town this past summer to play the Bunbury Music Festival, alongside tourmates Paramore and Fall Out Boy. This fall the group teased new material with the release of the single “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens).” The group’s next album, Vikings, is slated for release next year.
• Reggae crossover star Shaggy plays the Thompson House in Newport tonight. Local band Elementree Livity Project and veteran Columbus, Ohio, squad The Ark Band open the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $17.
Shaggy became a superstar in the ’90s/early ’00s with hits like “Boombastic,” “Angel” and “It Wasn’t Me,” a huge smash (you can still hear it on Pop radio to this day) from his six-times Platinum album, Hot Shot, from 2000. Shaggy has continued to release music and tour the world. Last year, Shaggy released Out of Many, One Music, an all-Reggae album that was produced by the legendary duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.
Sonic adventurer Nils Frahm performs tonight at the Contemporary Arts Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20.
The German-born composer is touring behind his most recent album, 2013’s Spaces, which was compiled from footage from various performances over the previous two years. His live presentation is something to behold, as Jason Gargano writes in his CityBeat preview of the show:
Nils Frahm’s live performances are kind of hard to believe. He sits alone on stage, surrounded by multiple pianos and a few other gadgets. He moves back and forth between instruments, slowly building and altering the music as it unfolds, all of which is done without the use of loops or playbacks. It’s an impressive achievement, as Frahm’s sonic output is a whirl of intricately layered yet never fussy arrangements that bring to mind a meld of Steve Reich and Keith Jarrett.
Opening the show is Brooklyn’s Dawn of Midi, an Avant Garde trio that combines elements of Jazz, Krautrock, Electronica and experimental Rock music and has also been drawing fawning critical raves. Radiolab host Jad Abumrad said of them, “I've seriously never seen anything like these guys.”
Should be a fascinating night of music.
I’m sure the big old lumps of snow are a bummer for those of you who drive to work, but it was super cool walking from Mount Auburn to CityBeat HQ this morning. Seeing the hillsides shrouded in white and downtown poking out of the mist on my way down reminded me how much I love this city. It also netted me a bunch of likes on Instagram, which is the main thing I’m excited about, of course.
Anyway, on to the news. Because ordering things from the Internet takes so, so long and just doesn’t have the wow factor it used to, Amazon has been considering using drones to deliver items to your door for about a year now. What’s more, the Greater Cincinnati area could be one of the first places to get that service if changes to aviation laws expected next year make it a possibility. The company is currently hiring drone pilots, engineers and other folks with relevant experience to help build its drone delivery program. Who wouldn’t want flying robots speeding toward your house with all that stuff you bought during your last stoned 2 a.m. shopping spree?
• It’s getting harder and harder to live on what you earn at jobs requiring few specialized skills, both in the area and in the country as a whole. That’s lead to a push in Greater Cincinnati to create new routes for workers who want to get high-skill jobs in the manufacturing and tech industries. Many companies offering these jobs can’t find enough qualified applicants, leading them to establish or support training and apprenticeship programs for low-skill workers and recent high school graduates.
• I learned a lot about sex trafficking doing our cover story a couple weeks ago on sex workers. The problem is real and huge. Here’s a terrifying story about captivity, sex trafficking and abuse at a house in Avondale, where as many as a dozen women were held by a Colerain man for an indeterminate amount of time. Christopher Hisle, who has been in trouble for running unlicensed sex-oriented businesses in the past, is charged with sex trafficking and faces up to 15 years in prison.
• If you’re looking to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act but are somewhat befuddled by the process, you’re in luck. An enrollment assistance center contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services is open in the city to help folks with navigating the healthcare exchanges. The center is at 4600 Wesley Ave. Suite C, Cincinnati OH 45212. You can give them a call as well at 513-802-8092, or visit them on Facebook and Twitter.
• Some conservative lawmakers in Ohio’s General Assembly are pushing a new bill that would make secret the details about those who supply lethal injection drugs to the state. Ohio hasn’t been able to find a source for lethal injection drugs because no companies want to be associated with supplying it. Making suppliers secret would solve this problem, Republican lawmakers say. Ohio has had to suspend executions due to the prolonged death of Dennis McGuire last January. McGuire was killed using a new combination of two drugs. Ohio has had to resort to such mixtures because the company that manufactures the original drug the state used has refused to sell it for use in executions. As McGuire died, witnesses say he was gasping for breath. The state says he was asleep and did not experience discomfort, but his 25-minute-long execution prompted a federal judge to issue a temporary stay on executions. The next scheduled lethal injection will take place Feb. 11 unless federal courts order more delays. In response to the drug dilemma, some lawmakers are calling for alternative execution methods, including returning to the electric chair, to be considered.
