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by Katherine Newman 04.19.2016 36 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY, Get Involved at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Nonprofit Spotlight: May We Help

Patty Kempf was one of May We Help’s first clients before the organization really even existed. She had cerebral palsy and was having trouble turning the pages of the books she loved reading. Bill Wood agreed to help Kempf by designing something that would make reading easier for her. At the same time, Bill Dieseling was doing something similar for a member of his family. The two Bills were connected through a mutual friend and began to work together. Shortly after that they met Bill Sand and the idea for May We Help was born. The Bills began working together harmoniously and May We Help now has hundreds of completed projects and satisfied clients.

The goal of May We Help is to make life easier for people with disabilities. They do this through technology, mechanical engineering, handy work, programming and problem solving. May We Help hopes to free people from their disabilities with these custom creations that will allow them to gain independence and pursue their passions.

The organization designs unique devices for people with disabilities to meet the needs that are not being met by anything else on the market. Clients pitch to the organization what they are looking for, the team researches the idea and if nothing has been developed to meet the need, they accept the project. Beginning with design and then moving into building, the team is focused on the client and what will work for them.

Volunteer:

At May We Help there are 60 volunteers for every one staff member. “They are the heart and soul of our organization,” says Katy Collura, development director. “They truly are the glue that holds everything together.”

There are many different opportunities to get involved with this organization, whether you want to design, build or work behind the scenes. “Our volunteers design and create custom solutions to free individuals with special needs,” Collura says.

Technical volunteers develop the unique devices for clients. Most volunteers in this category are professionals or have a serious interest in product development. These volunteers hear the needs of the client and go from there. This is a very creative opportunity.

There are resource volunteers who build and get to be hands-on with projects. This is a great place to start with May We Help because it is not a leadership position, but it gets into the action of product construction.

A person with a lot of personality makes a great “first impressions” volunteer. In this role, volunteers take charge of the experiences of new volunteers and clients. Their job is to make sure everyone is comfortable, heading to the right place and introduced to the right people during monthly volunteer meetings and monthly work meetings.

Follow-up volunteers make monthly visits to clients who have received their devices. This is a key role because May We Help wants to be sure what they build is working the way it was intended; they don't want to send someone home with a device that isn’t meeting their needs. The follow-up team receives feedback from clients about how their needs are, or aren’t, being met by their device.

May We Help provides meals for around 40 people at all of their monthly meetings. Foodie volunteers are in charge of making sure the people eat. The organization reimburses the cost of food for the meals, but be prepared to cook for what feels like an army.

One of the most important positions is the procurement volunteer. This role was designed to ensure the technical volunteers have the crucial materials they will need throughout the project. Procurement volunteers are responsible for meeting with potential material and service providers to build donor relationships. On the inside they work with the technical volunteers by helping them meet their needs. Sometimes that means contacting other volunteers for advice, checking what is in stock or contacting donors. This position is the bones of the operations and keeps the ball rolling forward.

To become a volunteer, fill out the application online and someone will be in contact soon after. There is no hourly requirement — volunteers can make their own hours. The organization just asks that all projects are done in a timely manner. “In most cases we are the families last resort and they are counting on us to deliver,” Collura says.

Donate:

Monetary donations are crucial to the success of this nonprofit. Because each device is custom to the client, it is hard to know what materials will be needed for the next project. Business owners with available resources to help are encouraged to contact the procurement team about donating services or material.

For more information and access to the volunteer application, visit maywehelp.org.

 
 
by Brian Baker 04.19.2016 36 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, New Releases at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Veteran's Way

The MudLarks! finally provide potent studio evidence of their passion and experience with their self-titled debut

Although The MudLarks! have only been playing together in this incarnation for the past six years, the band — which began life as the Go to Hells in 2010 and switched to its current moniker in 2012 — boasts an experiential timeline among its four members that, if viewed consecutively, would stretch back to a pre-Civil War calendar. Now that's entertainment.

