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by German Lopez 11.13.2012
Posted In: Budget, News, Economy, Education, Environment at 10:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
ohio statehouse

Morning News and Stuff

State budget cuts hit counties, food deserts in Cincinnati, area's nuclear weapons legacy

A new report from left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio shows the impact of state budget cuts on individual counties. Statewide, more than $1 billion in tax reimbursements and the Local Government Fund was cut between the 2010-2011 budget, which was passed by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, and the 2012-2013 budget, which was passed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. Additionally, Ohio’s estate tax — a tax that affected only 8 percent of Ohioans, largely those at top income levels — was eliminated, killing off a crucial source of funding. Hamilton County, its jurisdiction, schools, services and levies lost $222.1 million. Health and human services lost $23.2 million. Children’s services lost $4.6 million, and the county children’s agency services “was sent into financial crisis.” In total, more than 5,000 local government jobs were lost in the area.

The Center for Closing the Health Gap is launching a campaign to raise awareness about food deserts in Cincinnati. Food deserts are areas, particularly neighborhoods, where full-service grocery stores aren’t readily available to residents. The campaign hopes to raise awareness and funding to combat the food deserts in the Cincinnati area. With a funding target of $15 million, the organization plans to help build smaller stores with close ties to the local communities.

A new study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital resurfaced Greater Cincinnati’s nuclear weapons legacy. Between the 1950s and 1980s, residents of nearby farm communities were unaware they were being exposed to radioactive materials in the air, water and soil from a Cold War era nuclear weapons plant, located 18 miles northwest of Cincinnati. Apparently, the exposure has led to higher rates of systemic lupus in the area.

Greater Cincinnati’s economic recovery could be slowed or boosted by policy, but it will outpace the nation’s economic recovery, according to local economists. Still, the economists caution that there is a lot of uncertainty due to oil prices, the fiscal cliff — a series of tax hikes and budget cuts scheduled to be made at the start of 2013 if U.S. Congress doesn’t act — and the fiscal crisis in Europe.

Cincinnati’s small businesses are more upbeat about the economy. Eleven percent of local family firms expect the economy to improve, but whether that translates to business expansions remains to be seen.

CityLink Center is scheduled to open today. The initial plans for the facility sought to help the homeless with health services, overnight shelter, food, temporary housing and child care. At one point, the center’s opening was threatened due to legal challenges regarding zoning.

Hostess, maker of Twinkies, says it will close down three bakeries, including one in Cincinnati, due to a national strike. According to reports, union workers walked off the job after a new contract cut their wages and benefits. Hostess insists the factory shutdowns will not affect customers.

Top Cincinnati mortgage lenders saw double-digit increases between Sept. 1, 2011 and Aug. 30, 2012. The rise is yet another positive sign for the housing market, which collapsed during the latest financial crisis and recession.

The state agency in charge of higher education released a report highlighting 20 recommendations to improve degree completion in Ohio. Some of the recommendations from the Board of Regents: Adopt more uniform statewide rules regarding college completion and career readiness, push stronger collaboration and alignment in education from preschool through senior year in college, establish a new system of high school assessment to improve readiness for college, and improve flexibility. The board will attempt to turn the report into reality in cooperation with university and state officials.

Too much school choice may be a bad thing. A new study found Ohio’s varied education system, which offers vouchers for private schools and charter schools as alternatives to a traditional public school, may have passed “a point where choice actually becomes detrimental to overall academic performance.”

The Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) issued an action alert on Saturday telling members to oppose privatizing the Ohio Turnpike. The Ohio state government, led by Kasich, is currently studying possible plans to privatize the turnpike. In a video, an OFB member argues the current turnpike management is fine.

There are still some undecided seats in the Ohio legislature from the Nov. 6 election.

Once again, a reminder not to drive on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus.

Former George W. Bush adviser Karen Hughes says she will “cut out” the tongue of Republican men making “Neanderthal comments” about rape.

A new way to fight bacteria: coat it with a thin layer of mucus.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 02.17.2012
 
 
1

Morning News and Stuff

Duke Energy announced Thursday night that it will help fund a campaign to raise private and government money to replace the outdated Brent Spence Bridge. It will cost about $2.3 billion to replace the span, which carries traffic from I-75 and I-71 over the Ohio River.

Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig said
an audit to determine methods for improving the Police Department’s efficiency is continuing. Among the latest recommendations, the department will no longer seek accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and that response of a recent shift to 10-hour workdays has been positive.

Three development groups
have submitted proposals to Covington officials, each vying to be selected to reshape that city’s riverfront area. One of the proposals, drafted by Corporex Realty & Investment and Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, involves refurbishing the Waterfront Restaurant and creating a floating boardwalk, marina and wharf.

