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by German Lopez 02.13.2013
barack obama 2

Morning News and Stuff

Obama gives State of the Union, archdiocese defends LGBT firing, Qualls against HUD sale

President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union speech yesterday. During the speech, Obama outlined fairly liberal proposals for the economy, climate change, gun control and immigration. He also suggested raising the minimum wage to $9 and attaching it to rising cost of living standards. The Washington Post analyzed the proposals here. To watch a bunch of old people clap too much while the president outlines policy proposals that will likely never pass a gridlocked Congress, click here.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is standing firm in its firing of Purcell Marian High School administrator Mike Moroski. The termination came after Moroski publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage on his blog — a position that contradicts the Catholic Church’s teachings. CityBeat covered Moroski’s case in this week’s news story, and gay marriage was covered more broadly in a previous in-depth story.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls wants to stop the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from selling 768 housing units in Walnut Hills, Avondale and Millvale. Qualls says the sale is “eerily similar” to a sale dating back to 2007, which resulted in dropping property values and blighted buildings. She argues local buyers should get a chance to take up the properties before HUD makes the sale to a New York company.

State Treasurer Josh Mandel is up to his old tricks again. In a letter to Ohio legislators Monday, Mandel, a Republican, opposed the Medicaid expansion, claiming, “There is no free money.” But for the state, the Medicaid expansion is essentially free money. The federal government will cover all the costs of the expansion for the first three years, then phase down to paying 90 percent of the costs by 2020 — essentially, free money. Gov. John Kasich, another Republican, has backed the Medicaid expansion, claiming it makes financial sense in the long term. In 2012, Mandel lost the race for Ohio’s Senate seat after he ran a notoriously dishonest campaign against U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Financing details for the Brent Spence Bridge are due in March. The details will provide much-wanted information for local residents cautious about the new tolling scheme, which will help pay for the bridge’s reconstruction.

Cincinnati officials and residents celebrated the work completed near the Horseshoe Casino at an event yesterday. Mayor Mark Mallory highlighted the infrastructure improvements made to accommodate the casino, calling the work a successful collaboration between city government, the casino and residents.

The Ohio Resource Center has a new website for K-12 digital content. The website, ilearnOhio, is supposed to provide parents and students with the tools needed for online distance learning.

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is being sued for not paying rent. The restaurant claims it’s financially viable, but it’s holding the rent in escrow after its landlord allegedly violated the leasing agreement. The establishment was one of the first to open at The Banks.

A public Ohio school district is fighting a lawsuit in order to keep its portrait of Jesus. The school district claims the portrait is owned by a student club and is “private speech,” but opponents argue the portrait violates separation of church and state.

Update on the Alamo situation at Tower Place Mall: Only one tenant remains.

The unofficial spokesman of Heart Attack Grill, the infamous Las Vegas restaurant, died of a heart attack.

Americans expect a human mission to Mars in the next 20 years, but that’s probably because they don’t know how little funding NASA gets.

An asteroid will barely miss Earth on Feb. 15. If it were to hit, it would generate the explosive equivalent of 2,500 kilotons of TNT. In comparison, the nuclear bomb that hit Hiroshima during World War 2 generated a measly equivalent of 17 kilotons of TNT.

by German Lopez 08.23.2013
Posted In: News, Energy, Pensions, Education at 09:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
ohio statehouse

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio could weaken energy rules, CPS struggles in new report cards, pension group advances

National conservative groups have brought their concerted effort to weaken state energy standards to Ohio. State Sen. Bill Seitz, who’s on the board of directors of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), says he will introduce a bill within two weeks that would cap how much utilities can spend on energy efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state wind and solar power. ALEC and the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank backed in part by oil companies and global-warming deniers, have teamed up to undo energy standards in different states, but so far the groups’ efforts have failed. Seitz’s proposal would weaken Ohio’s Clean Energy Law, which environmentalists and other green energy advocates say have revitalized wind, solar and other renewable projects around the state.

Cincinnati Public Schools got six F’s, one D and two C’s in the 2012-2013 school report card released yesterday by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The scores come with a big caveat: The school district is still being investigated for scrubbing data, which could be favorably skewing results for CPS. This is the first year ODE is using its A-F grading system, which is much more stringent than the previous system — to the point that no school district earned straight A’s this year, according to StateImpact Ohio.

