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by Andy Brownfield 11.07.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, City Council, Homelessness, News at 05:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

Council OKs Application for Homeless Relocation Loan

Loan would help move three homeless shelters out of Over-the-Rhine

UPDATE 11-8-12: An aide to Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls tells CityBeat that the $7 million loan will only go toward moving two of the shelters: the Drop Inn Center and a new women's shelter to be operated by the YWCA. Because the City Gospel Mission requires a religious component to is outreach to the homeless, it cannot receive federal funding. The original story follows below.


City Council on Wednesday signed off on a plan to apply for federal loans to help move three Cincinnati homeless shelters to new locations.

Council members voted with all but one approving the application for $37 million in loans, $7 million of which would move the Washington Park-area shelters.

If the loan is approved, the City Gospel Mission would move to the West End, a new women’s shelter would be build in Mount Auburn and the Drop Inn Center would move to a yet-undetermined location. 

Cincinnati had pledged $10 million toward relocating the shelters. The loan would be paid back at $532,000 a year for the next 20 years.

Councilman Chris Smitherman was the sole dissenting voice. He said he supports the homeless, but he is wary of the risks of the loan and the city’s ability to pay it back.

Councilman Chris Seelbach, who said he moved to Over-the-Rhine shortly after the 2001 riots, voted to approve applying for the loan, but also voiced some concern.

“The reason I moved is because I loved it; I fell in love with the diversity of the neighborhood,” he said, noting income diversity as well as racial and ethnic.

“I would hope that we could find a location for the Drop that is in Over-the-Rhine and there isn’t a continued effort to push low income people out of Over-the-Rhine.”

Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, said the shelters the city has now are perfectly adequate and the money could be spent better developing affordable housing and creating jobs to help eliminate homelessness.

“Historically a majority of shelters started between 1982 and 1990 because in that era we cut dollars to housing and employment,” Spring said. 

“Shelters were never created to end homelessness. Shelters were created for people to have a safe place once everything else had failed them. We shouldn’t let everything else fail them.”

 
 
by German Lopez 10.09.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Bailout at 03:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
josh_mandel headshot

Mandel Dodges Auto Bailout Question for Five Minutes

Senatorial candidate fails to give answer to important economic issue

Josh Mandel avoided directly answering a question about the auto bailout for five straight minutes during a recent meeting with the Youngstown Vindicator editorial board.  

In a video released today by Democrats, Mandel, the Republican opponent to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown for Ohio's U.S. senate seat, says he would have “trouble” voting in favor of the federal bailout of Chrysler and General Motors. He cites the case of Delphi workers, who lost part of their pensions as part of the deal auto companies made with workers after the federal bailout.  

But Mandel, who is also Ohio's treasurer, refused to give a straight answer on whether he would vote for or against the bailout. After five minutes of phrasing the question in different ways, the Vindicator editorial board gave up in clear exasperation.  

Mandel had a similar encounter with a WDTN reporter in August. In that encounter, Mandel refused to give a straight answer to the same question. After the reporter pressed the question, Mandel smiled and quipped, Great seeing you.

But the dodgy encounters are not Mandel's only problem with the media. Media outlets, including CityBeat, have also criticized Mandel for his dishonest campaign tactics. Cleveland's The Plain Dealer gave Mandel the Pants on Fire crown for Mandel's consistently poor scoring on PolitiFact Ohio.

Mandel is currently down in aggregate polling by 4.8 points.

The video of Mandel dodging the Vindicator editorial board's questions can be seen here:


 
 
by Andy Brownfield 10.11.2012
 
 
news_chris_seelbach

Seelbach Touts Obama's LGBT Record, Urges Early Voting

On National Coming Out Day, Obama campaign releases new ad featuring LGBT activist

On National Coming Out Day, Cincinnati’s only openly gay city councilman told CityBeat that equality for America’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered people would take a hit under a President Mitt Romney.

“On day one (of his presidency) he (Romney) could hurt gay families by reinstating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and hurt security for our country,” Seelbach said. “We need as many people serving as possible.”

Councilman Chris Seelbach spoke to CityBeat as he waited to vote early outside of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Proponents of the measure that prevented openly gay service members from serving in the military have said repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would damage the country’s combat-readiness. 

A study published by the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles Law School in September found that there has been no overall negative impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, recruitment, retention or morale.

Seelbach said there would be a stark contrast for LGBT people under President Barack Obama and his GOP rival. He pointed to the Obama administration’s refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court; his vocal approval of same-sex marriage; anti-discrimination measures signed by the president that, among other things, give same-sex partners the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital and make medical decisions.

