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by German Lopez 10.16.2012
 
 
voterfraud

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.

State Rep. Alicia Reece, a Democrat, is not happy with what she sees as another attempt at voter suppression. Reece claims a new billboard, which reads “Voter Fraud is a Felony,” is meant to intimidate voters — particularly voters in low-income and black neighborhoods. The company hosting the billboards says there are 30 billboards like it in Greater Cincinnati and the sponsor of the billboards, who chose to remain anonymous, did not ask to target any specific demographic.

The second presidential debate is tonight at 9 p.m. All eyes are on President Barack Obama to deliver a better performance than he did in the last debate against Mitt Romney. The media was quick to jump on the post-debate bounce in polls Romney experienced a mere week after the debate, but political scientists say debates typically don’t have much political significance in the long term. Still, the debate will be a good opportunity for Obama and Romney to flesh out their positions and show their abilities to reach out to the public. The full schedule of the remaining debates can be found here. The agreed-upon rules to the debates were leaked yesterday. One notable rule says the candidates may not ask each other any direct questions during any of the debates. Both the Romney and Obama campaigns made a fuss about tonight's debate moderator possibly asking follow-up questions.

But the debate isn’t the only important presidential test this week. While in Youngstown, Paul Ryan, Republican vice presidential nominee, tried to show he can pass the dish washing test, but little did he know that savvy media outlets were ready to call him out on his dishonesty. Brian Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said Ryan was only at the group’s soup kitchen for the picture and didn’t do much work. The visit apparently angered Antal, who said his charity group is supposed to be nonpartisan.

The race for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat saw its first of three debates yesterday. At the debate, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel agreed on very little, and they did not have many kind words for each other. Mandel criticized Brown for the auto bailout, liberal economic policies and inability to get a budget through the Senate. Brown criticized Mandel for alleged cronyism in the state treasurer’s office, dishonesty on the campaign trail and support for trickle-down economics. The next debate is in Columbus on Thursday, and the two men will face off one last time in Cincinnati on Oct. 25.

Ohio is still weighing options regarding a Medicaid expansion. Critics of the expansion are worried the expansion would cost the state too much money. However, previous research shows Medicaid expansions can actually save states money by lowering the amount of uncompensated care. Medicaid expansions in other states also notably improved lives.

One analyst says Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble will see stronger growth in the future.

A controversial ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court is sparking some local debate. The ruling said juveniles are not entitled to an attorney during police interrogations preceding a charge or initial appearance at juvenile court. Under state law, juveniles are allowed to have attorneys during “proceedings,” and the Ohio Supreme Court interpreted “proceedings” to mean “court proceedings.”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced 6,665 new entities filed to do business in Ohio in September. The number is up from September 2011, when 6,143 new entities filed to do business; but it’s down from August 2012, when 7,341 entities asked to do business in Ohio. The numbers show a steady economic recovery.

The Ohio Turnpike may get a few changes soon. A new Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) study shows a few options for Gov. John Kasich’s administration: lease the turnpike, give it over to ODOT or leave it alone. If the turnpike is leased or handed over to ODOT, tolls will likely rise to keep up with inflation and two maintenance facilities will shut down. However, the revenue generated could be used for new transportation projects — a goal for the Kasich administration. Kasich is set to make his decision in about a month.

In other Ohio Turnpike news, Turnpike Director Rick Hodges announced turnpike tow truck companies will soon be paid less but allowed to charge customers more.

Scientists want to measure human consciousness. The technology could gauge whether vegetative patients retain any awareness.

 
 
by Ben L. Kaufman 10.17.2012
 
 
enquirer

Curmudgeon Notes 10.17.2012

Media musings on Cincinnati and beyond

• Look at the rare collection of Enquirer photos at the National Underground Freedom Center.  They’ve been reprinted and for many, reprinted copies of original pages are nearby.

The show is part of the much larger Fotofocus at many venues. Unfortunately, the Enquirer chose the Freedom Center which charges $12 admission; many Fotofocus displays are in admission-free venues such as the YWCA or UC’s Gallery on Sycamore.

I think the oldest photo is from 1948, a one-legged veteran leading a parade to commemorate the end of WWI 30 years earlier. Many are by photographers with whom I worked and whose images I displayed large on local pages during weekends when I edited. Some are recent, by photographers I admire but know only from their images in the paper. 

