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by Nick Swartsell 02.24.2016 66 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
rob portman

Morning News and Stuff

Smitherman wants to remove portion of Central Parkway bike lane; Covington City Commission approves art installations; Strickland, Portman neck and neck in U.S. Senate race

Good morning all. Here’s the news today.

Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman is set to introduce a motion in today’s Council meeting asking that a portion of the Central Parkway Bikeway be removed. The stretch of bike lane, which separates cyclists from the road with vertical plastic barriers, was constructed in 2014. Cyclists cheered the lanes, but a few business owners in the neighborhood groused about parking concerns. No parking spots were taken by the lanes, but cars along some stretches now have to park in the right lane of Central Parkway instead of on the curb. That’s caused safety concerns, which Smitherman cities in his call to remove the lane from the 1600 to the 2000 block of Central Parkway — about half a mile between Liberty Street north to where Central Avenue intersects Central Parkway. Some community councils, however, have expressed support for the lanes and would even like to see them expanded.

• Let’s keep talking about places for people to park their big metal death boxes, shall we? Nah, just kidding, cars are cool. But it’s also pretty cool that the Covington City Commission voted yesterday to temporarily give up five parking spots for a six-month art installation there. The art in those so-called parklets will range from stationary bikes that power a movie projector to an enormous xylophone, all designed to bring new activity and vibrancy to Covington’s Madison Avenue. It was a controversial decision, with some business leaders along the busy main street expressing concern about the lost parking, but city leaders say they hope to increase pedestrian traffic and business near the installations. The city also created four new spaces along Madison for temporary parking while the parklets are up.

• Guess who is stumping for the Trump in Northern Kentucky? One hint: He’s an attorney who has been suspended from practicing law by the Kentucky Supreme Court last year, and he shares a name with some prominent Hamilton County politicians. You got it. Eric Deters is running reality TV star Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes Boone, Campbell and 16 other counties in the state. The state’s Supreme Court suspended Deters last May for ethical violations, though Deters is currently fighting for reinstatement. He’s fought legal battles over previous suspensions as well. Trump’s campaign continues to steamroll other GOP primary contenders. He easily won Nevada’s caucuses, sending political commentators into new levels of dismay and panic.

Ohio’s U.S. Senate race is neck and neck between incumbent Republican Rob Portman and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. A new poll by Quinnipiac University released today shows the two virtually tied in the pivotal race, which is part of a larger wrangle for control of the Senate between Democrats and Republicans. Forty-four percent of those polled said Strickland had their vote, while 42 percent said Portman was their man. That’s not great news for Portman, who should be ahead by this point as the incumbent. Meanwhile, Strickland’s Democratic primary opponent, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, trails far behind the two main contenders, mainly due to lack of name recognition. The three campaigns have spent more than $2 million on the race thus far.

• Let’s keep talking about polls, shall we? Particularly, let’s chat about that same Quinnipiac poll, which also shows Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, besting either of the Democrats’ potential nominees here. Fifty-four percent of voters in that poll said they would choose Kasich, while 37 percent said they would choose former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if she got the nod. Thirty-five percent said they would choose Bernie Sanders if he were nominated. That’s better than any other GOP candidate in the field.

Marco Rubio came in second, more narrowly besting Clinton and Sanders. Donald Trump came in third, basically tying Clinton and Sanders. That last bit is illustrative of the differences between highly charged GOP primary voters and the general electorate. A poll we talked about yesterday had Trump walloping Kasich among GOP primary voters here. Kasich’s campaign has of course latched onto the results as he clings onto hope that the race will turn for him. Kasich took a beating in the South Carolina primary and the Nevada Caucuses, but his campaign staff is citing the poll as a reminder that, historically, the route to Republican victory in the general election goes through the heart of it all.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.23.2016 67 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_protester_7-9 copy

Morning News and Stuff

City, county to spar over MSD in court; Ohio lawmakers may once again delay charter school oversight; Kasich's kitchen comment

Hello all. Here’s what’s going on around Cincy and beyond today.

The sewer drama continues. Hamilton County yesterday asked a federal court to intervene in recent disputes between the county and the city of Cincinnati over the Metropolitan Sewer District. County commissioners cite a 2014 court order which they say requires the city to follow the county’s directives when it comes to MSD. The county is also asking that the U.S. District Court weigh in on the upcoming expiration of a 1968 agreement casting the county as the owner of MSD and the city as its chief operator. Republican County Commissioner Chris Monzel said the city has shown “flagrant” disregard for its duties in running MSD.

