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by German Lopez 07.20.2012
Posted In: Poverty, Healthcare Reform, Education at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Children’s Defense Fund to Host Conference in Cincinnati

National conference to look at child poverty and education issues, among others

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) will host a national conference in Cincinnati July 22-25 with a focus on child poverty, education and health care. It’s the first national conference hosted by CDF since 2003.

Child poverty and its causes will be one of the main focuses of the conference. Nearly 15 million children in the United States, or 21 percent of all children, live in families below the federal poverty level, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP). A study from the NCCP found Cincinnati has the third-worst children’s poverty rate at 48 percent. Only Detroit and Cleveland were worse, with 53.6 percent and 52.6 percent, respectively.

“We’re going to look at all the range of policies and practices and the impact of those and what we can do,” CDF President Marian Wright told WVXU today. “It’s going to be a real teach-in on what we must do to move forward and stop the move backwards, which I think we’re in the midst of.”

The conference will also look at education issues. It seeks to shine light on the issue of the achievement gap between the poor and non-poor and racial disparities. A 2011 analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics found black and Hispanic students are behind their white peers by 20 test-points in math and reading tests provided by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The difference equates to about two grade levels.

The conference will also look at child health care services, zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools and tools and programs that can be used to improve the lives of struggling children.

Anyone is free to register at CDF’s website to join the conference. Experts, doctors and activists will also be there. 

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 05.02.2012
 
 
econocide

New Book Criticizes OTR's Development

Author will hold book signing on Thursday

A social worker that has written a new book criticizing Cincinnati’s development efforts in Over-the-Rhine will conduct a book signing Thursday.

 

Alice Skirtz, a Cincinnati native, is the author of Econocide: Elimination of the Urban Poor. She will host a book signing from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Skirtz & Johnston bakery at Findlay Market, 113 West Elder St.

 

Proceeds from book sales at the event will be given to the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Skirtz is the founding organizer of the coalition.

 

The book profiles growing economic inequalities in the city that is reflected in policy debates over contentious issues like panhandling, homelessness, planning and funding for affordable housing, zoning for social service agencies and site selection for shelters.

 

Written from a social worker’s perspective, Econocide focuses on advocacy for people who are most vulnerable in society to promote and make sure they’re included in the socio-economic policies of local government.

 

"Based on over 40 years of experience in working with the urban poor, I wrote this book to call attention to how they have become increasingly at risk of being removed permanently from the community and civic life," Skirtz said. "The growth of privatization has led to increasing economic inequities, lessening influence in administrative and legislative affairs, and decreasing access to housing and even public spaces. I intend for this book to lead to a change in how we treat the urban poor."

 

The book includes a blurb by David Mann, a local attorney who also is an ex-Cincinnati mayor and former congressman.

 

“You cannot read her book without tears coming to your eyes at some point and without wondering why a supposedly enlightened society cannot better balance the needs of the least among us with overall economic health and viability,” Mann wrote. “You will ask yourself why we cannot do better.”

 
 
by Danny Cross 05.01.2012
 
 
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Mock Rally For Western & Southern Scheduled For Wednesday

Group will show support for ‘bullying’ of Anna Louise Inn

UPDATE: The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless has canceled its Wednesday mock rally for Western & Southern Financial Group. The Coalition Tuesday evening released the following statement: "Due to a change in plans the mock 'Rally to Support Western and Southern' has been canceled. Stay tuned for upcoming gatherings and events to support the Women of the Anna Louise Inn as we fight for the right of self determination."

The following is CityBeat's Tuesday afternoon blog post in response to the event announcement:

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless is helping to organize a mock rally to support what it believes is the bullying of the Anna Louise Inn women’s shelter by Western & Southern Financial Group. The mock group will be called “Citizens for Corporate Bullies” and will hold signs that say “Greed is Good,” “We Support Corporate Bullies,” “Poor Women Not Welcome” and “W&S Take Whatever You Want.” The event begins a noon May 2 at 4th and Sycamore streets.

The Coalition has created a fake persona who supports W&S’s desire to build condos to attract a more desirable class of residents and rhetorically asks, “Besides, what gives the Anna Louis Inn the right to stay in that building just because they own it and it’s been there for a hundred years?”

The protest is in response to ongoing legal issues surrounding the Inn’s proposed expansion and W&S’s development efforts in the neighborhood. CityBeat last October reported on the situation in a story titled, “Putting on the Pressure: Western & Southern won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” The following is an excerpt summarizing the situation then:

Last summer the facility’s owners rebuffed an offer from the powerful Western & Southern Financial Group to buy their property, triggering a heated legal battle. The company, located near the Anna Louise Inn in the affluent Lytle Park district on downtown’s eastern edge, wanted the site so it could demolish or redevelop the Inn and build upscale condominiums.

