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by German Lopez 08.02.2013
Posted In: News, Media at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

‘Enquirer’ Restructures Kentucky, West Chester Offices

Parent company Gannett lays off 400-plus around nation

Although it’s moving staff out of its offices in Kentucky, The Cincinnati Enquirer intends to continue publishing a daily Kentucky edition with unique content for Northern Kentucky.

Editor Steve Wilson was among those laid off from The Kentucky Enquirer yesterday. He will remain at the newspaper for four weeks, along with several colleagues who were also laid off.

Wilson told CityBeat that The Enquirer isn’t backing away from its commitment to northern Kentucky, but acknowledges problems posed by the layoffs.

“Clearly, all things being equal, you want to have reporters based in the area they’re covering. That just makes sense. Everybody would agree with that,” Wilson says. “But in this case, they apparently had their reasons that made sense to them.”

Wilson won’t speculate on the reasons, but he cites cost concerns as an ongoing problem. “Gannett, like most companies, is very bottom-line-driven, and they had to do something to reduce expenses,” he says, pointing to the continuing trend of downsizing in the news industry.

Following the demise of The Cincinnati Post in 2007, The Cincinnati Enquirer and its Kentucky edition made strides to appeal to northern Kentucky readers. One example: The newspaper stopped referring to the region as “Greater Cincinnati,” instead adopting “Greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky” — a lede-unfriendly moniker that was meant to show The Enquirer was serious about reaching out.

But a source close to The Enquirer who asked to remain anonymous questioned the success of those efforts, given yesterdays layoffs.

Gannett Blog claims 23 people were laid off at Enquirer offices, but it’s difficult to confirm the report because of Gannett’s secrecy with staffing issues. More than 400 people lost their jobs at Gannett newspapers around the nation, according to the blog.

Based on information gathered so far, the local layoffs span through the Cincinnati and Kentucky versions of The Enquirer, Community Press and Community Recorder.

A source close to the situation told CityBeat that eight reporters, two editors and one photographer are moving from the Kentucky offices to downtown Cincinnati, with the remaining Kentucky staff members laid off. Staff members were also moved from the newspaper’s West Chester office, which covered Butler and Warren counties.

Original reports claimed the Kentucky and West Chester offices were closing, but they will apparently remain open for reporters in a limited capacity.

The source gave the names of five people who were laid off: Wilson; Bill Cieslewicz, a mid-level editor; Jackie Demaline, theatre critic and arts writer; Paul McKibben, breaking news reporter; and Ealer Wadlington, listing coordinator.

When asked about the layoffs, Gannett spokesperson Jeremy Gaines told journalism industry blogger Jim Romenesko, “Some USCP (U.S. Community Publishing) sites are making cuts to align their business plans with local market conditions.”

The nationwide layoffs come a couple weeks after Gannett CEO Gracia Martore proudly claimed on July 22, “We are accelerating our transformation into the ‘New Gannett’ every day.”

Updated on Nov. 4 at 12:03 p.m.: Added final layoff numbers from Gannett Blog.

Updated on Aug. 6 at 11:13 a.m.: Added the latest layoff numbers from Gannett Blog.

Updated on Aug. 6 at 10:47 a.m.: Reports now say that The Enquirer will keep its Kentucky and West Chester offices open in a limited capacity. The story was updated to reflect the latest news.

by 04.22.2009
Posted In: News, Business at 02:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lawsuit: Cintas Quotas Are Hazardous

Cintas Corp. sets unrealistic production quotas for laundry workers that cause dangerous conditions and it led to the death of one worker in March 2007, according to a motion filed in a lawsuit against the company.

The widow of Eleazar Torres-Gomez, an employee who died when he fell into a dryer at a Cintas facility near Tulsa, Okla., made the allegation in an application filed Tuesday that seeks to amend her lawsuit.

Read More

by Hannah McCartney 04.26.2012
at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
first energy

Cincinnati Chooses Green Energy Aggregation

Decision makes Cincinnati first major U.S. city to offer 100 percent green electricity

After spending several weeks reviewing requests for proposals (RFPs) from seven energy providers as part of Cincinnati’s initiative to power homes using energy aggregation, a decision has been made — and it’s a green one. Cincinnati has selected First Energy Solutions (FES) as the city’s new electricity provider, which will make it the first major city in the U.S. to use a 100 percent “green” electricity supply.