The illustrious resumes that the individual MudLarks! — vocalist/guitarist T. Lothar Witt, guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Jimmy Davidson, bassist/vocalist Bob "Lamb" Lambert, and drummer Max Cole — have accumulated collectively over the past four decades is a core sample of some of Greater Cincinnati's most infamous and well-regarded bands across a broad sonic spectrum, from the glistening Indie Rock of The Libertines (now with the legally appended “US” tagged on) and The Highwaymen, the Punk slash of The Reduced, The Headaches and The Rituals and the experimental howl of 11,000 Switches, Cointelpro and BPA, to the twisted Americana stomp of the Wolverton Brothers and the New Wave bounce of Blanco Nombre and the Babettes. Then there's the long distance listings of The Reducers, Ricky Barnes & the Hoot Owls and probably a few that the quartet has inadvertently or deliberately overlooked due to time, tide, roadburn and hangover. 

And so The MudLarks! — complete with two capital letters in one word and a Hamiltonian exclamation point — have assembled like a grizzled, creaky yet still powerful Transformer of wildly disparate but somehow completely compatible influences to create their singular Indie Punk mash up of local, regional and national music history in 10 tracks and a little over 46 minutes. Not bad for a bunch of guys whose next tour could be sponsored by AARP.

The MudLarks!'s eponymous debut disc, released by New York's Ionik Recordings Company, who also released the latest Wolvertons EP, Liberty Hotel, last year, whipcracks to immediate life with opener "Help Us;" guitars spark and smoulder like vintage Neon Boys/Voidoids while Witt roars with the phlegm-choked outrage of Johnny Rotten in his Pistols-to-PIL transition. It's the perfect launching pad for The MudLarks!'s first studio foray, as the foursome careens madly from the Pere-Ubu-disguised-as-accessible-Indie-Rock-outfit chaos of "Red Window" to the late-'70s-English-Punk-translated-to-downtown-NYC swagger of "Dirty Things" to the irresistible Iggy-Pop-James-Williamson tag-team cage squall of "You Love You."

The MudLarks! are equally adept at slowing down the pace when necessary. "Mea Culpa" drops tempo while maintaining a booted throat intensity and volume, "Losing Track" sounds like a Crazy Horse demo from Danny Whitten's lost heroin weekend sessions and "Love Has the Power" sways and pulses like The Dictators ballad that Handsome Dick Manitoba and his boys never attempted. And the album closes with the majestic "Sunrise," a towering five-and-a-half minute Punk anthem that somehow manages to corral all of the madness preceding it and herd it into a set-ending finale that explodes with the beautiful fury and smoke that typically accompanies a Rozzi fireworks display.


The reason The MudLarks! are able to tap into all these various power sources and not overload the system is not because they're simply familiar with their schematics, it's because they've lived with them so intimately for so long. They understand the nuts and bolts of every genre they've played, separately and together, over the past 40 years and they know perfectly well which parts are interchangeable and will ultimately provide the best performance. Witt and Davidson trade snarling guitar licks like Babe Ruth and Shoeless Joe Jackson playing catch by smashing the ball back and forth to each other from bat to bat, while Lamb and Cole maintain an adaptable rhythm that they can easily shift from slow boulevard cruise to hyperspace warp jump in the blink of a bloodshot eye.

There has been plenty of concrete evidence within our own music scene lately to prove that age does not equal obsolescence — witness the triumphant returns of the Warsaw Falcons and Ass Ponys — and The MudLarks! are yet another sterling example of an assertion that author P.J. O'Rourke made 20 years ago in the title of his 1995 essay collection; Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence and a Bad Haircut.

The MudLarks! play a free show at York St. Cafe in Newport Friday with The Tonics

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 04.19.2016 36 days ago
Posted In: News at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Working Group Presents Recommendations for Reducing Violent Crime

Strategies include initiatives for at-risk parents and youth

A group working to craft recommendations for a long-term strategy for reducing violent crime in the city presented its findings to City Council's Human Services, Youth and Arts Committee on Monday. 