A Cincinnati police officer assigned to the Drug Abuse and Resistance Education (DARE) program
was suspended without pay this week after she was charged with tampering with records, securing writings by deception and forgery. Sandra Johnson, 38, allegedly said she taught DARE classes and got paid for them when she didn’t. DARE is among the programs being ended by Chief Craig; he has called it ineffective.

In news elsewhere,
German President Christian Wulff resigned from his position today as head of state amid mounting criticism over a home loan scandal. Wulff has been plagued by allegations since mid-December over his connections to wealthy businessmen, initially over an advantageous home loan from a friend's wife. He then faced claims he tried to hush up the story, as well as reports of free vacations accepted from friends.

The Obama administration’s newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
wants to begin monitoring and regulating debt collectors and credit bureaus for the first time. Richard Cordray, the agency’s director, said he wants to ensure people aren’t subjected to abusive practices.

An influential group of scientists issued a report this week
pressing U.S. officials to tighten regulations of so-called “fracking” operations to reduce environmental and health risks. The independent review of fracking by professors at the University of Texas in Austin said that the development of shale gas was "essential to the energy security of the U.S. and the world,” but added the process needs more oversight.

The recent brouhaha over a new federal rule that requires insurance coverage of birth control for women reveals that
the Roman Catholic Church has lost its influence in U.S. politics, some observers said. An AlterNet article noted that even though the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops remains opposed to a compromise rule pushed by President Obama, many other Catholic groups — including the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and the Catholic Health Association — are ignoring the conference and accepting it.

Police in Fort Worth, Texas, have arrested 16 students in
a major drug bust at Texas Christian University, a conservative evangelical institution. The drugs involved included marijuana, ecstasy pills, a powdered form of ecstasy commonly called “molly” and prescription drugs such as Xanax, hydrocodone and Oxycontin. Four football players were among those arrested.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.20.2012
Posted In: City Council, Neighborhoods, Environment at 03:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
p.g. sittenfeld.nar

Sittenfeld Proposes Litter Law Change

Councilman will mow lawn of contest winner

Cincinnati officials are about to give property owners more of an incentive to clean up their yards.

City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has proposed changing Cincinnati’s litter laws to allow for a full refund of fines for first-time violators if they remedy the problem within 10 days of being cited.

Currently, when the city issues citations for littered properties, owners can recoup half their money if they clean up the property within that time period.

The proposal already has the signatures of six other City Council members, giving it enough support for passage.

Sittenfeld's proposal is an acknowledgement that illegal dumping is widespread in Cincinnati, he said, and the problem isn’t always the fault of the owner.

Of all customer service requests to the city in 2011, more than 9,000 — or 14.2 percent of all requests — were related to litter, making it the single most frequent complaint.

Sittenfeld timed the proposal’s introduction to coincide with the Great American Cleanup and Earth Day, both of which happen this weekend.

To increase the public’s interest, Sittenfeld is asking residents to take a before-and-after picture of the area they clean up over the next week, and send the photos to his council office no later than April 27. Sittenfeld will then personally mow the lawn of whoever has the most dramatic cleanup.

The photos may be mailed to pg.sittenfeld@cincinnati-oh.gov.

 
 
by 10.03.2008
Posted In: Environment, Public Policy at 01:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Energetic Friday

Do something other than veg out in front of the boob tube tomorrow night. Join a conversation about a topic on everyone’s mind: energy.

Tonight at 6 p.m. the Imago Earth Center (700 Enright Ave., Price Hill) kicks off its First Friday Conversations with a 20-minute video of Al Gore’s New Thinking on the Climate Crisis. Imago’s 2008-09 season features the year-long theme “Enhancing Earth by Getting ‘Off the Grid.’ ”

“Drawing on a broad understanding of ‘the grid,’ we’ll look at many aspects of unplugging from the current models of growth and consumption,” says an event announcement.

For more info, visit www.imagoearth.org  or call 513-921-5124.

— Margo Pierce

 
 
by Danny Cross 06.21.2012
 
 
mallory

Morning News and Stuff

A local developer has offered to build a new jail adjacent to the Justice Center, a cost of $65 million, in return for the county leasing it for 30 years at $10 million a year, according to The Enquirer. The developer, Rob Smyjunas, said the offer isn’t about making a profit, just making the county better for his and other families. 

Mayor Mallory didn’t answer The Enquirer’s questions about the potential for a Council majority to block the property tax increase in City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposed budget. A Mallory spokesman says he’ll work behind the scenes on a budget that will win a Council majority and that he’s off to New Orleans for a conference on reclaiming vacant properties. 

An environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro kicked off on Wednesday, with environmental groups and activists disappointed with the Rio+20’s lack of progress on creating clear goals for sustainable development. 

