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by Natalie Krebs 01.26.2016 15 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_otr

Morning News and Stuff

City and county officials debate ways to finance Western Hills viaduct replacement; study finds OTR losing low-income housing units; Texas grand jury indicts two anti-abortion activists responsible for Planned Parenthood videos

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here's your daily round-up of headlines: 

At a Monday evening meeting of the Hamilton County Improvement District, city and county officials agreed that fixing the troubled Western Hills Viaduct is beyond their budgets. The bridge connecting the city to the West Side is in bad need of replacement and will cost a hefty $280 million, according to plans developed by the Ohio Department of Transportation. What's also unclear is whether the city of Cincinnati or Hamilton County actually owns the structure, and so far the two are tacking the issue together. At the meeting, Mayor John Cranley suggested using federal freight money that the commuter bridge could qualify for if it has a freight component to it and said he believes urban cities and counties are not getting their share of state and federal transportation funds. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune agreed with the mayor and said he hopes to have a potential funding source for the project next week. 

• A report released late Monday night found more than 2,300 units of low-income housing have been lost in Over-The-Rhine since 2002. The report was commissioned by the OTR Community Council to figure out how much the neighborhood has changed since the most recent push for revitalization. It was conducted by Xavier University’s Community Building Institute. The report also found that more than 70 percent of the housing was still for households earning less than $71,200, the region's median income and that about 39 percent of the occupied units were subsidized by the government or had income-restricted rents. 

• Is Flint's water problem heading to Ohio? In the town of Sebring, Ohio, located 60 miles south of Cleveland, tests have shown levels of lead and copper in the water so high that officials closed schools on Monday for further testing. Officials also issued a warning to some of the town's 4,000 residents last Thursday night advising children and pregnant women to avoid drinking the water. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency told a local news station that smaller, older distribution lines with lead pipes were the culprit and that they are working with the city to clear up the issue. 

• In a turn of events for Planned Parenthood, a grand jury in Houston cleared the health clinic and abortion provider accused of mishandling and profiting off of fetal tissue in its clinics of any wrongdoing. Instead, it indicted the two pro-life activist who made the video footage that landed Planned Parenthood in trouble with Republican lawmakers across the U.S. in the first place. The grand jury indicted Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleidan on charges of tampering with a governmental record and attempting to purchase human organs and also charged activist Sandra Merritt with tampering with a governmental record after the two posed as employees of a medical research company trying to buy fetal tissue and secretly filmed a meeting with Planned Parenthood representatives.   

• A poll conducted by Morning Consult and Vox found that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have the most recognizable faces of this presidential election. Ninety-six percent correctly identified Trump and 97 percent pointed out Clinton. At the lower end of the results sat Republican candidates Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 61 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 54 percent and the other Democratic candidate and Clinton rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was only correctly identified by 69 percent of the 2,000 respondents.
 
 
by Natalie Krebs 01.25.2016 16 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_burnetwoods

Morning News and Stuff

Hamilton County Judge declares eight buildings public nuisances; city park deferred maintenance still facing funding issues; tax error will cost the city $600,000

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines. 

The city of Cincinnati could soon seize seven buildings in Over-the-Rhine and one in Avondale if the owner doesn't make costly repairs by March 15. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jerome Metz declared the eight buildings "public nuisances" after previously requesting that the buildings' owner, Washington, D.C.-based 2414 Morgan Development, LLC, repair 11 of its buildings by Dec. 17 of last year. The developer has since repaired three of the buildings to meet the approval of city inspectors, but city officials argue the rest of the structures still contribute to neighborhood blight and pose safety hazards for the public and firefighters. The seven buildings located in OTR north of Liberty Street.

• Also in need of repairs: Cincinnati's parks. What do they need exactly? Well, they have years of deferred maintenance, but the Cincinnati Parks Board has been very slow to produce a detailed account of the state of the city's parks and the price of all the repairs required. City Council appears ready to approve an additional $4 million for repairs, but it's unclear what repairs the money would be going toward. Park leaders say it's too small of an amount to repair some of the parks in the worst shape, but they're also not just going to hang onto the money to do fund a series of projects. Meanwhile, Mayor John Cranley and advocates for the failed parks levy in November are still sore from their election loss. Cranley has claimed the $55 million that would have come from the levy could have covered all the deferred maintenance in the city's parks. 

• Errors the city has made in calculating estate tax payments will cost it more than a half-million dollars. The office of Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes has discovered the city owes $614,514 in tax payments to the county. David Nurre, the auditor's assistant financial director, said in a letter to the city that the money will be subtracted from property tax money the county owes the city. The loss will add to the estimated $13 million deficit the city is facing for fiscal year 2017. 

