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by 03.23.2009
Posted In: CPS, Community, Environment at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Have You Hugged Your School Today?

What happens when tree-huggers go to school? You get “Green & Healthy Schools.”

ALLY: Alliance for Leadership and Interconnection is a “citizen’s group providing leadership coaching and strategic guidance for policy development and implementation of environmental sustainability programs.” According to their Web site. And their first significant action in 2004 was to begin the Growing Green and Healthy Schools Network.

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by German Lopez 12.03.2012
Posted In: Budget, Economy, News, Fracking, Environment, Energy at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Ohio's fracking boom disappoints, war on babies declared, Cincinnati's economic triumph

Ohio’s fracking boom might not be living up to the hype. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources originally estimated that 250 fracking wells would be built by the end of the year, but only 165 have been completed and 22 are currently being built. The disappointing results are being blamed on low natural gas prices and a backlog in work needed to connect wells to customers. Maybe the state’s claim had as much basis as Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s claim that the state’s fracking boom would be worth $1 trillion.

By killing the heartbeat bill and a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican, apparently declared a war on babies, according to anti-abortion groups. Niehaus is term-limited, so he will not be in the Ohio Senate in the next session, which begins next year. Incoming senate president Keith Faber already said the heartbeat bill could come up to vote in the next Senate session. CityBeat previously wrote about Ohio Republicans’ renewed anti-abortion agenda.

Between 2011 and 2012, Cincinnati had the 12th best economic performance in the United States, according to a Brookings Institute study. Out of the 76 metropolitan areas looked at, only Dallas; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Pittsburgh have recovered from the recession, and 20 areas lost more ground throughout the year.

Media Bridges, Cincinnati’s public access media outlet, is the latest victim of the 2013 budget proposal from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. The budget plan suggests slashing $300,000 from the organization’s funding. When coupled with state funding cuts, Media Bridges is losing $498,000 in funding, or 85 percent of its budget. Tom Bishop, executive director of Media Bridges, compared the cuts to a “meteor” hitting Media Bridges’ budget. The city says cuts were suggested in part due to public feedback.

The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition is pushing the public to speak out against $610,770 in cuts to human services funding in Dohoney’s proposed budget. Mayor Mark Mallory and City Council have already agreed to continue 2013 funding at 2012 levels, but homeless advocates want to make sure the funding, which largely helps the homeless and low-income families, remains. The group is calling for supporters to attend City Council meetings on Dec. 5 at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall and Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Corryville Recreation Center.

It’s commonly said Cincinnati is Republican territory, but after the latest elections, that’s looking more and more false.

The University of Cincinnati is stepping up safety efforts around campus. The university held a summit to gather public feedback on possible improvements in light of recent incidents in and around campus. Beginning in January, UC will increase patrols by 30 percent.

Crime around Columbus’ Hollywood Casino has ticked up. Could Cincinnati face a similar fate when the Horseshoe Casino is up and running? A Washington Post analysis found casinos bring in jobs, but also bankruptcy, crime and even suicide.

Results equal funding. That’s the approach Gov. Kasich is taking to funding higher education, but Inside Higher Ed says the approach is part of “an emerging Republican approach to higher education policy, built largely around cost-cutting.” Kasich’s approach is meant to encourage better results by providing higher funds to schools with higher graduation rates, but schools with funding problems and lower graduation rates could have their problems exacerbated.

Josh Mandel, state treasurer and former Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, insists his big loss in November does not make him a political has-been. Mandel will be pursuing a second term at the Ohio treasurer’s office in 2014. Mandel lost the Senate race despite getting massive amounts of funding from third parties — Democrats estimate $40 million — to support his campaign.

The auto industry is still chugging along with impressive numbers from November.

Gas prices moved down in Ohio this week.

One geneticist says people are getting dumber, but he doesn’t seem to have much to back his claims up.

 
 
by Danny Cross 03.15.2012
Posted In: Environment, Governor, Republicans at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Tax Reduction Plan Is Typical Kasich

Plan to reduce income tax by taxing gas and oil companies met with opposition from industry

Gov. John Kasich yesterday outlined a plan to reduce Ohio income taxes over a five-year period and make up for the reduction in revenue by taxing the oil and natural gas extraction industries his administration is luring to the state. The resultant pushback from gas and oil companies now pits opposition to various parts of Kasich’s drilling plan from both sides — industry and environmentalists.