Cincinnati for Pension Reform, the group behind the controversial pension amendment that will appear on the ballot this November, officially registered with the state. The group isn’t disclosing how much money it’s raised so far. The tea party-backed amendment would privatize the city’s pension system, a pooled fund that’s managed by an independent board, so future city employees — excluding cops and firefighters, who use a different system — contribute to and manage individual 401k-style accounts. City officials and unions say the amendment will raise costs for the city and hurt gains for employees. Tea party supporters say it’s needed to deal with Cincinnati’s rising pension costs. CityBeat covered the pension amendment and the national groups who may be helping fund its campaign in further detail here.

Ohio’s oil and gas boom has apparently failed to create all the jobs state officials previously promised. “Total employment growth has been much less robust than sales activity in Ohio's shale country,” claims the Ohio Utica Shale Gas Monitor, which is produced quarterly by the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. CityBeat covered Ohio’s oil and gas boom in further detail here.

A company that received a tax credit through JobsOhio two years ago is moving some executives and operations from Ohio to Chicago. Rittal Corp. has not received the tax credit yet, but it intends to uphold its tax agreement through other operations. JobsOhio is a privatized development agency established by Gov. John Kasich and Republican legislators to replace the Ohio Department of Development. Kasich and allies argue its privatized, secretive nature allow it to more quickly establish job-creating development deals, but Democratic opponents argue the agency is too difficult to hold accountable.

CityBeat commentary on JobsOhio: “Gov. Kasich’s Bias Toward Secrecy.”

Ohio has received more than $383 million as part of the national mortgage settlement, which has helped more than 10,000 Ohioans, according to the state attorney general’s office. The payout, which is paid by banks as part of a settlement reached with states and the federal government, is meant to provide some relief to Americans who were impacted by the housing and economic crisis of 2008.

Enrollment at Ohio colleges, including the University of Cincinnati, is continuing its steady rise.

A campaign supported by AAA, local school officials and police is attempting to reduce the amount of car accidents involving school children. The “School’s Open — Drive Carefully” campaign aims to give drivers a few tips for navigating roads filled with children going to school.

Local startup incubator Hamilton County Business Center was granted $250,000 by the state to help develop tech companies. Cincinnati recently gained national recognition for its tech boom in Entrepreneur and CNBC, with Entrepreneur calling the city “an unexpected hub for tech startups.”

Cincinnati-based Macy’s will pay a civil penalty to settle accusations that it engaged in unfair documentation practices against immigrant employees.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is charging Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank for allegedly discriminating against a couple with disabilities. The bank and others reportedly required unnecessary medical documentation from the couple when the two attempted to refinance their home mortgage with a Federal Housing Administration loan.

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble

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by German Lopez 04.17.2013
Posted In: News, City Council, Education, Streetcar at 09:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar faces $22.7m budget gap, bill would restrict sex education, councilman resigns

In a memo to the mayor and City Council members last night, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. revealed the streetcar is facing a $22.7 million shortfall because construction bids were way over budget. The memo says $5.3 million of that budget gap could be brought down through cuts, but fixing the rest requires $17.4 million in additional funds. The memo comes at a time the city is attempting to balance its operating budget by laying off cops and firefighters. But as John Deatrick explained when the city moved to hire him for the streetcar project, the streetcar is part of the capital budget, which is separate from the operating budget and can't be used to balance the operating budget because of legal and traditional constraints.

The budget bill heading to the Ohio House floor would ban comprehensive sex education, defund Planned Parenthood and fund crisis pregnancy centers that pro-choice groups consider "anti-choice." Citing "gateway sexual activity," the bill would open teachers to up to $5,000 in fines for explaining the use of condoms and other birth control to students, and it also bans the distribution of any birth control on school grounds. The bill takes its anti-contraceptive measures to promote an abstinence-only education program. Research has found abstinence-only programs to be generally ineffective, while birth control programs ultimately save money by avoiding costly pregnancies and sexually transmitted infection treatment.

