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by Nick Swartsell 08.08.2014 38 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
chris_monzel

Morning News and Stuff

Icon tax questions continue, Dems eye Monzel's commissioner seat and a baby breaks into the White House

After such a jam-packed week, today's morning news feels kind of light. There's only a major highway project that some say could cause neighborhood displacement, big questions on a deal to save two Cincinnati landmarks and a few other things going on. You know, a pretty slow news day.

• More questions are arising about the Hamilton County Commissioners’ plan to put a sales tax initiative for Union Terminal on the November ballot. The original plan designed by the Cultural Facilities Task Force folded Music Hall into the tax increase and was based on a long-term, nine-month study of both buildings’ needs, financing possibilities and charitable commitments from donors.

The commissioners’ new plan, proposed by Chris Monzel and supported by anti-tax groups like COAST and the Cincinnati Tea Party cuts Music Hall from the deal. These groups had asked a number of questions about the original plan, but as the Business Courier reports, their own plan raises even more questions about private donations, cuts to spending on architectural elements of the renovation — and much more. The rundown of the new plan is worth a read and includes a pretty interesting question — was this plan, thrown together by anti-tax groups at the last minute, designed to fail at the ballot in November?

The Courier also has an opinion piece on Commissioner Greg Hartmann’s apparent change of heart about the deal. Hartmann looked to be the swing vote between fellow Republican Monzel’s opposition and Democrat Todd Portune’s acceptance of the Task Force’s original plan. He initially signaled that he thought he county and the city would reach a deal on both landmarks, then changed his tune. The commentary piece today explores the politics behind that change up.

All the ire over the icon tax has inspired Democrats to take another look at Monzel’s commissioner seat. He’s up for reelection in November, and people suddenly are interested in running against him, including former Mayor Charlier Luken and former City Councilman and Cincinnati personality Jim Tarbell. But the Democrats already have a candidate, albeit a relatively inactive one. Sean Patrick Feeney of North College Hill is the party’s official candidate for the spot. He’s raised about $100 for his campaign. Hamilton County Democrats hope to have an official decision about their candidate by 4 p.m. today.

Work started on the new I-71 interchange at Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive yesterday. The city hopes the new crossroads will bring new jobs and renewal to Avondale and Corryville, two of the city’s more neglected low-income neighborhoods. The update to the area has been on the drawing board for years, and yesterday’s groundbreaking represents a culmination of efforts and support from state, city and local groups. The city has pledged $20 million toward the project, and the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments has thrown in $25 million. More than 700 acres of land are expected to be redeveloped as the city works to attract new businesses and other tenants, including medical and research facilities.

All that development has many in the surrounding communities nervous, however, especially given the neighborhoods’ history with highway construction. Many black residents in Avondale and Corryville first came to the neighborhood when parts of the West End were bulldozed to make way for I-75 in the 1960s. Those folks saw a highway disrupt their lives again a decade later when I-71 bisected the neighborhood. City officials say every effort is being taken to involve residents in the ongoing planning efforts.

• A project to restore and move an historic fountain on Clifton Avenue in the gaslight district will start today. Efforts are underway to restore and shift the Probasco Fountain, which currently sits right along the street in Clifton in front of the Clifton Community Arts Center. The project will move the fountain, constructed in 1887, seven feet away from the street. Work is expected to take about 14 weeks.

A report from the Ohio Department of Education says that Cincinnati Public Schools’ data improved for the 2013-2014 school year, but that its prior year data shows signs of misleading practices. In the past, ODE has found instances of so-called data scrubbing in attendance reports and other documentation from CPS. In 2012 -2013 data, ODE found 24 students were improperly reported truant, a revelation that affects attendance records and will spark a review and possible revision of the district’s report card. ODE reviewed 1,088 student records. Other big urban school districts had similar discrepancies in 2012-2013. Columbus had 141 students improperly reported out of more than 6,000 records reviewed, and Toledo had 86 out of more than 1,400. A former principal at a school in the Columbus Public School district has admitted to data manipulation related to these discrepancies and is currently under investigation to determine if she will keep her job.

The White House went on lockdown yesterday — well, more of a lockdown than it’s always on, I guess — when a toddler crawled through the bars of the fence in front of the facility. Secret Service agents scrambled to get the child, who was eventually returned to his parents. The Secret Service had fun with the scare after the fact.

“We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him,” said Secret Service Spokesman Edwin Donovan. Donovan said instead of a heavy-duty four-hour interrogation, the toddler got a time out.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 08.07.2014 39 days ago
Posted In: News at 01:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
jesse jackson

Rev. Jesse Jackson Visits Cincinnati to Pitch Voting Rights Amendment

Proposed constitutional amendment would guarantee voting as a fundamental right

Civil rights leader and former presidential hopeful Rev. Jesse Jackson wants to drum up support for a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing all Americans the right to vote, and he came to Cincinnati yesterday on his quest to get it.

Jackson appeared at yesterday's Cincinnati City Council meeting to make his case, highlighting the fact that voting rules are often left up to state and local authorities, creating a “separate and unequal” system. The constitution guarantees free speech and the right to bear arms, he said, but neglects to explicitly extend voting as a right to all citizens.

“For too long, too few Americans could vote to call this country, legitimately, a democracy.” Jackson said, noting that before the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which sought to abolish Jim Crow laws suppressing the black vote, “America survived apart.” He called the act of voting “perhaps the most fundamental landmark in this democracy.” Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of the
Voting Rights Act.

Despite the progress made by the
Voting Rights Act, a constitutional amendment is still needed, Jackson said. He highlighted recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down some sections of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the byzantine system of state, county and local rules that govern voting. There are more than 13,000 local municipalities and voting jurisdictions in the United States.

