What should I be doing instead of this?
 
WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
Home - Blogs - Staff Blogs - Latest Blogs
by Nick Swartsell 04.08.2016 25 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Harry Black

Morning News and Stuff

City could work at grabbing businesses fleeing North Carolina's anti-gay laws; Cincinnati subway turns 100, doesn't look a day over whatever age the Parthenon is; former Prez Bill Clinton argues with Black Lives Matter

Yesterday we told you about a Cincinnati City Council move to ban non-essential city-funded travel to North Carolina in the aftermath of legislation there legalizing certain discrimination against members of the LGBT community. Council also wants to go further than that by turning their opposition into opportunity. The motion authored by Councilman Chris Seelbach and signed by fellow council members Wendell Young, Yvette Simpson, Kevin Flynn, Christopher Smitherman and Vice Mayor David Mann directs the city to work at attracting businesses leaving North Carolina due to its new law. Seelbach has also indicated he’ll amend the motion to include Mississippi, which recently passed similar “religious freedom” laws allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT individuals.

• One-hundred years ago this month, Cincinnati voters did something brave and nearly unthinkable: voting to build a massive, cutting-edge citywide transit project. Yes, I’m talking about the Cincinnati subway system. We all know the sad end to that story, but did you know the city continues to perform maintenance on the tunnels to keep them viable for future use? Or that less than 15 years ago, a regional transit plan went before voters that proposed utilizing the tunnels for light rail (called MetroMoves, it failed by a 2-1 margin, by the way). Anyway, the city’s phantom subway system got some national attention this week. As you might expect from national coverage of a local issue, the article has some big, kind of head-scratching inaccuracies, but it’s worth checking out all the same.

• A century later, it turns out we’re still trying to figure out transit, though some cities are moving faster than others. The Northern Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, the transit authority that serves Cleveland and the surrounding areas, for instance, recently announced a 20-year initiative to improve social equity through transit opportunities, especially for citizens without cars. That plan looks to right what the authority says have been lopsided spending priorities that privilege highway funding at the expense of transit for those who don’t own cars.

• Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black received some national recognition this week, making Government Technology magazine’s “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers” list. Black joins other government administrators from across the country on the list, which touts his efforts to bring big data analytics to Cincinnati City Hall. You can see the article about Black here.

• So, The Banks has been open for five years now. How is the massive development effort going? Things are still shaky, according to this report on the restaurant and bar scene at the riverfront development, but with big boosts on the horizon. The years-long, multi-million-dollar development effort has seen some high-profile closures over the past few years, including Toby Keith’s, Mahogany’s and others. That’s meant less rent coming in for the developer of those spaces, who argues that the county needs to revise its tax valuations on The Banks in response to the challenges. But General Electric’s new office space and the coming addition of 300 more apartments at The Banks could give the next spurt of energy the development needs to stabilize, and a new hotel slated to open next year could also provide a big boost.

• Northern Kentucky University today is hosting an all-day conference on economic inequality. The event, put on by the International Peace and Justice Center, will explore work being done in the region to increase economic opportunities for communities around Cincinnati and will feature community organizers, academics, authors and more. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

• Finally, fault lines around race and economics continue to play a big role in the 2016 presidential primaries. Yesterday, former president Bill Clinton argued with Black Lives Matter activists in Philadelphia during a speech he gave promoting his wife, Democrat presidential primary contender Hillary Clinton.

The exchange is especially significant because Philly will be the site of the Democratic National Convention this summer. As activists protested him, Clinton defended his 1990s-era law enforcement reforms that many say increased mass incarceration, saying that the BLM activists in attendance were supporting criminals and murderers. Clinton himself has been apologetic about those reforms in the past, saying they “overshot the mark” in being tough on crime, contributing to high levels of incarceration for blacks.

At the event yesterday, Clinton also defended his wife’s statement during the 1990s calling some black youth “super predators,” a remark Hillary has apologized for on the presidential primary campaign trail. The testy exchange angered liberal activists and caused pundits to wonder if Clinton had made a big error for his wife’s campaign. But this piece in the Washington Post suggests it wasn’t an error at all, but a pivot in message for HRC’s campaign ahead of the general election, where she’ll need white voters in a fight against a Republican opponent. Ah, politics.

I’m out. Have a great weekend.

 
 
by Danny Cross 04.07.2016 26 days ago
Posted In: Media at 01:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ire2

UC Students’ CityBeat Story Wins National Investigative Reporting Award

Investigation into athletic spending gone wild at public universities beats out major J-school projects from across the country

One of the nation’s premier journalism organizations today awarded 12 University of Cincinnati students its top prize for student investigative reporting among large universities.

Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 41-year-old nonprofit, chose “Robin Hood in Reverse” as the best piece of student investigative journalism among major universities in 2015. The finalists included a 27-person team from 19 universities chosen for the national News 21 initiative at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism.