The Violence Prevention Working Group, initiated by City Council, was formed in November 2014 when council removed $400,000 from the Human Services Fund dedicated to violence-prevention work. Creating a group dedicated to finding a holistic approach to breaking the cycle of violent crime, along with additional prevention efforts, was part of that change-up.

The Violence Prevention Working Group was spearheaded by Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who co-chaired the initiative with Vice Mayor David Mann. Simpson says the city's funding stream dedicated to targeting violent crime had not been following a long-term, comprehensive strategy.  

"The magic of the model as well is that it's not a law enforcement only model, although law enforcement is a part of it and essential to it," Simpson said on Monday. "It's also a health-department focused model and a community-based model."

Four sessions brought together 36 participants from city organizations and community nonprofitssuch as Cincinnati Public Schools, United Way and the Greater Cincinnati Foundationin neighborhoods that have experienced high rates of violent crime. They were held from October of last year to March of this year — two in South Avondale and one each in the West End and Westwood. 

The city has seen a recent increase in violent crime, particularly homicides, which are up 13 percent this year, according to statistics from the Cincinnati Police Department. 

Working group members from the Cincinnati Health Department, the Cincinnati Police Department and local nonprofit the GLAD House recommended that the city provide $500,000 toward violence prevention to be matched with $250,000 in private funding, appoint a representative from CPD to the Human Services Advisory Council and support the appointment of one organization to serve as the backbone of the plan.

The plan's main strategies focus on efforts to engage the entire community and direct services toward early intervention initiatives for at-risk children and their parents. 

Camille Jones, the assistant health commissioner at the Cincinnati Department of Health, presented research that tied youth delinquency behavior to 20 environmental factors. The strongest indicators were child maltreatment, harsh parenting, parental drug use and adolescent substance abuse. 

Jones discussed the concept of looking at violent crime as a public health problem, treating it as if it were a contagious disease that could be passed from person to person, especially when someone is repeatedly exposed to it, such as a child. 

Georgine Gerry, executive director of the RAND House, which provides mental health services to children, agreed there needs to be a community-wide intervention for the city's kids. 

"The focus needs to be on the adults who help shape those youth: the parents, the families and the community members," Getty said. 

Cincinnati Police Department District 4 Captain Maris Herold discussed the department's Place-Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories, or PIVOT, initiative that it launched in February 

The PIVOT approach focuses on tackling the city's long-standing crime "hot spots" and focuses on carefully monitoring the locations and known offenders' networks through data, rather than increasing police in those particular locations. 

Herold said the hot spots are typically very small areas often amounting to a single address. They account for just 1.4 percent of Cincinnati's area, and increases in law enforcement to those areas actually did more to strain police-community relations with law abiding residents than prevent crime in the long run.

"Ninety-nine percent, probably even higher, of people in a hot spot are just trying to get by and do the right thing,"  Herold says. 

Councilman Wendell Young, who spoke after the group had concluded its presentation, said it is time for the entire community to step up. 

"I see this as the problem I always saw it as, a citywide problem," he said.  

Simpson says the plan will eventually be presented to the full Council.
 
 
by Natalie Krebs 04.19.2016 37 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Sittenfeld OK After Collapsing During Press Conference

Councilman says he's going back to work after scare during announcement on initiative to combat sexual assault on campus

City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld collapsed this morning during a press conference at City Hall. 

Medics arrived quickly to assist the councilman, who was unconscious and reportedly having difficulty breathing at first. Sittenfeld was seen standing, talking and smiling in the third floor conference room where the event was being held within 20 minutes.

Sittenfeld appeared unalarmed when he addressed the various members of the press in the hall about 25 minutes after he fell. It's unclear why he collapsed, but Sittenfeld said he thought he was overheated with low blood sugar.

"We'll make sure the AC is pumped up a little more," he said. 

