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by Nick Swartsell 04.15.2016 20 days ago
Posted In: News at 04:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Developer Asks Historic Conservation Board to Delay Dennison Demolition Vote

Request comes as controversy swirls around proposed demolition

Attorneys for Columbia REI, LLC have asked the city's Historic Conservation Board to delay a vote on their request to demolish the Dennison building at 716 Main St. downtown.

The demolition request is on the board's upcoming Monday meeting agenda, but the developers have asked the board to table it and reschedule the vote.

That request comes after the city's Urban Conservator Beth Johnson issued a report yesterday that rejected the developer's claim thatit  cannot reuse the building and that restoring or preserving the building with result in a negative financial return.

Historic preservation advocates and affordable housing activists both have rallied around the building, which was designed by noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford's firm and, until five years ago, contained 114 units of single-room occupancy affordable housing. The Cincinnati Preservation Collective, the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, City Councilman Chris Seelbach and others held a press conference today outside the building decrying attempts to tear it down and calling for more affordable housing in the central business district.

The Dennison was the last of more than 20 downtown buildings containing such housing. The building was slated for redevelopment by Model Group for 63 units of permanent supportive housing to be operated by The Talbert House in 2013. However, that project fell through and the building was purchased by Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation affiliate CBD Holdings for $1.3 million that year. 3CDC then sold the building to Columbia, owned by the influential Joseph Automotive Group family, for $740,000 a month later. In filings to the Historic Conservation Board, attorneys for the Joseph family have indicated they purchased the property at least in part out of concern that supportive housing would devalue other properties it holds in the area.

It is unclear when the vote on the building will be rescheduled. Preservation activist Derek Bauman called the request by Columbia "shenanigans" and wondered if the vote would be rescheduled for a less-convenient time.

Columbia says the building is decrepit and unsafe, and says it would like to use the land it occupies as part of a large-scale development that would provide office space for an as-yet-undetermined Fortune 500 company.

 
 
by Katherine Newman 04.15.2016 20 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Nonprofit Spotlight: Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones was founded in 1963 as a nonprofit organization to increase independence, improve lives and promote inclusion for children and adults with disabilities. There are four campuses in the Greater Cincinnati area serving close to 1,000 children and adults every year.

The organization offers programs for people of all ages with many different abilities. The Summer Day Camp, Saturday Clubs, Overnight Staycations and Respites and the Sensory Needs Respite and Support Program are all ways for Stepping Stones to provide support, opportunity and education and to increase independence for participants and their families.

Volunteer:

Our participants love to meet new people and the attention they receive from a volunteer makes them feel important and valued,” says Moira Grainger, marketing, board and community liaison at Stepping Stones.Volunteers enhance our activities and programs by providing an added layer of respect, care, concern and enthusiasm for the daily goals our participants strive for.”

All year there are opportunities for volunteers to work on special maintenance projects, like landscaping and painting. Stepping Stones can use volunteers on the weekends for the Saturday Kids Club and during Weekend Respites. There are also frequent fundraising events where a helping hand is always welcome.

The Summer Day Camp is a program for children with a range of disabilities; it is also where the most volunteers are needed. In 2015 the camp served 455 children and utilized more than 800 volunteers. Summer camp runs Monday-Friday, June 6-Aug. 5. It is not required to be at camp every day of the week, but volunteers must commit to being there from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on the days they choose. This opportunity is open to people as young as 13. We are fortunate to have compassionate and caring individuals who simply love the involvement with our participants, regardless of age,” Grainger says.

Saturday Clubs are a time to celebrate the abilities of children and young adults that participate in the program. This weekend activity encourages friendships and social interaction and is a good opportunity for volunteering. Weekends Respites are for children with severe sensory needs. Since 2013, Stepping Stones along with its volunteers has been providing one-on-one attention for participants helping them learn social skills to take home with them.

Volunteers that have experience working with people with disabilities or a background in special education are often placed in leadership roles, where they can share their experience with less experienced volunteers.

Community groups are encouraged to volunteer at Stepping Stones. Business groups, boy and girl scout groups and school leadership programs are just a few types of groups that have already used the organization to engage in community service. “These groups will usually tackle a project such as landscaping or building something needed, sometimes a maintenance project, or setting up for a special event such as a group dance,” Grainger says.  When corporations visit, a lot of times they will host a special event, like a picnic, for the participants at Stepping Stones.

To become a volunteer, start by filling out the online application. After a receiving a clean background check there is a training program. “The goal of the training is to ensure that all events ranging from needing a band aid to responding to a weather alert can be addressed in a safe and orderly manner,” Grainger says. During training new volunteers learn how to work with people who have disabilities, the appropriate terminology to use when communicate about disabilities and safety procedures.

Stepping Stones hopes that all volunteers are willing to make a long-term commitment. “It makes the experience more rewarding for the participants and the volunteers,” Grainger says.

Donate:

Stepping Stones relies on financial donations to support their programs and activities. The materials they use change depending on the needs of the programs and participants. If you can’t donate time to Stepping Stones, the gift of money can provide financial aid for participants that can’t afford the programs.