• A analysis of the report card data released by the Ohio Education Policy Institute last week by consultant Howard Fleeter found big differences between college- and career-readiness for low-income and high-income districts. It discovered more than a 23-point percentage gap for four-year graduation rates between districts whose economically disadvantaged students made up less than 10 percent of the population and those whose disadvantaged populations were 90 percent or higher. The analysis was requested by the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.

• I haven't seen the Oscar-nominated Carol yet, but I know Cincy's super excited about it because it was filmed here. Apparently, the city could see more celebrities like Cate Blanchett show up as the city works hard to attract filmmakers. A University of Cincinnati Economics Center study estimates that the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission has generated more than $54 million for the metro area's economy and created 8,800 jobs. The study also found that productions in 2014 and 2015 received $11.8 million in tax credits, footed by taxpayers. 

• The International Olympic Committee has adopted new guidelines that would allow transgendered athletes to compete without sex reassignment surgery. The previous guidelines from 2003 required that athletes transitioning from one sex to the other had to wait two years post-operations and undergo two years of hormone therapy before they were allowed to compete. The new guidelines, which the IOC says are more like recommendations, say that females transitioning to males will now no longer have to wait, and males transitioning to females will have to demonstrate their testosterone level has been below a certain mark for a year before competing.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.22.2016 19 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
hunter

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Supreme Court says Tracie Hunter can stay out of jail; will streetcar go south?; black babies twice as likely to die in Butler County

Good morning all. Here’s a quick rundown of the news today before we’re all buried in snow, or at least tweets about snow.

The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday ruled that suspended Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge Tracie Hunter can avoid jail for now as she continues to appeal her 2014 felony conviction. Meanwhile, a state lawmaker has called for an investigation into evidence that has disappeared related to other charges Hunter faced. Hunter was charged with nine felonies in her original case, including counts relating to accusations of forgery, misuse of a county credit card and improperly intervening on behalf of her brother, a county juvenile court employee charged with hitting an inmate. A jury convicted her on that last charged and she was sentenced to six months in jail in December 2014. A special prosecutor with the county recently dropped the other eight charges, but revelations that some computer evidence integral to those charges has been destroyed has prompted State Sen. Cecil Thomas, an outspoken Hunter supporter, to call for an investigation into the fate of that evidence. Hunter was due in jail at the beginning of this year, but will now stay free as she continues to fight to overturn her conviction.

• After a study commissioned by Cincinnati officials last year found huge disparities in the number of city contracts awarded to minority and women-owned businesses, the city is ramping up efforts to bring more equity to its procurement process. The study found about 2 percent of construction contracts from the city were awarded to women-owned businesses and only 1 percent to black-owned businesses, for example, even though women own 13 percent of construction companies and blacks own 21 percent. Now, the city is taking a number of steps to make it easier for those businesses to compete for and win city contracts. Officials held an information day Jan. 20 where business owners could find out more about how to get certified with the city and state so they can bid for so-called Minority Business Enterprise and Women Business Enterprise contracts. The city will hold another set of sessions Jan. 26 where businesses who sign up by calling 513-352-144 can fill out their certification paperwork in about an hour. The city’s new Department of Economic Inclusion says it has already certified about 100 MBEs and WBEs.

• A Hamilton County Court judge will soon decide whether the confession of a man charged with killing a transgender woman in Walnut Hills is admissible in court. Defense attorneys for Quamar Edwards say he has a long history of learning issues and substance abuse problems and that he was under the influence of marijuana when he confessed to killing Tiffany Edwards (to whom he is not related) a year and a half ago. Edwards’ attorneys have had him examined by two psychologists who have found him fit to stand trial, but they would like his confession, in which he details shooting the transgender woman on a remote street in Walnut Hills because “he felt threatened” thrown out as evidence.

Quamar Edwards said he picked up Tiffany Edwards, who he says he knew to be a sex worker, because she needed a ride. He decided to pay her for sex, but then changed his mind. At that point, he said, she became agitated and a fight ensued, during which he shot her. He later turned himself in for the shooting after he was identified on video footage. Sex workers, especially those who are transgender, are often vulnerable to violence and even murder at the hands of johns, and activists have cited Tiffany Edwards’ murder, along with other murdered transgender people in Cincinnati, as evidence of that vulnerability.