“We respectfully ask the court to enforce its previous order and allow Hamilton County to bring accountability and transparency which are so badly needed in MSD operations,” he said in a statement.

The suit is the latest bit of drama for the sewer district following revelations that millions in city contracts paid out through the agency were awarded without a competitive bidding process under former MSD director Tony Parrott. Under a since-changed city policy, Parrott had near total control over the district’s spending.

Most of the problematic expenditures involved a $3.2 billion, federal court-ordered renovation of MSD infrastructure. Parrott left MSD last summer. City officials say policy has changed since that time and are calling for a complete audit of MSD. Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost is also launching a large-scale investigation into the sewer district.

• Meanwhile, another set of allegations regarding corruption and mismanagement is unfolding here in Cincinnati, this one around the city’s Veterans Administration hospital. Last week we told you about those allegations made by a number of whistleblowers in the hospital against its leadership, which was first reported by WCPO. Now, the big national bosses at the VA say an intensive investigation is underway into issues around understaffing, poor service to veterans as well as issues around Cincinnati VA leadership salaries and allegations that the hospital’s head unlawfully prescribed pain medication to a superior’s wife. As I type, VA head Bob McDonald, a former Procter & Gamble exec, is testifying before the Senate VA oversight committee, where senators like Ohio’s Sherrod Brown have indicated they’ll ask tough questions about what’s going on in Cincinnati.

• It’s been a rough year for Ohio’s $1 billion charter school system. You can read all about why in this week’s feature story, which comes out tomorrow. In the meantime, there’s this: Ohio lawmakers are considering delaying yet again a rating system for the state’s charter school sponsoring organizations. The legislature first voted in 2012 to give those organizations, which oversee the publicly funded but privately operated schools, grades based on schools’ performance. But those ratings have been delayed after data rigging was discovered, skewing the ratings. Now, it could be another two years before those ratings go live. Those ratings are part of a three-year process that could shut down low-performing charter schools whose sponsoring organizations don’t measure up. The rating scale was a big part of the Kasich administration’s pitch to the U.S. Department of Education, which awarded Ohio $71 million last year before catching wind of the data rigging scandal. That grant is now delayed and could be in jeopardy of being revoked if Ohio pushes back its oversight system again.

• Speaking of Kasich, he’s having one hell of a terrible week. Part of that is fellow Republican presidential primary contender Donald Trump’s fault. The real estate mogul is now polling ahead of Kasich in Ohio, even though Kasich is like, the governor here. But Kasich isn’t helping himself. A recent clip of him saying that women “left the kitchen” in the 1970s to help put him in office has been racing around the internet, causing much-deserved scorn. Really, man?

• And speaking of Kasich and women… well, it’s just getting worse and worse so let’s stop being cute and just come out with it. Kasich Sunday signed a bill that strips Ohio Planned Parenthood of all state and some federal funding totaling more than $1 million a year. That bill arose after controversy over a now-debunked video purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue was released by an anti-abortion group. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine investigated Ohio Planned Parenthood following that video. He discovered no fetal tissue sales, though he did allege that Planned Parenthood was contracting tissue disposal to a company that was dumping babies in landfills in Kentucky. Then Kentucky officials contested that claim and it was revealed that Ohio contracts with the same company. Meanwhile, none of the funds lawmakers have voted to strip from Planned Parenthood Ohio go toward abortions. Instead they’re used for things like cancer screenings and sexual health education. What a world, what a world.

I’m out. Twitter. E-mail. Etc.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 02.22.2016 68 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Anonymous releases personal information of Cincinnati police officers; officials lower standards to pass the GED; Cincinnati's veterans express frustration with new VA clinic program

Good morning, Cincinnati! Hope you enjoyed the warm weather this weekend! Here are your morning headlines. 

