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by German Lopez 03.07.2014
Posted In: News, Drugs, Voting, Development, Mayor at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
john cranley

Morning News and Stuff

Early voting agreement sought, downtown project scrutinized, drug abuse reportedly drops

Mayor John Cranley is trying to find a compromise over whether early voting will move out of downtown after the 2016 general election, as some Republicans in the county government have suggested. Cranley called for a meeting with Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman and Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke, Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou, Cincinnati NAACP President Ishton Morton and Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Chris Monzel. The meeting will aim to “discuss alternatives the City of Cincinnati can offer to accommodate early voting downtown after the 2016 elections. (Cranley) believes that such a discussion is consistent with the recommendation of the secretary of state that there be an effort to find a nonpartisan solution to the existing disagreement.”

With a $12 million price tag in mind, Cranley remains worried Cincinnati is paying too much for a downtown grocery and apartment tower project. But the project is truly one of a kind, claims The Business Courier: The tower would boast nearly twice the number of luxury apartments of any other project underway in Over-the-Rhine or downtown. And it would replace a decrepit garage and establish the first full-scale grocery store downtown in decades.

A study found Ohio teens’ painkiller abuse dropped by 40 percent between 2011 and 2013. State officials quickly took credit for the drop, claiming their drug prevention strategies are working. But because the Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey only has two sets of data on painkillers to work with — one in 2011 and another in 2013 — it’s possible the current drop is more statistical noise than a genuine downturn, so the 2015 and 2017 studies will be under extra scrutiny to verify the trend.

Similarly, fewer Ohio teens say they’re drinking and smoking. But 46 percent say they text while driving.

Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in January, down from 7.3 percent the year before. The numbers reflect both rising employment and dropping unemployment in the previous year.

To prove his conservative bona fides, Ky. Sen. Mitch McConnell touted a rifle when he walked on stage of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The other Kentucky senator, Rand Paul, will headline a Hamilton County Republican Party dinner.

Researchers studied a woman who claims she can will herself out of her body.

Personal note: This is my last “Morning News and Stuff” and blog for CityBeat. After today, I will be leaving to Washington, D.C., for a new journalistic venture started by bloggers and reporters from The Washington Post and Slate. (CityBeat Editor Danny Cross wrote a lot of nice things about the move here, and my last commentary touched on it here.) Thank you to everyone who read my blogs during my nearly two years at CityBeat, and I hope I helped you understand the city’s complicated, exciting political and economic climate a little better, even if you sometimes disagreed with what I wrote.

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by Kevin Osborne 03.22.2012
 
 
471

Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati officials approved a deal Wednesday that offers up to $12 million in tax incentives to a local firm in return for it agreeing to build its new headquarters at the long vacant site at Fifth and Race streets downtown and maintaining certain employment levels. City Council said it was important to keep Dunnhumby USA, a retail branding company, located here. Dunnhumby will build a $36 million complex that includes 250,000 square feet of office space and create 550 new jobs by 2014, along with retaining its 450 current employees. Under the deal, the city would pay Dunnhumby up to 75 percent of the new income tax generated each year as the company adds jobs.

A plan to reconfigure I-471 in Northern Kentucky is delaying a road project across the Ohio River in Cincinnati's East End neighborhood. The city's project would make Riverside Drive more like a neighborhood street, instead of a major thoroughfare, and add bicycle lanes. But the I-471 project means motorists who need to reach the East Side during rush hour will likely be using Riverside Drive, so city engineers don't want to restrict traffic there until the highway construction is done. The change means the Riverside Drive work will be delayed between one and two years.

Partially based on local complaints, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed an antitrust lawsuit against Cargill Inc. and Morton Salt Inc. for allegedly being involved in a price-fixing scheme. The lawsuit alleges the two companies divided up the Ohio rock salt market between themselves, agreeing not to compete with each other and driving up rock salt prices over the past decade. In 2008, Hamilton County said it saw signs that collusion was occurring when it was getting only one bid for salt at triple the usual price.

A man who rescued a child from a burning house in Northside is among a group of people recognized for their heroism. Ryan Phillips, 43 of Cincinnati, saved a 3-year-old child from a fire in February 2011. He is among the 21 winners of Carnegie Medals for heroism. Carnegie medalists receive a financial reward from a fund. More than $33.9 million has been awarded to 9,516 honorees since its 1904 inception.