CityBeat published the story on May 6, 2015. It was researched and written by a dozen UC students, mostly juniors and sophomores, as a class project last spring.

The students examined athletic and academic spending at Ohio’s eight largest universities. Using NCAA reports filed by each school, the class revealed individual students paid as much as $1,226 annually to subsidize soaring athletic department deficits at seven of the schools, including their own. Using a Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics database, the class showed academic spending per student dropped over the past decade at six schools.

One IRE contest judge praised the story for showing UC students were particularly hard hit, “unwittingly paying more than $1,000 a year” to cover athletic deficits while “spending-per-student on undergraduate education dropped almost 25 percent in recent years.”

The judge noted interviews with UC students brought home the impact of spending decisions, citing several in the story: “ ‘It seems to be a corruption in education,’ said one honor student. ‘I didn’t come to UC for sports. I came here for an education,’ said another student.”

Drawing on scholarly studies and interviews with experts, the student journalists disproved the widely held myth that a successful athletic program translates into an increase in applications and donations.

Dr. Jeffrey Blevins, chair of the UC Journalism Department, says the award demonstrates the progress his department has made since it was formed just four years ago.

“What impresses me most is that our student work is competing with the likes of some of the best journalism programs in the country — Columbia University, Northwestern University, Arizona State University and the University of Missouri,” Blevins says. “We are a scrappy bunch, but we are making our presence known on the national stage.”

In past years, IRE has awarded its top honor for student investigative reporting to some of the country’s most renowned journalism programs, including Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

The 12 UC undergraduates who researched and wrote the story are very much like the working-class students they wrote about. Many in the class were like Katie Coburn, then a sophomore who worked 35 to 40 hours a week at two jobs while taking 18 credit hours.

“I am a working-class student. I have a ton of loans, I pay my own rent, my utilities and my groceries,” Coburn says. “All this motivated me to work harder because I was passionate about the topic.”

UC Assistant Professor Craig Flournoy, who oversaw the project, says his students created a template any reporter could use to investigate the athletic spending arms race and its impact on academics.

“Focus on schools in the same state or athletic conference,” Flournoy says. “Use NCAA reports to track each school’s athletic deficits over time and how much a student pays to subsidize those deficits. Use the Knight Commission database to track each school’s academic spending per student over time.”

The online version of the story includes links to the Knight Commission database and academic research, along with databases and charts detailing the students’ findings.

Once the students had this data, they interviewed officials, faculty members, experts and students, many of whom were unaware that they were footing the bill for the deficits and directly impacted by cuts in academic spending.

“Their quotes were among the most powerful parts of the story,” Flournoy says.

Coburn says she was humbled by the award and grateful for the experience of working on the project.

“Great work comes from passion,” she says. “Through this class, I proved that with my passion for journalism, I can make an impact before I graduate, before I’m even considered a professional journalist. I am a student, but I can still make a difference. That is what I proved to myself.”

Along with Coburn, the students recognized for work on the story were Morgan Batanian, Fernanda Crescente, Taylor Jackson, Tyler Kuhnash, Camri Nelson, Taylor Hayden, Talis Linauts, Kayleigh Murch, Matt Nichols, Malia Pitts and Lauren Smith.

The full list of 2015 IRE awards winners can be found here.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.07.2016 26 days ago
 
 
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Council to CPS: don't take CCAC building; Cranley spokesman leaving; Tensing lawyer granted access to DuBose medical records

Good morning all. Here’s your news today.

It was an eventful day yesterday at Cincinnati City Council. First up, Council weighed in on an ongoing controversy brewing in Clifton and unanimously passed a resolution telling Cincinnati Public Schools not to take back the building housing the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. CCAC occupies a historic former school building across from Clifton/Fairview German Language School. The arts nonprofit took over the building from CPS under an agreement that it would fix up the structure. It’s done that to the tune of $2 million. But now CPS is debating whether or not to exercise a clause in its contract with the CCAC that would let it turn the building back into a school. With its neighboring magnet school bursting at the seams, CPS has eyed renting space in the CCAC building. But the two organizations couldn’t agree on a rental price, and now CPS is at least considering taking the building back. Officials with the school district, however, say Council’s resolution is premature, and that negotiations are ongoing with the CCAC around how to resolve the issue.

• At the Council meeting, Mayor John Cranley revealed that his communications director, Kevin Osborne, would be leaving his post April 8. Osborne, a former reporter with CityBeat, WCPO and other local media, is taking a job as community relations director at the Greater Cincinnati Community Action Agency. Osborne has worked in the mayor’s office since 2014.

• Council also moved forward on a proposal banning non-essential city-funded travel to North Carolina, which recently passed legislation allowing discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community by businesses. Council sent the legislation to committee for further consideration. The ordinance, proposed by Councilman Chris Seelbach, seems likely to pass.

