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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 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 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 Kevin Osborne 04.19.2012
 
 
layoffs

Morning News and Stuff

In an effort to avoid an estimated $43 million deficit, the Cincinnati Board of Education decided Wednesday to eliminate 237 teaching jobs for next school year. Of the job cuts, 35 are layoffs, 112 are retirements or resignations, and 90 are long-term substitutes. In March, the board also approved laying off 40 administrators. The actions are expected to create $20 million in savings, but officials say more cuts are needed.

Cincinnati City Council has approved an ordinance cracking down on so-called “predatory towing.” Some local towing companies haven't been following state guidelines about how much may be charged for the towing and impoundment of vehicles. The city law clarifies that they must be complied with, and companies that violate the fees can lose lucrative towing contracts with the Cincinnati Police Department.

As part of their standard procedures, state regulators are reviewing the background of a company slated to open the state's first casino next month and Cincinnati's casino next year. The Ohio Casino Control Commission meets this week to review a newly completed report on Rock Ohio Caesars. It will include details about the company's financial stability and whether it has any criminal background.

Although Earth Day isn't until Sunday, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is marking the holiday early by sponsoring an e-waste recycling drive today to collect and recycle unwanted electronic waste from guests. Collection is from 4-6:30 p.m., and all electronic devices will be recycled by 2trg, a certified recycler that operates under zero landfill and zero export policies. A $10 cash fee will be charged for each TV set, and all other acceptable items will be recycled for free. Other acceptable items include cables, CD-ROM drives, cellular phones, DVD players, keyboards, laptops, LCD monitors, microwave ovens, printers and more.

Locally-based Fifth Third Bank says its first-quarter net income quadrupled, thanks in part to its stake in the payment processor Vantiv, which had its initial public offering. The company reported net income of $421 million today, or 45 cents per share. That compares with $88 million, or 10 cents per share, reported in the same period last year. Apparently, there's only a recession going on for some of us.

In news elsewhere, House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester) is dismissing criticism brought against the Republican budget plan by Catholic bishops. Referencing Matthew 25, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on Congress to put the poor first in budget priorities and rethink cuts to programs that help them. But Boehner, a Catholic, said at a press conference Wednesday the cuts were necessary, despite the impact they may have on the poor. “What’s more of a concern to me is the fact that if we don’t start to make some decisions about getting our fiscal house in order there won’t be a safety net,” he said. “There won’t be these programs.” (Hey, John: Maybe you should take another look at the Pentagon's budget.)

Six former employees of a company connected to a firm founded by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney filed a federal lawsuit this week, alleging they were fired because they weren't Mormon. The plaintiffs worked for Sorenson Capital Partners, whose managing directors and officers are former partners or executives at Bain Capital and Bain & Co. Romney founded Bain Capital in 1984 after working for Bain & Co. The plaintiffs seek $5.35 million in damages for breach of contract, discrimination and retaliation.

If the CIA gets its way, acting suspicious will be enough to get you killed in Yemen. The spy agency is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed, U.S. officials said. Securing permission to use these “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives. Remember: They hate us because we love freedom.

Syria and the United Nations have reached a tentative deal to deploy observers to monitor the nation's ceasefire, officials from both sides said. A spokesman for peace envoy Kofi Annan said the agreement covered the observers' functions and Syrian government's responsibilities. It came after the U.N. secretary general said Syria was failing to comply with its peace plan obligations. The plan seeks to end unrest which has killed at least 9,000 people.

The global economic downturn is even visible in China, where large amounts of retail and office space sit vacant, in nearly pristine condition, having never been used. Part of the problem is Chinese industry has been producing massive amounts of steel, cement, and aluminum, so much that its economy cannot absorb all of the output. For example, the seven-story Global Furnishing Design and Exhibition Center in Shanghai, the most populous city in the world, is known as “the ghost mall of China” due to its empty corridors and vacant stores.
 
 
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.

 


 


 
 
by German Lopez 02.14.2013
Posted In: 2013 Election, News, Environment, Energy, City Council at 04:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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City Pushes Energy Efficiency Standards

Council resolution embraces Cincinnati’s past clean energy successes

With a resolution passed Wednesday, City Council is urging state legislators to maintain the energy efficiency standards that helped drive Cincinnati’s clean energy growth.

State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who chairs the Public Utilities Committee, sent out a memo Feb. 1 that suggested “a meaningful review” of the state’s energy efficiency standards, which were previously established by Senate Bill 221 in 2008 and Senate Bill 315 in 2012. In the memo, Seitz wrote he was open to freezing and weakening some of the established standards.

Environmental groups responded by calling on local governments to defend the standards. In Cincinnati, the call was picked up by Councilman Chris Seelbach, who touted the city’s past clean energy efforts in a statement: “Cincinnati has made great strides in energy efficiency by seeking cost savings while boosting our city’s green image. Energy efficiency is helping Cincinnati support a double bottom line of environmental and economic sustainability, and we endorse full implementation of our state efficiency law.”

The city estimates it saves $1 million a year on energy bills because of the law’s efficiency programs, which includes upgrades and weatherization projects.

