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by German Lopez 12.26.2012
Posted In: News, Courts, Education, Budget, Spending at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

CPS helps rework school funding, cuts mean less teachers, judges against double-dipping

Cincinnati Public Schools seems to be playing a big role in reforming Ohio’s school funding formula. Superintendent Mary Ronan got a call from Gov. John Kasich’s office about the per-pupil funding formula CPS uses to distribute funds to its schools. It seems the state might adopt a similar method, but Ronan is cautious: “I do think it's one of the ways you could do it, a per-pupil funding, but I have to say, we were always tweaking every year ... because sometimes those formulas can be a bit off and any time we saw one school getting a lot more than another ... we tried to refine it every year over probably the 15 years we have used it.” She also notes schools are getting “bare minimum” funding right now. CityBeat covered budget problems at CPS here.

In general, state budget cuts have led to fewer teachers in Ohio schools. Gov. Kasich previously urged schools to focus on classroom instruction, but it seems the words aren't being followed up with proper funding.

Southwestern Ohio judges are clashing over double-dipping. The practice involves government workers retiring and getting rehired so they can collect pensions and a paycheck at the same time. At a meeting, Hamilton County Judge Melba Marsh said she wants to allow Magistrate Michael Bachman to retire and then be rehired so he doesn't lose a 3-percent increase to his retirement, which is otherwise being eliminated by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System after 2012. But the move has been met with resistance from other judges.

For Cincinnati hospitals, Medicare changes mean some loss and some gain.

The online campaign urging Macy’s to dump Donald Trump circled a “Dump Trump” billboard around Macy’s headquarters. The anti-Trump movement has gained about 680,000 signatures since it started.

On Christmas Eve, some spent time with family, while Butler County Deputy David Runnells helped deliver a baby in the back of a car during an emergency call.

Ohio will use $20 million out of $200 million in casino funds to train incumbent workers. Gov. Kasich says the program could help avoid layoffs.

It seems Mitt Romney's presidential campaign really thought they were going to win. In campaign memos leading up to the election, campaign staff said the race was “unmistakably moving in Mitt Romney’s direction,” and the campaign ridiculed the possibility of losing Ohio due to the Romney campaign’s “better ground game.” But President Barack Obama had a much larger ground game for one-on-one interaction, which is one of the factors former Romney staff now say led to their demise. But whatever. Romney didn't want to be president, anyway, says son Tagg Romney: He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to ... run.

Fiscal cliff talks aren’t going well. President Obama cut his vacation early to work out negotiations. If Republicans and Democrats can’t work out their problems, a series of spending cuts and tax hikes dubbed the “fiscal cliff” will kick in throughout 2013. But it’s looking more and more likely the nation will head off the cliff, considering U.S. Speaker John Boehner can’t even pass tax hikes on people making more than $1 million a year.

Ever wonder what dinosaur meat would taste like? Well, Popular Science has that covered.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.05.2012
 
 
kasich

Morning News and Stuff

Even though more than 250 buildings were damaged in the small Clermont County town of Moscow by Friday's tornado and severe weather, Gov. John Kasich so far is standing by his decision not to seek federal aid. Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin assessing damages in Northern Kentucky and Indiana today, but Kasich said it's premature to know if FEMA help is needed here. The agency can provide low-interest loans to repair damage not covered by insurance.

Hamilton County commissioners voted in December to sell the Drake Center hospital in Hartwell to the University of Cincinnati, but the transaction still hasn't been completed. Commissioners Chris Monzel and Todd Portune agreed to sell Drake for $15 million, for a cash infusion to cover a property tax rebate to homeowners for one year. The rebate was promised in 1996 to convince county voters to approve a sales-tax increase to build new stadiums for the Reds and the Bengals.

The police chief of a small Northern Kentucky city was arrested Thursday night for allegedly driving while drunk. Wilder Police Chief Anthony Rouse was arrested in nearby Alexandria after police there received a tip about 30 minutes earlier. Sounds like Rouse might have an enemy or two.

And that's one for the Reds. After a 6-6 tie game against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, the hometown team scored an 8-6 victory Sunday in preseason play in Goodyear, Ariz. WCPO's Mark Slaughter is concerned about the inconsistent performance of pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who gave up a hit and a walk to the first two players he faced. The teams play again at 3:05 p.m. today.