He said the next president would also likely have the opportunity to appoint new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court will likely decide the fate of California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage.

"If you care about equality, you've got to vote," Seelbach said. "The easiest way to vote is to vote early."

The Obama campaign in Ohio plans to release a new online ad touting the president’s accomplishments for LGBT people.

The ad, made available to CityBeat, features Zach Wahls, a gay-rights activist born to a lesbian couple via artificial insemination. Wahls is known for his testimony before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee against a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in that state.

In the ad, Wahls touts the president’s accomplishments and exhorts Ohioans to reelect Obama.

“We want to make sure that we’re all doing everything we can this fall to get out, register voters, canvass, knock on doors, get our family members and friends out to the polls so that we can re-elect the best president this country has ever seen on LGBT rights,” Wahls said.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 02.21.2012
 
 
towing

Morning News and Stuff

If you've ever felt like your car was held hostage by a towing company wanting an exorbitant fee before it would release your vehicle, this will sound like sweet justice. The city of Cincinnati's prosecutor has begun a criminal investigation of Kenwood Towing, based on allegations of overcharging. The firm, which has locations in Northside and South Cumminsville, also has been indefinitely suspended from its city contracts pending the investigation's outcome. Ohio law limits how much towing companies can charge, but residents have complained that Kenwood routinely violates the law, in some cases charging 400 percent more than is allowed.

Leasing issues with some current tenants at Corryville Plaza could delay parts of a major redevelopment project near the University of Cincinnati. The $78 million first phase of U Square @ The Loop is underway, with construction of shops and apartments along William Howard Taft Road. But plans to demolish and revamp the plaza where a Kroger grocery store and a Walgreen's pharmacy are located might be postponed. That's because three tenants — a chiropractic center, furniture store and clothing retailer – remain under lease under 2015. Developers are negotiating for their earlier departure.

The recent, unexpected death of Hamilton County Coroner Anaht Bhati means local Democratic officials have until Thursday to find a replacement candidate to put on the November ballot. Besides investigating suspicious deaths, the coroner can act as a de facto commissioner if two of the three Hamilton County commissioners are unavailable to conduct business for some reason.

Ongoing construction at the Horseshoe Casino on downtown's eastern edge will cause some detours for motorists. Beginning today, the work will close Eggleston Avenue between Central Avenue and East Court Street for about four months.

In news elsewhere, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign raised $6.6 million last month and spent $13.9 million, according to a report filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission. Politico reports the paperwork reveals 25 six-figure donations, many from repeat donors, which accounted for $4.9 million of Restore Our Future’s January haul. Money might not buy love, but it can give new life to a lackluster candidate.

More than 2,000 angry Afghans gathered outside a US military base to protest the allegedly inadvertent burning of Korans and other Islamic religious materials. The items are thought to have been burned as part of routine disposal of garbage at Bagram Air Field. (Yep, we're winning hearts and minds over there, don'tcha know.)

DSK is in trouble yet again. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, is being detained for questioning by French police investigating a prostitution ring. Strauss-Kahn, once a front-runner for the French presidency, was charged last year in New York with the attempted rape of a hotel maid. Prosecutors later dropped the case, stating it would be difficult to win a conviction.

Government officials are offering a reward of nearly $1 million for the capture of 30 inmates who broke out of a prison in Mexico on Sunday. The governor said the inmates staged a riot, during which 44 people died, to create a diversion for their escape. The fugitives are gang members involved in the Mexican drug trade, he added.
 
 
by Stefanie Kremer 10.05.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, Barack Obama, Music, News at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
25523_med

The National Plays Cincinnati Show to Support Obama

GottaVote concert drew hundreds of Obama supporters and opponents alike

Members of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Cincinnati natives The National knew they could lose fans if their band became vocal supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama back in 2008.

“When we publicly started supporting Obama, we did have a lot of fans that were upset about that and just thought, ‘you should keep your political opinions to yourself,’ ” lead singer Matt Berninger told reporters before their Thursday GottaVote concert sponsored by the Obama campaign.

“And I actually totally understand that and in many ways almost agree. I don’t want to be preached to by the Rock bands that I like.”

The band drew a mixed crowd of 750 people to the intimate show at The Emery Theater on Thursday. The concert’s purpose was to encourage attendees to vote for Obama in the Nov. 6 election and encourage Cincinnatians to take advantage of Ohio’s early voting.
While the band’s support for Obama has drawn some vitriol (fans made comments like “fools” and “shame on you” on Facebook posts announcing the shows in support of the president) it didn’t stop everyone who didn’t plan on voting for Obama from coming to the concert.