Despite the high hurdles in front of his idea, Jackson had little trouble getting some symbolic help from city council yesterday, which voted 7-0 to pass a motion expressing support for his efforts. Councilman Christopher Smitherman was not at the meeting and Councilwoman Amy Murray abstained from the vote.

Council members had high praise for Jackson.

“We appreciate your presence, we appreciate your leadership on so many issues of so much importance,” said Vice Mayor David Mann.

“These kinds of movements always start in the grassroots and move toward the top,” said Councilman Wendell Young. “I’m glad that a good start is being made here in Cincinnati.” 

The Bill of Rights does not mention voting among the rights it enumerates.

Recent battles over early voting in Ohio illustrate the lack of a national standard and the patchwork of rules from state to state when it comes to voting accessibility. Ohio Republicans have moved to restrict early voting times in the state, including evenings and Sundays leading up to elections, when many black voters go to the polls.

Ohio’s General Assembly passed laws in February eliminating six early voting days and same-day voter registration. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, subsequently eliminated early voting the last two Sundays before elections and on weekday evenings during the days before elections.


The move has caused ire among voting rights activists and has led to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Justice Department last month signaled it would join the ACLU in that suit.

Husted’s cuts to early voting the Sunday before elections were undone when a federal district court judge ruled that the state must reinstitute early voting during the final three days before an election. Despite that victory, the other cuts have yet to be restored and are the grounds for the ACLU suit.

“We want to end the confusion around the right to vote as a fundamental right,” Jackson said of his proposal. He came to Cincinnati to make his case, he said, because the city has played an important role in social justice issues.

“This place has a certain history, beyond just a museum, a certain living history in this quest for social justice,” Jackson said, referencing the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and highlighting important visits by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The city has seen more than its share of race-related turmoil as well, of course, including the police shooting of unarmed black men and the resulting civil unrest in 2001, the city's stubborn income inequality, which weighs most heavily on minority residents, and other issues.

Still, the city has made progress, Young said.

"It hasn't always been that way here, but one of the things that makes me so very proud to be a Cincinnatian is that at the end of the day, we get it right."

Jackson’s proposed amendment faces a long road. Only 17 amendments have been passed since the initial 10 found in the Bill of Rights were ratified in 1791, the last of which, dealing with congressional pay raises, was passed in 1992.

Two-thirds of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate must vote to pass an amendment; given the current state of Congress, that’s an exceedingly tall order. Then three-quarters of the nation’s state legislatures must approve the amendment. A constitutional convention convened by two-thirds of the state legislatures can also make amendments, though none of the 27 we have now have been passed this way.

 
 
by Danny Cross 08.07.2014 39 days ago
at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
enquirer

Enquirer: Publishing Trashy Arrest Stories Was a Mistake

Editor says Findlay Market pee story was an “abberation” and won’t happen again

The Cincinnati Enquirer news department has seen some hard times this week, taking down stories about rich people getting arrested and now admitting that it was a bad idea to publish a trashy collection of mug shots and arrest reports about people who are likely mentally unstable or addicted to drugs. 

CityBeat reported yesterday that The Enquirer took down a story about police arresting Robert S. Castellini, son of Reds owner Bob Castellini, and his wife Sunday night for allegedly fighting in front of their children. Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn explained in an email to CityBeat that the story wasn’t pulled because any super-powerful local business leaders whose team is hosting the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game complained. She says neither the Castellinis nor anyone else contacted The Enquirer about the story. Someone in the news department apparently used flawed news judgment and then someone else posted the story online before it had been properly vetted by editors. Nothing sinister — just general, run-of-the-mill incompetence. 

"An editor determined — and I agreed — that it did not meet our news standards for publication," Washburn wrote to CityBeat in an email Wednesday evening. "The Mr. Castellini in question is not a public figure, has nothing to do with the Reds, etc. We don't report every domestic charge in the community. But while that was being discussed, someone posted it. We quickly took it down but not before it began to get traction."

CityBeat asked Washburn how the alleged crimes The Enquirer published in Monday's "arrest roundup" meet the paper’s news standards for publication based on these general guidelines. The story, titled “Arrest roundup: Woman pees on Findlay Market,” was published just an hour after “Reds' owners' son, daughter-in-law arrested.” The pee story detailed arrests involving a guy spitting on people at a bus stop, a dude masturbating on the steps of a church, a woman caught with drug paraphernalia after stealing Fig Newtons from a UDF and another lady allegedly urinating on Findlay Market while “acting bizarre.”

The story on Castellini was deleted, but the arrest roundup lives on. 

Washburn says the arrest roundup was just another news-gathering fuckup. 

That was an aberration and not something we'll be doing more of,” she wrote in an email to CityBeat this morning. “That's not the kind of coverage we want to do.”

If true that The Enquirer’s news department plans to back off dramatic stories about poor people going to jail, perhaps focusing more on the causes of poverty than the effects, it would be a good day for the tens of thousands of impoverished, mentally ill and drug-addicted Cincinnatians continually underserved by city budgets that underfund human services.

In the meantime, someone is still covering the Enquirer pee beat with gusto, although this one seems fairly deserved — Art Modell definitely screwed Cleveland over back in the day.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 08.07.2014 39 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
img_7616

Your Super Heavy-Duty News Roundup

City livid about county's icon tax change; local families part of suits over states' gay marriage bans; Jesse Jackson visits Cincinnati

Phew! Yesterday was a crazy day to be a reporter in Cincinnati. This will be an all-local, all politics morning news update. Since we’ve already talked about a lot of the issues at play in the past couple morning news rundowns, I’ll just hit you with the highlights today.