• Remember the big kerfuffle between local Democrats and state rep. primary candidate Ben Lindy, who wrote a law school paper other Democrats said was anti-union? Lindy last month lost in the primary race for a chance at the Ohio House 31st District seat to Brigid Kelly, but the controversy over his campaign is just now getting cleared up. Local unions recently seemed likely to boycott a major party fundraising dinner April 13 over the Hamilton County Democratic Party’s refusal to strip Lindy of his party rights — including access to voter data — over his academic work. But it seems bridges have been mended now. Organized labor will get more seats at the table, so to speak, on the party’s executive committee as part of a reconciliation between the party and the unions, according to party and union officials.

• An attorney for former UC police officer Ray Tensing will be granted access to the medical records of the unarmed black motorist Tensing shot. Stu Matthews requested Samuel DuBose’s records as part of his defense of Tensing, and Hamilton County Court Judge Megan Shanahan granted that request yesterday. Matthews says the records will reveal a medical condition DuBose was suffering from that will expose more about the fateful traffic stop where Tensing shot DuBose. Matthews did not reveal what that condition was or how it played into Tensing’s decision to shoot DuBose in the head after DuBose refused to exit his vehicle during the stop in Mount Auburn.

•A Fairborn Municipal Court judge has found that there is probable cause to charge with a misdemeanor the 911 caller in the police shooting death of John Crawford III in a Beavercreek Walmart in 2014. The judge ruled that Ronald T. Richie, the only person in the store to call 911 on Crawford, could face charges of raising false alarms, a first-degree misdemeanor. Richie called 911 and told operators that Crawford was walking around the store pointing a gun at other customers, including children. Video footage of the incident does not show this, however, instead revealing Crawford had the toy pellet gun slung over his shoulder. It's unclear what may happen next, but the judge has recommended the case be turned over to a prosecutor. Crawford died after Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams shot him twice while responding to the 911 call. A grand jury declined to indict Williams in the incident, though an investigation by the Department of Justice is ongoing.

• The Ohio American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, alleging he has unlawfully purged Ohio’s voting registry. At issue is a practice by the state that clears voters who haven’t voted in the past three elections from the state’s registry. Husted says that keeps deceased and out-of-state voters off the registry and prevents voter fraud, but the ACLU says numerous Ohio residents have approached them complaining they’ve been turned away from the polls due to the practice. The group claims that more than 40,000 voters in Cuyahoga County alone have been “unlawfully purged” from voter registries because they haven’t voted in every election. Husted says the practice aligns with state and federal laws, however.

• A political forecasting group at the University of Virginia Center for Politics has moved the race for U.S. Sen. Rob Portman's seat from "leans Republican" to "a toss-up." The group cites the name recognition held by Portman's Democratic challenger, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, as well as his strength in Ohio's Appalachian counties, which Strickland once represented in the House of Representatives. While the forecast notes Portman's big fundraising lead over Strickland, it also says that favorable conditions in the state for Democrats' presidential candidate, presumably Hillary Clinton, could give Strickland the extra edge needed to scoot past incumbent Republican Portman in November.

• Finally, Ohio Gov. John Kasich yesterday gave his state of the state speech in Marietta. The address mostly focused on the state’s economic recovery and job growth. But Kasich, who remains a long-shot Republican presidential primary candidate, advanced few new policy proposals, instead playing it safe and touting his record. He did touch on the state’s drug addiction crisis, its looming changes to statehouse redistricting, problems with the state’s educational system and other challenges. Kasich also floated new tax cuts in the next state budget, though lawmakers seem lukewarm about the governor’s proposals.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.06.2016 27 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_johnkasich

Morning News and Stuff

Conference to explore policing, race 15 years after unrest; Ohio puts brakes on Cincy stock exchange bar; Kasich gives state of the state address

Good morning all. Hope your Wednesday is going well. Let's talk news.

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of a tragic, but defining, moment in Cincinnati history — the police shooting of unarmed black 19-year-old Timothy Thomas in Over-the-Rhine and the subsequent unrest in that neighborhood and others. Today, we published a cover story taking stock of progress the city has made and the work left to do. You should pick up the issue and take a look.

Next week, community leaders, non-profit organizations and activists, some instrumental in the city’s historic Collaborative Agreement, are staging a five-day conference exploring the CA, policing in Cincinnati, future strategies for improving race relations and the concept of violence as a public health issue. The event is free to the public. Various events, from movie screenings to workshops and dialogues, will run April 11-16 at New Prospect Baptist Church, 1580 Summit Ave. You can register and find the entire schedule at www.communitypolicerelations.com

• Were you excited by news that Cincinnati is getting a bar where the beer is priced like stocks? I… only sort of understand the concept, but I heard some people were hyped on it. Those folks may have some more waiting to do, though. The state of Ohio has put the brakes on Queen City Exchange, which had plans to open on West Court Street this summer. The idea was that the beer would be priced dynamically, so that if you wanted a really popular brew, it would cost you more. This would probably work out well for me — I enjoy some weird beers — but I can’t imagine why you’d want this if you like popular brands. Anyway, Ohio liquor laws state that bar operators can only change their prices once a month. That’s not very dynamic, I guess, and certainly not at the pace the stock market changes. QCE’s owners are trying to work out the snag with the state now.