The hacking group Anonymous says it is targeting the Cincinnati Police Department. In a video announcement released Sunday, the group claimed it will release the personal information of 52 CPD employees, including Police Chief Eliot Isaac. The group said the information dump is in response to the shooting of Paul Gaston, who was killed by CPD officers on Feb. 17 while reaching for a pellet gun in his waistband. CPD released two videos of the incident taken by witnesses the following day. Information released by Anonymous includes the names, ages, street addresses, email addresses and social media account information of two officers seen in the videos. Cincinnati Police Lt. Steve Saunders said the department is investigating the situation to see if there was any breach of security in CPD's system.  

• Hundreds showed up in front of Cincinnati's City Hall on Saturday to march in support of Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders. The rally was organized by local groups supporting the Vermont Senator's bid for the White House. Sanders has been gaining on opponent Hillary Clinton's lead for the Democratic nomination. Later in the day, however, Sanders lost in the Nevada Democratic caucus to Clinton.  

• Officials have lowered the standards required to pass the GED, the high school diploma equivalency exam. Both states lowered the number of pointed required to pass the GED after GED testing officials recommended it on Jan. 26. CityBeat reported last year on the test's major overhaul that caused the passing rate to plummet by 90 percent from 2013 to 2014. 

• A national $10 billion reform program implemented by Cincinnati's Veteran Affairs Medical Clinic has left many veterans claiming they're struggling with bureaucracy and a reduction in services. The congressionally mandated Veterans Choice Program is supposed to aid accessibility issues some veterans have experienced with their local VA clinics by allowing them to choose their own doctors if the wait time is more than 30 days or they live more than 40 miles away from the clinic. But a WCPO investigation found that some are claiming the Cincinnati VA has cut some medical services because of the new program, forcing veterans to use the choice program — all to make the clinic's budget look better. 

• Gov. John Kasich's second place victory in the New Hampshire primary was short lived. The Republican presidential primary candidate finished fifth Saturday in South Carolina's GOP primary with just 7.6 percent of the vote. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump once again was victorious. Kasich, unlike Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the race following the primary, is still fighting hard for the nomination. He says he's planning on campaigning hard in Midwestern states like Michigan, which will hold its primary on March 8, and here in Ohio, where the primary will be on March 15.
 
 
by Natalie Krebs, Nick Swartsell 02.20.2016 70 days ago
Posted In: News at 04:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Hundreds Turn Out for Sanders Rally Downtown

Contender in Democratic presidential primary draws big crowds angry at political system

A crowd of hundreds gathered at Cincinnati City Hall today to show support for Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders.

The rally, organized by local supporters, featured speeches from several labor leaders, activists and political candidates followed by a brief march through downtown.

"The political revolution is coming to Cincinnati now,” said Jordan Angelo Opst, a University of Cincinnati student and organizer with the group Cincinnati for Bernie Sanders, which helped set up the rally. “We're ready to stand up in unity against injustice, unfairness and corruption. You'll notice that we've got white people. We've got black people. We have brown people. We have Christians. We have atheists. We have Muslims.”

Sadie Hughes, registered nurse and local director of National Nurses United, told the crowd the group was endorsing Sanders “because he cares for the same things we care about."

"He is leading the fight for Medicare for all,” she said. “Too many Americans, even with the Affordable Care Act, remain priced out of access to necessary health care. Too many of our seniors are still working at McDonalds and Wendy's and places like that. Bernie believes that everyone should be able to earn a living wage."

Sanders, currently a U.S. Senator for Vermont, identifies as a democratic socialist and was, until his primary campaign, an independent who caucused with Democrats. His candidacy began as a long shot against Democratic favorite and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, mostly due to the perceived baggage of his self-professed socialism and his low name recognition outside his home state.

Over the past few months, however, Sanders’ growing national popularity has many political pundits taking him more seriously as primary voters expressing fatigue over an increasingly divided political system line up to support him. He came in a close second behind Clinton in the Iowa caucus earlier this month and outright beat her in the New Hampshire primary by a large margin.

As he's run, Sanders has shifted policy debates with Clinton to the left. In recent debates, the two largely agree on broad-based policy ideas, instead debating on the feasibility of their respective progressive plans. Clinton has hit Sanders on statements from liberal (often Democratic Party-affiliated) economists saying that his proposals for a single-payer health care system don't add up, and by bringing up his past record voting against certain gun control measures, a big issue for many Democrats. Other progressives, though, have leaped to Sanders' defense. The Vermont Senator, meanwhile, has hit Clinton for the large financial institutions that have given her campaign and PACs millions, and from which she has taken large, six-figure speaking fees.

