What should I be doing instead of this?
 
Home - Blogs - Users Blogs - Latest Blogs
by Nick Swartsell 03.18.2016 72 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
joe deters

Morning News and Stuff

Mayor's childhood poverty task force delays report; who won local Democratic party power struggle?; Trump nomination would force soul-searching for Democrats

Hey all! Here’s the news today.

First, let’s drill down a little bit more on something we talked about Wednesday, following primary voting — the ultra-local battle for precinct executive seats going on within the local Democratic Party. As we mentioned before, the winners of those seats help decide who the Cincinnati Democratic Committee will endorse in, say, the next mayoral race coming up in 2017. So, naturally, Mayor John Cranley, as well has his more liberal detractors within the party, both pulled out all the stops to get people friendly to their sides elected. As we told you Wednesday, a few high-profile Cranley backers lost their bids — but so did high-profile urban progressives like Ryan Messer, a vocal critic of Cranley. So who really won? According to this Business Courier story, because both sides are staying mum about who exactly is backing who among the 139 precinct executives elected Tuesday, it’s actually kind of hard to know how this very local, but very important, race shaped up. Interesting.

• A childhood poverty task force put together by Mayor Cranley and announced at his October state of the city address will delay its initial recommendations on how to fight one of the city’s biggest challenges. The Childhood Poverty Collaborative was initially slated to release its plans in June. But yesterday, CPC’s executive director Lynn Marmer announced that the group will delay that release until early November. In the meantime, it has hired research firm the Rand Corporation and has plans to hold more than 100 meetings in various communities throughout the city. Some critics say the problem has been studied enough and that it’s time for action. But CPC says the wealth of perspectives and data available make it essential to consider them all thoroughly before launching a plan.

• Former Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff Barbara Temeck won’t face charges related to prescriptions she wrote for a superior’s family member but will surrender her registration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in relation to that misconduct. A wider investigation into misconduct at the VA continues after allegations arose from VA employees regarding under staffing, declining quality of care and other issues. Temeck’s attorneys say she performed the duties expected of her during her time at the agency and also reported financial irregularities and concerns about health care quality while there and is now seeing retaliation due to those complaints.

• Last month, University of Cincinnati reached a $4.85 million settlement with the family of Samuel DuBose, who UC police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed after a routine traffic stop in Mount Auburn. But the way that settlement will be paid out is interesting. UC itself is only on the hook for about $100,000 of that money upfront. An insurance consortium that insures most of Ohio’s large universities will pay much of the rest of the settlement. UC will see a portion of those costs over time in increased premiums, and the school will still pay for tuition for DuBose’s children.

• It isn't often that Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters supports letting someone out of prison, but he's doing exactly that in the case of Tyra Patterson, who is serving a 16-years-to-life sentence for her part in a 1994 group robbery that lead to the shooting death of a 15-year-old. Patterson says she's innocent. She's been in prison for 21 years. Deters, who believes she was involved in the robbery, says she's done her time and has rehabilitated herself. The prosecutor joins a number of high-profile officials calling on Ohio Gov. John Kasich to give Patterson clemency.

• Capping off a highly local edition of morning news today — Cincinnati city officials are working to revamp the city’s downtown business strategy. New efforts will include working to keep Race Street mainstay giants like Macy’s, officials say, but should also take a wider look at retail downtown and strive to expand small businesses and mixed use developments. Some of the new, more holistic approach will include data that hasn’t been available before now, officials say, which could help existing retailers while enticing new businesses into the central business district.

• Finally, are you Trumped out yet? If not, here’s an interesting piece on what a Donald Trump nomination by the GOP means for the Democratic Party. In short, the editorial argues that competing against Trump in the upcoming general election would force Democrats to once and for all decide between populist, working-class values and more economically conservative, business-friendly policies popular with some party elites. It’s worth a read.

I’m out! Have a good weekend. I’ll be at MusicNOW tomorrow getting in one last visit to Music Hall before it closes for renovations. Very excited for the show — I went last year and it was amazing. But I have a problem. Do I dress up? Wear my normal thrift store hipster junk? Mix and match? Help me.

E-mail or tweet at me with news tips or fashion suggestions.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 03.17.2016 73 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
santa ono

Morning News and Stuff

UC President Santa Ono wants the streetcar to go Uptown; CPS threatens to take back CCAC building; Creation Museum lays out plans to expand

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Cincy! Here are your morning headlines. 

University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono says he'd like to see the streetcar extend to go Uptown and to UC's campus. Ono first publicly announced his position in a recent speech that was posted on YouTube. Ono, who has previously supported the project privately, said solid public transit is important to attract millennials who are increasingly looking to go carless. Ono also reportedly emailed Daniel Traicoff, a former campaign aide to city council member Chris Seelbach, earlier this month asking how the university could aid the extension. However, the city might not be thinking as far ahead as Ono yet. It's still working on rolling out the first phase of the streetcar that will run through downtown and Over-the-Rhine beginning this fall and securing enough money to pay for its first two years. 

• Cincinnati Public Schools is threatening to take back the building now housing the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. The two groups have been unable to reach an agreement on the amount the school district should pay to rent out several of the CCAC's classrooms. While CPS actually owns the CCAC's building, it has leased the property to the arts center for 30 years, starting in 2008. But, according to the lease, CPS can break the contract if it determines it needs the space for educational purposes, which it's now saying it does. No final decisions have been made yet, and if CPS goes forward with its threats, it will be required to give the center a 365-day notice to vacate. 

• As I passed City Hall on my bike yesterday, I started thinking that the building has to be one of the most stunning city halls architecturally. Well, it seems Architectural Digest agrees with me, because it recently named the century-old building as one of its "9 City Halls with Amazing Architecture." The 1893 Richardsonian Romanesque-style building designed by Samuel Hannaford shares the list with new and old city hall buildings located in places like Las Vegas, Buffalo, New York and Austin, Texas. 

• The Creation Museum is Burlington, Kentucky, is planning an expansion. The tourist destination, which is famous for disputing scientific evidence with biblical teachings, has presented its plan to rezone 54.9 acres around the museum to the Boone County Fiscal Court for review. The expansion would include a new gift shop building, mini golf course and petting zoo, among other things. 

• Ohio law enforcement officials have less than a week to send in old rape kits to be tested. A law enacted March 23, 2015 requires that agencies submit untested kits for testing within a year and to process any news kits within 30 days. Under the new law, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation has tested 10,133 kits, resulting in 3,600 DNA hits and hundreds of new indictments. 

• SeaWorld today announced that it will stop breeding killer whales. This means the current generation living at its parks will be the last. The theme park is still struggling under the negative publicity brought by the 2012 book Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity and the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which asserted that the giant sea mammals are probably pretty miserable living in a large swimming pool surrounded by humans. SeaWorld previously announced in November that it would be phasing out its killer whale performances at the San Diego location.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.16.2016 74 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ghostsigns_dennisonhotel_jf2

Morning News and Stuff

Cincy named 10th-best skyline; tea party favorite takes primary for Boehner's seat; prosecutor in Rice shooting loses election

Good morning all. As you’d probably expect, we’re gonna talk about a lot of politics today.

The topline: Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the GOP presidential primary in Ohio last night, squeezing out Donald Trump here. Trump, however, picked up Florida and other states, pulling further ahead of his closest competitor U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and burying U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has now suspended his campaign after losing in his home state. On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton easily bested U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, as she did in most of the other states voting yesterday. Clinton got 57 percent of the vote, including 60 percent in Hamilton County. Clinton now seems very likely to get her party's nomination. Kasich... well, he's hoping that Trump doesn't get to 1,237 delegates and that he may somehow come out on top in a brokered convention in Cleveland. Trump and Cruz, however, have other plans, and even former House Speaker John Boehner, who endorsed Kasich, has a dark horse favorite in this whole mess.

• Before we go deeper into the politics sinkhole, let’s talk about other stuff, shall we? Did you know that Cincinnati has the 10th-best skyline in the nation, according to a new ranking by travel site Thrillist.com? I mean, considering we invented Skyline and most other cities don’t have it at all, that seems like a pretty low score. Wait, sorry, they’re talking about buildings, not chili. (Did you know I was going to make that terrible joke? Of course you did.) Cincy beat out Atlanta, St. Louis, Nashville, Miami, Boston and a number of other cities that don’t have the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge at their front door. Losers. In fact, our fair city placed only one spot lower than that one place that has the actual Brooklyn Bridge. We had a Roebling before it was cool, tho. Regional rivals Pittsburgh beat us handily, however, because they have three rivers instead of one. Seattle has the number one skyline on the list because it has mountains, a futuristic Jetsons tower and Puget Sound. Seems unfair really.

