The group gave Ohio a “D-” ranking after its government spending transparency website earned 51 points out of 100 in U.S. Public Interest Research Group's fifth annual “Following the Money” report.
“Ohio’s been kind of sinking through the ratings year by year,” says Phineas Baxendall, a U.S. PIRG senior policy analyst and co-author of the report released on Tuesday. “It used to do much better, which doesn’t mean they’re dismantling their transparency systems. It just means our standards get tougher each year and they’re more staying in place while other states are improving.”
Ohio’s the only state in the nation that doesn’t offer certain customizable search options including bid award recipients, keywords, agency and bulk download searches. Ohio’s poor score follows three years of ranking in the bottom half of the study.
Researchers look for transparency websites to be comprehensive, one-stop and offer simple search formats.
The nation as a whole is moving toward a more transparent approach to documenting government spending. Since PIRG began the study, all six categories it uses to compile rankings have shown an increase in states performing specific duties. The largest leaps in the past five years involve showing how a project benefits from taxpayer subsidies, which has seen an increase from two to 33 states, and how tax money is spent with an increase from eight to 44 states. All states now have ledger listings for transactions of any government spending on a website, compared to only 32 five years ago.
Ohio’s score doesn’t reflect Cincinnati’s efforts to be transparent. In a 2013 study in transparency of the 30 largest cities in America, Cincinnati scored a “B+” for providing ledger listings for spending information, allowing Cincinnatians to view where money is spent, specific recipients of tax subsidies and the existence of a service request center allowing residents to notify officials about quality of life issues.
Suggestions for improvement included making checkbook-level spending information searchable by the vendor who received the money and developing a comprehensive transparency website.
“We feel strongly that this isn’t a partisan issue, and the fact that states that do best in our rankings show no political pattern, with Texas and Massachusetts standing side-by-side, sort of speaks that this is one of those issues that should not be politicized,” Baxendall says. “We look forward to advancement in transparency in Ohio regardless of who is in office.”
The fellas of Mad Men showed off their mad manes (sorry) when Jon Hamm and Pete Campbell revealed some pretty epic ‘dos to the public this week.
Let’s start with
Mr. Draper. Apparently in all my research of Jon Hamm (Read: browsing his
free-ballin’ pics), neither I — nor the rest of the
Internet — realized the star had appeared on the short-lived dating show The Big Date in 1996. The USA Network game show was hosted by Mark Walberg (the Antiques Roadshow one, not the triple-nipple one).
Hamm, identified on the show as a waiter, rocked the classic ‘90s parted shaggy
‘do (which I like to call the Shawn Hunter).
And as if that wasn’t enough to confuse your boner (or ladyboner), just watch as he
describes his perfect first date:
(Cut to the 2-minute mark for Hamm’s introduction, but seriously just watch the whole thing).
TOTAL FABULOUSITY! For some unknown reason that will go down as one of life’s biggest mysteries, Hamm did not go on to win a date. FOR SHAME!
OK, fast forward
to modern times at the Mad Men premiere
party last week. Vincent Kartheiser aka
Pete Campbell showed up looking like he started to pull a Britney
before changing his mind and running to the red carpet.
Apparently the actor shaves his bang area (why does that sound so dirty) so his character Pete
can have a receding hairline — because
obviously — but couldn’t he achieve that look with makeup and a bald cap? Or
why not just shave the whole thing? This is especially bothersome to me because, as a child, I was convinced you didn't need to "grow out" your bangs once you grew tired of them, you just had to cut them off. This could have been me:
WHAT IS HAPPENING
Mad Men’s final season premieres Sunday night at 10 p.m. on AMC. Like Breaking Bad, this final season will be split between this year and next. Read more in this week’s TV column.
This week in movie remake fuckery: The Goonies 2 is coming atchu.
David Letterman realized Leno wasn’t backing out of retirement this time, so he hopped on the bandwagon and announced he’d be leaving The Late Show in 2015. Chelsea Handler also recently revealed she’ll be leaving E! when her contract is up in a few months, and is one of many celebs rumored to be considered to take Dave’s place. (Her first change: Swap out Stupid Pet Tricks for Stupid Vagina Tricks. Or maybe just Stupid Tricks, a game show with hookers? Call me for more ideas, Chels!) Stephen Colbert is at the center of these rumors as well, as his Colbert Report contract also ends at the end of this year. Meanwhile Late Late host and Letterman follow-up Craig Ferguson waits in the shadows as 75 percent of Americans still think Craig Ferguson is "the black guy from The Office." Wah waaahhh
Iconic album art
like The Beatle’s Abbey Road can transform
ordinary places into fan destinations. Check out these classic record
covers inserted into their respective Google street view locations.
