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by Kevin Osborne 01.09.2012
Posted In: Police, Public Policy, Spending, City Council at 06:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
police chief

Meet the Police Chief

Residents will get a chance to ask Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig some questions at a public meeting this week.

Craig, who was sworn in as the city’s 13th police chief in August, will be the featured speaker at the annual meeting of Citizens for Civic Renewal (CCR). The session will be held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center in Corryville, near the University of Cincinnati.

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by Kevin Osborne 03.09.2012
 
 
monzel

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 German Lopez 12.26.2012
Posted In: News, Courts, Education, Budget, Spending at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kasich_2

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 01.24.2012
Posted In: News, 2012 Election, Courts, Spending, Republicans at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
newt1

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 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 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 Andy Brownfield 11.05.2012
 
 
hartmann1

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 Kevin Osborne 03.06.2012
Posted In: Police, City Council, Spending at 05:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
p.g. sittenfeld.nar

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 Kevin Osborne 03.06.2012
 
 
vote

Morning News and Stuff

Hey, I want to let you in on a secret: There's an election in Ohio today. Super Tuesday is finally here, with more delegates at stake in the race for Republican presidential nominee than any other single day in the 2012 campaign season. There are seven primaries (Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) and three caucuses (Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota) today. A total of 410 delegates – or 17.9 percent of the total – are up for grabs.

Officials at the Hamilton County Board of Elections are estimating that 30 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots today. Turnout probably will be low because the elections board only has received about 8,000 absentee ballots so far, compared to 26,000 by this time in 2010. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. If you're unsure where to vote, click here.

City Council is moving ahead with a plan to spend up to $100,000 to introduce priority-based budgeting in Cincinnati. The cash will fund a consultant to survey community leaders and residents to establish strategic priorities. City leaders would then try to align resources with what the community values the most, said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who heads council's Budget and Finance Committee. Council will convene a series of public forums in the next two months, and attempt to identify five to seven priorities based on the input.

Just two days after he said it was premature to ask the federal government for help, Gov. John Kasich has reversed course. A team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will arrive today in Clermont County to survey storm damage and gauge whether the region qualifies for financial assistance. Kasich had a change of heart after he spoke with U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township), who told the guv that local officials wanted immediate federal aid. (So, when exactly is the next gubernatorial election?)

Little Miami Local School Board members want to meet with Ohio education officials after a commission rejected their plan to restore some services in the school district. The state Financial Planning and Supervision Commission unanimously rejected the district’s reconfiguration plan for 2012-13. Little Miami was placed in fiscal emergency by the state after several levies failed before a November levy narrowly passed.

Reductions to Medicare and other federal health-care programs could total $360 billion over the next 10 years, causing problems for hospitals that depend on the government payments, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service. Medicare covered 39 percent of in-patient days at Greater Cincinnati hospitals in 2010, a market overview found. (I don't want to hear a single complaint about this from our conservative Republican readers, as this is what you've sought for years.)

In news elsewhere, Iran is starting to feel the impact of international sanctions as demand for its crude oil begins to drop. In January, China, South Korea and Singapore reduced their oil purchases from Iran, and Shipping Corp. of India last month canceled an Iranian shipment because its European insurers refused to provide coverage for the tanker. Traders say Iran's troubles only will increase once an European Union oil embargo begins July 1.

Crazy religious dude is at it again. No, not Rick Santorum – we're referring to Pat Robertson, the erstwhile host of TV's The 700 Club. On the program Monday, the aging pastor opined that the recent outbreak of tornadoes might not have occurred if people had prayed for divine intervention. “If enough people were praying, He would’ve intervened," he said. "You could pray, 'Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms.'” He also told viewers who live in areas prone to natural disasters that it’s “their fault, not God’s.” Way to show the compassion of Christ there, Pat.

If you're under the impression that the Constitution gives the rights of due process and equal protection under the law to U.S. citizens, Attorney General Eric Holder is going to set you wacky kids straight. In a speech Monday at the Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, Holder tried to defend the practice of using automated drones to kill suspected terrorists overseas who have never been convicted of a crime. "The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen," Holder said to a mostly disapproving crowd.

Civic leaders in eastern Libya have called for semi-autonomy for the oil-rich region, saying their area has been neglected by the nation's central government for decades. The push for self-government is strong in the region of Cyrenaica, but the governing National Transitional Council says it could lead to Libya's demise as a unified nation.
 
 

 

 

 
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