• Speaking of downtown buildings, Cincinnati could lose one of its more historic ones. The owners of 126-year-old Dennison Hotel on the 700 block of Main Street have applied for permits to tear it down. The Dennison was once upon a time single-room occupancy affordable housing but today stands vacant. Columbia REI LLC, which bought the building back in January, said in documents filed with the city that they’re putting together a group of properties in the area for a major development and that it’s most cost-effective to tear down the eight-story building. Columbia commissioned a report to study costs for converting the building into apartments, condos or office space, but that report didn’t take into account possible Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits in its cost analysis. The state has awarded those credits to a number of developments in Cincinnati.

• Sorry to do this to you, but it’s back to politics. After a bit of controversy among Democrats around mailers designed to promote candidates friendly to Mayor John Cranley for the party’s precinct executive positions, election results for those vying for the positions were mixed to say the least. Several candidates with ties to Cranley, including Cranley spokesman Kevin Osborne and his political consultant Jared Kamrass, lost their bids for those seats. Meanwhile, some more left-leaning candidates won their bids. That doesn’t necessarily mean the local Democratic Party is up for a seismic shift, but there are interesting power struggles happening on the county level. You can peruse the results here.

• Let’s look to the north to a surprising congressional race. Voters in former House Speaker John Boehner’s district opted for a tea party-aligned outsider in a Republican primary race that one point had 15 contestants. Troy-based businessman Warren Davidson won the contest and will go on to near-certain victory in the deep-red district’s general election. Pundits and political science academics say voters there sent a clear message about frustration with the political establishment not unlike the one offered by supporters of Donald Trump.

• The primary race for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Rob Portman offered few surprises last night, with the incumbent handily winning the GOP primary and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland winning the chance to oppose him in the Democratic primary. Strickland beat Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld on the strength of his name recognition and deeper campaign pockets. Strickland, who has been pretty aloof about Sittenfeld all along, is now focusing more fire on Portman, continuing to hit the Senator on statements saying he’d support GOP primary frontrunner Donald Trump if he’s nominated and also for backing the Republican party’s blockage of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee by President Barack Obama. Polling has the general election race neck and neck. It’ll be an interesting one as Democrats look to take back control of the Senate.

• Further north we go. In a surprising development, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty is out after losing his Democratic primary competition with former assistant prosecutor Michael O’Malley. McGinty got hit hard on the campaign trail for his failure to bring charges against officers involved in the November 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice in Cleveland. McGinty’s ouster mirrors a similar development in Chicago, where voters dumped Chicago Prosecutor Anita Alvarez, who took deep criticism after city officials waited 400 days to release the police footage of officers shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death.

• Finally, let’s go back to the U.S. Supreme Court for a second. President Barack Obama today announced his nomination to fill a vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In what may be the greatest troll move in history, Obama has nominated well-respected moderate and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to the nation’s highest court. Garland has garnered praise from many Republicans in the past. But GOP senators have still vowed to block his confirmation and seem unwilling to even grant him a hearing, saying that Obama should not nominate a justice in an election year.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.15.2016 75 days ago
Posted In: News at 08:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
vote logo

Morning News and Stuff

Sheriff Neil walks back Trump rally appearance; report: Metro funding model "unsustainable;" Romney stumps for Kasich in Ohio

Good morning all. Here’s what’s up in Cincy and beyond today.

It’s your last day to vote in the Ohio primary election, so go vote, vote, vote. You can find out your polling location and accepted identification (which includes your driver’s license, military ID or a current utility bill or bank statement with your address on it) here. It looks like we’ll have a big turnout for a primary — more than 14,000 people went to the ballot during the first hour of voting. More than 400,000 people across the state voted early — 80,000 more than 2012’s primary election.

• A new report says more revenue is needed for Hamilton County’s Metro bus system and that county taxpayers should ante up to pay for the service. The report by the 20-member Metro Futures Task Force, which has been in the works for six months, says current funding models for the bus service aren’t sustainable. Metro serves all of Hamilton County, but currently runs primarily on city taxes. The group didn’t say when a ballot initiative could go before county voters asking for money to fund the service, and Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority leadership says all options, including fare increases or service reduction, are on the table as SORTA looks to make bus service more sustainable.

• Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil is distancing himself from GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump after appearing at his rally in West Chester Sunday afternoon. Neil has called his appearance “selfish” and says he only did so because Trump invited him to attend. Neil did not speak at the event, but did appear on stage in uniform and posed for pictures with Republican Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones at the event. Democrats, including Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Tim Burke, immediately criticized Neil for his appearance at the event.

• Speaking of that rally, Trump gave a shoutout to Cincinnati’s hit king Pete Rose during that event, saying he should go to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. But now his eagerness to associate with Rose might have gotten Trump in some hot water. Trump Sunday also tweeted a picture of a baseball signed by Rose and bearing the message,  “Mr. Trump, please make America great again.” Some news organizations took that as a possible endorsement from Rose, something Trump’s campaign probably didn’t mind as he fights to win Ohio’s primary today. The only problem — Rose said through an attorney that he’s not endorsing anyone, and that he didn’t send Trump the signed ball at all. Oops.

• The sister of Avondale resident Sam DuBose, who was shot and killed by a UC police officer last summer, had some tough questions for Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders. At Sanders’ Sunday night town hall in Columbus, Terina Allen asked the candidate what he would do about police accountability if elected president and told him that DuBose would have celebrated his 44th birthday the day before had he not been shot. Sanders offered condolences for Allen’s loss, then outlined new training procedures for officers and said he would institute automatic Department of Justice investigations for citizens killed in police custody or while being apprehended by police.

Sanders is fighting Democratic presidential primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton for a victory in Ohio's primary today. The Vermont senator has trailed Clinton heavily here in the past — Ohio's moderate Democrats have long supported the Clintons — but a big upset in Michigan and intense on-the-ground campaigning efforts over the past week have made a dent, some polls show.

• Finally, in these last hours before primary voting ends, the question looms large: Will Ohio Gov. John Kasich win his home state or be given a humiliating loss at the tiny hands of Trump? Kasich has gotten a last minute friend to jump in and help him pull Ohio: former GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. The prominent Republican and vocal Trump detractor hasn’t endorsed Kasich, per se, but was stumping for him across the state yesterday.

Polls show Kasich and Trump in a tight race for Ohio’s 66 delegates. Trump is currently winning in the delegate count, but losing big states like Ohio could keep him from reaching the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination outright, sending the whole mess to a complicated brokered convention. Another (slight possibility): U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, another ideological firebrand, could catch up to Trump if he doesn’t keep winning and still has the mathematical possibility of clenching the nomination himself. Outside the battle for Ohio, look for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to drop out soon if he doesn’t win his home state of Florida. It looks very unlikely that Rubio can pull off a win there, by the way, with Trump polling far ahead of Rubio there.

 
 
by Steve Beynon 03.14.2016 76 days ago
Posted In: 2016 election at 02:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
pacman

Your Guide to Ohio's Presidential Primary

Ohio Primary is Tuesday, March 15

It is finally Ohio’s turn to vote for their party’s nominee. Poll hours are 6:30 am - 7:30 p.m.

The Republicans’ last stand

All hands are on deck to stop Trump’s warpath to the GOP nomination — even Marco Rubio’s campaign manager urged Ohio voters to vote for Gov. John Kasich, who is the only GOP contender that will put up a fight in the buckeye state.

Ohio is a rich prize: It’s a winner-take-all contest — meaning all 66 delegates go to the first-place winner, unlike most states that divide a portion of delegates amongst the candidates based on how many votes they received. 

Kasich is aggressively campaigning in his home state, hosting larger rallies and touring with former GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. If Kasich loses his own state to Trump, his campaign is finished. However, Trump has a strong national lead and Kasich would still be in fourth place even if he secured Ohio. Capturing the buckeye state is seemingly a moral victory.

Trump dominated in Kentucky’s coal country with blue-collar workers, which the real-estate mogul could potentially repeat in the Cleveland and Toledo area. However, Kasich’s foothold with Ohio Republicans and home field advantage can give him an organizational edge.

The GOP race will likely be called late — with recent polls showing Kasich and Trump in a deadlock, Tuesday is going to be a tight race.

All polls show Trump has a strong lead in other Tuesday states: Florida, Illinois and North Carolina. Currently there are no major polls for Missouri. There’s a total of 424 delegates up for grabs for the GOP with Tuesday’s states combined.

Rubio and Kasich trail behind Trump with 163 and 63 delegates, respectively. Going into Tuesday, Trump sits at 460 delegates. Due to his strong lead in other Tuesday states, Trump taking Ohio likely assures his nomination.

With the most recent polls showing Kasich with a slight lead in Ohio, Trump made multiple stops in the state over the weekend. The GOP frontrunner added a last minute stop in Youngstown, Ohio Monday, canceling an event in Florida, where he has a strong lead.