Register a Kroger Plus Card to earn cash rewards for Stepping Stones by enrolling in the Community Rewards Program, which gives a portion of every purchase to the chosen organization. Amazon Smile is a similar program that can be used to make donations.


For more information on STEPPING STONES and access to the online volunteer application, visit steppingstonesohio.org.

 
 
by Rick Pender 04.15.2016 20 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 11:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
stage door 4-15 - brent vimtrup as brutus in julius caesar @ cincy shakes - mikki schaffner photography

Stage Door

Emperors, assassins, a whole lotta Shakespeare and a feisty mongoose

We’re closing in on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616, and today is the Ides of April (that means the 15th of the month), so let’s start with several notes about the Bard.

Cincinnati Shakespeare’s production of Julius Caesar continues this weekend (it’s onstage through May 7). You might recall that the emperor’s assassination happened on the Ides of March. We’re a month late, but it’s worth noting since that historic event was the impetus for one of Shakespeare’s great plays of Roman history. Caesar is the focal point, but the play’s most interesting characters are Brutus, the morally conflicted conspirator, and the ambitious Marc Antony, who has his own designs on the throne. It’s also worth noting this production, since it will be followed in May by Shakespeare’s other Roman story, Antony and Cleopatra. Many of the actors playing key roles in Julius Caesar will return in the second production. It’s a rare pairing of these two works, made possible by Cincy Shakes depth of talent in its resident acting company. I wrote about this project in a recent Curtain Call column. Tickets: 513-381-2273.

If a history play isn’t enough, then you might want to head to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood where Cincy Shakes is continuing its education initiative, Project 38 Festival, working with more than 1,600 students at 45+ different area schools to bring each of Shakespeare’s 38 plays to life in creative ways. The celebration is already underway (performances continue through Monday) in Washington Park and the Woodward Theatre (1404 Main St.) — 43 free performances in all. Eighteen performances feature exclusively Shakespearean text, while others interpret the plays with music, dance, filmmaking and visual arts. One is even told with computer animation. For the festival’s full schedule, go here.

Know Theatre opens Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson this weekend. The Cincinnati Playhouse recently presented Gunderson’s intriguing show, The Revolutionists, a fantasy set during the French Revolution. The show at Know is rooted in real events, too, focusing on a group of brilliant women hired by the Harvard Observatory to catalog the stars. Directed by Tamara Winters, the production features a cast of excellent local professionals — Maggie Lou Rader, Justin McCombs and Miranda McGee (from Cincy Shakes) and Annie Fitzpatrick and Miranda McGee (regularly seen at Ensemble Theatre). It’s a fascinating story as well as a chance to experience another work by an award-winning young playwright. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

New Edgecliff Theatre opened the final production of its 2015-2016 season this week, Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things. It’s an emotional drama about relationships and love and what you can believe. Performances are at The Hoffner Lodge (4120 Hamilton Ave., Northside). Read my recent column for more about NET’s search for a home. For NET tickets here.

A production with young audiences in mind kicks off this weekend with the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s “Off the Hill” staging of The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi adapted from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book by playwright Y York. It’s about a fierce mongoose and his enemy the cobra Nag. The show, directed by the Playhouse’s new director of education, Daunielle Rasmussen, debuts at the theater on Saturday (10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.); tickets are $5 at the box office. The show then tours throughout Greater Cincinnati, starting Sunday at 2 p.m. at Cedar Village Retirement Community in Mason. Full schedule here.


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
 
 
by Maija Zummo 04.15.2016 20 days ago
at 09:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List

Beer festivals, flower shows, cat shows?

FRIDAY
EVENT: CINCINNATI FLOWER SHOW
The five-day Cincinnati Flower Show features the theme “An International Adventure,” which will manifest through a variety of fine foods and creative floral displays. Along with both amateur and professionally designed exhibits featuring rare and lovely plants and flowers in tablescapes, creative container gardens, window boxes and landscapes, the show will also feature local and regional artisan food vendors. Snack your way through floral displays dedicated to our foreign sister cities, or RSVP for a special event, like a Southern afternoon tea, lunch and learn or wine tasting. MadTree is also releasing a special collaboration beer for the event, Hortense, brewed with the Cincinnati Horticultural Society and featuring nasturtium flower and cucumber (available at the flower show or MadTree taproom). Through Sunday. $15; $5 child; special events ticketed. Yeatman’s Cove at Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincinnatihorticulturalsociety.com.

 

EVENT: STARKBIER FEST
Listermann Brewing Company celebrates strong beer at its annual Starkbier Fest. The idea goes back to the 18th century, when German monks believed the nutritional value of strong beer helped them through their Lenten fast. In continuation of this tradition, Listermann’s fest features a slew of local craft beers with an ABV of 7.5 percent or higher from breweries including Blank Slate, Fifty West, Rock Bottom, Rhinegiest, Taft’s Ale House, Braxton Brewing Company and more. Since fasting isn’t required of this party, there will be food vendors, live music and some lighter beers on draft. 5 p.m.-midnight Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. 1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, listermannbrewing.com.

