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by Jac Kern 12.10.2014 10 days ago
Posted In: TV/Celebrity, Humor, Movies, Music at 12:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

Peter Pan Live! took over TVs last week and it wasn’t nearly as messy as last year’s live spectacle, The Sound of Music, but I’m still confused about a very feminine woman (Allison Williams) playing a boyish man — and so are the folks at SNL. More on that later.

Marnie did a fine job and Christopher Walken was, well, Christopher Walken, but Jane Krakowski’s interpretation of Peter Pan would have been truly outstanding.

Last week I wrote about the other big TV spectacular du jour, Eaten Alive on Discovery Channel. Basically, for weeks the network teased us with the promise that nature-type Paul Rosolie baited a giant anaconda into eating him alive (while wearing a special safety suit, oxygen and a camera), all for us viewers at home to watch — only he didn’t. After an hour and 45 minutes of build-up, dude tapped out after only a portion of his head inside the snake for, like three seconds. Understandable outrage spilled onto Twitter. I mean, how long until I can turn on basic cable and watch a man get killed on live television?

In Case You Missed It: Charlie Hustle is hawking Sketchers now. In this commercial (which apparently debuted a couple months ago but I just recently saw), Pete “The Relaxer” Rose touts the brand’s new comfy shoe line and pokes fun of the whole Hall of Fame ban.

Also, great cameo from his glamorous wife Kiana. I miss seeing her on TV.

Queen Bey and King Hov hung out with their British equivalents at a Nets game this week. Prince William and Duchess Kate took a royal tour of NYC, complete with a visit to the Empire State building, some chill time with LeBron James (they even got a tiny Cavs jersey for baby George) and a quick Illuminati meet-up with the Carter Dynasty. Kate, give the people what they want, already. No, not a prime baby bump pic — a “7/11” video reenactment in Buckingham Palace!

This week in Let’s Feel Old: the stars of MTV’s Laguna Beach recently attended their 10-year high school reunion.

James Franco and Nicki Minaj performed on Saturday Night Live last week. In addition to poking fun at Peter Pan Live!, highlights included a Hip Hop nativity, Nicki as Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé, a realistic Star Wars trailer and a hilariously weird skit with Mike O’Brien, "Grow-A-Guy."

And in a skit that was cut for time, hosts of a St. Louis morning show feel incredibly awkward going live after the events in Ferguson.

Sons of Anarchy is officially over and, DAYUM, the last few episodes/season/basically all of it was brutal. No spoilers, but I will definitely miss seeing Charlie Hunnam’s chiseled butt cheeks on the reg and sweet Nero, with his delicate V-neck cardigans. (Jimmy Smitts was seriously amazing in this role). If you, too, need your Hunnam fix, check out his early days on Queer as Folk or in Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks follow-up, Undeclared. Baby British Jax! And congrats to Vanderpump RulesJax Taylor for basically stealing the name being the new reigning Jax of television.

New movie trailers to hit the Interwebz: the latest film version of the beloved French short story The Little Prince; Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan star in romantic musical The Last Five Years; Dwyane "Still The Rock" Johnson's natural disaster flick San Andreas.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.10.2014 10 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar fund may dwindle; Ohio Board of Education nixes "5 of 8" rule; will Congress meet its budget deadline?

Hey all. I’m about to run out and cover a bunch of stuff, but here’s a quick hit list of what’s up today.

The streetcar’s contingency construction budget may only have about $80,000 unaccounted for, project executive John Dietrick announced yesterday. It started with nearly $8 million. That low number is a worst-case projection, but with 21 months left until construction is finished, it's a very slim cushion. Part of the problem: The city spent $1 million from that fund covering the costs of delaying the streetcar while fighting over whether to continue the project last winter.

• UC students have been staging so-called “die in” demonstrations over the past few days in protest against police shootings of unarmed black citizens. Another one will take place today at noon in the university’s Medical Sciences Building.

• Former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter will have to wait for an appeal on her felony convictions from jail, Judge Norbert Nadel ruled yesterday. Hunter was convicted on one felony count of having an unlawful interest in a public contract over allegedly interceding in the firing of her brother, a court employee. A jury hung on eight other felony counts in her trial. Hunter’s supporters say she’s a victim of politics as the county’s first black juvenile court judge. She faces six months in jail.

• State lawmakers have squashed, for now, a highly restrictive “heartbeat bill” that would have made abortions illegal in Ohio after a fetus has a detectable heartbeat. A vote on the bill was killed by conservative lawmakers who feel the law may be unconstitutional. They say they fear court challenges to the bill could endanger Ohio’s other abortion restrictions.

• The Ohio Board of Education agreed yesterday to strike down the state’s so-called “5 of 8” rule that required schools to hire specialized positions like art teachers and librarians. Boosters say the move gives local districts more control over their budgets, but opponents say it will make it easier for cash-strapped schools to eliminate necessary staff. The bill will next go to the state legislature for approval before coming back to the board for a final vote in March.

• We all have deadlines. Congress’ deadline is Thursday, when our current, hard-won federal budget expires. And while it looks like there won’t be a big, destructive fight over the budget this year resulting in a weeks-long shutdown like last year, it also looks equally likely that Congress won’t get the job done in time. While key congressional leaders agreed last night on a trillion-dollar deal, there are still a lot of bumps in the road before the legislation makes it to the president’s desk.

 
 
by Mike Breen 12.10.2014 10 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Music Video, New Releases, Local Music at 10:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Buggs Tha Rocka Releases Masterful Album for Free

Cincinnati Hip Hop artist unleashes Scattered Thoughts of an American Poet online today

One of Cincinnati finest Hip Hop artists, Buggs Tha Rocka, is making his new album, Scattered Thoughts of an American Poet, available for free starting today on various outlets across the internet (it’s already generated fairly widespread buzz, including write-ups from the U.K. and France). 

Buggs recently spoke with CityBeat’s Brian Baker (who called the new LP a “masterpiece”) about the new release (which features guest spots from Donte from MOOD, Moxy Monster, Tanya Morgan, Aida Chakra and Cool Kids’ Chuck Inglish among others) and his progress in the Hip Hop world. 

“The type of Hip Hop I do has always focused on technicality and emotion,” Buggs said. “I take pride in being a wordsmith. That’s where the ‘American poet’ came from. And ‘scattered thoughts’ is really what it is. It’s everything I’ve been through, things I’m seeing in the news, a little bit of everything. My ups, my downs, my life in one CD. Instead of putting on a facade and an image, it’s really organic and natural.”


You can read Baker’s full interview with Buggs here.


Buggs is hosting an intimate release party/performance this Friday at Over-the-Rhine club Maudie’s. Showtime is 9 p.m., admission is $7 ($5 in advance here) and Buggs will be joined by MOOD’s Donte (and probably other guests?) at the show. 


Buggs has unveiled several videos (made in conjunction with Alvin Jordan and others) for various tracks from the album leading up to the release. Here’s a clip for “Angel of Death” featuring Piakhan:

Buggs tha Rocka ft Piakhan - Angel of Death (Concept Video) from Buggs Tha Rocka on Vimeo.

Here’s the clip for “Bad Habits”:

Buggs Tha Rocka - Bad Habits (Official Music Video) from Buggs Tha Rocka on Vimeo.

Here’s Buggs and Pappadon in the clip for “OuterXSpaceXLove”:

OuterXSpaceXLove Feat. Pappadon from Buggs Tha Rocka on Vimeo.

Here’s “Rapture” featuring Phoenix Aphrodite:

Rapture feat. Phoenix Aphrodite from Buggs Tha Rocka on Vimeo.

This is the clip for “My$tery”:

Buggs Tha Rocka | MY$TERY from Buggs Tha Rocka on Vimeo.