Ted Cruz visited Columbus Sunday in an effort to knock Kasich down a few points in the poll. The Texas senator has been positioning himself as the only one who can take Trump down. Cruz holds second place with 369 delegates to Trump’s 460.

Democratic race tightens in the Midwest

After a crushing defeat in the South, Bernie Sanders is aiming to gain traction in Tuesday’s line of industrial states, hoping his economic message of “disastrous” trade deals resonates in areas hit hard by manufacturing losses.

Sanders has been propelled by his upset victory in Michigan, where he toppled Hillary Clinton’s nearly 30-point lead, undoubtedly prolonging the battle for the Democratic nomination.

Going into states with a larger white voter base and with a lot of donation cash in the bank, Sanders can hold his ground against Clinton until the summer.

However, the Vermont senator didn’t put a dent in Clinton’s delegate advantage after her dominance in states like Alabama and Arkansas. Clinton leads with 1,231 delegates; Sanders has 576.

Clinton has consistently led in Ohio, however, the gap has closed dramatically. In September, a Quinnipiac poll found her ahead of Sanders by 21 points. Now she leads with 5-percent, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

With Ohio having similar demographics and trade issues as Michigan, it is possible Sanders can upset the political landscape again in the buckeye state. However, with some major schools such as The Ohio State University on spring break, it is possible that the college crowd largely being out on vacation can cripple Sanders.

About 30 Clinton supporters turned out to Sunday’s CNN Democratic Town Hall event at Ohio State, holding signs on campus in support of the former secretary of state. There was no turnout of Sanders supporters. Given he wins the younger vote with huge margins, spring break might be troubling for Sanders in Ohio and other states.

A look at the candidates:

Republicans

Donald Trump: The GOP frontrunner is seemingly unstoppable with channeling the country’s anger against Washington.

John Kasich: Ohio’s governor has struggled to stand out in this race. He hopes capturing his home state can give him an advantage in the GOP convention. 

Ted Cruz: The Texas senator has secured his spot in second place and is quickly catching up to Trump.

Marco Rubio: He was the Republican establishment’s pick and was the guy most thought would lead the party. However, with so few delegates under his belt and the likelihood that he will lose his home state of Florida, Rubio’s campaign is on life support.

Democrats

Hillary Clinton: She has been the consistent frontrunner, gathering superdelegates

and has her husband and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown campaign with her in Ohio.

Bernie Sanders: The Vermont senator will likely start performing better now that the election is going into whiter states. His ground game is strong with supporters marching through downtown Cincinnati a few weeks ago. Sanders appears to have virtually unlimited funding from supporters.

How do I figure out if I’m registered and where to vote?

You can go to the Hamilton County Board of Election site. You will be able to see if if you are registered and locate your polling station.


The primaries are elections in which the parties pick their strongest candidate to run for president. In Ohio, Election Day is Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Go here for more information on primaries.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 03.14.2016 76 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_johnkasich

Morning News and Stuff

Trump speaks to thousands at West Chester rally; presidential candidates tour Ohio before Tuesday primary; protesters call for support of undocumented immigrants

Happy Pi day, Cincinnati! I hope you enjoy that quick, nerdy distraction because it's also less than one day until Ohio heads to the polls to vote in the primary election. Here's a rundown of your morning headlines.

Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of more than 4,000 on Sunday at the Savannah Center in West Chester, making him the only presidential candidate so far to make a stop close to Cincinnati. The GOP frontrunner's unscripted speech took many shots at Ohio Gov. John Kasich, his main republican rival in the Ohio primary, and leading Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Members of the audience asked Trump questions about education and care for returning war veterans — which he mostly failed to answer. The rally was mostly peaceful, as compared to some of Trump's other recent rallies, with a crowd of around 100 protesters gathered outside the rally and a brief interruption by two Bernie Sanders supporters who were quickly escorted out. 

• Meanwhile, the rest of the presidential candidates have been popping up all over Ohio, hoping to woo Ohioans at the last minute into voting for them. In addition to Trump, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich made appearances across the state this weekend. According to a Quinnipiac poll released today, this election should be a close one. Kasich is tied with Trump, while Sanders is trailing former Clinton by five points.

• Democratic rivals Clinton and Sanders spoke to a crowd of more than 3,000 at the Ohio Democratic Party Legacy Dinner at the Greater Columbus Convention Center yesterday. Clinton spoke much longer than Sanders, clocking in 25 minutes as compared to less than 10 minutes for Sanders. However, both reportedly received standing ovations and considerable enthusiasm from the crowd.  

• Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is trailing far behind Trump and Kasich in Ohio polls, made an appearance in Columbus at the Northland Performing Arts Center on Sunday, pushing himself as the only Republican to who could realistically knock off Trump. 

• Gov. Kasich is scheduled to make an appearance Westerville and North Canton today. Sanders is scheduled for Cleveland and Youngtown, the latter of which Trump is also expected to visit today as well. 

• More than 350 people gathered on Saturday in East Price Hill to march in support of the city's undocumented immigrants. The Rally for Hope was organized by immigration activists in response to recent raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in North Carolina, Georgia and Texas. The rally featured testimony from local immigrants from Central America and a two-mile march through the neighborhood with protesters calling for the federal government to halt the deportation of undocumented immigrants. 

• About a dozen people gathered in Mount Auburn Saturday night to celebrate what would have been Sam DuBose's 44th birthday. Mount Auburn resident DuBose was fatally shot last July by former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing during a traffic stop. Tensing is currently set to stand trial for murder in October. Attendees included DuBose's fiancée DaShonda Reid, as well as several of his 11 children.

News tips go to nkrebs@citybeat.com and don't forget to vote tomorrow!
 
 
by Steve Beynon 03.10.2016 80 days ago
Posted In: 2016 election at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
johnkasichgraphic

Primary Cheat Sheet: John Kasich

John Kasich (Republican)

Fun Fact:

Donald Trump is not the only person in the race with a background in TV. Ohio Gov. John Kasich used to host Fox News show Heartland with John Kasich. It was a similar format to The O’Reilly Factor, a show Kasich often served as a substitute host. Heartland with Kasich aired from 2001-2007.  

What’s up with the campaign?

Kasich has failed to secure any states or a lead in the polls. The Ohio governor treated his second-place finish in New Hampshire as a moral victory. He also placed second in Massachusetts and Vermont.

Trump has successfully pulled Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio into the mud with him — all three slinging insults at each other.

“A guy with the worst spray tan in America is attacking me for putting on makeup. Donald Trump likes to sue people — he should sue whoever did that to his face,” Sen. Rubio said at a Georgia rally.

In the first 10 minutes of the eleventh Republican debate, Trump defended the size of his genitalia, saying, “there’s no problem.” The real estate tycoon went on to refer to Sen. Rubio as “Little Marco” for most of the debate.

Kasich has successfully kept his head above water, making it to all the primetime debates. With the GOP Civil War erupting and the Trump train being virtually unstoppable, Kasich appears to be playing the long game, biding his time for the New England states and Ohio.

His best-case scenario is to emerge from the rubble, after months hiding in the corner, at a brokered GOP convention after Cruz and Rubio are bloodied up from their year-long war against Trump.

Voters might like: 

      Never wrestle with a pig, because you get dirty and the pig likes it. That has been Kasich’s strategy from day one. He has stayed away from personal attacks and has not directly engaged any candidate. Kasich has secured his position as “the adult” on the stage.

      In February, Kasich signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. The bill doesn’t explicitly mention Planned Parenthood, instead redirects $1.3 million of government money away from organizations that performs or promotes elective abortions and into other health organizations. This affects Ohio’s 28 Planned Parenthood locations — three clinics provide abortions.

      Kasich has governed a swing state, meaning he can talk to both sides of the aisle. He expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, expanding health coverage for 275,000 Ohioans.

...but watch out for

      Gov. Kasich might suffer from name recognition as the primaries move forward. Without a clear victory and by not engaging in the GOP slugfest, Kasich risks not getting his message out. Google analytics support this concern, saying Kasich is the least searched presidential candidate.

      Kasich’s acceptance of a Medicaid expansion is a double-edge sword. His support of subsidized health care and support of immigration reform could make him look like a liberal to rightwing voters.

      By staying in the race so long with little hope of actually capturing the nomination, Kasich has gotten on the bad side of some of the Republican establishment due to hogging some delegates over more likely winners like Ted Cruz.

Biggest policy proposal:

Kasich’s tax plan would cut the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 28 percent. The tax cuts aren’t as deep as GOP front runner Donald Trump, nor are they a flat tax like Sen. Ted Cruz’s — and they still maintain a level of progressive tax. The Kasich tax plan calls for reducing the tax brackets from seven to three — but does not specify tax rates for the lower two.