Councilman Cecil Thomas is stepping down, and he will be replaced by his wife of 32 years, Pam Thomas. The appointment has raised questions about how council members are replaced upon resignation, but Thomas says he's just following the rules. Under the current system, designees appoint successors to council seats, but the designees give great weight to the incumbent's input.

JobsOhio repaid $8.4 million to Ohio yesterday — fulfilling a promise it made in March that it would fully repay the state for public funding received since it opened on July 5, 2011. The sum is much higher than the $1 million state officials originally said would go to the agency. JobsOhio's finances came under criticism after it was revealed that Gov. John Kasich was redirecting public funds to the agency, prompting a closer look from State Auditor Dave Yost. JobsOhio is a privatized development agency that Kasich and Republicans established to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development.

In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, Flying Pig Marathon organizers are evaluating security measures, but they're not sure whether additional measures are needed just yet. The Flying Pig Marathon is expected to draw more than 20,000 participants on May 5 — close to the 23,000 who typically attend the Boston Marathon. Still, only about 150,000 spectators are expected at the Flying Pig Marathon, while about 500,000 typically spectate the Boston Marathon.

City Council is expected to vote today in support of expanding mobile food vending in the city and make the program, which is handled by 3CDC, permanent. The new mobile vending spots will be near nightlife areas in Over-the-Rhine and during the day at Washington Park.

TriHealth and Mercy Health are among the top 15 hospital systems in the United States, according to a new ranking from Truven Health Analytics.

When renewing its contract with Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., Kroger asked the company to move its center from Des Moines, Iowa, to Cincinnati, bringing an estimated 55 new jobs to the city.

New surgical tape works like a parasitic worm for extra stickiness.

For the first time, scientists are being allowed to study psychedelics for potential medical treatments.

by Kevin Osborne 03.06.2012

Morning News and Stuff

Hey, I want to let you in on a secret: There's an election in Ohio today. Super Tuesday is finally here, with more delegates at stake in the race for Republican presidential nominee than any other single day in the 2012 campaign season. There are seven primaries (Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) and three caucuses (Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota) today. A total of 410 delegates – or 17.9 percent of the total – are up for grabs.

Officials at the Hamilton County Board of Elections are estimating that 30 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots today. Turnout probably will be low because the elections board only has received about 8,000 absentee ballots so far, compared to 26,000 by this time in 2010. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. If you're unsure where to vote, click here.

City Council is moving ahead with a plan to spend up to $100,000 to introduce priority-based budgeting in Cincinnati. The cash will fund a consultant to survey community leaders and residents to establish strategic priorities. City leaders would then try to align resources with what the community values the most, said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who heads council's Budget and Finance Committee. Council will convene a series of public forums in the next two months, and attempt to identify five to seven priorities based on the input.

Just two days after he said it was premature to ask the federal government for help, Gov. John Kasich has reversed course. A team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will arrive today in Clermont County to survey storm damage and gauge whether the region qualifies for financial assistance. Kasich had a change of heart after he spoke with U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township), who told the guv that local officials wanted immediate federal aid. (So, when exactly is the next gubernatorial election?)

Little Miami Local School Board members want to meet with Ohio education officials after a commission rejected their plan to restore some services in the school district. The state Financial Planning and Supervision Commission unanimously rejected the district’s reconfiguration plan for 2012-13. Little Miami was placed in fiscal emergency by the state after several levies failed before a November levy narrowly passed.

Reductions to Medicare and other federal health-care programs could total $360 billion over the next 10 years, causing problems for hospitals that depend on the government payments, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service. Medicare covered 39 percent of in-patient days at Greater Cincinnati hospitals in 2010, a market overview found. (I don't want to hear a single complaint about this from our conservative Republican readers, as this is what you've sought for years.)

In news elsewhere, Iran is starting to feel the impact of international sanctions as demand for its crude oil begins to drop. In January, China, South Korea and Singapore reduced their oil purchases from Iran, and Shipping Corp. of India last month canceled an Iranian shipment because its European insurers refused to provide coverage for the tanker. Traders say Iran's troubles only will increase once an European Union oil embargo begins July 1.