The big story locally was Hamilton County Commissioners’ vote to put a five-year, .25 percent sales tax increase to fund renovations to Union Terminal on the November ballot. However, that deal differs from one originally proposed by the Cultural Facilities Task Force, which folded Music Hall renovations into a 14-year .25 percent tax increase. The new plan is a last-minute change up by Republican commissioners Greg Hartmann and Chris Monzel. Both say the city hasn’t put enough skin in the game and that the county has history with Union Terminal but none with Music Hall. Needless to say, Mayor John Cranley and Cincinnati City Council were not happy with that. Read my full story from yesterday here.

• The other big story yesterday was the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals hearings on lawsuits challenging gay marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan. About 600 people showed up to demonstrate downtown at the Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse and nearby Fountain Square. Most came to protest the bans and show solidarity with the plaintiffs in the cases, though a few dozen demonstrators came in support of the bans, praying near the steps of the courthouse. Among those showing support were State Rep. Denise Driehaus, D-Cincinnati, and Democratic attorney general candidate David Pepper.

Two of the six cases being considered are from Ohio; both revolve around same sex couples who wish to have their marriages recognized on official state documents such as birth and death certificates.

Attorneys for Ohio argued that voters passed the state’s gay marriage ban and that the court shouldn’t dismantle a law passed by a democratic process. That line of argument differs from states like Kentucky, which say the state government has an interest in incentivizing straight marriage for procreative purposes.

Though the three judges on the panel hearing the arguments in the cases were often hard to read and hammered both sides with tough questions, Kentucky’s argument did not seem well-received. Judge Jeffery Sutton, one of two judges on the panel appointed by former President George W. Bush, said that marriage isn’t about procreation but about love and affection. It was harder to read how judges might rule on Ohio’s line of reasoning, however, and Sutton at one point admonished marriage ban opponents, saying that appealing to voters might serve their cause better.

Brittney Rogers and Brittney Henry-Rogers of Cincinnati are two of the plaintiffs. They sat in court with their newborn son, who was born to Henry-Rogers through artificial insemination. They said they wanted Ohio to recognize them both as his parents.

“We’re not just doing this for our rights,” Rogers said. “This is for him.”

Al Gerhardstein, who is representing the plaintiffs, said the case is about children like the Rogers’.

“We’ve gone 28 years and we’ve accomplished a great deal in 28 years. But what is the status we’re at right now? We’re at three couples, in this case, who come to Ohio and their children are only recognized as having one parent. But they have two parents. The state should be enhancing families, recognizing families, not ignoring basic parental rights. These kids are discriminated against and hurt a great deal by this policy. It’s wrong…. and we think the Supreme Court will ultimately say that.”

• The other, other big news yesterday was City Council’s unanimous vote to approve the appointment of Harry Black as city manager. Interim City Manager Scott Stiles got high praise from the council, and Mayor John Cranley emphasized that his choice to tap Black did not reflect on Stiles’ performance during his nine-month stint at the job. Stiles will go back to his old position as assistant city manager.

Some members of council, especially those who have taken positions in opposition to Mayor Cranley, did express skepticism about Black. Councilwoman Yvette Simpson had asked hard questions of Black during a Tuesday vetting session that stretched two-and-a-half hours. And Councilman Chris Seelbach said he wasn’t “100 percent” when it came to Black’s appointment.

“I’m concerned about the specifics of your vision for the city,” Seelbach said, noting that he needs to hear more details about Black’s ideas before he’s sold. “I hope you use my skepticism as fuel to do the best job possible.”  

Black has said he’ll need to time to assess where the city stands before making detailed proposals beyond the broad ideas he discussed in an introductory news conference and council’s vetting session.

• Also big news: Civil rights leader and former presidential hopeful Rev. Jesse Jackson visited Cincinnati yesterday to rally support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would explicitly guarantee voting rights for all Americans. Council passed a motion7-0 supporting the proposed amendment. Any concrete action on such a change to the constitution is a long way off, of course, but it says something about the city that Jackson started his tour to round up support for the effort here in Cincinnati. Stay tuned for a full story on his visit.


Finally, some quick hits:

The Cincinnati Enquirer says they took down a story detailing the arrest of  Robert S. Castellini, son of Reds owner Bob Castellini, and his wife because covering the domestic dispute between two non-public figures was an editorial mistake. Meanwhile, a story about strange arrests for minor crimes in the city, complete with huge mugshots, remains up, though Editor Carolyn Washburn admits that coverage was also an error.

• Jeff Ruby's restaurant is still sinking, and there's an investigation to find out why

• A really rad Nam June Paik sculpture of a giant retro-futuristic robot is coming back to downtown.

• I stand corrected: Wikimedia contacted me to point out that a morning news item I wrote yesterday involving a monkey, a selfie, and a litigious photographer is inaccurate. The company doesn't actually think a monkey who took a selfie with a British photographer's camera owns the copyright to that picture. They're simply arguing that the photographer who owns the camera doesn't have the copyright and can't force Wikimedia to take the picture down or compensate him. Glad that's all cleared up.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 08.06.2014 40 days ago
Posted In: City Council, County commissioners at 04:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
music hall

Music Hall Cut From Icon Tax Proposal

County Commissioners leave 136-year-old landmark out of renovation funding plan

Hamilton County Commissioners voted today to axe Music Hall from a proposed sales tax increase designed to pay for renovations to that structure and Union Terminal. Now, only Union Terminal will benefit from the potential tax hike, which county voters will decide on in November. Voters won't get a chance to decide whether a similar hike will pay for Music Hall.

Mayor John Cranley and Cincinnati City Council are not happy about the change-up.