Normally grown-ass women with a hardcore love for Disney turn me off — everyone’s entitled to a nostalgia fest every now and again, but you should not see Frozen three times in theaters if you do not have a child in your life. And there’s a new announcement for you:
Anna Kendrick hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time this weekend and her debut featured not one but two nods to Disney with her Beauty and the Beast-themed monologue and, later, a Little Mermaid bit. But — as you’ll see from the links — Kendrick’s stint was anything but basic. Bravo, Anna! This will certainly be a highlight episode of the season.
Could you use $500,000? Have you always wanted to be on TV? Are you either a soft-spoken racial minority or a loud-mouthed racist? Big Brother is casting its 16th season and the crew will be in Cincinnati next month to scope prospects. According to the online application, casting is curious about important personal information like applicants' weight, hair color and a “self biography” of a whopping 70 words. Those interested in being locked in a house, recorded 24/7 by 65 cameras and 98 microphones and pitted against some of the worst human beings on the planet can apply in person at Mount Adams Pavilion between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday, May 2.
A smattering of local restaurants offering special Easter menus and buffets on Sunday, April 20. Reservations required.
A Touch of Elegance: Entrees include beef tenderloin, honey-glazed ham, fish, chicken and vegetarian choices plus a traditional breakfast including goetta and smoked salmon. There will also be a baby chick display; after brunch, the chicks will be donated to Parky's Farm. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $23.95 adults; $20.25 seniors; $16 ages 4-10; free ages 3 and younger. 5959 Kellogg Ave., California, 513-231-2312, atouchofelegance.info.
Blinkers Tavern: Breakfast, lunch and dinner Easter choices featuring honey-glazed ham, oven-roasted Cornish hen and prime rib. 10:30 a.m. 318 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-360-0840, blinkerstavern.com.
Crave: Hot and cold buffets with meat-carving stations, a pastry table and kid-friendly choices. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $27.95 adults; $12.95 children. 175 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, 513-241-8600, craveamerica.com.
Crowne Plaza Hotel Blue Ash: Stations including an omelet station and a waffle station plus salads, fruit, cinnamon French toast, seasoned roast pork loin, baked fish and more. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $27 adults; $21 seniors; $12 ages 5-12; free ages 4 and younger. 5901 Pfeiffer Road , Blue Ash, 513-793-4500.
Embassy Suites Blue Ash: Menu includes a carving station with glazed ham and beef. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $24.95 adults; $22.95 seniors; $9.95 ages 5-10; free ages 4 and younger. 4554 Lake Forest Drive , Blue Ash, 513-981-3752.
Jag’s Steak and Seafood: Steak and seafood menus. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 5980 West Chester Road , West Chester, 513-860-5353, jags.com.
Metropole: Chef Michael Paley offers dishes including milk-braised rabbit papparadelle and house-made sticky buns. Brunch cocktails include a salty bloody mary or Morning Glory, Metropole's spin on mimosa. 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-578-6660, metropoleonwalnut.com.
Oasis Conference Center: All sorts of stations including a omelet station, salad station, carving station, dessert station and a children’s buffet. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $22.95 adults; $17.95 seniors; $8.95 children. 902 Loveland-Miamiville Road, Loveland, 513-583-8383, oasisconferencecenter.com.
The Palace Restaurant: Executive Chef Joe West offers a traditional brunch buffet with carving and crepe stations. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. $42.95 adults; $32.95 seniors; $22.95 children. 601 Vine St., Downtown, palacecincinnati.com.
The Phoenix: Brunch plus complimentary photos with the Easter Bunny. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $28.95 adults; $16.95 children. 812 Race St., Downtown, 513-721-8901, thephx.com.
Riley’s Restaurant: All-you-can-eat smoked pit ham, fried chicken tenders, jambalaya, breakfast casserole, scrambled eggs and more. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $18.50. 11568 Springfield Pike , Springdale, 513-771-3361, rileysgreatmeals.com.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse: New seasonal spring dishes plus children's options. Noon. $42.95; $13.95 children. 100 E. Freedom Way , Downtown, 513-381-0491, ruthschris.com.