• There has been a lot of controversy around the idea of expanding Cincinnati’s coming streetcar north into Uptown. But the transit project’s first big expansion could actually go south if a group in Northern Kentucky gets its way. The Northern Kentucky Streetcar Committee is hoping to raise money to get a feasibility study on expanding the streetcar, which is currently set to run a 3.6-mile loop through Over-the-Rhine and downtown, across the Taylor Southgate Bridge into Newport and Covington. The group has been looking at the idea for the past year and a half, according to member and NKY businessman Ian Budd. The committee, which also includes Newport City Commissioner Beth Fennell, will soon ask the federal government for $300,000 for the feasibility study. If no grants are available from federal sources, Budd says the group will turn to private funding sources to get the ball rolling.

• Here's a short and disturbing story from our neighbors just to the north. We’ve talked a lot about the racial dimensions of childhood poverty and infant mortality in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, but we’re not alone in the struggle against those issues. A new report shows that black infants are twice as likely to die as white infants in Butler County, which contains the cities of Hamilton and Middletown as well as suburbs like West Chester. This article explores reasons why that is.

• Finally, let’s zoom way out. What are the greatest threats to the world in the coming decade, according to experts from around the globe? Pew Research Center polled a group of 700 academics, policy wonks and others, who said involuntary mass migration such as the Syrian refugee crisis and climate change were the biggest issues facing the planet in the coming years. Check out this piece for the fascinating, if totally depressing, trends driving those predictions.

I’m out! Hit me on Twitter, email, etc. to give me news tips or challenge me to a snowball fight.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 01.21.2016 20 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cranley

Morning News and Stuff

Council members green light purchase of Wasson Way land; Mayor Cranley butts heads with Democratic Council members; Gov. Kasich calls himself "the prince of light"

Good morning, Cincy! Here are your morning headlines. 

Eight of the nine City Council members have signed a motion to go forward with the purchase of four miles of railway needed for the Wasson Way trail project. The city has a $12 million purchase agreement with Norfolk Southern Railroad that is set to expire in July and will face additional fees if the deal is not closed by then. The only setback now for the trail project? Well, the city has to come up with the money for the purchase as well an additional $19 to $23 million to build all for sections of the trail from Montgomery Road to Wooster Pike. The project faced financial setbacks before, when the city was turned town for federal TIGER grant money. But it recently received $500,000 from a state grant and has applied for an additional $4.5 million in state capital funding for the project. 

• There's more bickering at City Hall between Mayor John Cranley and some of the Democratic council members. According to emails obtained by The Enquirer through a public information request, tensions between council members Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young and the mayor have gotten so bad, the three declined Cranley's invitation for weekly meetings. Seelbach wrote in an email that, "It has to do with you treating people like shit," which was used in the the Enquirer's original headline for its article on the squabble. Apparently, they changed it shortly after to something more PG-rated, but not before the Business Courier manage to screen cap it

• Cincinnati's grocery giant Kroger ranks third largest in the world, according to the National Retail Federation. It fell just behind Walmart and Costco and has moved up from its spot at on the list at No. 6 last year. Another Cincinnati giant, Macy's, was ranked at No. 35. National Retail Federation used 2014 fiscal year sales to compile its list of the top 50 retailers. 

• Tenants at a South Cumminsville apartment complex say they are living in an unsafe environment that their landlord refuses to do anything about. Residents of Garfield Commons on Elmore Street say there's constant fighting and shootings around the building as well as issues with mold, fallen bricks and heroin users in the parking lot. One resident says she doesn't feel like she's living in a secure building that's guaranteed as part of her Section 8 housing benefits and that the building manager never answers his phone. 

• Republican candidates are getting more desperate — and a little weird — as the New Hampshire primary draws closer and closer on Feb. 9. Gov. John Kasich has apparently been running around calling himself the "prince of light and hope," to various media outlets, according to The Columbus Dispatch. When fellow GOP nominee New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got wind of Kasich's new self-dubbed nickname, he reportedly responded that Kasich “sounds a heck of a lot more like Satan." Kasich, who is running a campaign as a moderate Republican, is still hanging on in the presidential race. A poll released by radio station KBUR today shows that his chances appear to go up in New Hampshire if more independent voters head to the polls.     

News tips go to nkrebs@citybeat.com.                          
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.20.2016 21 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_otr

Morning News and Stuff

County drops eight felony counts against Tracie Hunter; big startup convention coming to Cincy; battle in Ohio state house over unemployment benefits

Good morning all. It’s snowing. Did you notice? OK. I’ve done my apparent journalistic duty to point out to you that it is precipitating, but that the atmosphere above Cincinnati is cold enough that said precipitation is coming down as a solid, not a liquid. Thought experiment: Are there more snowflakes coming down or pictures of that snow on Twitter from news organizations?