The aggregation process works like this: All eligible individual customers “pool” their buying power to form a larger unit, which holds more leverage to negotiate lower prices on electricity. Cincinnati voters passed a ballot in November 2011 to approve the city's efforts to choose an energy aggregation provider.

The designation of FES's energy supply as "green" energy doesn't mean that residents will see windmills and solar panels popping up across the city's landscape; rather, the energy will be designated "green" based on non-tangible renewable energy credits (RECs), which each represent proof that one megawatt-hour (
MWh) of electricity has been sourced from a "renewable" energy resource. FES will provide the city with enough RECs to power all interested consumers' homes, meaning no home opted-in to the aggregation power will use electricity sourced from non-renewable resources such as coal. The city's possession of those RECs will represent the commitment to sourcing electricity in residents' homes from renewable, green resources.

Some of the RECs provided to the city by FES will reportedly be sourced from local energy sources, including the University of Cincinnati's generating facility and the Cincinnati Zoo's Solar Canopy Project, although those sources will be a small component of the overall REC collection, according to Larry Falkin, Director for the Office of Environmental Quality.

“Not only will we be able to put real money back in people’s pockets, but this establishes the city as a leader in supporting green energy choices,” said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who spearheaded the push to provide consumers with an energy aggregation option nearly two years ago.

Over the next several weeks, Cincinnati will work to negotiate a contact with FES, and residents will receive information about FES’s services.  

Residents who aren't interested in participating in the city's green aggregation efforts will be required to opt-out before the services are implemented. FES will notify all eligible customers and those who don't want to participate must reply to be opted out. There will be no cost to enroll in the FES program.

According to the city’s press release, FES will save the average household about $133 each year on electricity bills. The switch could become effective by June.

by Andy Brownfield 09.19.2012

Natalie Portman Supports Obama in Cincinnati

Obama campaign's Women's Summit appeals to Ohio women to vote, volunteer

Actress and acclaimed rapper Natalie Portman played up her Cincinnati ties in a Wednesday appearance at the Obama campaign-sponsored Women’s Summit at Union Terminal.

The Academy Award-winner said her mother graduated from Walnut Hills High School and her grandfather — Art Stevens — grew Champion Windows in Cincinnati after starting as a door-to-door salesman.

“Because of that, I see President Obama’s support of small businesses as so crucial to our economy,” Portman said, adding that Obama has cut taxes for small businesses 82 times since taking office.

Portman said the Republican Party and their presidential ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan did not have the best interests of women at heart. She pointed to attacks on the Affordable Care Act’s mandates that insurers provide birth control to women and ensure preventative care such as mammogram screenings for breast cancer is covered, as well a bill sponsored by Ryan and embattled congressional candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) that would eliminate all abortion funding except for cases of “forcible rape.”

“We need to stand up for ourselves,” Portman told the packed auditorium that was crowded with an audience of mostly women. “Our mothers and our grandmothers made giant steps for us. We can’t go backwards. We need to go forwards.”

Portman was joined by Obama Campaign National Women’s Vote Director Kate Chapek, former Ohio first lady Frances Strickland, Ohio Rep. Alicia Reece and Obama campaign volunteer Mary Shelton.

An Ohio Romney rep said the campaign did not have a comment on the Women’s Summit, but is hosting a “Women for Mitt” call night featuring former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao in Kenwood on Thursday.

“Ohio women believe in the Romney-Ryan path for America that will result in lower taxes, less spending, less government and more economic growth,” said a release from Romney’s campaign.

The Obama event on Wednesday catered to women, with Chapek telling the audience she knew how difficult it was for women to get there with jobs and the challenge of getting their kids to school. She framed women’s role in the election as a conversation.

“The conversation starts like this: women, turns out, we’re not a constituency,” Chapek said. “Who knew? Apparently Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, because they don’t realize that women are actually a majority in this country.”

She told the women gathered to have conversations with their neighbors and friends and encourage them to volunteer at phone banks or knocking on doors.

Strickland talked about the need to reconcile qualities traditionally seen as masculine — like power — with those seen as feminine — like love.