Schoolhouse Restaurant: Fried chicken, fish, carved roast beef, meat loaf, baked ham and spinach-stuffed chicken breast served with sides. 11:30 a.m. 8031 Glendale-Milford Road , Camp Dennison, 513-831-5753, theschoolhousecincinnati.com.
Via Vite: A buffet with Italian items and drink specials. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $25; $10 ages 2-10; free for 2 and younger. 520 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-8483, viaviterestaurant.com.
Actors Theatre’s Humana Festival is indeed a launching pad for exciting new works. That makes its final weekend the perfect moment for the American Theatre Critics Association to recognize a set of outstanding plays produced at regional theaters during 2013. None of the 2013 Humana Festival shows was nominated, but one of the three works to win a significant cash prize ($7,500) was Martín Zimmerman’s Seven Spots on the Sun, given its world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park last fall. The play blends magical realism and political issues in an affecting tale examining if forgiveness is truly possible. Set in a Central American nation ravaged by civil war, lust, plague and a consuming need for vengeance, it’s about a widowed doctor in a small village and a newly-married soldier charged with subduing dissent. Their journeys towards redemption converge in some painful ways.
The top prize ($25,000) went to Lauren Gunderson for her play I and You, about a cranky high school student who needs a liver transplant. A smart, athletic classmate recruits her to help him finish a school project focused on Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. As their unlikely relationship evolves, they explore the meaning of life and death without a shred of condescension or pretentiousness. I and You was staged last October at Marin Theatre Company in California, where Jasson Minadakis, who founded Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, is now artistic director and nurtured the development of Gunderson’s script. Her play Toil & Trouble was presented locally last summer by Know Theatre.
Ei8ht Ball Brewing hosts a party this Saturday that echoes most folks’ sentiments after the past few months. The brewery’s “F#$K Winter” bash features the tapping of Ei8ht Ball’s new double IPA, Preach, the grand opening of its patio, live music from Honey & Houston and a pig roast with all the fixins. Give Old Man Winter the proverbial finger by celebrating in true spring fashion — it looks like this monsoon will end today. Ei8ht Ball’s “F#$k Winter” party runs 4-8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance here.
If you’re looking for a fun way to introduce the kids to classical music and our local orchestras (or if you’re just an adult with an unabashed loved for children’s movies — no judgment), The Cincinnati Pops’ Pixar in Concert is definitely worth checking out. The Pops will be playing tunes from more than a dozen of your animated favorites including the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo and more. Concerts run all weekend, Friday-Sunday at Music Hall; tickets start at $12.
Cincinnati gets a little spring break flavor this weekend with Foam N’ Glow. You know those sketchy Panama bar parties where they flood the joint with suds and everyone goes wild, unaware of what bodily fluids they may or may not be exposed to? It’s just like that, only at Bogart’s. Expect DJs, light shows, foam shooters and way too many neon tank tops packed into Bogart’s beginning at 9 p.m. Friday. Get tickets here.
Monster Jam returns to the Tristate this weekend with a lineup of badass monstertruckers to entertain audiences with tricks and racing. U.S. Bank Arena gets down and dirty as it transforms into race track and obstacle course for Monster Jam Friday-Saturday.
Innovative chamber music ensemble concert:nova always presents fun, interdisciplinary concerts in atypical venues. This Saturday and Sunday, the group flips the traditional classical music gala on its head with RE:BEL — a performance and party at Rhinegeist Brewery. Lots of live music accompanies art installations and guests have the option of enjoying a three-course dinner. Go here for tickets and more details.
The 22nd Victory of Light Expo takes over Sharonville Convention Center this weekend for two days of workshops, lectures, art and music for the mind, body and spirit. Meet and mingle with psychics, healers, paranormal investigators, astrologists and other presenters with spiritual flair. The expo is also a great shopping spot for books, crystals and materials on Tarot, Reiki, aromatherapy and more. Tickets are $14 per day, $20 for a weekend pass.
Be sure to read our Best of Cincinnati issue for reader and staff picks on the city’s best restaurants, businesses, events and more.
Part of the nonprofit’s mission is to engage community members in the neighborhood’s future as a compliment to larger development companies’ efforts, which have largely shaped the neighborhood’s resurgence in recent years. This effort is specifically targeting those interested in moving to OTR, the Brewery District or Pendleton.