War:

At a stop in Michigan in August, Kasich made it clear he is not supportive of nation building. “I don't think it ought to be a priority of the United States to get everybody on the globe to operate exactly the way we do. I mean there are people that we look at and they may do things that we don't like, but we have similar goals. We don't need to spend our resources trying to get them to become like us,” Kasich said.

However, in a February interview with CNN, Kasich said boots on the ground will be required to defeat the Islamic State.

"Mark my words ... at some point it will require boots on the ground from the world to be able to deal with this problem," Kasich told CNN’s Gloria Borger.

Kasich has never been clear on whether or not he intends to deploy conventional troops to combat ISIS in his presidency — nor has he specified which country boots on the ground would be required in.


The primaries are elections in which the parties pick their strongest candidate to run for president. In Ohio, Election Day is Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Go here for more information on primaries.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.10.2016 80 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
newyork_donaldtrump-wikicommons

Morning News and Stuff

Officers acquitted on DUI coverup charges; Central Parkway Bikeway safety study planned; Kasich and Trump head to Cincy this weekend

Hey all. Here’s your morning updates real quick-like.

A Hamilton County Courts judge yesterday acquitted two Cincinnati police officers on charges they covered up a fellow officer’s drunk driving crash. Officer Jason Cotterman and Sgt. Richard Sulfsted were charged with obstructing justice and dereliction of duty for their alleged involvement in hiding a car accident by fellow CPD officer Sgt. Andrew Mitchell. A witness to that accident who called 911 claimed Mitchell seemed “drunk as hell” when he ran two stop signs on West McMicken Avenue and crashed into a utility pole in the early morning hours. However, Cotterman ignored that witness even after another officer told him about those statements. Subsequently, Sulfsted helped Cotterman get Mitchell back to a police station. Mitchell was never given a sobriety test. He eventually pled guilty to two traffic violations and paid $315 in fines. Hamilton County Courts Judge Josh Berkowitz, who decided the verdict in the bench trial against the two officers, said
when handing down the acquittal that the case amounted to “a lot of second guessing of their judgment." Any penalties for the officers for failing to follow police procedures should come internally within the department, Berkowitz said.

• How safe is the city’s Central Parkway Bikeway? We’ll find out. The city of Cincinnati will undertake a safety study of the controversial lane. Cincinnati Police say 62 accidents happened on the stretch of the thoroughfare containing the bike lane in 2015, though no baseline number has been given for years before the lane was introduced. Councilman Christopher Smitherman has called for removal of part of the lane, though community councils in Clifton and Over-the-Rhine have called for it to be expanded, not removed.

• City administration has worked out a new plan that would shore up projected deficits in the streetcar’s operating budget, but that plan is likely to cause controversy. City Manager Harry Black negotiated a deal with philanthropic group the Haile Foundation, which has pledged $900,000 toward the streetcar’s operating budget, to ensure that the money is available to the city when it needs it to fill gaps in the transit project’s finances. However, Cincinnati City Council may also have to pull money from the general fund under the plan in order to fully fund the streetcar’s operations. The general fund money would come from increased parking revenues from longer hours and higher rates downtown and in OTR, increases which were passed to help fund the project.

That’s likely going to stir the ire of anti-streetcar members of Council as well as Mayor John Cranley, who campaigned against the transit project. One option for Council under the plan would be to reduce the frequency of streetcar service should other revenue sources — fares, advertising and the like — fall short. That’s been unpopular with pro-streetcar council members, however, who say it may violate the terms of a federal grant given to the city to set up the project.

• A local preservation advocacy organization is looking at how it could get a fund running to save some of Cincinnati’s historic architecture. The Cincinnati Preservation Association recently won a $15,000 grant to work on ways it could manage a larger fund for loans or grants related to historic preservation. That could help the CPA save buildings like the one at 313 W. Fifth St. downtown and others that have been subject to recent struggles around the difficulties in making historic preservation financially viable.

• As Ohio Gov. John Kasich runs for president, courting GOP primary voters across the country, grassroots conservatives here in Ohio aren’t necessarily lining up behind him or the state Republican party. The state GOP is struggling with the same populist fire that has swept across the nation, and now a number of contested primaries are popping up in Ohio’s GOP-dominated state legislative districts. Many hardline conservative candidates are gaining ground in these districts, running against what they call Kasich’s lack of conservative values. Those unhappy with the Republican governor cite his decision to expand Medicaid in the state, his support for Common Core educational standards and other heresies against conservative orthodoxy. Ohio GOP party leaders acknowledge this grass roots, tea party-fueled rebellion, but have said only a handful of the primary races tea party challengers have entered are actually competitive.

• If you just can’t get enough of the GOP presidential primary, well, you’re in luck. Both Republican front runner Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be visiting the Cincinnati area over the weekend. Trump will be at the Duke Energy Convention Center Sunday from noon to 1:30 p.m., while Kasich will make an appearance Saturday at the Sharonville Convention Center. The visits are part of a large blitz by both candidates in Ohio ahead of our March 15 primary. Kasich needs to win Ohio to stay in the race, though it's unclear what he'll do after that even if he does win.

An Ohio win for Trump could put him one step closer to clinching the Republican nomination outright. If he also wins Florida, which votes the same day, it would be a crushing blow for other candidates still in the race. Hilariously, Trump will end his Ohio fling with a campaign stop Monday night in Westerville, the suburb outside Columbus where Kasich lives. Troll level epic.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 03.09.2016 81 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
metro plus bus

Morning News and Stuff

SORTA poll finds Hamilton County voters OK with extended bus service; area unemployment spikes; Trump scores victories in three more state primaries

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines.

A new poll found the majority of Hamilton County voters say they would vote against an increase in sales tax to extend the city's bus service. Well, that is, until they were told what extended bus service would actually look like. Most people were cool with it then. In the poll commissioned by the Southwest Regional Transit Authority, Hamilton County voters were first asked about the sales tax increase to fund bus services without giving any information about it. The majority opposed a 0.25 percent increase (50.6 percent) or a 0.5 percent increase (54.4 percent). But when they were told extended bus service would mean more morning, evening and weekend service and expanded crosstown routes, more hopped on board with it. SORTA found that 51.7 percent favored the 0.25 percent tax increase and 57.6 percent favored the 0.5 percent increase. Extended public transportation appears to be sorely needed in the greater Cincinnati area. A study of Metro last year commissioned by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber found that only 23 percent of the city's jobs are easily accessible by public transit. It found 40 percent weren't reachable via public transit at all. 

• January is already one of the most depressing months with the plummet into cold weather surrounded by massive post-holiday hangovers. But to make it worse, it seems more Cincinnatians were also without a job that month. New numbers from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services show Greater Cincinnati's unemployment rate spiked in January to 5.2 percent, an increase from 4.3 percent in December. The hardest hit area was professional and business service jobs, which lost 8,000 positions.

• Here's your primary election updates for the week: Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, won three more states' primary elections held yesterday in Hawaii, Michigan and Mississippi. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who currently is running hard to catch up to Trump managed to score a win in Idaho. Ohio Gov. John Kasich failed to get the second place victory he was hoping for in Michigan, just barely losing it to Cruz, who got 25 percent of the vote compared to Kasich's 24 percent. 

Democratic nominee Vermont Sen. Bernie upset competitor Hillary Clinton, just barely squeaking out a victory in Michigan, while Clinton won by a landslide in Mississippi, winning 83 percent of the vote. Candidates are focusing now on the upcoming Ohio primary, which will take place next week on March 15. Sanders opened up a campaign office in downtown Cincy yesterday. Kasich is hoping an Ohio victory can put him back in the GOP race. But polls so far are showing that Clinton and Trump are leading in Ohio.  

The presidential candidates continue to bicker over the hot-button topic of immigration angering Democrats and Republicans over whether or not the U.S. be providing paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants or forcing Mexico to pay for an pretty-much-impossible-to-build wall on the border. Some of Trump's anti-immigration messages have stirred up Latinos so much that the New York Times is reporting that some are seeking out citizenship just to vote against him

Meanwhile, Canada, our often-forgotten neighbor to the north, has decided to double the number of refugees it will take this year. Canadian immigration minister John McCallum says the country aims to take in 57,000 new refugees this year, in addition to the 26,000 Syrians it had taken in in the last three months.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.08.2016 82 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news_policecameras_jonmedina2

Morning News and Stuff

Is Cranley trying to stack Dem deck?; Cincy not tops when it comes to urban policy; Ohio secretary of state directive causes controversy

Hey all. Happy International Women’s Day! Here are some links to info about rad pioneering ladies you should probably know about if you don’t already. Anyway, here’s the news today.

