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by Natalie Krebs 01.15.2016 136 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
public+schools

Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati Public Schools earning failing marks from the state; Avondale to get a grocery store; Ohio House arranges group to study medical marijuana

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines. 

• Ohio released the first part of its state report card Thursday, and so far not so good for Cincinnati Public Schools. CPS earned two Fs for its graduation rates and a D in kindergarten through third grade literacy. This is the second year in a row that CPS has earned an F for graduation. Officials say the even though the mark is still low, the overall trend indicates an increase in graduation rates, rising from 60.2 percent in 2010 to 71 percent listed on this year's report card. Results for schools across the entire Greater Cincinnati area were mixed, with schools located in Hamilton, Butler and Clermont counties getting grades across the spectrum. But there's still time for CPS to hit the books and start cramming. State legislators like Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and chair of the Senate education committee warned parents not to take these marks too seriously as the state's full report card won't be released until 2018. For now, there are no consequences for the low marks. 

• Good news for Avondale--it's getting a grocery store. The neighborhood, one of the most heavily populated in the city, has lacked access to fresh produce and is known as a food desert. But Missouri-based chain Sav-A-Lot has recently signed a deal to build a 15,000-square-foot store on the corner of Reading Road and Forest Avenue early this year as part of the redevelopment of Avondale Town Center. Boston-based real estate developer The Community Builders is in charge of developing the nine-acre plot and plans to demolish most of the remaining strip mall there and build a health clinic and laundromat along with the grocery store. This year could be an exciting one for Avondale as The Community Builders will be overseeing more development in the neighborhood in form of medical office space and apartments with some targeted at low-income families. 

• Recently retired Campbell County Superintendent Glen Miller has been sentenced to a six-month program with anger management after pleading guilty to assaulting his wife last year. On September 23, Miller's daughter called Erlanger police saying he struck her mother. The then-superintendent claimed his wife's injuries were accidental, but the police report indicated that officers thought otherwise. Miller retired from his position a week later. The search for a new superintendent by the school board is ongoing. 

• Former leader of the Lebanon Chamber of Commence Sara Arseneau has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $20,000 from the chamber by writing herself 13 additional paychecks from November 2012 to June 2015. She was charged with grand theft and tampering with evidence and will be sentenced on March 8. 

• Ohio may take another shot at legalizing medicinal marijuana. House Speaker Cliff Rosenburger, a Republican, announced Thursday that Ohio House leaders are putting together a group to study medicinal marijuana. The group will include lawmakers, business leaders and law enforcement officials. Twenty-four states have legalized marijuana to some degree, most of them solely for medical purposes. The plant remains illegal under federal law. ResponsibleOhio, the group behind the last election's failed effort to legalize the plant in Ohio, also withdrew a proposal that would call for the review and expungement of criminal records for those with marijuana-related offenses if their offense is rendered legal by a change in the state's marijuana laws. 

• During last night's Republican debate on Fox News, among the bickering between Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz about his Canadian citizenship and bickering between Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush about Muslim immigrants, there was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who didn't get many words in. Reviews on Kasich's performance were mixed, but former spokesman for George W. Bush Ari Fleischer tweeted that he did better than a few weeks ago when he sort of dug himself into a hole. Trump even paid him a complement when Kasich supported his call for China to crack down on North Korea. I'll leave it to The Columbus Dispatch to nicely sum up the rest of the details of last night's debate here.

My email is nkrebs@citybeat.com and stay warm this weekend, Cincy!
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.14.2016 137 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

City manager penned letter asking that body cam footage not be public record; parking plan vetoed again; Cincy fourth-worst in the country for income disparity

 Good morning all. Here’s what I have today in terms of news.

Let’s start with Cincinnati City Council, where a lot of things went down yesterday.

Perhaps one of the more interesting moments yesterday involved a brief comment by Vice Mayor David Mann, who remarked on a recently-uncovered letter regarding police body cameras City Manager Harry Black penned to State Sens. Bill Sietz and Cecil Thomas back in November. That letter implored the lawmakers to work toward amending state laws governing that footage so that it would not be public record. The letter’s content drew rebuke from Mann, Mayor John Cranley and others on Council, who said it violated the spirit of the city’s 2001 collaborative agreement that rose from the police shooting death of  unarmed teen Timothy Thomas and put the city at risk of another incident like the unrest and controversy that have recently gripped Chicago. Black apologized to Council and Cranley for the letter, stating that it was drawn up by a city lobbyist and that he did not read it as carefully as he should have. Mann has asked Black to send another letter to the senators stating that the city supports full transparency when it comes to body camera footage and that it should remain public record. The issue is especially relevant because Cincinnati police will soon launch widespread use of body cameras among officers. The July 19 shooting death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose in Mount Auburn by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing was captured on Tensing’s body cam, leading to murder charges for the officer.