Dan Whitten, a vice president at America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a Washington-based trade group, had already expressed opposition to the idea, on March 8 telling Bloomberg in an email: “Natural-gas production is a capital-intensive undertaking and we believe generally that fees should be directed to communities where we work, with careful consideration of the possible direct jobs impacts.”

Other trade organizations today spoke out against the increased tax rates, as they would prefer to take all the energy out of Ohio’s land and not pay higher taxes.

Thomas Steward, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer that his organization will fight the tax increase when the plan goes before lawmakers.

"This sounds like something that would have come from the left," Steward said.

Among the methods of extracting the natural gas is a controversial process called fracking, which involves blasting pressurized slurries of water, chemicals and sand into ancient shale formations, thousands of feet below ground. CityBeat reported on Jan. 24 that 43 households have filed a class-action lawsuit in response various environmental hazards allegedly caused by fracking in Geauga County, Ohio. From the story:

Fracking in Ohio is booming rapidly, thanks in part to the barely tapped potential of the vast Utica Shale, a gassy, 445-million-year-old rock formation that lies beneath a third of the state, at a depth of around 7,000 feet. Until last year, only three permits had been granted for horizontal drilling into the Utica, but in 2011 the number exceeded 40.

In 2004 Ohio’s State Legislature repealed the abilities of elected local governments to regulate or refuse gas drilling, instead handing full authority to the industry-friendly Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). In 2005, the U.S. Congress ruled to exempt fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The gas extraction process has been found to be so environmentally detrimental that France and Bulgaria have banned the practice in their countries. New Jersey is the only U.S. state where it is banned. CityBeat in January reported that State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Price Hill) had sponsored one of three state bills that would tighten fracking regulations and Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) introduced a bill to put a moratorium on wastewater injection.

Kasich’s interest in reducing income taxes comes one year after his two-year budget cost counties, municipalities and townships $167.1 million, according the The Columbus Dispatch, which described the plan’s impact on the state in the following manner: “Kasich's budget slashes aid to local governments: Tuition hikes limited to 3.5% for higher education.

Ohio’s budget deficit was $8 billion when Kasich offered his 2011 budget, which his administration said would save $1.4 billion through reform measures that included reduced funding for social service programs such as the health and developmental disability departments.

Despite the still existing state budget deficit, Kasich wants to reduce income taxes, even though his spokesman Scott Milburn proudly told Bloomberg that, “the governor has already cut taxes by more than $800 million.”

 
 
by 02.18.2010
Posted In: Climate Change, Environment, Public Policy at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Clean Energy Day of Action

A coalition of groups participated in the "Clean Energy Day of Action" event Monday. Despite the heavy snowfall, attendees gathered on downtown's Fountain Square to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan this spring.

The event -- part of the Cincinnati for Clean Energy Campaign -- was organized by members from the Blue Green Alliance, a partnership between environmental organizations and labor unions.

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by 03.25.2009
Posted In: Community, Government, Environment at 08:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

And Toto, Too?

A few rainy days hardly constitute “severe weather,” but this is Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness Week (March 22-28) ala Governor Ted Strickland. The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (yes, we have one of those) does have some practical and helpful information to offer on how to deal with tornadoes that can be part of our Spring experience.

In a press release, the group explains, among other things, the difference between a tornado watch and warning. Any grade school child knows this, but the rest of us could use a refresher, so …..

A TORNADO is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm. A condensation funnel does not need to reach the ground for a tornado to be present. A debris cloud beneath a thunderstorm is all that is needed to confirm the presence of a tornado.

A TORNADO WATCH is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Watches are usually issued for four to eight hours. During the tornado watch, people should review tornado safety rules and be prepared to move to a place of safety if threatening weather approaches. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local TV or radio newscasts for up-to-date weather information.

A TORNADO WARNING is issued by the local National Weather Service when a tornado has been detected by Doppler radar or sighted by storm spotters. A tornado watch does not have to be in effect for a tornado to form. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, seek safe shelter immediately. Tornado warnings are usually issued for 30 minutes. Continue to listen to your NOAA Weather Radio or local TV or radio newscasts for up-to-date weather information.

Whether practicing a tornado drill or sheltering during a tornado warning … DUCK.