“As mayor of this city, I’m deeply offended when we’re treated as second-class citizens in our own county,” Cranley said during a vote approving the city’s contribution to renovations at today’s council meeting. “We have done our part. We will pay the tax if it is passed. In no other jurisdiction, not even Hamilton County, is being asked to cut its budget … for these institutions.”

Cranley said asking city taxpayers for more money represents a kind of double taxation, since they would also be paying the county sales tax increase.

Ostensibly, council was voting to approve annual payments toward upkeep of both Union Terminal and Music Hall for 25 years. The $200,000 yearly commitment to each building adds up to $10 million. Cranley floated the plan last week as a demonstration of the city’s commitment to the landmark buildings.

Council approved that money unanimously, but that vote is mostly symbolic now that the fragile plan to fund both renovations with a tax hike, first proposed by a cadre of area business leaders called the Cultural Facilities Task Force, has fallen through. Hamilton County Commissioners Greg Hartmann and Chris Monzel said the proposed contributions, which the city already makes, don’t represent a renewed effort to fix the buildings.

The city has also pledged another $10 million toward Music Hall repairs. Those contributions weren’t enough for Hartmann, who had been the swing vote on the three-member commission. He signaled he would not vote for the original 14-year, .25 percent sales tax increase designed to raise much of the $331 million needed to repair the buildings.

Instead, he voted with fellow Republican Monzel today for an alternate tax measure that left Music Hall out of the deal, raising $170 million over five years for renovations to Union Terminal only. Democrat Todd Portune, who supported the original plan, voted against the new deal.

Former P&G CEO Bob McDonald, who led the task force designing the original deal, said the new plan jeopardizes more than $40 million in private donations, as well as historic preservation tax credits.

"The idea that somehow there’s going to be more money falling from space or that this money will be put forward for an alternate plan is a fallacious assumption," McDonald told the Cincinnati Business Courier. "That money has been committed to us personally for this plan.”

Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld called the development “frustrating.”

“I’m not here to add gasoline to the fire, but I think logic is a fair expectation of our elected leaders, and after people have said repeatedly that plans haven’t been vetted, that questions haven’t been answered, they’ve now moved forward with something that has no vetting,” Sittenfeld said, referring to criticisms of the original plan by anti-tax groups like COAST. “I hope people don’t forget what happened eight blocks from City Hall anytime soon.”

Monzel said that the plan's details would be worked out in the coming weeks, and that he wants to keep the county from overextending itself.

“If we limit the scope and focus on the one building that we do have a history with and limit it to five years, we limit our exposure and can be able to handle some of these other issues down the road,” he said.

Council members said that the city has stepped up to take care of the buildings in the past.

“Going back through the real-estate records, it’s clear that time and time again the city has stepped forward,” said Councilman Kevin Flynn. He highlighted the city’s rescue of Union Terminal from a failed plan to turn it into a mall in the 1980s. The city bought the building from a developer after the plan crashed and burned. Flynn also said the city has made significant contributions to 136-year-old Music Hall's upkeep since the 1800s.

 
 
by Danny Cross 08.06.2014 40 days ago
at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
enquirer

Did The Enquirer Take Down a Castellini Arrest Story?

The son of Reds owner Bob Castellini was arrested Sunday but the story done disappeared

The Cincinnati Enquirer has long been dedicated to covering the hilarious details of poor people getting arrested, and this week was no different as reporter Ally Marotti put together a legit “Arrest roundup” on Monday, telling the tales of a guy spitting on people at a bus stop, a dude masturbating on the steps of a church, a woman getting caught with drug paraphernalia after stealing Fig Newtons from a UDF and another lady allegedly urinating on Findlay Market while “acting bizarre.”

Here's what passed for a homepage-worthy news story at Cincinnati.com Monday afternoon:


 

While such indecency by individuals who are likely afflicted by mental health and substance abuse problems is obviously of intense public interest (if anyone poops anywhere near CityBeat, we goddam sure want to know about it), this stellar roundup of arrests nearly took a backseat to the drama that unfolded in Indian Hill the night before — Robert S. Castellini, the 46-year-old son of Reds owner Bob Castellini, and his wife Deanna were arrested and charged with domestic violence for fighting in front of their children.

Crime reporter Kimball Perry was all over the story, as he has a long history of detailing the crayest of the cray in Hamilton County courtrooms, reporting on Monday that both Robert and Deanna went in front of a judge that morning and how court documents described "visible scratch marks around the neck of Ms. Castellini” and Robert having "visible scratches around his neck and shoulder.

Despite such drama and intrigue — three Castellinis work in the Reds front office and Robert’s lawyer is Hamilton County GOP chairman Alex Triantafilou — The Enquirer appears to have pulled the story from its website as of Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what comes up when you go through Google and click on Perry’s story, titled “Reds' owners' son, daughter-in-law arrested”:

Fortunately for those who for so long have turned to The Enquirer for awesome stories about (mostly poor) people's problems, you can still find the cached page:
Domestic violence is a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio and carries a six-month max sentence. Both Robert and Deanna were reportedly released on Monday after signing a piece of paper saying they’ll show up to later hearings.

C
ityBeat emailed Perry and Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn asking why the article was taken down and whether the Castellinis contacted them about the story. This story will be updated if they respond.

[UPDATE 6:57 P.M.:
Washburn says no one contacted The Enquirer about the story. "An editor determined — and I agreed — that it did not meet our news standards for publication," Washburn wrote to CityBeat in an email Wednesday evening. "The Mr. Castellini in question is not a public figure, has nothing to do with the Reds, etc. We don't report every domestic charge in the community. But while that was being discussed, someone posted it. We quickly took it down but not before it began to get traction."]

