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by German Lopez 08.03.2012
Posted In: News, Governor, Taxes, Economy, Government at 08:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kasich_2

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio has a lot of natural gas resources accessible by fracking, but are they worth $1 trillion? Gov. John Kasich seems to think so. Unfortunately for Kasich, prominent geologists have no idea how he got that number, and one geologist estimated Kasich is off by a “couple of zeroes.”

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent as the economy added 163,000 jobs in July. Economists have been calling for the Federal Reserve to help turn the economy around, but the Federal Reserve decided it will not take action in its latest meeting.

Cincinnati City Council is using words to try to push Cincinnati Bell to not outsource jobs. But Cincinnati Bell seems more interested in profits, not words.

An Ohio Inspector General report found Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner misused state resources and was in conflict of interest when testifying to the Ohio legislature. Some Ohio Democrats are now calling for the superintendent to resign and face criminal charges. The news continues a rocky past few weeks the Ohio Department of Education, which is now being investigated by the state auditor after reports of fraudulent data reporting.

The Ohio Libertarian Party is asking Democrats what took them so long to support same-sex marriage rights. My guess is politics.

In related news, same-sex couples will be making out at Chick-fil-A today. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee OKed the movement in the most passive aggressive way possible.

Prison companies are making big profits from illegal immigrants. Some opponents of private prisons say the system creates an enormous conflict of interest, but Republicans disagree. Prison companies are big campaign contributors for Republicans.

President Barack Obama will be speaking about taxes today. The president opposes the Republican plan to keep tax rates lower for the wealthy. Republicans say the president’s plan would raise taxes on small businesses, but the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that claim doesn’t check out with reality. The president will be broadcasting his comments at 11:45 a.m. here.

Some McDonald’s chains have started serving breakfast after midnight. The intoxicated will probably approve.

The Curiosity rover will be hitting Mars Monday. The rover is NASA's most ambitious endeavor in Mars yet.

In a discovery that changes everything, scientists have found it’s better for sperm to be slow than it is for them to be fast.
 
 
by German Lopez 08.02.2012
Posted In: News, Governor, Government, Education at 01:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
stanheffner

State Superintendent Abused Position

Inspector General finds misuse of state resources, conflict of interest

Another day, another corrupt politician. Ohio's Inspector General released a report today stating that Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner was found to be in a conflict of interest when he testified to a legislative committee in favor of increased educator testing.

Heffner had secured a position at Educational Testing Service (ETS) prior to the testimony. ETS is a Texas-based company that provides testing services to schools. The report found the bill Heffner testified for "ultimately did benefit" ETS.

In other words, Heffner, as the head of the Department of Education, testified in front of the Ohio legislature to secure a deal that benefited a company he was working for.

As if that wasn't enough, the investigation also found that Heffner was using state resources to negotiate his employment with ETS. According to the report, Heffner told John Oswald, vice president of K-12 Assessment Solutions for ETS, to contact him through his office email and state-issued cell phone.

So not only did Heffner testify in the Ohio legislature to benefit ETS, he also used taxpayer resources for employment negotiations with ETS.

The offices of Gov. John Kasich did not seem pleased with the development.

“He is doing a very good job as superintendent, but using official resources the way he did and demonstrating that kind of bad judgment is unacceptable," says Rob Nichols, spokesperson for Kasich. "The governor is confident that the State Board of Education understands that and will take the right steps.”

Debe Terhar, president of the State Board of Education of Ohio, released a statement in reaction to the investigation.

“I appreciate the Inspector General’s thorough report and am disturbed by its findings," Tehrar said. "State Superintendent Stan Heffner is a dedicated educator who is committed to the education reforms Ohio needs for our children, but in this matter he demonstrated a woeful lack of judgment."

In a different statement, Heffner apologized for his "lack of judgment."

The State Board of Education will discuss the results of the investigation in its scheduled Sept. 10 and 11 meetings.

 
 
by German Lopez 07.31.2012
Posted In: Mayor, News, Education, Governor at 08:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
mallory

Morning News and Stuff

Mayor Mark Mallory announced a trade deal between the small Greater Cincinnati-based Solutions Plus, Inc. and the giant Saudi Arabia-based Diversified Lines Petroleum Company. The deal will produce $20 million in business in the next two to five years, said Solutions Plus President Charlie Weaver. The deal is largely due to a trade mission to Saudi Arabia Mallory led in January.

The Cincinnati streetcar project is moving forward. On Wednesday, City Council will be voting on a routine ordinance to transfer $3 million to the streetcar project.

Cincinnati is studying the feasibility of a bike share program. If enacted, the program would begin next summer in Over-the-Rhine and Uptown.