To its credit, the Enquirer exhibit includes unpublished photos of which the photographers are justly proud. First among them is Gary Landers’ image of a homicide victim illuminated by an officer’s flashlight behind Landers’ home.

Missing are two images that remind me of what photojournalism is about. One is Gerry Wolters’ stunning — and in its time, controversial Pulitzer contender — of a dead African-American lying in a pool of his blood on the Avondale street where he’d been shot by a bailbondsman. Standing over him is the dead man’s young son. Some readers said our photo would ruin the child’s life. No, I told callers, if anything would it was his father’s killing. 

The other missing photo was one that wasn’t published by the paper: Glenn Hartong’s firefighter carrying a toddler from a burning house. I’m told that editors flinched because they didn’t know if the child survived. So what? That faux humanity illustrates Enquirer execs’ fear of readers tossing their cookies into the Cheerios. Such touchy-feely screening sanitizes what can be a nasty, brutish and short life and lifestyle in our region. Life Magazine published Hartong’s photo across two pages and someone posted it in the Enquirer newsroom coffee alley. It doesn’t get better than that.

In the Good Old Days, before self-inflicted sensitivity, the Enquirer had a unapologetic double standard for violent images. If the victim were local, the photo might be spiked to avoid upsetting readers. An example was the half-excavated body of a recognizable young construction worker suffocated in a trench cave-in.  Distant victims — executions, genocide or bodies in floods/earthquakes — were likelier to be displayed.

And even before the Good Old Days, Ed Reinke’s iconic photo of a line of shrouded bodies from the 1977 Beverly Hills supper club fire gave a sense of magnitude to the disaster that our best reporting couldn’t. It’s the first photo in the exhibit, preceded by a warning that some images could be troubling. They should be. I don’t know if Reinke’s photo would be used today.

• Ohio’s Sherrod Brown is among the Democratic senators targeted by out-of-state billionaire GOP donors. He’s an unapologetic liberal and the Progressive monthly made Brown’s re-election battle its latest cover story. A point I’d missed elsewhere is the unusual state FOP endorsement for a Democrat but Brown stood with officers against Republican legislation stripping them of most of their bargaining rights.

The Progressive story includes a Mason-area jeweler whose health insurer refused to pay for an advanced cancer treatment. Husband and wife say Reps. Jean Schmidt and John Boehner brushed off their pleas to intervene with the insurer. A Brown staffer — who said she didn’t care what party the Republican couple belongs to — spent the weekend successfully persuading the insurer to cover the potentially life-saving $100,000 procedure.

More recently, reporters on Diane Rehm’s public radio show estimated SuperPACs are spending $20 million to defeat Brown and suggested it might not suffice. As a DailyBeast.com columnist notes, polls show Republican Josh Mandel probably won’t even carry his home Jewish community in Cleveland.

• That same Progressive names 26 billionaires and their known donations to Republican and other rightwing causes in this election year. No Cincinnati-area men or women made the list but it’s reasonable to infer that some of the men listed donated secretly to Super PACs opposing Ohio’s Sherrod Brown’s re-election (see above).

• As one of that dying breed — an Enquirer subscriber who prefers print —  my morning paper is missing a lot. Customer service provided a free online copy and promised to deliver the missing paper paper the next day. Next day? Another customer service rep said only replacement Sunday Enquirers are delivered the same day. Message? Don’t stiff advertisers.

• The ad on the top half of the back page of the Oct. 11 Enquirer Local section invited everyone to a Romney-Ryan “victory event” on Oct. 13 at Lebanon’s Golden Lamb. The bold, black ad headline on the bottom half of the page was “The #1 dishwasher is also a best value.”

• Want to know more about Sarah Jones, the former Ben-Gal and school teacher who admitted to sex with a 17-year-old student? Among others, London’s Daily Mail has enough to satisfy anyone who doesn’t need to see a sex tape.

• Don’t piss off Turks. That’s a lesson lots of people have learned to their pain over the generations. No one will be surprised if Turkish forces invade Syria to end Syrian shelling of Turkish civilians.  Turkish troops have gone into Iraq to deal with threatening rebellious Turkish Kurds seeking sanctuary there.  Turkey is a NATO member and NATO says it will defend Turkey if required. A couple English-language websites can complement the snippets about this aspect of Syria’s civil war: aljazeera.com from the Gulf and hurriyetdailynews.com from Turkey. 