• Also in Council news: It was one step forward, one step back for the long-running debate about a parking plan in Over-the-Rhine. Vice Mayor Mann reintroduced a plan calling for 450 of the 1,200 parking spots in the neighborhood to be permitted for residents. Most of those would go for $108 a year, but some would be set aside for low-income residents at a cost of $18 a year. Cranley vetoed that plan back in May, but Mann thought he had a sixth vote to break that veto in Councilman Charlie Winburn. Winburn approached Mann and signed a statement supporting the plan after visiting with OTR residents living on Republic Street late last year. However, Winburn balked yesterday, saying he would not go against the mayor and accusing Mann and others on Council of trying to trick him. Puzzlingly, Winburn said he thought he was signing a statement of support for parking permits restricted to residents of Republic Street. The plan again passed Council with five votes and was again promptly vetoed by Cranley. Winburn and Cranley revealed they have their own proposal in the works to offer low-income residents parking opportunities in the neighborhood.

• Cincinnati City Council yesterday also voted to commission a study on moving a series of famous mosaics that once occupied the now-demolished Union Terminal concourse to a location indoors and away from sunlight at the Cincinnati Convention Center. Currently, the 1933 Winold Reiss mosaics are at CVG Airport. But alas, the concourse they occupy is also about to be torn down. The city brokered a deal with the airport and Hamilton County to fund their $3 million move to the convention center, where the current plan is to display them in a glass-encased display on the west side of the building at an additional cost of $750,000. But some worry that exposure to sunlight through those windows could damage the artwork. There are also criticisms about the location, which is in a rarely-visited part of downtown near I-75. The study will determine costs associated with moving the murals indoors at the center.

• Low-income workers are losing ground in Cincinnati and other major cities, a new study from the Brookings Institute finds. The bottom 20 percent of wage earners in the city made just over $10,000 a year in 2014 — 3 percent less than they made the  year before and a huge 25 percent less than they made in the years preceding the 2008 great recession. That’s created a big income gap in the city: The top 5 percent of earners in the city make nearly 16 times the bottom 20 percent of earners. Nationally, the gap is only 9 times greater for top earners. That makes Cincinnati the fourth-worst city in the country for wage inequity. These numbers come even as the economy continues to add jobs, suggesting that increasing employment alone won’t help working poor residents here and in other cities like Boston, where the gap is highest. New Orleans and Atlanta had the second and third highest gaps, respectively.  

• Cincinnati’s Music Hall is a little bit closer to its fundraising goal for renovations currently being undertaken on the historic landmark. And by “a little bit” I mean $3 million closer after a donation from the estate of the late Patricia and J. Ralph Corbett. That’s a lot of money, but also a small piece of the renovation’s $129 million overall price tag. The gift will go toward maintaining Corbett Tower, a banquet hall on the building’s third floor. So far, fundraisers for the renovation effort have received a $10 million from the city, $25 million in Ohio historic conservation tax credits, and millions in private philanthropic dollars. Restoration is currently underway, and is expected to kick into high gear in June, when the building will close entirely until fall 2017.

• Finally, for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, tonight is the night. It’s the sixth GOP presidential primary debate. We’re just a few weeks out from the make-or-break early primaries that could sink the GOP presidential hopeful’s campaign or give him a boost into the big leagues. I picture a Kasich training montage right now, with him in some weird sweatpants and sweatshirt combo jumping rope, shadow boxing, running up some stairs somewhere in South Carolina pre-debate and listening to “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat. He’ll need a strong performance against frontrunner Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been rising in the polls of late. Kasich has had his own rise recently as well, of course, tying with Cruz for second in many polls of GOP voters in New Hampshire. Kasich has set his sights on that early primary state, which goes to the polls Feb. 9, as his big proving ground. But he’ll need to do well tonight to do well there, and so the pressure is on.

 
 
by Cassie Lipp 01.13.2016 138 days ago
at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Slice of Cincinnati: Sabbath Records

Guitarist Coleman Williams can barely see through his overgrown hair as he leans over a 12-string guitar while he strums out “You Knew This Was Coming” for local electronic act Dark Colour’s upcoming Animal EP. The song is the last to be complete after two days of recording in Over-the-Rhine’s Sabbath Recording. Williams lays down the finishing touches.

Although he can’t seem to play the chords right on his first try while the sound engineer, Isaac Karns of the Pomegranates, records him, the chords suddenly come flawlessly from Williams’ fingertips as he practices before the next take. “Cole is like an endangered species,” Karns says. “He plays this amazing stuff when you’re not recording and then you’re like, ‘No! Do it again!’ ”

For Sabbath Recording, late-night music means polishing tunes with intricate details that dramatically transform songs, such as the 12-string guitar that helped turn the aggressive, almost chaotic “You Knew This Was Coming” into a more Poppy dance track reminiscent of Depeche Mode.