Now, his supporters are looking to South Carolina and Nevada, the next two states to weigh in on the primary race. Democrats caucus today in Nevada, where Sanders has been chipping away at a large Clinton lead. The most recent polls out of South Carolina, where Democrats will have primary voting next week, show Clinton with a commanding 18-point lead, however.

Here in Cincinnati, things are heating up ahead of Ohio’s March 15 primary. Last week, former president Bill Clinton spoke at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center to a capacity crowd of 200. There, he touted his wife’s ability to be “a change maker.”

But some Cincinnatians see Sanders as a better fit for that role.

Some attendees at today’s rally expressed frustration with the current political system and say they see Sanders, with his calls for campaign finance and financial industry reform, as a catalyst for bigger changes.

“It’s not just Democrats, it’s not just Republicans. It’s institutional politics on both sides,” said rally-goer Jim Applebee, who lives in the Cincinnati area. But electing Sanders could be a tipping point, he says. “I don’t think he can change things, but we can. We need a leader for that movement. It can’t be one person. But it can happen. And if it doesn’t, we see the trend that we’re on.”

Some cited Sanders’ populist proposals around cost-free college education, expanding Medicare to the entire U.S. population, and other issues as the way to systemic change, and as signs of his principles.

“He has a concise platform about what he believes in, and he comes across as the most honest and ethical candidate,” Lou Ebstein of Cincinnati said. “My kids both have college loans, and they’re paying them back, and it’s an increasing burden. We’re not going to get anywhere if that continues to be the case for people.

Ebstein didn’t have negative words about Sanders’ primary opponent Hillary Clinton, but said he saw Sanders as a candidate more likely to proactively push progress beyond the Obama era.

“There are so many things that need to get done, and we need to go about them in a different way. Sanders really put a big challenge out there. He came out of nowhere, and now we’re going to see what Nevada does.”

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.19.2016 71 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
sheriff

Morning News and Stuff

Sheriff body cameras delayed; Bevin signs anti-toll bill; will Scalia replacement dustup affect Ohio's U.S. Senate race?

Hey all. Here’s the news today.

A deal to equip Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies with body cameras will be delayed, Sheriff Jim Neil announced yesterday. Hamilton County commissioners approved a deal between the Sheriff’s office and Taser, International for $1.3 million over five years, which would have provided body cameras as well as new Tasers for the department. However, contracts that big must be opened up to public bidding, so the county’s deal with Taser is on hold until other bids are solicited. The department has been looking into body cameras at a time when many law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Cincinnati Police Department, have taken steps to adopt the technology following controversial police shootings of civilians.

• In case you missed our update yesterday, Cincinnati police released the name of the man shot by officers in Cheviot.  Officers Eric Kohler, Zachary Sterbling and Scott McManis of the Cincinnati Police Department shot Paul Gaston, 37, Wednesday, after they say he pulled a gun. Those officers fired a total of nine shots at Gaston, who they say was pulling what turned out to be a realistic-looking Airsoft bb gun from his waistband.

Video of the incident taken by bystanders shows Gaston initially complying with orders to get on his knees. The video, taken from behind, shows Gaston make a motion toward his mid-section with his right arm, but does not show a gun. He was originally reported waiving a gun in Westwood in a 911 call by his girlfriend, who was not at the scene, but who says she was receiving texts from her sister, who was. Police followed several other calls to find Gaston after he wrecked his truck and walked to neighboring Cheviot. Gatson was the second person shot by CPD this year. The first, Robert Tenbrick, was also shot while he had a toy gun.

City officials, including Mayor John Cranley, said they’re standing behind the officers, who have been placed on procedural administrative leave as the shooting is investigated. Sterbling and Kohler have been flagged for receiving multiple complaints through the Citizen’s Complaint Authority in the past, but officials say they acted appropriately Wednesday.

• This is kind of lame. MadTree will be temporarily pulling production of my favorite of theirs, Gnarly Brown, due to conflicts with a California wine maker over the use of the word “gnarly.” Delicato Vineyard has filed a complaint with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over MadTree’s use of the word, which the vineyard uses in its Gnarly Head wine. While this seems a little ridiculous on it face — it’s beer vs. wine, after all, and it’s not even the same exact phrase — far be it from me to contest California’s ownership of the word “gnarly.” MadTree will retool the beer’s branding slightly and begin production again.

• Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has signaled he’ll sign a controversial bill passed by the state’s legislature outlawing tolls as a way to fund the looming $2.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge project. Tolls have been forwarded as one possible way to fund the prohibitively high cost of replacing the bridge, which is functionally obsolete but structurally sound for now. The span, which carries I-75 across the Ohio River, is on one of the busiest shipping routes in the country. The bill stipulates that tolling cannot be part of any project connecting Kentucky to Ohio without the approval of the state’s legislature, which will not approve the funding method as a way to pay for the bridge.

• Will the fight over a replacement for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia affect Ohio’s U.S. Senate race? It could. Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, has sided with other conservative senators who have signaled they will refuse to have confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s replacement nominations. They argue that Obama should wait until after the next election to let voters have a say on the pivotal placement. Currently, the court is divided evenly between four liberal and four conservative judges. Scalia was ultra-conservative, and Republicans would like nothing more than to replace him with someone ideologically similar. Portman has sided with most, but not all, Republicans in the chamber signaling they won’t give any confirmation hearings.

The question is, will that help or hurt him in a close race with Democrats, who look somewhat likely to nominate former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in the March 15 primary? Ohio is a purple state, but Portman could rally his staunchly conservative base with the highly partisan move. On the other hand, it may not endear him to moderates and fence-sitters, who Strickland looks able to scoop up in November.

Portman’s taken some heat for the move from the Toledo Blade, among other editorial boards. While Democrats in the Senate, including Obama during his term, have opposed Republican presidents’ judicial nominees, they have done so through more traditional means — by voting no, by filibustering to avoid procedural votes on cloture, or closing debate on a nominee so a final vote can be taken during a confirmation hearing. Republicans are proposing something different and unprecedented: refusing to hold a hearing at all.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.18.2016 72 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
viaductsmall

Morning News and Stuff

Police-involved shooting in Cheviot; will Ziegler park host a

Hey hey Cincy. Here’s what’s happening today.

Cincinnati Police officers shot and killed a man in Cheviot yesterday after they say he pulled a gun from his waistband. Officers say they were responding to calls about a man intoxicated and waiving a gun in neighboring Westwood when an accident happened a few blocks away. They determined the driver in that accident was the same person from the initial call and followed him, ordering him to stop. He initially complied, according to officers, but then pulled a gun, at which time officers opened fire. Police have not released the person’s name, but say he is a 36-year-old black male. No dash cam or other footage of the incident, if it exists, has been released yet, but police officials say they will release more information about the shooting today. A witness named Clites Holloway saw the shooting from a nearby van and told reporters, “I barely seen him move his body, and as soon as I seen that, first cop took the shot.” All involved officers are on a seven-day paid leave of absence as the shooting is investigated.

UPDATE: Police say 37-year-old Paul Gaston pulled an Air Soft toy pistol from his waistband while he was on his knees in the street complying with officers. A video of the incident taken by a member of the public doesn't show Gaston with a gun, though he does reach briefly for his waist area.

• Improper prescriptions, dirty surgical implements and receiving extra money as a head surgeon without actually performing surgeries are accusations being leveled at the head of Cincinnati’s Veterans Administration Hospital Dr. Barbara Temeck, who is caught up in a federal investigation of the VA branch. A WCPO investigation alleges Temeck takes in more than $100,000 extra a year for a surgical role she doesn’t perform, that she prescribed prescription pain medicine to her boss’ wife, seemingly without the necessary licenses, and that she has looked the other way at dirty instruments, staffing shortages and other problems at Cincinnati’s VA hospital.

Detractors interviewed by the news organization say Temeck’s tenure has resulted in a quantifiable drop in the quality of care at the hospital. The investigation features interviews with doctors and patients, as well as public records supporting some of its findings. Supporters within the VA point out the hospital routinely gets four- and five-star reviews from the administration and that Temeck has done a good job at her post. They also say that the report doesn’t include information about whether or not the hospital has seen budget cuts from the federal government and what role those cuts may have played in quality of care.