The New York Times stepped back from the slippery slope of allowing subjects of news stories to say what news is fit to print. It allowed some sources to review and possibly change their quotes before reporters used them. In July, Times reporter Jeremy Peters blew the whistle on the Times and other major news media. The alternative to quote approval often was the threat of no interview. Initially, the Times defended the practice. No longer. Jimromenesko.com reported the change.

Times executive editor Jill Abramson told Romenesko that  quote approval “puts so much control over the content of journalism in the wrong place . . . We need a tighter policy.”

Romenesko quoted a recent Times memorandum that said “demands for after-the-fact quote approval by sources and their press aides have gone too far . . . The practice risks giving readers a mistaken impression that we are ceding too much control over a story to our sources. In its most extreme form, it invites meddling by press aides and others that goes far beyond the traditional negotiations between reporter and source over the terms of an interview . . . So starting now, we want to draw a clear line on this. Citing Times policy, reporters should say no if a source demands, as a condition of an interview, that quotes be submitted afterward to the source or a press aide to review, approve or edit.”

Good. Here’s my question: What happens when a beat reporter can’t get an important interview after citing Times policy? Access is everything. Few people who want media attention will turn away the Times, but editors can get weird when reporters can’t get a desired interview. 

• Daily papers own and are members of the Associated Press. In their rush to be first, AP reporters used social media to get out the news and scooped member papers whose editors hadn’t seen the stories yet. That went over badly in today’s breathlessly competitive world. AP promises it won’t use social media until after breaking news is sent to members and non-member subscribers.
• It’s time for the news media to abandon “reverse discrimination” when the purported victim is white and English-speaking. It’s an issue again because the U.S. Supreme Court is reconsidering university racial admission criteria. A young woman claims the University of Texas rejected her because she is white. 

Discrimination is discrimination; someone is favored and someone is rejected. I won’t anticipate the court’s decision but the ethical issue is whether the community’s or the individual’s compelling interests are paramount when discrimination becomes policy and practice. Moreover, demographic trends could make “reverse discrimination” obvious nonsense if Anglos become a minority among newly-hyphenated and darker-skinned Americans and immigrants from Latin America, Africa and Asia.

 • We’ve seen three debates, two presidential, one veepish. The third was Tuesday or last night if you’re reading this on Wednesday. I missed it; I was fishing in Canada. Other journalists will tell you what you heard really means. I’ll catch up when I get home. At least the Biden-Ryan contest was lively and the moderator asked smart, sharp questions and kept the politicians under control.

• The vice president and challenger had disturbingly weird expressions when they listened. Biden’s smile recalled a colleague’s remark after waterskiing with me: “I saw Ben smile and he wasn’t baring his teeth.” Worse, Biden’s expression could appear to be a smirk.  Ryan’s intensity reminded me of a predator wondering about its next meal. Neither appearance had anything to do with the substance of the debate but it’s how we tend to judge people we don’t know. My question: Is this really how we choose the man one heartbeat away from leadership of The Free World (whatever the hell that means)?

• Viewers — and these performances are TV events — worry me. Too many tell reporters and pollsters that their votes can be influenced by how the candidates came across in the debates. The president and vice president do not belong to debating societies. This isn’t Britain’s House of Commons.  The ability to “win” a televised encounter has little or nothing to do with the job for which the men are contesting. Winners won’t debate until and unless they seek office again.

• News media would be in doldrums if there weren’t stories to write before and after each debate. They burn space and time when little else is happening - if you discount the economy, pestilence, war, famine, etc.

• Stories I didn’t read beyond the headlines. One’s from HuffingtonPost.com:
"Lindsay Lohan Reveals Her Pick For President"
The other is from the Thedailybeast.com:
"LINDSAY LOHAN PICKS MITT! & OTHER TOXIC ENDORSEMENTS"

 
 
by German Lopez 11.06.2012
 
 
120413_obama_romney_4x3.photoblog600

Morning News and Stuff

Election Day is today. Find your correct polling booth here. Check out CityBeat’s endorsements here.