Tuesday is Ohio's eagerly awaited primary election, part of the multiple contests going on nationwide that day. But once again, the Buckeye State is viewed as the key battleground that could make or break the campaigns of some Republican presidential hopefuls. A Quinnipiac University poll released today finds Mitt Romney has the momentum. Quinnipiac said 34 percent of likely Republican primary voters prefer Romney, compared to 31 percent for Rick Santorum, a 10-point shift from a Feb. 27 poll that favored Santorum.

In news elsewhere, some Republican Party insiders are comparing the GOP's position this year to the 2005 film, Batman Begins. In that flick, a group of villains believe Gotham City is beyond saving and the only way to fix it is to first destroy it, then let something better rise from the ashes. The Republican Party's contentious presidential primary battle might be the exact type of showdown between its moderate and conservative factions that is needed to let the party recover and prosper in the future, some strategists believe. (So, does that make Rick Santorum the Scarecrow?)

Love him or hate him, Ron Paul is refreshingly candid and free of spin. The Republican presidential wannabe expressed doubt Sunday that radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh was sincere when he apologized for calling a law student a "slut" over her support for President Obama's new policy on insurance coverage of contraceptives. Limbaugh only did it because advertisers were leaving his show, Paul said on Face the Nation. Well, duh.

An Iranian-American convicted in Iran of spying for the CIA will get a new trial. In what's being viewed as an improvement in relations between the two nations, Iran's Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence given to Amir Mirzai Hekmati, stating his earlier trial “was not complete.”

There appears to be little chance that a proposal by the Obama administration to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent for all companies, while also eliminating loopholes and deductions, will advance this year. Some politicians are leery of abolishing the deductions in an election year, NPR reports.
 
 
by Kevin Osborne 01.24.2012
Posted In: News, 2012 Election, Courts, Spending, Republicans at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Sensing he needs to make up for lost ground, Mitt Romney went on the offensive in Monday night’s Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Fla., hammering Newt Gingrich as an “influence peddler.” Occasionally appearing at a loss for words, the bombastic ex-Speaker of the House accused Romney of engaging in “trivial politics.”

Boys, boys: Settle down or I’m pulling the car over.

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by Kevin Osborne 03.09.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

A plan by two Hamilton County commissioners to help solve a $14 million deficit in the stadium account by reducing operating expenses at the county-owned facilities for the Reds and Bengals and hosting more events there isn't feasible, county staffers said. In December Commissioners Chris Monzel and Todd Portune proposed the plan rather than reduce a property tax rebate for homeowners. Erica Riehl, the county’s sales tax fund specialist, wrote in a memo that most operational expenses are “non-negotiable” and establishing a revenue goal is not “practical or dependable” as an annual revenue source, The Enquirer reports. Time to find a real solution, guys.

Today's sunny weather might put you in the mood for spring and some baseball. Although the Reds' Opening Day isn't until April 5, fans can begin camping out today at Great American Ball Park to score tickets to the opener against the Miami Marlins. Tickets will go on sale 9 a.m. Saturday; there are 1,000 view level seats for $35 each and 500 standing room only tickets for $25 each. Hurry up, though: Last year the tickets sold out in less than an hour.

Speaking of sports, two special visitors will travel to Ohio next Tuesday to attend the first games of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the University of Dayton. President Obama will bring British Prime Minister David Cameron to the Gem City to watch some hoops.

The turnabout is now complete. Ohio Gov. John Kasich sent a letter Wednesday afternoon to President Obama asking for a presidential disaster declaration for Clermont County. Shortly after last Friday's tornado, Kasich had said he didn't believe federal aid was needed. Then, after public outcry and a personal appeal from U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township), Kasich switched course earlier this week and allowed Federal Emergency Management Agency teams to inspect the area. Obama already issued a major disaster declaration Tuesday for Kenton and Pendleton counties in Northern Kentucky.

An Ohio lawmaker from Greater Cincinnati wants to repeal daylight savings time in the Buckeye State. State Rep. Courtney Combs (R-Hamilton) will introduce a bill today to keep Ohio on standard time throughout the year. Combs called the World War I-era practice outdated and unneeded. “While it may have made sense when the government was fighting a war, it has no place in a modern world. Nowadays, all it does is inconvenience people twice a year,” he said.