I
f a powerful local business leader wields influence over Washburn’s news-gathering operation, it wouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with her time in Idaho. Washburn was embroiled in business reporting controversies during her time as executive editor of the Gannett-owned Idaho Statesman from 1999-2005, where she just so happened to work under her current boss at The Enquirer, Publisher Margaret Buchanan. The Statesman was criticized for catering to the state’s largest employer, Micron Technologies, though Washburn didn’t see any issue with its coverage or potential conflicts of interest.

CityBeat reported the following back in 2011 after The Enquirer announced her hire:

As Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) wrote in 2001: “The Idaho Statesman has a curious definition of 'fact checking.' The business editor of the Gannett-owned daily, Jim Bartimo, resigned when he was told that a story he had worked on about Micron Technologies, the area's largest employer, had to be sent for pre-publication 'review'... to Micron Technologies.”

Previously The Statesman's business news practices were examined by The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, in articles from January and February 2000. Kurtz's article revealed that The Statesman reporter covering the Micron beat was married to a Micron employee.

When Kurtz asked Washburn about the paper's Micron coverage and whether it was afraid to be too critical, she replied, “It's not that it has anything to do with their being the biggest employer. What we write can affect a lot of people in this community. It can affect the stock price.”

WKRC Local 12 also reported the arrests on Monday, and its video and online version are still live here.

Robert S. Castellini is due back in court Aug. 18, and Deanna’s case is scheduled to continue Aug. 21, not that anyone really gives a shit. If Perry’s article miraculously reappears this story will be updated.

 
 
by Jac Kern 08.06.2014 40 days ago
Posted In: Movies, Music, TV/Celebrity, Humor at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
web-blog-ijustcantgetenough-2

I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

Many longtime Parks and Recreation fans are well aware of actor Chris Pratt’s greatness, but sometimes it takes the combination of a personal trainer and a blockbuster action flick for an actor to get big mainstream recognition. Sure, Parks and Rec’s Andy Dwyer may be all buff now, but Pratt is definitely not just relying on that body — he’s even exploring other aspects of the entertainment business, like rapping!

When on a radio show recently, Pratt talked about living in a van in Hawaii, smoking weed every day and blasting The Chronic 2001 on repeat. (Yes, Chris Pratt really was basically Andy Dwyer and yes, this story will fuel fantasies for years to come.) Thankfully, all that weed fog didn’t cloud his memory, as he proved by rapping the better half “Forgot About Dre” from memory, to perfection.

Between his actually good rap skills and his obvious musical talent as seen on Parks (Mouse Rat for life!), Pratt could probably be a successful musician. I can hear it now: Matchbox 20 meets Eminem…

The titular line from The Killers’ song “Are We Humans or Are We Dancer” has been dubbed the weirdest lyric ever. Am I alone in just now realizing “dancer” wasn’t plural? Am I alone in giving this any thought at all?

On Aug. 1, Netflix dumped a bunch of streaming movies and shows — due to the constantly expiring contracts with distributors — but several more were added. You may have to find other ways to watch Airplane!, Paper Moon and Heartbreaker, but you can now stream Air Bud, Kinky Boots, the Rocky franchise, Spice World and several other movies, plus new show releases throughout the month.

Lea Michele is latest on the growing list of random celebrities appearing in the final season of Sons of Anarchy. The squeaky-clean Glee star joins the likes of Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love.

Peep this vid of Jax Teller himself, Charlie Hunnam, addressing Comic Con fans from the Sons set.

And to think he was thisclose to starring in 50 Shades 

Beyoncé dropped a remix of “Flawless” this weekend. The track features Nicki Minaj — fresh album art azz controversy — and in it Bey acknowledges, for the first time, the infamous elevator incident of 2014. Quel scandale!

Peep these popular movies and TV shows rendered as Little Golden Book-style children’s reads.

So Marnie from Girls is going to play Peter Pan in NBC’s live staging of the musical. Really not sure how I feel about this, especially considering my confusion over always casting a woman to play the man-boy. Does it somehow make it less disturbing that the character is an adult, acts like a kid, and takes children from their room at night? Like, "Hey, guys, this actually isn’t scary because Peter Pan is really a lady!”? I mean, far be it from me to insist on more men onscreen — There just aren’t enough! — but all the guys I know with Peter Pan Complex are far from impish, androgynous waifs.

OK, what the shit is happening here:

Katy Perry’s videos always carry a strong WTF factor, but “This Is How We Do” hurt my brain/eyeballs. There’s a twerking ice cream cone, random nods to famous works of art, inedible tacos and pizza (the nerve!) and a sprinkling of cultural appropriation. Basically I haven’t felt as hypnotized, confused and old since I watched “We Won’t Stop” for the first time. Get off my lawn, girls!

New movie trailers to hit the Interwebz: Disney musical Into the Woods starring Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine; dark comedy Birdman, which centers on an actor (Michael Keaton), known for his superhero role in films, as he attempts to create a Broadway play; and Christopher Nolan's Interstellar: wormholes and space travel with Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain.

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.06.2014 40 days ago
 
 
mpmf12-washingtonpark_jenniferdenham

MidPoint Music Festival's 2014 Schedule Unveiled

Late September fest adds new venues, more all-ages opportunities

This morning, the full schedule (with a few exceptions) for this year's MidPoint Music Festival, which returns to Cincy Sept. 25-27, was announced. You can start building your itinerary now here

This year's MPMF will remain centered around venues in the Over-the-Rhine and neighboring Downtown areas. A few new venues were announced — Memorial Hall, next to Music Hall, will be participating this year, as will the Christian Moerlein Brewery, which will feature showcases on a large outdoor stage (replacing the big-tent parking lot stage at Grammer's) and an indoor stage. 