• Cincinnati City Council’s next election is more than a year away, but one new contender has already started campaigning. Former U.S. Senate Democratic primary candidate Kelli Prather has announced she’s running for a Council seat. The West Price Hill resident came in third in the Senate primary behind current Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and the winner, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. Prather did manage to rake in a decent 12.6 percent of the vote in the Senate primary, however — not bad given the fact it was her first political race. She runs a home healthcare business and is a survivor of domestic gun violence, both experiences she talked about on the campaign trail as influences on her progressive policy stances.

• If you needed any more evidence that body cameras are a vital part of modern policing, shedding light on what could otherwise be murky situations, here’s a graphic reminder. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters yesterday released body cam footage from the incident last week on I-75 where a knife-wielding man was shot and injured after lunging at an officer. In the video, Glendale Police Officer Josh Hilling pulls to the side of the highway and begins questioning Javier Aleman, who is walking along the median. When Hilling asks to pat Aleman down, Aleman draws a knife. Hilling shoots Aleman once in the abdomen, then pleads with him to drop the weapon for minutes as Aleman begs the officer to kill him. The standoff only ends when he collapses. Aleman, still hospitalized, is charged with attempted murder.

• Looks like underdog GOP presidential primary candidate John Kasich is taking some time off his full-time job running for president to moonlight at his part-time gig as governor of Ohio. Kasich today will give his annual State of the State address, where he’ll talk about the challenges and success Ohio has experienced this year. We wrote a lot about the state’s economic condition back in January, and that article might be a good primer as Kasich touts the Buckeye State’s economic recovery and miraculous job growth. Kasich will give his remarks in Marietta, one of the state’s first cities.

• Finally, let’s talk Wisconsin, where presidential primary front runners go to lose. Both Democrat favorite Hillary Clinton and Republican delegate leader Donald Trump took a beating there yesterday at the hands of upstarts U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz, respectively. Sanders’ win in Wisconsin won’t do much to bridge the 200-plus delegate gap between him and Clinton, but it could give him the perception of momentum among voters in states like New York, where more delegates are at play. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Cruz’s victory is another moment in Trump’s continued slow slide. The Donald is still on top, but the firebrand Senator from Texas is catching up quickly.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 04.05.2016 28 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
bourbon-classic

Morning News and Stuff

Construction set to begin on former Baldwin Piano Co. site; some Avondale residents to get free Wi-Fi; Trump explains how he will make Mexico pay for border wall

Hello all, here's the news today.

A few hundred Avondale residents will soon be getting free Wi-Fi. The Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation announced yesterday that it will partner with telecom company Powernet, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and developer The Community Builders, Inc. to offer Wi-Fi to residents living on Reading Road from Blair Avenue to South Fred Shuttlesworth Circle. The project is funded as part of the Choice Neighborhoods Grant from HUD, which was given to The Community Builders, Inc. in 2012. Powernet will install 15 access points along Reading Road that will give 250 families and businesses access to the network. The plan is part of the larger push for the revitalization of Avondale, one of the city's largest low-income neighborhoods.

Cincinnati is getting younger, better-educated and more economically stable, according to the biannual economic report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The report, which provides a quick look into the greater Cincinnati economy, found Cincinnati's average age is 37.3, just slightly under the national average of 37.9. It also found the  local economy has better recovered from the great recession than the nation as a whole. It is 2 percent above its level before the recession while the nation's economy, on average, is still struggling to get back to its pre-recession level. Also, more of Cincy's adults now hold undergrad degrees. That number has risen 2.9 percent since 2009 and is now at 31.4 percent, which again is higher than the national average of 30.1 percent. 

• A new Kentucky law expected to be signed by Gov. Matt Bevin will allow bourbon makers to sell their drinks "by the glass." Under the previous law, the bourbon makers were only able to offer tastes of their product to people who had purchased full tour tickets for their distilleries. Now they're able to offer cash bars for small samplings. Kentucky breweries will also benefit as they'll be allowed to sell at smaller events, like farmer's markets, without going through a distributor.