The Sanford, Fla., police chief who drew criticism for not investigating the shooting death of Trayvon Martin has been fired. Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte said he relieved Bill Lee of his duties because the police chief needs to have the trust and respect of the community. 

A video of middle school kids in upstate New York bullying a 68-year-old bus monitor has drawn international media attention. The woman says the kids are all pretty much normal and are OK to deal with one-on-one. 

The bullying continues unabated for about 10 minutes in the video, reducing Klein to tears as a giggling student jabs her arm with a book. Recorded by a student Monday with a cell phone camera, the brazen example of bullying went viral and spurred international outrage.

A population of chinstrap penguins in Antarctica has declined by 36 percent due to melting sea ice. 

"Actually, in the '90s it was thought that the climate change would favor the chinstrap penguin, because this species prefers sea waters without ice, unlike the Adelie penguin, which prefers the ice pack," study researcher Andres Barbosa told LiveScience. He added that at the time, chinstraps, named for the thin black facial line from cheek to cheek, seemed to increase in numbers, with some new colonies being established. The sea-ice decline in the winter, however, has become so big that it is now impacting krill populations, said Barbosa, of the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid.

Researchers found evidence of ice on the moon. 

A new study has found that eating disorders are common among older women. Researchers say weight and eating concerns do not discriminate based on age.

College football BCS commissioners have endorsed a four-team playoff format to determine college football’s national champion instead of the current computer-human two-team system. The plan will go to the BCS presidential oversight committee on June 26 for approval.

LeBron James and the Miami Heat are one win away from winning the NBA championship after going up 3 games to 1 with a 104-98 win in Game 4 Tuesday. 

 
 
by Danny Cross 06.25.2012
 
 
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

Leaders of the nonprofit Music Hall Revitalization Co. seemed to have compromised last week when the group proposed a 99-year lease of Music Hall as part of a $165 million renovation. But the lease included a clause that would allow the group to acquire the historic building for $1 at the end of the lease or at the end of a second 99-year lease. The permanent sale of the building is what held up the initial plan to turn the renovation over to the nonprofit group, which says its donors will not offer the financial support without the city turning over ownership. Mayor Mark Mallory told The Enquirer that the proposal will not be approved. “I don’t care if it’s 99 years, 198 years, 500 years or 1,000 years, the city should always retain ownership,” Mallory said. “That should never change.”

The George W. Bush Presidential Library denied a request by a Democratic super PAC for documents related to Sen. Rob Portman’s work in the George W. Bush administration. The library says it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and that all are welcome to see the documents in 2014. The super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, has been researching GOP candidates as Mitt Romney moves closer to choosing a running mate.

“When you look at the roster of V.P. candidates, each of them is significantly flawed,” American Bridge senior adviser Ty Matsdorf said in a statement. “For Portman, it is his calamitous record on fiscal issues while working at the Bush White House. It shouldn’t be a shock that he is going to want to keep that under wraps for as long as possible, but unfortunately it’s pretty hard to hide a record as terrible as that.”

CNN is live blogging from the Supreme Court to see if there are any rulings on the health care law or immigration.

Gay pride celebrations took place in New York, Chicago and San Francisco over the weekend, and Obama organizers were there to recruit volunteers.

Spain formally asked for European aid for its banks.

The sea level is rising faster along the Atlantic Coast than other places in the world.

Facebook has created a new “find friends nearby” function that will allow users to see friends and people they don’t know who are at events or social gatherings. From some Facebook engineer’s comments on the story:

I built Find Friends Nearby with another engineer for a hackathon project. While it was originally called ‘Friendshake’, we settled on ‘Find Friends Nearby’ for launch (the URL was a little bit of a homage to the previous iteration).

For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you’re out with a group of people whom you’ve recently met and want to stay in contact with. Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction.

HBO’s The Newsroom premiered last night, and this guy at the Toronto Star said it kind of sucked while the New York Times says CNN could learn something from it.

 
 
by German Lopez 08.16.2012
Posted In: News, Environment, Oil at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
nrdc

Environmental Groups Ask for More Fracking Rules

NRDC and others say wastewater injection well rules aren’t tough enough

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and 10 other individuals and organizations filed a letter today asking the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to strengthen its rules for wastewater injection wells, which are used to dispose of wastewater produced during fracking.

NRDC says the tougher regulations could prevent more incidents like the earthquakes experienced in Youngstown, Ohio around New Year’s Eve. The earthquakes were linked to wastewater injection wells in the Youngstown area. 

Tougher regulations could also prevent water contamination, according to the letter. Recent investigations have found that wastewater disposed in injection wells might be seeping through the ground and leaking into the surface or contaminating nearby water sources. But Heidi Hetzel-Evans, spokesperson for ODNR, says regulators have not recorded any groundwater contamination from Class II injection wells in Ohio since ODNR took over the program in 1983.