She also took the opportunity to riff on a statement made by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who said political wives were heroes because while they’re husbands were on stage in the limelight, they were at home doing things like laundry.

“I even did the laundry last night so I could come here today,” Strickland said. “Even (former Gov.) Ted does the laundry.”

Summit attendee Ray Boston, a 67-year-old retired writer for AT&T, said Natalie Portman’s presence caught his eye.

“I’m a celebrity photo enthusiast,” he said. “Nothing’s official until I’ve taken a picture of it.”

Boston said he didn’t vote in 2008, but felt the upcoming November election was too important to sit out. He said he was leaning toward voting for Obama and liked his health care overhaul, but was opposed to the president’s views on gay marriage for religious reasons.

Gwen McFarlin, who works in health care administration, said she was there to support President Obama. She supports his health care overhaul, but thinks it’s a first step to further changes.

She said she was encouraged by the diversity of the women in attendance.

“For me, I’m sure the women who are here represent all the world, not one issue,” she said. “We’re here as a group of women working to empower all the U.S. and the world.”

by Andy Brownfield 08.13.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, Sex, Internet at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Paul Ryan Is Totally Ripped

America more interested in GOP VP candidate's six pack than budget plan

Anybody who’s familiar with the Internet knows that it’s a great place for looking at pictures of people without their clothes.

Apparently a lot of people want to do that to vice presidential candidates as well.

According to Google Politics & Elections, the No. 2 most-searched term connected to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s name is “shirtless.”

Ryan is known for a proposed budget that would offer massive tax cuts to the rich while attempting to reduce the deficit by gutting Medicare.

If one is to believe TMZ’s absclusive titled “Paul Ryan: He’s Hiding A Six Pack,” then one could see why.

An intrepid CityBeat intern spent most of Monday morning searching for pictures of said abs, but was only able to turn up the vice presidential candidate waving ironically from his yacht.

According to TMZ’s unnamed Hill source, Ryan hits the gym every morning at 6 a.m., and his routine is “fierce.” The source, who talks like a stereotype, says Ryan is kind of on the skinny side, but “totally ripped and has a six pack.”

Ryan’s press camp responded to the news by challenging Joe Biden to a sit-up contest in lieu of a vice presidential debate.

Google’s top four related search terms for Paul Ryan:

  1. Vice President
  2. Shirtless
  3. Wiki
  4. Budget
by German Lopez 08.01.2013
Posted In: News, Media at 04:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Massive Layoffs at Gannett Papers, Including 'Enquirer'

Kentucky office reportedly closed, moved to Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Enquirer and its parent company Gannett went through another string of layoffs today, including the reported closing of the newspaper’s Kentucky office.

[CityBeat followed up on this story on Aug. 2 here.]

Jim Romenesko reported on his journalism industry blog that there were layoffs at The Kentucky Enquirer, the Kentucky edition of the local newspaper. One commenter on Gannett Blog echoed the report, saying the Kentucky offices had been closed down and moved to Cincinnati.

Gannett Blog reports 11 layoffs at Cincinnati branches, including the Community Press and Community Recorder. That coincides with more than 150 layoffs at newspapers around the country, according to the blog.

Because of Gannett’s secrecy with staffing issues, it’s difficult to confirm any specific report. No names have been provided yet.

CityBeat was tipped off about the layoffs earlier in the day by a source close to The Enquirer.

A spokesperson wasn’t available for questions about the layoffs, but Jeremy Gaines, vice president of communications at Gannett, told Romenesko, “Some USCP (U.S. Community Publishing) sites are making cuts to align their business plans with local market conditions.”

Gannett CEO Gracia Martore proudly claimed on July 22, “We are accelerating our transformation into the ‘New Gannett’ every day.”

by Kevin Osborne 03.07.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, Congress, City Council at 03:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

God Save the Queen

No matter what you think about her, you’ve at least got to admire her spunk.

Perennial candidate Sandra “Queen” Noble has suffered another defeat at the polls. Noble ran in the Libertarian Party’s primary Tuesday to be the nominee for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District seat.

Noble received just 20 votes (12.74 percent of ballots cast) and lost to Jim Berns, who got 137 votes (87.26 percent).