And here is the newest clip, for the track “Religiously,” which was released today:

Buggs Tha Rocka - Religiously (Official Music Video) produced by Hop Trax from Buggs Tha Rocka on Vimeo.

Visit Buggs’ official site here for the latest info and to download the album. You can also click below to check out and grab a copy of Scattered Thoughts of an American Poet.



 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.09.2014 11 days ago
Posted In: News, Courts at 03:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Democrats to Judge: Defer Hunter's Sentence

Former juvenile court judge faces six months in prison

The court case is over, but issues of race and politics that made it so contentious continue swirling.

 

Hamilton County Judge Norbert Nadel sentenced former Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter to six months in jail and a year of probation Dec. 5 after she was convicted on one of nine felony counts last month. Hunter asked Nadel to defer her prison sentence until an appeal of her conviction had gone through. Nadel denied that request today and Hunter will most likely be behind bars soon.


Some say justice has been served, but others say the penalty is too harsh and premature. A letter signed by 56 people including many area Democrat leaders to Nadel Dec. 8 asked the judge to defer Hunter’s sentence until after her appeal is heard. The letter says Hunter’s appeal is made on “substantial grounds” and points out that if she goes to jail now and is latter vindicated, it will be a “pyrrhic victory” because she will have already served her sentence by that time. The letter cites the fact Hunter has no previous record and did not stand to gain financially from the crime.

 

It also points out the racial tension over the case and connects it to larger issues of race relations in the region and around the country, as anger continues over recent police killings of unarmed black men and a refusal by grand juries to indict officers in those cases.

 

“All across the country, serious questions of trust are being raised about the fairness of our justice system in dealing with matters involving race,” said the letter sent by the Hamilton County Democratic Party and signed by Chairman Tim Burke, State Senator elect Cecil Thomas, State Rep. Alicia Reece and other notable party members. “To sentence to jail the only African American to ever be elected to our juvenile court, and one of the very few African Americans to ever be elected in a contested county-wide election in Hamilton County … will only deepen that mistrust. That is particularly true in light of the fact that other first-time offenders under similar circumstances would receive no jail time at all.”

 

Hunter was the juvenile court’s first black judge. After the election for the seat in 2010 went to her opponent by a very narrow margin, she fought a year-and-a-half-long court battle in order to get uncounted votes counted to prove she had won. She came into the position intent on changing a system where black juveniles are 10 times more likely to be arrested than whites.


Almost 80 percent of children arrested in Hamilton County are black, according to a November federal lawsuit by Covington-based Children’s Law Center against the county.

 

That resolve ruffled feathers. Among others, The Cincinnati Enquirer sued her for refusing to let reporters into her courtroom. Hunter’s methods as a judge were unorthodox and her opponents say often illegal.

 

After a long, dramatic trial, Hunter was convicted last month for interceding on behalf of her brother, a juvenile court employee who was fired for allegedly punching an underage inmate. Hunter obtained medical records on that inmate for her brother, prosecutors charged. A jury deadlocked on eight other felony charges involving fraud, misuse of a court credit card, interfering with investigations and forgery. She motioned for a retrial three times, citing three black jurors who recanted their guilty verdicts and procedural irregularities in the courtroom. Judge Nadel denied all three motions.

 

Critics like Hamilton County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou say Hunter was quite simply a bad judge and that her indictment and conviction have nothing to do with race. Her stature as a judge only makes her transgressions worse, and she should be disciplined accordingly, her critics say. That means jail time for a low-level felony that usually only gets probation.

 

Judge Hunter is a judge and a public official," Nadel said after Hunter was sentenced. "Unfortunately, it may be a felony 4, but that is a double whammy."

 
 
by Rick Pender 12.09.2014 11 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Call Board: Theater News

Actors Sought. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati hosts its third annual Meals for Monologues on Monday and Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 1127 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine. It's an open casting call to Equity and non-union actors for theater, film, TV and/or commercial projects cast by the theater's artistic director D. Lynn Meyers. Interested performers should bring two non-perishable food (pasta, canned goods, etc.) or toiletry items (soap, toothpaste) to the theater — to be donated to the Freestore/Foodbank as well as a current headshot and résumé and a short prepared monologue, song or two monologues. (No accompanist, so songs need to be performed a capellla.) Time slots are five minutes maximum and are available by appointment only. The deadline was last Friday, but a quick email to Ben Raanan (braanan@ensemblecincinnati.org) will let you know if any slots are still available. Meyers is a member of the Casting Society of America, and she has tons of projects and connections beyond shows at ETC; she recently did a lot of casting during two locally shot films, Carol and Miles Ahead.

Seasonal Fundraiser for New Edgecliff. The classic holiday story, Miracle on 34th Street — yes, the one with Kris Kringle and Natalie Wood as a child actor — will be brought to life as a radio production on Sunday evening at the Northside Tavern (4163 Hamilton Ave.) as an old-time radio drama. Produced by New Edgecliff Theatre with sound effects by WMKV's Mike Martini, it's a benefit to the theater group. Admission is $35, and it includes a dessert buffet at intermission provided by Cincinnati State's Midwest Culinary Institute. Tickets: 888-428-7311 (or at the door).

Rosie Keeps Singing. The Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical seems to be a big hit. The show, onstage in the Shelterhouse, opened on Nov. 20, and on its first night artistic director Blake Robison announced that sales were brisk enough to make it possible to extend the production a week beyond its intended closing date (Dec. 28) to Jan. 4. Demand for tickets has continued, so the Playhouse has extended the show another week, now closing on Jan. 11. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

Welcome to Dystopia. If you've read Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale, you know it's a creepy vision of the not-too-distant future in which the United States has become a theocracy called the Republic of Gilead. An oppressive regime forces women to bear children for population growth, but Offred resists the demands made of her. Cincinnati Shakespeare gave Joe Stollenwerk's adaptation of the show a workshop in 2009 and a short-run production in 2011 featuring veteran Cincy Shakes actress Corinne Mohlenhoff as Offred. Next month Know Theatre fills in a TBA slot in its season with the show's first full-fledged production (Jan. 23-Feb. 21). Cincy Shakes' Brian Phillips will stage the one-woman piece with Mohlenhoff. They are married, so this is an unusual opportunity for them to work together on a new work rather than the classics that Cincy Shakes usually stages. Tickets ($20) are now available: 513-300-5669.


CityBeat's Rick Pender posts theater notices on CALL BOARD every Monday morning.

 
 
by Mike Breen 12.09.2014 11 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: Yelawolf and The Lone Bellow

Alabama-born Hip Hop artist Yelawolf plays Newport’s Thompson House tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Yelawolf began making waves in 2005 after self-releasing his debut album, Creek Water. The gifted MC landed a major-label deal with Columbia within two years, but the deal fizzled out and Yelawolf returned to working the underground. By the start of this decade, Yelawolf’s signed with Eminem’s Shady Records.


His debut for the label, 2011’s Radioactive, featured guests like Killer Mike, Lil Jon and Kid Rock and was a chart and critical success. More track releases, mixtapes and collaborations kept fans occupied after the 2012 announcement of his second Shady Records album, Love Story, which will materialize next year. Yelawolf has been selling out shows all over the country, so you might want to call ahead or show up early. 


Vibe recently posted an interview with the MC about his latest goings-on. Check it out here.



• Fantastic modern Americana trio The Lone Bellow plays the 20th Century Theater in Oakley tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $20 at the door.


The Lone Bellow broke through with last year’s self-titled debut album and the trio’s forthcoming LP, Then Came the Morning — due January 27 and produced by Cincinnati native/The National guitarist Aaron Dessner — is drawing a lot of buzz already thanks to the release of a pair of singles. Here’s the video for the most recent one, “Fake Roses”:



Read Brian Baker’s full preview of tonight’s show from the most recent CityBeat here.