After a year of campaigns, the race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is almost over. All eyes are on Ohio to decide the presidential election. In aggregate polling, Obama leads Romney by 2.9 points in Ohio and 0.7 points nationally. FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ electoral forecast model, gives Obama a 91.4 percent chance to win Ohio and a 91.6 percent chance to win the election. The New York Times also has an interactive flowchart to gauge both Obama's and Romney's paths to victory.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown leads Republican challenger Josh Mandel by 5 points in aggregate polling. CityBeat covered the policy and campaign differences between the two candidates in coverage of the first, second and third debate and a cover story.

Gov. John Kasich has taken a noticeable shift to the center and considered less divisive ideas in recent months, and some of that might be to help Romney’s electoral chances in Ohio. In the past two years, Kasich went from supporting SB 5, which would have limited collective bargaining for public employees, to focusing almost entirely on jobs.

While we focus on voting on Earth, astronauts in space also vote.

Hamilton County Commission President Greg Hartmann, a Republican, laid out his budget plan yesterday. Hartmann touted “austerity” as a prominent theme in the budget. Austerity measures actually led Europe into a second recession, according to prominent economist Robert Reich. This matches the opinion of other economists, such as Nobel-winning Paul Krugman, who argue governments should try to make up for shortfalls in the private sector through increased spending during recessions. Recently, the International Monetary Fund admitted it underestimated the bad economic impact of austerity measures. Still, Hamilton County is required to balance its budget, so the commissioners don’t have many options. Todd Portune, the lone Democratic commissioner, says he will unveil his plan later.

The new Jungle Jim’s at Eastgate is having a large, positive impact on its neighbors. The exotic grocery store has apparently brought a lot of new paying customers to the area.

Cincinnati’s Oakley neighborhood might soon put its traffic problems in the past. City Council is expected to vote on a plan Wednesday that would block three streets in the neighborhood. Residents have complained traffic is out of control because of development at the Rookwood Exchange in Norwood, and traffic could get worse due to the holiday shopping season.

Workers injured during the construction of Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino are looking for a way around workers comp rules. The exemption-seeking lawsuit filed by four workers against 13 defendants is typical in Ohio law, which generally prevents workers from suing employers over workplace injuries since Ohio’s compensation rules provide ways to obtain missing wages and other potential damages.

Time Warner Cable is hiring for more than 50 positions in Cincinnati.

A new partnership between the Memorial Hall Society, 3CDC and Hamilton County’s commissioners may revitalize Hamilton County’s Memorial Hall. The hall is one of Hamilton County’s architectural treasures, but a lack of renovations has left it behind modern developments, including air conditioning.

Some of Ohio’s exotic animal owners are not happy with a new law that requires registering and micro-chipping exotic animals, so they are suing the state.

A Cleveland woman that drove on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus that was unloading children will have to wear a sign that says, “Only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.” She will have to wear the sign at an intersection for one hour a day for two days next week.

An Ohio woman broke into a family’s house, cleaned the house and left a $75 bill.

On Sunday, an amputee climbed 103 stories using a mind-controlled bionic leg. Oh, science.

 
 
by German Lopez 10.15.2012
 
 
sherrod brown

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.

The first of three debates for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat is today. Incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel will meet for the first time to prove who has the better vision for the state. Democrats have repeatedly criticized Mandel for dishonesty and dodging questions. Republicans have criticized Brown for supporting President Barack Obama’s policies, including the auto bailout and Obamacare. A more substantive analysis of the candidates’ differences can be found here. In aggregate polling, Brown currently leads by five points. The debate will be at 12:30 p.m. on C-SPAN.   

Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice president, will be in Cincinnati today. Ryan’s event will take place at Lunken Airport at noon. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, was in Lebanon Saturday. With the second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Romney tomorrow, both campaigns are turning up the events in Ohio, a state that is widely considered a must-win for both candidates. According to aggregate polling, Obama still holds Ohio by 2.2 points despite a nationwide post-debate bounce in the polls for Romney. 

Bicyclists rejoiced Saturday as McMillan Street was converted back into a two-way street. William Howard Taft Road will undergo a similar transition Oct. 20. The conversion of both roads came thanks to the approval of Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who pushed the motion in order to revitalize the business sector in the neighborhood.