After the offer was rejected, the Anna Louise Inn continued with a long-planned renovation and was awarded a $2.7 million loan by Cincinnati City Council. That’s when Western & Southern filed a lawsuit against the Inn and the city, alleging zoning violations. 

The showdown pits the Inn, opened in 1909 with the help of prominent attorney Charles P. Taft, against a company that ranks in the Fortune 500 and is headed by CEO John Barrett, an ex-chairman of the Cincinnati Business Committee who is widely considered one of the most powerful men in the city.

The facility’s owners and some city officials say Western & Southern is trying to use its sizable financial resources publicly, along with its political clout behind the scenes, to strong-arm opponents and get what it wants.

Representatives for W&S have stated that the company's $3 million offer to purchase the building is fair and have also offered to aid the Inn in finding a new location.

WVXU reported that supporters of the Inn held a rally April 4 calling for a quick judgment in a court case that could delay funding for the renovation.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.13.2012
Posted In: Taxes, Public Policy, Poverty, Economy, Family at 03:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
eitc

Group Pushes for Ohio Tax Change

Think tank: EITC would help working families

A nonpartisan think tank that advocates for poor and working class families is urging that Ohio adopt its own version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

 

The group, Policy Matters Ohio, said a state version of the federal tax credit, set at 10 percent, would divert just $210 million from Ohio’s coffers but would benefit 949,000 low-income working families across the state. Such a credit would provide families with an average of $221 each, which Policy Matters Ohio described as “modest but helpful.”

 

Currently 24 states and the District of Columbia have Earned Income Tax Credits, ranging from 3.5 percent to 50 percent of the federal credit.

 

“A state EITC program enables families to work and build assets while reducing the impact of regressive income tax changes,” said a statement released by Policy Matters Ohio.

 

“A state EITC makes sense because recent changes to the personal income tax have provided greater tax reductions for higher-income earners than they have for lower- and middle-income families,” the statement continued.

 

The federal EITC is a refundable tax credit for low- and medium-income individuals and couples, and is considered the nation’s largest poverty relief program. When the credit exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who qualify and claim the credit.

 

To qualify for the EITC, a recipient must have earned income of $49,000 or less. The credit is worth significantly more for families with children and is refundable, which means families receive cash refunds above their tax liability.

 

Created in 1975, the federal EITC is aimed at helping lift families with children about the poverty level, along with offsetting the burden of Social Security taxes and maintaining an incentive for people to work.

 

In Ohio, 949,692 people currently claim the federal EITC. The credit generates $2.1 billion for state residents, and the average refund is $2,211.

 

Founded in 2000, Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research organization that seeks to create “a more prosperous, equitable, sustainable and inclusive Ohio,” through research and policy advocacy.

 

Based in Cleveland and Columbus, the organization is funded primarily through grants from groups like the Ford Foundation, the Sisters of Charity Foundation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Corp. for Enterprise Development and others.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.02.2012
Posted In: Courts, City Council, Spending, Neighborhoods, Poverty at 08:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

The person hired 15 months ago to lead the Hamilton County Public Defender's Office is having extreme conflicts with her staff, according to an assessment done for the commission that oversees the office. Before she was hired here, Shelia Kyle-Reno headed a much smaller public defender's office based in Elizabethtown, Ky. “It is obvious that the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office is an office characterized by high conflict, mistrust, poor communication and a lack of a shared vision,” the report states. The office provides free legal services for poor people charged with crimes.

Cincinnati City Council's budget and finance committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday evening to get input on what cuts to make to deal with a reduction in federal funding. The city is grappling with a $630,000 drop in grant funding for neighborhood projects and a $300,000 drop in funding for affordable housing. Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is urging his colleagues to block a plan to spend $4.4 million to renovate City Hall's atrium so it can be rented for special events, and instead spend that money to avoid cuts in the other programs.

A 20-year-old soldier from Kentucky was killed in Afghanistan. The U.S. Defense Department said Army Spc. David W. Taylor, of Dixon, Ky., died on Thursday in Kandahar province. The military didn't say how Taylor died.

Here's some good news for people getting ready to graduate from college. Hiring of college graduates is expected to climb 10.02 percent on campuses in 2012, a increase from the previous estimate of 9.5 percent, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

A Republican-backed bill that would limit the amount of damages paid to consumers by businesses found to have engaged in deceptive practices is expected to be signed into law by Gov. John Kasich this week. The bill would exempt businesses from paying certain damages if a consumer rejects a settlement offer and is later awarded less in court. The National Consumer Law Center has said Ohio would have one of the weakest consumer protection laws in the nation if the bill is signed, reducing incentives for companies to change fradulent practices.

In news elsewhere, research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans age 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, and more than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, some Social Security checks are being garnished and debt collectors are harassing borrowers in their 80s about student loans that are decades old. Some economists say the long-touted benefits of a college degree are being diluted by rising tuition rates and the longevity of debt.