• Wisconsinites head to the polls today in what will surely add more fuel to the more recent heated round of this presidential nomination period. Wisconsin republicans will get to choose between Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is still in the race despite recent complaints from Trump and Cruz that he should drop out. Kasich told a crowd of about 300 supporters at a town hall yesterday in Long Island, N.Y., that despite the bullying from his opponents, he's not going anywhere. Kasich, who is currently in a distant third, says he thinks he's the only candidate who has a shot at beating Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the general election. Clinton is also campaigning hard in Wisconsin, where polls are showing it could be a tight race against Democratic rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

• You know how many are skeptical of Trump's plan to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it? Well, he finally said how he's going to do it. Trump sent a two-page memo to the Washington Post saying he plans to cut off the estimated $25 billion Mexican immigrants send home yearly to attempt to force Mexico to give in and pay for the wall. Not surprisingly, economists and policy experts have had some reservations about the possible legal and political feasibility of the plan, which would put a large amount of executive pressure on one of the U.S.'s key diplomatic allies.
 
 
by Natalie Krebs 04.04.2016 29 days ago
 
 
pg2_g_redsmascot_576

Morning News and Stuff

Cincy Planning Commission OKs riverfront apartment complex; Metropolitan Sewer District faces more allegations of shady contracts; Trump calls on Kasich to quit presidential race

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines as you gear up for the Opening Day festivities. 

 Well, it's finally here. The giant citywide party that is the kickoff to the start of baseball season. It's my first time experiencing Cincinnati's famous Opening Day celebration, but judging from the amount of Reds fans I've already seen lined up on Race Street this morning, it's going to be a big baseball party. If you're not lucky enough to get to watch the Reds play the Philadelphia Phillies at the Great American Ball Park this afternoon, there are still many festivities well worth ditching school and work for. Some ideas of what to do can be found herehere and here

 The Cincinnati Planning Commission voted Sunday to allow an Atlanta-based developer to move one step closer to building a $90 million apartment complex near the riverfront. The Novare Group plans to build a 25-story apartment building featuring 352 rental units and 3,000-square-feet of retail space. The company says it would like to begin construction this summer to have the complex finished by winter 2017. But before any groundbreaking happens, the plan still has a few more hoops to jump through: The Novare Group will need to submit final development plans to the Planning Commission as well as the City Council for approval before it gets the green light.

 Cincinnati's Metropolitan Sewer District, similar to the Cincinnati Park Board, is facing allegations of bad contracts, questionable relationships and overspending by the Enquirer. An Enquirer investigation has asserted that MSD is paying contractors way too much for their work, and MSD officials have had little oversight over major projects like the $3 billion court-ordered sewer reconstruction project. City Manager Harry Black so far has responded to the Enquirer's requests for MSD public records by tightening their spending policies, drawing up a new ethics policy, launching an audit into the department and has started personally approving all of MSD's contracts. 

 Donald Trump has called for ultimate underdog, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, to drop out of the presidential race. Trump is currently campaigning hard in Wisconsin, trying to rouse voters for the state's primary on Tuesday, and said Sunday that Kasich should just throw in the towel because it's impossible for him to secure the GOP nomination with his current delegate count. Kasich is far, far short of the necessary 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. He has secured just 143 delegates, compared to Trump's count of 736 and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's count of 463. Trump said Kasich is doing little more than taking away delegate votes that could be going to him. Kasich's campaign responded by saying that none of the remaining GOP candidates have enough delegates to secure the nomination either. One of Kasich's spokespeople told the Associated Press that Trump should consider taking his own good advice and drop out of the race before the GOP convention in Cleveland this July. 

• Last weekend, during an interview on ABC, Kasich defended the many restrictions on abortion he's signed into law as Ohio governor. His comments come in the wake of the massive pushback Trump received for telling MSNBC that women seeking abortions should be punished if abortion is outlawed. Kasich said that lawmakers must be careful about passing abortion restrictions that don't cause a constitutional conflict and called for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in an attempt to appeal to social conservatives. Well, pro-choice critics say Kasich actually doesn't care about "constitutional conflicts" as the 16 restrictions on abortion providers Kasich has signed into law as governor have caused half of the state's clinics to close.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.01.2016 32 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
pizza-topping-87127713332743vt

Morning News and Stuff

Public meeting on Music Hall changes coming; Deters refuses to release body cam footage in I-75 shooting; standing up for Kasich's pizza technique

Hey, hey all. It’s Friday. The weather’s rad. One of my favorite musicians is playing in Cincy tonight. So let’s get this news thing out of the way real quick and head toward the weekend ASAP, shall we?

You’ll be seeing a lot more of the space bus… err, Cincinnati streetcar soon. Four of the five cars are in town already, and the city plans to start running them two at a time along the transit project’s 3.6-mile route in order to rack up the required mileage necessary to meet Federal Transportation Administration testing requirements. The fifth car is due at the end of April, and officials believe they’ll be able run simulated service — all five cars running their daily routes without passengers — by August, with actual service beginning in September.