Is Mayor John Cranley stacking the deck in the local Democratic Party ahead of 2017 in hopes of gaining the party’s endorsement for his reelection and running allies for Cincinnati City Council elections? Some think so. A political action committee that has backed the mayor has been mailing out ads supporting Cranley allies running for Democrat precinct executives. Those positions in the Hamilton County Democratic Party help determine endorsements, the party’s City Council slate and other important partisan choices.

Meanwhile, Democratic opponents of the mayor who favor the streetcar and other policies Cranley has opposed are running for those spots. The mailers associated with the Cincinnatus PAC use President Barack Obama’s image and name candidates for the precinct positions that the PAC says will best “protect his legacy.” That PAC shares an address with Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke’s law firm, though Burke says he’s not involved in the group. Cranley’s opponents say the PAC’s mailings are a kind of cronyism, while Cranley says they’re about building a stronger party. The spat is part of a larger divide within the local Democratic party between established and moderate politicians like Cranley and a more progressive cadre of Democrats. Look for this schism within the local Democratic Party to widen as we get closer to 2017.

• A man who recorded a video he says shows Cincinnati police harassing him in Over-the-Rhine will appear in Hamilton County courts today on contempt of court charges. Charles Harrell spent the weekend in jail without bond after an attorney filed an affidavit that he took photos of police officers outside a Hamilton County courtroom, a violation of security policy there. Harrell was in court at the time facing jaywalking and drug possession charges in relation to the incident he captured on video last month. In that video, officer Baron Osterman follows Harrell on a bicycle, confronting him over an alleged pedestrian violation. That encounter escalated into a verbal argument, at which time Harrell was arrested. Harrell pled guilty to the drug charge but not guilty to resisting arrest and the pedestrian violation.

• Breaking news: U.S. urban policy makers don’t look to Cincinnati, land of years-long battles over a small stretch of bike lane, for its urban policy expertise. That’s one takeaway from a new survey of 89 mayors by Boston University. Less than five percent of respondents to that survey mentioned Cincinnati as a place they look to for policy inspiration. Ouch.

• Cincinnati City Councilman and U.S. Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld has a new endorsement, and it’s, uh, out of this world (preemptive apologies for that one). Yes, Mark Hamill, of Star Wars fame, has come out in support for Sittenfeld based on his advocacy for tighter gun laws. Hamill played Luke Skywalker, in case you were somehow unaware of that. My birthplace of Hamilton, Ohio is also named in his honor. (This is completely untrue, but I told my Minnesota-born coworker Natalie Krebs this and now she’s very, very confused).

Meanwhile, Sittenfeld’s opponent, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is leading by a large margin ahead of Ohio’s March 15 primary, has announced some powerful endorsements of his own, including former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Giffords has become a vocal proponent for gun control since surviving an assassination attempt in 2011. Strickland has taken much criticism from Sittenfeld for his mixed record when it comes to gun control and has in the past voted against tighter gun control laws. He now says he supports some gun control measures, however.

• Should 17-year-olds be allowed to vote on prospective presidential candidates in Ohio’s primary elections if they’ll be 18 for the general election in November? Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says no, but advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are pushing back against that. Husted issued a directive recently that says because delegates are elected for the primary instead of a presidential candidate simply being nominated, 17-year-olds can’t vote for them. That’s caused charges that Husted is trying to curtail young peoples’ rights to decide who will end up running in the general presidential election. Meanwhile, there are other points of confusion about Ohio’s primary voting systems heading into the March 15 election. Read about those here.

• Finally, four states will vote for GOP presidential primary candidates today and two will vote for Democratic presidential hopefuls. What’s gonna happen? It’s high drama as Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi weigh in on the GOP candidates and Michigan and Mississippi decide on Democrats. Michigan, with its big delegate count, is the big deal for both sides, and it’s a state where Ohio Gov. John Kasich is fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant ahead of Ohio’s primary next week. Should Kasich pull out a win here, as at least one poll suggests he could, it would help change the math around Donald Trump’s path to a clean, uncontested nomination. Meanwhile, fellow anti-establishment candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is creeping up on Trump. You can read all about the drama in our primary edition out tomorrow.

 
 

 

 

by Nick Swartsell 05.26.2016 3 days ago
Posted In: News at 04:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news_dennison2_ns

Dennison Vote Delayed

Representatives for Joseph family make their argument for tearing down the historic building, but no decision reached yet

After a nearly four-hour meeting, Cincinnati's Historic Conservation Board adjourned this afternoon without voting on Columbia REI, LLC's application to tear down the historic Dennison building downtown at 716-718 Main St.

That application has caused controversy. Columbia, owned by the powerful Joseph family, says it would be too expensive to save the building and would like to build a headquarters for an as-yet unidentified Fortune 500 company on the site. But preservationists say the building, which was designed by the firm of noted architect Samuel Hannaford, is a vital part of downtown's urban fabric.

Representatives for Columbia and the Joseph family presented their case to five members of the seven-member board. The group called a number of experts they've hired while they've owned the building to give evidence they say shows the building can't be redeveloped in an economically feasible way due to its poor condition and structural attributes.

Most of the presentation restated the key points of this assertion in greater detail, but there was at least one new revelation: how the Cincinnati City Center Development Company, which purchased the building for $1.2 million and then sold it to Columbia for $740,000, recouped money on the deal. Representatives for the Joseph family say the group paid 3CDC further development costs after the initial sale, making up the missing money.

The meeting had its fair share of contention: Columbia's attorney Fran Barrett moved to have Cincinnati Urban Conservator Beth Johnson's testimony stricken from the proceedings. Barrett said that Johnson has shown "extreme prejudice and bias" and that the Josephs "have a stacked deck against us going in" to their demolition application.

Johnson last month wrote a report taking staunch issue with the Josephs' assertion that anything other than demolishing the building would present the company with an economic hardship, pointing out the building's sound structural condition and the fact that studies on the economic feasibility of redevelopment of the building didn't take into account historic state tax credits and other incentives.

Lance Brown, the executive vice president of Beck Consulting, which drew up the economic feasibility report, told the board that no normal type of use — apartments, condos, office space — was feasible for the Dennison. However, when pushed by the board, Brown admitted he wasn't specifically familiar with incentives like state Historic Preservation tax credits, LEED tax credits, or city grants and tax credits that could have made the project more feasible.

Multiple board members also took issue with Brown's use of the term "flophouse" to describe the Dennison's former life as a single room occupancy hotel. Brown cracked that he got his understanding of that term from "extensive research on Wikipedia and Google."

Board member Judith Spraul-Schmidt chided Brown for using the term, saying that such housing was designed to be "decent and safe."

The board will work with attorneys representing the Josephs and opponents of the demolition application to set the next hearing, at which those seeking to save the Dennison will make their case.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.26.2016 3 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_otr

Effort to Preserve 300 Units of OTR Affordable Housing Unveiled

Cranley budget proposal calls for $2 million in OTR to foster mixed-income developments

Over-the-Rhine will get 300 improved units of affordable housing, many as part of mixed-income developments, if $2 million in funding in Mayor John Cranley’s budget proposal is approved. Another $2 million would be dedicated to affordable housing elsewhere in the city if the plan goes forward.

The plan would rehabilitate affordable housing at eight sites, many under contracts with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Currently, those sites house 302 units of housing, many of which city officials say are in substandard and neglected condition. The city money would go toward a $135 million effort by developers like Model Group and 3CDC to turn those sites into 304 units of high-quality affordable housing along with 212 market rate units at four of the sites.

Cranley, Vice Mayor David Mann, representatives from Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and developers Model Group and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation unveiled the proposal today at a news conference outside 1525 Race St., which would see 25 units of affordable housing developed by Model along with 85 market rate units.

“We’re very excited to be here today to celebrate affordable housing and a diverse community in Over-the-Rhine,” said Over-the-Rhine Community Executive Director Mary Burke Rivers. “People who are working in our city, or retired, or veterans, can’t afford what the market provides for housing. It’s gotten very complicated, but at its core it’s a simple math problem. This money addresses that math problem.”

The developments are designed to help the slide in affordable housing the neighborhood has seen in the past decade, Cranley says. Since 2000, 73 percent of OTR’s lowest-cost housing units have left the neighborhood, according to a study by Xavier’s Community Building Institute. That's caused some displacement of residents.

“We’ve seen here in Over-the-Rhine an extraordinary renaissance that was unthinkable five or 10 years ago,” Cranley said at the news conference. “But I think we all believe it should not come at the expense of the people who have lived here a long time. There have always been HUD contracts that have been extended for 15 or 30 years to preserve affordable housing. But it’s not enough, and we’d like to do more. We want to adjust to changing circumstances. We want a healthy community that is mixed income. I think this is a tremendous opportunity to do that.”

Cranley says the financing is general fund money coming from the city’s sale of the Blue Ash Airport and refinancing of some streetcar expenses.