The incident happened about 25 minutes into a press conference announcing a new city-wide initiative to combat sexual assault on campus. Sittenfeld was holding the event with about 20 members of his Task Force to Reduce Campus Gender-Based Violence, which he created last year.

Sexual assault survivor Kristen Meyer was speaking at the podium when Sittenfeld, who was standing off to her left, suddenly collapsed. The councilman's staff and members of the task force, which included Cincinnati Police Department Chief Elliot Isaac, ushered bystanders out of the room and into the hallway while assisting Sittenfeld. Emergency medical technicians arrived to the closed room about five minutes after, but stayed for only 10 minutes. People leaving the room reported Sittenfeld was OK about 15 minutes after the fall. 

Sittenfeld said he did not plan on seeing a doctor and will continue on with his scheduled day, which includes chairing the Education and Entrepreneurship Committee meeting at 2 p.m.  

Around 11:30 a.m., Sittenfeld announced on Twitter that he is doing fine. 

"Hi everyone, glad to report I'm doing fine. Got over-heated and passed out. Sorry for causing a stir — now everyone get back to work!" 
 
 
by Danny Cross 04.19.2016 37 days ago
at 07:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News & Stuff

Cranley + NAACP or Cranley vs. NAACP?, Dennison vote on hold, new crime lab plan moves ahead

Mayor John Cranley yesterday offered his support for involving the local NAACP in ongoing talks between the University of Cincinnati Police Department and Cincinnati Police Department, but it wasn't necessarily the do-gooder tale it might seem. At least that's how the NAACP sees it.

UCPD has been mired in issues since the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose by UCPD officer Ray Tensing last year, including revelations that its former chief encouraged officers to increase enforcement within a "no-fly zone" and then mislead investigators after the shooting. Stops increased by 400 percent during the year leading up to the July 19 shooting of DuBose.

Rather than graciously accepting the invitation, however, Cincinnati NAACP President Rob Richardson, Sr. questioned the mayor’s motives, The Enquirer reported yesterday. Richardson, Sr.’s son, Rob Richardson, Jr., is the UC Board of Trustees chairman who some believe could be mulling a mayoral run next year.

Richardson, Sr. says he hasn’t heard from the mayor about many other issues and suggested that Cranley could be playing politics.

In true Cranley fashion, the mayor said that surely is not the case, then offered a well-crafted sound bite that kind of sounds otherwise:

"If the NAACP doesn't think this is important enough to be involved, then that speaks volumes given that his son is the chairman of the UC board," Cranley said. "If the NAACP doesn't want to be involved, that's fine. We can ask the Cincinnati Black United Front and local National Action Network, and the invitation is always open for the NAACP."

• In other clearly non-politically related news, the Historic Conservation Board yesterday rescheduled the vote on whether or not the Joseph Auto Group family will be allowed to demolish the historic Dennison Hotel building on Main Street. 

Joseph’s attorneys had asked for more time to respond to a report issued by Cincinnati Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, who was highly skeptical of their demolition application.

That doesn’t mean Johnson can single-handedly stop it, however.

The conservation board is comprised of seven members, five of whom were recent appointments made on Mayor John Cranley's watch. Among those appointments, made by City Manager Harry Black, is developer Shree Kulkarni. The developer in the past has butted heads with the very board on which he now sits — because, as we noted in Morning News yesterday, he wanted to tear down historic buildings on Fifth Street to build a parking lot.

The vote has been rescheduled for May 26.

• Meanwhile, The Enquirer has the details of infighting among the Joseph family itself. Sixty-four-year-old Marie Joseph has sued big brother and Joseph Auto Group CEO Ron Joseph, accusing him of cutting his siblings out while consolidating the company’s holdings.

Apparently, this is not the first time these two Josephs have fought it out in court. The Enquirer detailed a few other rich people problems plaguing the siblings in this paragraph:

“Pineridge LLC, an entity controlled by Ron Joseph and his wife Marcia, filed a lawsuit in Hamilton County Municipal Court last year to evict Marie Joseph and her son Derek from a Mount Lookout home it planned to sell. The lawsuit claimed she'd rebuffed requests to leave since summer 2014. The home is located one block from where Ron and Marcia Joseph live.”