 • Renovations to Music Hall have been a long time coming, but now that they’re happening, are they unfolding in the best way? Some folks have reservations about the plans for the Cincinnati landmark, including a planned removal of 1,000 seats and acoustical adjustments in the hall’s Springer Auditorium. The city owns the hall, and much of the funding for the renovations has come from public sources. But there have been questions about the transparency and public input into the planning process for the rehab work. Officials with 3CDC, which is overseeing that work, say public input has been taken into account throughout the process. The kerfuffle comes ahead of the first major public hearing on the renovation plans before the city’s Historic Conservation Board, which was slated to take place April 4. However, that’s opening day, something of a major holiday in the city, and the city has announced it will move the meeting to a less busy date.

• Perhaps you heard about the bizarre incident on I-75 the other day in which a suspect for a murder in Maryland was shot and injured by police along a stretch of the highway going through Evendale. That incident has sparked a fight over public records between local media and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. Javier Pablo Aleman was walking along the median of the highway when he was approached by Glendale police officer Joshua Hilling, who searched Aleman’s belongings and found a large knife. A scuffle ensued between the two, during which Aleman was shot. Deters is refusing to release video footage of the incident taken by the officer’s body camera, saying an investigation is ongoing into the incident. However, an attorney for the Cincinnati Enquirer argues that the footage is public record and must be released immediately. We’ll keep you posted on this one.

• Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has ordered across-the-board cuts for the state’s eight public universities and its community college system. Bevin has ordered an immediate 4.5-percent cut for the schools as part of his plan to cut the state’s budget. Those cuts will come out of quarterly transfers from the state to the schools scheduled to take place today. The budget reductions will then double to 9 percent in the upcoming 2016-2018 budget. The Kentucky House of Representatives has resisted those cuts, while the state’s Senate has backed Bevin in the education funding reductions. The budget fight comes as the state looks for ways to shore up flagging funding for pension obligations.

• Finally, regular CityBeat readers know we’ve been pretty skeptical of Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his GOP presidential primary campaign. But come on. There’s absolutely no wrong way to eat pizza.

The Big Queso is catching some heat for eating his 'za with a fork on the campaign trail in New York. Now, the Empire State, home of the pizza slice as big as your head that you have to fold like a beach blanket to eat, is the last place in the world you want to do that. But the man is eating pizza, perhaps the most relatable act he’s ever committed. I would hope that we, as Americans, could put aside our ideological differences and recognize this. Even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, not exactly Kasich’s ideological brother, has come to our hapless governor’s aid, tweeting a photo of himself also eating pizza with a fork. Did Kasich just start an anti-fork-shaming movement? Primary results will tell.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.31.2016 33 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_banks_condos_ck

Morning News and Stuff

County, feds settle on JFS; CAC architect Hadid dies; Kasich says repealing Obamacare "a stupid promise"

Good morning all. It’s almost Friday! Which means it’s almost Monday, also known as Reds opening day, also known as the most important day in Cincinnati. I’m hyped. Anyway. Here’s your news today.

University of Cincinnati’s top legal counsel is leaving her post, citing personal reasons. As the school’s top lawyer, UC’s Vice President for Legal Affairs Kenya Faulkner has overseen a tough legal year for the university, during which UC settled with the family of Samuel DuBose, who was shot and killed by UC police officer Ray Tensing, and settled a long-running and high-profile dispute with nonprofit Requiem Project around plans to renovate Over-the-Rhine’s Emery Theater.  UC President Santa Ono praised Faulkner, who has been at the job for three years. The school’s now-outgoing top lawyer will continue to work with UC on efforts to diversify the university’s law school. UC’s deputy general counsel Karen Kovach will fill Faulkner’s role on an interim basis.

• Speaking of settling lawsuits, Hamilton County and the federal government have come to terms on a 10-year fight over accounting problems at the county’s Job and Family Services agency. The agreement will cost county taxpayers $22.5 million, but there’s actually some good news in that. An audit in 2006 by Ohio Job and Family Services officials estimated the county could be on the hook for $224 million due to a number of accounting problems. That was whittled down to $60 million during the proceeding court battle, and the final settlement knocks another two-thirds off that number. Meanwhile, the county has been stashing funds away to pay the expected settlement and now has $100 million to do so. That leaves more than $70 million in extra money, some of which could go to expanded services for children in Hamilton County.

• Hey, remember last year when the state passed that legislation allowing cities to designate open-container entertainment districts, and everyone here got all excited because they were going to make one for The Banks? What happened with that? The city’s still… thinking... about... it. While open container allowances are made on a temporary basis in the area for big events, you’re still not allowed to take your can of beer outside the bar you’re in at The Banks. The city has said it is continuing to work on the idea, but business owners and residents in the area say they feel like they’re not part of the process. Under the state law, Cincinnati can establish two permanent open container districts. Middletown and Toledo have already taken advantage of the law.