Jacob Merritt, also of the Pomegranates, came up with the idea for Sabbath when he discovered a love for recording while in college about 10 years ago. Though his interest in recording was put on hold while the band took off, Merritt began investing in instruments and gear for a studio and started hunting for the perfect space when things began to wind down.

Merritt and Karns hope that any artist who walks through their doors leaves with a more defined or reinvigorated purpose for their music. The idea is for the artists to feel refreshed and energized about who they are and what they are doing.

“If you work from that place, I think the other things are likely to fall into place sonically or musically,” Karns says.

Merritt says he tries to make artists very comfortable and eliminate any awkwardness from working with someone new. At Sabbath, the day always begins with time to ask questions, read from a thought-provoking book and have meaningful conversation meant to open the artists up.

“Bands consistently comment on how much more connected they feel with their bandmates,” Merritt says. “If you aren't communicating as best you can, you might be missing out on your best creative work. I really love seeing musicians grow as songwriters and thinkers during their time at the studio.”

The goals of Sabbath Recording are just like the name suggests — it is a place where artists can take time to rest, disconnecting from the stresses of everyday life in order to focus on something they enjoy. To symbolize this, artists leave their shoes at the door as they walk into the studio designed to be a place of healing.

“Before starting, I always ask the artist if they love the songs, or their voice, or instrument or whatever we will be working on that day and have them respond,” Karns says. “It's small, but sometimes just saying aloud, ‘Yes, I love my voice,’ can be a great way to internally prepare for the day.”

The intimate, uplifting recording sessions are what make Sabbath unique among other studios and opportunities for musicians in Cincinnati. The team’s dedication to giving every artist the best experience possible is evident in even the small things they do, from strategically structuring sessions to keeping the studio stocked with drinks and a snack pile so artists don’t have to leave in search of nourishment.

“Jacob and Isaac put their hand in the creative direction of the music because they feel so involved with the projects they bring in there,” says Dark Colour vocalist Randall Rigdon. “Their connection with the artists set them apart from other studios, where engineers can tend to act more exclusively as technicians.”

In the two years that the studio has been open, artists from all over the country have checked in. Merritt says they are open to working with anyone — and taking the time before and during sessions to really understand who they are working with.

While Karns is currently putting the finishing touches on Dark Colour’s Animal, which will be released with the Montreal-based label Kitabu Records this spring, he is also excited to finish up the quirky, trippy lounge-Punk debut album from S.R Woodward. Karns is also developing a narrative-driven, collaborative experimental podcast project.

The team’s former bandmate from the Pomegranates Joey Cook will also check into Sabbath to work on his fever-dream-Psych-Disco record, which Merritt says “will be an odyssey.”


Inquiries: sabbathrecording@gmail.com

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.13.2016 138 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Luken likely to head Port Authority board; property tax debate continues; Obama delivers his final SOTU speech

Hey hey all. Here’s what’s happening in Cincinnati and elsewhere today.

It’ll be a busy couple days at City Hall. Cincinnati City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee has a special meeting scheduled at noon to discuss the city’s tax budget, which has been a point of contention between some members of Council and Mayor John Cranley. Last week, Cranley vetoed the tax budget Council passed because of the millage rate on property taxes Council approved. Cranley called the proposed 5.6-mill rate a “tax hike.” Even though the millage rate is the same as last year’s, it is projected to bring in more tax dollars for the city. That violates an ordinance the city has had in effect since the late 1990s that keeps the property tax collections at $28.9 million a year. You can read all about that argument here. Cranley has also called special Council sessions for Thursday and Friday to discuss the issue.

• Council today will also vote on a proposed Over-the-Rhine parking plan that would allow the city to issue residential permits for parking in the neighborhood. That subject, which would set aside metered spots, residential spots and spots for workers, has also been contentious. You can read the details and the history of the plan here.

• Former Cincinnati mayor Charlie Luken could soon take the reins of the city’s economic development agency. Luken has been tapped as the new head of the 10-member joint city/county board that runs the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Agency. That board is expected to vote today on his appointment, which it looks likely to approve. Luken is a close ally, even a mentor, to Mayor John Cranley, and his appointment could make relations much cozier between the agency and city administration. When he was mayor, Luken was instrumental in starting the Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, which has spent more than $1 billion redeveloping Over-the-Rhine and downtown since it was founded in 2003.

• A tragic Cincinnati shooting is making national headlines today. Yesterday morning, a father in Price Hill mistakenly shot his son in the family’s basement. The son had returned home from waiting for the bus, and his father, thinking he was at school, thought an intruder was in the home. He then panicked and shot the 14-year-old in the neck. The son later died at Children’s Hospital. Cincinnati Police say the father is cooperating with their investigation. No charges have been filed at this point.