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and other Republicans seeking elective office this year are strenuously avoiding any mention or appearance with the most recent president from their party, George W. Bush. Although Romney recently picked up endorsements from Dubya's father and brother, George H.W. Bush and Jeb Bush respectively, POTUS No. 43 is keeping a low profile. Do you think it might be due to two bungled wars and the recession that started on his watch? Nah. (And yet they want to continue his policies.)

Some British politicians and civil rights activists are protesting plans by the government to give the intelligence service the ability to monitor the telephone calls, e-mails, text messages and Internet use of every person in the United Kingdom. Under the proposal, revealed in The Sunday Times of London, a law to be introduced later this year would allow the authorities to order Internet companies to install hardware enabling the government’s monitoring agency to examine individual communications without a warrant. George Orwell was right: Big Brother is watching you.

In what's becoming an increasingly frequent headline, TV commentator Keith Olbermann has been fired from another job. Olbermann was terminated Friday by Current TV, and replaced by ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Olbermann had hosted Countdown, which he brought from MSNBC after his exit there, since June. Sources say Olbermann was let go for various reasons including continual complaints about staff, refusing to toss to other peoples' shows or appear in advertisements with them.

Iraq's “fugitive” Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has rejected Baghdad's demand for Qatar to extradite him, stating he enjoys constitutional immunity and hasn't been convicted of any crime. Hashemi is accused of having operated a secret death squad in Iraq.
 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.26.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Supporters of low income housing programs are criticizing a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood). Chabot's proposal would impose restrictions on people who use the federal Section 8 housing program, which provides vouchers to help poor people pay their rent. Among his changes, people only would be able to use the program for five years. In Cincinnati, however, 53 percent of clients already leave the program within five years. Of the 47 percent who remain, many of them have problems like mental health issues and likely would become homeless and more expensive to deal with for the government, a housing advocate told The Enquirer.

To prepare for an influx of foreign visitors when the World Choir Games begin here in July, a new language translation tool is being launched. Cincinnati-based Globili is testing its text and mobile application for cellphones and smartphones that translates signs, menus and ads into about 50 languages. The event will be held July 4-14 at various locations in downtown and Over-the-Rhine including the Aronoff Center for the Arts and Music Hall.

It's been 147 years since the U.S. Civil War ended, but Kentucky lawmakers are just now getting around to abolishing a pension fund for Confederate veterans. The measure, which passed Kentucky's House of Representatives unanimously on Feb. 29, now heads to the state Senate for a vote. No one who is eligible to receive the pension has been alive for at least 50 years, lawmakers said. I guess things really do move more slowly in the South.

Business at the venerable Blue Wisp Jazz Club has increased since it moved to a new location at Seventh and Race streets in January. The club's owners attribute the jump to more pedestrian traffic and the number of hotels located near the new site. The front room includes a bar and restaurant accessible with no cover charge, while the back room is reserved for performances by Jazz musicians.

Steep spikes and drops on standardized test scores, a pattern that has indicated cheating in Atlanta and other cities across the nation, have occurred in hundreds of school districts and charter schools across Ohio in the past seven years, a Dayton Daily News analysis found. The analysis doesn't prove cheating has occurred in Ohio, but documents show state officials don't employ vigorous statistical analyses to catch possible cheating, discipline only about a dozen teachers a year and direct Ohio’s test vendor to spend just $17,540 on analyzing suspicious scores out of its $39 million annual testing contract.

In news elsewhere, the U.S. Supreme Court begins its constitutional review of the health-care overhaul law today with a basic question: Is the court barred from making such a decision at this time? The justices will hear 90 minutes of argument about whether an obscure 19th-century law — the Anti-Injunction Act — means that the court cannot pass judgment on the law until its key provisions go into effect in 2014.

When it recently was announced that a U.S. soldier who allegedly went on a shooting spree in Afghanistan would be charged with 17 counts of murder, many people wondered about the number. After all, early reports indicated Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a Norwood native, allegedly killed 16 people. Military officials decided to charge Bales with murder for the death of the unborn baby of one of the victims, a senior Afghan police official said today.

In a possibly related incident, a gunman in an Afghan army uniform killed two NATO soldiers today at a base in southern Afghanistan, NATO's International Security Assistance Force has said. Details were still sketchy, but NATO said in a statement that an individual wearing an Afghan soldier's uniform had turned his weapon against international troops. Coalition forces then returned fire, killing the gunman.

China and the United States have agreed to coordinate their response to any "potential provocation" if North Korea goes ahead with a planned rocket launch, the White House says. North Korea says the long-range rocket will carry a satellite, but U.S. officials say any launch would violate United Nations resolutions and be a missile test.