Real news time. Suspended Hamilton County Court Judge Tracie Hunter found out yesterday that she won’t face retrial on eight felony counts. A previous jury couldn’t come to an agreement on those charges, but one in 2014 did convict Hunter of a ninth felony charge related to information she gave her brother, a Hamilton County Juvenile Court employee, as he faced his own charges for punching an inmate. Special prosecutor Scott Croswell III told Hamilton County Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker that retrying Hunter on the other charges would cost too much and cause further unnecessary acrimony here. Croswell said the state is satisfied with the count Hunter was convicted on. Since her conviction, Hunter has lost her law license and been suspended from the bench. She was sentenced in Dec. 2014 to six months in jail and a year of probation for the charges.

• Cincinnati will host a big-name startup convention this October, organizers announced yesterday. Colorado-based TechStars and locals Cintrifuse will host FounderCon from Oct. 18-20. In the past, the conference has visited major cities like Austin and Chicago and is expected to draw more than 1,000 corporate leaders and tech startup founders. The event looks to be another boost for the city’s startup economy. Startups in the city have raised more than $170 million in funding in the past few years, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.

• Another round of condos is coming to Over-the-Rhine. 3CDC has listed 36 new condos for sale ranging in price from $145,000 to $650,000 in the area around Race, Elm and Main streets and other locations. The new developments, three of which are already under contract to be purchased when they are completed, join another 54 3CDC has brought to the neighborhood in the past year and 347 it has developed in OTR since its founding in 2003. In addition to the condos, the developer plans 27 affordable units of apartment housing accompanying 23 condos and 11 townhomes at a new development on 15th and Race streets, though it’s unclear what level of affordability those units will have.

• A little further north, Findlay Market is nearing completion of its incubator kitchen. The kitchen features 8,000 square feet of shared-use space and is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs launch food-based ventures. The kitchen will be city-licensed, allowing businesses to produce food for sale there. Members will pay $75 a year for access to the kitchen. The space’s 10 kitchens will be accessible 24 hours a day and can be rented by the hour or by the month.

• Normally, going from city to city asking people about pot is the purview of touring musicians. But two Ohio lawmakers will go on a three-city tour soon to listen to residents’ opinions on medical marijuana ahead of possible legislative action on that subject. State Sens. David Burke, a Republican, and Kenny Yuko, a Democrat, will travel to Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati starting Jan. 30 to conduct the listening tour. Yuko has been a medicinal marijuana supporter for more than a decade, while Burke is “skeptical, but wants to listen.” This sounds like an amazing reality show. Yuko says the effort has been sparked by a new willingness among his colleagues in the state house to consider medicinal marijuana. Neither Yuko nor Burke say they support recreational use, however, so touring bands will need to be careful about their own traveling pot inquiries into the foreseeable future.

• Right now there’s a big fight going on in the Ohio legislature around a bill to reform the state’s unemployment benefits program. Lawmakers are working on changes that could reduce the number of weeks unemployed workers are eligible for the benefits from the current 26 weeks to somewhere between 12 and 20 weeks depending on the state’s unemployment rate. That, among many other measures in the bill, has advocates for workers and the poor up in arms.

They point out that unemployment rates vary drastically in different regions of the state, and that someone who lives in a high unemployment area could see their benefits unfairly reduced if the overall state unemployment rate is low. Labor leaders and Democrats in the state house have blasted the changes. The state House Democratic Caucus called the bill the biggest attack on workers since the infamous SB5 legislation enacted at the start of Gov. John Kasich’s first term. That bill sought to limit state employee collective bargaining rights.

Republican lawmakers and many business groups, however, stand by the proposed changes. Currently, Ohio’s unemployment trust fund is insolvent, and conservative lawmakers say their proposed changes are necessary to keep it going. Liberals, however, say the changes proposed by Republicans shield businesses from unemployment taxes at the expense of workers.