Kings Island is taking down the Son of Beast. The attraction, which was originally advertised as the only wooden roller coaster with a loop, has been closed since 2009 due to a series of problems.

Gov. John Kasich announced the approval of 25 new economic projects by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority. The approval should pave the way to 2,003 new jobs and $212 million in investment in Ohio, according to the announcement. Three of the projects will be in the city of Cincinnati: Integra LifeSciences Corporation, Southern Air Incorporated and Corbus, LLC.

Kasich wants answers. Yesterday, the governor gave his opinion on the ongoing investigation into the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio schools for fraudulent data reporting. Kasich said both schools and the Ohio Department of Education should be held accountable if necessary.

Democrats are setting the groundwork to endorse same-sex marriage in the official party platform for the 2012 election. The news would echo President Barack Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage earlier this year.

Medical marijuana is heading to court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will be hearing whether or not the federal government is right to classify marijuana as having no medical value.

James Holmes was charged with 24 counts of murder in the case for the Colorado theater massacre.

Mitt Romney praised Israel’s health-care system, which does a lot of what he’s opposing in Obamacare.

Japanese developers have built a real-life mech robot. The robot can be piloted, and it can shoot 6,000 BBs in a minute.

 
 
by German Lopez 07.30.2012
Posted In: News, Government, Governor at 08:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
voters first

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Voters First turned in a total of 750,000 signatures for its redistricting amendment to the Secretary of State by the end of Saturday. If 385,000 of those signatures are approved, the amendment will be put on the November ballot. On July 3, the organization turned in 450,000 signatures, but the office of Secretary of State Jon Husted said not enough signatures were valid, and the organization would have to turn in 130,000 more. In May, CityBeat covered the amendment in-depth when We Are Ohio joined forces with Voters First.

Gov. John Kasich announced the Ohio Medicaid program is being made into its own agency by July 1, 2014. Currently, it is part of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services as the Office of Ohio Health Plans. The change is meant to improve the performance of the $18.8 billion Medicaid program. The 2014-2015 budget will include more information and changes to finalize the agency’s creation.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will visit Cincinnati tomorrow. Donovan and Mayor Mark Mallory will speak with homeowners about how President Barack Obama’s refinancing plan could benefit them.

The first 2012 case of West Nile Virus was reported in Clermont County Friday. According to Ohio Department of Health officials, this year has an extraordinary amount of mosquitoes carrying the disease due to drought conditions.

A former Chick-Fil-A employee is suing the notoriously anti-gay restaurant chain for sexual discrimination. The lawsuit claims Brenda Honeycutt was fired by manager Jeff Howard so Honeycutt could become a “stay home mother.”

President Barack Obama is coming to Ohio again. On Wednesday, he’ll be making stops at Akron and Mansfield.

The U.S. economy slowed down in the first quarter of 2012 with a measly 1.5 percent growth rate.

Epidemiologists now have a crystal ball of sorts. A new algorithm scans tweets to predict when Twitter users will get the flu.
 
 
by German Lopez 07.26.2012
Posted In: News, Governor at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kasich

Study: Expanded Medicaid Improved Lives in Other States

Kasich waiting to decide on expansion in Ohio despite federal funding

A new study by Harvard researchers has found that a 2001 and 2002 expansion of Medicaid coverage in Arizona, New York and Maine might have saved lives. The study also concluded that the Medicaid expansion in the three states improved coverage, access to care and self-reported health.

The study found that mortality rates in the three states were collectively 6.1 percent lower than states that did not expand Medicaid. The decreased mortality rate mostly benefited older adults, nonwhites and residents of poor counties.

Since they could only look at Arizona, New York and Maine, researchers cautioned that the results might not be reflective of how a Medicaid expansion would work in every state. However, previous research has shown similar results. Earlier this year, results for the ongoing Oregon Health Study
were released with more positive implications for people on Medicaid — happier people, better self-reported health and stronger financial security.

Despite the evidence, Gov. John Kasich has recently said he will wait on his decision to expand Medicaid. As part of the Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — states are being asked to expand their Medicaid coverage to a new federal standard of 133 percent of the poverty line. The federal government would completely fund the expansion between 2014 and 2016. Afterward, states would have to pick up 10 percent of the cost, and the federal government will pay the rest.


Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor have said the expansion, which state officials estimate would add 400,000 Ohioans to Medicaid enrollment, is too expensive for the state. On June 28, Taylor told
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Quite frankly we're not sure where we're going to get the money from to cover the additional obligation of spending, let alone have the discussion about the expansion of Medicaid.”