The rest of Ohio’s school report card data will be released Wednesday. The report card data grades schools to see how school districts are doing in a variety of categories. The release for the data was initially delayed due to an ongoing investigation by the state auditor that’s looking into accusations of attendance reporting fraud at some school districts. Previously, the state auditor released preliminary findings criticizing some school districts and the Ohio Department of Education for some findings regarding attendance fraud.  

A new report found Cincinnati still has a lot of work to do. The city ranked No. 10 out of 12 similar cities. Cincinnati excelled in job creation and housing opportunities, but it did poorly in categories regarding migration and age.

Bob Taft, former Republican governor of Ohio, is going green. The Ohio Environmental Council is rewarding Taft for standing up for the environment during his gubernatorial term.

Ohio’s stricter laws for exotic animals convinced one pet owner to move her two tigers to Indiana.

Some guy broke the sound barrier with his body yesterday.

 
 
by German Lopez 10.22.2012
 
 
Mitt Romney

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.

The final presidential debate is tonight. It will cover foreign policy. The debate will likely focus on the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya and Iran’s nuclear program. Whatever happens, political scientists say debates typically have little-to-no electoral impact. In aggregate polling, Obama is up 2.2 points in Ohio and Romney is up 0.3 points nationally. Ohio is considered a must-win for Romney, and it could play the role of 2000's Florida. The debate begins at 9 p.m. It will be streamed live on YouTube and C-SPAN.

CityBeat will host a debate party tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Come watch the debate and live tweet. Councilman Chris Seelbach will make an appearance. If you can’t show up, at least tweet if you watch the debate with the hashtag #cbdebate. Check out the event’s Facebook page for more information.

If Gov. John Kasich gets his way, 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees will be completable in three years by 2014. The move intends to raise graduation rates and save money for students. Currently, very few students graduate in three years. Only 1 percent of Miami University students and 2 percent of University of Cincinnati students graduate that quickly.

Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee, a new education policy approved by Kasich that requires all students to be proficient in reading in third grade before they can move onto fourth grade, could cause 40 percent of students to be held back in some schools. The policy is meant to encourage better progress and higher reading standards, but some studies have found retention has negative effects on children. 

The Urban League of Greater Cincinnati announced a merger and expansion into Dayton. The organization will now be called the Urban League of Southwest Ohio.

Greater Cincinnati home sales ticked up in September, but there was some slowdown.

The end of the Scripps trust that funded the Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Company could lead to the end of a few newspapers. But Ohio will not be affected; the company no longer owns newspapers in the state.

Plant identification has never been easier at Cincinnati parks.

University of Cincinnati researchers are using a $2.7 million grant to see if there’s a difference between generic versus brand drugs for transplant patients. The study could potentially save money and lives.

Tired of traditional bridges? Meet the trampoline bridge.

 
 
by German Lopez 10.23.2012
 
 
barack obama 2

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.

The final presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was last night. The general consensus from media pundits is Obama won by a substantial margin. But political scientists say debates typically have negligible electoral impact. In aggregate polling, Obama is up in Ohio by 1.9 points and Romney is up nationally by 0.6 points. Ohio is looking like a must-win state for both campaigns, so Obama’s advantage there is a very bad sign for Romney. FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ election forecast blog, has an explanation of how and why the current electoral landscape favors Obama.   

In a follow-up to the debate, Romney will be visiting Greater Cincinnati Thursday.

A new motion by City Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan could encourage more people and businesses to make use of the city’s LEED program. The program uses special tax exemptions to encourage buildings to be cleaner and greener. 

Cincinnati’s City Planning Commission approved Plan Cincinnati Friday. With the approval, the plan’s only hurdle is City Council. If passed, the plan will reform city policies to put a new emphasis on the city’s urban core. That means a cleaner, greener city with more transportation options, ranging from walking and biking to the streetcar and rail. CityBeat wrote about Plan Cincinnati here. The full plan can be found here.  

Three Republicans in the state legislature, including Cincinnati’s Sen. Bill Seitz and Rep. Louis Tehrar, introduced a bill that would require health insurance providers to cover autism. Critics say the move could cost small businesses too much during an economic downturn, but supporters say it’s necessary to Ohio’s mental health coverage requirement, which was passed in 2007. Seitz says the bill could also save money by bringing down special education costs.