Boosted by expansion at hospitals and colleges, the number of construction jobs in Ohio is slowly increasing. The state’s construction industry employed 177,300 workers in January, an increase of 4,500 — or 2.6 percent — from January 2011, according to a new analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Almost half of the gains came from the Columbus area. (For the record, the mayor of Columbus and a majority of its City Council are Democrats. Just saying.)

In news elsewhere, after a long standoff and a gun battle, French police today stormed into the apartment of a young Islamic radical suspected of killing seven people. The suspect, Mohammed Merah, was shot and killed in the confrontation. He is believed to be the person that murdered three off-duty soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi in an eight-day terrorism spree.

Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to effective lawyers during plea bargain negotiations, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday. In a pair of 5-to-4 decisions, the high court vastly expanded judges’ supervision of the criminal justice system. The decisions mean that what used to be informal and unregulated deal making is now subject to new constraints when bad legal advice leads defendants to reject favorable plea offers. About 97 percent of convictions in federal courts were the result of guilty pleas. In 2006, the last year for which data was available, 94 percent of convictions in state courts were the result of such deals.

Even though he came in fourth, behind Ron Paul, in the Illinois primary this week, Newt Gingrich isn't giving up hope about his struggling presidential bid. The ex-House Speaker told NPR that he sees no reason to exit the Republican presidential race and that there's a chance of a new contender emerging at the party's convention in August. "I'm not so sure you wouldn't get a series of brand new players" stepping forward during a brokered convention, he said. Dream on, Newt.

Soldiers in Mali have taken over state-operated television and announced they have seized control of the government. The soldiers said the coup was necessary because of the mishandling of an insurgency in the north. For those of you scratching your heads, Mali is in western Africa, near Algiers, and has a population of 14.5 million people. (It's not to be confused with Malawi, where Madonna likes to adopt children.)

Federal prosecutors in Brazil have filed criminal charges against 17 Chevron and Transocean executives over an oil leak in the Atlantic Ocean in November 2011. Prosecutors on Wednesday accused the executives of environmental crimes, of misleading Brazil's oil regulator about their safety plans and not providing accurate information in the wake of the spill. At least 416,000 liters of oil seeped through cracks on the ocean floor near a Chevron well off the Rio de Janeiro coast.
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 11.14.2012
 
 
u-square-at-the-loop

U Square Worker Payment Investigation Continues

Committee members want to change way contracts are written to ensure fair wages

A City Council committee wants Cincinnati’s leadership to investigate whether workers in a Clifton Heights development project are being paid what they’re supposed to.

The Strategic Growth Committee on Wednesday passed a motion asking the city administration to report back on wage payments to workers on the U Square development. The project includes a parking garage as well as residential and commercial units.

Under Ohio law, workers on projects funded by cities must be paid a prevailing wage, which is equivalent to the wage earned by a union worker on a similar project.

The city only has money invested in the garage, and the state  of Ohio recently ruled that workers on other parts don’t have to be paid prevailing wage.

Council members Wendell Young, Cecil Thomas and Laure Quinlivan produced a video in which they interviewed carpenters who said they were being paid less than the prevailing wage.

At issue is a letter from developer Towne Properties that says the company will pay all workers prevailing wage anyway. Arn Bortz with Towne Properties said his company cuts a check to subcontractors respecting that agreement, so if workers aren’t being paid the proper amount it’s their fault.

City Solicitor John Curp told members of the Strategic Growth Committee that under city and state law, the subcontractors are not required to pay workers a prevailing wage on parts of the project that are not getting public funding. He said the letter from the developer does not hold the weight as a legal contract.

Young, Thomas, Quinlivan and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld all expressed the need to overhaul the way the city enters into development contracts to better protect workers.

However, City Manager Milton Dohoney hinted that overzealous requirements for high wages could chase off some development projects.

He said that a project like U Square is tied to the Clifton location because of its proximity to the University of Cincinnati, but the city can’t be too restrictive when it comes to businesses that could expand elsewhere.