Click here for even more live music options tonight in Greater Cincinnati. 

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.09.2014 11 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati police to get body cameras; early streetcar pass available; Ark Park wants to correct "myths"

All right y’all. After a brief delay while I listened to a presentation about health insurance (as captivating as it sounds) I’m here with the news this morning.

Cincinnati’s 600-strong uniformed police force will eventually be equipped with body cameras after a seven-month pilot program involving West Side officers wrapped up this week. The move comes as activists around the country call for more police accountability in the wake of recent police shootings of unarmed citizens. Cincinnati’s body camera program will cost anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million depending on which vendor the city chooses. Cincinnati City Council’s Law and Public Safety committee has pledged to help find funds, and Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffery Blackwell will be making a trip to Washington to ask the federal government for some of the money as well. Officers involved in the pilot program said the cameras they tested aren’t perfect and expressed concerns about privacy for victims of crime and whether what is filmed will end up as public record.  

Some activists around the country have called for federal rules requiring police wear body cameras, and President Barack Obama announced last week an plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help equip police departments with the technology. Others, however, question the efficacy of the method, pointing to the death of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a choke hold by police in July. The officer who placed Garner in a headlock was not indicted by a grand jury despite video footage of the incident.

• Though the streetcar is months away from being operational, you can still give the transit fanatic (or skeptic) in your life a rail-themed Christmas gift. Starting today, SORTA is offering a commemorative early pass for the Cincinnati streetcar allowing unlimited rides for periods of time after the streetcar opens. You can get the $25 card for those members of your family who are afraid of downtown and with whom you argued about the streetcar this Thanksgiving. Maybe some free rides will change their minds. Or they’ll hate it and give it to you to use. Win-win. They, or you, will be able to ride cost-free for the first 15 days the streetcar is operating. You can step it up for the serious streetcar supporter and get the $50 or $100 cards, which give the recipient 30 and 60 days of fare-free riding, respectively. These are the first physical items issued to the public for the transit project, which I’m sure will be interesting to some folks.

• Answers in Genesis, the religious group behind a controversial Noah’s Ark theme park in Grant County, Ky., has launched a billboard campaign it says seeks to correct “myths” about the project. The park has raised eyebrows because it could receive state tax credits even though its parent company makes its employees sign statements affirming their Christian religious beliefs. If the park did the same with prospective employees, it would not be eligible for help from the state. The state’s Tourism Development Finance Authority has preliminarily approved a 10-year tax incentive package for the park that could be worth up to $18 million on the $73 million project. National advocates for the separation of church and state have cried foul at the deal, saying it violates state and federal non-discrimination laws. The Ark group, however, says they’ll comply with those laws for the park. They’re fighting back with 16 billboards in Frankfort, Louisville and Lexington directing people to their website. They’ve also sprung for an electronic billboard ad running in New York City’s Times Square for some reason.

"With this new billboard campaign, the attention-grabbing wording will get people to visit our website, where they will discover the truth about our full-size Ark and learn how some intolerant people are trying to keep it from succeeding," the group said in an email news release.

• The Ohio Board of Education will meet today and discuss eliminating rules that require public schools in Ohio to hire art and music teachers, librarians and other specialized staff. The so-called “5 of 8” rule could be on the chopping block because some local control advocates say it amounts to an unfunded mandate on local schools from the state. However, those who support the rule say it ensures that all schools have faculty who can teach vital subjects and perform other necessary duties. They say eliminating the rule will hurt low-income students, whose cash-strapped schools will be most likely to drop the positions.

• State Rep. Alicia Reece formally introduced the so-called “John Crawford’s Law” yesterday, which would require toy guns to be brightly colored to distinguish them from real weapons. The bill aims to prevent police shootings like the one that happened in August at a Beavercreek Walmart, where Crawford was shot while holding a BB gun. More recently, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old, was shot and killed for holding a toy pistol on a playground in Cleveland. In a puzzling addition, the law would also limit where a person can carry a BB gun, even though Ohio remains an open carry state where you can tote around your real gun almost anywhere you please.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.08.2014 12 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Hamilton County Sheriff's office gets a drone; protests against racial injustice arrive at UC, Xavier; are hopes for change from third parties irrelevant?

Hey hey! It’s Monday. Stuff has been happening. Let’s get our news on.

The idea of law enforcement piloting tiny unmanned craft with cameras is pretty unnerving to some folks, which is understandable. No one wants a little flying robocop filming you through your window as you eat Doritos and watch your seventh episode of Adventure Time in your bathrobe. But the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office, which recently purchased a small drone, is seeking to allay such fears. They say the department will only use its tiny, $800 drone for taking overhead shots of traffic accidents and the like. Some call the idea creepy, but others say it’s legit as long as boundaries are followed.

“I don’t think we should be afraid of technology so long as it applies to and is used for a proper purpose,” Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “This seems like it’s a legitimate use of the technology.”

• A rally protesting racial injustice and recent police killings of unarmed black citizens drew more than 100 people outside Xavier’s Cintas Center Saturday night, during a game between the Musketeers and the University of Alabama. The several student groups who organized the rally said attendance was well above what they expected. The rallies protested grand jury decisions not to indict officers who have killed unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., Beavercreek, Ohio, and New York City.

“While some evidence is unclear, we cannot ignore the reality that yet more White police officers have shot and killed unarmed Black males,” the groups said in a joint statement emailed Saturday. “This is an unfortunate epidemic that is occurring across this nation.”

Another protest at the University of Cincinnati organized by student groups there will take place today at 1 p.m. at University Mainstreet.

• After this summer’s big showdown over the icon tax, efforts to raise the money to renovate historic Music Hall continue. Key fundraiser and philanthropic leader Otto Budig, who is helping lead the Cultural Facilities Taskforce charged with administering the repairs, says right now boosters still need to raise $40 million of the project’s estimated $123 million cost. So far, the taskforce has locked in $45 million in private donations as well as $25 million in tax credits. The City of Cincinnati has also committed another $10 million, as well as $400,000 annually. Budig says raising the rest will be difficult, but he’s vowed to make it happen.

• Over-the-Rhine’s super-popular Rhinegeist Brewery is expanding into Northern Kentucky with a new distribution company called River Ghost.  Rhinegeist already runs its own distribution in Southwestern Ohio, and Erlanger-based River Ghost will help the company do the same south of the river.

• So here’s an update about efforts to get quick, daily rail service running from Cincinnati to Chicago. We left off in that story telling you about transit group All Aboard Ohio's push to get local universities on board with the idea, and it looks like that’s starting to happen a bit. The City of Oxford and Miami University recently announced they will send a joint letter next month asking for a train stop in the city. Currently, Amtrak’s Cardinal Line runs through Oxford but doesn’t stop there. It’s a baby step for the idea of daily service in the region. Miami U and Oxford aren’t pushing for that, at least not yet — they’re just asking to be cut in on the already existing route. But the addition could demonstrate pent-up demand for rail travel in the area, especially from Millennials who are less likely to own a car.

• Finally, Congress is stuck in gear. Plenty of folks feel like our elected officials don’t represent the interests of the average American. So let’s get more power to a viable third party to get things moving again and provide a little more competition and representation, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. This Vox article highlights the complexities of that issue. The emergence of a powerful third party could grind the gears of government even further into dysfunction. Depressingly, it’s by virtue of the fact that most all our political structures are designed for, and maintained by, the two major parties that a hypothetical populist third party couldn’t work, according to the piece.