MPMF 2014 will also offer under-drinking-age music lovers more opportunities to explore the festival than ever. The outdoor Moerlein Brewery stage, Memorial Hall, The Ballroom at the Taft Theatre, the MidPoint Midway, Washington Park and the Contemporary Arts Center will all be open to fans of all ages. 

Below is the full press release. Tickets are available now at mpmf.cincyticket.com. Stay tuned to MPMF.com (and corresponding social media pages) for the latest schedule additions and more.

CINCINNATI, Ohio (August 6, 2014) — The long wait is over. Fans eager to see what artists are playing at

MidPoint Music Festival will now find a full schedule online at MPMF.com. Approximately 150 acts from seven

countries, 57 cities, and across the tri-state region will perform in Cincinnati USA, September 25–27, 2014.


For weeks now, festival organizers have been leaking some bands and details via social media, but venue

and showcase times have been kept under wraps until today. All-access passes are on sale at mpmf.com for

what is arguably the best music festival value in the nation.


“We’ve always offered a wide array of music styles, but this year’s lineup has really developed into something

special and diverse,” said Dan McCabe, creative director. “I think fans would be hard pressed to find another

festival that can give you a bigger bang for your buck.”


Experience live music for three days

The 13th annual festival will present three exciting days of live music on 14 stages in the Over-the-Rhine and Downtown neighborhoods. While the event maintains its status as a primary showcase for emerging independent talent, there’s no denying that this year’s edition has raised the bar in booking established artists.


Cincinnati-music fans should take note that MidPoint welcomes one the most acclaimed local bands to break out in the 90s, The Afghan Whigs, who have stormed back better than ever with their first studio album in the past 16 years. MidPoint will be the only regional appearance for the band during their current world tour.


MidPoint will also be the tour kickoff for Chromeo, the “funk lordz” from Toronto, who are contending for the song of the summer with their single Jealous (I ain’t with it). Washington Park should expect a dance party with the band’s huge lightshow. Consequence of Sound called them a “must-see live show for any festival.”


Additionally, the festival will host some well-established names from the indie-music world over the past decade, including OK Go, The Raveonettes, Panda Bear, Sun Kil Moon and Joseph Arthur. Bands like Real Estate, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Jessica Lea Mayfield are newer, but no less widely known.


Longtime MidPoint fans might also notice a wider array of music styles. The lineup still features a healthy

amount of pop and indie rock, but organizers have listened to fans’ suggestions, adding more:

Country Nikki Lane, Margo & the Price Tags, Bulletville;

Folk Lost in the Trees, Mutual Benefit, Woody Pines, Honey Locust, The Ridges;

R&B St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Magnolia Sons, The Almighty Get Down;

Blues Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, No Sinner, Left Lane Cruiser;

Heavy Metal Deafheaven, Liturgy; as well as more dance-oriented sounds like

Hip-hop/EDM Tycho, Dessa, WHY?, Body Language, and Parallels.


Experience new venues for young and old

Festival venues continue to evolve with great new, larger stages at Memorial Hall and Christian Moerlein Brewery. Younger fans will able see more showcases than ever with all-ages stages at the Contemporary Arts Center, Taft Ballroom, Memorial Hall, the MidPoint Midway, Christian Moerlein Outdoor Stage and Washington Park. In fact, children under 10 years of age can attend our Washington Park showcases for free with a paying adult. With afternoon music programmed for Washington Park on Saturday that could be just what the doctor ordered for parents who seldom get out to concerts.


Experience a unique festival atmosphere

Since 2001, MidPoint's goal has been to help you discover your new favorite band. Our embrace of today's

emerging artists is born of the same spirit employed by Cincinnati's celebrated musical pioneers, who always

reached for something new. This festival isn’t as much about the flavor-of-the-month, but rather a

tastemaker’s event where the bands performing will be what people are talking about next year.


For three days, fans can walk easily between venues dotted throughout beautiful, resurgent Over-the-Rhine.

This collection of young creative talent amongst an architecturally rich urban setting makes MidPoint a one-ofa-

kind experience. Unlike some festivals on a farm or a huge fielded area that could be anywhere, MidPoint

carries the heart of our city with intimate performances in smaller clubs and theaters. We think Cincinnati is

one of the best music cities in the world. With MidPoint showcasing bands and our city’s center, we are

putting our best foot forward towards showing this is a great place to live, work and play.


Everything is on an upswing in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Cincinnati and we expect the fans to not just

enjoy the music, but the wonderfully reimagined Washington Park, our handsome German-heritage buildings

and all of the newer hip restaurants, cafés and hi-tech companies that are making this one of the hottest

regions of the Midwest.


Experience food and fun on the Midway

We realize that not everyone can afford to attend a music festival, so we’ve tried to make a small part of it

accessible to everyone with our outdoor MidPoint Midway. All of the music programmed here is free, thanks

in part to the help of festival sponsor P&G.


The Midway takes up about two blocks on 12th Street in Over-the-Rhine. Fans at the Midway can find festival

essentials such as food and beer trucks, various vendors and the return of the artistic installations coordinated

with the help of ArtWorks. (More on that in the coming weeks.)


MidPoint’s box office is also at the Midway, where fans will purchase All-Access, VIP, or single-day passes.


Bicycles encouraged

It is fairly easy to hop from show to show, but with 10 venues in Over-the-Rhine and four located downtown,

not every showcase will be a quick walk. But it is a quick bike ride. Festival organizers will continue to partner

with the City of Cincinnati to place a number of bike racks in strategic locations. We encourage everyone to

save their feet for the dance floor and bring their bike to get to those must-see bands faster.