Berns will face off against U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood), the Republican incumbent, in the November election. Others in the race are Democratic candidate Jeff Sinnard and Green Party candidate Rich Stevenson.

For comparison, Chabot got 57,005 votes in Tuesday’s primary, while Sinnard got 4,509 and Stevenson got 91.

Regular CityBeat readers are familiar with Noble, who ran as an independent last year for Cincinnati City Council. She received 2,726 votes, and finished in 21st place.

During that election, Noble responded to CityBeat’s questionnaire to candidates, but her answers didn’t always connect to the queries posed. For example, when she was asked about a garbage fee proposed by City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr., Noble replied, “He's a morpher, over-charging folks for the grand larceny committed by public and staff officials dipping in the till. In '05, I ran for mayor. I offered a guaranteed cure for male-pattern baldness. I'd still do Mr. Dohoney, damn!”

Also, she became known for her unusual public appearances and actions on the campaign trail, such as dressing in a makeshift cat tail and cat ears, and drawing whiskers on her face. In a candidate biography, she described herself as a “fashion designer in Walnut Hills who designs tails, which she wears.”

At one memorable candidate forum, Noble left the room by walking across the table tops where people were seated in the audience. She also has a personal injury lawsuit against the “Stolen United States of America,” in which she’s seeking “$994 trillion” in damages.

Noble, 56, previously ran unsuccessfully for Cincinnati mayor in 2005, receiving 121 votes; and for Congress in Washington, D.C., in 2010, receiving 785 votes.

Additionally, she was a candidate for U.S. president in 2004 and 2008, ran for mayor in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and ran for Los Angeles City Council, according to Project Vote Smart.

by German Lopez 04.16.2013
Posted In: News, Sex, Women's Health, Education at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
ohio statehouse

Ohio House Bill Would Ban Comprehensive Sex Education

Republicans amend bill to prevent discussion, distribution of contraceptives in schools

With Republican support and Democratic opposition, the Ohio House Finance Committee approved a budget bill today that would ban comprehensive sex education, defund Planned Parenthood and fund crisis pregnancy centers that pro-choice groups call “anti-choice.”

Citing the possibility of “gateway sexual activity,” the bill would make it so teachers can be fined up to $5,000 if they explain the use of condoms and other forms of birth control to high school students. It would also prohibit individuals and groups from distributing birth control on school grounds.

The bill pushes abstinence-only education to curtail any promotion, implicit or explicit, of gateway sexual activity. To define such activity, the bill cites Ohio’s criminal code definition for “sexual contact,” which is defined as “any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast.”

The bill would also redirect federal funding to defund Planned Parenthood and shift funds to crisis pregnancy centers, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.

“Today the Ohio House Finance Committee voted to send our state back to the 1950s,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a statement. “The Ohio House is doing everything they can to restrict access to reproductive health care and medically accurate information that help Ohioans live healthy lives. (Gov. John) Kasich can stop these dangerous attacks on women’s health care. We need him to speak out against these budget provisions and to line-item veto these dangerous measures when they reach his desk.”

Researchers have found abstinence-only programs to be generally ineffective. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found abstinence-only programs have no impact on rates for teenage pregnancy or vaginal intercourse, while comprehensive programs that include birth control education reduce rates.

A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Georgia that looked at data from 48 states concurred abstinence-only programs do not reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy. The study indicated states with the lowest teenage pregnancy rates tend to have the most comprehensive sex and HIV education programs.

When looking at three ways to prevent unintended pregnancies for a 2012 study, the Brookings Center on Children and Families found the most cost-effective policy was to increase funding for family planning services through the Medicaid program. In other words, if governments increased spending on birth control programs, they would eventually save money.

Still, a 2010 study from a University of Pennsylvania researcher found abstinence-only education programs may delay sexual activity. The study, which tracked black middle school students over two years, found students in an abstinence-only program had lower rates of sexual activity than students in the comprehensive program.

At hearings on April 12, anti-abortion groups praised abstinence-only education for promoting chastity.

by Bill Sloat 09.18.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Taxes at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Romney Wrong About Obama Voters

Tax data shows Republican states more likely to pay less taxes

Well, surprise. Most of the Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes live in states that polls show are locked in for Mitt Romney. They are down South. Or out in the Southwest, according to Tax Foundation data.