In a sign of Ohio's education funding problems, one report found two of three Ohio school levies are asking for additional funding. But Cincinnati Public Schools’ (CPS) levy will only not ask for extra funding or higher taxes; instead, it asks for funding and taxes to remain the same. CityBeat covered Issue 42, the CPS levy, in-depth here. 

A new report found Ohio students graduate with more debt than most of the nation. The report named the state a “high debt state” with an average of $28,683 in student loans — above the national average of $26,600.

Despite what a recent conflict between Commissioner Greg Hartmann and Mayor Mark Mallory implies, Cincinnati and Hamilton County are working together. The city and county are cooperating on the Banks project, funding the Port Authority and operating the Metropolitan Sewer District. 

Cincinnati is working harder to enforce a chronic nuisance disorder. A property is classified as a chronic nuisance when it surpasses a certain amount of crimes and violations. The law is meant to hold property owners accountable for what happens in their buildings.

There are more signs that Ohio’s fracking boom may not be sustainable. Natural gas producers are not seeing the profits they expected from the boom. For many, the boom is quickly turning into a bust. Still, natural gas prices have massively dropped, and an analysis at The Washington Post suggests natural gas could play an important role in reducing carbon emissions. CityBeat wrote in-depth about the fracking boom in Ohio and the faulty regulations on the industry here. 

The Ohio Board of Regents is using a grant to award 1,300 associate degrees to transfer students over two years.

Fourteen recreational trails in Ohio will get $1.6 million in federal funding, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. However, none of the trails are in Hamilton County.

The key to humanity: cooked food.

 
 
by German Lopez 09.27.2012
 
 
josh_mandel headshot

Morning News and Stuff

In an ad accusing Josh Mandel, a Republican, of lying, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign team may have lied, according to PolitiFact. The U.S. senatorial campaign for Ohio’s senate seat has been filled with dishonesty, but it usually comes from Mandel. The dishonesty seems to be hurting Mandel more than Brown; Mandel is currently down 7.5 points in aggregate polling numbers.

Mandel is being taken to court by liberal blog Plunderbund. The blog claims Mandel has made it extra difficult to get public records.

Preliminary data for Ohio schools was released yesterday. Some data is still being held back while an investigation into fraudulent reporting from some schools is finished, but the data gives some insight into how schools performed during the 2011-2012 school year. The data can be found here. From a local angle, the data shows Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) did not meet “adequate yearly progress,” a federal standard that measures progress in student subgroups, such as minority groups; but CPS did meet standards for “value-added growth,” which measures the expected progress in state testing for all students between the third and eighth grades.

City Council approved the $29 million financing plan for the streetcar yesterday. The plan will use $15 million from the Blue Ash airport deal to move utility lines and pipes. The city claims the $15 million, which was originally promised to neighborhood projects, will be reimbursed by Duke Energy once the city settles a conflict with the energy company. Duke and the city are currently arguing over who has to pay to move the utility lines and pipes.

An Ohio state representative is asking the federal government to monitor the election more closely. Rep. Alicia Reece, a Cincinnati Democrat, is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to send monitors to the state to ensure no funny business goes on in voting booths on Nov. 6. The request is partly in response to a recent court ruling that forces Ohio to count provisional ballots if the ballots were brought around by poll worker errors.

Ohio’s ability to stop political lies was upheld yesterday. The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) tried to put an end to the government power, which COAST claimed was censorship, by taking it to court, but a U.S. judge upheld the ability. The judge, who is a former chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, said COAST did not properly display that its speech was held down by the law. Considering some of COAST’s tweets, the judge is probably right.

E.W. Scripps Co. will host a job fair in Cincinnati Oct. 10 to fill 100 digital jobs.

The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the rights of lesbian ex-couples to set visitation times. The court said non-parents are allowed to participate in visitations during child custody proceedings.

Ohio might expand Medicaid, but not to the extent asked for by Obamacare. That’s what the state’s Medicaid director said yesterday, anyway. A previous study found Medicaid expansions improved and might have saved lives in other states, and other studies have found Medicaid expansions may save the state money by cutting uncompensated costs.

Pundits really dug into Mitt Romney the past few days over his poor poll numbers in Ohio. The Business Courier asked if Romney has already lost Ohio. Politico said Romney’s biggest hurdle to the White House is Ohio. The New Republic ran an article with six theories as to what led to Romney’s losses in the state. The Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out both presidential candidates were stumping at a pivotal time in northern Ohio yesterday. Aggregate polling paints a consistently bad picture for Romney in Ohio; he is currently down four points.