The city of Cincinnati is preparing to sell historic Music Hall in Over-the-Rhine to a nonprofit group for just $1. Although the 134-year-old structure has an appraised value of $12.7 million, it needs major renovations and city officials say a private owner would have an easier time raising $165 million to upgrade and improve the facility. The private group, Music Hall Revitalization Co. Inc., also would be responsible for future operating and maintenance costs.

In news elsewhere, emails obtained by hacker group Anonymous and posted by WikiLeaks indicate terrorist leader Osama bin Laden might not have been buried at sea last year by the U.S. military, as Obama and U.S. officials said. The emails, from high-profile intelligence service Stratfor, said bin Laden was flown to Delaware on a CIA plane, then taken to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda, Md. The official version of bin Laden's death had alleged he was wrapped in a sheet and “eased” off the decks of a naval ship into the North Arabian Sea just hours after he was killed on May 2 in a raid by Navy SEALs.

Taliban fighters in Pakistan pledge to attack government, police and military officials if three of bin Laden's widows aren't released from Pakistani custody, a Taliban spokesman said today. Pakistan's government has charged bin Laden's three widows with illegally entering and staying in the nation, which observers said was probably done at the urging of U.S. officials.

Many Republican political campaign professionals believe Mitt Romney will win the GOP's presidential nomination but is perceived as weak and needs to quickly and decisively recast his image. Otherwise, they add, Romney will suffer the same fate as Bob Dole in 1996, when he lost the election to Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton.

U.S. employers added 227,000 jobs in February to complete three of the best months of hiring since the recession began. The unemployment rate was unchanged, largely because more people streamed into the work force. The Labor Department said today that the unemployment rate stayed at 8.3 percent last month, the lowest in three years.

European leaders are praising a recent Greek debt swap deal, adding it will pave the way for another eurozone bailout. Holders of 85.8 percent of debt subject to Greek law and 69 percent of its international debt holders agreed to a debt swap. Athens needed to get 75 percent to push through the deal, which is a condition of Greece's latest bailout. The Greek deal with its lenders is the largest restructuring of government debt in history.
 
 
by 02.17.2011
Posted In: City Council, Protests, Spending, Neighborhoods at 04:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 

Group Petitions to Keep Pools Open

A group of residents has begun a petition effort to convince Cincinnati officials to use an unexpected $5.5 million windfall to keep several city-owned swimming pools open.

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by 05.11.2011
Posted In: Government, Police, Courts, Financial Crisis, Spending at 04:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 

400-Plus City Workers Owe Money

News junkies probably heard about the warnings issued by Cincinnati City Hall this week, reminding citizens of its “ticket amnesty” program: Anyone with unpaid parking tickets should pay now or possibly have their vehicles impounded by police.

What City Hall didn't announce was that as of last month, 429 of the nearly 62,000 unpaid parking tickets were issued to municipal employees — including some cops and firefighters.

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by Andy Brownfield 11.05.2012
 
 
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County Commission President Lays Out Budget Plan

"Austerity budget" rejects tax increases

The Republican head of Hamilton County’s governing board outlined his own alternative for a 2013 budget on Monday, proposing an austere path forward after rejecting other budgets that would raise some taxes.

Board of County Commissioners President Greg Hartmann said his proposed budget would reduce the size of county government by 30 percent, compared to five years ago. He said he wants the board to approve a budget before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It is a budget of austerity and investment in growth,” Hartmann said. 

He added, “It is a structurally-balanced budget,” that doesn’t use one-time sources of cash to make up for shortfalls.

Hartmann’s proposed budget would cut the Sheriff’s Department by about $57,000  or 0.01 percent from 2012 levels; reduce the coroner’s appropriation by 3 percent or $99,000; cut economic development by 5 percent; cut 5 percent from adult criminal courts; and reduce subsidies to the Communications Center and Sheriff’s Department.

Hartmann stressed that it is important to fund public safety as fully as allowable in these tough economic times, as economic development is not possible without it.

Hartmann’s budget comes after commissioners rejected three proposals from County Administrator Christian Sigman.

Sigman proposed $18.7 million in cuts, which Hartmann’s budget maintained in addition to his own reductions.

Two of Sigman’s proposals involved increasing the sales tax to balance the budget.