'The Last Five Years'
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
ONSTAGE: THE LAST FIVE YEARS
It’s not unusual for a movie, play or musical to follow the arc of a relationship. But Jason Robert Brown’s musical exploration of Jamie’s and Cathy’s coming together and breaking up charts a pair of parallel but opposite paths. We follow Jamie’s story from the beginning of their romance to the end, while Cathy starts at the conclusion and winds her way back to the beginning. They overlap for a moment — a song together on their wedding day. It’s a fascinating way to track the course of love… and loss. Brown’s gorgeous score makes it all the more poignant. Through April 24. $25-$28. The Carnegie, 1028 Scott St., Covington, Ky., thecarnegie.com.

Inter Arma
Photo: Relapse Records
MUSIC: INTER ARMA
Nuance isn’t a commodity that carries much value in Metal, but Inter Arma wields subtlety with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel rather than the body-count arc of a broadsword. The Richmond quintet is a perfect storm of Doom, Stoner, Sludge, Grindcore and Black Metal, with mercurial flashes of Punk, Psychedelia, Southern Hard Rock and symphonic Prog, all punctuated with the dirtiest hellhound vocals imaginable. Even for those who enjoy Metal but have never really embraced the raw fury of the Black end of the spectrum, Inter Arma is thrilling, visceral and unflinchingly compelling. Read more about the group in this week's Sound Advice. Inter Arma plays MOTR Pub with Grey Host on Friday. More info/tickets: motrpub.com.

George Winston
Photo: Joe del Tufo
MUSIC: GEORGE WINSTON
Consistent success and longevity are both rarities in the music industry, but the almost unhittable trifecta would be adding “genre architect” to that already improbable set of career accomplishments. Pianist George Winston has notches for that very trio on his Steinway. Winston developed an interest in instrumental music as a child, without regard for genre. At 16, he was enthralled by Vince Guaraldi’s Jazz score for A Charlie Brown Christmas and immediately purchased the soundtrack, but it was The Doors that inspired Winston to play the organ two years later. At 22, exposure to stride players Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller moved him to acoustic piano. In 1972, little more than a year after he began playing piano, Winston recorded his debut, Piano Solos, for the John Fahey co-founded Takoma Records; the album barely made a ripple. Read more about Winston in this week's Sound Advice. George Winston plays Live! at the Ludlow Garage Friday. More info/tickets:liveattheludlowgarage.com.

SATURDAY
EVENT: RECORD STORE DAY
The annual, worldwide Record Store Day returns Saturday (see this week’s Cover Story on page 15 for some local vinyl collectors especially excited about this). The celebration of independent record sellers means innumerable limited-edition releases will be made available from music manufacturers big and small, and several shops in Greater Cincinnati will once again be hosting special events for RSD. Visit recordstoreday.com for a list of RSD exclusives, as well as which stores in the area are participating. Here are a few local RSD notes:
• Shake It Records (4156 Hamilton Ave., Northside, shakeitrecords.com) will have some special local-music-related items available for RSD. The store (which opens at 9 a.m. Saturday) is issuing an unreleased album by Cincinnati Punk pioneers The Reduced through its label.The Jockey Club favorites recorded Drastically Reduced in 1986, but the album never came out. The Reduced will perform a set at Shake It Saturday at 7 p.m. with a special lineup that includes Bryan Dilsizian of The Long Gones on vocals (original Reduced vocalist Bill Leist passed away early last year). There will be other performances throughout the day Saturday, including sets by Folk/Americana act Honey & Houston and Reggae/Caribbean crew Queen City Silver Stars. Rhinegeist has again made a special beer in honor of Shake It for Record Store Day. Last year, the brewery created a brew called A Side; this year, the drink will be called B Side, and it will be available to sample at the store (several Northside bars will also be serving the beer). Shake It is also again doing its food drive for Churches Active in Northside (CAIN) this year; a canned good donation will get you 10 percent off your entire RSD purchase. 
• Everybody’s Records (6106 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, everybodysrecords.com) has a full slate of local musicians performing throughout the day for Record Store Day. The store opens at 11 a.m. Saturday, and live music begins at noon with a performance by reigning R&B/Soul Cincinnati Entertainment Award winners Krystal Peterson & The Queen City Band.  
 Legendary downtown bar/restaurant Arnold’s isn’t a record store, but it is getting in on the Record Store Day action again this year.  The bar and grill has curated and produced the Arnold’s Bootleggers and Hustlers Vol. 2 local music compilation with Neltner Small Batch Records. Last year’s compilation sold out within a few hours and was reportedly the top-selling RSD release at Everybody’s Records. The compilation is limited to 500 vinyl copies; 400 feature gold and blue covers (with artwork by Keith Neltner and pressing by Otto’s) and are on transparent gold vinyl, while 100 copies will have red and blue covers and feature clear vinyl. 