 
 
by Rick Pender 12.08.2014 12 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: A Ho-Ho-Whole Lotta ​Holiday Shows

If you want to go to the theater this weekend, you have plenty of choices, so long as you have the spirit of the season. Let's start with the familiar: Cincinnati Playhouse launched its 24th year of A Christmas Carol last week, and it's always a pleasure to see, featuring Bruce Cromer as Scrooge. But there are many more fine acting performances, including Ryan Wesley Gilreath as Bob Cratchit and Douglas Rees as the ebullient Mr. Fezziwig. Played out on a wingding of a set that spins and glitters and makes it possible to tell the story swiftly, Dickens' classic tale is a wonderful holiday tradition. Through Dec. 28. Tickets ($30-$85): 513-421-3888

Another tradition continues at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, where Sleeping Beauty is being revived for the fourth time. For 18 seasons, ETC has presented original shows by two local creators, playwright Joseph McDonough and composer David Kisor. It's a family-friendly piece that's conceived to entertain kids and adults with its innocent charm and a message that one person can truly make a difference. Many of ETC's regular actors return annually to do these shows, especially Deb G. Girdler (as the evil Wisteria) and Michael G. Bath (as her nefarious henchman). Intern Deirdre Manning is the sweet princess who sleeps for 100 years, and Terrance J. Ganser is both the prince who fulfills her curse and the one who breaks her free a century later. Especially enjoyable as a trio of mischievous fairies are Sara Mackie, Denise Devlin and Brooke Steele as Marigold, Lilac and Daisy. (They will be familiar to ETC audiences from several productions of the "Marvelous Wonderettes.") Through Jan. 4. Tickets ($28-$44): 513-421-3555

Lots of good holiday choices are up and running elsewhere: Forever Plaid – Plaid Tidings at the Covedale Center on the West Side; The Comedy of Errors at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company downtown; The Eight Reindeer Monologues at Falcon Theatre in Newport; and the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati's production of The Snow Queen at the Taft Theatre downtown.

If you prefer to avoid elves, nutcrackers and bah-humbugs, you should try Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical (CityBeat review here) at the Playhouse or The Bureau of Missing Persons, a the magical, mysterious production at Know Theatre (CityBeat review here).

Ho, ho, ho, indeed. That's enough theater to make anyone jolly.

Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 12.05.2014 15 days ago
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List (12/5-12/7)

Unless you want to stay in and watch holiday movies on Lifetime

Things that are true: Getting dressed for a night out when it's cold is hard because it's unacceptable to wear down comforters as ponchos. Other things that are true: It's unacceptable to stay in for an entire weekend to watch holiday-themed movies on Lifetime (because Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever was truly not a very good film). 

Instead, here are several reasons to get off the couch:

1. Alcohol.
  • The Comet in Northside is throwing Hopnosis 7, its craft beer festival, on Friday and Saturday. They're tapping 30 kegs of rare and debut beers over two days. 
  • Metropole at 21c is hosting a repeal day speakeasy party on Friday. Dress in costume; they'll provide the mustaches.
2. Holiday stuff.
  • Elf the Musical is at the Aronoff through Sunday. Not Will Ferrell, but still entertaining. 
  • If you like something more traditional — like choirs and churches — this weekend's Saengerfest is for you. More than 14 area choirs will be singing at a variety of OTR spaces, including St. Francis and the Moerlein brewery. They also have a shuttle to take you from place to place, so you don't have to walk.
  • Admission to the Taft Museum is free on Sundays. Check out their annual Antique Christmas exhibit, with a collection of nostalgic and unique ornaments, toys and decorations.
  • Trains! Everyone's favorite train display is back at Union Terminal. See the Duke Energy trains in Holiday Junction — 300 mini rail cars, 60 engines and more than 1,000 feet of sparkly, snow-covered track. (Duke energy customers get free entry when you go to here.)
  • The Shillito Elves are making their annual appearance in their Mariemont workshop. 
  • Sunday, at Mother of God church in Covington, Cincinnati Camerata presents an entire vocal program devoted to the Virgin Mary.
  • While you're out and about, grab a hot chocolate from any of our favorite hot chocolate spots in town, from the West Side to OTR.
3. Shopping.
  • If you missed City Flea and Crafty Supermarket last weekend, stop by the Oakley Fancy Flea Market at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley on Sunday.
4. Music
5. SPORTS!
  • Meet-and-greet current and former Reds plays at this weekend's Redsfest
6. Anacondas. (Stay on the couch for this one.)
  • The much-discussed episode of Eaten Alive is airing Sunday on Discovery. Wildlife filmmaker Paul Rosolie gets eaten by an Anaconda in the Amazon, and then emerges unscathed. Beforehand, watch Naked and Afraid with Seth Rogen and James Franco. 

 
 

 

 

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by Richard Lovell 12.19.2014 39 hours ago
Posted In: Food news, fundraising at 03:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ryan talking at table

Chef Ryan Santos and Please Looking for a Permanent Home

Their new kickstarter campaign is helping raise funds for a brick-and-mortar location

After four successful years as a pop-up dining experience in the downtown area and beyond, Please is looking for a permanent home. And chef and founder Ryan Santos has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the next step: a brick-and-mortar restaurant.   

Santos has been honing his culinary skills for nearly 10 years, having worked at his craft throughout the U.S. and in Europe with renowned chefs like Kevin Sousa and John Shields. Finding a spot to call home is only a natural progression for Please, known for using quality, locally grown produce and products to create new takes on classics and dream up inventive dishes like wild ohio venison with juniper branch or toasted milk ice cream. CityBeat sat down with Santos to discuss the Kickstarter campaign and what the future holds for Please. 

CityBeat: Why do you want to transition from a pop-up to a permanent location? 
Ryan Santos: Doing the pop-up has been great. It’s given me the freedom to find my voice and vision as a cook and a chef, to make mistakes, and learn greatly from them. But there comes a point when as a pop-up you can only take things to a certain level. We feel like we’ve plateaued at that point and are ready to keep pushing, improving and refining … We want something we can make and call our own, from the furniture to the food to the atmosphere. 

CB: You've been a pop-up restaurant for around four years now. Why is now the appropriate time for the transition? 
RS: I think the food scene here in town is really hitting its stride and I’ve grown to a point as a chef where I think what we do can contribute something meaningful to it. As well as our excitement to just be a part of it. 

CBWhat are your plans for a new restaurant? 
RS: We plan on continuing to do what we do. We want to open a restaurant where we continue to strive to be an honest, delicious, value-driven restaurant that continues to focus on creativity, quality and sourcing locally from the Ohio River Valley, Tristate and beyond. 

CB: What's going to be different about Please if it finds a permanent home? 
RS: The food will continue to grow, evolve and definitely we’ll be able to refine things. Right now with the pop-up it’s a lot of raw ideas, but in the format, it’s difficult to have the budget and time to refine dishes, so we are definitely looking forward to that. We’ll also have a bar with a fun beverage program. It’ll include our unique take on cocktails, a focus on local and European beers, and a wine program that focuses on natural, biodynamic and small producers. 

CB: If the Kickstar [campaign] succeeds, what's your timeline for finding a spot and opening? 
RS: The Kickstarter is also being supplemented by some private fundraising we’re still doing as well, so when all those things come together, we can get moving. We’re hoping to have a space and fundraising locked up and ready to start building out by this spring. 

You can help support their Kickstarter campaign here, or check out their website at pleasecincinnati.com. (A CityBeat 2013 cover story on Santos and Please is available here.)
 
 
by mbreen 12.19.2014 43 hours ago
Posted In: CEAs, Local Music, Live Music at 11:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cea15_logodate-whtandblkonblue

Voting for the 2015 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Starts Now

The ballot box is open for the public to vote for some of the best and brightest musical acts in Greater Cincinnati

The nominations for the 2015 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, honoring Greater Cincinnati’s fantastic music scene, were announced Wednesday and now it’s your turn to weigh in. 


Click here to go to the CEA ballot and vote now.


The 18th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony/party, where the winners for each category will be announced and several acts will perform, returns to Covington’s Madison Theater on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. So far, Young Heirlooms, Injecting Strangers, Mad Anthony, The Cliftones and Buggs tha Rocka are confirmed to play the CEAs this year. Stay tuned for further info; tickets are available here.