• Also in the State House, the House Education Committee is considering legislation today that would reduce the amount of time public school students spend taking standardized tests. House Bill 228 proposes limiting testing to four hours a year and has been greeted with enthusiasm by lawmakers, some school officials and education groups.
• Finally, here's a pro tip: don't drive yourself to your driver's license test, then lead cops on a car chase when they ask why you're driving before you have your license. Or do, if you want a really epic story about why you walk to work every day. I just walk because I'm too lazy to find a parking space. This guy's excuse is way more interesting.
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band bring their tour behind their debut studio album, the recently released Intensity Ghost, to The Comet in Northside tonight. Heart of Palm and Public Housing open the free 10 p.m. show.
Forsyth, who co-founded the experimental group peeesseye in New York around the turn of the century, is an acclaimed guitarist known for his exploratory approach and compelling skills. He fell in love with the music of Television in high school and ultimately ended up taking lessons from that legendary band’s Richard Lloyd.
You can hear the influence of Television particularly in his work with Solar Motel Band (which was formed based on the guitarist’s acclaimed Solar Motel album from last year). Many critics have described Forsyth’s most recent all-instrumental music as a cross between Television and The Grateful Dead; Forsyth (now based in Philly) discovered the Dead while immersed in the New York experimental music scene and was immediately drawn to it, so it’s a fair comparison. Overall, it’s very engaging, hypnotic stuff.
• Tonight and tomorrow sees the return of Ironfest, a huge two-night benefit concert in honor of late local music supporter and musician Iron Mike Davidson. This marks the fifth edition of the event since Davidson passed away in 2010.
Ironfest V, which continues to raise funds for Davidson’s family, takes over Newport’s Southgate House Revival both nights with a lineup stacked with local talent largely (but not entirely) from the worlds of Punk and Hard Rock. Friday’s lineup includes Mad Anthony, Martin Luther and the Kings, Kill City, Vampire Weekend at Bernie’s, Sweet Ray Laurel, Valley of the Sun, Lockland Brakes, Lohed, Subsets, Mala in Se, Black Signal and many more. Saturday at Ironfest, catch The Dopamines, Moonbow, Mudpies, We are Hex, Honeyspiders, Oxboard Drain, 500 Miles to Memphis, The Blue Rock Boys, Draculas, Ethicist, Cadaver Dogs and several others.
Tickets each night are $5 in advance (available at ticketfly.com) or $10 at the door. Showtime is 7 p.m. both nights.
• Tuvan throat singing string band Huun Huur Tu performs Saturday night at Parrish Auditorium on the Hamilton campus of Miami University.
Derek Halsey explains the unique music in his preview of the show for this week’s CityBeat (read the full preview here).
Tuvan throat singing describes the wild-sounding songs created by musicians in the southern Siberian and Mongolian Steppe region of Central Asia who, for want of a better explanation, use their throats as if they were a didgeridoo.
Not only does it sound cool — creating multiple notes at the same time using nothing but the human voice — but historically it was a way for humans to communicate over the vast plains in that part of the world, with different styles being created to represent different tribes.
Saturday’s show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 (there are discount for seniors, students and “youth”) and can be purchased in advance here.
• Cincinnati Blues crew The Whiskey Shambles host a release show at Over-the-Rhine’s The Drinkery in honor of their debut album, Loose Change for a Broken Man. The show is a benefit for the Save the Animals Foundation (where drummer Aaron Tyree volunteers). A $5 donation is requested at the door but you can be a jerk and not pay it; it’s technically a free show. JetLab opens things up at 9 p.m. and members of local choirs MUSE and Young Professionals Choral Collective are slated to make guest appearances with the Shambles.
CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with the band about their origins and the new release for this week’s issue. Brian describes the album and band’s sound like this:
While Loose Change exudes a contemporary vibe, the album bears the diverse hallmarks of the best ‘70s Blues Rock albums. Like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Free before them, The Whiskey Shambles channels first generation Blues subsets like Delta, Piedmont and Hill Country, combined with the members’ unique individual experiences to conjure an edgy, atmospheric vision of 21st century Blues.
• One of Cincinnati’s best bands, The Hiders, celebrate the release of their amazing new album Totem Saturday at Northside Tavern. The show is free. Singer/songwriter Ali Edwards (former bandmate of The Hiders’ frontman Billy Alletzhauser in Ruby Vileos) opens at 10 p.m.