MidPoint Music Festival highlights to look for:

Thursday September 25

Chromeo; Panda Bear; St. Paul & the Broken Bones; Sun Kil Moon; Lost in the Trees; and Nikki Lane


Friday September 26

The Afghan Whigs; Tycho; Real Estate; Wussy; WHY?; Dessa; Rubblebucket; and Jessica Lea Mayfield


Saturday September 27

OK Go; The Raveonettes; Deafheaven; Empires; EMA; Earth; Saintseneca; and Speedy Ortiz


Cincinnati USA represent:

Automagik; Black Owls; Bulletville; Culture Queer; Darlene; Fathers; Fists of Love; Heavy Hinges; Honey &

Houston; Honeyspiders; Injecting Strangers; Leggy; Molly Sullivan; Old City; Prim; Public; Smasherman; State

Song; The Afghan Whigs; The Almighty Get Down; The Ready Stance; Us, Today; WHY?; and Wussy


A full performance schedule is now online at MPMF.com/festival. All artists are subject to change without

notice. Schedule updates and further festival news will be available at MPMF.com, on Facebook and Twitter.


2014 MIDPOINT MUSIC FESTIVAL VENUES

Arnolds Bar & Grill

210 East Eighth Street

Christian Moerlein Brewery

1621 Moore Street (2 stages)

Contemporary Arts Center

44 East Sixth Street (all ages)

Bioré Stage at Know Theatre

1120 Jackson Street (2 stages)

Mainstay Rock Bar

301 West Fifth Street

Memorial Hall

1225 Elm Street (all ages)

Midpoint Midway Presented by P&G

Twelfth Street, between Vine & Walnut (all ages)

MOTR Pub

1345 Main Street

Mr. Pitiful’s

1323 Main Street

Taft Ballroom

317 East Fifth Street (all ages)

The Drinkery

1150 Main Street

Washington Park Presented by Dewey’s Pizza

1230 Elm Street (all ages)


TICKETS ON SALE AT MPMF.COM

All-Access Pass $69 ($79 after September 1)

VIP Pass $179

Single-Day Pass $40 (Limited quantities)

All venues will offer the option of À la carte pricing at the door, which covers that night at that venue.


Entry into any MidPoint venue is subject to legal capacity limits. All-Access Pass holders get admission to all

MidPoint showcases, all three days. VIP pass holders get an enhanced experience with the ability to skip

lines with priority admission, plus they receive access to catered VIP reception events each evening, with

complimentary food and beverages. An exclusive VIP viewing area is included at the Washington Park stage.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 08.06.2014 40 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Black likely to hew close to Cranley's agenda; gay marriage demonstrations downtown; monkey selfie legal imbroglio

Say you’ve got a friend from out of town coming to Cincinnati. You really want to give them a warm welcome. What’s the best party in town for a newcomer? That’s right: a 2.5 hour hang sesh with city council!

Yesterday, members of council grilled Mayor John Cranley’s pick for city manager Harry Black about his specific vision for the city. Black already gave some broad outlines of his approach last week, but council wanted to get down to brass tacks. It was the predictable theater production these kinds of appointment hearings usually are, with Black providing careful, not terribly specific answers to questions from council members, most notably Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson, about specific ideas he would implement as the second-most powerful member of city government.

Black says he would need to assess where the city stands before making any drilled-down proposals. But as the Business Courier points out in its story today, he did tip his hand a bit on the streetcar, saying the city has limited amounts of money and that anything after the current phase of the project is something for future discussions. Black looks as if he’ll play pretty close to Cranley’s game plan for the city, which could well pit him against some members of council on a number of issues. That should make this afternoon’s full-council discussion and vote on his appointment interesting.

• As I mentioned yesterday, Cincinnati’s 6th Circuit Court of Appeals today will hear challenges to gay marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. Demonstrations against gay marriage bans took place last night downtown and will continue today outside the courthouse. Religious groups supporting the bans are also encouraging followers to turn out. Stay tuned for more on the court’s rulings.

• Also happening today — Hamilton County Commissioners will decide whether to put a .25 percent sales tax increase on the ballot to fund the renovation of Union Terminal and Music Hall. There has been a lot of wrangling about this proposal as the commissioners and anti-tax groups look for more financial input from the city. Meanwhile, supporters of the tax say it’s now or never for the renovations. Various alternative proposals have been floated, including cutting Music Hall from the deal or charging fees on tickets to events at the landmarks. We’ll report the commissioners’ decision when it comes down. They meet at 11 a.m.

• Also also happening today — Rev. Jesse Jackson will be at City Hall discussing a proposed amendment to the Constitution regarding voting rights in commemoration of today’s 49th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Mayor John Cranley and State Rep. Alicia Reece will introduce Jackson at 1 p.m.

• Toledo’s toxic algae woes may not be over, according to scientists. Last weekend the city advised citizens not to drink or bathe with water from the municipal water supply due to high levels of toxins from algae in Lake Erie. The algae has been increasing intensely due to runoff from large-scale farming and other industries. Scientists warn that it’s still early in the season for the algae, which usually peaks in late August. They also say the underlying conditions that caused the water emergency are nowhere near mitigated, though the city has taken extra precautions in purifying municipal water.

• When it comes to economics, it’s hard to get more mainstream than Standard and Poor’s, the financial analysis giant owned by McGraw-Hill. S&P authors the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is one of the few elite credit-rating agencies. Not exactly a leftist revolutionary group, then. But even this Wall Street giant has begun raising alarms about income inequality, releasing a report yesterday about the pragmatic hazards of the growing gap between the rich and the rest in the United States. The report sheds moral considerations about inequality, of course, in favor of cold, hard economics. And here, the gap has slowed growth and hindered our economy, the report says.

