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by Danny Cross 11.17.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

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.

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by Andy Brownfield 08.01.2012
Posted In: News, County Commission at 01:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cincinnatians Speak Out For Social Services Levies

"We will do less with less," mental health chairman tells commissioners

A week before Hamilton County commissioners vote to approve levies to fund senior and mental health services, Cincinnatians on Wednesday again packed the Board of County Commissioners' meeting room to urge them to preserve the funding.

The public hearing — the first of two scheduled for the day — saw service providers, service recipients and activists ask commissioners not to enact what would be an effective cut to the funding for those services when they vote on the levies Aug. 8.

The levies, approved in 2008, are up for renewal this November. The Tax Levy Review Committee recommended that the levies continue at the 2008 rates — an effective cut because of declining property values due to the housing market collapse. Many of the advocates at the meeting asked commissioners to increase the levy so they could maintain their current level of funding.

“I cannot tell you we can do more with less,” said Thomas Gableman, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board Chairman. “We cannot do the same with less. We will do less with less.”

The Tax Levy Review Committee’s recommendation was based on the rationale that struggling homeowners shouldn’t be burdened with additional taxes. Gableman and others said it should be up to taxpayers whether they were willing to shell out more to preserve funding for services such as meals on wheels, senior transportation, mental health treatment and alcohol diversion programs.

“We’re not asking you to vote for a tax increase,” an impassioned Gableman told commissioners, “we’re saying let the voters of Hamilton County decide — let the voters of Hamilton County decide if they will take care of their own. We do take care of our own, and we’re damn proud of it.”

Gableman said if the Mental Health Services levy simply re-approved, those services would lose $17.3 million in funding. He said if commissioners provided the same level of funding approved in 2008, services would still face a $5.6 million reduction in funding.

Some Cincinnatians who had benefited from the services were in attendance to share their stories.

Greg Williams said he had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He said that were it not for mental health services he received from the Ikron Corporation, he “would be dead or in prison.”

He said thanks to his treatment, he was able to get hired to two jobs, get his life, family and some of his friends back.

“If they cut funding, imagine if you were going to the zoo and let loose every violent animal — imagine what would happen?” Williams said.

 
 
by Danny Cross 09.29.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

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.

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by Danny Cross 11.22.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

The Hamilton County Commissioners' stadium funding failures have caused County Auditor Dusty Rhodes to describe a “dream world” where politicians think their inaction doesn't affect anybody. Today's news that the stadium fund will be bankrupt by March without additional funding has not deterred Republican Chris Monzel and Democrat Todd Portune from giving property owners the tax credit that convinced them to vote for the 1996 sales tax increase.

"It would be the height of irresponsibly to commit funds they knew were not there," Rhodes said. "I've long criticized various governments for living in dream world.

"This takes it to a whole new level," Rhodes said.

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by German Lopez 10.09.2012
 
 
toddportune

Morning News and Stuff

Today is the last day to register to vote, and in-person early voting is underway. Register to vote and vote at your nearest board of election, which can be located here.

Hamilton County commissioners agree on not raising the sales tax. That effectively rules out two of three plans laid out by the county administrator. The one plan left would not cut public safety, but it would make cuts to the courts, criminal justice system, administrative departments, commissioner departments and the board of elections.

It seems other news outlets are now scrutinizing online schools. A Reuters report pointed out state officials — including some in Ohio — are not happy with results from e-schools. Even Barbara Dreyer, CEO of the e-school company Connections Academy, told Reuters she’s disappointed with performance at e-schools. A CityBeat look into e-schools in August found similarly disappointing results. 

Ohio Democrats are asking federal and state officials for an investigation into Murray Energy, the Ohio-based coal company that has been accused of coercing employees into contributing to Republican political campaigns. In the statement calling for action, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said, “Thanks to this report, now we know why coal workers and miners have lent themselves to the rallies, ads, and political contributions. They’ve been afraid.”

Councilman Chris Seelbach is following up on information obtained during public safety meetings. The most consistent concerns Seelbach heard were worries about loitering and young people breaking curfew.

The state auditor says the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) could save $430,000 a year if it moved its student information database in-house. Current law prohibits ODE from having access to the data for privacy reasons, but State Auditor Dave Yost says it’s unnecessary and “wastes time and money.”