Dohoney said the city also doesn’t currently have the manpower to do the kind of aggressive enforcement that the council members were asking for.

Councilman Young countered that he would like to see the city be as aggressive with enforcement as they are with making economic development deals.

“We want to change the rules of the game to make sure everyone is treated equal,” Young said. 

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.04.2012
 
 
mallory

Mallory to Give State of the City Address

Event will be Tuesday at Aronoff Center

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory will deliver his annual State of the City address next week.

The address, which will be Mallory’s seventh since taking office, will be given 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. It will be held in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, located at 650 Walnut St., downtown.

When CityBeat asked what the theme would be for this year’s address, a spokeswoman for Mallory declined comment.

“Our office won’t be previewing or giving information out about the speech this year,” said Julianna Rice, a policy aide to the mayor.

Generally, because seating is limited, anyone wishing to attend must receive a ticket through the mayor’s office. For more information, call 513-352-3250.

Mallory, a Democrat, was sworn in as the 68th mayor of Cincinnati on Dec. 1, 2005 and was reelected in 2009.  He cannot run again in 2013 due to term limits.

Mallory’s election marked a new era for City Hall as the first two-term mayor under the city's new “stronger-mayor” system, as well as Cincinnati’s first directly-elected black mayor, and the first mayor in more than 70 years who didn’t first serve on City Council.

Mallory celebrated his 50th birthday on Monday.

 
 
by German Lopez 11.20.2012
Posted In: Budget, Development, Economy, News, Energy, Environment at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
feature_banks_lede

Morning News and Stuff

Plan Cincinnati set for approval, Hamilton County's budget delayed, waste wells return

Plan Cincinnati is expected to be approved by City Council Wednesday, according to Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. The plan was unanimously approved by the Livable Communities committee last night. Plan Cincinnati, which is Cincinnati’s first comprehensive plan in 30 years, emphasizes the city’s urban center through new infrastructure, transportation options and goals to make downtown residents stay in the area. CityBeat previously covered the plan in greater detail here.

At the request of the sole Democrat on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, a vote on the 2013 budget is being delayed by one week. Commissioner Todd Portune asked Commission President Greg Hartmann, a Republican, for the vote delay to address funding to juvenile courts and plans for future financial stability. Hartmann agreed to the delay, noting consensus is important for budget issues. The budget won’t raise taxes, but it could put 150 Hamilton County employees out of jobs.

Wastewater injection wells, which are used to dispose of fluids used during the fracking process, will soon be popping up around Ohio again. The wells are the first to get state approval since earthquakes around Youngstown in December were blamed on nearby wastewater injection wells. It’s clear little — not even earthquakes — will stop Ohio’s fracking boom, but at what cost? It is generally accepted switching from coal to natural gas would bring down pollution that causes global warming, but some findings from Australia suggest problems still lay ahead. One study found an abnormal amount of greenhouse gases around an Australian fracking site. Methane leakage in particular is a problem at natural gas sites because over 100 years methane is 25 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Cincinnati home sales shot up in October, according to the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. The report paints a great picture for the city’s housing economy. Housing was one of the biggest sectors hit by the financial crisis of 2007-2008, so a recovery in housing is a sign the economic downturn could soon be a thing of the past.

University of Cincinnati researchers want to know if testing emergency-room patients for HIV makes sense. ER doctors worry about longer wait times, disrupted operations and possible interference with emergency services, but the health benefits could outweigh the negatives.

FirstGroup America is looking into moving from its Cincinnati headquarters. The company originally got a million-dollar tax incentive from the city for moving to downtown.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich hopes his rejection of Obamacare’s health exchanges will ignite some re-election fundraising. Kasich is up for re-election in 2014. Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace. With Kasich’s rejection, the federal government will manage Ohio’s exchange.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted finally had a good day in court on Saturday. In a reversal from the lower court’s ruling, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said ballots without proper identification should not be counted. It’s estimated that, at most, the ruling will affect about 2,000 votes.

A Dayton man allegedly robbed the same bank twice.

Behold, the greatest thing the internet has ever created: The Spice Kittens livestream.