• Unique Cincinnati Americana group The Tadcasters have released a new EP and on Saturday they’re playing Stanley’s Pub in celebration. The show features two other Roots acts that have recently issued new material — La Grange, Texas, Folk/Rock/Roots act The Youngest (supporting the new album Feral Road) and Oliver Oak, an Indie Folk sextet from Columbus, Ohio (supporting its new Sleepless Wilds release). Showtime is 9 p.m. and there’s a small cover charge at the door.
Here is “Chaingang” from The Tadcaster’s excellent new five-song EP:
• Sunday at the Southgate House Revival, friends of veteran local musician David Rhodes Brown are throwing a party in honor of his remarkable 50 years of playing music in the area. The multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter has been a part of numerous local acts in his half-century of service, coming into regional notoriety in the early ’80s with his long-running Rockabilly/Roots band The Warsaw Falcons (who will reunite and close out Sunday’s event) and going on to play with notable Greater Cincinnati groups like The StarDevils, Magnolia Mountain and numerous others. In 2010, Brown released his guest-laden solo album Browngrass & Wildflowers, and he’s played lap steel guitar with the popular Punk Pop/Roots Rock band 500 Miles to Memphis for the past several years.
Many of Brown’s friends and current/former bandmates will perform some of his songs at the event, including Ryan Mallot, Mark Utley, Wilder, Todd Lipscomb, Gregory Burton, Elle Crash and Pike 27. More friends and bandmates (including CityBeat’s own Brian Baker and should-be Hamilton Country Commissioner Jim Tarbell) will also give Brown the “roast” treatment at the party.
Showtime is 7 p.m. and admission is just $5.
Hey all, here’s what’s happening this morning. I’ll be brief. It’s Friday, and we all have stuff to do if we want to get out of work early.
City Council committed to doubling human services funding in its meeting yesterday. The fund, which provides money to 54 organizations that fight poverty in the city, will go from $1.5 million to $3 million in the next city budget. That boost will bring the fund up to .84 percent of the city’s operating budget, with a goal of eventually raising it to 1.5 percent, a level the city hasn’t seen in ten years due to harsh cuts during that time.
• At their respective meetings this week, both City Council and Hamilton County Commissioners agreed unanimously to create a city-county cooperation task force. The task force would look for ways to share services between the two governmental bodies. Councilman Chris Seelbach said he’d like to see the group find ways to cooperate with the region’s other municipalities as well, including places like Norwood and Saint Bernard.
• Developers are looking to pour about $80 million into projects in Mount Auburn, one of the city’s more neglected neighborhoods. The area just north of Over-the-Rhine and just south of Clifton and Corryville could see new office space and apartment buildings, among other development projects.
• In a way, this is the flip-side of the shared services coin: the City of Sharonville is considering doing away with its health department in order to contract services through Hamilton County Public Health. That’s upset some members of the community there. Mayor Kevin Hardman has recommended the move, and Sharonville City Council will vote on it soon.
• Are you ready for a Rand Paul presidential run? The Kentucky Senator and tea party hero is about “95 percent” certain to be vying for the Republican nomination in 2016, according to this Politico story. Paul’s father, Ron Paul, is something of a libertarian folk hero who has pushed for auditing the Federal Reserve Bank, zeroing out entire departments in the federal government and other kinds of whacky ideas. The elder Paul made runs in the last two presidential elections as an independent, where he got a lot of attention but not much of the vote. Rand has combined many of his father’s libertarian ideals with a more palatable tone and connections to both establishment and tea party factions of the GOP. He’s also tried to make inroads on traditionally progressive issues, saying he wants to reform drug laws and pull back U.S. military involvement overseas. He’s gone to places where liberals are most likely to hang out— speaking at UC Berkeley and this summer’s Urban League conference in Cincinnati, for instance — in an attempt to make his case. Be prepared to see a lot more of that in the near future.
• Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the political spectrum, firebrand Senator Elizabeth Warren will join Democratic leadership in that chamber, a sign the party is seeking to bring the left-leaning part of its base in closer. Warren has crusaded against big banks and their role in the financial crisis and has big populist appeal among progressives. Some of her job in her new position will be reaching out to those groups and voters as well as advising the party as a whole on policy and messaging. Some progressives have pushed her name as an alternative to Hillary Clinton for the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2016, but so far, Warren has said she’s staying out of the race.
City Council yesterday unanimously passed a motion committing $1.5 million more to the city’s Human Services fund in its next budget, doubling the fund’s size.
The increase is part of an ongoing rethinking of the city’s human services funding. But with that change in focus comes the potential that some of the 54 organizations that receive support from the fund could see some cuts in the next budget.