• Finally, your daily Kasich update. Ohio’s big queso has moved up a spot in at least one national poll. He’s now sixth in a USA Today poll. Is that sad or good news for Kasich? It’s hard to tell. He was seventh in the same poll last week. He’s ahead of former frontrunner Ben Carson, who has tanked of late. He’s also two spots ahead of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. Sadly, he’s still trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose campaign is widely seen as a disaster. Will Kasich keep climbing? Will he place high in the vital upcoming Iowa and New Hampshire primaries? I’m on the edge of my seat.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.19.2016 22 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ac_bp_pete rose_

Morning News and Stuff

Interfaith civil rights group re-forming; Pete Rose to be inducted into Reds Hall of Fame; $10 million Walnut Hills redevelopment project nears completion

Hey hey, all. I hope yesterday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was both uplifting and motivating for you and that you got out to some of the commemorative and educational events that were going on all over town. Now, let’s talk news real quick.

An influential multi-faith organization that has been inactive for years is reforming following recent outbreaks of Islamaphobia around Greater Cincinnati and beyond. The Interreligious Trialogue was first brought together by Chip Harrod, then head of civil rights organization Bridges for a Just Community, following heated anti-Muslim rhetoric that surfaced after Sept. 11. Now, following a number of complaints of harassment from Muslims in Greater Cincinnati as well as national tension caused by anti-Muslim comments from figures like GOP presidential primary contender Donald Trump, the Trialogue is coming back .The group will hold community service events, roundtable discussions and other activities designed to further conversation among people with various religious beliefs and to combat Islamaphobia.

• Members of Samuel DuBose’s family spoke yesterday after a settlement with the University of Cincinnati was announced in the Avondale resident’s police shooting death. The DuBose family says the nearly $5 million settlement isn’t about the money, but about making sure others are safe from such incidents in the future. DuBose’s daughter Reagan Brooks is managing his estate. She and other family members say that among the most important parts of the settlement is the opportunity to sit on UC’s Community Advisory Council, which will hammer out reforms to the university’s police system to ensure that future shootings like the one that took DuBose’s life don’t happen again. The civil settlement should not affect UC officer Ray Tensing’s trial, attorneys on both sides of the criminal case say. Tensing, the officer who shot DuBose during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn, was indicted on murder and manslaughter charges last summer. Tensing’s attorney had little comment on the civil settlement, saying only “wow” when asked about it.

• Well, Charlie Hustle might not be getting into Cooperstown any time soon, but the hit king will soon have another Hall of Fame membership to boast about. Former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose will be inducted into the Reds’ Hall of Fame in late June, the ball club announced today. Rose has been banned from baseball for 27 years for gambling on the game. There was some hubbub that Rose might be reinstated late last year, but new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has indicated he will not lift his ban. That doesn’t mean Rose won’t enter the MLB Hall of Fame — Manfred begged off that question — but it also doesn’t look likely anytime soon. Rose, now in his 70s, has the most hits of anyone in the history of professional baseball. He’ll be the sole inductee this spring in the Reds’ Hall of Fame.

• A long-time effort to redevelop a set of historic buildings in Walnut Hills is nearing completion. The Trevarren Flats is a $10 million, 30 unit apartment project with 7,000 square feet of commercial space in three century-old buildings on McMillan Street in the neighborhood. Those apartments will be market rate, with studios starting at $500 a month and two bedroom units running up to $1,850 a month. Leaders with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, which worked with developers Model Group to complete the project, say it will be a catalyst for other development in the historically low-income community.

• I grew up in Hamilton just blocks from the hulking Champion Paper factory, and it’s kind of astounding to me that the enormous building is slated to become a sports and entertainment complex. The planned facility will have spaces that can be used for myriad sports, including soccer, football, baseball, ice hockey, softball, lacrosse and more. Much of the facility will be indoors, but outdoor baseball fields will also be offered. Other developments, including housing, could come later at the huge, 42-acre site. Right now, developers are halfway through lining up funding for the project and say it could be open by spring 2018.

• Ohio Gov. John Kasich got more good news out of New Hampshire over the past few days. Kasich has identified the state’s Feb. 9 primary as a make-or-break one for his campaign and has ramped up efforts with more staff and resources there. The efforts seem to be paying off: Kasich jumped from bottom-feeding in the state’s primary polls to tying U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for second behind Donald Trump. Now, Kasich has also netted endorsements from the Nashua Telegraph, Foster’s Daily Democrat and the Portsmouth Herald, which all threw support behind Kasich in the GOP primary contest in their most recent Sunday editions. The papers cited Kasich’s experience in Congress and his pragmatism in their endorsements.

• Finally, a couple cool and completely random science facts floating around the internet for you. First, and most topically, we’re all minding the wind chill measurements in weather reports lately, right? At least I am, because I assumed those readings kept me from getting frost bite on my face when I walk to work. But alas, that number you see in weather reports means almost nothing, according to real weather scientist people. Who knew?

