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by 01.06.2011
Posted In: Media, Ethics, Business, Community at 02:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

A Bad Omen for News

It's well-known that The Enquirer has been timid about calling out local corporations on possible misconduct or shady dealings ever since the newspaper paid $14 million to Chiquita in the late 1990s when the produce giant threatened to sue following the publication of a damning special section on its alleged practices in Central and South America.

In the years since, The Enquirer's business coverage has been tepid, and some reporters have alleged they were told to not pursue certain stories after advertisers complained to the publisher.

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by Kevin Osborne 02.02.2012
Posted In: Government, Community, Public Policy at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pros and Cons of Privatization

The push to privatize services traditionally provided by government is the focus of a community forum slated for next week.

Since the Reagan era, privatization — or the outsourcing of public services to the private sector — has been touted as a way to make government more efficient and less costly. Critics, however, allege it is a form of union-busting that often leads to lower wages for workers and reduced accountability to the public.

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by 05.14.2009
Posted In: 2010 Election, LGBT Issues, News at 03:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Governor: 'No' on Anti-Gay Democrat

Despite rumors on state and national political blogs, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told a private gathering in Cincinnati this past weekend that he has no intention of picking State Rep. Jennifer Garrison as his running mate in 2010.

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by Julianne Warren-Novick 02.12.2010
Posted In: Social Justice, News, Courts at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Cincinnati Priest Faces Sexual Abuse Charges

Continuing a trend that just won't go away, Father Robert F. Poandl of Cincinnati pleaded not guilty this morning to charges of sexual abuse, which allegedly occurred in 1991. The now 28-year-old man claimed that Poandl molested him during a trip to the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in West Virginia, where he was accompanying Poandl who was to fill in for a local priest there.

Poandl was indicted last month on charges of 1st degree sexual assault, 1st degree sexual abuse and sexual abuse by a custodian. Father Dan Dorsey, president of Glenmary Home Missioners, to which Poandl was an associate, says Poandl was removed from active service as a pastor in Georgia when he learned of the allegations in June of last year.

However Catholic officials are receiving criticism from SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) for not publicly addressing the allegations sooner. “We...hope Catholic officials - in both Ohio and West Virginia - will tell the truth about why they kept quiet about these allegations for over six months,” said the group's midwest director, Judy Jones, in a statement released on Thursday. “Such secrecy is immoral and reckless, and may have led to other kids being abused too.” Poandl has served as a priest since 1968. He has resided as pastor over churches in Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mississippi.

As to why the alleged victim was even with Poandl in West Virginia at the time, it is unclear. Details over their visit to Holy Redeemer Catholic Church have yet to be disclosed. However one thing is certain, and that is it will be a much greater surprise if Poandl is found innocent of these charges than it will be if he is found guilty. It's strange to find oneself desensitized to a matter such as this. But unfortunately, Poandl is just another number in the 4,450 priests accused of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002, this according to a 2004 survey commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Poandl's trial is scheduled for June 15, 2010. He is free on a bond of $15,000.

by 05.06.2010
Posted In: Courts, Police, Human Rights at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sheriff Settles Suit for $30,000

It seems Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. doesn’t like speaking under oath in a court of law, and wants taxpayers to pay to help him avoid it.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a former Justice Center inmate over an August 2007 incident in which he was shot three times by a pepperball gun at point blank range while already incapacitated.

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by Danny Cross 03.05.2012
Posted In: Media at 12:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

CityBeat Acquired by SouthComm

Nashville-based publishing company owns altweeklies in six mid-sized markets

Sometimes you come to work, fire up the ol’ coffee maker and get straight to all the funny websites you like to read before you get started. Other times the boss calls a staff meeting and informs you that you work for a different company now and that new firewalls are going to block your fantasy baseball league during work hours.

Today CityBeat employees were notified that effective immediately we are all part of SouthComm Inc., a Nashville-based publishing company that owns and operates alternative weeklies in six mid-sized Midwestern and Southern markets.