Still from "Good White People"
Photo: Jarrod Welling-Cann and Erick Stoll
EVENT: PUSHED OUT! SCREENING AND DISCUSSION
Despite the determination of national media to proffer Cincinnati as an example of a city that has rectified all of its problems related to issues of race, the experience of those affected by our city’s efforts to “revitalize” ground zero neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine tell a much different story. In an effort to balance that narrative, Cincinnati-based filmmakers Jarrod Welling-Cann and Erick Stoll will screen their short film Good White People, about Reginald Stroud, Sr. and his family who lost their home and businesses in OTR when an urban developer bought the building they rented. Afterward, Stroud and a panel of community members will discuss the film and invite audiences to share their own experiences related to race and displacement. 3 p.m. Saturday. Free. St. Francis School, 14 E. Liberty St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/goodwhitepeople

Cy Amundson
Photo: Provided
COMEDY: CY AMUNDSON
“Sorry about my ring-back tone,” says comedian Cy Amundson in reference to the Country music that callers hear before his cellphone connects. “It’s on there strictly to upset certain comedian friends of mine who are music snobs.” Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the fact that he can’t sing, like his more musically talented brothers, he might have pursued a career in Nashville. Using a ringtone to annoy his friends is perfectly in line with his penchant for pulling pranks. In one of his most popular bits, he tells audiences about how he’ll try on a shirt and then ask a store employee, “If you were in junior high would you trust an adult in this shirt?” Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Marketplace Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com. 

Photo: Janiss Garza
EVENT: CINCINNATI CAT CLUB SHOW
The cat’s out of the bag: The 64th Cat Fanciers’ Association Championship show is coming to town, and guests should expect to meet some pretty fancy felines. Hosted by the Cincinnati Cat Club, the show features pedigreed cats on exhibition over a two-day period, with kitties competing to come out on top in 10 separate rings. Each ring has a different judge, who will determine a winner based on the written standard for a cat’s specific breed. The 10 winners from each ring move on to the finals, during which one coveted kitty is deemed Best Cat in Show. In the meantime, guests can mingle with local rescue organizations, meet other cat people and browse booths from local pet shops. You can even enter your own fame-fancying feline in a household cat competition. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $6 adults; $3 children; $5 seniors; $12 families. Butler County Agricultural Society, 1715 Fairgrove Ave., Hamilton, 513-892-1423, cincinnaticatclub.net.

Photo: provided
EVENT: EARTH DAY AT SAWYER POINT
Drum Circles, live music, recycling games, costume contests, furry and scaly critters, parades with Earth-friendly mascots and lectures — there are countless ways to celebrate our planet on Saturday at Sawyer Point’s Earth Day celebration. Learn about the declining bee population from the Civic Garden Center, find out more about the Cincinnati Streetcar from Metro’s Paul Grether or become an expert on regional trails with Green Umbrella. Exhibits, vendors and a kids’ zone will be open for the duration of the festivities. View a full schedule of activities online. Noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincinnatiearthday.com

EVENT: QUEEN CITY COMICON
Dust off your cape, sheath your weapon of choice and follow the Bat-Signal to the convention center this weekend. This super-sized hub of all-things comics features writers and artists, workshops and panels, a costume contest and more than 40 vendors, who will offer a wide selection of comic books, cosplay jewelry, toys and steampunk gear. Dozens of comic creators — many of whom have worked with the likes of Marvel and DC — will meet and discuss their work with guests; featured artists include Frank Brunner, artist of Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Man-Thing, and David Michael Beck, a Cincinnati resident who has worked with Marvel, DC, Dark Horse Comics and many others. Come dressed as your favorite comic, manga or anime character to participate in a judged costume contest at 4 p.m. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. $5 (cash only); free with 2015 Cincinnati Comic Expo VIP badge. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, 513-419-7300, queencitycomicon.com.

'Glengarry Glen Ross'
Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
ONSTAGE: GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS
A-B-C: “Always Be Closing.” That’s the mantra of four desperate Chicago real estate agents, locked in close to mortal combat to become top dog. In David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize winner from 1984, these guys are selling worthless real estate to unwitting buyers and will stop at nothing — lies, bribery, betrayal, flattery, even intimidation and burglary — to make what they think of as an honest living. Cincinnati Landmark Productions takes another stab at establishing its Incline Theater in East Price Hill as a place to see serious drama. Can they sell it? Time will tell. Through April 24. $23-$26. Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre, 801 Matson Place, East Price Hill, 513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.