Adam Kesee, 25, is not an Obama supporter. He explained that he was at The Emery to see The National perform anyway — just as long as they didn’t devote the whole show to politics.

"I do not think music and politics should mix," Kesee explained. "It's OK if you play to support a candidate you like, but don't expect everyone to share your views and do not bog down the concert with political views." 

The National plays a GottaVote concert for the Obama campaign in Cincinnati
Catie Viox

[Photo gallery: The National plays in Cincinnati Oct. 4]

Despite their recent outspoken support of President Obama and their series of shows dedicated to rallying support in 2008, 2010 and 2012, Berninger and guitarist Aaron Dessner said they never saw their band going in such a direction.

“We didn’t want our band to be a political band … most of our songs are love songs or songs about drinking — we don’t think of ourselves as socially conscious songwriters or anything,” Berninger said.

He said that during the George W. Bush administration, they started to feel a responsibility to get involved — even if their band took a hit. He cited his 3-year-old daughter as the context through which he sees politics — he’s worried about the way her world will be shaped.

"Where our country is now is more important than our Rock and Roll band," Berninger said. "If it hurts our band, that's OK with us." 

Although some of The National's songs seem to hold political themes, including "Mr. November," the majority of the songs performed were rock songs written about love and loss including the popular "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and "Fake Empire." 

An intense performer, Berninger didn’t get so enthused about performing for Obama that he slipped "Vote Obama," into the lyrics, or devote the majority of the performance to campaigning. Aside from two young campaign volunteers speaking at the beginning of the concert, the president was not even mentioned until introducing the third song, "I'm Afraid of Everyone," written, Berninger said, about a desperate plea for the truth. 

In exchange for free tickets to see The National, attendees were expected to volunteer their time for the Obama campaign. 

Many concertgoers explained that they would gladly offer their time to support the campaign. Others said that they were strictly in attendance to see The National and do not plan on knocking on doors or making phone calls to support the president. 

"I don't really have the time and I don't really care about politics that much," said Kedharhneth Sairam, 24.

The crowd may not have been full of Obama supporters, but they were still supporters of The National. The band’s GottaVote tour included a  Wednesday stop in both Columbus and Cincinnati. Along with performing for fans, the band took to the streets with clipboards encouraging students on the campuses of The Ohio State University, Xavier University and Berninger’s alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, to sign up to vote.

CityBeat staff writer Andy Brownfield contributed to this report.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 02.23.2012
 
 
enquirer

Morning News and Stuff

In a move that's been expected for months, the parent company of The Enquirer informed investors Wednesday that all of its websites will implement a paywall model by year's end. Under the switch, online users will be able to access a limited number of articles for free every month, then must subscribe if they want to see additional digital content. Gannett Co. executives said it would probably offer between five and 15 articles for free per month, and compared the change to a system implemented by The New York Times last year. That newspaper, however, offers 20 free articles per month.

Hamilton County will soon have its first female coroner. The local Democratic Party's central committee will meet tonight to vote on the appointment of Dr. Lakshmi Kode Sammarco, a radiologist who lives in Indian Hill. She will replace Dr. Anant Bhati, who died last week from injuries sustained in a fall.

In a sign that the economy might be improving, local home sales increased in January. The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors says sales last month rose almost 11 percent over January last year.

The city manager and his staffers at City Hall seem to be keeping pertinent facts from Cincinnati City Council. First, council members said they weren't aware that a Hamilton restaurant in line to get almost $1 million in grants and loans to open a location at The Banks just paid off a delinquent property tax bill that was almost two years old on their eatery in Butler County. Then, council members learned the city's recently hired human relations director had to resign from her previous position in Detroit over a controversy involving a severance payment. Although Georgetta Kelly said she had nothing to do with a $200,000 payout to a woman who voluntarily left a county job to become CEO of an airport, her signature appears on some of the documents.

In news elsewhere, a Georgia lawmaker who is disturbed by Republicans' increasing attempts to pass new legislation involving abortion and birth control has offered a proposal of her own. State Rep. Yasmin Neal, a Democrat, wants to begin regulating vasectomies. If approved, her bill would ban the practice of male sterilization except in cases where a man faces serious health risks without one. It was crafted as a response to a so-called “fetal pain bill” proposed by Republicans, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Even though he wants to end the Afghanistan war and impose a more isolationist foreign policy, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has received more donations from members of the military than all of his GOP rivals and President Obama combined during 2011's fourth quarter. Paul raised more than $150,000 from active-duty military personnel.

As banks foreclose on an increasing number of properties nationwide, tenants are discovering many of those lending institutions are neglectful landlords, NPR reports.