• So we all know that Saturday’s Bengals loss was painful, that certain behavior by a small percentage of fans and, yes, players as well, was somewhat embarrassing and that we’d love to put the whole thing behind us. But… will the rest of the country forget? Or has Cincinnati again embarrassed itself on the national stage? Have we added to the bad sports-related impressions and memories people have of Cincinnati, including Crosstown Shootout brawls, Marge Schott, the errant gambling of Pete Rose and on and on? Thankfully, most experts say no. They argue that goodwill generated by Cincinnati’s sterling MLB All-Star Game turn, as well as a general hype around the city’s energy and upswing outweigh any momentary negative associations a few rowdy fans or players may have caused. Let’s hope.

• Plaintiffs suing the Internal Revenue Service over delays in granting conservative groups nonprofit status can now file a class-action lawsuit together. The alleged delays came out of the IRS’ office in downtown Cincinnati, which handles nonprofit tax documents. Tea party groups from across the country allege that the tax agency was deliberately targeting them when it stalled on granting them tax-exempt status. IRS officials and the Obama administration say that the delay was caused by questions around rules prohibiting political groups from getting tax exemption. They point to liberal groups that also received extra scrutiny. In October, investigators announced that no criminal charges would be filed against IRS workers or officials in the case. The recent ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott allowing class action status pertains to a separate civil suit filed three years ago by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots.

• Mystery solved. Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a tea party favorite from Ohio, is the person who gave a ticket to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to controversial Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. Speculation had been floating around about who gave Davis the invite during the days leading up to yesterday’s big annual speech. Davis is best known as the Rowan County Clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which extended same-sex marriage rights to couples across the country. Davis spent a brief time in jail for her refusal to follow a court order to resume issuing the licenses. She attended the speech to serve as a "visible reminder of religious liberty," according to a spokesperson.

In that speech, his final as president, Obama extolled the virtues of progress, tweaking somewhat those who have stood in the way of same-sex marriage rights, rights for immigrants and refugees, efforts to raise the minimum wage and fight climate change, among other agendas Obama has tried to advance during his time in office. But the tone of the speech was decidedly non-combative and seemed most aimed at setting the stage for the president’s legacy and future efforts by the Democratic Party.

Obama structured the talk around four points: Increasing economic opportunity, harnessing technology, defining America’s role in the world as it relates to security and moving on from the divisiveness of contemporary American politics toward something more positive. As you might expect, Obama touted the country’s economic recovery, calling America “the strongest, most durable economy in the world.” Conservatives have, of course, taken issue with that, given that economics will likely play a large role in the coming presidential election. They point out low workforce participation rates and the number of people on government assistance where Obama cites new job creation.

Obama also cited policy victories in terms of health care and education, basically going down the list of his policy actions during his time in office and outlining optimistic if vague ways they could be expanded over the coming years.

Though the future was the explicit theme of the speech, it was hard not to hear it as a summation of Obama’s time in office and, by extension, of the tumultuous times the Obama presidency has overseen. Surprising omissions to this zeitgeist-citing, however, were the president’s only passing nods to recent struggles with racial and justice system issues, which have dominated headlines and social media chatter for well over a year and a half now. Despite this and several other omissions, however, the president’s speech is as good a prelude to the coming year as you’re likely to find. As a kind of goodbye, it’s also the note — along with coming primary elections — that will start the 2016 elections in earnest. Hope you’re ready for that.

 
 
by Julia Olmsted 01.12.2016 139 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Bar, Cocktails at 05:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
10934008_320219301514561_7309451886579652420_n

Raising the Bars: Girls' Night

Pull on your high-heeled boots, grab some of your best friends and head out on the town for your best-ever girls' night! These bars have everything from spacious dance floors to crazy cocktails that’ll definitely spice up your weekend plans.

Bar Louie – Newport

“Open early, closes late” is the credo of this café/lounge based out of Chicago. Bar Louie’s vibe is eclectic and welcoming and features a wide range of handcrafted signature martinis like the new Star Wars-themed cocktails — these definitely are the drinks you’re looking for. And if you want something to soak up all those whimsically themed martinis, the Verde Chicken Flatbread is to die for.
1 Levee Way #3118, Newport, Ky., newportonthelevee.com/bar-louie.

Open late. $$. Specialty drinks.

Longworth’s – Mount Adams

Longworth’s huge dance floor, live DJ and unique feel should make it one of the first stops on your agenda — and with happy hour every day from 4-8 p.m., it’s easy to get a good start for a great price, meaning your night can last even longer. Then if you feel like continuing the party into Sunday Funday, you’ll be welcomed with $3 Mimosas and Bloody Marys all day long.
1109 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams, mtadamslongworths.com.
$$. Outdoor patio.
 