Mississippi has the most filers with no income tax liability. It has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980. When Obama was on the ballot there in 2008, he only got 43 percent of the popular vote. Yet 45 percent of Mississippi tax filers pay nothing. That tidbit certainly rips a hole in Romney’s contention that Obama voters don’t pay income taxes — Republican voters appear to be skating as well, and obviously in far larger numbers than Romney suggests.

Our neighbors in Kentucky — who voted early 60 percent GOP over the past three presidential elections — are pretty good at not paying income taxes too. Fewer send checks to the IRS than in West Virginia. Alaska is the outlier — it votes Republican and just 21 percent of its filers don’t pay income taxes to Uncle Sam. You betcha, the vast majority of Alaskans do send money to the IRS. Perhaps they write their checks while looking at Russia from their porches.

If you are wondering about Ohio, the state had 5.56 million tax filers. Of that number, some 68 percent paid federal income taxes. We’re a swing state that backed Obama in 2008. Clearly, not all the payers were Republicans.

Here is a map with all the data:

The Tax Foundation, a group based in Washington, D.C. that calls itself a nonpartisan research group, produced its state-by-state ranking of non-filers in May 24, 2010. It has been available on the Internet for more than two years, which means it was available long before Romney said Obama’s supporters don’t pay taxes. This insight gets right to the heart of the matter:

“Nine of the 10 states with the largest percentage of non-payers are in the South and Southwest. In Mississippi, 45 percent of federal tax returns remit nothing or receive money with their federal tax returns; that is the highest percentage nationally. Georgia is next at 41 percent, followed by Arkansas at 41 percent, and Alabama, South Carolina and New Mexico at 40 percent. All of the top 10 ranking states have among the lowest median family incomes in the country.”

by German Lopez 10.01.2013
Posted In: News, Health care at 01:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

First Day of Obamacare Snared by Website Errors

Marketplace website produces waiting periods, errors

Ohioans who tried to obtain health insurance through HealthCare.gov, the online portal for Obamacare’s marketplaces, on its opening day likely ran into a few problems, ranging from delays to problems logging in.

Before logging in, participants typically go through a waiting period that can last up to a few minutes. During this time, a large message pops up that says, “Health Insurance Marketplace: Please wait. We have a lot of visitors on our site right now and we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the login page. Thanks for your patience!”

Following the waiting period, logging in can become its own challenge. After entering a username and password, the screen often flashes a “Downstream Error,” occasionally joined with the incomprehensible code “E501.”

Even if someone manages to get through the issues and log in, another error message can pop up that makes browsing insurance plans impossible.

The problems aren’t necessarily unexpected — new software often launches with glitches that are later patched up — and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is asking participants to be patient.

“We’re building a complicated piece of technology, and hopefully you’ll give us the same slack you give Apple,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters at a Sept. 30 briefing.

Federal officials also caution that Oct. 1 is just one day of the six-month enrollment period, which will last through March. And even if someone did manage to sign up on the first day, none of the insurance plans begin coverage until Jan. 1.

Once the marketplaces do work correctly, officials promise that they will allow Cincinnatians to browse, compare and select from 46 different private insurance plans that range from a “bronze” plan that costs and covers the least to a “platinum” plan that costs and covers the most.

The plans’ raw premiums are also 16 percent lower than the federal government previously projected, according to the latest Congressional Budget Office numbers. An Ohio 27-year-old making $25,000 a year will be able to buy a “silver,” or middle-of-the-pack, plan for as low as $145 a month after tax credits, while an Ohio family of four making $50,000 a year will be able to pay $282 a month for a similar plan. Without the tax credits, the individual will pay $212 a month and the family of four will pay $768 a month.

Participants must make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level a year, or $11,490 to $45,960 in annual income for an individual, to be eligible for tax credits. Higher income levels will get smaller subsidies; lower income levels will get larger subsidies.

Anyone interested in the marketplaces can browse options and sign up online at HealthCare.gov, by phone at 800-318-2596 or in person at various locations, including community health centers and the Freestore Foodbank.

Updated: Added more details about tax subsidies in Ohio’s marketplaces.