Crazy religious dude is at it again. No, not Rick Santorum – we're referring to Pat Robertson, the erstwhile host of TV's The 700 Club. On the program Monday, the aging pastor opined that the recent outbreak of tornadoes might not have occurred if people had prayed for divine intervention. “If enough people were praying, He would’ve intervened," he said. "You could pray, 'Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms.'” He also told viewers who live in areas prone to natural disasters that it’s “their fault, not God’s.” Way to show the compassion of Christ there, Pat.

If you're under the impression that the Constitution gives the rights of due process and equal protection under the law to U.S. citizens, Attorney General Eric Holder is going to set you wacky kids straight. In a speech Monday at the Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, Holder tried to defend the practice of using automated drones to kill suspected terrorists overseas who have never been convicted of a crime. "The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen," Holder said to a mostly disapproving crowd.

Civic leaders in eastern Libya have called for semi-autonomy for the oil-rich region, saying their area has been neglected by the nation's central government for decades. The push for self-government is strong in the region of Cyrenaica, but the governing National Transitional Council says it could lead to Libya's demise as a unified nation.
by Danny Cross 07.02.2012

Morning News and Stuff

While anti-urban Cincinnatians gripe over the twice-approved $95 million streetcar project — some going so far as to attach anti-funding amendments to federal bills that will never be included in the final legislation — authorities on the other side of the river are demonstrating just how little $20 million on transportation funding can provide. The state will widen KY 237 in Boone County using elevated ramps to allow for left-hand turns, adding a freeway-style element to the residential/corridor area. The two-year project will be paid for using Federal Surface Transportation Program funds.

Starting this fall all students in Newport Independent Schools will get free breakfast and lunch because the district is participating in the Community Eligibility Option in President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

CBS News says Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the other four conservative justices but wasn’t prepared to strike down the entire health care law. Roberts wrote the court’s majority opinion, which upheld most of the legislation. 

Here’s three ways the ruling hurt Mitt Romney, according to the Boston Globe. 

The Mark Wahlberg/teddy bear film, Ted, brought in $54.1 million over the weekend. CityBeat's film dude said it was good, too. 

Scientists say they are on the verge of finding a “God particle” that could explain the creation of the universe. 

For particle physicists, finding the Higgs boson is a key to confirming the standard model of physics that explains what gives mass to matter and, by extension, how the universe was formed. …

Rosen compared the results scientists are preparing to announce Wednesday to finding the fossilized imprint of a dinosaur: “You see the footprints and the shadow of the object, but you don’t actually see it.”

Spain won the 2012 European Championship soccer tournament on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over Italy. The Spanish team is being considered one of the greatest ever, as it has won three straight major tournaments, including the 2010 World Cup and 2008 Euro. 

by Danny Cross 05.25.2012
josh_mandel headshot

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has returned more than $100,000 in campaign contributions in response to an FBI investigation into 21 donors who had no record of giving to federal campaigns and many appearing to have low incomes. Mandel, a Republican, is running against incombent Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown. Mandel's campaign treasurer Kathryn Kessler sent a letter to donors explaining that any contributions appearing to be under investigation would be refunded.

From The Toledo Blade:

Although the campaign provided a copy of the letter to The Blade, it would not explain the timing of the decision or how long it has been aware of the federal probe.

The Blade revealed the unusual pattern of contributions in August.

The company's owner, Benjamin Suarez, and 16 of his employees (plus some of their spouses) gave about $200,000 to Mr. Mandel and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R., Wadsworth) last year. Each of those donors gave $5,000, the maximum allowable amount, to one or both candidates.

The Ohio Senate yesterday passed new fracking regulations, and the final version caused some environmental organizations to change their stance on the bill. The Ohio Environmental Council and the Sierra Club had both been neutral on the legislation until changes were made forcing anyone suing over chemical trade secrets to show current or potential harm, according to The Enquirer. The regulations are part of Kasich's new energy bill and easily passed both the Senate and House and is expected to be signed by Kasich soon.

Cincinnati Public Schools says it will apply for the latest available federal education grants, which amount to nearly $700 million. The grants are geared toward helping schools proceed with reform and innovation.

According to a new poll, President Obama leads Mitt Romney in Ohio by six percentage points. Wonder if Obama's “cow pie of distortion” speech had anything to do with his lead.