The United Nations has a secret list of top Syrian officials who could face investigation for crimes against humanity for their violent crackdown against anti-government protestors, according to a U.N. report. The list includes Syrian President Bashar Assad, said London's The Independent. Sources tell the newspaper as many as 500 children have been killed in the violence.
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 07.11.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, Republicans at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
schmidt

Did Schmidt, Boehner Scrub Wikipedia Pages?

Viral web cataloger says local reps are among 33 Congress members to have altered pages

A post on viral web cataloger BuzzFeed accuses U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt or her staff of airbrushing the congresswoman’s Wikipedia page.

BuzzFeed claims that a user bearing the Internet fingerprint shared by all Congressional offices removed the section of Schmidt’s Wikipedia entry titled “The Armenian Genocide issue.” 

Schmidt was one of 33 Congress members alleged to have had airbrushing done to their Wikipedia pages. 

Also listed was House Speaker John Boehner, who allegedly had mention of his knowledge of the Mark Foley congressional page scandal scrubbed from his page.

CityBeat on Wednesday asked for comment from the offices of Schmidt and Boehner but no response was given.

“The Armenian Genocide issue” section appeared on Schmidt’s page as of Wednesday. It’s unclear whether the section had previously been removed.

According to the entry, Schmidt came under fire in 2008 from congressional challenger David Krikorian for failing to publicly define the mass killing of 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians between 1915-1916 as the “Armenian Genocide.”

The Armenian-American Krikorian accused Schmidt of taking tens of thousands in “blood money” from the Turkish government in order to push the denial. Krikorian’s claims resulted in a defamation lawsuit from Schmidt and a complaint before the House Ethics Committee.

However, Boehner’s page still contained no mention of his knowledge of the Foley page scandal as of Wednesday afternoon.

In 2006 former Republican Florida Rep. Mark Foley resigned over reports that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to at least one underage male former congressional page. 

Boehner told The Washington Post that he had learned of inappropriate “contact” between Foley and a 16-year-old page and told then-House Speaker Dennis Hassert about it. He later told the newspaper that he couldn’t remember whether he talked to Hassert.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 02.10.2012
 
 
chabotson

Morning News and Stuff

A prominent Republican congressman is under investigation for insider trading. U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who heads the House Financial Services Committee, is being probed by the Office of Congressional Ethics for making suspicious trades and buying certain stock options while helping oversee the nation’s banking and financial services industries.

Read More

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.07.2012
 
 
jean_schmidt

Morning News and Stuff

Tuesday's primary election yielded a few surprises that even jaded political pundits didn't see coming. Chief among them was the stunning upset that Brad Wenstrup pulled off against incumbent Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt. Wenstrup, a podiatrist who is an Iraq War veteran, got 49 percent of the vote to Schmidt’s 43 percent, according to final, uncertified results. That means Wenstrup will either face off against Madeira businessman David Krikorian or William R. Smith – a virtual unknown who didn't campaign – in the November election for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District seat. The race between the two Democrats remains too close to call.

Another surprise was U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur's victory over U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary for a Congressional district in northeastern Ohio, near Cleveland. The two veteran lawmakers were redistricted recently into the same area, meaning one would be knocked off after Tuesday's primary. Kucinich was one of the most progressive members of Congress and an ardent Iraq War opponent; it's unclear if he plans to stay in politics in some fashion.

In what's bad news for Mitt Romney, no matter how his handlers try to spin it, the ex-Massachusetts governor scored a razor-thin 1 percent victory over upstart Rick Santorum in Ohio's contest for the GOP presidential nomination. Romney got just 12,019 more votes than Santorum, despite outspending the former senator from Pennsylvania by a sizable margin. Romney also won in Alaska, Idaho, Vermont, Virginia and his home state of Massachusetts; Santorum won in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Meanwhile, Newt “I coulda been a contender” Gingrich scored a single victory, in his native Georgia. Bye, Newt.

Despite being defeated twice before in the general election, former appellate court judge William O'Neill of Cleveland easily won over Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Fanon Rucker to become the Democratic Party's nominee for the Ohio Supreme Court. O'Neill received nearly 72 percent of the vote. He will face off against incumbent Republican Justice Robert Cupp in the fall.

The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) suffered a defeat Tuesday when one of its leaders, ex-State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., lost to Peter Stautberg to get the Republican nomination for the newly created 27th District seat in the Ohio House. Stautberg handily defeated Brinkman by 61-39 percent.

It also looks like State Rep. Denise Driehaus prevailed in the hotly contested Democratic primary race for the new 31st District seat in the Ohio House. In Hamilton County, Driehaus got 57.5 percent of the vote, compared to 24.5 percent for Luke Brockmeier and 17.9 percent for Terry Tranter.