Model Group CEO Bobby Maly says affordable housing and economic development can go hand and hand.

“Investing in affordable housing can also be investing in economic development and revitalization. That means investing in high-quality affordable housing alongside, adjacent to, high-quality market rate housing. It also means investing in affordable housing next to high-investment community projects. Things like Washington Park and other public investments.”

A focus on mixed-income development is the very deliberate focus of the proposal, Mann says.

“It’s no accident that we’re here,” Mann said about the site of the news announcement, a series of empty buildings on Race Street. “Next door, new, market rate condos are being built. As I understand from (3CDC CEO) Mr. (Steve) Leeper, they’ll be $300,000 and up. Here, because of the affordable housing money that the budget will commit to Over-the-Rhine, there will be about 25 renovated units of affordable housing.”

Mann cited statistics that 50 percent of renters in Cincinnati pay more than 30 percent of their incomes for apartments, the threshold for affordability set by the federal government.

“We hope there are ways that the $2 million can be leveraged,” Mann said, to create more opportunities for affordable housing creation. The other $2 million will be dispersed to developers doing low-income housing projects in other parts of the city through an as-yet-to-be-determined process.

The plan would, in some cases, move affordable units to other buildings and create market rate or mixed-income developments in their place.

As and example: Among the sites involved in the OTR plan are the Jan and Senate Apartments, six buildings containing 101 units of subsidized housing, and the so-called Mercy portfolio, which includes 140 units in 18 buildings in OTR for people making less than 60 percent of the area median income — about $71,000 for a family of four. About 70 of those units are in bad shape, developers say, while another 70 need only minor work.

Developers say the Jan and Senate properties are in danger of losing their rental subsidies due to their poor condition and have begun managing the sites and moving tenants to other, nearby affordable units with the help of the Cincinnati Legal Aid Society ahead of rehab work. The HUD contracts held by the Jan and Senate buildings would then be transferred to a number of other affordable housing sites, 3CDC and Model Group say in an outline of their plan provided by city officials. About 45 units of housing at 60 percent of the area median income will stay at the Jan and Senate as part of a mixed-income development.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 05.26.2016 3 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cranley

Morning News and Stuff

Off-duty CPD officer fatally shoots robbery suspect; Cranley wants to restore human services funding; medical marijuana bill heads to Kasich's desk

Good morning, Cincy! A lot is happening around the city so let's get straight to the headlines. 

• An off-duty Cincinnati police officer fatally shot a man suspected of robbing a Madisonville bank yesterday afternoon. CPD Chief Eliot Isaac confirmed that the still-unnamed CPD officer fired two shots at 20-year-old Terry Frost in the Fifth Third bank off Madison Avenue shortly after 4 p.m. Frost reportedly claimed to have a gun during the robbery, then, after being shot, stumbled off into the woods behind the bank where he was found dead by CPD officers. Police still haven't said whether Frost had a gun or any other weapon. CPD is planning on holding a press conference this morning to reveal the name of the officer. This is the third fatal shooting by a CPD officer this year. 

• Mayor John Cranley says he is not OK with the cuts to human services funding in City Manager Harry Black's proposed budget released last week. Cranley told The Enquirer he wants to bring back 82 percent of the $413,500 Black has proposed cutting, amounting to an 8.5 percent decrease. Under Cranley's proposal, human services funding would account for 1.9 percent of the budget. Black's budget dedicates $4 million to five different agencies with the majority of funds going to nonprofit United Way. 

• Mayor Cranley appears to be a busy man at the moment. The mayor will also hold a press conference with Vice Mayor David Mann this morning at 10:30 a.m. in Over-The-Rhine to unveil the details of a $135 million initiative to upgrade and add low-income housing to the neighborhood. The effort reportedly will be led by 3CDC and Walnut Hills nonprofit The Model Group. 

• The city is taking Mahogany's owner Liz Rogers to court. Rogers received a $300,000 loan from the city in 2012 to open the soul food restaurant, which went under in September 2014. Taxpayers have forgiven Rogers for two-thirds of the loan, but she is refusing to repay the $96,928 she still owes the city. Rogers missed her $800 loan payments in March and April, and the city filed suit on May 11. Vice Mayor Mann said the city was left with "no choice." She is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 1.  

• A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Ohio in a highly restrictive form is on its way to Gov. John Kasich's desk. The legislation passed the Senate last evening with a margin of just three votes. The bill would still prohibit growing and smoking the plant, but would allow it in a vapor form and would be available for doctors to prescribe to patients with a list of approved medical conditions. The Ohio Department of Commerce would oversee the growth, distribution and testing of the plant. Some Democrats expressed disapproval at the provision that allows employers to fire employees who tested positive for the drug — even if they have a prescription. If Gov. Kasich signs the bill into law, Ohio will become the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. 

• Gov. Kasich, like Mayor Cranley, also appears to have a lot on his plate now. Also on its way to the Gov.'s desk: a bill that would require taxpayers to fork over thousands of dollars to keep polls open longer. The proposal from Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Green Township, came from the controversy sparked after a federal judge in Hamilton County ordered the polls during the March 15 primary to stay open 90 minutes longer. The bill would require state judges who order polls to stay open later to collect bonds. Several Democrats and the American Civil Liberties Union have objected to the proposed change, saying it could discourage people from voting.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.25.2016 4 days ago
Posted In: News at 08:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
tom massie

Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar start date set; will Avondale get a real grocery store?; Kasich still won't support Trump

Good morning all. Here’s what’s going on in the world today.

The city of Cincinnati has officially announced an opening date for the city’s streetcar. The transit project running through Over-the-Rhine and downtown will take its first passengers Sept. 9, beginning with an opening ceremony at some point mid-day. The project, which has been fraught with political battles and funding concerns, is being financed with increased parking revenues, advertising proceeds and other sources that aren’t part of the city’s general fund budget.

• Mayor John Cranley yesterday rolled out more of his proposals for the city’s budget, which involve some $30 million for neighborhood projects. He spoke at a news conference in Avondale about projects he’d like to see funded in that neighborhood under his proposed fiscal plan, including a renewed Avondale Towne Center with a Save-A-Lot grocery store. Avondale has been trying to get a full-service grocery store since Aldi left the neighborhood about eight years ago. The city would chip in about $2 million to get development started under Cranley’s plan. The mayor did acknowledge that neighborhood activists had hoped for a higher-scale store such as a Kroger but that the Save-A-Lot will be expected to stock fresh produce and other necessities. Cranley yesterday also announced he would provide $3.2 million for a new community development corporation in Bond Hill and Roselawn.

• Cranley is set to pitch another round of investments today in the city’s East Side neighborhoods. He’s also expected to announce that the city will purchase the land necessary to build the Wasson Way bike trail. That $11.8 million, 4.1-mile stretch of former railway is vital to the completion of the trail, which would pass through a number of East Side neighborhoods on its way to Uptown. If the city doesn’t purchase the land by the end of July, the price will jump by nearly $600,000. It’s unclear where the construction money for the project will come from. The city applied for a federal TIGER grant last year to help fund building costs for the bike trail but was turned down.

• Wait. Hold on. Do I agree on something with U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, the tea party crusader from Northern Kentucky? It would… kind of appear so. Massie owes the GOP $24,000 in “party dues,” i.e. money from his fundraising coffers the party expects in order to stay in its good graces. Massie has criticized the practice, which is also used to determine who gets which committee assignment in the House. Particular assignments have particular dollar amounts assigned to them, and the more influential the committee, the more money a House member is expected to kick in. Massie is slamming this system, saying it means the best fundraisers, not the best lawmakers, get oversized influence in the legislative process. In what may be the only example of partisan agreement between a tea party member and the rest of Congress, some Democrats agree with him. I also think it sounds pretty messed up.

• What policies will law enforcement officers and departments have to follow regarding body cameras across Ohio?

Read More

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.24.2016 5 days ago
Posted In: News at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
trump

Morning News and Stuff

Judge divvies up DuBose settlement; council members request MSD audit; Clinton beating Trump in Ohio polls

Good morning all. Lots to talk about today so let’s get to it!

The 13 children of Samuel DuBose will each receive more than $200,000 as part of a settlement between the family and the University of Cincinnati, a Hamilton County judge ruled yesterday. DuBose was shot and killed by UC police officer Ray Tensing July 19 last year. In addition to the money for his children, DuBose’s mother Audrey DuBose will receive $90,000, his six siblings will receive $32,000 each and his father Sam Johnson will receive $25,000, Judge Ralph Winlker announced yesterday. The settlement, which also includes other elements such as college tuition for DuBose’s children, resolves a civil suit against the university. Criminal proceedings are ongoing against former officer Tensing, who is charged with murder and manslaughter. He’s scheduled to stand trial on those charges in October.