The John Edwards trial has entered day six of deliberations.

United Nations inspectors have reportedly found uranium in Iran enriched beyond the highest levels previously reported. One diplomat said the measure could actually be a measurement error, though the reading could also mean that Iran is closer to producing bomb-grade uranium than previously thought.

Scientists might be one step closer to creating birth control for men after U.K. scientists found a gene used to enable sperm to mature.

From USA Today: “Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for CEOs.

Facebook's initial public offering didn't go entirely as expected, and some investors are getting refunds after technical problems and other issues marred the company's first week of trading.

The Reds completed a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves last night, winning their sixth in a row and overtaking the St. Louis Cardinal for first place in the NL Central.

by German Lopez 03.08.2013
capitol hill

Morning News and Stuff

Federal unemployment down, state joblessness up, Tower Place Mall renovations detailed

In February, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, from 7.9 percent in January, and the nation added 236,000 jobs. Many of the new jobs — about 48,000 — came from construction, while government employment saw a drop even before sequestration, a series of across-the-board federal spending cuts, began on March 1. Economists seem quite positive about the report.

In January, Ohio’s unemployment rate rose to 7 percent, from 6.7 percent in December, with the number of unemployed in the state rising to 399,000, from 385,000 the month before. Goods-producing and service-providing industries and local government saw a rise in employment, while jobs were lost in trade, transportation, utilities, financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, state government and federal government. In January, U.S. unemployment rose to 7.9 percent, from 7.8 percent in December.

A new report outlined renovations for the city-owned Tower Place Mall, which is getting a makeover as part of Cincinnati’s parking plan. A lot of the retail space in the mall will be replaced to make room for parking that will be accessed through what is currently Pogue’s Garage, but two rings of retail space will remain, according to the report. The parking plan was approved by City Council Wednesday, but it was temporarily halted by a Hamilton County judge. The legal contest has now moved to federal court, and it’s set to get a hearing today.

Meet the mayoral candidates through CityBeat’s two extensive Q&As: Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley. Qualls spoke mostly about her support for immigration, the parking plan and streetcar, while Cranley discussed his opposition to the parking plan and streetcar and some of his ideas for Cincinnati.

A Hamilton County court ruled against the controversial traffic cameras in Elmwood Place, and the Ohio legislature is considering a statewide ban on the cameras. In his ruling, Judge Robert Ruehlman pointed out there were no signs making motorists aware of the cameras and the cameras are calibrated once a year by a for-profit operator. The judge added, “Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-card Monty. … It is a scam that motorists can’t win.” Bipartisan legislation was recently introduced to prohibit traffic cameras in Ohio.

JobsOhio, the state-funded nonprofit corporation, quietly got $5.3 million in state grants, even though the state legislature only appropriated $1 million for startup costs. JobsOhio says it needed the extra funds because legal challenges have held up liquor profits that were originally supposed to provide funding. In the past few days, State Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican, has been pushing Republican Gov. John Kasich and JobsOhio to release more details about the nonprofit corporation’s finances, but Kasich and JobsOhio have been pushing back.

Advocates for Ohio’s charter schools say Kasich’s budget amounts to a per-pupil cut, with funding dropping from $5,704 per pupil to $5,000 plus some targeted assistance that ranges from hundreds of dollars to nothing depending on the school. A previous CityBeat report on online schools found traditional public schools get about $3,193 per student — much less than the funding that apparently goes to charter schools.

Fountain Square will be getting a new television from Cincinnati-based LSI Industries with the help of Fifth-Third Bank and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). The new video board will have better image quality and viewing angles, but it will also come with more screen space for sponsors.

Ohio’s casino revenues rose in January. That could be a good sign for Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino, which opened Monday.

In light of recent discussion, Popular Science posted a Q&A on drones.

by German Lopez 08.30.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Streetcar, Education at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Duke Energy told city officials to OK an operating deal for the streetcar before trying to talk costs. The fighting words are in the middle of an ongoing feud between city officials and Duke Energy about who will move utility lines and pipes to accommodate the streetcar. The operating details will help Duke know what “unbreakable rules” about maintenance and emergency repairs exist and where the streetcar will go, according to the company’s spokesperson. CityBeat previously covered the streetcar issue and all the pettiness from Duke here.