Second, you’ll be able to see five planets from Earth (where I assume you’re reading this from) for the first time in a decade starting Jan. 20. That’s pretty rad. Be sure to get out one of these cold, cold nights to check out Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Saturn and Mercury. Or, you know, maybe just follow someone on Instagram who has a telescope.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 01.18.2016 23 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
david mann

Morning News and Stuff

UC reaches multi-million dollar settlement with DuBose family; Cincinnati's magnet schools are attracting less African American students; Vice Mayor Mann to introduce ordinance to prevent wage theft

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your Monday morning headlines. 

• The family of Samuel DuBose and the University of Cincinnati have reached a settlement for the July 19 death of DuBose by UC police officer Ray Tensing. The university will pay the family $4,850,000 as well as pay the tuition and fees for DuBose's 12 children at UC, which will cost an estimated $500,000. That brings the total value of the settlement to $5.3 million. The university also said they are working to establish a memorial to DuBose on campus. UC President Santa Ono issued an apology to the family on behalf of the UC community. 

• Part of the reason Cincinnati's magnet schools were opened was to give the city's high African American students more opportunities for a good education. But an analysis of school records from 2007 to 2015 by WCPO has found that following a U.S. Supreme Court decision banning racial quotas, these magnet schools have just gotten whiter and whiter. CPS has long seen the test scores and graduation rates of African-American and Hispanic student lag behind their white peers, and most recently did away with the first-come, first-serve policy for the Fairview-Clifton German Language School that turned the school's front lawn into a campground for mostly white, wealthier families who had time available off work. The school now uses an expanded lottery. 

• Vice Mayor David Mann is planning to introduce an ordinance in the next few days that would help prevent wage theft for those who work for developers getting financial incentives from the city. The ordinance would allow the city to recover wages and forbid companies from doing business with the city for a certain amount of time if the city or another agency finds them guilty of wage theft. The proposed legislation would apply to developers getting more than $25,000 in loans, tax abatements or grants from the city.  

• St. Rita's School for the Deaf has announced it is ending its annual festival. School officials cited issues with costs and staffing as reasons for discontinuing the popular event, which would have had its 100-year anniversary this year. St. Rita Fest started in 1916, a year after the school opened, as a visiting fair for family members to visit their students at the school. School officials also said the school's grand raffle, a fundraiser that pulled in nearly $200,000 for the school last year, also contributed to the decision to close the fair. 

• Gov. John Kasich, still running hard for the GOP presidential nomination, has received the backing of three New Hampshire papers. The Nashua Telegraph, Foster's Daily Democrat and the Portsmouth Herald have all endorsed the GOP presidential hopeful for president. Kasich has also received endorsements from Ohio's Republican party, Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, and Ohio House speaker Cliff Rosenberger. 

Hilary Clinton attacked Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on his policy shifts on gun policy and universal healthcare last night during the fourth Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C. Sunday evening. Clinton aligned herself with President Obama and accused Sanders of flip flopping on his positions regarding some of the nation's hottest issues right now. Clinton's more aggressive tactics this debate probably comes as Sanders is nearly neck-and-neck with her polls as the New Hampshire and Iowa primaries draw very, very close. 

Email me at nkrebs@citybeat.com with story tips! It's going to be a chilly week. Stay warm Cincinnati!

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.18.2016 23 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
audreydubose

UC, DuBose Family Reach Settlement

Family will receive nearly $5 million for police shooting

The University of Cincinnati and the family of Samuel DuBose today reached a settlement in DuBose’s shooting death July 19 by UC police officer Ray Tensing.

That settlement calls for the university to pay $4,850,000 to the family, as well as tuition-free undergraduate education for DuBose’s 12 children. That part of the settlement is worth an estimated $500,000. In addition, UC President Santa Ono will issue an official apology to the family, a memorial to DuBose will be constructed somewhere on UC’s campus and the family will be invited to participate in conversations around reform of UC’s police force undertaken by the school’s Community Advisory Council.

Tensing shot DuBose a mile from campus in Mount Auburn after stopping him for not having a front license plate on his car. The officer claimed DuBose tried to drive away and dragged him, but footage from Tensing's body camera showed that he was not in immediate danger when he shot DuBose. DuBose was unarmed.Tensing has been indicted on murder and manslaughter charges. He is out on bond awaiting his next pretrial hearing in February.

DuBose's death made national news as the country continues to grapple with weighty issues around police shootings, especially those of people of color, as well as the deeper socioeconomic issues that underlie many of those shootings. Other police shootings of unarmed black citizens have occurred recently in Ohio, including those of John Crawford III in Beavercreek and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Grand juries in both of those cases declined to indict officers involved.