A working group headed by Councilwoman Yvette Simpson and Vice Mayor David Mann suggests focusing first and foremost on two major areas: increasing gainful employment and reducing homelessness, splitting the fund down the middle for those purposes. Along with those major focus areas, it also suggests the establishment of a collaborative between law enforcement and the community to curtail violence in Cincinnati when more funds are available.
The changes won’t take place for another six months, kicking in with the new fiscal year, giving organizations and the city time to adjust to the new budget priorities.
“Number one, we wanted to make sure to increase how much we put into human services each year,” said Mann, who helped draw up the proposal, “and secondly that we focus on a few significant areas and see if we can’t make progress there instead of trying to shotgun amongst many programs.”
The motion to adopt the suggestions by the human services working group is the next step in a months-long process to update the way the city funds anti-poverty programs. It’s also a step toward restoring funding for human services to 1.5 percent of the city’s operating budget, a long-term goal for the city and a level it hasn’t seen in a decade.
Currently, the city’s $1.5 million human services fund accounts for just .42 percent of the city’s $358 million budget. In the past, the city has made deep cuts to the fund. The boost would raise the fund’s proportion of the budget to .84 percent. Simpson and others, including Mann, say they hope to get back to 1.5 percent as more funding becomes available.
Simpson says the working group included advice from the United Way, which currently helps the city evaluate programs it is funding, as well as community members and various boards like the Human Services Advisory Committee and the Community Development Advisory Board, which oversees how federal Community Development Block Grants are spent.
The city hasn’t decided where the money for the increase will come from yet, a point of concern for some council members.
“Whenever we move to increase funding for something, I like to be able to identify the source of funds,” said Councilman Kevin Flynn. He noted there was still time to do that before the overall budget is passed.
Flynn also said he’d like to see human services funding go through the same process, something that has been a sore point among some council members lately.
“There’s a lot of money that we’ve approved in our general operating budget that hasn’t gone through the guidelines and process that we’ve established,” Flynn said.
Councilman Seelbach expressed similar concerns, specifically about the way decisions are made on funding anti-poverty programs.
“All of us have agencies that we’re somewhat close to, and it’s not fair to pick them over others,” Seelbach said, a reference to recent moves that have shifted money from some nonprofits to others. “So if we can put them all in a fair, non-political process like the United Way, I think the city’s better for it.”
Good afternoon readers! I've spent my day wrestling with terribly out of date software and silently cursing in my sad, grey cube. How's your day been?
If you haven't already noticed, this week marks CityBeat's 20th anniversary. (Hooray!) Our enormous anniversary paper recaps coverage of the issues Cincinnati has grappled with over the last 20 years. Plus, it has a head shot of me from 1994 wearing a purple turtle neck. Pick it up! Or, at the very least, join the staff at the anniversary party tomorrow for delicious food, drinks, and CAKE.
Moving onto the subject at hand...vocab. It was slim pickins' in this week's issue for Words Nobody Uses or Knows. Either that or my knowledge of pretentious words is actually expanding. (Doubt it.)
Best word of the issue is vitriolic, found in our anniversary issue; in the hilarious bit about Mike Breen pissing off all of Cincinnati's Jimmy Buffet fans. (You can read the digital version of our anniversary issue here.)
vitriolic: extremely biting or caustic; sharp and bitter: vitriolic talk (adj.)
In this issue: "This resulted in hundreds of hate emails from Buffett fans from across the country, most of which were nastily vitriolic, some even violently so (one writer said he hoped Breen's children were raped by drug dealers in Over-the-Rhine and given AIDS), a far cry from those smooth tropical vibes Buffit emits from stage."
People are the worst, aren't they?
Next best word is ethnomusicologist, which sounds like the best made up job ever. It's in this weeks Sound Advice.
ethnomusicology: the study of folk or native music, esp. of non-Western cultures, and its relationship to the society to which it belongs (n.)
Imagine introducing yourself to people with that title, and the reactions you'd get. People would be simultaneously confused, amazed and envious.
In this issue: "Huun Huur Tu got the attention of the West when American ethnomusicologist Ted Levin made the trek to Central Asia in the 1980s and brought the group to the U.S"
Next word is missive, also found in our anniversary issue. I feel like most people probably already know this one. It's in the other hilarious bit about that time everybody thought CityBeat was full of sexual deviants for selling adult-themed ads.
missive: a letter or written message (n.)
In this issue: "The missive called on CityBeat to exercise 'integrity as a corporate citizen' and asked that we 'eliminate the adult services category, and refuse to accept ads elsewhere for sexual services, in both your print and online editions.'"
If there's anything I've learned about the altweekly business in the three months I've worked here, it's that if you're being sued, you're doing something right.