It seems Duke Energy is quickly integrating into its recent merger with Progress Energy. The company's information technology, nuclear and energy-supply departments are fully staffed and functional.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is renovating and restoring the Art Academy on the building’s west side.

It might not feel like it sometimes, but parking in Cincinnati is still pretty cheap.

Scientific research is increasingly pointing to lead as an explanation for people’s crazy grandparents. Research indicates even small programs cleaning up lead contamination can have massive economic and education returns.

Kings Island is selling off pieces of the Son of Beast. The troubled roller coaster was torn down after years of being shut down.

The “Jeopardy!” Ohio Online Test is today. If you’re ever on the show, give a shout-out to CityBeat.

 
 
by German Lopez 09.21.2012
Posted In: Mayor, News, County Commission, Economy, Budget at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
mark mallory

Mallory to Hartmann: We are Collaborating

Mayor criticizes county commissioner for going to media first

Mayor Mark Mallory was not happy with Hamilton County Commission President Greg Hartmann’s Tuesday letter criticizing him for failing to follow through with a city-county shared services plan. Mallory fired back today in his own letter, criticizing Hartmann for going to the media first and explaining why he no longer supports the City County Shared Services Committee.

“We have had a strong working relationship since you have become Commission President,” Mallory wrote. “So, I was surprised and disappointed that you sent the letter to the media instead of sharing your concerns with me directly; after all, you have my cell phone number.”

Mallory went on to point out that Hartmann is the fourth commission president he has worked with, and the previous three “never would have handled City/County relations in such a confrontational manner.”

The mayor also clarified why he no longer supports the City County Shared Services Committee, which was meant to consolidate county and city services to end redundancies and improve efficiency and competitiveness.

“As the scope of the proposed committee’s work was developed, it became clear to me that not only were we already collaborating at a high level, but that several new collaborations proposed by the City had met resistance from the County,” Mallory wrote. “I began to question the need for a committee to conduct a $400,000 study of future collaboration if there were already potential new collaborations sitting on the shelf.”

Mallory also said he “will never give away the ability of the citizens of Cincinnati to control crucial City functions.” He cited the examples of prosecutors and health clinics, which Mallory implied could have been given off to the county if the committee pushed through its recommendations.  

The mayor also pointed out that even if the city and county approved the committee and its recommendations, Hamilton County would still have serious budget problems: “You and I both know that the recommendations of the Shared Services Committee would never have resulted in close to enough savings to close the County’s budget deficit, and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous.” In other words, stop shifting the blame.

The rest of Mallory’s letter went on to point out Cincinnati and Hamilton County collaborate on a regular basis to “improve services, create efficiencies, and save money.” The mayor pointed to many programs for examples of the city and county working together: the Banks development, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Metropolitan Sewer District, emergency operations, the Port Authority, a $1.9 million city-county contract that has the county manage Cincinnati’s Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program Consortium. 

Mallory also claimed there have been cases in which the county declined to collaborate with the city, citing the Indigent Care Levy. The county’s consultant recommended Hamilton County give some of that levy to provide county residents access to primary care at the City Health Center System, but the county declined the potential partnership.

Mallory then said he was willing to work on collaboration with purchasing, fire hydrant maintenance and economic development — three areas Hartmann cited in his own letter to Mallory.

The letter finished with a call to end the politics of the back-and-forth: “I feel very strongly that it is time to take the politics out and leave the matter to the public sector professionals. The City Manager is ready to meet with the County Administrator to discuss any proposed partnership that would improve the lives of our citizens by improving service, increasing efficiency, or saving money.”

In his letter, Hartmann criticized Mallory for not keeping his promise to back the city-county committee, citing a previous letter from Mallory to the Ohio Department of Development that promised $100,000 for the new committee.

 
 
by German Lopez 08.08.2012
 
 
hamilton_county_mhrs_board_logo

Morning News and Stuff

Hamilton County commissioners will vote on levies today. If commissioners do not increase the money levies generate, mental health services could be severely cut in Hamilton County. On Aug. 1, Thomas Gableman, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board Chairman, told the commissioners, “I cannot tell you we can do more with less. We cannot do the same with less. We will do less with less.”