“Our review of the data, as well as a wealth of research on this matter, leads us to conclude that the current level of economic inequality in the U.S. is dampening GDP growth, at a time when the world’s biggest economy is struggling to recover from the Great Recession and the government is in need of funds to support an aging population,” the report summarizes.  

• Finally, the world has come to this: There’s a big fight brewing over who owns the rights to a selfie a monkey took back in 2011. Selfies weren’t quite the phenomenon they are now, so first and foremost I applaud the crested black macaque who snapped a pretty great pic of herself for being ahead of the curve. The photo happened when a British photographer set up his gear to trigger remotely as he was trying to get a candid photo of a group of the wild macaques in Indonesia. The monkey in question grabbed the gear and eventually found the shutter button, snapping hundreds of pics of herself and her surroundings.

Most were blurry, but a couple are crisp and colorful, and really, much better looking than any selfie I’ve ever attempted, which is depressing. Anyway, Wikimedia has posted the photo in its collection of more than 20 million royalty-free images. The photographer has sued Wikimedia to take the photo down, but the group, which runs Wikipedia, has claimed that since the monkey took the picture, it owns the copyright to the image the photographer doesn't own the image. The group has yet to receive a cease-and-desist letter from said monkey, though rumor has it the macaque has asked that her Instagram and Tumblr handles be included when the photo is used online.

UPDATE: I pride myself on rarely having to do corrections, but they got me on this one. Apparently, Wikimedia isn't claiming that the monkey has the copyright, though I haven't checked to see if the monkey is feeling litigious. From the company:

"We don't agree that the photographer in question has copyright over the images. That doesn't mean the monkey owns the copyright: it just means that the human who owns the camera doesn't. 

For example, under US copyright law, copyright claims cannot vest in to non-human authors (that is, non-human authors can't own copyrights) -- and the monkey was the photographer. To claim copyright, the photographer would have had to make substantial contributions to the final image, and even then, they'd only have copyright for those alterations, not the underlying image."

Noted, corrected. Sorry 'bout that.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 08.05.2014 41 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

Commissioners, city wrangle over icon tax; court to hear gay marriage arguments; grandmas with guns

Sometimes, all the forces of the universe conspire to make every important thing possible happen on the same day, at the same time. That day is tomorrow, when City Council will meet for the first time since its summer recess, Hamilton County Commissioners will vote on the icon tax and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals here in Cincinnati will hear challenges to gay marriage bans in four states. To make sure you're ready, let's review a couple big upcoming news events, shall we?

• Time is ticking down for a possible tax hike deal to renovate Music Hall and Union Terminal. County Commissioners have until tomorrow to decide whether or not a proposed .25 percent sales tax will end up on the November ballot, and there’s no indication that two of the three commissioners are leaning toward voting for the tax as-is. At issue is the city’s contribution and the age-old city vs. county dynamic. Commissioners Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann, both Republican, say they want a bigger financial commitment from the city, a sign of long-term buy-in. Monzel has floated the idea of cutting Music Hall out of the deal, since he says that building is the city’s responsibility and Union Terminal has more history county-wide. He’s said an alternative sales tax proposal could be ready for tomorrow’s meeting if a deal for both buildings can’t be reached. Another alternate idea involves ticket fees for those attending events at the buildings.

The city has pledged to continue the $200,000 a year it pays toward upkeep for each building and has committed an additional $10 million for Music Hall. Commissioners have said that isn’t enough. They’ll vote at their weekly meeting tomorrow on whether to put the issue on the ballot for voters to weigh.

• Tomorrow is a big day for other reasons. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will hear challenges to gay marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. It will be a decisive moment for the marriage equality movement, which has been on a winning streak in the courts lately. The Supreme Court last June struck down a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and since then many courts have ruled against gay marriage bans and other laws restricting recognition of same-sex marriages. But two of the three judges on the appellate board here are appointees from former President George W. Bush’s time in office and have a record of rulings supporting conservative values. Both opponents and supporters of the bans have rallies planned during the 1 p.m. hearings. Religious groups in the area, including the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, are urging followers to pray for the judges. The church has voiced strong support for Ohio’s gay marriage ban, passed in 2004.

• An effort to open a cooperative grocery store in Clifton is coming down to the wire, an Enquirer report says. The proposed market has met a quarter of its $1.65 million fundraising goal, officials with the group say. That money comes from shares anyone can buy to become a part owner of the store and would go toward buying the former Keller’s IGA building on Ludlow Avenue. The Clifton Cooperative Market group is under contract to buy the building, but that contract expires Oct. 11. The group envisions an “upmarket” grocery that provides both staple goods and specialty items. If the group can get half the money, officials say, it will become easier to secure financing for the rest through bank loans.

Miami University is tops! The local university ranks high on a few just-released Princeton Review lists, though not necessarily all positive ones. Miami is the nation’s 11th best party school, the review finds. It’s rocketed up five spots from last year, passing rival Ohio University. As an alum, I can tell you the recognition is long overdue. However, the school is also ranked fifth on the “little race and class interaction” list. So if you like partying with 16,000 friends who look a whole lot like you (assuming you look like an extra from a Brooks Brothers casual wear catalogue shoot) I’ve got the school for you. The school also ranked high for Greek life (sixth) and its entrepreneurial program (12th).

Finally, a story about grandmothers in Aurora, Indiana who have taken up a new hobby — firearms. Two senior women there started a gun education group in May after being robbed. Women Armed and Ready, or WAR, trains women on proper use of handguns for self-defense, firearm laws and target shooting.

“My gun is the answer to anybody who thinks I'm an old lady living alone,” says WAR member Barb Marness. Enough said.

 
 

 

 

 
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