It's been a wild couple of days in local politics, with most of the names on East Side yard signs losing in Tuesday's City Council election. The newbies: Democrats P.G. Sittenfeld, Yvette Simpson and Chris Seelbach. The new Council will include only one Republican, Charlie Winburn, although Chris Smitherman acts like he's from all sorts of political parties. For the first time ever, the Council will be a majority African American, and Seelbach's win marks the first election of an openly gay candidate to Council.
Four members of the conservative majority that spent most of last year either blocking the mayor's initiatives or Twittering — Chris Bortz, Leslie Ghiz, Amy Murray and Wayne Lippert — were ousted, paving the way for Mayor Mallory and the seven Democrats on council to things they want to do. Congratulations “environmentalists and people who use health clinics!”
Headline: "Stadium tax rebate favors wealthy." Analysis: "No shit." Owners of the county's most-expensive homes reportedly receive more savings from the property tax rollback than they pay in the sales tax increase that was supposed to pay for the sports stadiums. An Enquirer analysis of last year's property tax payout found that the half-cent sales tax increase amounts to a maximum of $192 annually, while some high-value homeowners received tax rebates of $1,175 or more.
• Million-dollar homes account for less than 1 percent of households, yet they received nearly 5 percent of the total rebates — or one out of every $20 paid out.
• One out of four homeowners - those with a home worth $200,000 or more - got $8.8 million in rebates - more than half the total rollback.
• The median Hamilton County homeowner with a property worth $106,700 is eligible to get a $50.15 rebate under the rollback.
• The 132 Hamilton County homeowners with houses worth $2.5 million or more get at least $1,175 apiece.
• Property owners with homes worth $150,000 or less account for nearly six out of 10 households, but collectively they received less than 23 percent of the benefits.
County commissioners have four days to tell the auditor to go ahead and tax homeowners at the previous rate, but Chris Monzel and Todd Portune are up for reelection this year and won't dare change take it away from the powerful rich people.
[Correction: Monzel is not up for reelection.]
Said former commissioner David Pepper:"At its core, the property tax rollback creates a reverse-Robin Hood scheme, where middle-class homeowners and renters are not only the ones paying for the stadium, but also footing the bill for a tax break for high-value property owners. Those high-end property owners are not paying for the stadium at all."
An organization called Citizens' League Against Subsidized Sports is gathering signatures for a ballot measure that would add a tax on Reds and Bengals tickets. Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann says he knows that the county's lease doesn't allow it to institute a ticket tax but that it doesn't say anything about a citizens' initiative.
Police costs are rising even though the force is shrinking, partially because it hasn't hired any new officers since 2008 while the top ranks have held steady.
The SB 5 debate is expected to draw a high voter turnout, which could bode well for school levies as voters come out to vote "no" on Issue 2.
"The Republicans who are informally auditioning would each bring different strengths — and drawbacks — to the presidential ticket.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman supported Romney early, has a solid rapport with the candidate and hails from Ohio, a critical battleground state that could decide the election. But he wouldn't necessarily appeal directly to Hispanic or women voters.
(Louisiana Gov. Bobby) Jindal, the Louisiana governor, could help Romney turn out the religious right and would add diversity to the ticket as an Indian-American, but he struggled during a national debut rebutting the 2010 State of the Union address.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who's campaigned frequently with Romney, could help with female voters and in her swing state of New Hampshire. But she's from New England, the same region of the country as Romney, while (New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie, a conservative favorite who can work a crowd, is from New Jersey.
(Florida Sen. Marco) Rubio could bring Florida, always a deciding factor in a general election, and appeal to Hispanics, a fast-growing voting bloc, but he's run into some trouble over a foreclosed home and possible misuse of an official credit card. And Ryan is a serious, leading policy mind with a bright future — and a brand name that's directly tied to a controversial budget that would make major changes to Medicare."
Meanwhile, Romney says Obama doesn't even understand free
A Columbus tavern owner has lost his freedom isn't free battle in the Ohio Supreme Court, which yesterday unanimously ruled that the state's smoking ban is constitutional. The owner of Zeno's Victorian Village had racked up thousands of dollars in fines after 10 citations for violating the ban from July 2007 and September 2009. The state has reportedly threatened to seize the bar if the fines are not paid.
Meteorologists say after this weekend's heat wave this spring could be the hottest on record.
The Reds defeated the Atlanta Braves last night on a Todd Frazier walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was the Reds' fifth straight win, and they're currently a half game behind St. Louis for first place in the division.
The Pakistan conviction of the Osama bin Laden doctor who helped the CIA find him is not going over well with the U.S. government. Pakistani authorities sentenced Shakeel Afridi to 33 years in prison for treason, and Afridi was not entitled to representation, though he has a right to appeal. The U.S. has threatened to cut aid to the country, arguing that informants work against al-Qaeda and not Pakistan.
Britain's recession is worse than expected, as the country's economy shrunk by .3 percent during the first quarter.