In short, the NRDC letter says ODNR should make more seismic and geological tests mandatory for injection wells. Under current law, ODNR has to suggest more seismic and geological tests. If they were mandatory, all operators would have to run the tests before a wastewater injection well is approved. Along with this requirement, NRDC also calls for more geologic information to be submitted with permit requests.

The structure of injection wells is also a concern. In the letter, the organization calls for tougher injection well standards that ensure the wells can withstand corrosive effects from fluids deposited in injection wells and any hydraulic pressure experienced during the dumping and storing process. With these standards, it would be much more difficult for wastewater to leak through the wells.

The letter includes additional recommendations that ask for clearer minimum standards, more water tests, checkups on wells, more protections for landowners near injection wells, and more. The full recommendations can be read in the letter here.

The call for more regulation is largely in response to new rules that Gov. John Kasich signed in with an executive order on July 12. Hetzel-Evans defended the current rules by pointing out they are flexible yet often stronger than minimum requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hetzel-Evans has not been able to see the full suggestions in the letter yet, but she says one of the strengths of the current rules is that they don’t burden operators with unnecessary tests. She cited the example of some wells being way too shallow for earthquake activity to be an issue. Seismic testings in those wells would serve no purpose, she says.

Cincinnati City Council recently banned wastewater injection wells within city limits. But ODNR has received no permit requests for wastewater injection wells in southwestern Ohio. Hetzel-Evans says southwestern Ohio’s geology makes any shale drilling and wastewater injection wells unfeasible.

 
 
by Danny Cross 10.04.2011
Posted In: Environment, News, 2011 Election, Media, Technology, Science at 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
att

Morning News and Stuff

Cleveland officials are apparently trying to outlaw flash mobs, describing them as violent, unruly terrorizing of communities and family-friendly events. That's not how AT&T presents them in this cell phone commercial.

Read More

 
 
by Danny Cross 02.17.2012
Posted In: Environment at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
imago

Imago to Host 'Helping Hands Saturday'

Sierra Club Ohio Chapter to participate in cleanup and clean water education

The Imago Earth Center will host an event called “Helping Hands Saturday” on Saturday (duh), during which volunteers will break into groups and work outside clearing some honeysuckle, chipping trails and learning about various clean water issues.

Volunteers will be taught about local water issues and how to monitor water quality. The event begins at 9 a.m. “rain, light rain or shine," and the internet says it’s going to be a really nice day — with the temperature nearing 50 and some sun poking over a little cloud.

Light refreshments, gloves and equipment will be provided, with volunteers working in groups from around 9:30-noon.

The event will involve the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter as part of Imago’s ongoing efforts to provide educational experiences, create opportunities for discussion and community building and conserve natural areas. The Imago Earth Center is located at 700 Enright Ave. in Price Hill.

For more information, contact Imago nature center at 513-921-5124or cclements@imagoearth.org or the Ohio Clean Water Sierra Club at 614-461-0734 x 311 or cleanwatersierraclub@gmail.com.

 
 
by Danny Cross 06.07.2012
 
 
streetcar

Morning News and Stuff

The Enquirer today broke out its Freedom of the Press Card, pressing the city to release details of the bids to build the streetcar's five vehicles. Enquirer Editor and Vice President Carolyn Washburn says the newspaper is being a good watchdog by investigating all the redacted parts of documents released by the city, which reportedly include typical streetcar parts, performance data and personal information of employees. A firm called CAF USA, which won the bid for more than $20 million, is trying to block the release of the data, along with two losing bidders who claim the information is trade secret.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear are considering a private-public partnership that includes tolls to fund renovations to the Brent Spence Bridge.

President Obama enjoyed an enthusiastic welcome from Los Angeles LGBT supporters at an event in Beverly Hills. Republicans are saying Obama is being all glitzy in California so he's out of touch with Americans' struggles.

Russia would like Iran to be involved in forcing a political transition in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Syrian President Bashar Assad should quit and roll out.

The U.S. is losing patience with Pakistan, too.

George Zimmerman's bond hearing has been set for June 29. He returned to jail on Sunday after a judge revoked his bond for failing to disclose $135,000 in funds raised for his legal defense.

Thousands of homes in the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at high risk for hurricane damage, and New York City has the highest risk of losses.

Do you use LinkedIn or eHarmony? Well, you shouldn't. Also, both sites were hacked and had user passwords breached.

A car called the Honda Fit EV has earned the highest ever miles-per-gallon equivalency rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — 118 mpg.

More than 80 lawsuits by former NFL players have been consolidated and filed in a Philadelphia federal court, accusing the league of hiding details that linked head trauma to permanent brain injuries. The NFL denies culpability.

The Reds are still in first place.

 


 


 
 

 

 

 
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