SUNDAY
'Quintessence Starless'
Photo: Courtesy of Shinji Turner-Yamamoto
ART: SIDEREAL SILENCE AT THE WESTON ART GALLERY
Shinji Turner-Yamamoto, the Japanese-born, U.S.-based artist living in Cincinnati since 2008, has received international attention for work exploring nature in new ways and in unexpected spaces. His latest show — Sidereal Silence — debuts at downtown’s Weston Art Gallery on Friday. Occupying the entire gallery, the exhibition includes a surround sound installation of waterfalls, a large-scale clear-acrylic structure that disperses water vapor, a two-channel video of waterfall loops, paintings made outdoors on raw cotton canvas with natural, organic materials and a series of smaller sculptural works focusing on crystal formations that emulate stars.On view through June 5. Free. Weston Art Gallery, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org

Burlington Antique Show
Photo: Provided
EVENT: BURLINGTON ANTIQUE SHOW
Forget spring cleaning: Ditch the dust at home and head to the first Burlington Antique Show of the season to buy some new old stuff instead. Midwest’s premier antique market is celebrating 35 years of bringing the best antiques and vintage collectibles to the Boone County Fairgrounds. More than 200 dealers converge the third Sunday of the month (through October) to exhibit and sell their authentic wares — midcentury modern, art deco, pre-war, industrial and more. 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. $3 admission from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; $5 early-bird 6-8 a.m. 5819 Idlewild Road, Burlington, Ky., burlingtonantiqueshow.com.

Tommy Castro
Photo: Victoria Smith
MUSIC: TOMMY CASTRO & THE PAINKILLERS
Any discussion of the world’s best guitarists would include legends that Tommy Castro lists among his influences — Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Mike Bloomfield. But the fact is, Castro himself should be a part of that conversation. With a commanding vocal style that leans toward Delbert McClinton’s gravel-and-soul approach and a furious guitar attack that blends every iteration of the Blues with blustery Classic Rock, buttery R&B and thumping Funk, Castro has been channeling his heroes into his singular musical vision over the past four decades. Castro made his bones playing in a succession of San Francisco cover bands in the ’70s, which set the stage for his successful stint with The Dynatones in the ’80s. Read more about Castro in this week's Sound Advice.  Tommy Castro & The Painkillers play 20th Century Theater Sunday. More info/tickets:the20thcenturytheatre.com.

“Branded Head” by Hank Willis Thomas
Photo: PHOTO: Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection. © Hank Willis ThomaS
ART: 30 AMERICANS AT THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM
If you’ve been to the Cincinnati Art Museum lately, you’ve seen an early arrival for the show 30 Americans, which opens Saturday. It is the mural-sized “Sleep,” by Kehinde Wiley, the New York-based portrait painter whose depictions of young African-American men in poses reminiscent of Old Masters paintings have made him an art star. It is in the Schmidlapp Gallery, the corridor between the main entrance and the Great Hall, and is impossible to miss. 30 Americans, which primarily features some 60 artworks on loan from Miami’s Rubell Family Collection, also has such important contemporary African-American artists as Kara Walker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mickalene Thomas, Glenn Ligon and more. On view through Aug. 28. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

MONDAY
Parkers Blue Ash Tavern
Photo: Provided 
EATS: GREATER CINCINNATI RESTAURANT WEEK
Be a culinary tourist in your own city with CityBeat’s inaugural Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week. Do you like eating? Do you want to try some multi-course meals for cheap? Restaurants throughout the Tristate will be offering $35 three-course meals to delight the palate and impress your date. Participating eateries include Harvest Bistro & Wine Bar, Pompilios, Kaze, The Palace, Parkers Blue Ash Tavern and more. Check out menus and more info online. Through April 24. $35 plus tax and gratuities. Find participating restaurants at greatercincinnatirestaurantweek.com.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.15.2016 20 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
rob portman

Morning News and Stuff

UCPD chief pushed traffic stops, misled investigators; Uptown could get major development project; Ark Park employees must sign religious statement

Good morning all. Here’s the news today.

• A report released yesterday by the University of Cincinnati says that former UCPD chief Jason Goodrich pushed for aggressive traffic stops as a tactic for boxing out criminals from the neighborhoods around UC, then lied about that to investigators after the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Sam Dubose by UCPD officer Ray Tensing. Those enforcement techniques created what Goodrich reportedly called a “no fly zone,” which Dubose was in when he was pulled over for not having a front license plate in Mount Auburn. Goodrich and Major Timothy Thornton left UCPD in February. Tensing is scheduled to stand trial in Hamilton County Courts on murder and manslaughter charges in October.

• Cincinnati’s Urban Conservator Beth Johnson issued a report yesterday saying that developers seeking to tear down 716 Main Street, an 1892 structure built by the architecture firm of noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford, have not presented enough evidence to make their case. Owners Columbia REI, LLC — owned by powerful Cincinnati family the Josephs — have caused controversy with their request for permission to level the building, which sits in a historic district downtown. Johnson’s report notes that the owners seemed to have purchased the building with the intent to tear it down, and that there are other economically feasible uses for the structure that the owners didn’t consider. In documents Columbia filed with the Urban Conservation Board, which will decide the fate of the building Monday, the owners said they bought the building because they were concerned that planned permanent supportive housing there would decrease the value of other properties the group owns in the neighborhood. Columbia holds several parcels of land on the block, many of which also once held historic buildings. Columbia leveled some of those structures in the late 1980s, promising new buildings in their places, though today most of the parcels are parking lots. Columbia says it’s interested in using those plots, plus the Dennison’s, to build a headquarters for an as-yet-undetermined Fortune 500 company.