Fellow Republican Commissioner Chris Monzel said he supports Hartmann’s efforts at austerity, but is working on his own budget proposal as well.

“An austerity budget is the way we’re going to go, and it’s going to be hard,” he said.

The board’s sole Democrat, Todd Portune, said he too is working on his own proposal that he had hoped to have prepared for the Nov. 5 meeting, but was still making tweaks and hoped to present it by the following week.

He hinted that the results of Election Day might impact how he crafts his budget proposal.

“Tomorrow’s results may have an impact as well on the budget that I present as it relates as well to those who are running for county seats,” Portune said. “We have in some cases two very different visions in terms of solutions.” 

Both he and Hartmann are up for re-election. Portune is running against Libertarian Bob Frey. Neither candidate has a major party challenger.

Hartmann, who has actively campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had a joke in response to Portune’s waiting for the election results.

“I thought you were predicting Romney’s win would make the economy go on the right track,” Hartmann cracked. “I was thinking that’s what you were going to go with.”

 
 
by Danny Cross 05.30.2012
 
 
josh_mandel headshot

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has already had a rough week, having to give back more than $100,000 in campaign contributions in response to an FBI investigation. Today The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Politifact website looked into one of the five claims made in Mandel's new 30-second TV ad, and it seems to be pretty false. Mandel claims that his opponent, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, “cast the deciding vote on the government takeover of health care." Politifact notes that since the health care overhaul passed by the minimum 60 votes necessary, that every vote was technically “deciding.” But, on the other hand, Brown was an early supporter of the legislation, and it is widely known that Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the final “yes” vote to join. Plus, technically, Brown was the seventh person to vote because it was taken in alphabetical order.

Ohio public schools have received a waiver for parts of No Child Left Behind that will remove a requirement to get all of their students proficient in math and reading by 2014. Nineteen states have received the waiver, meaning they'll have to create their own federally approved academic progress standards.

Covington leaders are expecting staff reductions as part of balancing the 2012-13 budget to cover $1.5 million that was left out. The city is facing $1.6 million in cuts to public-safety services and about $700,000 across other departments.

Mitt Romney officially won the Republican presidential nomination yesterday, but no one's talking about it because all the stories involve Donald Trump and the fact that his iPhone app misspelled “America.”

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has two weeks to offer arguments against extradition to Sweden after a U.K. supreme court ruling.

The makers of Blackberry are considering how to remake their products into something people will actually want again.

Facebook's public offering drama has caused experts to ask questions such as, “should investors see the wretched performance of Facebook’s IPO as any sort of signal about the likely future direction of the overall stock market and the economy?

While the rest of us were living our lives, two asteroids zipped past the earth early this week. Don't worry — they were small.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.06.2012
Posted In: Police, City Council, Spending at 05:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Sittenfeld Wants Police Recruit Class

Councilman: It’s needed to offset retirements

Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld wants his colleagues to approve a police recruit class for next year, the first since June 2008.

There currently are 1,022 sworn officers in the Cincinnati Police Department, along with 115 non-sworn staff. The high-mark during the past decade occurred in 2008, when there was a total of 1,148 sworn officers and 229 non-sworn staff.

By November 2013, based on department retirement projections and without the addition of a new recruit class, the Police Department's complement will be down to 964 sworn officers — 184 fewer sworn officers than in 2008.

“By the end of 2014, without the addition of a recruit class, our police force will be 197 officers below the authorized complement level,” Sittenfeld wrote in a memo to his colleagues.

“The Police Department has communicated the importance of a recruit class as a simple reflection of the numbers,” he added. “In the same way that council has needed to be realistic about our highest police staffing levels being financially unsustainable, we must also be realistic about how low we can allow staffing levels to fall and still provide the service that is expected.”

Other council members haven’t yet weighed in on the issue, which is a topic that likely will be brought up during budget hearings later this year.

 
 
by 05.12.2011
Posted In: Government, Police, Courts, Financial Crisis, Spending at 02:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

The Lowdown on City Hall's Scofflaws

Cincinnati officials today released an updated list of City Hall employees who have unpaid parking tickets, and the list includes members of the Police and Fire departments.

A total of 311 municipal employees have delinquent parking tickets, totaling $30,662 in unpaid fines, as of May 4th. That amounts to about 0.25 percent of the total amount of delinquent tickets, said a city spokeswoman.

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