You can read more about all of this here.

• Hamilton County could finally be on track to update its outdated crime lab. County Commissioners yesterday accepted a proposal to build a new facility, which could cost around $40 million.

Attempts to get a plan approved that would have renovated a former hospital in Mount Airy fell through. Coroner Lackshmi Sammarco has long advocated for a new facility, as the department currently works in a 40-year-old building in need of major upgrades, which she says inhibits productivity. The coroner’s office tests all of the county’s DNA, drug, ballistics and other forensic cases, as well as similar services for more than a dozen other municipalities.

• The Banks has some new tenants lined up, including a luxury bowling alley and live music venue.

• The Supreme Court seems to be divided on President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which would temporarily grant quasi-legal status to undocumented immigrants whose children were born in the U.S. Around 4 million people could be shielded from deportation if it is upheld.

The court could end up split 4-4, however, which would uphold a lower court’s decision that has kept the actions from going into effect. Doubt this sort of thing has anything to do with why Republicans refuse to allow a confirmation hearing for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland no matter how bad it makes them look.

• The sponsor of a controversial Tennessee transgender bill has pulled it until at least next year. Advocates from both sides are geared up for a fight over the legislation, which would require students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender at birth. Perhaps the decision to table it for now might have something to do with the $1.3 billion in Title IX funding the state’s attorney general says could be in jeopardy if it passes.

• Also in Tennessee, family movie night at the Tennessee Titans football stadium got a lot more fun when the field’s sprinkler system came on.

• Also in bathroom news, hand dryers are apparently spraying viruses up into the air, though manufacturers note that this wouldn’t happen if people would wash their hands correctly before drying them with their space-age technology.

• This guy wants to know why society spends tax money on things that not everyone uses. In this case, he’s mad about the $4.2 million a year the city will pay to operate the streetcar, but probably not upset about things like this.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.18.2016 37 days ago
at 03:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Conservation Board Reschedules Dennison Vote

Developer requested extra time after urban conservator shot down demolition proposal

The fight over the 124-year-old Dennison Hotel building on Main Street will continue a little longer after the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board today tabled a vote on an application to tear down the Dennison brought by its owners, Columbia REI, LLC. The vote was rescheduled for 1 p.m. May 26.

Columbia’s attorneys say the group needs time to respond to a report issued by Cincinnati Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, who was highly skeptical of their demolition application. 

“The applicant has not provided credible evidence that they cannot reuse the building nor can reasonable economic return be gained from the use of all or part of the building proposed for demolition,” Johnson wrote in that report, released April 14.

The conservation board has the final vote on the demolition, however. The board set filing deadlines for various new documents in relation to the case for May 2, May 11 and May 18.

Attorney Sean Suder, who is representing the Cincinnati Preservation Association and the Cincinnati Preservation Collective in the opposition to the demolition, said those groups welcome the extra time and hope it will lead to a change of heart for Columbia and a deal to save the building.

That would be a big change in direction for the developer. Attorneys for Columbia, which is run by influential auto dealership magnates the Joseph family, say the building is outdated, crumbling and dangerous.

The Historic Conservation Board had planned to vote today on whether the Josephs could tear the Dennison down, potentially to develop a new corporate campus for a Fortune 500 company, though no company has signed onto that plan yet.

Columbia's attorneys on Friday asked the Board to delay the vote in order to have a hearing on the matter. Their request came the day after Johnson's recommendation not to OK Columbia's plan.

CityBeat reported on Friday’s request here, Thursday’s urban conservator recommendation here and details of documents showing that the Joseph family bought the building to block low-income housing from being developed here.

