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by Kevin Osborne 03.23.2012
Posted In: Business, Police, Environment, War , President Obama at 08:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Amid a growing public outcry, Kroger has joined the list of grocery store chains that will stop using so-called “pink slime” in their ground beef. The Cincinnati-based grocer announced Thursday it will no longer sell beef with the additive. Ever since ABC News did a report a few weeks ago on the meat filler, many consumers have pushed to have it either eliminated or clearly identified on packages. The product contains “finely textured lean beef,” the product made from beef trimmings after all the choice cuts of beef are removed, which is then treated with ammonia. Just eat more chicken.

The police chief of Wilder, Ky., entered a not guilty plea Thursday to a drunken driving charge. Alexandria Police arrested Wilder Police Chief Anthony Rouse on March 1 for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. During the court hearing, a prosecutor said Rouse violated the conditions of a pre-trial release from jail by allegedly driving a vehicle after drinking in a bar. Rouse said he was unaware of the conditions surrounding his pre-trial release. Chief, call a cab next time.

A team of doctors from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is partnering with a hospital in Ghana to complete more than 30 advanced surgeries there during a week-long mission trip. The team's focus will be on pediatric colorectal and gynecological conditions, specialties not widely practiced in Africa.

About 128,000 Ohio workers hold jobs related to the production of “green” goods and services, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s first-ever green jobs report. Those workers represent 2.6 percent of total employment in the Buckeye State and are spread across various industries, based on a 2010 survey. Critics, however, say tax incentives create an artificial demand for such jobs.

Ohio leads the nation in property insurance claims for the theft of copper and other metals, according to an organization that fights insurance fraud. The National Insurance Crime Bureau says Ohio property owners made 2,398 such claims during the three-year period from 2009-11. Texas ranked second, followed by Georgia, California and Illinois.

Covington officials are upset about a rowdy St. Patrick's Day crowd in MainStrasse last weekend that resulted in a serious assault, unruly behavior and piles of trash left for residents to pick up. The owners of Cock and Bull English Pub and Pachinko's were apologetic Thursday after their advertised St. Patrick's Day parties drew a larger than expected crowd, which they blamed on the holiday falling on a Saturday this year and the unseasonably warm weather.

In news elsewhere, civil liberties advocates are concerned by new rules approved by the Obama administration that allow counterterrorism officials to lengthen the period of time they retain information about U.S. residents, even if they have no known connection to terrorism. The changes allow the National Counterterrorism Center to keep information for up to five years. Previously, the center was required to promptly destroy, usually within 180 days, any information about U.S. citizens unless a connection to terrorism was evident.

A U.S. soldier who allegedly shot and killed civilians in Afghanistan reportedly will be charged with 17 counts of murder. Robert Bales, an army staff sergeant and Norwood native, also faces six counts of attempted murder and six counts of aggravated assault, an official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Bales, 38, is suspected of leaving a military base in Kabul, entering homes and shooting villagers, including nine children, in their sleep on March 11.

A teenager in Minnesota is being prevented from bringing a porn actress to his high school prom. Mike Stone, 18, tweeted various actresses in the porn industry, seeking one to go to the prom in St. Paul. Megan Piper – star of films like “Tugged by an Angel” and “Squirting 2” – said on her Twitter account that she would go if Stone paid for her transportation from California. Once school officials learned of the plan from another parent on an Internet message board, however, they put a stop to it. They said her visit would violate a school policy that states visitors are allowed unless "the visit is not in the best interest of students, employees or the school district." Hate the game, don't hate the player.

Census officials soon will allow first-time, instant public access to records that provide a snapshot of Americans at the end of the Great Depression and on the verge of World War II. Beginning April 2, the 1940 Census will be available online for free. The records document details of 132 million people, including 21 million who are still alive today, and what their lives were like. The project is expected to be a boon for history buffs and researchers.
 
 
by 11.18.2010
Posted In: News, Media, Business, Community at 03:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 

Callinan Quiet on Enquirer Rumors

Journalism-related Web sites have been abuzz this week with rumors that Editor Tom Callinan is about to leave his job at The Enquirer. Callinan is keeping mum for now, but one of his rumored replacements says he will remain in California and not return to Cincinnati.