A suspended frat is suing Miami University. The frat was suspended after a fireworks battle led to the discovery of illegal substances in the frat. The frat claims the university improperly suspended it, damaged its business and property, and made libelous allegations out of “malice, hatred and ill will.” The frat says it shouldn’t have been suspended without a written complaint, but Miami's spokesperson said the university is allowed to suspend students without a written complaint if there is a pending investigation.

Ohio will soon begin tying college funding to graduation rates. If only that was done with e-schools.

Equality Ohio announced Columbus, Ohio made a step forward in LGBT rights yesterday. It is now among the few cities in Ohio to have a domestic partner registry, which allows same-sex couples to legally declare their relationships without marriage or civil unions. Toledo, Cleveland, Athens and Dayton also have registries.

Secretary of State Jon Husted wrote a “guest column” on his own website defending early voting rules in Ohio. Republicans are facing criticism over bringing racial politics and poor arguments into the early voting debate.

Ohio’s unemployed will soon get a little less help from the federal government, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohio’s rapidly falling unemployment rate has triggered a second reduction in the amount of aid the unemployed can get. Before April 2012, unemployed Ohioans were eligible for 99 weeks of benefits. The eligible weeks dropped to 73 weeks in April and will drop to 63 weeks starting in September. However, the benefits are set to expire in December if the federal government doesn't act, and that would push the eligible weeks down to 26 weeks. Ohio's unemployment rate is currently 7.2 percent, down from 10.6 percent at the height of the recession.

The University of Cincinnati’s new interim president just got a nice raise.

The state texting-while-driving ban goes into effect tomorrow.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio made his speech at the Republican national convention yesterday. In the speech, he criticized President Barack Obama for the current state of the economy. In return, Democrats criticized Portman for his budget work for former President George W. Bush, whose administration is widely blamed for the current economic crisis.

It seems like Paul Ryan spent a lot of time lying in

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by Kevin Osborne 04.03.2012

Morning News and Stuff

Even though it has provided it for years, Xavier University will stop including contraceptives in its health insurance coverage for faculty and staff beginning July 1. The Jesuit university employs about 950 people. In a letter posted on the university website, Xavier President Michael J. Graham wrote, “it is inconsistent for a Catholic institution to cover those drugs and procedures which the church opposes.” Of course, some Catholic bishops, including Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, are raising a stink about a new federal rule that requires most religiously-affiliated schools and hospitals to begin offering birth control as part of health-care reforms. Either Mr. Graham got a sudden bout of conscience or he's politicizing an item that caused no controversy for years, until the church hierarchy decided it was time to flex its collective muscle.

Stores and other businesses that want to use off-duty Cincinnati police officers for security might soon have to pay more for the privilege. City Hall staffers are recommending the city start charging an hourly fee when they use the off-duty cops. Officials said they need the funds to cover the administrative costs of the program.

If you like stopping by Findlay Market to pick up some sushi, gelato or fresh produce, you might want to consider riding your bike there or taking the bus starting later this month, if you need to save money. That's because the market's three main parking lots will become pay lots for the first time since 1999, beginning April 23. The new fees are 50 cents an hour Monday-Friday, and $1 an hour on weekends with a $2 maximum, although motorists will get the first hour free. Also, monthly parking permits will cost $45.

Joey Votto, the talented Cincinnati Reds first baseman, is close to signing a new deal that likely would make him one of the highest-paid players in Major League Baseball. According to the website MLBtraderumors.com, Votto is close to reaching a long-term deal with the Reds. Details haven't been disclosed, but the website speculated it would have to be near the $200 million that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder got last year.

Hamilton County commissioners have rejected a request to place a property tax levy on the November ballot that would've raised $150 million to pay for repairs at the historic Union Terminal. It's the second consecutive year that commissioners rejected the request, citing the bad economy. Also, they said taxpayers shouldn't pay for the entire cost and that private donations should be sought.

In news elsewhere, there are primary elections held today in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia. GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is trailing rival Mitt Romney in delegates won so far, and polls suggest Romney will score some crucial victories tonight. In fact, President Obama has begun treating Romney as though he's already won the Republican nomination. Obama's reelection campaign is running a new TV ad in five swing states attacking Romney by name for the first time.