With a nose cell transplant, paralyzed dogs are walking again.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.19.2012
 
 
layoffs

Morning News and Stuff

In an effort to avoid an estimated $43 million deficit, the Cincinnati Board of Education decided Wednesday to eliminate 237 teaching jobs for next school year. Of the job cuts, 35 are layoffs, 112 are retirements or resignations, and 90 are long-term substitutes. In March, the board also approved laying off 40 administrators. The actions are expected to create $20 million in savings, but officials say more cuts are needed.

Cincinnati City Council has approved an ordinance cracking down on so-called “predatory towing.” Some local towing companies haven't been following state guidelines about how much may be charged for the towing and impoundment of vehicles. The city law clarifies that they must be complied with, and companies that violate the fees can lose lucrative towing contracts with the Cincinnati Police Department.

As part of their standard procedures, state regulators are reviewing the background of a company slated to open the state's first casino next month and Cincinnati's casino next year. The Ohio Casino Control Commission meets this week to review a newly completed report on Rock Ohio Caesars. It will include details about the company's financial stability and whether it has any criminal background.

Although Earth Day isn't until Sunday, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is marking the holiday early by sponsoring an e-waste recycling drive today to collect and recycle unwanted electronic waste from guests. Collection is from 4-6:30 p.m., and all electronic devices will be recycled by 2trg, a certified recycler that operates under zero landfill and zero export policies. A $10 cash fee will be charged for each TV set, and all other acceptable items will be recycled for free. Other acceptable items include cables, CD-ROM drives, cellular phones, DVD players, keyboards, laptops, LCD monitors, microwave ovens, printers and more.

Locally-based Fifth Third Bank says its first-quarter net income quadrupled, thanks in part to its stake in the payment processor Vantiv, which had its initial public offering. The company reported net income of $421 million today, or 45 cents per share. That compares with $88 million, or 10 cents per share, reported in the same period last year. Apparently, there's only a recession going on for some of us.

In news elsewhere, House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester) is dismissing criticism brought against the Republican budget plan by Catholic bishops. Referencing Matthew 25, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on Congress to put the poor first in budget priorities and rethink cuts to programs that help them. But Boehner, a Catholic, said at a press conference Wednesday the cuts were necessary, despite the impact they may have on the poor. “What’s more of a concern to me is the fact that if we don’t start to make some decisions about getting our fiscal house in order there won’t be a safety net,” he said. “There won’t be these programs.” (Hey, John: Maybe you should take another look at the Pentagon's budget.)

Six former employees of a company connected to a firm founded by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney filed a federal lawsuit this week, alleging they were fired because they weren't Mormon. The plaintiffs worked for Sorenson Capital Partners, whose managing directors and officers are former partners or executives at Bain Capital and Bain & Co. Romney founded Bain Capital in 1984 after working for Bain & Co. The plaintiffs seek $5.35 million in damages for breach of contract, discrimination and retaliation.

If the CIA gets its way, acting suspicious will be enough to get you killed in Yemen. The spy agency is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed, U.S. officials said. Securing permission to use these “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives. Remember: They hate us because we love freedom.

Syria and the United Nations have reached a tentative deal to deploy observers to monitor the nation's ceasefire, officials from both sides said. A spokesman for peace envoy Kofi Annan said the agreement covered the observers' functions and Syrian government's responsibilities. It came after the U.N. secretary general said Syria was failing to comply with its peace plan obligations. The plan seeks to end unrest which has killed at least 9,000 people.

The global economic downturn is even visible in China, where large amounts of retail and office space sit vacant, in nearly pristine condition, having never been used. Part of the problem is Chinese industry has been producing massive amounts of steel, cement, and aluminum, so much that its economy cannot absorb all of the output. For example, the seven-story Global Furnishing Design and Exhibition Center in Shanghai, the most populous city in the world, is known as “the ghost mall of China” due to its empty corridors and vacant stores.
 
 
by Kevin Osborne 02.22.2012
 
 
qualls

Morning News and Stuff

In a refreshing sign of sanity at City Hall, Cincinnati officials might change the way they go about drafting the municipal budget. Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who heads council's Finance and Budget Committee, is proposing the group adopt a new priorities-based process that involves more community input. Six council members support the idea, which means it probably will be adopted.