In non-election news, the small Clermont County town of Moscow is beginning to clean up four days after a tornado leveled much of the area. Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency inspected the damage Tuesday, and will issue a report to Gov. John Kasich within a few days.

Speaking of Kasich, our (not so) beloved guv was the sole person out of the nation's 50 governors not to sign a letter protesting proposed cuts to the Air National Guard. A Kasich spokesman said Odd John didn’t add his name to the letter because it was circulated at a meeting of the National Governor’s Association in Washington last month, and Kasich didn’t attend because he’s not a member.

On the national scene, President Obama held his first press conference of 2012 on Tuesday. Obama accused the Republican presidential candidates of casually "beating the drums of war" over Iran without having the political courage to directly advocate a military attack before voters. “Now, what's said on the campaign trail – those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. They're not commander-in-chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I'm reminded of the costs involved in war," he said.

About 600 people were ordered to leave their homes today in southeastern Australia due to rising floodwaters. Floods have hit three eastern states this week, causing at least two deaths and millions of dollars in damage. Nine thousand people had been evacuated from New South Wales on Tuesday.
 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.22.2012
Posted In: Congress, Ethics, Courts, 2012 Election, Protests at 04:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
schmidt

Schmidt Drops Lawsuit

Congresswoman sought $6.8M from opponent

Nearly two years after she filed the lawsuit, a congresswoman who lost in the March primary election has dropped her legal action against a political opponent.

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township) told
The Enquirer today that she decided to drop her defamation lawsuit against Madeira businessman David Krikorian. Schmidt filed the suit in June 2010, and had sought $6.8 million in damages.

Krikorian is claiming victory in the dispute, and told
CityBeat the lawsuit was an intimidation tactic by well-funded special interests.

“Her lawsuit was entirely without merit,” Krikorian said. “It was meant to silence and intimidate me and cost me money.  It did not work.”

Krikorian ran as an independent against Schmidt in 2008; he unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for the same seat in 2010 and again this year.

During the ‘08 campaign, Krikorian distributed a pamphlet alleging Schmidt had received “blood money” from the Turkish government in return for her opposition to a congressional resolution that declared Turkey had committed genocide against Armenia during a 1915 conflict.

But the lawsuit proved to be Schmidt’s undoing. She received more than $400,000 in free legal assistance from the Turkish Coalition of America to support her suit. In August 2011 the House Ethics Committee ruled that Schmidt received an “impermissible gift” but didn’t “knowingly” violate the law. She was ordered to repay the coalition, which she has yet to do.

Shortly thereafter, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonpartisan watchdog group, dubbed Schmidt as
one of the most corrupt members of Congress.

All of the drama took its toll: Schmidt lost the GOP primary earlier this month to challenger Brad Wenstrup. He defeated her 49-43 percent.

“It’s time to move on,” Barrett Brunsman, Schmidt’s spokesman,
told The Enquirer today about dropping the lawsuit.

The Turkish Coalition of America was among Schmidt’s top contributors, donating $7,500 to her 2010 reelection campaign through its political action committee, and donating $7,600 to her in 2008.

Schmidt also traveled to Turkey at least twice while in office. The coalition picked up the tab for one of the trips.

Politico reported March 12 that Schmidt was in Washington, D.C., on Election Day, March 6, at a private luncheon with Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan.

“At times, Rep. Jean Schmidt has been closer to Turkish interests than those of her Cincinnati-area constituents,”
Politico’s Jonathan Allen wrote. “Never was that proximity problem more telling than on Tuesday, when Republicans denied Schmidt renomination to run for another term.”

When Allen sought comment for the article, Brunsman refused to confirm if the meeting occurred and sent an email that stated, “I think you have lost your way.”

For his part, Krikorian said the experience has taught him that Ohio needs to pass legislation that penalizes lawsuits filed solely to silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their opposition. Such a tactic is known as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP.

“I think the Ohio Legislature should consider passing an anti-SLAPP statue to prevent these kinds of abuses of the legal process,” he said. “This lawsuit was an attempt to intimidate and silence me by Rep. Schmidt and the Turkish lobby.”

Krikorian apparently lost in the March 6 Democratic primary by just 59 votes to William R. Smith, a virtual unknown from Pike County who didn’t campaign, answer questionnaires or grant interviews. A recount is under way and Krikorian has asked for a federal investigation of Victory Ohio Super PAC, which made robo-calls on Smith’s behalf but isn’t registered with the Federal Election Commission.

Krikorian picked up 14 more votes in Hamilton County on provisional ballots once the results were certified. Meanwhile, Clermont County certifies its results on Tuesday.

 
 

 

 

 
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