Republicans, including local state representative candidate Mike Wilson, have been pushing false information regarding a lawsuit filed by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party to restore early voting. After releasing a misleading press release, Wilson clarified his position to CityBeat. Politifact rated Mitt Romney’s accusations “False.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is calling for new regulations on internet cafes. Internet cafes have been taking advantage of legal loopholes to hold contests, according to a press release from DeWine’s offices.

Ohio could finish the 2013 fiscal year with a $408 million surplus. The surplus could give more ground to Gov. John Kasich’s call for an income tax cut.

The swine flu outbreak in Ohio is being watched carefully by CDC officials. The CDC is worried the virus could mutate, making it deadlier or more contagious.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has a big announcement about elections tomorrow.

One reason for high health-care costs may be the fee-for-service model. The model encourages doctors to provide as many medical procedures as possible, even when they might not be necessary.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra saw attendance and subscriptions rise in the 2011-2012 season.

There are super PACs for everything. Even time travel.

The public may be excited about NASA’s current mission, but future missions could be in jeopardy due to funding reductions.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 11.10.2014 12 days ago
Posted In: News, County Commission at 04:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cranley, Portune Propose City-County Shared Services Taskforce

Group would meet regularly to determine areas where services can be combined

Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune are proposing a task force that could help the city and county governments share services. The idea has been proposed in the past with little progress, however, due to politics and an unwillingness to cut departments. But Portune and Cranley point to city-county cooperation on The Banks riverfront development project as proof the two governments can coordinate.

Portune acknowledged that the idea has been floated many times in the past. The Democrat commissioner sent a proposal to former Mayor Mark Mallory about the idea in 2011. Republican Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann also discussed shared services many times with city officials, but again nothing ever came of the talks. 

Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel has also expressed interest in shared services, pointing out situations where the city relies on the state, such as hospital inspections, as possible places where the city and county could work together. He says the county could do those inspections.

Hartmann has said coordinating services between the two bodies is a matter of political will, not necessarily further study. He’s on the fence about supporting the effort.

Past failures don’t mean cooperation isn’t possible or necessary, Portune said. He said The Banks project, which is finally seeing fruition after more than a decade of work, is a great example of what the city and county can do together.

“Just go about 12 blocks south of here and you look at the magnificent things that are happening on the city and the county’s central riverfront,” Portune said. “All of the new development at The Banks, all of that was planned and envisioned and decided through a joint city and county effort.”

He said a similar arrangement could work on a more permanent basis, helping both the city and county save valuable resources.

“In this day and age of lower revenues and resources, of squeezed budgets, of the state and federal government giving greater unfunded mandates on local governments,” Portune said, “we have to do more and more with less and less annually.”

Cranley and Portune will introduce matching proposals at Cincinnati City Council and board of commissioners meetings Wednesdays asking both bodies to create a group that would study ways the city and county could share some services for greater efficiency. The group would meet at least quarterly with commissioners and council members.

“We have to try all things,” Cranley said. He said dwindling resources and looming changes in state business taxes could take a bite out of local government funds. Cranley has been a vocal opponent of such changes by the state but said he sees shared services as a good idea either way. “Just because we think it’s fair and right that the state government stop attacking local government doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue shared services.”

Under the shared services arrangement, some departments in both governments, such as the county’s permitting departments or the city’s Environmental Services Office, could eventually see reductions as two offices are folded into one.

Cranley said a few areas spring to mind as possible places for sharing services, including the city prosecutor’s office. But he said that doesn’t mean the office will close up shop.

“I think the city is going to maintain a prosecutorial function,” Cranley said, noting that he thinks the city is better suited to pursue some cases, such as negligent property owners. “I think our efforts will be ramped up in some cases, not reduced.”

But Cranley also said that some prosecutions are duplicated by the two courts and that some criminal cases could be better handled by the county.

Portune said the effort could lead to wider cooperation among local governments. There is great interest in pooling resources and sharing services among the area’s 48 municipalities and other jurisdictions, he said.

“This effort should not be limited to just the city and the county,” he said. “It’s going to start out this way. But ... there’s a tremendous appetite with the other 48 local jurisdictions. Some of that has happened, but there’s an awful lot more that could and should.”

 
 

 

 

 
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