• President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of three Cincinnati men he says have served their time for “low level” federal drug offenses. Alvin Cordell, Isadore Gennings and Tommy Howard will see their sentences expire between this summer and next spring. Overall, Obama commuted the sentences of 61 drug offenders who he said would be free today under current, less-harsh drug laws. Cordell received a life sentence under a now-eliminated “three strikes” law after he was convicted in 1996 of a third felony for his part in a marijuana and cocaine trafficking operation. Gennings was sentenced to 20 years in 2002 for his part in a plot to distribute cocaine and Howard was sentenced to 24 years for a drug trafficking crime.

• The boundary-breaking architect who designed the iconic home of Cincinnati's Contemporary Art Center has died. Zaha Hadid passed away yesterday after a heart attack at age 65. Hadid's design for the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Arts here has added a distinctive, complex edge to the city's downtown arts district. Hadid, born in Iraq, was a pioneering female architect whose success opened doors for women in the largely-male-dominated field. She completed major works around the world, including buildings in London and Hong Kong, and was the first woman to win architecture's prestigious Pritzker Prize.

• The Food and Drug Administration has adjusted rules around the prescription of abortion pill Mifeprex. Adjustments to FDA rules on dosage size and how late into a pregnancy the pills can be prescribed will make them more accessible and affordable, women’s health advocates say. Ohio is one of a handful of states that requires medical providers to follow the FDA guidelines. Pro-life groups here are unhappy about the rule change, but acknowledge that any efforts to challenge the standards in the Ohio General Assembly are unlikely to pass.

• Finally, Ohio Gov. John Kasich continues his GOP presidential primary afterlife, campaigning and biding his time for the party’s convention in July. In the meantime, Kasich, who has little support in polls and has won only one state in primary contests, is free to pretty much say and do as he wishes. Yesterday, for instance, he dropped a bomb that sounds like common sense to many sane people but which is absolute heresy to Republican primary voters.

The Big Queso said GOP pledges to repeal Obama’s signature healthcare law are a “stupid promise.” Kasich said the idea, which has been a centerpiece of so many tea party campaigns for Congress, is completely unfeasible while Obama is still president, and basically called statements made by many tea party-backed Republicans over the past few years “a big joke.” It’s unclear what Kasich’s strategy is in saying that, unless the strategy is to try and make primary opponent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s head explode.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.30.2016 34 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
streetcar

Morning News and Stuff

OTR mosque leaving neighborhood; will MLK Drive get wider?; streetcar gets first sponsor

Morning all. Today’s the day: Our enormous, 188-page, biggest-ever Best of Cincinnati issue just dropped with a resounding thud in newsstands throughout the region, and tonight we’re going to party like crazy to forget how hard we all worked on it and because our city is awesome. You’re invited, by the way. In the meantime, here’s the news today.

Local and statewide Democrat politicians gathered yesterday to announce a raft of city ordinances designed to shore up the middle class in Cincinnati, including a plan to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour. That could give up to 20 percent of the city’s workforce a raise. Among those touting the new efforts were U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, State Sen. Cecil Thomas, State Reps. Denise Driehaus and Alicia Reece, Mayor John Cranley and Democrats on Cincinnati City Council. You can read all about the ordinances in our story here.

• Do you ever cruise down the enormous expanse that is Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and think to yourself that seven lanes of traffic just isn’t enough? The thoroughfare could get wider in Avondale and Corryville as a new I-71 interchange goes in, but some members of Cincinnati City Council are skeptical about the idea. Council’s transportation committee yesterday delayed voting on an ordinance that would have green-lighted a city Department of Transportation grant application for federal funds to add at least one extra lane to MLK. Democrat council members Yvette Simspon, Chris Seelbach and Wendell Young say they oppose the widening, and fellow Democrat David Mann is still undecided. Those opposed cite damage done by large thoroughfares and highways in many Cincinnati neighborhoods, saying they want to keep uptown’s current neighborhood feel intact.

• An long-running Over-the-Rhine mosque will move to the West End due to rent increases, its leaders say. Masjid AsSahaab has been on the 1200 block of Vine Street for more than a decade, but can’t keep pace with the rising price and changing character of the neighborhood, according to caretaker Abdul Amir Fealzadeh. Rent for the space went from $150 a month 10 years ago to $550 a month recently, he says. The mosque is currently working on fundraising efforts to fund a new building on Bank Street.

• Cincinnati’s streetcar got its first sponsorship yesterday as local company 4EG Entertainment Group signed a marketing deal with the transit project. 4EG signed a two-year deal with Advertising Vehicles, the firm contracted to sell marketing rights to the streetcar. Officials with 4EG said advertising on the streetcar was "an easy decisions" and that the ads show the company's support for the project while providing an opportunity to introduce the group's bars and restaurants to downtown residents and visitors. 4EG owns six bars on the streetcar route, including Igby's, Lachey's Bar, the Lackman, Low Spark, Righteous Room and Vestry. The company will run interior ads on all five cars when they come online this fall. 