“I want to again express on behalf of the University of Cincinnati community our deepest sadness and regrets at the heartbreaking loss of the life of Samuel DuBose,” UC President Santa Ono said in a statement. “This agreement is also part of the healing process not only for the family but also for our university and Cincinnati communities.”
 
The settlement was mediated by attorney Billy Martin over the course of two days of private meetings between the family and the university. Well-known civil rights attorneys Al Gerhardstein, Mark O’Mara and Michael Wright represented the family. Hamilton County Probate Courts must approve the settlement.
 
“I commend UC and the DuBose family for working together in a positive manner to help the community and the University work positively on their shared goal of reducing crime while preserving rights going forward,” Martin said in a statement about the settlement. “The example here demonstrates to communities hurting all over the country that positive results can be achieved through this type of cooperation.”
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 01.15.2016 26 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_kasichtaxcuts

Fact Checking Kasich's Debate

The true, the false and the befuddling from Kasich's performance at the sixth GOP primary debate

Last night’s sixth GOP presidential primary debate was crunch time for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is looking to bolster his chances in early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire in a last-ditch effort to keep his campaign viable. Reviews of his performance from pundits were mixed, though he did have a few good moments in which he was able to balance the quieter, more reserved performance we saw in the first few debates with the louder, more boisterous interruptions that marked his most-recent appearance on the debate stage. We’ll know more in the coming days how primary voters reacted to Kasich ahead of the Feb. 1 Iowa primary and the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at a few claims Kasich made during the debate. You can follow along with the full debate transcript here.

1. “… I was in Washington when we had a balanced budget; had four years of balanced budgets; paid down a half-trillion of debt. And our economy was growing like crazy.”

He was there, but some experts say he can't take much of the credit for it.

Kasich was, in fact, in Congress from 1997 to 2001, the years when the budget was balanced under President Bill Clinton. Though Kasich was head of the House Budget Committee and thus can claim much credit for the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, many economists argue that act actually did little to balance the budget. Budget deficits had been falling for years by that point, a consequence of massive economic growth that had already begun, coupled with tax increases in 1993 that Kasich opposed. Further, the act mostly set limits on the federal government’s discretionary spending that weren’t put into place anyway.

Even fiscally conservative economists concede this.

“We have a balanced budget today that is mostly a result of 1) an exceptionally strong economy that is creating gobs of new tax revenues, and 2) a shrinking military budget," libertarian economist Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute wrote then.

Kasich also argued during the debate that deficit reduction and economic growth "require tax cuts, because that sends a message to the job creators that things are headed the right way,” he said during last night’s debate. “...If you cut taxes for corporations, and you cut taxes for individuals, you’re going to make things move…”

Ironically, the surplus that came in the late 1990s would not have existed if House members like Kasich had gotten their way. Most, including Kasich, supported moves cutting taxes on corporations and high earners, legislation that Clinton vetoed. Those looking for such tax cuts would have to wait until the George W. Bush presidency, an era of big budget deficits, high unemployment and economic uncertainty. Despite this, Kasich still believes those kinds of tax cuts are the way to go and credits them with more economic benefits than history seems to show they deliver.

2. “Our wages are growing faster than the national average. We’re running surpluses. And we can take that message and that formula to Washington to lift every single American to a better life.”

And

“And now in Ohio, with the same formula, wages higher than the — than the national average. A growth of 385,000 jobs.”

Mostly false.

Kasich likes to tout Ohio’s economic record. But throughout much of his tenure, the state’s economic growth has lagged behind other states. In 2015, for instance, wages in all but three of Ohio’s 88 counties were below the national average of $1,048, and 63 of those counties had wages below $800 a week. While Columbus, the state capital, recently made news because wages there were growing faster than anywhere else in the country, that's a unique situation and many other places in Ohio are seeing stagnating wages.

Kasich also likes to tout his record of job growth. But Ohio lags behind other states in job creation, currently ranking 31st out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., and has been near the middle or below it for most of Kasich’s tenure. If Ohio has job growth, it's because the economy is trending better across the country. Some studies show that the state has yet to replace all the jobs it lost in the Great Recession and that wages still haven't recovered.

Finally, while the state is running surpluses, Kasich has been aided by that same national economic wind at his back and hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money given to the state for its Medicaid expansion, education, transportation and other expenditures the state would have otherwise had to make. Kasich’s plan for the country? Cut deeply into those federal funds.