 
 
by Steven Rosen 04.18.2016 37 days ago
Posted In: Film, Arts community, Visual Art, Movies at 03:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Animated Films with Insects

Live score played on toy instruments highlight Mini Microcinema's end

When I lived in Los Angeles, one of the most unforgettable events I attended was a screening of films by the 20th-century Russian animator Ladislaw Starewicz, who used insects in his amazingly inventive animated films. (He also used puppets.)

He placed the insects into various settings and then shot the stop-motion films frame by frame. A Jazz/New Music group called Tin Hat Trio played a live score to accompany the visuals.

Lo and behold, the Mini Microcinema on Tuesday (April 19) is presenting Starewicz’s films in the auditorium of Covington’s Carnegie. And there will be a live score played by Little Bang Theory, a group led by Detroit composer Frank Pahl. They play children’s instruments and toys.

There will be a reception starting at 6 p.m. and the performance gets underway at 7 p.m. It is free. This is the last event for the Mini during its residency at The Carnegie. It should be a rewarding one. For more information, please visit www.mini-cinema.org.

 
 
by Cassie Lipp 04.18.2016 37 days ago
Posted In: Culture at 01:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Slice of Cincinnati: Harriet Beecher Stowe House

Situated on a hill overlooking a strip of Gilbert Avenue sits an old house that stands out from its urban surroundings in Walnut Hills. Though it may seem out of place against the backdrop of apartment buildings and businesses, inside the house lies a story of being in the right place at the right time, of discussion and of empathy and compassion.

2950 Gilbert Avenue is the last remaining building that was once part of the Lane Theological Seminary. It is also the former home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Although it is not where she wrote the novel that introduced Northerners to what slavery is like in the South and increased tensions between the two regions, it is where Stowe spent 18 years of her life.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin has been translated into more than 60 languages — second only to the Bible. It is no wonder that visitors from as far away as Russia and China have recently visited the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. In fact, Kelli Higginson, the house’s only paid employee, says most visitors come from out of town.

“This house is unique because at one time it was the ground center for discussion of slavery,” says volunteer John Douglass. Built in 1832, the house was saved from demolition and purchased by the Ohio Historical Society in 1943. It is still owned by the society today and is designated as a historic landmark.

Stowe lived in Cincinnati from her early 20s until 1859, one year before her famous book was published. Her presence in Cincinnati had a lasting impact on U.S. history and beyond, as Uncle Tom’s Cabin is read in schools around the world. While living in the border town allowed Stowe to see firsthand the desperation of slaves trying to escape to freedom across the Ohio River, it was also here that Stowe was exposed to the controversial debates going on at the seminary where her father, Dr. Lyman Beecher, was president.

Students of the seminary debated about the issue of slavery in 1834 before it became a hot topic throughout the rest of the U.S. Should slaves be emancipated? If slaves were to be freed, where should they go? Some supported sending freed slaves to Africa, while others thought they should be allowed to stay in the U.S. Enrollment at the seminary dropped after the school’s board of trustees dismissed these so-called “Lane Rebels.”

Living in Cincinnati also gave Stowe a stark look at the tension between the anti-slavery movement and those opposed to it. During the Cincinnati riots of 1836, the press that printed The Philanthropist, an abolitionist newspaper published by James Birney, was twice destroyed and thrown into the Ohio River. This sparked Stowe to find her own abolitionist voice and write her first remarks about slavery, in which she defended free speech and denounced mob rule. Her work was published in her brother Henry’s newspaper.

When the cholera epidemic swept through Cincinnati and Stowe’s one-year-old son Samuel Charles died, the personal tragedy caused Stowe to empathize with slave mothers who were often separated from their children. Her son’s death was the catalyst that caused Stowe to begin writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

While it is a work of fiction, Stowe’s novel depicts what American slavery was like at the time. Her visit to a Kentucky plantation allowed her to see how slaves lived. However, many argued that the book’s depiction of slavery couldn’t be accurate. Stowe responded with A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which provides factual evidence from her experience in Cincinnati to defend her claims. (Copies of the key just arrived in the Stowe House’s gift shop; Higginson says they were on backorder for six weeks).