“Lots of people are really interested and excited about the idea of rehabbing one of the buildings to live-in in Over-the-Rhine,” says Marilyn Hyland, a board trustee for OTR Foundation. “Then they get into it and find it’s really complicated. This is an opportunity for people of both professional and personal perspectives to help people who really want to do this with their families and to have the wisdom of experience as they go forward with it themselves.”
The first of the three workshops — which take place at the Art Academy of Cincinnati on Jackson Street — will take place on April 12 and include a lecture from owners who rehabbed their homes, followed by an optional tour of renovated homes.
A second workshop on May 10 delves into selecting and purchasing a building, working with various contractors, hidden costs and navigating planning, zoning and other regulations. A third on June 14 dives into the financial aspect of renovation.
People can register for the workshop series by going to otrfoundation.org. The cost goes up from $35 to $50 starting April 4. Space is limited and will close once 80 people have registered.
“We as a foundation are committed to revitalizing the diverse OTR neighborhood, and a key objective is building community by encouraging and promoting owner-occupied development,” Kevin Pape, OTR Foundation president, said in a statement. “These workshops will help individuals gain access to the resources, expertise, and development tools needed to ensure the success of their community investments.”
More information is available at otrfoundation.org/3OTR.
The stoner gods have answered our prayers by way of Taco Bell’s “first meal.” Now folks across the country can start living mas as soon as they wake up, because everyone's favorite south-of-the-border fast food chain now serves breakfast. Taco Bell giant unveiled the new morning menu with a commercial that takes a dig at the golden arches:
Taco Bell breakfast is served 7-11 a.m. — 30 minutes later than McDonald’s, yet still too early for their target demographic. When will fast food restaurants learn that the people who really want to consume waffle tacos do not typically wake before noon?
Yeah, he wore PBR pants to a recent golf outing. NBD.
Of all the terrible reality
shows I relish in, I have never been able to get into The Bachelor/ette. I’m not sure what separates this piece of trash from
the heap of garbage I enjoy — it’s not like the materialistic, bratty children
in Botoxed old lady bodies known as Real
Housewives don’t perpetuate negative female stereotypes, but I enjoy shows
that are somewhat self-aware and poke fun at themselves, and The Bach just doesn’t do that for me.
So, any show in the vein of 2003’s Joe Millionaire
that misleads women who signed up for a TV dating show is a winner in my book.
In a new show coming to Fox, 12 women will compete for the affection of a man
claim to believe is Prince Harry, despite what the smallest amount
of common sense and eyesight would prove — the dude’s just a redheaded
I Want to Marry “Harry” premieres this May. You know when the truth bomb is dropped on these hoes they’ll be all, “How dare this television show orchestrated to create ‘true love’ be fake?!” But in the meantime we can ponder which is worse: a woman trying to meet and marry a prince (of whom she’s obviously never even seen a photo) and believing British royalty would dare be seen on American reality TV or a woman knowing all this mess is some bullshit but riding that gravy train as long as possible?
In what must be the most fabulous robbery ever, three people were arrested for stealing a replica pair of Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The shoes were on display in a Hilton Garden Inn lobby (which is kind of rude). The trio has been released without bail and is due back in court next month. If only clicking your heels got you out of jail.
Lakewood, Calif., Vice Mayor and Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff Todd Rodgers is running for L.A. sheriff in an upcoming June election. Typically, county election campaign coverage wouldn’t have a place in a pop culture roundup, save for maybe making fun of an unintentionally funny low-budget ad. But those Hollywood types have connections on the West Coast. If I lived in L.A., it would be important for me to elect an official with not only celebrity endorsements, but a good sense of humor as well. Therefore I’d definitely vote for Todd Rodgers, who last week reunited (most of) the cast of Reno 911! for a series of TV spots.
Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ben Garant, Cedric Yarbrough, Niecy Nash, Carlos Alazraqui and Joe Lo Truglio all suited up in their khaki uniforms for the occasion. While the videos haven’t been released yet, you can see photos here.
You may be asking, “Why would a serious candidate for sheriff seek out the cast of a Comedy Central mockumentary?” or “Why wouldn’t he seek endorsements from actors on a show that is still actually on the air?” or “Isn’t Reno in Nevada? What does any of this have to do with a sheriff election?” The answers all lie in Lt. Dangle’s signature booty shorts. But seriously, Reno was filmed at Carson Station in L.A. from 2001-2006, where Rodgers was a captain at the time, so the cast was actually familiar with him and his work. We’ll take any excuse for a Reno reunion, though. Vote for Rodgers!