• Cincinnati streetcar riders won’t be able to buy a specific, month-long unlimited use pass like the kind you can get for METRO buses, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority says. Such a pass would be very similar to the $70 METRO passes, SORTA says, and could run afoul of federal regulations about segregating ridership. Some council members have said that potential riders may not want to ride the bus, but will want to ride the streetcar, and that SORTA should look into a separate pass for them. Riders will be able to buy unlimited-use daily passes for the streetcar at $2, however, and can also use their monthly METRO passes on the cars.

• Cincinnati officials, including Mayor John Cranley and representatives from 3CDC yesterday held a groundbreaking event for upcoming renovations to Ziegler Park, which sits on Sycamore Street at the border of Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton. Those renovations will include a new pool and a 400-car underground parking lot. The renovation plan calls for at least $20 million in public money from state New Markets Tax Credits and city parks and recreation bonds. 3CDC says it still needs $12 million to finish the project and will continue fundraising from public and private sources to fill in that gap. The project comes even as the Cincinnati Parks Board has said it is running low on funds to complete needed maintenance on parks across the city, though much of the money for Ziegler is coming from other sources. Cincinnati City Council recently approved giving the parks and recreation bonds to 3CDC.

Neighborhood residents this summer took part in a three-session planning effort to garner feedback about the park. Among concerns expressed by residents, including advocates for low-income tenants in the neighborhood worried about the area’s ongoing gentrification, were preserving the park’s basketball courts and the possibility that Ziegler could become a busy “destination” park like Washington Park. Planners assured community members that those wishes would be honored. Cranley suggested hosting “a mini-LumenoCity here sometime soon” in his remarks, though park planners say the park will remain passive, or without major programming. Let's see what happens there.

• Finally, the question continues: Who owns the Western Hills Viaduct, and who will pay to repair or replace it? Right now, Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials are basically doing this about the question: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

The mile-long bridge, built by the city in 1932, needs to be replaced or seriously repaired in the next decade or so, and officials are finally getting serious about figuring that whole thing out. Sort of. The county and city are still fighting over who has ownership over the bridge and will foot the expected $80 million share of the $280 million replacement project. That conversation would be a lot easier if we as a country, you know, prioritized public infrastructure funding at the state and federal levels, but, ya know, times were different in the 1930s and we were just swimming in cash back then… oh wait. Anyway, now I’m editorializing. Maybe we can just build a giant zipline when the thing finally collapses?

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 02.17.2016 73 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
tuckers1

Morning News and Stuff

Tucker's set to reopen this summer; early voting now open in Hamilton County; UC contemplates moving some programs downtown

Tucker's Restaurant in Over-the-Rhine is set to reopen on July 25 — exactly one year after a kitchen fire badly damaged the iconic restaurant. The diner first opened its doors in 1946 and has been a staple in the neighborhood for decades. Community volunteers are hosting a brunch fundraiser for the reopening at St. Francis Seraph School in OTR this Sunday. 

• Early voting is now open for Ohio's primary on March 15. Voters can now head down to Hamilton County Board of Elections to vote, which mght be a good idea to avoid long lines or obnoxious political junkies at the polls. The Board of Elections website also lets you look up whether you're actually registered to vote and where you can go to vote, if you feel like doing so on the actual day.

• The University of Cincinnati is thinking about expanding its campus into downtown. UC President Santa Ono said the university is considering moving its law, business and music programs to a new downtown campus in order to connect better with the city. The university has long discussed moving its law school in particular. Ono says the current building on the corner of Clifton Avenue and Calhoun Street that houses the school is in need of renovations. UC officials are still considering possibilities, so there's no solid word yet on whether any programs will actually move.

• The recent spike in heroin use reported in the greater Cincinnati area has caused another outbreak: Hepatitis C. The number of infections jumped in 2015 with more than 1,000 new reported cases, The Enquirer reports, which public health officials say goes hand-in-hand with injection drugs like heroin. About 75 percent of Hepatitis C cases result in severe liver problems. Public health officials are pushing needle exchange programs to help curb the rate of infection, and on Monday the Northern Kentucky Health Department got approval to develop its own exchange program.

• Ohio has created a $20 million program to help aid the clean up of abandoned gas stations. The Ohio Development Services Agency is in charge of handing out the grant money over the next two years to city land banks. The state is currently working on a website for applicants to apply online set to launch in March. Ohio Development Services Agency Director David Goodman said the idea for the program struck him when he noticed the number of small Ohio towns with an abandoned gas station in the middle. These properties can also have issues with oil and gas leaks from leftover underground tanks.