D – Go DOWN to the lowest level

U – Get UNDER something

C – COVER your head

K – KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed

  • The best defense when faced with tornado warnings or any severe weather event is preparedness. Know the weather situation. Have a disaster plan. Practice the plan. Make a supply kit. Be prepared.
  • Be prepared for severe weather before a storm watch or warning is issued. Know how to turn off the water, gas and electric at the main switches.
  • If you are a person with special needs, register your name and address with your local emergency management agency, police and/or fire departments before any natural or man-made disaster occurs.
  • The NOAA Weather Radio has alerting tools available for people who are hearing impaired. Some weather radio receivers can be connected to an existing home security system, similar as a doorbell, smoke detector or other sensor. For additional information, visit the NWS NOAA Weather Radio link.
  • The safest place to be during a tornado is a basement. If the building has no basement or cellar, go to a small, centrally located room on the lowest level of the building, such as a bathroom or closet or interior hallway.
  • If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little or no protection from tornadoes.
  • If you are outside with no shelter, lie in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Do not seek shelter under a highway overpass or bridge. You will be exposed to stronger winds and flying debris.
 
 
by German Lopez 11.20.2012
Posted In: Budget, Development, Economy, News, Energy, Environment at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Plan Cincinnati set for approval, Hamilton County's budget delayed, waste wells return

Plan Cincinnati is expected to be approved by City Council Wednesday, according to Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. The plan was unanimously approved by the Livable Communities committee last night. Plan Cincinnati, which is Cincinnati’s first comprehensive plan in 30 years, emphasizes the city’s urban center through new infrastructure, transportation options and goals to make downtown residents stay in the area. CityBeat previously covered the plan in greater detail here.

At the request of the sole Democrat on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, a vote on the 2013 budget is being delayed by one week. Commissioner Todd Portune asked Commission President Greg Hartmann, a Republican, for the vote delay to address funding to juvenile courts and plans for future financial stability. Hartmann agreed to the delay, noting consensus is important for budget issues. The budget won’t raise taxes, but it could put 150 Hamilton County employees out of jobs.

Wastewater injection wells, which are used to dispose of fluids used during the fracking process, will soon be popping up around Ohio again. The wells are the first to get state approval since earthquakes around Youngstown in December were blamed on nearby wastewater injection wells. It’s clear little — not even earthquakes — will stop Ohio’s fracking boom, but at what cost? It is generally accepted switching from coal to natural gas would bring down pollution that causes global warming, but some findings from Australia suggest problems still lay ahead. One study found an abnormal amount of greenhouse gases around an Australian fracking site. Methane leakage in particular is a problem at natural gas sites because over 100 years methane is 25 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Cincinnati home sales shot up in October, according to the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. The report paints a great picture for the city’s housing economy. Housing was one of the biggest sectors hit by the financial crisis of 2007-2008, so a recovery in housing is a sign the economic downturn could soon be a thing of the past.

University of Cincinnati researchers want to know if testing emergency-room patients for HIV makes sense. ER doctors worry about longer wait times, disrupted operations and possible interference with emergency services, but the health benefits could outweigh the negatives.

FirstGroup America is looking into moving from its Cincinnati headquarters. The company originally got a million-dollar tax incentive from the city for moving to downtown.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich hopes his rejection of Obamacare’s health exchanges will ignite some re-election fundraising. Kasich is up for re-election in 2014. Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace. With Kasich’s rejection, the federal government will manage Ohio’s exchange.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted finally had a good day in court on Saturday. In a reversal from the lower court’s ruling, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said ballots without proper identification should not be counted. It’s estimated that, at most, the ruling will affect about 2,000 votes.

A Dayton man allegedly robbed the same bank twice.

Behold, the greatest thing the internet has ever created: The Spice Kittens livestream.

With a nose cell transplant, paralyzed dogs are walking again.

 
 
by 04.30.2009
Posted In: News, Community, Environment at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Talkin' Trash

Not long before Earth Day, Arbor Day and other green-focused days there’s a vast call for volunteers to do all kinds of thing from trash pick up to planting more green stuff. But after it’s all done, there’s little information provided about what was accomplished.

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by German Lopez 07.25.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, Environment, News, Weather at 08:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

A performance audit for the Cincinnati Service Department could save the city $3.7 million. The audit claims $2 million could be saved every year if the city privately contracted solid waste collection and street sweeping. An additional $1.7 million could be saved if the city reduced overtime, sick leave and staffing levels. Along with other recommended savings measures, the changes could amount to 7.9 percent of Cincinnati’s budget.