Christian Adams, a clean energy associate of Environment Ohio, praised Cincinnati for passing the resolution in a statement: From efficiency to solar, Cincinnati [is] a state leader on clean energy, and it’s proving to be a win-win-win for consumers, the environment and the economy. If state lawmakers want to change our clean energy law, they should follow Cincinnati’s lead and double-down on wind, solar and energy efficiency.”

In a previous report, Environment Ohio claimed Cincinnati could become the solar energy capital of the region. CityBeat covered the report and Cincinnati’s — particularly the Cincinnati Zoo’s — success with solar energy (“Solar Cincinnati,” issue of Dec. 19).

 
 
by Danny Cross 03.15.2012
Posted In: Environment, Governor, Republicans at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_fracking.widea

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 German Lopez 01.07.2014
Posted In: News, Environment, Climate Change at 12:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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Global Warming Didn't Stop Just Because We're Cold Now

Cold weather in one city or region doesn’t disprove the global phenomenon

The recent bout of cold weather does nothing to disprove the scientifically established phenomenon of global warming, despite what conservative media might be telling some Cincinnatians.

Many Cincinnatians have taken to social media in the past few days to chime in on what the recent weather means for global warming — a debate fostered by so-called skeptics on talk radio and Fox News.

But the scientific literature is based on years and decades of trends, meaning a few days or weeks of cold weather signify little in the big picture of climate change.

In fact, Googles definition of climate is “the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.” The key, scientifically minded folks point out, is “long period.”

When that long period is analyzed, the trend is clear:

The trend explains why scientists almost all agree global warming is happening and most certainly spurred by human actions. In the 2013 report from the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists said they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions contribute to global warming.

Beyond the scientific facts, for every anecdote out there, there is often a contradicting anecdote from another source. While Cincinnati and the Midwest may be coping with a cold winter, summer-stricken Australia is recovering from its own bout of hot weather and drought. 

The contradicting conditions don’t prove or disprove global warming, but they do show the folly of relying on anecdotal evidence.

 
 
by Paul Smyth 06.15.2009
Posted In: Environment, Financial Crisis, Social Justice at 04:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Building a Framework for the Future

More than 200 people attended Imago’s Earth Spirit Rising conference at Xavier University this weekend, where they were challenged to rethink their actions and their effect on the planet.

Speaker Paula Gonzalez, a Dominican nun and futurist, cast the challenges ahead in stark terms: “We must realize the scale of our times, which is on the scale of transitions like going from hunter-gathering to agriculture, or industrialization. You must take the messages of this conference home in your heart, in your soul, in your gut, and get off your butt and act.”

Read More

 
 
by German Lopez 11.05.2012
 
 
jon_husted_518045c

Morning News and Stuff

Today is the last day of in-person early voting. Find your correct polling booth here. Check out CityBeat’s endorsements here.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is under fire for alleged voter suppression once again. In response to recent court rulings on provisional ballots, Husted sent out a directive on Nov. 2 that shifts the burden of proper identification during the provisional ballot process from poll workers to voters. The directive may not even be legal, according to a lawsuit quickly filed by voters’ rights activists in response to the new rule: “Ohio Rev. Code § 3505.181(B)(6) provides that, once a voter casting a provisional ballot proffers identification, ‘the appropriate local election official shall record the type of identification provided, the social security number information, the fact that the affirmation was executed, or the fact that the individual declined to execute such an affirmation and include that information with the transmission of the ballot.’”

President Barack Obama was at the University of Cincinnati yesterday to make a closing argument to Ohioans. In his speech, Obama compared his own ideas and policies to those of Bill Clinton, while comparing Mitt Romney’s ideas and policies to those of George W. Bush. With just two days of voting left, all eyes are on Ohio as it could play the decisive role in the presidential election. In aggregate polling, Obama is up 2.9 points in Ohio and 0.4 points nationally. FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ election forecast model, has Obama at an 86.8 percent chance to win Ohio and an 86.3 percent chance to win the election.

Early voters packed polling places around the state yesterday. The line around the Hamilton County Board of Elections wrapped around the entire building for much of the day. Butler County had a lot of early voters as well. Early voting was only available to all Ohioans yesterday thanks to a lawsuit from Obama and Democrats, which opened up in-person early voting during the weekend and Monday before Election Day despite strong opposition from state Republicans.

Election Day may be tomorrow, but the entire process may not be finished at the end of the day. In 2008, Ohio took weeks to count the last 490,852 ballots.

Slate reenacted the entire presidential campaign, from finding the Republican nominee to today, through video games.

The groundwork is already being laid out for an amendment legalizing same-sex marriage in Ohio, which could be on the ballot as soon as November 2013.

Some in northeast Ohio are still without power due to Hurricane Sandy’s fallout. Most people affected are in Cleveland and surrounding suburbs.

Ohio gas prices are dropping.

Early results from air quality tests show no signs of pollution near shale gas drilling wells. But the results are early, and more tests are ongoing. CityBeat wrote in-depth about fracking and concerns surrounding the process here.

The deadline for Ohio’s exotic animal registration is today. The new requirement came about after an Ohio man released 50 exotic animals, including some dangerous predators, shortly before committing suicide in 2011.

A lonely Asian elephant learned how to speak some Korean, and scientists want to know how and why.

 
 

 

 

 
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