The Ohio Historical Society plans to renovate the house this summer. The renovations will restore the house to what it would have looked like when Stowe’s family lived there. The house will also host Stowe’s 205th birthday celebration (with cake and ice cream, of course) on June 14.

The house is open for tours from noon to 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It is also the site of many field trips, lectures, film screenings, history portrayals and more. More information at stowehousecincy.org.

 
 
by Danny Cross 04.18.2016 38 days ago
at 08:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News & Stuff

Dennison Hotel fight rages on; NPR launches education project, knows where you are; Kasich being Kasich

The next step in the saga of auto magnate Joseph Auto Group's attempt to tear down a historic Main Street building will take place today when the Historic Conservation Board meets at 4 p.m.

The Board had planned to vote today on a request to demolish the Dennison Hotel building at 716 Main St., but attorneys for Columbia REI, LLC, the development arm of the Joseph family, on Friday asked the Board to delay the vote in order to have a hearing on the matter. Their request came the day after Conservation Board staff recommended denying the demolition request for a variety of factors, including evidence that the Joseph family has not attempted to sell or lease the building to someone who would redevelop it, an engineering report that says the building could still be used for residential purposes and documents showing that the Joseph family purchased the property with the intention of demolishing it for redevelopment. Such considerations are commonly undertaken by the Historic Conservation Board regarding buildings in a historic area like the Eastern Manufacturing and Warehouse District.

Of course, the city staff report, written by Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, will not ultimately decide the fate of the building, which was designed by noted architect Samuel Hannaford and still boasts a “ghost sign” noting its “105 rooms and 60 baths.” That would be the Historic Conservation Board itself, which is comprised of seven members, five of whom were recent appointments made on Mayor John Cranley's watch. The most controversial of the appointments is developer Shree Kulkarni, who in the past has butted heads with the very board on which he now sits — because he wanted to tear down historic buildings on Fifth Street to build a parking lot.

CityBeat reported on Friday’s request here, Thursday’s urban conservator recommendation here and details of documents showing that the Joseph family bought the building to block low-income housing from being developed.

One noteworthy player in all this is 3CDC, which purchased the building in 2013 for $1.3 million then sold it to Columbia one month later for $744,000.

Preservationists hoping to save the building hosted a press conference on Friday. They expect a big crowd at today's meeting and what will likely be a contentious future hearing, should things go that far. The Save the Dennison Facebook page, which you can find here, has links to more background, including the following Cincinnati Enquirer article from 1987 when the Joseph family smashed up some other downtown buildings, leaving parking lots in their wake.


Gov. John Kasich is busy on the presidential campaign trail explaining his own unique versions of delegate math that could somehow lead to a convoluted GOP convention awarding him the nomination, and sometimes he eats pizza with a fork. Last week, Kasich said he wouldn’t be inclined to sign any law banning conversion therapy aimed at un-gaying homosexuals and that he had never heard of Leelah Alcorn.

• Last week, Kasich offered a tip for young women concerned with sexual assault: “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”

• NPR today unveiled its “School Money” project, a collaboration with 20 member station reporters looking at education funding in public schools. Part 1 of the series considers academic spending per student, finding a stark difference in the academic resources at schools in low-income neighborhoods and those in more affluent parts of America’s cities.

The following is a snapshot of educational realities in public districts, according to NPR:

Ridge's two elementary campuses and one middle school sit along Chicago's southern edge. Roughly two-thirds of its students come from low-income families, and a third are learning English as a second language.

Here, one nurse commutes between three schools, and the two elementary schools share an art teacher and a music teacher. They spend the first half of the year at different schools, then, come January, box up their supplies and swap classrooms.

"We don't have a lot of the extra things that other districts may have, simply because we can't afford them," says Ridge Superintendent Kevin Russell.