As first reported by The Daily Bellwether blog and later picked up by The Enquirer, a new tenant at The Banks shopping and residential district will get almost $1 million in grant and loan assistance from the city. Mahogany’s Bar and Grill, a soul food restaurant scheduled to open in spring, will get a $684,000 grant and $300,000 loan, if City Council approves the deal Thursday. The grant would cover design and construction costs, while the loan would be used to pay for furniture and equipment.

Legendary Soul and Funk singer Patti LaBelle is visiting two local Kroger grocery stores to celebrate Black History Month. The diva will visit the Queen City Centre store at 4777 Kenard Ave. from 1:30-2:30 p.m. today, where she will be joined by a choir from the School of Creative and Performing Arts, along with students from Rockdale Academy in Avondale. She will visit the Norwood store at 4500 Montgomery Road from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Thursday, where she will perform with the St. Bernard High School Choir and students from Evanston Academy. As Ms. LaBelle might say, “Gitchi gitchi yaya here, mocha chocolata, yaya here.”

As expected, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has broken a 2-2 tie vote by siding with the GOP members of the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Husted wants to appeal the decision of a federal judge who ordered elections officials to count additional ballots in a disputed 2010 juvenile court judge election.

In news elsewhere, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is defending comments he made in 2008 that he's a Satanist. No, not really, but he did say that The Evil One exists and has targeted the United States for destruction through the policies of President Obama. (Yes, that part is real.) Maybe Santorum would prefer being elected Pope instead of president. Someone buy the man an airline ticket to Rome, please.

The newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to overhaul rules on overdraft fees charged by banks. The agency plans to limit the costly charges. Last year, banks made between $15 billion and $22 billion from overdraft fees, which is excessive, agency officials said.

President Obama is about to ask Congress to scrub the corporate tax code of dozens of loopholes and subsidies to reduce the top rate to 28 percent, down from 35 percent, while giving preferences to manufacturers that would set their maximum effective rate at 25 percent, sources told The New York Times.

At least four people were killed and 20 injured in Afghanistan after protests spread over the burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. military base. American officials apologized on Tuesday after Korans were "inadvertently" put in an incinerator at Bagram Air Field. Seriously, we're in our 11th year of this war, shouldn't we know proper protocol by now?
 
 
by German Lopez 06.10.2013
Posted In: News, Development, Food Deserts at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
downtown grocery

Committee Approves Plan for Downtown Grocery Store

Plan also includes parking garage, luxury apartments

In a 7-0 vote today, City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee approved development plans for Fourth and Race streets to build a downtown grocery store, 300 luxury apartments and a parking garage to replace Pogue’s Garage.

Following the city’s $8.5 million purchase of the property, the project will cost $80 million. The city will provide $12 million through a five-year forgivable loan, and the rest — $68 million — will come from private financing.

The committee hearing largely focused on the downtown grocery store, which Odis Jones, the city’s economic development director, called the “next step” of the city’s overall plans to invigorate residential space and drive down office vacancy downtown.

Development company Flaherty and Collins will oversee the grocery store project, which was originally attached to the city’s plans to semi-privatize its parking assets.

The grocery store will be 15,000 square feet — slightly smaller than the Kroger store on Vine Street, which is about 17,000 square feet — and open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It will be run by an independent operator, which is so far unnamed.

Flaherty and Collins CEO David Flaherty acknowledged it’s “a compact space,” but he said it will be enough space for a “full-service grocery store” with all the essentials, including fresh produce.

The grocery store will be at the base of a new, 30-story residential tower, which will include 300 luxury apartments and a pool.

Across the street, the city will replace Pogue’s Garage, which city officials have long called an “eyesore,” with a new garage.

The seven Democrats on City Council voted in favor of the plan, with Independent Councilman Chris Smitherman and Republican Councilman Charlie Winburn abstaining.

Democratic Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld questioned the funding sources for the project. City officials explained the $12 million loan will come through urban renewal bonds, which were previously set aside in an urban revival plan that encompasses all of downtown.

Jones said the money was going to a hotel-convention center deal when the city originally pitched the parking plan, but that deal has since collapsed.