Mynt Martini – Downtown

Want to add a touch of class to your big night out? Check out the super sleek Mynt Martini lounge for their live music, tasty hors d’oeuvres and fancy cocktails. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is the neon-lit bar and tables, which clearly sets the scene for how awesome the rest of your night will be.
28 Fountain Square Plaza, Downtown, myntcincinnati.com.
$$$. Live music.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.12.2016 139 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
sheriff

Morning News and Stuff

Hamilton County deputies to get body cams; Kasich surges in New Hampshire; Obergefell to attend SOTU address

Good morning all. Here’s what’s going on in the news today.

Cincinnati Public Schools will open a new school for talented and gifted students on the city’s West Side, officials have announced. The Cincinnati Gifted Academy, CPS’ other talented and gifted school, has been incredibly popular, generating waiting lists for students hoping to attend its Hyde Park campus. Now, the district will open another campus on Harrison Avenue. The elementary schools teach advanced classes in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, along with other specialty courses like Latin.

• Hamilton County Sheriff deputies will get body cameras by spring after Sheriff Jim Neil presented county commissioners with a plan to bring the devices to the department this week. The $1.3 million, five-year deal between the county and Taser International would include 230 body cameras, cloud storage for the data recorded by them and Tasers for the department. That last bit sweetens the deal for the county considerably, officials say — the department was faced with replacing its current supply of Tasers in the next year at a cost of $1.6 million. Neil says the measure is a way to increase transparency in the department, which does not currently use body or dashboard cameras.

• Speaking of the sheriff’s office, a Republican contender to challenge Neil in the November election will be able to stay on the county's primary ballot despite questions about the paperwork he filed for the election. The Hamilton County Board of Elections voted 4-0 yesterday to allow candidate Gary Lee to appear on the March primary ballot against Rich Vande Ryt. A Ryt supporter challenged Lee’s election filings, saying that he didn’t fill out all the necessary background check paperwork. The BOE, however, concluded that Lee had filed enough of the paperwork to qualify for the primary. The winner of that primary will face off against incumbent Neil in the general election this year.

• A pending U.S. Supreme Court decision could have big implications for Ohio unions, effectively turning the state into a right-to-work state. The court is considering arguments in a case out of California about compulsory union dues. If it decides unions are not allowed to require workers to pay so-called “fair share” dues in workplaces with collective bargaining, it could mean a huge loss of cohesiveness and clout for organized labor. In Ohio, that could mean the court undoing part of a decision made by Ohio voters in a 2011 referendum overturning SB5, a law that restricted public employees’ collective bargaining rights. Supporters of so-called “right to work” laws say they’re only fair for employees of union shops who don’t want to join up with organized labor. Opponents, however, say it will incentivize people to quit paying their dues, enjoying the benefits of collective bargaining without supporting it financially.

• Don’t look now, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich is rebounding in New Hampshire, a make-or-break state for the Republican presidential primary hopeful. Kasich is tied for second there behind Donald Trump, who has a commanding lead over the rest of the field. But Kasich’s second-place slot is an achievement in and of itself: It was not long ago that the big queso was running seventh. It’s a big deal for Kasich because both his campaign and the Republican party have identified the early primary state as a final chance for the veteran politician to prove himself viable as a primary contender. Meanwhile, his swing upward in the polls has secured Kasich a spot at the next GOP primary debate main stage, a lifeline for his candidacy. As recently as last week, there were questions about whether Kasich would make it to the main event, where participants are decided by their standing in the polls.

• Finally, President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address is tonight, and history-making Cincinnati resident Jim Obergefell will have a front-row seat. Obergefell is the Over-the-Rhine resident who is named in the case the Supreme Court heard when extending same-sex marriage rights across the country. Obergefell married John Arthur, his partner of 20 years, in 2013 as the latter was dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease. He sued Ohio over the right to be listed as Arthur’s spouse on his death certificate, challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The Supreme Court found that ban, and similar bans in other states, unconstitutional. Obergefell will sit with First Lady Michelle Obama and about 20 other White House guests at Obama’s address.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 01.11.2016 140 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
rob portman

Morning News and Stuff

Big developments in store this year for Greater Cincinnati; Sen. Portman endorses Kasich for president; Preschool Promise to hold Town Hall meeting in Avondale tonight

Good morning Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines to get your minds off the Bengals for a few minutes. 

What does development have in store for Cincinnati this year? The Enquirer has listed 10 of the bigger projects that could kick off in 2016. Some of the projects including the expansion of the Findlay Market district, the creation of a financial district around Lytle Park and the REACH project, which will continue to renovate homes for single families in Evanston. Some of these projects appear to have lengths to go, like northern Kentucky's Ovation project, the $1 billion plan to develop its riverfront property, and not all projects pulled through last year, so whether some will get off the ground is yet to be seen. 

• A Texas-based company is planning to put more than $100 million in renovations into the three-building complex at Fourth and Walnut Centre. NewcrestImage LLC recently bought the complex downtown and plans to turn the buildings into up to three hotels with room for office space, retail and restaurants. CEO Mehul Patel says he aims to go high-end to attract a major hotel brand like Hilton or Hyatt. Patel hopes to put other fancy establishments to the complex like a "celebrity chef restaurant,' fitness center and a grocery store. 

• Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman has endorsed GOP presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president. Portman originally said last summer he was planning to stay out of the race and is close to Bush family, having worked in under George H. W. Bush during his time as president. It is still unclear why the Republican Senator choose to endorse Kasich over Jeb Bush, although it's possible the connection could give both a fundraising boost as Portman runs for Senate re-election this year, most likely against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. 

• Cincinnati's Preschool Promise will hold a Town Hall meeting in Avondale 6 p.m. tonight at the Church of the Living God. Anyone interesting in learning more about the group's initiative to hatch a plan to make two years of quality preschool for every Cincinnati child affordable and get it on next year's ballot is welcome to come and ask questions.               

• It was a bitter cold this morning as Cincinnatians learned of the death of rock star and icon David Bowie. The cold spell will continue, as will our mourning, with up to two inches of snow and below freezing temperatures  predicted for tonight and for tomorrow morning's commute, so stay warm out there! 

Story tips: nkrebs@citybeat.com.
 
 
by Steven Rosen 01.08.2016
Posted In: Visual Art at 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
emy

Remember This Artist's Name: Ato Ribeiro

One of the most remarkable artworks I saw in Cincinnati in 2015 — in terms of its beauty and the painstaking effort that went into its creation — will soon leave town.

It was in a rear area of the Brick 939 pop-up market in Walnut Hills. It’s already no longer on view and just waiting to be sent back to its artist. But I have a feeling we’ll be hearing much more from that artist — Ato Ribeiro — responsible for the monumental-sized portrait, “Edith Motte Young, Forever,” made through a charcoal-erasing process on brown paper.

It is a 13-by-9-foot drawing of the Detroit artist’s great-grandmother. At that size, you immediately wonder if the image deserves the space devoted to it.

It does, indeed — the woman’s eyes look upward, hopefully and compellingly. She seems, in her vaguely Modernist apparel, to be both of our relatively recent past and timeless. And the work seems both authoritative and fragile, given the use of (crumpled) paper.

Communicating by email from Detroit, where he is working on his M.F.A. at Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Bloomfield Hills, Ribeiro explains his process.

 “(It) consists of applying a few flat layers of charcoal across each sheet of brown paper before crumpling each sheet into a little ball in order to work the creases into the paper,” Ribeiro says.

“These creases create the sense of a discarded object. After unraveling the paper, I would use a kneaded eraser to erase out my image's details, one little section at a time. There were no drawing tools involved in my process.

“Over the last 5 years, my work has gravitated towards the use of discarded natural and found objects as my preferred choice in materials. The reason the brown paper feels the way it does is because this was paper that I collected (close to the beach) while in Ghana a few months ago, where the tropical weather tends to get pretty humid. This easily accessible paper (in Ghana) is commonly used by students to cover their academic textbooks, protecting them from damage.

“Through the reductive process of charcoal erasing to create my subjects, I attempt to highlight several members of my African-American history (whom I use as role models in my life) while addressing the struggles that African-Americans face relating to the preservation of much of our culture. Also the work is intentionally not fixed so that viewers who do decide to touch the piece would become aware of the how easy it is to erase/remove part of our 'history.' ’’

Exactly how this piece came to be shown here — where it was on display Nov. 27-Jan. 3 — is an interesting story. A fellow Cranbrook artist from Cincinnati, Ingrid Alexandra Schmidt, heard of the opportunity and arranged for Ribeiro to present his work.

“Though I have never spent an extended amount of time in Ohio, Edith Motte Young ended up moving her family to Oberlin, Ohio in 1929 (where my grandfather went to Oberlin High School and Oberlin College before becoming a pilot),” Ribeiro says. “So I thought it would be a little poetic to send the piece of her back in that direction. Thus I applied and was later accepted.”

Ribeiro is at work on a Forever Young series of family portraits — Young is his mother's maiden name. When it is finished, one hopes to be able to see it in Cincinnati. From the work shown here, his series is a remarkable and inspirational display of love and respect (and artistic ability) from a young man to his family.

Meanwhile, the Brick pop-up shop and the organization behind it — MORTAR, which is out to empower residents of Over-the-Rhine and Walnut Hills through entrepreneurship — should be proud of giving Cincinnati a chance to see this fine artist.  For more information about him, visit atoribeiroart.com.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.08.2016
Posted In: News at 01:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cranley Vetoes Council Tax Budget

Mayor calls budget "tax hike," Council majority disagrees

Mayor John Cranley today vetoed a tax budget passed by Cincinnati City Council Jan. 6.