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by Danny Cross 05.25.2012
Posted In: Business at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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Ohio Attorney General Sues The Beach

Waterpark failed to submit refunds after abruptly closing in March

Back in April and early March, many Cincinnatians were all :-P as they looked ahead to another summer of fun in the sun at Mason’s longtime waterpark, The Beach. But their faces were more like :-( on March 9, when The Beach abruptly announced that it would not reopen for the 2012 season, and many went >:-O when the waterpark notified them that no refunds would be made for 2012 season passes. Today the waterpark’s operators are all :‘( because they just got sued by the Ohio attorney general.

At the time of the announcement that the park would not be opening, The Beach had already sold 8,800 season passes. But rather than offering full refunds to the thousands of consumers who had purchased waterpark passes, the Beach offered a collection of day passes and various discounts to other local attractions, such as Kings Island and the Cincinnati Zoo, that it said was valued at "close to $200." Season passes to The Beach had most recently been sold for $89.99.

In response, 427 people filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, resulting in the May 25 filing of a lawsuit against The Beach by Attorney General Mike DeWine. The lawsuit charges the business with failure to deliver, a violation of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.

"It's unfortunate when a long-standing Ohio business closes," DeWine said in a press release. "But The Beach Waterpark took money from thousands of consumers and never delivered promised services. That's unacceptable."

The Beach in recent years has seen increased competition from such nearby attractions as Kings Island’s Soak City waterpark and the Great Wolf Lodge, which opened an indoor waterpark in Mason in 2006. In response to The Beach’s closing, Kings Island offered discounted rates for upgrades to its season passes and a complimentary visit to its amusement park and waterpark for Beach pass holders.

Dan Tierney, spokesman for DeWine, says companies that go out of business often refund money or provide a different product or service in place of that which was previously purchased, but it must be of equal or greater value and meet the consumer’s satisfaction.

“That has not occurred in this case,” Tierney says.

The lawsuit alleges that The Beach’s ownership partners have committed unfair or deceptive acts and practices in violation of the Failure to Deliver Rule and Consumer Sales Practices Act. Each violation of the Consumer Sales and Practices Act is punishable by a $25,000 fine. The lawsuit asks for reimbursements for all consumers, legal and court costs, an injunction and civil penalties.

“There’s a possible penalty on the punitive side of $25,000,” Tierney says. “That being said, the goal of this, because there is no bankruptcy protection, is to help affected consumers get refunds.”

According to Tierney, if The Beach had filed bankruptcy protection, the company would be protected and each individual consumer would need to file failure to deliver lawsuits.

“During a bankruptcy consumers can become creditors for not being delivered products,” Tierney says. “In absence of that they would have to each individually file failure to deliver lawsuits, but the attorney general is doing it on behalf of Ohio consumers.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Hamilton County Court of Common Please against the park’s owners and operators: The Beach at Mason Limited Partnership and Dayton-based Water Parks, Inc., and Cabana Equities, Inc.

According to the lawsuit, the Beach’s operators decided to close the waterpark on March 7, two days before announcing the canceled season and lack of refunds.

The attorney general’s office is encouraging other consumers who purchased passes to The Beach Waterpark to file a complaint a www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov.

 
 
by Andy Brownfield 08.28.2012
 
 
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Romney/Mandel Event Mandatory For Miners?

Romney campaign, Murray Energy dispute who made call to close mine for event

Earlier this month presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared at a coal mine in Beallsville, Ohio to denounce President Barack Obama’s “war on coal” against a powerful backdrop: hundreds of coal miners dusted with the black powder that their work entails.