• Speaking of big developments, Clifton Heights may soon get a huge one. Developers M-G Securities, Nassau Investments and Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. are proposing a $75 million project at Vine and McMillan Streets on a now-vacant plot of land just west of Vine and south of Calhoun Street. That development could include a 195-room extended-stay hotel, 130 apartments, 350-400 space underground parking garage and an outdoor community area. The developers are calling it a potential gateway to Uptown neighborhoods.

• Are you a believer? You’d better be if you want to work for Northern Kentucky’s upcoming Noah’s Ark-themed park Ark Encounter. Workers seeking to fill the 300-400 food service and other jobs at the park will have to sign a form professing their Christian faith, founder Ken Ham says. That’s controversial because the park has wrangled with the state of Kentucky over a tourism sales tax rebate worth up to $18 million. It looks as though the park may get to have its cake and eat it too, receiving that tax break while also stipulating religious beliefs for its employees.

• U.S. Sen. Rob Portman had a nice visit yesterday with President Barack Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, but says he’s still not going to push for a confirmation hearing for him or vote for him if there was one. Portman said he was impressed with Garland, but that Obama should not be allowed to nominate a Supreme Court justice in “a very partisan year, and an election year.” That’s an echo of talking points from other Senate Republicans, including Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he will not hold a vote on Garland. Democrats have hit the GOP hard on what they say is a highly unusual, obstructive maneuver. The court has been down a justice since conservative firebrand Antonin Scalia passed away earlier this year.

• So, yeah, Democrat presidential primary contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated last night, and as predicted in this spot yesterday, the gloves came off. There was shouting. There was tension. Memories of the cordiality of the first debate were nowhere in mind. As expected, Clinton lit into Sanders on gun control, his weakest topic among liberals. Sanders blasted Clinton on her relationship to Wall Street. You get the picture. This was the last scheduled debate for the two, giving both time to take a breather and work on some new material before the primary fight ends this summer. You can read more about the debate here.

I’m out. Laterrrr.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 04.14.2016 21 days ago
Posted In: News at 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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City Report: Don't Demolish the Dennison

Urban conservator's report finds insufficient evidence for destroying historical hotel building

In the latest development on the ongoing drama surrounding the fate of the Dennison Hotel, which will be decided during a meeting on Monday afternoon, the city's urban conservator today sided with preservationists in recommending the Historic Conservation Board not allow the historical structure to be torn down

The city staff report, written by Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, refutes Dennison owners the Joseph family of the Joseph Auto Group's claim that they cannot reuse the building and that restoring or preserving the building with result in a negative financial return.

Some of the evidence the report cites is a lack of attempt by the owner to sell or lease the building to another buyer who might be able to restore or use the property; documents from the Joseph family that indicate it bought the property with the intention of demolishing it for redevelopment; and a structural engineering report that found the building could still be used for residential purposes after minor structural updates. 

The family purchased the building located at 716-718 Main Street in 2013 in part to block plans to turn the building into affordable housing, according to documents the family's legal team submitted to the Historic Conservation Board. 

The Historical Conservation Board is set to review the group's application for a certificate of appropriateness on April 18 at 4 p.m. The Joseph family says it would like to build an office complex for a Fortune 500 company where the building currently sits and on surrounding property it owns, though there is no agreement in place for any company to move there at this point. 
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.14.2016 21 days ago
Posted In: News at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
view.asp

Report: Former UCPD Chief "Untruthful"

Chief Jason Goodrich pushed aggressive traffic stops, then misled investigators, outside review says

The University of Cincinnati today released an independent report on its police personnel with details that give further context to the departure of its former police chief, Jason Goodrich.

The report by consulting company Exiger suggests Goodrich pushed for more traffic stops around UC and that he and UCPD Major Timothy Thornton were later "untruthful" about their knowledge of those stops. Stops increased by 400 percent during the year leading up to the July 19 shooting of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose by UCPD officer Ray Tensing, the report reveals, and those stops have been heavily disproportionate toward blacks.

"Five interviewees said that, at the start of Goodrich's tenure, he held one-on-one meetings with each UCPD officer," the report reads. "During these meetings, the Chief described his approach to proactive policing — namely, the areas around campus should be viewed as a 'box,' and UCPD would use traffic enforcement to 'stop' and root out anyone carrying drugs or guns, and individuals with warrants, in those zones. They were, according to the chief, to be effectively 'no fly zones,' through which, via excessive traffic enforcement, criminals would not want to drive."

In February, Goodrich and UCPD Major Timothy Thornton resigned from UCPD for then-undisclosed reasons. UC has promised a full slate of reforms to its department following DuBose's shooting death. The school fired Tensing, who is now charged with murder and manslaughter.