That budget set the rate for property taxes in the city at 5.6 mills. Though the rate is the same as last year's, it could bring in more property tax revenue this year due to new development and other economic activity, violating a policy passed more than 15 years ago that requires the city to hold the amount of property taxes it collects at a preset level. However, there is some uncertainty about how much the rate would actually collect due to the number of tax abatements and special tax districts the city has given to developers in the past year.

In a statement released today, Cranley called the tax budget Council passed a "tax hike."

"In November, Cincinnati voters sent an unambiguous message that they oppose having their property taxes raised," Cranley said in the statement, referring to the decisive defeat of a ballot initiative he spearheaded aimed at funding major parks projects in the city through a property tax increase. "It is a message that I heard loudly and clearly, and it is a message that I have a duty to heed."

In some ways, the issue around the tax rate springs from the unusual way in which the city collects property taxes, which this Cincinnati Business Courier story explores. A boost in the amount of tax revenues the city collects would violate the aim of Cincinnati's property tax rollback, passed amid pressure from conservative groups in 1999. The measure stipulates that the city must collect the same dollar amount of property taxes each year — $28.9 million — regardless of inflation or other changes.  As inflation inches up, that means the city is actually collecting less property tax each year. No other major Ohio city has a similar measure.

Critics say that has unnecessarily constrained the city's budget and made it more difficult to provide basic services for a now-growing (if only slightly) population. But proponents say it has saved taxpayers money. Some on City Council, including Vice Mayor David Mann, have suggested reevaluating the policy.

Mann blasted Cranley's veto today.

Since its passage, the rollback has meant nearly $95 million less going into the city's coffers. While that saves average homeowners some cash, the biggest benefit goes to larger, commercial property owners with higher land values, many of whom have also received large tax abatements from the city in recent years.

Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes projected a .71 percent increase in property tax receipts to by the city this year and proposed a 5.52 mill rate. None of that boost comes from higher appraisal values. The last property tax appraisal happened in 2011, with an update in 2014. The next reappraisal of property values won't start until 2017.

But some on Cincinnati City Council say that doesn't take into account those tax abatements and tax increment financing districts many new developments and property improvements in the city received. Thus, setting the millage at 5.52 could cause the city to undershoot its $28.9 million goal.

Last year, the 5.6 mill rate brought in about $29.4 million.

A mill is 1/1000th of a dollar. Property taxes are calculated by taking the assessed value of a home (which is 35 percent of the home's market value), multiplying it by the millage rate, and factoring in any exemptions or abatements. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $196 in property taxes next year under the 5.6 mill rate and $193.20 under the 5.52 rate.

Overall, the higher rate will bring in a few hundred thousand dollars more next year. What is as yet unknown is what that exact number will be.

Council passed the budget 6-3, enough votes to override the mayor's veto. Council independent Christopher Smitherman and Republicans Amy Murray and Wendell Young voted against it. Charterite Kevin Flynn voted for the measure, citing the question of abatements, but is generally against tax increases and could swing back.

Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said that in trying fiscal times, the city would be better off setting the rate slightly higher so it doesn't end up with a hole in its budget, citing a Cincinnati City Administration-forecast $14 million gap between expenditures and tax revenues next year.

Other Democrats on Council echoed that sentiment and challenged the notion that the tax budget they passed represented a "stealth tax increase." Councilman Chris Seelbach took to social media to dispute that characterization, which was echoed by a headline in The Cincinnati Enquirer.



The paper has since adjusted that headline, which read "Cranley Vetos Tax Hike." The headline now reads "Cranley Vetoes Property Tax Budget."

Council must pass a tax budget by Jan. 15 in order to be on track to pass its annual budget. One possible compromise: A budget that asks the Hamilton County Auditor to set the millage rate for the city at whatever level will generate the $28.9 million. The Auditor would then set that rate after gathering more data.
 
 
by Julia Olmsted 01.08.2016
Posted In: Bar at 11:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Raising the Bars: Game Day

The Steelers are coming to town. Let's go to the bar and watch the game!

No matter which game you’re watching or which colors you don (better be orange and black), the Cincinnati bar scene has a little something for every kind of fan. From packed sports bars to quiet neighborhood grills, there’s always a place to enjoy a couple of the things the Queen City is known for — good teams and great beer. This Saturday will be no exception when the stupid Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for an AFC first-round playoff game.


Brass Tap
The Brass Tap in Clifton has 20 HDTVs, which play any and all Bengals games — with the sound on! The bar also serves up more than 300 beers — 80 on draft and 250 in bottles with 30-plus locals. Saturdays and Sundays, any pizza (served on pretzel dough crust) and pint combo is $10, and on game days, enjoy $3 off any large format beer selections. You can check out the expansive wine, food and both draft and bottle beer menus online. Fun place to get loud and shout at the TV with college kids. 251 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-242-2337, brasstapbeer.com.