But what wasn’t made apparent at the time is that those workers were pulled from the mines prematurely and not paid for the time they didn’t work.

According to emails and phone calls received by WWVA-AM West Virginia talk show host David Blomquist, miners said they were told that attendance at the Romney event would be mandatory and unpaid.


As first reported by The Plain Dealer in Cleveland on Tuesday, mine owner Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore told Blomquist that managers “communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” He said that people who did now show up to the event, which organizers say drew 1,500 miners and family members, were not penalized for their absence.


Blomquist said during the radio show that current and former employees had called and emailed him saying they feel they were forced to go, had to take off a day without pay and a roll call was taken, which caused some employees to believe they would lose their jobs if they didn’t show up.


“Just for the record, if we did not go, we knew what would happen,” Blomquist read from an email he had received. “It is wrong what we were made to do because of the outcome if we don’t.”


The Columbus Dispatch reported that Murray Energy Corp. founder Robert Murray attended the Tuesday breakfast hosted by the Ohio delegation to the Republican National Convention. Murray told the newspaper that the decision to close the mine was made at the request of the Secret Service.


Murray disputed the report that miners weren’t paid for the day, saying they were compensated for the hours they spend underground, from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. The mine was re-opened for a second shift at 4 p.m.


“They were all there voluntarily,” Murray said of the miners who attended the Romney event, which was also attended by Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman and Ohio Treasurer and Senate candidate Josh Mandel.


“You don’t pay people to go voluntarily to a political event. If I would’ve paid them you would be saying you want it the other way. This is all a bunch of nonsense,” Murray told The Dispatch. Federal law prohibits the paying of private employees to attend a political event.


Murray blames layoffs at some of his mines on Obama’s policies. His companies have had a history of environmental and safety violations, and its Political Action Committee has held fundraisers for and donated to Republican causes.

Romney’s Ohio campaign spokesman disputed that the Secret Service had the mine shut down, telling The Dispatch in an email that “It was Murray Energy’s decision to close the Century Mine, not the campaign’s or the Secret Services.” His comment echoes what Murray CFO Moore said on the radio show, that management wanted to attend the event and they couldn’t have miners underground without management present.


For his part, radio host Blomquist took issue with the fact that the miners lost out on a full eight hours of pay because of a political event.

“My whole point is that nobody should be pressured into attending anyone’s political event,” he told The Plain Dealer. “If they shut the mine down, why should they lose a day’s pay? There are some guys that just want to go to work, feed their family and go home.”


 
 
by 03.16.2011
Posted In: Business, Public Transit, Labor Unions, News at 03:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Transit Workers OK New Contract

A labor impasse between managers of Greater Cincinnati's Metro bus system and its transit workers appears to be near an end.

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 627 voted Tuesday to accept a new three-year labor contract with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA). The final tally was 409-49.

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by 10.15.2008
Posted In: News, Business at 05:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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For Cintas, It's Business As Usual

Two proposals by institutional shareholders designed to increase independent oversight at Cintas Corp. failed to gain a majority of votes Tuesday at the company’s annual meeting.

The proposals included one by the North Carolina Retirement Systems, which represents the pension investments of unionized North Carolina state government workers. It sought to have an independent chairman — unconnected to the Farmer family — appointed to the board of directors to enhance oversight and improve the company’s abysmal safety record.

The other proposal sought an advisory shareholder vote on executive pay.

As the meeting was conducted, more than 300 protesters comprised of Cintas workers from across the nation and their local supporters rallied outside of the company’s Mason headquarters (pictured above), demanding an end to what they described as egregiously unsafe working conditions at the uniform supplier’s industrial laundries.

A proposal by another institutional shareholder — CtW Investment Group — was also defeated that would have blocked the appointment of David Phillips to the Cintas board due to what it described as an undisclosed conflict of interest and weak leadership in his role as the company’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee chairman.