An educated voter is the best kind of voter, so why not actually check out some or all of the artists for whom you are voting? Below you will find links to the artists’ pages on the excellent local music site cincymusic.com (thanks, CIncyMusic!) featuring links, music, bios and more. (The final three “Critical Achievement” categories are not voted on by the public but rather the CEA nominating committee, but you should still totally check all of those acts out, too.) 


Happy voting!


Bluegrass:

Comet Bluegrass Allstars

Rumpke Mountain Boys

My Brother’s Keeper

Rattlesnakin’ Daddies

The Missy Werner Band

Mamadrones 


Country: 

Dallas Moore

Bulletville

Jeremy Pinnell

Noah Smith

90 Proof Twang

Pure Grain


Folk/Americana: 

Young Heirlooms

Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound

Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle

Elk Creek

The Tillers

Shiny and the Spoon


World Music/Reggae: 

The Cliftones

Junya Be

Lagniappe

Baoku Moses & the Image Afro-beat Band

Elementree Livity Project

Keshvar Project


Rock: 

Honeyspiders

Mad Anthony

Wussy

Buffalo Killers

Pop Goes the Evil

Frontier Folk Nebraska 


Metal/Hard Rock: 

Electric Citizen

Winterhymn

Chakras

Valley of the Sun

Zebras in Public

Close to Home


Singer/Songwriter: 

Arlo McKinley

Noah Smith

Jody Stapleton

Jeremy Pinnell

Rob Fetters

Molly Sullivan 


Indie/Alternative: 

DAAP Girls

The Yugos

PUBLIC

The Hiders

State Song

Injecting Strangers


Punk: 

Tweens

Subsets

Kill City

The Dopamines

Black Planet

Vacation


Blues: 

Ricky Nye

The Whiskey Shambles

Kelly Richey

Noah Wotherspoon

Sonny Moorman Group

John Ford


R&B/Funk/Soul: 

The Almighty Get Down

The Perfect Children

Under New Order

Ingrid Woode

Freekbass & The Bump Assembly

The Cincy Brass


Jazz: 

The Faux Frenchmen

Phil DeGreg and Brasilia

The Hot Magnolias

Art & Science

Blue Wisp Big Band

Animal Mother


Hip Hop: 

Eugenius

Eclipse

Buggs tha Rocka

Valley High

Trademark Aaron

Counterfeit Money Machine


Electronic: 

Ethosine

Dream Tiger

Playfully Yours

Black Signal

Dark Colour

umin


Best Live Act: 

The Almighty Get Down

Wussy

Tweens

Mad Anthony

Young Heirlooms

Injecting Strangers


Best Music Video: 

Wussy – “North Sea Girls”

Rob Fetters – “Desire”

Mad Anthony – “Sank for Days”

Injecting Strangers – “Detroit”

Sleep – “I Shot Lincoln”

Tweens - “Forever”

The Tillers – “Willy Dear”

Trademark Aaron – “Gold”


Critical Achievement Awards Album of the Year: 

Tweens – Tweens
Pop Goes the Evil – Love Stained Heart
500 Miles to Memphis – Stand There and Bleed
Wussy – Attica!
Rob Fetters – Saint Ain’t
Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound – Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound
The Almighty Get Down – People, This Is …
Buffalo Killers – Heavy Reverie


New Artist of the Year: 

Dream Tiger

Honeyspiders

PRIM

Elk Creek

Leggy

Noah Smith


Artist of the Year: 

Electric Citizen

Tweens

Mad Anthony

Wussy

The Tillers

Buffalo Killers


 
 
by Maija Zummo 12.19.2014 44 hours ago
Posted In: Fun, Events, Food, Drinking, Culture, Concerts, Comedy, Arts, Life, Holidays at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
drunk-santa-in-every-christmas-story-ever-told-@-cincy-shakes---photo-rich-sofranko

Your Weekend To Do List (12/19-12/21)

It's almost Christmas, so it's mostly holiday stuff

Since Christmas is next week (Thursday), there's a ton of holiday stuff to do this weekend — everything from plays and other onstage events to train displays and elves doing things.

Onstage:
  • Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some) (through Dec. 28 at Cincy Shakes): For seven seasons this mash-up of holiday tales has played to sold-out Cincinnati Shakespeare audiences. It starts as an annual performance of A Christmas Carol but goes off the tracks almost immediately to poke fun at the season and the stories we all remember — Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, The Island of Lost Toys, The Nutcracker, even It’s a Wonderful Life.
  • A Soldier's Christmas (through Dec. 21 at NKU's Corbett Theatre): Last summer Cincinnati Opera presented Silent Night, a retelling of the 1914 “Christmas Truce,” when World War I forces set aside their battles and marked the holiday. Local playwright Phil Paradis has rendered this story into a play that is being presented for the holidays. Two soldiers — one British, the other German — meet by chance as they seek warmth for their respective trenches.
  • Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings (through Dec. 21 at Covedale): The late-’50s singing group of Francis, Jinx, Smudge and Sparky died when a bus full of Catholic schoolgirls on their way to see the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show crashed into the Plaids’ car as they drove to an audition. In the sequel, they’re on a mission with heavenly guidance from Rosemary Clooney, who tells them harmony is needed to cheer a discordant world.
  • Amahl and the Night Visitors (Dec. 19-22 at Xavier University's Gallagher Center Theater): Amahl and the Night Visitors is Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s annual holiday gift, a multi-media extravaganza of the Christmas classic originally written for television in 1951. Gian Carlo Menotti’s one-act opera of the crippled boy Amahl and his encounter with the three wise men on their way to Bethlehem is a celebration of music, magic and miracles.
  • And, of course, A Christmas Carol (through Dec. at the Playhouse in the Park): Howard Dallin’s excellent adaptation has been used since 1991. The Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol features one of the Cincinnati area’s best local actors, Bruce Cromer, as Scrooge for the 10th consecutive year.
Off-stage but still holiday-ish

 

  • Grab a friend or family member and head to Fountain Square for some ice skating. The ice rink is up through Jan. 4, 2015 — and this weekend is the last weekend to skate with santa. The man in red hits the ice for some skate time on Saturday and Sunday.
  • BB Riverboats is offering a variety of holiday-themed cruises, including a Christian Moerlein Brew Ho Ho Ho dinner cruise with beer tastings on Saturday.  
  • The Cyclones are throwing an ugly sweater party during their game against the Elmira, N.Y. Jackals on Saturday. 
  • For an enlightening holiday experience, head to Union Terminal on Saturday and Sunday for their two-day Winter Solstice Celebration, highlighting end of year traditions like Chinese New Year, Diwali and Kwanzaa.
  • Take that a step further Sunday for the annual Lighting of the Serpent at Serpent Mound. Volunteers will light luminaries along the coils of the ancient effigy mound. 
  • And, another thing to see at Union Terminal: Holiday Junction. The Duke Energy trains are back through Jan. 4, 2015, with 300 mini rain cars, 60 engines and 1,000 feet of sparkly, snow-covered track. 
Music!
Over the Rhine

  • Folk duo Over the Rhine is continuing their annual Christmas tradition of performing a holiday concert at the Taft. Expect to hear songs from their recently released Blood Oranges in the Snow Saturday night.
  • Nashville, Tenn. quartet Steelism packed the house at this year's Midpoint Music Festival. Expect a similar crowd when the band plays MOTR Friday.
  • Guitar ace Adrian Belew plays the 20th Century Theater Sunday.
For more of what's going on this weekend (besides some last-minute gift shopping), check out our staff picks here.