"In our initial interview, Chief Goodrich indicated that he was unaware of both the extent of, and motivation for, this substantial upsurge in stops," the report reads. "As Exiger learned from other interviews, the Chief had made similar assertions to several senior UC administrators at various times following the shooting. These assertions — both to Exiger and the administrators — could not be reconciled with interviews that Exiger conducted of sworn UCPD members, or with documents that Exiger had received by request pursuant to the Assignment. Exiger viewed this seemingly conflicting information as sufficiently troubling to bring the matter to the attention of the UC Administration, including the UC General Counsel."

After those revelations, the company set up interviews with UCPD personnel in late February. In those interviews, the report says, Thornton was also untruthful.

"During one of these first interviews, Major Timothy Thornton, Chief Goodrich’s second-in-command, made statements mirroring those of the Chief — that is, denying knowledge regarding the extent of, and motivation for, the sharp rise in traffic stops during the Chief’s tenure."

UC says it released the report in the name of transparency.

"Look across the country, around the world at what's happening here and the places where there are police-community relations problems and the way police agencies are responding," UC Vice President for Safety and Reform Robin Engel said, according to 12 News. "Look at Chicago, look what's happening in these places, that doesn't have to happen here. If there were mistakes then we need to understand what they were and we need to correct those problems and work with out community to make sure that we are policing in a way that they want to be policed. We need to move forward and are very transparent in a collaborative way. That's what we're trying to do here at the University of Cincinnati."

Goodrich joined UCPD in October of 2014. He previously worked as chief of police for Lamar University. Before that, he worked in Vanderbilt University's public safety office. Thornton joined the force in February 2015 and had also previously worked for Lamar University.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 04.14.2016 21 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Ohio House Approves Bill Protecting Religious Expression in Public Schools

Bill would prevent teachers from marking off students' answers based on religious beliefs

The Ohio House passed a bill on Wednesday extending students' abilities to express themselves religiously in public schools. The bill will continue onto the Senate.

Students' religious expression is limited to non-instructional times like lunch periods and after-school activities. HB 425 would permit religious expression in the classroom and on exams and homework assignments, going so far as to prevent a teacher from punishing or rewarding a student's response that is based on his or her religious beliefs. 

Rep. Bill Hayes, a Republican from Harrison Township, introduced the legislation back in January. He says the bill is simply to clarify what is permitted for religious expression in public schools. 

"It seems that many school administrators, school boards, teachers, parents and even students are sometimes confused about the extent to which they may engage in religious expression in the school setting," Hayes said. "HB 425 seeks to address that very problem and respond to it."

Hayes previously introduced the same bill during the last legislative session, but the session ended before it made it to the House floor for a vote.

Rep. Michael Curtin, a Democrat from Columbus, brought up concerns about the bill from the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the only organization to testify against the bill in front of the House's Community and Family Advancement Committee in February. 

The ACLU said the language of the bill is too broad, possibly forcing teachers to have to choose between obeying the law and enforcing academic standards in the classroom. 

"If the assignment is on biology, human evolution, et cetera, and a student writes a paper on intelligent design or the Earth being 10,000 years old," Curtin said, "does the instructor have the ability to flunk that student for his paper being out of context?" 

Rep. Stephanie Howse, a Democrat from Cleveland, disagreed that public schools should be required to accommodate students' religious beliefs to the bill's proposed extent.

"When we send our children to public schools, it's an expectation and a right that each of our children receive an unbiased education," Howse said. "It is upon this educational foundation that our children can build their values and choose a route of expression." 

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.14.2016 21 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar budget stalls; Covington named most underrated Kentucky spot; House likely to miss budget deadline

Good morning all. Here’s a quick look at news today.

Do we have a streetcar budget yet? Not quite. Cincinnati City Council this week came so, so close to nailing down a first-year operating budget for the transit project, but stumbled in the last yard before the end zone yesterday in what can only be described as a headache-inducing last-minute meltdown. (I know because I’m one of the ones who ended up with a headache from watching it go down). The issue? Councilman Kevin Flynn, who joined the 6-2 vote for the $4.2 million first-year budget in committee, balked in the final voting yesterday, citing concerns about where contingency and startup funds for the project are sourced from in the budget. Flynn indicated that if his concerns are addressed, he’ll vote for the budget. Meanwhile, the budget passed 5-4, but Mayor John Cranley threatened to veto it. So back to committee it goes so Council can hammer out what will likely be the final details. The budget is due to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority at the end of the month. The streetcar is expected to start operations sometime in September.

• Council also wrangled just a bit over a motion to ban city-funded travel to North Carolina and Mississippi, both of which have recently passed laws many say are anti-LGBT. Those laws allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals and also stipulate that trans individuals must use restrooms assigned to their physical gender traits, not their identified genders. The ban wouldn't cover emergency travel to those states — say in case of a hurricane or terrorist attack — but would otherwise keep city officials and employees from going to the state. The legislation also asks city administration to begin courting companies to move to Cincinnati that have indicated they'll leave the states in question over the anti-LGBT laws. The motion, introduced by Councilman Chris Seelbach, passed 7-2. Councilmembers Charlie Winburn and Amy Murray voted against the travel ban.