And here’s Samuel L. Jackson reciting some slam poetry about Boy Meets World.
The Cincinnati Art Museum’s monthly Art After Dark series is a really cool way to experience the historic art institution. Each final Friday, the CAM opens its doors after hours for a themed night of gallery tours, live performances and a cash bar with happy hour drinks and appetizers. Friday’s Art After Dark: Rococo Vibrations includes tour of Genius and Grace: François Boucher and the Generation of 1700 (members-only at 5:30 p.m., public tours at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.) and the Neo-Soul stylings of Tracy Walker from 6-8 p.m. The free event runs 5-9 p.m.; parking is $4.
Washington Platform’s Oyster Festival kicks off Friday. This 28th annual food fest features a menu of more than 40 styles of oyster dishes, including Smoked Oyster Salad, Fried Oyster Tacos, Oyster Stuffed Jalapenos, Oysters Mardi Gras and Nantucket Oysters. Guests can enjoy lunch, dinner and happy hour specials and pay to play various games for prizes, with proceeds benefiting the Saint Francis Soup Kitchen in Over-the-Rhine. Washington Platform’s Oyster Festival specials are available 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 4-8 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday- Thursday.
Recent Grammy Award winners Roomful of Teeth perform at the Contemporary Arts Center Friday. The vocal group specializes in blending classical singing techniques with diverse World music styles for a completely unique sound — one of their songs is in a made-up language! The concert, which begins at 8 p.m., is just the latest offering from the CAC’s solid performance series. Tickets are $14, $8 for members. Read our story on Roomful of Teeth here.
This weekend is your last chance to check out Krohn Conservatory’s spring show, Avant Garden. The show features exotic flowers and shrubs with recycled materials in the landscape. Avant Garden closes Sunday along with the Conservatory’s spring plant sale. The anticipated annual butterfly show — this year it's Pura Vida: The Butterflies of Costa Rica — opens April 12.
Opening Day in Cincinnati is not only a city holiday, but a rite of passage for locals. It marks the first game of the Reds’ season (baseball’s first professional team), the unofficial start of spring and the return of one of the best parades of the year, the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade — now in its 95th year! Opening Day may not be until Monday, but Covington gallery BLDG is getting a jump on festivities beginning Friday.
199C: Cincinnati’s Opening Day is an exhibit of baseball-, Cincinnati- and Opening Day-themed art from more than 40 artists from around the neighborhood and world. The exhibit opening starts at 4 p.m. Friday with music from Automagik, food trucks, a live art installation, retro video game competitions and a pop-up Wiffle ball game on Pike Street. Find more info here.
Opening Day celebrations
run the gamut from sports-related fun to art, bar events and food. Check out a
roundup of Monday’s happenings here.
Be sure to read this week’s Best of Cincinnati issue for reader and staff picks on the city’s best restaurants, businesses, events and more.
Spring has sprung, in name at least. For music fans, this means that more bands will exit from their hibernations and start scheduling shows and tours. Cincinnati’s own Folk Metal warriors, Winterhymn, have done exactly that, earning a slot on this year’s Paganfest America.
The local sextet will be the only American band on the bill, spending from late April to mid-May crisscrossing the nation with Folk Metal heavy hitters Korpiklaani, Turisas, Chthonic and Varg. It is undeniably the biggest tour the young band has ever been a part of and members are asking for their fans’ help to fund the trip.
Winterhymn has set up an Indiegogo campaign with the hopes of raising $7,500 to pay for travel expenses, merchandise, gas, lodging, tolls, insurance and other necessary expenses. The money raised will not see any members’ pocket — it is merely to help them be a little less broke when they return home from their voyage.
In exchange for donations made, Winterhymn has set a veritable treasure trove of loot for any fan who contributes. Perks range from a digital download of a five-track EP ($5) to a signed kick drum head that will be used on the tour ($300). Other swag includes armor, patches, CDs, custom artwork, t-shirts and much, much more. If you’re interested, it’s best to act fast; several of the largest pieces, including a $200 violin and $400 guitar, have already been claimed.
Since March 15, the band has raised over $1,800 and hope to reach their goal by April 13. Click the box below or visit the Indiegogo page here to view the band’s pitch video and check out all of the perks. Even if a contribution can’t be made, fans can spread the word about the campaign via Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtags #winterhymn, #paganfest and #paganfestamerica) and other social media.