The U.S. Justice Department is offering a $10 million bounty for the arrest of of Hafiz Sayeed, founder of the group blamed for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. The reward is intended to increase the pressure on Pakistan to crack down on militant groups.

Two forensic voice experts have concluded it wasn't shooter George Zimmerman that is heard crying for help on a disputed 911 call before an unarmed teenager was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla. The experts, hired by The Orlando Sentinel, reviewed the tape using state-of-the-art voice identification software, and said the cries weren't from Zimmerman and instead were from Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who died that night. “You can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman,” one of the experts said.

The notorious Koch brothers, the ultra-conservative industrialists that discreetly bankroll various far-Right causes, are having a bad time recently. The FBI announced it was investigating two Wisconsin groups tied to Americans for Prosperity, the political organization they founded and fund. Then, a federal court handed down a decision that may ultimately require certain nonprofit groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, to reveal their full donor list.

Researchers at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies have compiled the human, economic, social and political costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as U.S. military actions in Pakistan. PBS commentator Bill Moyers recently summarized the findings which include 224,475 lives lost, 365,383 people wounded and 7.8 million refugees and internally displaced people, along with $1.3 trillion in Congressional War Appropriations, between $3.7-$4.4 trillion estimated total costs to American taxpayers and $1 trillion more in interest payments through 2020 on money the United States borrowed for war (mostly from China). Was it all worth it?
by German Lopez 03.25.2013
Posted In: News, LGBT Issues, 2013 Election, Education at 09:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
evolution of equality

Morning News and Stuff

Ohioans support same-sex marriage, Portman's son explains coming out, charter schools fail

A new Saperstein Poll suggests Ohioans have dramatically shifted on same-sex marriage, with 54 percent now supporting a new amendment to legalize gay marriage and only 40 percent against it. FreedomOhio’s amendment would repeal Ohio’s 2004 same-sex marriage ban and instead grant marriage rights to the state’s many LGBT individuals. CityBeat covered the same-sex marriage amendment in further detail here and the inevitability of gay rights here. Last week, Gov. John Kasich reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions, which likely holds bad political consequences because of changing demographics.

Will Portman, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s son, wrote about coming out to his father and the experiences that followed in today’s Yale Daily News. In the column, Portman explained why his father took two years to shift on same-sex marriage: “Some people have criticized my dad for waiting for two years after I came out to him before he endorsed marriage for gay couples. Part of the reason for that is that it took time for him to think through the issue more deeply after the impetus of my coming out. But another factor was my reluctance to make my personal life public.”

If the Ohio Department of Education adopts the more rigorous school report cards demanded by lawmakers, many of the state’s charter schools will get F’s. Most schools would fall under the new standards, but 72 percent of charter schools would fail — an unwelcome sign for alternative schools often touted by Republicans for offering more school choice. The schools’ advocates claim the discrepancy between charter schools and other traditional public schools is driven by demographics and greater diversity.

But Ohio’s charter schools are also safer for LGBT individuals than traditional schools, according to StateImpact Ohio.

City Councilman Chris Seelbach announced Friday that City Council is poised to support a motion that will prevent companies and other groups from discriminating if they take public funds. The initiative is coming together after the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) was prevented from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Western & Southern has launched the next phase of its ongoing legal attack to run the Anna Louise Inn out of the Lytle Park neighborhood: The financial giant is now accusing ALI and the city of lying and discrimination. In a letter to City Solicitor John Curp, Western & Southern’s attorneys claimed ALI can’t take federal funds and continue refusing services to men. The city and ALI are so far unsure whether Western & Southern has a case.

Cincinnati’s Catholic schools have grown into the sixth largest Catholic schools network in the nation, serving 44,732 students in preschool through 12th grade.

New condos are opening in Over-the-Rhine.

Thousands of jobs are opening at Ohio’s insurance companies.

Ohio gas prices are up this week.

A comet, not an asteroid, may have killed the dinosaurs. The study may provide fuel to those worried about an impending apocalypse: There are about two million asteroids more than one kilometer wide in the solar system, but scientists estimate that there are up to one trillion comets.