• Apple CEO Tim Cook has vowed to fight against a court order from a federal court issued Tuesday that would require the company to build software allowing law enforcement to bypass security functions on its products. Law enforcement officials sought the order to gain access to the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the attackers in the December shooting at an office building in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 dead. Apple has long resisted building "back door" access software, saying if such technology exists it could further compromise the security of its users by making it easier for hackers to bypass security features. Cook called the court order "chilling" and claimed the government is basically asking the company for build a master key for all iPhones in order to unlock one.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 02.16.2016 74 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
tedstrickland

Morning News and Stuff

UCPD reforms will take time, activists say; historic Rabbit Hash general store could be back soon; Strickland blasts Sen. Portman for promise to block Obama SCOTUS nominee

Good morning all. Hope you enjoyed your weekend and got an extra day off, either thanks to past presidents or present precipitation. I went sledding in memory of Abraham Lincoln on my President’s Day holiday.

Anyway, here’s the news today.

Speaking of past presidents: Former commander in chief Bill Clinton came to Clifton Friday to campaign for his wife, former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s visit comes about a month before Ohio’s March 15 primary, where Hillary is facing off against U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. You can read more about Bill’s pitch to Cincinnati voters, and how they responded, in our coverage here.

• How are policing reforms at University of Cincinnati coming along? So far, community members and police reform advocates are skeptical. A town hall discussion Monday night with UC’s police force and an outside organization contracted to help with the reforms, called Exiger, revealed that distrust in the department is still high after the July 19 shooting death of unarmed black motorist Sam DuBose by then-UC police officer Ray Tensing. The university will pay Exiger $400,000 to complete a review of the force. The company will issue its report in June, but activists say that shouldn’t be the end of the conversation and that rebuilding trust will take years.

• So, the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium just got a big renovation. It cost $86 million. Now, UC is trying hard to get into the Big 12 Conference, which may or may not be looking for new members. UC President Santa Ono is confident the school is an attractive choice for the conference, though, and if it does tap UC, that means… spending millions again to expand Nippert’s capacity by 10,000 to 15,000 seats. But, hey, it’s not like the university already subsidizes its athletic program by $27 million or anything. Wait, it does? Oh. Ono says Big 12 membership would make the school’s athletic programs more profitable and could reduce those subsidies. But first, UC has to get into the conference and drop some serious dime on getting its stadium up to size.

• Here’s something terrible: The general store in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky has burned down. The structure, built in 1831, was a landmark in the small town that once elected a dog for a mayor. It carried food, beverages and gifts and also hosted both live music and the unquantifiable spirit of that funky town. I remember some great bike trips to Rabbit Hash. Bummer. Plans to rebuild are in the works, but the historic shack was in some ways irreplaceable.  The owners say they’ll be hosting music in a neighboring barn until then.

• I’ve always had a fantasy that someday I’ll have a birthday party at Union Terminal where guests can play old-school Nintendo on the enormous domed Omnimax screen. That will probably never happen, but assuming it’s possible, I’ll still have to wait a while. Soon, the Omnimax will close for two years as part of the terminal’s large-scale, $200-million-plus renovation process. The last film to screen there before that process starts, National Parks Adventure, just opened and will run until the theater shuts down this summer. I haven’t been since I was a kid so I’m probably going to check it out even though they won’t let me play Tetris on that dome.

• Former Ohio governor and U.S. Senate hopeful Ted Strickland yesterday held a news conference outside the Hamilton County Courthouse to blast incumbent Sen. Rob Portman over the senator’s refusal to consider a new Supreme Court justice appointed by President Barack Obama. That statement came following the death of ardent conservative Justice Antonin Scalia Saturday. Senate confirmation is a vital step in the process of naming a new justice, and the court will have only eight justices until that happens. Immediately following Scalia’s death, many Republican senators, including Portman, said they would not consider an Obama appointee and called on the president to wait until after the 2016 election so the next president could make the appointment. That’s not really how it works, but I guess they figure it’s worth a shot.