 
 
by Rick Pender 12.19.2014 45 hours ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
soldiers christmas - aaron epstein_ jeffrey k. miller - photo mikki schaffner

Stage Door: Tears or Laughs

Take your pick with these holiday shows

It's unusual that we get a chance during the holidays to see a world premiere of a new play, but it's happening at Northern Kentucky University's Corbett Theatre, where New Edgecliff Theatre and Actor & Playwrights Collaborative are producing Phil Paradis's new script, Soldier's Christmas, through Sunday. The show commemorates the centennial of the memorable "Christmas Truce" in which British and German troops stopped fighting along the Western Front during World War I and came together to celebrate the holiday. I had the opportunity to see its opening performance last week, and I can assure you that it's worth your time. A strong cast of men play nine solders, especially focused on one Brit, Corporal Tug Wilson (Aaron Epstein) and one German, Sgt. Gerhardt Dietrich (Jeffrey K. Miller). They meet tentatively after a furious episode of hand-to-hand combat, seeking warmth. They recognize their common ground and slowly convince their fellow soldiers of the common humanity that they share, leading to a momentary celebratory event in which they sing carols in their own language and discover how much alike they are. These scenes are counterpointed by five actresses playing women — wives, mothers, sisters, lovers — of the soldiers, telling their stories in monologues and chorus-like passages. Paradis's script covers the emotional spectrum, from humor to pathos, from anguish to joy. Cincinnati theatrical veteran Robert Allen directed the piece, and he keeps it from become maudlin or unbelievable. In fact, the tale is deeply moving — not to mention profoundly sad when the men are all but forced to return to their trenches and the senseless warfare that they've momentarily escaped. Nevertheless, a thread of hope runs through Soldier's Christmas, an emotion that makes this seem fitting for the season. Tickets ($18-$22) are available for performances on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.

For something completely different, look for the hilarious production of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some) at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. This is the ninth consecutive year for Cincy Shakes to present this mash-up of holiday tales told by three inventive comic actors and one very drunk Santa Claus. I've seen the production, featuring Sara Clark, Billy Chace, Justin McComb and Miranda McGee (she's Santa with a can of Foster's and her native Australian accent) for several years running. Even when I know what's coming, I find myself laughing out loud. That's because the cast and director Jeremy Dubin refresh the material every year with topical references and new bits, so it you have to keep up with their quick wit and frequent ad libs. McComb is the goofy but mischievous innocent; Chace is a pompous hipster; and Clark is the Dickens devotee who tries to coax her colleagues to pull together for the greatest "BHC" (Beloved Holiday Classic) of them all, A Christmas Carol. They steadfastly refuse, spewing forth with machine-gun rapidity one sharp parody or silly take on these familiar stories . The second act (the entire performance is about 90 minutes with an intermission) seems to be headed into Scrooge territory, but it keeps veering off into It's a Wonderful Life — in the most delightful and daffy way. After awhile you begin to wonder whether these shows are all somehow connected. And in fact they are: with an exclamation point provided at the end with a rendition of "Every Christmas Carol Ever Sung," an amazing compilation of musical numbers spliced together. Tickets ($28) for this production are virtually sold out, but it's worth a call to see if you can get in, especially for tonight's special 11 p.m. performance. In case you're wondering, Cincy Shakes does have a liquor license so you can join in the good fun with a drink of you own. Box office: 513-381-2273.

Most every local stage in Cincinnati is presenting a holiday show this weekend, so check CityBeat's listings for more choices. It's a great weekend to go out and have fun at the theater.

Rick Pender's STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

 
 
by Samantha Gellin 12.18.2014 67 hours ago
Posted In: Commentary at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
from the copy editor

From the Copy Desk

In case you need a dictionary with the Dec. 17 issue of CityBeat

Good late morning readers! It's time to take another look at the Words Nobody Uses or Knows in this week's issue and the general absurdities of the English language.

I once spent a lot of time in Columbus teaching largely illiterate adults how to read and write English. (Most were recent immigrants from India.) And let me tell you, trying to explain a sentence like: "Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present" to a person with little or no English skills is tough. Or how about "The bandage was wound around the wound" or "She was close to the door so she closed it."

It's a complicated language, riddled with nuances and mysterious rules. The adults I taught, many of whom had never taken a formal English course in their lives, astounded me with their sheer enthusiasm to take it on.

It's hard, ya'll. Even I mess it up on a daily basis, and reading and writing is, like, my job. Reading CityBeat has expanded my arsenal of adult words, though, and it will expand yours, too. Pick up this week's issue! Read it! Learn!

OK, onto the best word in this week's issue: bifurcated, in Kathy Y. Wilson's fatigued editorial regarding the criminal justice system.

bifurcated: having two branches or peaks; forked (adj.)

In this issue: "In those hands, blackness morphs into rage, disappointment, property damage, protests, shame, splintered loyalties and proof, once and for all, that we are indeed living in Two Americas, a bifurcated landscape where, after all these generations together, we steadfastly still refuse to accept and/or respect the complexities of race."

Next best word is nadir, found in our cover story, a really interesting and well written piece on the litany of issues facing the county morgue and crime lab.

nadir: that point of the celestial sphere directly opposite to the zenith and directly below the observer; the lowest point (adj.)

In this issue: "Sales tax receipts in the county have grown $9 million since their recession nadir in 2009."

Next word is idyll. I can't figure out where this word actually appeared in the issue, but I know it's in there somewhere. I'll give you the definition anyway, because two words just isn't enough:

idyll (can always be spelled idyl): a short poem or prose work describing a simple, peaceful scene of rural or pastoral life; a scene or incident suitable for such a work (n.)

And here's a random sentence with it, via the Almighty Google: "But the appearance of a pastoral idyll conceals a poverty trap."

Happy holidays, readers.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.18.2014 69 hours ago
Posted In: News at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

Council passes tax deals; big announcement on Music Hall; this coffee has a little something extra

Hey y’all. Here’s a brief rundown of the news this morning before I have to fly out the door to cover a few things.

• City Council yesterday voted to approve a number of property tax-related items we’ve already reported on. But here are the cliff notes. Among the bigger ones was a controversial move to create two tax increment financing districts around properties owned by Evanston-based developer Neyer. The group has said it will be making big improvements to the area and asked the city to create the TIF districts to fund infrastructure improvements in the districts. Some critics have called this a tax abatement, but in reality, Neyer will stay pay taxes — they’ll just end up in a fund earmarked for public works projects around their buildings instead of flowing into the general fund, where they could be used for police, transit, etc. Council also passed an amendment at the request of Councilwoman Yvette Simpson requiring council approval of all expenditures from the fund. Councilman Chris Seelbach voted against the TIF districts.

• City Council also unanimously passed a 15-year tax abatement for a project in Clifton Heights by Gilbane Development Co. that will bring 180 units of student housing to the neighborhood. The abatement, which could be worth up to $12 million, is for the building’s proposed environmentally-friendly Silver LEED certification. Council voted unanimously for the tax break. This project was also controversial, as a number of residents in Clifton Heights say such developments are changing the character of the neighborhood.

• Believe in Cincinnati, the grassroots group responsible for pushing the streetcar forward last winter, is holding a rally today to launch an effort pushing council to make plans for the streetcar’s extension into uptown. City administration so far has no plans for such a study until the first phase of the project is complete and can be evaluated. Believe in Cincinnati would like to see the next phase planned soon so that the project can apply for grants and find other funding.

The rally will be at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Race and Elder streets near Findlay Market.

"Why shouldn't we get those scarce federal dollars for transit instead of another city? If we don't have a plan, we won't be considered," said the group’s leader Ryan Messer to the Cincinnati Business Courier.

• Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, Mayor John Cranley will hold a news conference at Music Hall, where he’s likely to announce that the landmark has won an Ohio historic tax credit worth millions. Representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Ohio Development Services Office will also speak at the press conference, along with state Sen. Bill Seitz. The grant is worth up to $25 million. Music Hall has been competing with Cleveland’s Huntington Building and May Co. department store and the former Goodyear Tire Co. headquarters in Akron. 