City officials also noted the urban renewal fund, which is generated through downtown taxes, can only be used on capital improvement projects that support development and redevelopment downtown. Although the fund could be modified by City Council, it could never go to operating budget expenses such as police and fire.

Public dollars will go to the public garage, while private funds will carry the rest of the project.

The city’s $12 million investment comes through a five-year forgivable loan, which means the city will get its money back if parts of the project, including the privately funded grocery store, fail to meet standards within five years. After the five years are over, the loan is forgiven and any failure would result in a total loss on the investment.

Smitherman, who opposed the city’s parking plan, criticized the city administration for not presenting the current funding plan as an alternative to the parking plan: “What I’d like as a public policymaker is to see all of the options in front of me so that I can choose not just one option but maybe three options.”

Sittenfeld also questioned Flaherty about two previous projects Flaherty and Collins undertook that went bankrupt. Flaherty said the bankruptcies were mostly related to the economic downturn of 2008, but admitted the bankruptcies forced the company to make changes.

The city estimates the project will produce 650 construction jobs and 35 permanent, full-time jobs.

For the city, the project is part of a much bigger plan that includes getting 3,000-5,000 new residential units built downtown in the next five years to meet rising demand.

“It’s hot to be downtown right now,” Jones said.

Jones explained the property would have cost Cincinnati millions of dollars regardless of the city’s buyout and development plans because of a liability agreement the city made in the 1980s.

“When you start from there and you gradually come up and look holistically at the project, taking action was not only necessary, it was prudent,” he said.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 02.29.2012
 
 
dohoney

Morning News and Stuff

One headline about Tuesday's bitterly-contested primary in Michigan summarizes events succinctly: “Mitt wins ugly.” Mitt Romney won the contest in his native state, giving him the edge in the battle over the Republican presidential nomination, but not by a large margin. Romney received 41.1 percent of the vote to Rick Santorum's 37.9 percent. They were separated by 32,393 votes — respectable, but nothing to gloat about as Mitt outspent his rival by a large margin. Romney won a much more convincing victory in Arizona, where he got 47.3 percent of the vote compared to Santorum's 26.6 percent.

All of this means next week's “Super Tuesday” will be even more closely watched. There are seven primaries (Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) and three caucuses (Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota) slated for March 6 and — once again — the Buckeye State could be a bellwether for the race. “While Santorum’s own super PAC will help him remain viable in Ohio, a Romney win there, combined with some other key states that day (Virginia will not not be seen as a clean victory since only Romney and Ron Paul are on the ballot), could start winding down the race,” Politico reported.

City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. defended his recommendation to give a Hamilton soul food restaurant nearly $1 million in grants and loans to create a second location at The Banks district in downtown Cincinnati. Some officials have criticized the pending deal after learning Liz and Trent Rogers, owners of Mahogany’s Cafe and Grill, owe about $49,000 in back taxes to the federal government. In a memo to City Council sent Tuesday afternoon, Dohoney wrote that city financing is the only way to attract small, minority-owned businesses like Mahogany’s to The Banks, and fits with the developers’ vision to include some locally owned restaurants in the project.

With Cincinnati Public Schools facing a $43 million deficit, Superintendent Mary Ronan said some layoffs are likely. If there are layoffs, affected staffers will be informed during the last week of April. “Everyone has balanced their budget by taking money away from the district," Ronan told WLWT-TV (Channel 5). "So now, we're looking at layoffs."

It's time to get rid of that ratty old sofa sitting next to your garage. Cincinnati City Council will vote today on a proposed ordinance that will place restrictions on what residents can store outside of their homes. Any item intended for use in the interior of a house, like appliances and most furniture, won't be able to be left outside for an extended period of time. Violators would have 10 days to correct problems. If the person doesn't, he or she would face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000, along with up to one year in jail.

If you think corporate executives are coddled or that bankers add little of true value to the economy, you might want to skip this blurb. Fifth Third Bank paid $7.1 million to CEO Kevin Kabat last year, giving him a 49 percent compensation increase. Kabat's pay hike is due, at least partially, to the bank’s repayment last year of $3.4 billion it borrowed through the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). That got Fifth Third released from federal restrictions on executive pay, The Business Courier reports.