That’s it for me. Tweet or email your news tips or improbable birthday party suggestions.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 02.12.2016 78 days ago
Posted In: News at 05:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Bill Clinton Calls on Cincinnati to Support Hillary

Former president speaks in Clifton in support of his wife's presidential run

Former President Bill Clinton urged a group of more than 200 people in Clifton today to support his wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

Clinton called his wife a “changemaker” who held the expertise and experience to become the next president.

Much of his speech touched on the need to grow the country’s economy in the aftermath of the financial crisis through lowering the country’s high student loan debt and increasing the number of jobs.

“We suffered a terrible wound in that financial mess,” Clinton said.

Clinton also addressed the sixth Democratic debate that took place last night between Clinton and her competitor for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, without ever mentioning Sanders’ name. He recapped Hillary’s points from the debate on refinancing student loans and avoiding another financial crisis.

“I love the closing of the debate last night when Hillary said, ‘Look I agree we’ve got to do something to make sure the economy doesn’t crash again. You have your solution. I have mine. Most experts say my plan is stronger, and it’s more likely to prevent the financial crisis,’ ” he said.

Bill Clinton has been touring the country in support of his wife’s bid for the Democratic nomination in the wake of disappointing outcomes for Hillary in the last two weeks. She came in neck and neck with Sanders in the Iowa caucus on Feb. 1 and lost significantly in New Hampshire Democratic primary on  Feb. 9.

At the rally, the former president expressed disappointment at the current Supreme Court for upholding the Voting Right Act and the “Citizens United" decision, which allows unlimited spending on political campaigns by corporations and unions.

He emphasized how such issues could change with the next president, as he or she will likely appoint two Supreme Court judges.

“She’ll give you judges who will stick up for your rights,” he said.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and former mayor Mark Mallory introduced Clinton. Vice mayor David Mann and council members Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson were also at the event.

Christie Malaer of Green Hills says she attended the rally because she believes Hillary, along with her husband Bill, will make a good team together again in the White House.

“Hillary and Bill have stuck together through everything they’ve been through,” Malaer said. “That says a lot.”

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 02.12.2016 78 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

UC officer Ray Tensing to testify in October trial; Bill Clinton to speak in Clifton; Kroger will sell antidote for heroin overdoses

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines. 

Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing is expected to testify at his trial, which has been set for Oct. 24. Tensing is charged with the murder of motorist Samuel Dubose during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn last July. Tensing's attorney indicated in a pre-trial motion that Tensing would be on the list of more than 20 witnesses scheduled to testify. Other listed witnesses include Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and UC President Santa Ono. 

• Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Clifton today. Clinton will speak at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center at 3 p.m. at a Get Out the Vote event. The event could mark the beginning of the aggressive campaigning from presidential candidates in Ohio in the coming months. Not surprisingly, Clinton is expected to urge people to vote for his wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president as well as discuss the current election. Doors open at 2 p.m., and you can RSVP here

• Grocery giant Kroger announced today that it will start selling Narcan, the heroin overdose antidote, without a prescription at its pharmacies in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. The drug, which is often carried by emergency personnel, is currently only available in 27 state pharmacies without a prescription. Kroger's announcement follows the one made earlier this month by drug store CVS, which said it would begin selling Narcan in its Ohio stores next month. The corporations' decisions come as more attention has been brought to a recent spike in the number of heroin-related deaths sweeping the region. 

• Weed and redistricting are several issues on the minds of legislators. At the Associated Press Legislative Preview Session on Thursday, House and Senate leaders said they were each holding their own separate hearings on medical marijuana. Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) said while thinks there's support for it in the legislature, if marijuana is legalized it will probably be not be available in smoking form in order to keep from creating a loophole for those who just want to get high legally. Leaders also said they were kind of, sort of working on redistricting reform, which was approved by voters last November. Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) said the proposals received so far are going to a seven-member commission, which includes four lawmakers. 

• Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off in the sixth Democratic debate last night on PBS. Clinton, who has faced disappointing results from the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, attacked Sanders' revolutionary plans, saying they are unrealistic. She also circled her knowledge of foreign politics again and again in an attempt to knock Sanders' lack of overseas experience. Tension between the two Democratic presidential candidates has risen along with Sanders' popularity, especially with women and the young voters. The debate comes a less than a week before the South Carolina primary on Feb. 20 and the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 23.
 
 

 

 

 
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