The historic hall, which is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and a number of other cultural institutions, needs $123 million in renovations. Funding efforts so far are still $40 million short. The state tax credit could go a long way toward filling that gap.

UPDATE: Music Hall will get the full $25 million tax credit.

• The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is investigating a grant program for public schools recently put forward by Gov. John Kasich. The Community Connections mentorship program conditions receipt of the grant on public schools’ collaboration with religious institutions, something the ACLU says may be violate separation of church and state under the constitution. The group is investigating the program further.

“The First Amendment of the Constitution provides very strong protection against the government imposing religion upon children in public schools,” said Heather Weaver of the ACLU Program on Religious Freedom and Belief in a news release. “This new program appears to disregard those protections and injects religion into our classrooms.”

• Continually low wages and changes to federal food assistance programs have been a one-two punch for low-income families in Ohio, a new study finds. The combination of stagnant pay and cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enacted last year mean that Ohioans lost access to the equivalent of 195 million meals since November of last year, according to research by the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, which provides food assistance across the state. The study showed that 50 percent of households receiving food assistance have at least one member who is employed; it also showed that many of those recipients are underemployed and received no boost in wages from the year prior. Tied to the $265 million cut to the SNAP program Congress enacted last year, that’s left many families worse off than they have been before. The cuts have other repercussions as well, according to the group.

“Our network and the people we serve can’t afford to absorb any more spending tradeoffs, reductions, or harmful policy changes,” said OAF Executive Director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt. “The loss of $265 million in entirely federally-funded SNAP benefits has already had an astronomical economic impact. Every $5 in federal expenditures of SNAP benefits generates $9 in local spending, so this loss of SNAP benefits has not only impacted the food budgets of low-income families — it has also led to an estimated $477 million in lost revenue for grocers and retailers and lost economic growth.”

• If you need a way to boost productivity around the office, well, this is one way to get that done. Or it might just start a ton of fights and paranoid ramblings. Actually, maybe just steer clear of this “enhanced” coffee shipped to Germany recently.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.17.2014 3 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
gun

Morning News and Stuff

$3 billion for friendlier flushing; Cleveland Browns wide receiver on Rice/Crawford shirt; state gun laws changing

All right. Since today is a bit of a slow news day and because I’ve spent the past few days working on this week’s cover story and news feature along with several blogs and the trusty morning news, let’s play catch-up today and go through the week’s stories I didn’t get to earlier. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

• What costs more than $3 billion and smells awful? No, it’s not the amount of sauerkraut Cincinnati consumes annually. It’s the city’s sewer system, which is facing a court-ordered upgrade. After a lawsuit by environmental group the Sierra Club and area homeowners tired of sewage in their basements, the city was ordered to revamp its aging sewer system over the next 20 years. That’s going to cost more than the streetcar and the two stadiums. The system is owned by Hamilton County but administered by the city. Upgrades plus normal annual operating costs are expected to cost ratepayers $395 million this year alone. Rates have gone from $250 in 2000 to a projected level of more than $800 in 2015. All that for a bunch of pipes.

• The fastest growing startup in Ohio is right here in Cincinnati. Ahalogy, a firm that helps companies market themselves using Pinterest, has gone from two employees in 2013 to more than 50 today. San Francisco-based Mattermark, which rates startups, gave Ahalogy the top spot in the state for the second year in a row due to its rapid growth. Local startup hubs like The Brandery and Cintrifuse helped the company rise so quickly. Ahalogy founders say the company is a good fit for Cincinnati because of the city’s strong consumer marketing scene.

• On Sunday, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a controversial t-shirt during warm ups before the team’s home game shellacking by the Bengals. The shirt said simply, “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford” on the front and “The Real Battle for Ohio” on the back.

Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer slammed Hawkins later that day, calling the shirt “pathetic.”

Follmer demanded Hawkins apologize.

"He's an athlete. He's someone with no facts of the case whatsoever," Follmer said. "He's disrespecting the police on a job that we had to do and make a split-second decision."

A very similar situation played out with St. Louis Rams players last month who ran out onto the field while imitating protesters’ “hands up, don’t shoot” pose in solidarity for activists. The St. Louis Police Union demanded an apology, while the team stuck behind its players.

Hawkins seems to have gotten the last word in the dispute. The Browns are standing behind him, and he gave this very thought-provoking interview Monday in which he stressed he respects the police, but couldn't stay silent against what he saw as injustice. Hawkins, who was visibly choked up, said he was motivated mostly by the thought of something similar happening to his two year old son.

“The number one reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality,” he said.

• It’s official: former Hamilton County Commissioner and Cincinnati City Councilman David Pepper is the Ohio Democratic Party’s new chairman. The state party’s executive committee elected Pepper last night after his main competitor, former lieutenant governor candidate Sharen Neuhardt, dropped out of the race. Pepper has indicated he’ll be asking another former statewide candidate, Nina Turner, to join the state’s leadership. Turner ran for secretary of state. The two will have a big job ahead — rebuilding after resounding losses statewide for the party.

• Here’s another catch-up story for you: the Ohio General Assembly has passed some important changes to the state’s gun laws. A new bill passed by both the state house and senate last week would recognize other states’ concealed carry permits without additional permitting, allow silencers on some hunting rifles, give a six-month grace period for military service members’ license renewals and disallow those with non-immigrant visas and dishonorable discharges from the military from getting handgun licenses. The bill does not include an earlier provision that would have set up a “stand your ground” type law in Ohio. The changes are currently awaiting Gov. John Kasich’s signature.

• 113th Congress, we hardly knew ye. Wait, yes we did, and we hated you. One of the least productive and lowest rated congressional sessions in the country’s history came to end yesterday when Barack Obama signed the body’s controversial $1 trillion “CRominubs” spending plan. At least they got something done. Over the last two years, Congress has passed just 200 laws, the least amount of legislating done in recent memory. For comparison, the last time that number was anywhere near that low was the infamous “do nothing” Congress of 1948-1949, which passed more than 900 pieces of legislation. Way to go guys!

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.16.2014 4 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
gilbanecliftondevelopment-600x887

Morning News and Stuff

City tax deals for developers draw scrutiny; streetcar passes selling briskly; Bush vs. Clinton: the rematch?

Good morning all. It’s like, 8 a.m. and I’ve already experienced utter, terrifying confusion today. Normally that doesn’t happen until at least noon. Earlier, I woke up to a loud, continuous peal of thunder, which stupefied me in my half-awake state because it’s, you know, December and that usually doesn’t happen. I thought my house was falling down or exploding or something. Then I fell back asleep.

Anyway, news time. Is the city doing some shady dealing on tax breaks? City Council’s Neighborhood Committee yesterday approved a number of property tax deals city officials say will help spur development and job growth. The committee is made up of all members of Council, so passage here means the measures are pretty much a done deal. Some critics, however, question whether the tax deals are in the city’s best interest.

Drawing special scrutiny was a pair of proposed TIF districts in Queensgate and the West End. The narrowly drawn districts would encompass properties owned by Evanston-based developer Neyer, which is mulling some as-yet-unnamed but said to be large-scale improvements to the property. The TIF measures would set aside property taxes paid on those improvements for public infrastructure projects within the districts, instead of that money flowing into the city’s general fund. The measures were last minute additions to the agenda, and some, including downtown resident Kathy Holwadel, are suspicious. Holwadel penned an opinion piece for the Cincinnati Enquirer pointing out that the city doesn’t have any idea what it will use the TIF money for, which is unusual.

Others have pointed out that various members of the Neyer family were Mayor John Cranley's second-largest donors during last year's mayoral election, kicking him more than $26,000. Critics ask if the administration is giving the developer special deals.