• Quick. Name the most underrated place in Kentucky. Did you save Covington? You win… something. Anyway, travel website Thrillist.com agrees with you, giving props to the city’s bourbon bars, historic districts and art galleries. It also praises the Roebling Suspension Bridge and calls Covington a… hipster enclave… whatever that is. Of course, the first thing the site mentions is the wonderful view of Cincinnati, and the last thing it suggests is grabbing a slice of Goodfellas Pizza, which is a chain restaurant. It is headquartered in the Cov, though, so I guess it counts. Anyway, pretty cool.

• Remember that big fight over legalizing marijuana last year? Republicans were pretty dead-set against efforts to do so, but now some are trotting out their own plan. State lawmakers have introduced a proposal to legalize medicinal marijuana by 2018. Under the plan, folks over 18 could buy edible marijuana products, patches, oils and probably the good ole fashioned green stuff with a doctor’s prescription. Lawmakers say they’ll work over the next year to figure out who would be allowed to grow the crops, and within two years, Ohio could join 24 other states that have legalized medicinal use of the drug.

• Democratic presidential primary contenders Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will square off in their final scheduled debate tonight. The debate comes as Sanders has made some big gains — though probably not big enough — by capturing some primary and caucus wins over the past few weeks. Clinton still has a commanding delegate lead, however, and has a much more feasible path to the nomination. That means tonight’s debate could be a knock-down, drag out fight as the two make their respective cases with an eye toward New York primary voters, who will go to the polls next week. That means Clinton will likely have to explain her stance on Wall Street regulations, where Sanders has run squarely to her left. Sanders, meanwhile, will have to deal with some baggage he’s been carrying around about gun control, a big issue in the state and one of the few areas where Clinton is seen as more liberal. Stay tuned. It’ll get real.

• Finally, Republicans in the House of Representatives seem likely to miss a statutory budget deadline as they fight over various ideologically-charged proposals for the government’s financial blueprint. That deadline is tomorrow, by the way, and the House seems nowhere close to coming to an agreement that would both satisfy its most conservative members and stand any chance of passing the Senate. That’s a big embarrassment for House Speaker Paul Ryan, some say, who took the reins from former speaker John Boehner last year. Ryan, who has recently had to beat back speculation that he’s hoping to be a surprise candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, says he’s hopeful the House will come together around a spending plan soon. Failure to pass the plan is more of an embarrassment than a catastrophe at this point — Congress can still pass individual bills funding the various departments of government, and spending levels were set in a biannual bill last year — but by statute, the House must pass a spending plan every year. Republicans, including Ryan, have lambasted Democrats in the past when it has appeared that the spending plans won’t materialize on time.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.13.2016 22 days ago
Posted In: News at 04:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Council Passes North Carolina, Mississippi City Travel Ban

Travel boycott in response to anti-LGBT legislation passed in those states

Cincinnati City Council today passed a ban on non-essential city-funded travel to North Carolina and Mississippi today in response to harsh laws passed in those states allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals and prohibiting transgender individuals from using restrooms that match the gender they identify with.

The motion, presented by Councilman Chris Seelbach and passed 6-2, also directs the city to reach out to companies that have indicated they are leaving those states due to the laws to try and convince them to come to Cincinnati.

The laws, passed in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage, have been highly controversial and look likely to face challenges in federal courts.

“Regardless of who you are or who you love, you should be protected from discrimination,” Seelbach said. “Anti-LGBT discrimination is not a Cincinnati value, and this motion is in that spirit.”

Councilman Charlie Winburn had pointed questions about the motion. He and Councilwoman Amy Murray, both Republicans, voted against the effort.

Winburn asked what "essential travel" meant and what Seelbach hoped to accomplish with the legislation.

“In essence, this would ban city personnel traveling to the states of North Carolina or Mississippi for any business purpose that isn’t an emergency situation, which could be if we had to go to North Carolina to obtain a commodity or deal with an emergency," City Manager Harry Black said, answering Winburn's first question. "That’s a highly unlikely scenario.”

Seelbach threw out the idea of terrorist attacks or a hurricane as possible scenarios in which city travel to the states would be allowed. Sending emergency crews or assistance wouldn’t be off the table in those cases.

Winburn wasn't convinced.

“The problem I have with this whole ordinance is — it’s wrong to target transgender or gay people, but it’s also wrong to target Republicans," Winburn said. “In passing this motion today, what do you plan to accomplish?”

"I guess my only concern is that this motion will do what you intend it to do. If we could all search our hearts and learned to love each other, we wouldn’t have to be passing things like this. I don’t think the laws change anything."

Seelbach said the motion would make a difference by sending a message and possibly netting Cincinnati more high-paying employers.

“The goal is to send a message that anti-gay discrimination won’t be tolerated by Cincinnati, that we won’t use taxpayer dollars to do business with states who have passed ideologically charged laws that target gay people," he said. "We want to lure these businesses, these good-paying jobs, to our city, because we’ve done a fantastic job welcoming LGBT individuals."

 
 

 

 

 
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