The change is a good thing for a number of reasons. Many of us at CityBeat are already fans of the nearest SouthComm paper — LEO Weekly in Louisville. It is obvious that SouthComm values the creative presentation of local arts, music and culture and the thoughtful news coverage readers have come to expect from CityBeat. SouthComm’s other award-winning publications include Nashville Scene, The Pitch in Kansas City and Creative Loafing papers in Charlotte and Tampa.

We’re actually quite proud that our editorial history and relevance to the community were valued by SouthComm. The company offers access to expanded resources currently not at our disposal, and the SouthComm owners go way back with CityBeat’s founding editor and publisher, making this situation more like “Join our fun team and successful business model,” than “Give us the keys and let us control you.”

While CityBeat will no longer be locally owned, the autonomy SouthComm has offered its other publications and its continued interest in expanding its portfolio is exciting as we continue to build upon our recent staff changes and the success of other entities we operate, including the MidPoint Music Festival and A-Line Magazine.

SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell noted in the official press release CityBeat’s body of work and the potential of the Cincinnati market:

CityBeat has a long history of covering the local government, music, arts, and culture scene in Cincinnati,” Ferrell said. “We look forward to having them as part of the SouthComm family of publications. We are excited to expand into Cincinnati, which is a very good city for us to build out our model of having multiple niche publications in each market.”

The immediate change will be noticed very little by our general audience, as Dan Bockrath will continue to serve as CityBeat Publisher and we will continue to be locally operated. As part of the acquisition, John Fox, one of the founding owners, will serve as a consultant with SouthComm. Fox was CityBeat's Editor and Co-Publisher from its inception in June 1994 until the end of 2010, when he became Director of CityBeat Events. He leaves day-to-day responsibilities at CityBeat and will be announcing an exciting new venture soon.

Also as part of the acquisition, founding owner Thomas R. Schiff departs as CEO of Lightborne Publishing, the official owner of CityBeat, A-Line Magazine, MidPoint and all of our other entities. We would be extremely remiss in failing to recognize Tom’s unwavering support of CityBeat over the past 18 years — without it the CityBeat enterprise wouldn’t be what it is today.

It’s no secret that Cincinnati presents a challenging media landscape, with the country's largest daily newspaper chain (Gannett, owner of The Cincinnati Enquirer) and largest radio station chain (Clear Channel, owner of multiple AM and FM stations) poking their publicly traded practices into every corner of our town. But their existence presents a rare opportunity to stand out by continuing to offer readers the thoughtful and personal experience they have come to appreciate from CityBeat. If the quality of SouthComm’s other publications is any indication, this acquisition is part of a new and exciting future for us.

by 06.18.2009
Posted In: Public Policy, Social Justice, Government at 01:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

'New Yorker' Highlights Cincinnati's Anti-Gang Efforts

The lead feature article in the new issue of The New Yorker focuses on the anti-gang program Cincinnati implemented two years ago. John Seabrook's "Don't Shoot" is a long, well-researched and well-written story about David Kennedy, who devised the "Ceasefire" crime-fighting model in Boston, and his experiences here implementing C.I.R.V. (Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Crime).

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by Kevin Osborne 04.06.2012

Analysis: 'Stand Your Ground' States Have More Shootings

Shadowy ALEC group helps push for the laws

An analysis of U.S. crime data by a British newspaper has found there’s been a 25 percent increase in civilian justifiable homicides since the controversial “stand your ground” (SYG) laws started being introduced in 2005.

London’s Guardian newspaper analyzed data from FBI and state sources. It concludes that the spike in civilian justifiable homicides is related not only to SYG laws, but also weak gun control laws in certain states.

Florida was the first state to introduce an SYG law in 2005 and similar measures have now been adopted in some form by more than 20 states. Most were passed in 2006. Ohio doesn’t yet have such a law, but it’s believed that gun advocates might be planning a campaign for one here soon.

Florida’s SYG law is expected to be part of the defense made for George Zimmerman, if he is charged with a crime. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. The incident has triggered widespread public outrage.

The Guardian’s analysis shows that SYG laws alone cannot be statistically linked with the rise in justifiable homicides. But in states with both SYG laws and the weakest gun control laws — as defined by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence — it found a statistical correlation with an increase in justifiable homicides.