But Romney probably isn’t helping matters. In an Ohio rally Tuesday, he admitted President Barack Obama didn’t raise taxes in his first term.

Gov. John Kasich signed a series of bills shoring up Ohio’s public pension system yesterday. The laws will cut benefits and raise eligibility requirements, but state officials insist the new laws will mostly affect future retirees.

NASA wants samples from Mars, and it has a plan. The new plan may require a robot-to-human hand-off in space.

 
 
by German Lopez 10.17.2012
 
 
barack obama 2

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.

The second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney took place last night. The general consensus from the media is Obama won. Although the victory will likely inspire an Obama comeback narrative for some political pundits, keep in mind political scientists say debates typically have little electoral impact. But debates can reveal substance, and The Washington Post has an article “footnoting” the policy specifics from the debate. As of today, aggregate polling shows Obama up in Ohio by 2.2 points and Romney up nationally by 0.4 points. Ohio is widely considered a must-win for Romney. Obama and Romney will have their final debate next Monday. CityBeat will be hosting an event at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine during the debate. More info can be found on the event’s Facebook page.

The Ohio Department of Education released its remaining school report card data today. The data is meant to give Ohioans a clear picture as to whether schools are improving. The data was delayed due to an ongoing investigation into attendance rigging at Ohio schools. In the new report card data, Cincinnati Public Schools was downgraded from “Effective” in the 2010-2011 school year to “Continuous Improvement” in the 2011-2012 school year. The new mark is still positive, but it is a downgrade.

Down goes Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s early voting appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. With the Supreme Court refusing to take up Husted’s appeal, Ohio must allow all voters to vote on the weekend and Monday before Election Day. Husted also sent out a directive enforcing uniform voting hours for the three days. On Saturday, booths will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. On Monday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It seems City Council action was not enough to get Duke Energy to budge on the streetcar. The local energy company says it wants an operating agreement before it starts construction work. On Sept. 24, City Council passed a funding deal that shifted $15 million from the Blue Ash airport deal to the streetcar and established $14 million through a new financing plan. The city says it will get the $15 million back if it wins in the dispute with Duke. The city claims it’s Duke’s responsibility to pay for moving utility pipes and lines to accommodate for the streetcar, but Duke insists it’s the city’s responsibility. 

The University Board of Trustees is expected to approve Santa Ono as UC’s new president. Ono has been serving as interim president ever since Greg Williams abruptly resigned, citing personal reasons.

The Horseshoe Casino is really coming along. Casino owners are already booking meetings and events for spring 2013.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital announced a big breakthrough in combating muscular dystrophy. The hospital claims it successfully installed a device in a patient with Duchenne muscular dystrophy that allows the patient’s heart to pump blood to the body in the long term.

With Gov. John Kasich's recommendation, Ohio universities will have cheaper, quicker options for students. A new provision will require 10 percent of bachelor’s degrees from public universities to be completable in three years instead of four.

Ohio’s attorney general wants help in solving an unsolved double homicide in Cincinnati. Attorney General Mike DeWine has recently fixated on cold cases — previously unsolved cases that could be solved with new information and tools.

Scientists found an earth-sized planet orbiting the star nearest to our solar system.

 
 
by German Lopez 09.24.2012
 
 
sherrod brown

Morning News and Stuff

Newspapers all around the state — including The Cincinnati Enquirer, which labelled its article an “Enquirer Exclusive” (both The Toledo Blade and Columbus Dispatch ran a story with the same angle as The Enquirer) — are really excited about a new poll that found Sen. Sherrod Brown leads Josh Mandel in the U.S. senatorial race for Ohio’s seat by 7 percent. But the poll only confirms what aggregate polling has been saying for a while now. 

Mayor Mark Mallory fired back at Commissioner Greg Hartmann Friday. In a letter Tuesday, Hartmann accused Mallory of failing to stick to his promises in support of a city-council committee that would have established greater collaboration between Cincinnati and Hamilton County governments. But in his letter, Mallory said the committee was unnecessary and Hartmann was just playing politics by sending a letter to media instead of calling the mayor on his cell phone.