The TIF districts don't represent out-and-out tax exemptions and Council will still have to vote on future uses of the taxes put in the TIF fund.

Councilwoman Yvette Simpson at the meeting yesterday raised concerns that the TIF money would only go toward projects that benefit the developer and suggested a larger TIF district that would allow the city to spend the collected money on a wider area. City officials say state laws have limited the amount of money larger TIF districts can accumulate. Simpson abstained on the vote. Councilman Chris Seelbach voted against the districts.

• The committee also approved a number of other tax deals, including a 15-year, $12 million tax exemption for Gilbane Development Co. on its proposed development project in Clifton Heights. This project has also been controversial, with residents saying there is already too much student-oriented housing like the Gilbane project in the neighborhood. Stay tuned for our in-depth story on that in the print edition tomorrow.

• The family of John Crawford III will file a lawsuit against the officers involved in his shooting as well as the Walmart corporation. Crawford was shot by police officer Sean Williams in a Beavercreek Walmart while carrying a pellet gun Aug. 5. The family's attorneys, as well as Crawford's father, will announce more details about the lawsuit at a news conference at 11 a.m. today in Dayton.

• The special edition Cincinnati streetcar passes Metro is offering have raised more than $40,000 so far, the department reports. The commemorative metal cards get riders 15, 30 or 60 days of unlimited rides on the streetcar for $25, $50 and $100, respectively. If you’re still thinking about getting one, better hurry — 1,000 of the 1,500 cards produced have already sold.

• Would you kayak in the Ohio River? If so, you’ll be excited about this. The Covington City Commission will decide today whether to enter into a partnership with Queen City Water Sports Club to design and build a facility on the former location of Jeff Ruby’s Waterfront restaurant where people can rent canoes and kayaks. The boat that housed Waterfront sank in August, and now the city is looking for new uses for the property where it was docked.

• Former Hamilton County Commissioner and Cincinnati City Councilman David Pepper looks likely to become the Ohio Democratic Party’s next chairman after his closest opponent, former lieutenant governor candidate Sharen Neuhardt, dropped out of the race yesterday. Pepper ran for attorney general in the last election but was beaten by incumbent Republican Mike DeWine. If he wins, he’ll replace outgoing chair Chris Redfern, who resigned after the Democrats faced big losses in November.

• Nineties nostalgia is so hot right now. Doc Martens are on every foot. People are listening to Soundgarden unironically again. Flannel shirts, etc. If you’re really wanting to party like it’s 1992 again, though, you may soon get your chance. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is looking more and more like he’s going to jump into the race to become the Republican nominee for the presidency. He’s releasing a book. He’s raising some cash. His most likely opponent? Democratic nominee frontrunner Hillary Clinton, of course. If those last names don’t ring a deep, deja-vu inducing bell, don’t worry. Those Bush vs. Clinton tees are going to look great at an Urban Outfitters near you. America: where anyone can become president, but especially anyone from a wealthy political dynasty. Woo!

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.15.2014 5 days ago
Posted In: News at 05:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Crawford Family to File Lawsuit Over Police Shooting

Suit names officers, Beavercreek police chief and Walmart

The family of John Crawford III, the 22-year-old Fairfield man a Beavercreek police officer shot Aug. 5 in a Walmart, is filing a lawsuit against Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers, officers Sean Williams and David Darkow and the Walmart corporation, the family’s lawyers announced today via a news release.

Officer Williams shot Crawford, a Fairfield resident who grew up in Cincinnati, in the Walmart after another customer, Ronald Ritchie, called 911 to report a man loading a gun and pointing it at customers in the store. Ritchie later contradicted that statement in interviews with the media, stating Crawford wasn’t actually pointing the gun at anyone. The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun sold by Walmart. Video footage of the event released by Attorney General Mike DeWine weeks later does not conclusively show Crawford threatening anyone with the weapon.

A grand jury on Sept. 24 declined to indict Williams for the shooting.

Many have drawn parallels between Crawford’s death and the Aug. 9 police shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was unarmed when officer Darren Wilson shot and killed him. The incident has sparked months of protests and civil unrest in Ferguson and across the country. Those protests intensified when a St. Louis County grand jury announced Nov. 24 that it would not indict Wilson.

The Crawford family’s lawyers, as well as Crawford’s father John Crawford, Jr., will hold a press conference in Dayton tomorrow at 11 a.m. to discuss the details of the lawsuit.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.15.2014 5 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Greenpeace activists sentenced; 4th and Race development back on, maybe; video shows harsh police interrogation after Crawford shooting

Morning all. Here’s the news today.

Eight Greenpeace activists arrested for hanging huge banners from P&G headquarters in March were found guilty and sentenced Friday after accepting a deal allowing them to plea down to misdemeanor charges. The group will have to perform 80 hours of community service and will be placed on probation for one year. The group was protesting P&G’s use of palm oil and the company’s role in deforestation. Originally, the group faced felony charges that could have meant more than nine years in prison. Prosecutors offered the plea deal earlier this month after P&G officials said they had begun working with Greenpeace on the issue and signaled they’d like to see a lighter sentence for the activists. A ninth protester died in California last month.

• A stalled deal to build a residential office tower downtown at Fourth and Race streets may be back on. The 16-17 story development, at least as it is planned this time around, would have 208 units of housing, a 925-space parking garage that the city will lend 3CDC $4 million to build and 25,000 square feet of retail space. Mayor John Cranley’s chief of staff Jay Kincaid told the Cincinnati Business Courier that the deal cuts back on some of the past plan’s overly-generous concessions to developer Flaherty and Collins. Originally, the tower was to be 30 stories tall and include 300 units of housing. That deal hinged on a $12 million forgivable loan from the city which has been cut in the new deal. City Council’s Neighborhoods Committee will likely vote on the agreement today, after which it could go for a full council vote on Wednesday.

• Cincinnati’s Metro system is gearing up for the year ahead. The transit program announced its new CEO Dwight Ferrell last week and held its big annual public meeting last Friday. Ferrell, who ran Atlanta’s streetcar system before coming here, will lead Metro as it looks to attract more riders, including Millennials, while better serving low-income residents who depend on its services. It also needs to get ready to run the streetcar and build new regional partnerships outside the city. Ok. You have 365 days. Go!

• Treatment for opiate addiction is nearly on par with alcoholism in the state, according to data from Ohio treatment centers. 33 percent of those treated in such facilities were there for alcoholism this year, while 32 percent where there for addiction to some form of opiate. That’s twice as many as were seeking treatment for opiate abuse six years ago. Experts say that doesn’t necessarily mean as many people are addicted to opiates in the state as alcohol, but it does show the alarming increase in abuse of the drug.

• Protests over what activists call racial inequities in the justice system have continued across the country, and Cincinnati has been no exception. A rally planned by the Cincinnati chapter of the National Action Network took place Friday afternoon at the Hamilton County Justice Center and a march from Fountain Square to Washington Park drew more than 100 people Saturday. That march was organized by individual activists in solidarity with ongoing protests in Ferguson, Mo., and enormous marches in New York City and Washington, D.C.. The latter was attended by the parents of John Crawford III, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown and others whose children have died at the hands of police. Police shot Crawford, from Fairfield, in a Beavercreek Walmart this summer while holding a pellet gun. Cleveland Police shot Rice last month on a playground. He was also holding a toy weapon. As activists continue to protest, they’ve also widened their focus. On Saturday, for example, a group of organizers will hold a teach-in at the downtown public library at 11 a.m.

• On a final, and really just unbelievable note, The Guardian has published a video showing Beavercreek Police's aggressive interrogation of Crawford's girlfriend Tasha Thomas immediately following Crawford's shooting. You can read the story and see the video here.

 
 
 
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