In news elsewhere, three investigations have been launched into the Koran burnings at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan by the U.S. military. The event ignited days of deadly protests that caused the deaths of up to 30 Afghanis and might have caused the shooting deaths of four American soldiers.

A prisoner held at the Guantanamo Bay prison since 2003 is expected to plead guilty soon at a war crimes tribunal. Pakistani Majid Khan, 32, who had lived in the United States, will admit to terror-related charges in exchange for leniency. He faces five war crimes charges, including conspiring with al-Qaeda, murder and attempted murder.

Twenty-five suspected members of the loose-knit Anonymous hacker movement were arrested in a sweep across Europe and South America by Interpol, the international law enforcement agency. The suspects, aged between 17 and 40, are suspected of planning coordinated cyber-attacks against institutions including Colombia's defense ministry and presidential websites.
 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.21.2012
 
 
naming rights1

Morning News and Stuff

One day a few years from now Cincinnati motorists might drive their vehicles across the Procter & Gamble Bridge. Ohio's transportation officials are considering ways to create public-private partnerships to help pay for large, expensive projects like the planned replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge, which is estimated to cost $2 billion. The Ohio Department of Transportation has formed a new Division of Innovative Delivery to ponder new methods for raising revenue, which might include selling the naming rights to bridges and roads or using more tolls. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Corporate States of America.

The expansion of Cincinnati's recycling program is yielding good results. 2011 was the first full year for the expanded program that included larger containers and the use of the RecycleBank rewards program. The amount of recycled material increased 49 percent when comparing 2011 to 2009, while participation jumped by 75 percent. As a result, the city saved more than $900,000 in dumping fees and related costs. Each ton of refuse shifted from the landfill to recycling saves the city about $100.

A transgender student at Miami University in Oxford is challenging campus officials for not allowing him to serve as a resident assistant in an all-male residence hall. Instead, he was offered a position in a suite living with female students. Kaeden Kass, who was born a female but dresses and identifies as male, filed a complaint against the dean of students and the university council.

Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order this week creating an “employment first” policy requiring case managers for disabled people to first look for job placement at private businesses rather than turning to more typical sheltered workshop environments, where nearly all the employees are disabled. The new policy applies to the state departments of Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health and Education; the Rehabilitation Services Commission; and school districts.

Cincinnati firefighters are investigating the cause of a series of fires that occurred early this morning in the city's Carthage neighborhood. Crews had to extinguish blazes involving at least three garages and two vehicles in separate incidents. Officials are calling the fires suspicious and are working to find a possible suspect. Damage is estimated at $20,000.

In news elsewhere, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney easily won the Illinois primary Tuesday. Romney received 46.7 percent of the vote, compared to 35 percent for Rick Santorum. Oh, yeah: Ron Paul got 9.3 percent and Newt Gingrich got 8 percent. (That's right, Paul beat Gingrich.) The results give credibility to GOP fears that Santorum's appeal is limited to the Deep South and conservative areas in the West.

The next primary is Saturday in Louisiana, which is causing some controversy. A super PAC that supports Romney has started sending mailers to Louisiana voters but didn't quite get the details correct. Restore Our Future told voters in the mailer they should vote for Romney on Tuesday, March 24. But the 24th is actually a Saturday, not Tuesday. The super PAC has said the mixup was accidental, but some Santorum supporters suspect it was intentional to confuse voters.

A detailed study shows increased oil drilling in the United States doesn't affect gasoline prices at the pump. A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by the Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and gas prices. If more domestic oil drilling worked as some politicians allege, motorists would now be paying about $2 a gallon for gas. Hey, Mitt and Rick: It's time to try a new scare tactic.

French police were locked in a standoff this morning and exchanged gunfire with an Islamic militant barricaded in an apartment who is suspected of being the gunman who killed three French soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi over the past eight days. Authorities identified the suspect as Mohammed Merah, 24, a French citizen who has spent time with Islamic groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At least 11 boys were castrated while in the care of the Dutch Roman Catholic church in the 1950s to rid them of homosexuality, a newspaper investigation reports. One person, who was 18 at the time, was castrated in 1956 after telling police he was being sexually abused by a priest. Dutch officials ordered an investigation after the report was published in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper.
 
 

 

 

 
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