• Cincinnati City Council members are requesting the recently completed audit of the region’s Metropolitan Sewer District ahead of the city's budget process, but City Manager Harry Black says they shouldn't rush. The audit, which resulted from revelations that MSD spent millions on contracts it didn’t properly put through a bidding process, is still with the city’s lawyers in a working draft form, Black says. But with work on the city’s budget looming, council members like Kevin Flynn and Chris Seelbach say the time is now to reveal the results of the audit. Things got testy when Council pushed for more information from the audit at yesterday’s budget and finance committee meeting, with Black resisting requests for that information and Seelbach accusing the city manager of giving him an eye roll. Oh snap.

• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is at the White House today meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and state and local government officials as part of a discussion on gun violence. Sittenfeld made gun control a big part of his campaign when he was running for Senate against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. Sittenfeld lost that race but has pledged to continue efforts to curtail shootings. He told WVXU he is there to learn more about strategies for curbing gun violence and that he doesn’t think the invite has anything to do with his former Senate campaign. President Barack Obama and VP Biden endorsed Strickland in that race.

This is a weird article. Breaking news: The city has a lot of stairs. Some of them are crumbling. More breaking news: The city isn’t exactly rushing to pay to fix them. Thus concludes your breaking news update about something you probably already knew about. The steps are a big part of the city’s walking infrastructure (I take them every day). But they’ve been neglected since, well, probably since people started moving out of the city. The money it would take to fix them is also an infinitesimally small portion of the city’s budget at a time when Mayor John Cranley is discussing throwing $30 million to a few city neighborhoods.

• A federal judge has temporarily blocked an Ohio law that would strip $1.4 million in public money from Planned Parenthood in the state. That money goes to providing health screenings for low-income women, not to providing abortions. The temporary restraining order keeping Ohio from enforcing the law, which passed in February, comes as a larger court fight around the measure continues. You can read more about all of that in our story here.

• Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost yesterday announced the results of surprise headcounts at Ohio charter schools, saying at least some of the schools had very few or no students attending on the days of the unannounced visits. Yost said the extremely low attendance numbers at three charters in the state suggests they might be operating illegally as distance learning schools instead of the brick and mortar schools they’re certified to operate as. It’s the latest revelation in a bad stretch for the state’s charters, which have faced allegations of mismanagement and an Ohio Department of Education data rigging scandal that artificially inflated charter school performance by omitting some low-performing online schools. Yost visited 14 drop-out recovery schools around the state and found an average attendance of just 34 percent.

• The revelations, as well as other frustrations with the state’s public schools, had the auditor spitting hot fire at the ODE yesterday, calling it “among the worst, if not the worst-run agency in state government.” Yost cited poor charter school accountability and performance as well as a slow roll out for ODE’s new data management system as among the sources for his frustration with the agency.

• Finally, more presidential politics, because I know you need more of that in your life. Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in Ohio, according to the latest polls asking voters about the upcoming general election. But it’s not the blowout you might expect. Clinton’s up 44 percent to Trump’s 39 percent in the Buckeye State — less than her primary opponent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who bests Trump 48 percent to 39 percent in the CBS/YouGov poll. Voters have a pretty negative opinion of both candidates, however — 55 percent view Clinton negatively and 59 percent feel the same about Trump.

That’s it for me. See you tomorrow. Tweet or email in the meantime.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.23.2016 6 days ago
Posted In: News, Women's Health at 03:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_protester_7-9 copy

Federal Court Blocks Ohio Law Defunding Planned Parenthood

Temporary restraining order against the state will allow Planned Parenthood to continue providing health services for now

A federal circuit court today temporarily blocked an Ohio law that would strip Planned Parenthood of about $1.4 million in state and federal funds.

That law was slated to go into effect today, but will now be placed on hold until June 6 as the court considers a longer-lasting injunction against the defunding move by conservative state lawmakers. 

The money the state seeks to withhold is used by Planned Parenthood to provide non-abortion healthcare services, including HIV and cancer screenings. 

Judge Michael R. Barrett of the U.S. Southwest District Court ruled that the organization’s challenge to the law has a significant chance of success in federal courts, and thus placed a temporary restraining order on the state, preventing it from enforcing the law for the time being.

Barrett agreed with Planned Parenthood’s arguments that the law blocking the money could severely damage medical-screening activities the organization undertakes, and that those operations could be hard to reestablish.

“Plaintiffs explain that without the funds at issue here, Plaintiffs will be forced to stop providing services such as pap smears and other cancer screenings, tests for HIV/AIDS and tests and treatment for other STDs, infant mortality prevention programs, and sexual health education programs,” Barrett wrote in his ruling today. “Therefore, the Court concludes that for purposes of deciding Plaintiffs’ Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Plaintiffs have established irreparable injury.”

In seeking the injunction, Planned Parenthood argues that the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment by targeting the organization due to the fact it provides abortions.

State lawmakers have been open in acknowledging that they seek to strip funds from Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions, even though the public money given to the organization goes to other health services.

Conservatives in the state house have said they’re opposed to abortion for moral and safety reasons, and have described their crackdown on abortion providers like Planned Parenthood as a way to protect women.

“We have an obligation to say to Planned Parenthood, until you get out of the business of termination of pregnancy, the destruction of human life, we are not going to choose to fund you,” Ohio Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Republican who helped push the law, said during debate over the defunding provision in January.

But Planned Parenthood claims these clinics aren't immediately in a position to fill the healthcare gaps it would leave, which would include 70,000 free STD screenings it provides through a Centers for Disease Control program and 5,000 free HIV tests for populations at high risk for the virus.

Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio serves 20 counties in the region. It says about 75 percent of its clients are low-income.
 
The defunding effort is the latest in a recent string of laws passed by Ohio Republicans seeking to limit abortions. The state has passed ever-stricter standards, including stipulations about admitting privileges at local hospitals and rules against publicly funded hospitals entering into such agreements with abortion clinics. That’s whittled down the number of clinics in the state from 14 a few years ago to just nine today. Among them is the last clinic in the Cincinnati area, the Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center in Mount Auburn, which has been threatened with closure over the new laws.

Planned Parenthood officials cheered the federal court’s decision today.

“This ruling is a victory for the tens of thousands of Ohioans that rely on Planned Parenthood for care each year,” said Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio CEO Jerry Lawson. “Our state legislators want to ban abortion across the board, and they were willing to decimate access to preventive care in the process. But this isn’t about politics for our patients, it’s about their health and their lives. If you have a lump in your breast or need an HIV test, lawmakers should be making it easier, not harder, to get the care you need.”

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.23.2016 6 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
michelle dillingham 2

Morning News and Stuff

City's top brass all got raises last year; local Dems tussle over 2017; historic Bavarian Brewery safe for now

Hey hey Cincinnati. Hope you got outside and soaked up the perfect weather this weekend. Now it’s back to the real world, where news happens.

The directors of every city of Cincinnati department received raises this past year, according to city records reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer. In total, those raises are costing city taxpayers $234,000 more a year. Some of the city’s 25 department heads got those pay bumps despite making few of their stated goals and receiving rather mixed performance reviews. Top salary getters include Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, whose $162,000 paycheck is 20 percent more than his predecessor Chief Jeffrey Blackwell made. Fire Chief Richard Braun, who is now also making $162,000, saw his pay raised 16 percent. Those raises came during a time when the city projected as much as a $14 million budget deficit. That deficit was cut in half by more recent economic projections, but could still trigger cuts to the city’s human services and economic development efforts, among other services. The city manager’s recently released budget calls for a 1 percent raise for all city employees, and police and fire personnel are negotiating to get a 3 percent bump.

• Speaking of the budget, Mayor John Cranley is set to unveil his ideas for the city’s financial plan today at 11 a.m. at Westwood Town Hall, according to a news release from the mayor's office. On the agenda: $30 million for neighborhood projects in that neighborhood and in places like West Price Hill, North Avondale, Bond Hill and others. City Manager Black released his budget proposal Thursday, and Cranley has two weeks to submit his version to City Council. He’ll be presenting his version of the budget at town halls throughout the week.

• We haven’t even survived 2016 yet, but we’re already talking about the election after it. Last week, we told you about the increasing focus around Cincinnati’s 2017 mayoral and City Council races. Now, after revelations that Councilwoman Yvette Simpson sent out a memo to potential firms that could help her in a bid opposing fellow Dem Cranley, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Tim Burke is asking party members to focus on this year’s election. Burke has said it’s too early to focus on next year just yet when there are big races at the county level — most notably a pitched fight for control of the Hamilton County Commission. State Rep. Denise Driehaus is running to grab a seat on that body, and if she pulls out a victory against Republican interim commissioner Dennis Deters, the three-member group that oversees the county could have a Democrat majority for the first time in years. But the call for unity from Burke comes as the party is experiencing tension between two factions in the city: younger, more progressive Dems who tended to support the streetcar and who push for items like increases in human services funding, and more established, moderate Democrats like Mayor Cranley.