Meanwhile, the city will sit out the next chance to snag a federal TIGER grant to expand the streetcar into uptown. Instead, the city will ask for money for the proposed Wasson Way bike trail, which would wind through the East Side before ending in Avondale, and for a new highway connector bridge between South Cumminsville and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

The city applied for funding for both of those projects last year, though both failed to receive the grants. Council Democrats aren’t happy with the decision to forgo an ask for streetcar expansion planning. The five Democrat members of Council support beginning the planning process for the streetcar extension, but Mayor John Cranley, a streetcar opponent, would likely veto an ordinance asking the city to begin that process without a sixth vote. With grant application deadlines coming up April 29, the city has no plans to file an application around moving the expansion forward.

• Plans to redevelop the historic Baldwin buildings on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills are taking shape, and they’re bigger than initially expected. The $100 million effort could include a pocket park on the property, two restaurants, extensive renovations to the building’s central tower, loft apartments and a number of other improvements. The project received $7 million in historic preservation tax credits from Ohio last year. The main building, called Grand Baldwin, once housed Baldwin Piano Company and will be the site of new apartments. Another building, called Baldwin 200, will remain office space but will also be renovated.

• Finally, we’ve been light on blurbs about the presidential primary race lately because, really, what can you say? It’s still a mess. But here’s an amusing bit of news for you. Former GOP presidential primary hopeful and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio recently misspelled “United States” in a letter to the Alaska GOP asking that the state party not release delegates he’s won before this summer’s GOP convention. Rubio’s typo reads “Untied States.” Untied indeed.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.29.2016 35 days ago
Posted In: News at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
img_2904

Local Democrats Propose $15 Minimum Wage for City Workers

Ordinances designed to boost wages, increase worker safety head to City Council

City of Cincinnati employees like health worker Sheila Nash of Price Hill could get a bump in pay if Cincinnati City Council approves a series of ordinances designed to boost wages, increase worker safety and incentivize city contractors to pay employees more.

“I make $27,000 a year,” says Nash, who has worked for the health department since 1986. “That’s what I survive on. A raise would mean a lot.”

A cadre of local and statewide Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, State Reps. Alicia Reece and Denise Driehaus, State Sen. Cecil Thomas, Mayor John Cranley, Vice Mayor David Mann, council members Yvette Simpson, P.G. Sittenfeld and Wendell Young and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune appeared this morning at the Local 392 Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall on Central Parkway to help launch the initiative.

For Nash and many other city workers, the most notable part of the initiative is the pay increase. Should the ordinance pass, full-time city works will make a minimum of $15 an hour, up from $12.58. Part-time and seasonal workers would make $10.10, up from $8.25. For Nash, the raise would mean an extra $4,000 a year, putting her closer to the city’s median household income of $33,681.

More than 1,000 city employees, or about 20 percent of the city's workforce, makes under those minimums now. The wage boost would cost the city about $1 million in its first year, according to city officials.

Mayor Cranley framed the initiatives in broad terms, citing a decades-long trend of stagnant wage growth for many in the middle class. He blamed off-shoring of jobs, deregulation of Wall Street and an over-reliance on trickle-down economics for wage disparities.

“Cincinnati by itself is not going to solve this problem on its own,” he said. “But we can be a moral voice for the direction we want to go. And we can affect the people we can affect. For those individuals, we can make an enormous difference.”

Sen. Brown, a long-time proponent of a federal $15 minimum wage, applauded the initiative.

“Once again, Cincinnati takes an important step, one that has never happened in the state," he said. "It’s high time that Washington followed the lead of Cincinnati and raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

Critics of minimum wage increases say they raise payroll expenses to unsustainable levels and make it harder for businesses to turn a profit.

Cranley acknowledged that the wage increase will cost the city more money in the short-term, but touted the long-term boost in spending power it will unlock for Cincinnati residents. Brown echoed Cranley and other Democrats in saying the wage boost will improve the economy for all over time and said he hoped it would influence private employers to do the same.

“Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour means money in the pockets of hardworking families,” he said. “I assume Ms. Nash and others who get the $15 minimum wage aren’t going to put it in a Swiss bank account, or use it to shut down production in Cincinnati or somewhere else and move it to Bangladesh."

Overall, Council will consider three ordinances tied to the initiative: one tightening requirements on insurance, licensing and safety procedures, specifically relating to crane operations after an accident at a construction site on The Banks recently. Another would require companies receiving city tax incentives and other development aid to pay contractors and employees prevailing wages; and a third that will boost wages for city workers.

 
 

 

 

 
Close
Close
Close