Across the United States, such killings have risen sharply over the past five years, according to the data provided by the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. From 2001-05, there were 1,225 homicides classified as justifiable, compared to 1,528 in the period 2006-10. By contrast, violent crime overall has been falling.

"The police are shooting more people and citizens are shooting more people. We're evolving into an increasingly coarse society with no obligation to diffuse a situation and rapidly turn to force,” said Professor Dennis Kenney, of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and an ex-police sergeant in Florida. "People are literally getting away with murder."

SYG laws allow a potential crime victim who is in fear of “grave harm” to use deadly force in public places, not just inside their own homes. They eliminate the legal requirement to retreat before a person may claim he or she acted in self-defense.

SYG laws have been pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafts model legislation for state lawmakers to use.

State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) is among ALEC's leaders, as CityBeat has previously reported here and here. The group, which held its annual meeting in Cincinnati last spring, has a membership of nearly 2,000 state legislators and around 300 private-sector members.

Funded by the Koch brothers, the National Rifle Association, oil companies and others, ALEC’s model bills have served as the template for "voter ID" laws that swept the nation in 2011, for the voucher programs that privatize public education, for anti-immigrant legislation, and for the wave of anti-labor union legislation pushed during the past two years in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, New Hampshire and elsewhere.

This week Coca-Cola and PepsiCo dropped their memberships in ALEC, amid the threat of boycotts.

In 2010 National Public Radio reported that Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), a private-sector ALEC board member, participated in the drafting of Arizona Senate Bill No. 1070. The report documented the behind-the-scenes effort to draft and pass the law and how the CCA stood to benefit from people incarcerated under it.

Marvin Meadors, a Huffington Post contributor, has described ALEC as “a bill-churning mill which uses corporate money to draft model legislation that advances the agenda of the Far Right and encourages crony capitalism.”

by Hannah McCartney 03.15.2013
Posted In: Social Justice, LGBT Issues at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

St. Patrick's Day Parade Apparently Anti-LGBT

Seelbach lobbies citizens to boycott parade, contact organizer in protest

City Councilman Chris Seelbach wants Cincinnatians amped up for this weekend's Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade to be aware that the parade's organizers are purporting an anti-LGBT agenda by refusing to allow the Cincinnati chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to participate in the parade.

GLSEN works within k-12 schools to prevent bullying by striving for equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. According to Seelbach, who is an ally of the Cincinnati LGBT community, GLSEN informed him that their request to participate in the parade was declined by one of the parade's organizers, Chris Schulte, specifically because "it's their parade, it's an Irish Catholic parade and we don't want any members of the gay and lesbian community to be affiliated."

"I was floored when I heard the news," says Seelbach. He called Schulte directly in hopes of reasoning changing his mind quietly, without the need for any publicity. "You know, the city helps fund this parade, and the city has made it very clear that we will not tolerate any kind of discrimination against gay people."

Schulte denied the request, according to Seelbach, which propelled him to make a post on Facebook informing people of the decision and requesting that others not walk in the parade as a sign of support. "By participating, in a sense, you're supporting their decision. They [GLSEN] just want to wear their T-shirts and walk in the parade."

The parade is set to take place tomorrow, Saturday, March 16 at noon beginning at Eggleston Avenue and Reedy Street downtown.

Seelbach is also suggesting people contact Schulte to urge him to allow GLSEN to participate at 513-941-3798 or info@cincystpatsparade.com. CityBeat's attempt to contact Schulte by phone was unsuccessful. We'll update this story if we receive any new information.

by Kevin Osborne 01.19.2012
Posted In: News, 2011 Election, City Council, NAACP, Ethics at 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Resident Files Complaint Against Smitherman

A resident has filed a complaint with the city's Law Department, alleging that Christopher Smitherman’s dual role as a Cincinnati city councilman and president of the NAACP’s local chapter constitutes an abuse of corporate powers.

In his complaint, resident Casey Coston states that the NAACP’s status as a 501(c)(4) organization under the federal tax code allows it to lobby City Hall and participate in political campaigns and elections without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. Such activities are a conflict of interest with Smitherman’s council duties, Coston alleges.

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