Contrary to the claims of Mitt Romney’s campaign, President Barack Obama does care about the work requirements in welfare-to-work reform. In fact, Obama is disapproving of Ohio’s program, which his administration says has not enforced work requirements stringently enough. However, most of the blame is going to former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, not Gov. John Kasich, a Republican.

The University of Cincinnati received a $3.7 million grant to increase the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. The grant comes from the National Science Foundation, a federal entity that funds science. The grant could help current problems with science research. One recent study found scientists prefer to hire male students over female students, pay male students more and spend more time mentoring men over women.

Local homeless groups managed to get a hold of a $600,000 grant to aid homeless military veterans. The grant will provide financial assistance and job training for the currently homeless and vets at risk of becoming homeless.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is raising subscription costs by 43 percent — from $210 a year to $300 a year.

City Council will host a special session today to get public feedback and work on the new deal meant to prevent further streetcar delays. The meeting will be at 10:30 a.m. at City Council Chambers, City Hall room 300, 801 Plum St.

Ohio is a swing state, which means we get a lot of political ads during the campaign season. Are you tired of them? Well, politicians don’t seem to care. In 2008, both parties ran a combined total of 42,827 ads between April and September. In the same time period this year, the parties have run 114,840.

Citizens for Common Sense was formed to support Issue 4 on the November ballot, which changes City Council terms from two to four years. The initiative would let political candidates worry more about policy and less about campaigning, but some critics say it would make it more difficult to hold council members accountable.

Research shows random promotions may be better for business. The study verifies the Peter Principle, which says many people are eventually promoted to positions beyond their competence.
 
 
by German Lopez 09.25.2012
 
 
streetcar

Morning News and Stuff

City Council approved a $29 million plan that will shift $15 million from the Blue Ash airport deal to move utility lines and pipes in order to accommodate for streetcar tracks. The money will be reimbursed if a conflict with Duke Energy is settled in the city’s favor. The city is currently trying to resolve the conflict over who has to pay for moving utility lines and pipes. If the city wins out, Duke will have to pay up, and the money from the Blue Ash airport deal will be put back where it belongs. If Duke wins out, that money could be lost forever — a worry Chris Smitherman voiced in the public City Council session. Smitherman, Charlie Winburn and P.G. Sittenfeld voted against the plan, and Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas, Wendell Young and Chris Seelbach voted for it.

CORRECTION: This blog originally said the entire $29 million plan will be reimbursed by Duke. Only the $15 million from the Blue Ash airport deal will be reimbursed if the city wins in the dispute.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted received a failing grade from Voters First Ohio and the Ohio Unity Coalition for the way he's handled the 2012 election. The left-leaning groups criticized Husted for taking away in-person early voting hours that were available in 2008 and issues regarding provisional ballots, wrongful terminations and misleading language on the November ballot.

Stan Heffner, former state superintendent of public instruction, won’t face criminal charges. Heffner stepped down after an investigation found he improperly lobbied legislators in favor of legislation that benefited a private company Heffner was employed under. Prosecutors claim Heffner acted inappropriately, not criminally.

The Controlling Board unanimously approved $4 million Monday to conduct a study to determine possible funding for the Brent Spence Bridge. The study will look at tolls and the viability of various public-private partnerships to see how the bridge will be paid for.

Jungle Jim's is opening an Eastgate location today, and people are apparently really excited for it.

The state launched a new website to connect Ohio job seekers and opportunities in the energy industry. The website presents opportunities in advanced energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency and gas and oil.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be in southwest Ohio today, and Obama will be in other parts of the state. The state is typically considered a must-win for Romney and Ryan, but aggregate polling has looked worse lately for the Republican duo. 

Speaking of Romney, he indirectly admitted he’ll have to raise taxes on what he considers middle income. Remember when Republicans ran on tax cuts?

Another problem with global warming: Hotter days make people less productive, which greatly hurts economic output.

A Cincinnati research team found NFL players die often to Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig's disease. The two diseases kill NFL players four times more often than the average U.S. population, and other neurodegenerative diseases kill them twice as often as the norm.

Having sex once a week instead of once a month is the “happiness equivalent” of making an extra $50,000 a year. Do not try that line at home.

 
 

 

 

 
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