One of those other districts sits less than an hour north, in Chicago's affluent suburbs, nestled into a warren of corporate offices: Rondout School, the only campus in Rondout District 72.

It has 22 teachers and 145 students, and spent $28,639 on each one of them.

What does that look like?

Class sizes in Rondout are small, and every student has an individualized learning plan. Nearly all teachers have a decade of experience and earn, on average, more than $90,000. Kids have at least one daily break for "mindful movement," and lunch is cooked on-site, including a daily vegetarian option.

Embedded inside the NPR project is the following line, which I feel like could use a bit more explanation: "In Ohio, which is our best guess for the state you’re currently in, the average district spends $12,018 per student, similar to the nationwide average. You can explore further or search for a district by name below." (Emphasis by NPR.)

Is Kai Rydssdal looking in your window right now? Are you sure?

The Supreme Court today will consider President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Obama’s legislation would grant temporary legal status to parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. A collection of states, led by Texas, sued over the executive action, which Obama created in response to the House’s inaction on a Senate-passed immigration reform bill.

• Ohio State Sen. Bill Seitz last week unveiled a new idea — require money up-front from anyone proposing longer voting hours. Judges at times allow polls to stay open past scheduled closing time. Seitz’s bill, which he says has nine co-sponsors, would also allow an immediate appeal of a judge granting longer hours.

• A local woman is going to appear on a new reality show. I don't know what it is, but you should watch it!

• A new study says being a reporter is the worst job… three years in a row.

• An octopus dipped out of an aquarium in New Zealand, got into a drain pipe and squirmed out into the ocean toward freedom.

• The Reds return home tonight to host the Colorado Rockies after losing five of six on their road trip to Chicago and St. Louis. But don’t worry — Dan Straily is joining the rotation. Seriously, I think he’s a good baseball player.

CityBeat reporters Nick Swartsell and Natalie Krebs will be around town today, Nick at the Historic Conservation Board meeting and Natalie at a City Hall presentation for the Violence Prevention Working Group. Follow them on Twitter: @nswartsell / @natalie_krebs.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 04.15.2016 40 days ago
Posted In: News at 04:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Developer Asks Historic Conservation Board to Delay Dennison Demolition Vote

Request comes as controversy swirls around proposed demolition

Attorneys for Columbia REI, LLC have asked the city's Historic Conservation Board to delay a vote on their request to demolish the Dennison building at 716 Main St. downtown.

The demolition request is on the board's upcoming Monday meeting agenda, but the developers have asked the board to table it and reschedule the vote.

That request comes after the city's Urban Conservator Beth Johnson issued a report yesterday that rejected the developer's claim thatit  cannot reuse the building and that restoring or preserving the building with result in a negative financial return.

Historic preservation advocates and affordable housing activists both have rallied around the building, which was designed by noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford's firm and, until five years ago, contained 114 units of single-room occupancy affordable housing. The Cincinnati Preservation Collective, the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, City Councilman Chris Seelbach and others held a press conference today outside the building decrying attempts to tear it down and calling for more affordable housing in the central business district.

The Dennison was the last of more than 20 downtown buildings containing such housing. The building was slated for redevelopment by Model Group for 63 units of permanent supportive housing to be operated by The Talbert House in 2013. However, that project fell through and the building was purchased by Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation affiliate CBD Holdings for $1.3 million that year. 3CDC then sold the building to Columbia, owned by the influential Joseph Automotive Group family, for $740,000 a month later. In filings to the Historic Conservation Board, attorneys for the Joseph family have indicated they purchased the property at least in part out of concern that supportive housing would devalue other properties it holds in the area.

It is unclear when the vote on the building will be rescheduled. Preservation activist Derek Bauman called the request by Columbia "shenanigans" and wondered if the vote would be rescheduled for a less-convenient time.

Columbia says the building is decrepit and unsafe, and says it would like to use the land it occupies as part of a large-scale development that would provide office space for an as-yet-undetermined Fortune 500 company.

 
 

 

 

 
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