Somehow, 71-year-old Dick Cheney managed to get a heart transplant Saturday after spending nearly two years on a list waiting for a suitable organ to become available. Cheney, a former U.S. vice president and — some would say — unindicted war criminal, got the transplant even as much younger, healthier people continue to wait for a new heart. (My guess is he made a pact with Beelzebub.) Cheney has had five heart attacks over the years, the first occurring at age 37.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.21.2012
Posted In: Homelessness, Public Policy, Poverty, Washington at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
homelessness

Homeless Programs Awarded $2.6M

Federal funding will be divided among five groups

Federal officials this week awarded more than $2.6 million to a local nonprofit agency that oversees various programs aimed at reducing homelessness.

The money, allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was given to Strategies to End Homelessness, which was formerly known as the Cincinnati/Hamilton County Continuum of Care.

In total, HUD awarded nearly $201 million to 731 programs focused on addressing homelessness. The funding will help provide critically needed rapid re-housing, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals and families.

Locally, Strategies to End Homelessness coordinates such federal funding. It will divide the money as follows:

** Center for Independent Living Options (permanent housing) —  $854,432

** Salvation Army (rapid re-housing for homeless families) — $526,797

** Prospect House (homeless housing and treatment) — $126,000

** Freestore Foodbank (rapid re-housing for homeless individuals) — $739,858

** Lighthouse Youth Services (permanent supportive housing) — $409,122

HUD awards such funding based on outcomes achieved by the local homeless services system.

“Our community received this funding because we have been successful at doing two things: helping homeless people move into housing, and also increase their income, specifically through employment,” said Kevin Finn, Strategies’ executive director, in a prepared statement.

According to the latest data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties throughout the United States, homelessness declined 2.1 percent between 2010 and 2011 and dropped 12 percent among military veterans.

Founded in 2007, Strategies to End Homelessness coordinates services and funding toward the goal of ending homelessness. The organization works to prevent at-risk households from becoming homeless, assist people who are homeless back into housing, and to reduce the recurrence of homelessness.

The organization has created a single, coordinated system that includes the use of homelessness prevention services, street outreach, emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, transitional and permanent supportive housing, and services-only programs.   

 
 
by Deirdre Kaye 02.29.2012
Posted In: Religion, Healthcare Reform, Poverty, Republicans at 11:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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Anti-Health Care Fight Is Un-Christian

There are protesters who have been standing outside of a pediatrician’s office almost daily since at least the summer. Why? Someone else in that same tiny complex is offering abortions. A woman who has taken her special needs daughter to that pediatrician’s office for more than 20 years was recently told by her minister’s wife that she needed to switch pediatricians. Abortion is “murder,” of course, so going anywhere near the “scene of the crime” must make her a co-conspirator.

On the opposite side of town is a Catholic organization made up of young people who were praying the rosary daily in hopes of a veto on the law that required Catholic employers to provide health care that included birth control coverage. Furthering their attack on small families are two Republican candidates for president. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney seem to want to reverse the bill that legalized the sale of contraception.

Yes, the Bible says “Be fruitful.” The Bible also says to take care of children. Statistics from UNICEF report that in 2009 roughly 2.1 million children are currently orphaned in America. Who is taking care of them? Should anyone be so adamantly against birth control when they’re also clearly unwilling to help take care of the result from a lack of birth control?

Before abortion was legalized, women were forced to take to back alleys in order to end unwanted pregnancies. Those terminations consisted of the use of things like scalding water or hangers. Many women contracted infections from those unsterile and unsafe methods. Too many women died from those infections. Why wasn’t anyone looking out for them?

Many of the comments we’ve received at CityBeat in response to coverage of these issues have focused on the sinfulness of abortion and birth control (and, of course, homosexuality). Why are they overlooking all the other “sins” the bible suggests?

Click the jump for a list of all the crazy things the Old Testament says are also sins.

Read More

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 02.08.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

If you care about politics, no doubt you’ve heard by now that birth control opponent Rick Santorum scored upset victories Tuesday in the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and Missouri’s non-binding primary. No delegates were awarded in any of the races, but the showing further undermines presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s efforts to solidify his image as Republican frontrunner.

One of the best number crunchers around, Nate Silver at the FiveThirtyEight blog, says the latest results mean Romney will have a long slog to win the party’s nomination. Given history and voter demographics, Romney should’ve easily won in Minnesota and Colorado and the fact that he didn’t should serve as a warning for him, Silver adds.

Read More

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 11.23.2011
 
 
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Report: OTR Tops U.S. in Inequality

A new Census Bureau report reveals that from 2005 to 2009, a segment of Over-the-Rhine had the highest income inequality of more than 61,000 communities nationwide.

The segment — known as Census Tract No. 17 — is the northeast quadrant of Over-the-Rhine. The findings were featured in an article Tuesday by McClatchy Newspapers, which attributes the disparity in the tract partially to gentrification and the influx of young professionals into the predominantly low-income neighborhood.

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