Brothers Bar & Grille
For those looking to find a unique and eclectic sports bar on a budget, Brothers Bar & Grill is right up your alley. The bar itself is located right on Newport on the Levee's square, meaning a stunning view of the river is just outside on their back patio. The menu features made-from-scratch appetizers like Wisconsin World Famous Cheese Curds, bleu cheese and bacon tavern chips, and jumbo pretzel sticks, and also has plenty of full sized meals. Their daily drink specials ($2 double wells, anyone?) will keep your pockets lined and your belly warm while you cheer on your favorite team
1 Levee Way #2126, Newport, Ky., 859-291-2767, brothersbar.com.


Gas Light Café

Pleasant Ridge’s friendly neighborhood tavern expects a big crowd for the playoff game. Its legit bar-food menu includes one of the best burgers in town, plus other creative sandwiches and sides. 6104 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-631-6977.


Holy Grail Tavern & Grill

One of the city’s biggest and most authentic sports bars, the Holy Grail at The Banks hosts weekly Bengals radio shows and will undoubtedly be packed for the big game against the Steelers. Huge menu, tons of draft beers and enough TVs to see exactly which player tries to poke another in the eyes. Holy Grail West offers more of the same in Delhi. The Banks, 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, 513-621-2222; Holy Grail West, 1278 Ebenezer Road, Delhi, 513-941-5555. holygrailcincy.com.


Kitty’s Sports Grill
Positioned directly across the street from Paul Brown Stadium and buzzing with a big bar-vibe, Kitty’s is the place to be for Bengals fans. This gem is relatively new to the Cincinnati scene, but it’s already making waves with super friendly staff members, fantastic drink specials like $12 bottomless bloody marys and mimosas on the weekends, and so many TVs you won’t even know where to look. There’s even a 120-inch projection screen above the bar — talk about a front row seat. 
218 W. Third St., Downtown, 513-421-8900, kittyssportsgrill.net.


Knockback Nat’s
This all-American, nationally recognized (check out their
Travel Channel shout-out), locally beloved dive bar mixes together all the necessary ingredients for the perfect game day. Their dartboard-and-jukebox vibe pairs wonderfully with the inexpensive and delicious array of grub — from their famous smoked wings (just 75 cents when you buy a beer!), to loaded vegetarian nachos. You’ll feel like a regular on your first visit, so it’s easy to get comfy and enjoy the game, no matter the score. They also have free popcorn. 
10 W. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-621-1000.


Lachey's
Anything more hometown than a hometown sports bar run by a couple of hometown dudes? Lachey's does game day up right with drink specials for every Bengals home and away match — $5 mimosas, $5 Bengals bombs when the Bengals score and $3 Bud and Bud Light drafts if the Bengals win. They have a plethora of giant TVs above the bar, a running sports ticker and a tasty tailgate-friendly bar menu featuring three different flavors of tater tots, buffalo wings and stuffed meatballs. 56 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-275-0740, lacheys.com.

Martino's on Vine
Some people like the Pittsburgh Steelers and if those people don't want to be boo-ed out of a bar, they can head to Martino's on Vine. You can watch the Steelers lose on any one of their 31 TVs while you enjoy a two-foot hoagie, a variety of interpretations on a Philly cheesesteak or Pittsburgh-style wings. 2618 Vine St., Corryville, 513-221-8487, martinosonvine.com.

O’Malley’s in the Alley

The quintessential Cincinnati sports bar, O’Malley’s offers weekly lunch specials, happy hour deals and other specials for Reds and Bengals games. The Irish pub is one of the city’s oldest bars, O’Malley’s is a crucial stop to and from riverfront sports contests and should be poppin’ on playoff night. 25 Ogden Place (off Vine Street), Downtown, 513-381-3114. omalleysinthealley.com.


Rhinehaus
OTR's original sports bar Rhinehaus is not only a Bengals bar, they're also an official Packers bar (and they also show all Premier League Match games; sportz!). With 14 total TVs, including a giant projector and a screen in the mens bathroom, it's a cool and cozy place to imbibe a brew from one of 16 rotating taps or down a few "rhino" shots. These haus shots include concoctions like the Orange Rhino (Malibu orange float, vanilla vodka, orange juice and cranberry) and Kentucky Rhino (whiskey and creme de menthe). You can also get food to go or delivered from nearby OTR eateries aka buy yourself a Turtle Shell from Gomez. 119 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinehausbar.com.

Tina's
Bengal Nation's who-dey hangout. This third-generation family-owned and -operated watering hole is only a block from Paul Brown Stadium, so naturally they bleed orange. They have 13 wall-mounted flatscreen TVs, 8 rotating beers on tap, shuffle board, darts and plenty of room to relax and watch the game. Their full menu features everything from sandwiches and salads to chicken wings, chili and a cheese plate. They even do tailgating pick-up orders for home games; call ahead. 350 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-621-3567, tinasbar.com.
 
 

 

 

 
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