(See my recent news article "Cintas Under a Microscope" for background on these shareholder proposals.)

Cintas didn’t reveal the vote totals for board appointments. CtW representatives said about 35 percent of outside shareholders opposed Phillips’ appointment, which amounted to a “vote of no confidence.”

CtW had alleged that in his role as committee chairman, “Mr. Phillips bears responsibility for many of the company’s questionable governance practices, which include … inadequate response to legitimate governance concerns."

Further, CtW disliked that Phillips serves as trustee of Cincinnati Works, which received more than $200,000 in charitable contributions from foundations controlled by Cintas insiders and affiliates.

Each of the proposals had been endorsed by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), an organization trying to unionize Cintas workers for more than five years.

Some Cintas employees who were given proxies by shareholders were denied access to the annual meeting, according to UNITE.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited at least 10 Cintas facilities nationwide in just over a year for safety violations, including one that resulted in the death of a worker. Since 2003 Cintas has been cited for more than 170 OSHA violations in its facilities, including more than 70 citations that OSHA deemed could cause “death or serious physical harm."

(Photo of protest outside Cintas annual meeting on Oct. 15 by Cameron Knight. See more photos here)

 
 
by 10.22.2009
Posted In: News, Police, Public Policy, Business at 03:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 

Don't Taze My Chest, Bro

After widespread criticism from human rights groups, the maker of the Taser electrical stun gun is now advising law enforcement agencies to avoid shooting people in the chest with the weapon.

Taser International, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., recommended the change in a revised training manual issued Oct. 12. The company stated there’s an “extremely low” risk of ill effects from a shot to the chest, but added it’s better to use caution.

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by Hannah McCartney 06.22.2012
Posted In: News, Business, Foreign Relations at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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U.S.-Africa Business Conference Concludes Today

Two-day summit follows the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act forum in D.C.

The two-day U.S.-Africa Business Conference, which took place at the Westin Cincinnati Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, wraps up today, concluding a summit congregating business experts from across the world to discuss business concerns related to energy, transportation, water and sanitation. 

The conference, organized by the U.S. State Department, is intended to serve as a forum for Cincinnati area companies to connect with African business leaders in hopes of creating longstanding partnerships while helping African nations improve economy and infrastructure. It follows the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum which took place in Washington, D.C. June 14-15. The U.S.-Africa Business Conference is intended as a way to expand on the AGOA, offering U.S. businesses a platform to showcase business expertise to potential African clients and highlight investment opportunities in Africa for U.S. exporters and investors, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Federal agencies that have participated in the conference include the Departments of State, Transportation, Energy and Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Commercial Service-Cincinnati and the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the U.S. State Department, Cincinnati was selected as the 2012 conference location due to its "potential to increase commercial partnerships with Africa at local, state and regional levels." The conference includes site visits to GE Aviation, CVG International Airport, EPA Testing and Evaluation Facility, Cincinnati State Renewable Energy Labs, Duke Energy Envision Center and others.
 

 
 
by 06.17.2010
Posted In: Environment, Business, Climate Change at 04:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Boehner's Ties to BP

Just as the White House is criticizing one Republican lawmaker for apologizing to BP, it's been revealed that a local GOP leader has extensive stock holdings in BP and other oil companies.

The Associated Press is reporting that U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester), the House minority leader, bought dozens of stocks in December including shares in BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhilips and Occidental. Each of the stocks is valued between $15,001 and $50,000, according to annual financial disclosure reports released Wednesday.

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by Kevin Osborne 01.06.2012
Posted In: News, Environment, Business at 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Driehaus Wants Hearing on Fracking

A Cincinnati-area legislator is calling for an Ohio House committee to hold a public hearing about the alleged link between fracking and ground tremors.

State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Price Hill) wrote a letter today asking that a public hearing be held during the next meeting of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The meeting isn’t currently scheduled but likely will occur sometime later this month or in early February.

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