3. “I served on the Defense Committee for 18 years, and, by the way, one of the members of that committee was Senator Strom Thurmond from South Carolina.”

True, but there’s something you should know.

This calls less for a fact check than a needed historical note. Kasich did indeed serve on the House Defense Committee and worked with Sen. Strom Thurmond. He mentions this to play to the hometown crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina, but in doing so, he associates himself with a very troubling character. Thurmond, who also served as governor in South Carolina, was one of the loudest opponents of integration in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. Thurmond delivered a record-breaking filibuster against Civil Rights legislation in 1957, though he maintained throughout his long career that he wasn’t racist and simply opposed federal control of state affairs. Despite those assertions, he was known to make racially charged statements, including these remarks during a 1948 run for president:

“On the question of social intermingling of the races, our people draw the line,” he said during a campaign speech. “The laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, into our schools, our churches and our places of recreation and amusement.''

4. “In terms of Saudi Arabia, look, my biggest problem with them is they’re funding radical clerics through their madrasses.”

This one is complicated. Kasich is fairly nuanced in his wording here, using the term “radical clerics” instead of simply saying Saudi Arabia is training terrorists or something more alarmist.

As a sovereign state, Saudi Arabia is officially opposed to ISIS and has jailed radical Islamists. But many have pointed out the Islamic theocracy’s ideological similarities to the Islamic State, citing the fact that the country is a place of origin for the Wahhabi belief system. Wahhabism is a sect of Islam that calls for very strict adherence to restrictive, fundamental interpretations of the Koran similar to ISIS. Wahhabism is taught in some Saudi schools, or Maddrasas. Some ISIS members are Wahhabi but not all Wahhabi are ISIS supporters.

Experts have mixed views on the role Saudis play in funding and encouraging ISIS, and there’s little consensus on how to approach America’s uneasy ally about its links to radical Islam.

5. “I’ve been for pausing on admitting the Syrian refugees. And the reasons why I’ve done is I don’t believe we have a good process of being able to vet them.”

The process is more exhaustive and effective than it is often portrayed to be.

Though Kasich's main point in this part of the debate was that we should seek moderation and bridge-building with allies in the Arab world, his assertion that there isn’t a good vetting process already in place for Syrian refugees isn’t accurate. The U.S. Department of State undertakes a process that lasts 18 months or longer to vet refugees. That process includes extensive background checks and admits mostly women and children anyway — not the young male conservatives like Kasich say are most likely to be radicalized terrorists streaming into the country.

6. “I believe in the PTT…”

A minor note, maybe a slip of the tongue, but it’s actually the TPP, or the Trans Pacific Partnership. It governs trade agreements between countries around the Pacific with a stated objective of working toward increasing American exports.

7. “Well, I created a task force well over a year ago and the purpose was to bring law enforcement, community people, clergy and the person that I named as one of the co-chair was a lady by the name of Nina Turner, a former State Senator, a liberal Democrat. She actually ran against one of my friends and our head of public safety.”

Mostly true, but there’s more.


It’s true that Kasich created a statewide task force made up of bipartisan lawmakers and community leaders and that the task force has made recommendations about ways to make incremental reform the justice system in Ohio. Those reforms include statewide use of force protocols for officers and increases in officer training.

The question is whether that’s a credit to Kasich that makes him a more appealing presidential choice or whether it was simply the very least he could do.

Many of those reforms recommended by the task force have yet to be implemented, and it’s unclear when they will be. Some of them also build on steps taken years before Kasich was governor, including Cincinnati’s collaborative agreement in the wake of its 2001 unrest. More, some activists would say the panel is weak for someone as powerful as Kasich, whose administration hasn’t stepped into controversial county grand jury cases like the one around the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Rice was shot in Cleveland while playing with a toy gun on a playground. Appeals were made to take that case out of the hands of Cuyahoga County Prosecutors, who work closely with the Cleveland Police Department. CPD has been heavily criticized by the Department of Justice for excessive use of force in the past, though it has not been held accountable by the prosecutor's office for those actions. Despite that, no action was taken by state officials in the Rice case. A grand jury decided not to indict officers in the boy’s death. Finally, the Kasich administration has done little to address the economic and social root causes of justice system inequalities, including pervasive poverty in black communities. Indeed, those communities lag far behind the Kasich's boasts bout job and wage gains.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 01.15.2016 26 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
public+schools

Morning News and Stuff

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

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

My email is nkrebs@citybeat.com and stay warm this weekend, Cincy!
 
 

 

 

 
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