• That battle continues to shape up: progressive 2013 City Council candidate Michelle Dillingham is launching her bid for a Council seat in the 2017 election tonight at Bromwell’s Harth-Lounge at 6 p.m. Dillingham came in 12th in that race and hopes to turn support for her from progressives into a Council seat this time around.

• A historic building in Covington will get at least a little more time safe from the wrecking ball. Kenton County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Summe told Bavarian Brewery owners Columbia Sussex that they can’t demolish the 100-year-old building. The structure, which sits in a historic district, once held Jillian’s nightclub. Columbia-Sussex originally wanted to put a casino on the property, but Kentucky legislators have yet to pass a law that would allow that to happen. Now, the company says the only way it can see a return on investment is by demolishing the building. Covington’s Urban Design Review Board previously denied a permit application for that demolition, and Judge Summe’s ruling affirms that position. Columbia-Sussex can appeal her decision, however.

• Finally, University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono made big news over the weekend with his admission that he suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts as a younger man. Ono made the revelation at a fundraiser Saturday for mental health-awareness group 1N5, whose name is a reference to research that shows one in five individuals in the United States suffers from mental illness. Ono said that by talking about his past struggles, he hoped to show that mental illness is treatable and nothing to be ashamed of.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 05.20.2016 9 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
yvette simpson

Morning News and Stuff

Councilwoman Simpson drops hints at possible mayoral run; UC down to final candidates for police chief; Oklahoma passes most restrictive abortion bill yet

Good morning y’all! Here are your morning headlines.

• Councilwoman Yvette Simpson might have released the first shred of evidence that she’s running for mayor next year. Simpson sent a letter to consulting firms this month searching for someone who could help with a “campaign against an incumbent executive office holder,” aka Mayor John Cranley. Simpson won’t officially say yet whether she’s going to take a shot at Cranley’s spot or just run for a third term on Council in 2017 but says she’ll make a decision by the end of this year.

• It’s that super exciting time of year when the city lays out its budget for next year. Yesterday, City Manager Harry Black presented his plan for a $1.2 billion city budget that includes raises for city employees, cuts to the human service department and the city’s economic development programs and building a new marina. Yep, the city wants the Parks Department to build a marina along the Ohio River. Mayor Cranley has two weeks to present the budget to Council, which will then approve or amend it some time before the next fiscal year begins on July 1.

• The University of Cincinnati Department of Public Safety says it is down to three candidates to lead the department. The candidates were chosen by an outside consulting firm and include the director of public safety at Oregon State University, a previous CPD officer with more than 20 years experience and police deputy chief at Ohio State. The department is also down to two candidates for assistant chief, including a CPD Department Captain. UC will present the candidates to the public during open forums will be held May 23-25. Former Police Chief Jason Goodrich and Assistant Chief Tim Thornton resigned in February in the wake of the shooting of Mount Auburn resident Samuel DuBose by former UC police officer Ray Tensing.

• Judge Tracie Hunter will not be going to jail today. The suspended juvenile court judge was supposed to start her 60-day jail sentence today, but a judge suspended her sentence after Hunter filed a petition claiming misconduct by the special prosecutor and judge during her trial. Federal Judge Timothy Black ruled Hunter can remain free during the proceedings. A jury convicted Hunter of unlawful interest in a public contract for helping her brother in a discipline hearing 19 months ago.

• Could U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown become Vice President Brown? Yesterday, Sen. Brown was seen parading around with current VP Joe Biden in Columbus, leading to rumors that the progressive senator could be Hillary Clinton’s pick for running mate. Nothing is certain yet, as Biden told White House reporters that Brown would be a “great pick” but then went on to highlight other strong Democratic contenders without hinting at a favorite.

• Oklahoma’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill yesterday that would subject doctors to felony charges and revoke their medical licenses for performing abortions. The bill — which is most restrictive abortion bill passed yet — is still waiting on a signature from Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. If signed in to law, it will almost certainly be challenged in state or federal court where legal experts say it will likely be declared unconstitutional.

News tips go here.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.19.2016 10 days ago
Posted In: News at 01:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

It's City Budget Season Again!

On deck: a marina at Smale, employee raises and cuts to human services

Are you ready for city budget season? It started today.

City Manager Harry Black this morning presented his vision for Cincinnati’s fiscal year 2017 spending blueprint; a $1.2 billion budget he touts as structurally balanced. On deck: a literal deck, as in, a marina along the Ohio River built by the Cincinnati Parks Department, raises for city employees — three percent for police and fire, plus a boost for low-paid workers through a municipal living wage initiative — and cuts to some agencies to make up for a projected $6.7 million revenue shortfall, priming another potential battle over the city’s human services funding.

Last year, Council battled for, and received, $3 million for human services to be spent through a United Way-run funding process, which vets social service organizations based on effectiveness. This year, that amount will drop to $2,781,000.

That nine percent drop once again falls short of a City Council commitment set last decade pledging to commit at least 1.5 percent of the city’s operating budget to human services.

Other organizations now, but not previously, categorized in the human services section of the budget will also take hits. Mayor John Cranley’s Hand Up Initiative, which runs through Cincinnati Works, will receive $225,000 — $25,000 less than last year. Some programs previously funded by the city, like Cradle Cincinnati, which seeks to address the city’s high infant mortality rate, will receive no money at all. Last year, Cradle got $250,000 from the city’s human services fund.

Not everyone will lose when it comes to human services funding, however. The Center for Closing the Health Gap, run by close Cranley ally and former mayor Dwight Tillery, will see its city funding boosted to $1 million, a $250,000 increase over last year. The organization has received increases in past budgets under Cranley as well.

The city’s economic development programs will also see big cuts. Nearly every program funded by that portion of the budget will take hits, totaling about $285,000. Only MORTAR, a program seeking to boost minority entrepreneurship, will see a slight budget boost.

The funding cuts could have been worse: originally, the city was projected to have as much as a $14 million deficit. But revised projections by University of Cincinnati economists showed the revenue gap will be about half that size. Income tax revenues to the city are expected to grow by 4.6 percent, according to a report on the budget issued by City Manager Black.

But the need for cuts elsewhere won’t stop the city from investing in a marina along Smale Riverfront Park. The park board today voted to go forward with the project, which has been in the works for nearly two decades, and Black’s budget calls for $750,000 of city money to go toward the estimated $3.6 million cost of the project. That money is part of $4 million in Black's budget for parks capital projects. Other money could come from past federal funds for Smale, as well as an application for a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The board says the project, which as proposed would have room for 29 boats, will generate revenue for the parks department.

More on the budget as the process unfolds; this party is just getting started. Mayor Cranley has two weeks to present the budget to Council, which will then vote to approve or amend it. The process should wrap up sometime before July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 05.19.2016 10 days ago
Posted In: News at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
sherrod brown

Will Sen. Sherrod Brown be Clinton's VP Pick?

Appearance yesterday in Columbus with VP Joe Biden stokes speculation

You might have missed it, but U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from the Cleveland area, was traveling around with Vice President Joe Biden yesterday in Columbus.

It’s easy to see the two palling around as a hint that Brown, whose name has been tossed around as a running mate for Democratic presidential primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton, might be next in line for Biden’s job.

But is Brown actually a contender in the veepstakes?

So far, the gruff-voiced progressive senator has demurred on that suggestion, trying to shift the spotlight to other potential VP picks.

“I think Secretary Perez and Tim Kaine would be good vice presidents,” Brown told media yesterday. Tom Perez is Obama’s labor secretary, and Kaine is a U.S. senator from Virginia.

Biden and Brown were visiting the Buckeye State to tout President Barack Obama’s move to extend overtime pay to more U.S. workers, and to do some politicking around the 2016 election. Ohio is a vital swing state for 2016 presidential contenders, a fact that Biden acknowledged was a factor in the trip. More specifically, the two did a bit of campaigning for former Democratic Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who is campaigning to take Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s seat in November.

Ohio’s Senate situation could provide a good reason Brown wouldn’t get the VP nod from Clinton. As Brown himself has pointed out, he would have to leave his Senate seat before 2018, when he’s up for reelection. Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich would then get to pick his replacement. That’s a seat Democrats can’t afford to lose as they wrestle to regain control of Congress.

But don’t count Brown out just yet.

Biden yesterday told White House reporters that Brown “would be a great pick” as Clinton’s running mate. But he also highlighted the strong pool of candidates Democrats have available and didn’t offer an endorsements.

Among other possible picks are Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and progressive firebrand Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who some say Clinton could choose to try and build a bridge with supporters of her primary rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
 
 
 
Close
Close
Close