Trayvon Martin’s parents will be visiting Cincinnati today to take part in the national conference hosted by the Children’s Defense Fund. The conference will target violence and race-related issues.

Procter & Gamble and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have teamed up to improve environmental sustainability at manufacturing facilities and supply chains.

The worst U.S. drought in half a century is putting pressure on oil and gas companies to recycle and conserve water used for fracking. Fracking uses millions of gallons of water to free oil and gas from underground rock formations.

Gay marriage has generated $259 million in economic activity in New York City.

The Congressional Budget Office said repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit by $109 billion.

Voters sometimes punish politicians for bad weather.

Some scientists are saying the plot of The Amazing Spider-Man might not be too far off from reality.

 
 
by 11.03.2008
Posted In: Environment at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Green is the New Black

Everyone loves the PR of going green—the city wants to personify green, the county is pushing green, businesses tout themselves as environmentally friendly regardless of their minuscule efforts—making going “green” as chic as a little black dress.

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by Bill Sloat 10.12.2012
Posted In: News, Environment, Republicans, History at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Environmentalists Adding Green Luster to Bob Taft’s Dull Image

Former GOP governor from Cincy now hailed as Mr. Conservation

When Bob Taft left the governor’s office in 2007, he was seen as little more than a pompous bumbler. His two terms ended with a conviction on a misdemeanor ethics crime for failing to report free golf outings. He was the epitome of a country club Republican, a patrician who played but didn’t pay, a rajah who blamed his aides for failing to mention on ethics filings that his greens fees were gifts. Meanwhile, a major scandal involving rare coin investment contracts with a well-connected supporter from Toledo was roiling the state workers’ compensation insurance fund. That crime smelled like like pay to play in the Taft Administration. And Taft’s poll numbers were deep in the pits — he was rated the most unpopular governor in the United States. Many Ohioans viewed Taft as a pol who was at his best only when the going was good. Now he’s on the road to a comeback of sorts.  The Taft years are getting a second look, and out of it emerge a different image, that of a governor with a sensible environmental policy. For example, who noticed that he tried to stop Asian carp from invading our waterways nearly a decade ago — an invasion that has come true.

Next month, the state’s most important environmental/conservation organization plans to give Taft its award for lifetime achievement as a consistent backer of policies and programs for clean air and water. So the governor who skipped his green fees is being recognized as Mr. Green. The Ohio Environmental Council says it will bestow the honor Nov. 10 at its annual “Green Gala” in Columbus.

Taft is being seen in hindsight as the kind of R who wasn’t afraid of standing up for the environment. That is a rarity in today’s GOP, where Rush Limbaugh routinely denounces tree-huggers as enviro-fascists, and the EPA is widely portrayed as a jobs-killing hydra. Of course, few remember that Republican President Richard Nixon created the EPA. Nor do they seem to recollect that Teddy Roosevelt — when he wasn’t hunting elephants or elk — is the patriarch of the national park system.

Taft gets credit for taking on his own party, which recently considered tapping water from the Great Lakes. He had supported strict limits on withdrawing water from Great Lakes feeder streams for industrial and mining purposes — those streams replenished Lake Erie. Taft believed the Great Lakes were resources that needed more protection from special interests; they did not need more abuse and exploitation.

Taft also favored reauthorization of the federal Clean Water Act, and he wanted Superfund legislation fixed to add so-called “brown fields,” which were old industrial sites that could be cleaned and put back into use as commercial real estate. He supported an energy policy that would have 25 percent of all U.S. energy coming from renewable sources by 2025. He pushed natural gas companies to set aside funds to help low income families pay their heating bills.

As far back as 2003, Taft was urging governors and Congress to take drastic action to stop the spread of the Asian carp, the giant jumping fish that now are in the Ohio River near Cincinnati. He called such invasive species “perhaps the most serious and potentially destructive threat” to Ohio’s natural ecosystem. His warning about all the invaders came too true. Since then, Emerald Ash Borers have appeared and destroyed too much of Ohio’s forestland. And Asian longhorn beetles are on the march in Clermont County, where the Department of Natural Resources and Forest Service have drawn battle lines against the pest. Taft worried about water pollution, too. He said too many beaches were closed from bacteria and sewage, and he saw the solution as “not better information about when to close the beach, it’s not having to close the beach in the first place.”

So Taft is getting a thoughtful reappraisal. He may have been comfortable at play on the country clubs. But his reputation is coming back from low ebb.  

 
 

 

 

 
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