The SpaceX shuttle passed some tests necessary to move forward with its landing on the International Space Station Friday morning. President Obama called the company's CEO to congratulate him and he answered despite thinking it might be a telemarketer.
John Malkovich is in the latest Apple advertisement for Siri, during which Malkovich gets some life advice. The ads follow those released starring Hollywood actors Zooey Deschanel and Samuel Jackson last month.
More details are coming out about Chris Monzel and Todd Portune working a behind-the-scenes deal to sell Drake Hospital for way less than it was worth in order to save rich people money on their property taxes for one year. Critics have called it a “fire sale” and questioned the legality of selling a public asset without competitive bidding, outside studies or input from county lawyers. From The Enquirer:
"The 2-1 vote ends 87 years of county ownership of the Hartwell rehabilitation hospital. UC Health will buy it for $15 million – a price negotiated in secret by one commissioner and approved with no outside studies, no input from county lawyers or the county administration, and little public discussion.
The money from the sale will bail out the stadium fund for one year, avoiding a $14.2 million deficit for next year. It also allows the county to restore a property tax rollback promised to voters in 1996 when they approved a new sales to build and maintain the stadiums – a rollback largely scrapped this year to pay for the stadiums."
Cincinnati City Council today will lose its longtime excuse that there are too many old conservatives involved to get anything done, as three of its new members are young, optimistic and representative of the community who aren't old guys or mean rich ladies. The Enquirer discusses Council's influx of YP energy here, including a nice photo of Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and P.G. Sittenfeld with the caption: “Before...” that seems rather ominous.
Ohio has reportedly offered Sears $400 million to relocate from Chicago to Columbus. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the offer is about four times what Illinois has offered.
President Obama was in Scranton, Pa., yesterday to promise that he's trying to extend a payroll tax cut for workers.
Dentists are having a tough time as people skip their visits due to the economic downturn. Now they're looking to marketing and social media to help. At least your teeths cleaned everybody!An eastern Kentucky church voted to ban interracial marriages.
Wild donkeys are messing up Texas' ecology.
Michigan is about to allow the carrying of stun guns.
And horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in the U.S.
Isn't there any good news? The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are apparently giving
the iPad a run for its money? The NFL hearing Detroit Lions player Ndamukong Suh's appeal over a two-game suspension for stomping on somebody's arm?
Eh, whatever. Just watch this Kenny Powers K-Swiss video and forget about the real world.
Northern Ohio counties are starting to receive $19 million from Cleveland casino tax revenue. Cincinnati and Hamilton can expect a similar revenue boon next year when the Horseshoe Casino opens on Feb. 2013. Of course, the casino (and its revenue) could have been coming this year, but Gov. John Kasich blocked construction last year to protect his tax plan.
The Enquirer over the weekend did an investigative piece on ER “superusers” — individuals who can sometimes cost the health-care system as much as $1.3 million due to a lack of health insurance. Hospitals have said that this "charity care" could be curtailed by Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and save the state money, but Kasich claims the Medicaid expansion is too costly for the state.
The Ohio Board of Regents is considering banning smoking on all public
campuses. Smoking is already banned in buildings, but health concerns
may lead to a bigger ban.
Toledo Public Schools used “scrubbing” to improve report card scores. The Board of Education claimed such cheating could be a “state-level problem.”
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and his Republican opponent Josh Mandel have settled on a day to debate: Oct. 15.
Former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was inducted into the Hall of Fame Sunday. Here’s CityBeat’s C. Trent Rosecrans’ column offering current players’ thoughts on Larkin.
The Great Ohio River Swim was postponed Saturday because of high bacteria levels. Not very surprising.
In science news, a European agency became the first in the Western world Friday to approve a gene therapy treatment for a rare genetic disease.
Guess there's a reason why Congress doesn't care much for the 99-percent movement: Eleven percent of Congress is part of the 1 percent. Fifty-eight members of Congress have $9 million or more in net worth, including Kentucky's own Mitch McConnell and John Yarmuth. Congress also includes 250 millionaires, so maybe they'll listen.
Occupy Wall Street celebrated its two-month mark by organizing a “day of action,” beginning with a march to the New York Stock Exchange.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed Occupy Cincinnati yesterday at Piatt Park. Later in the day 15 individuals were arrested for staying in the park past its 10 p.m. closing time, the first arrests in weeks, as protesters have challenged the legality of the park closing at all. Jackson was reportedly scheduled to return to the park at noon on Wednesday to again speak with Occupy Cincinnati.
Ohio's new concealed-carry law will take effect tomorrow, allowing Second Amendment lovers the opportunity to reach into their pocket and feel the cold, smooth feel of safety while enjoying a non-alcoholic beverage at a bar or restaurant in Ohio. Seriously, y'all better not be drinking or the liberals will tell on you before you can get buzzed enough to go outside and fire a couple of funny shots up into the air.