But some research has suggested that the Medicaid expansion would actually save states money by mitigating the cost of having so many uninsured people. The Arkansas Department of Human Services claims the state would save $378 million by 2025 with the Medicaid expansion. Most of the savings would come from uncompensated care — costs that are placed on health institutions and state and local governments when uninsured patients that can’t and don’t pay use medical services. The Urban Institute released a study
in 2011 with similar results.

Ohio is not the only state to show skepticism toward the Medicaid expansion. After the Supreme Court released its decision upholding Obamacare, state officials in Texas and Florida said they will not take part in the Medicaid expansion. State governments have until Nov. 10 to make a final decision on whether or not they will take part in the Medicaid expansion.

 
 
by German Lopez 07.24.2012
Posted In: Governor, Education, State Legislature at 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kasich_2

New Website Reveals Kasich’s Cuts Locally

Education and local government aid programs cut by $241 million in Hamilton County

A new website called Cuts Hurt Ohio shows the impact of the state government slashing budgets. It gives a glimpse into how each county has been affected by cuts in education and local government aid programs.

For Hamilton County, the website shows cuts of $241 million in the 2012-2013 budget. Education funds in Hamilton County were cut by a total of $136 million, while other funds have been slashed by $105 million. The website also reports budget-related news headlines for Hamilton County: “Cincinnati superintendent salary to be cut in half,” “Townships may not have any police presence when they lose sheriff patrols” and “Report: Children services in Cincinnati stretched.”

For all of Ohio, cuts total $2.88 billion. Education programs were cut by $1.8 billion statewide, and aid provided to local governments was reduced by $1.08 billion.




Innovation Ohio and Policy Matters Ohio opened created the website to raise awareness and show the differences between former Gov. Ted Strickland’s 2010-2011 budget and Gov. John Kasich’s 2012-2013 budget. The numbers are based on data provided by the Ohio Department of Taxation and Ohio Department of Education.

Since some cuts are due to the loss of federal stimulus funds, not all the cuts are directly linked to the state government slashing its budget. But the 2012-2013 budget will pull funding to the Ohio Department of Education down to $9.8 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, which is lower than the amount of funding education received before Ohio obtained federal stimulus dollars.

To check out the website, go to www.cutshurtohio.com.

 
 
by German Lopez 07.18.2012
Posted In: Governor, Education at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kasich_2

Record Lottery Profits Not Going to Schools

State funding will continue to be reduced despite $771 million in lottery profits

Ohio schools expecting more funding from record lottery profits may want to hold off.

Last week, it was reported that the Ohio Department of Education had hit the jackpot with a record $771 million in lottery profits. By state law, lottery profits are supposed to go to the Lottery Profits Education Fund, which funds schools in Ohio. At first, it seemed like a great opportunity to increase education funding.

Maybe not. In a joint statement this morning, the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials explained the money does not mean more money for schools.


“While it is true that all Ohio Lottery profits are used by the state to fund education, the profit from increased sales was simply used to free up other state funds that had previously been set aside for schools, allowing more money to be transferred into the state’s rainy day fund,” OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis said in the statement.


Despite the lottery profits, funding for Ohio’s school foundation payment program remains at $7.2 billion — exactly as established by Gov. John Kasich’s 2011 budget plan.


In other words, no gain for schools, but some gain for the state’s rainy day fund.


The news comes as a bit of a buzz-kill to schools that are already feeling cuts from the two-year state budget plan passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Kasich.


For the 2012 fiscal year, Kasich’s budget cut funding to the Department of Education down to $10.3 billion, a 4.9 percent reduction from the year before, largely due to the loss of federal stimulus dollars. But another 4.9 percent cut is planned for the 2013 fiscal year, lowering funding to $9.8 billion, which is even lower than the amount of funding the Department of Education received in 2008 and 2009 — before the state received federal stimulus dollars.

 
 
by Danny Cross 06.27.2012
 
 
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

City Council is expected to vote this morning to divert the $4 million for the City Hall atrium project to jumpstart the Music Hall renovation, which has brought the city and arts supporters interested in owning and operating the historic venue closer to a compromise. Council could vote on the renegotiated deal later Wednesday, though details of the lease agreement have yet to be released. 

Council is also expected to approve a property tax increase of $10 per $100,000 in valuation to fund capital projects such as a new West Side police station and additional road paving. 

Today’s Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District meeting will include a presentation about the Brent Spence Bridge that will probably include polls.

Gov. John Kasich today will sign a human trafficking bill that makes the crime a first-degree felony rather than second-degree and includes funding to help victims.   

The ACLU will represent the Ku Klux Klan in a legal fight involving Georgia’s highway cleanup program and a pending First Amendment lawsuit.  

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday will rule on President Obama’s health care law. 

Obama and Biden are still jamming Romney up on his outsourcing history. 

A Walgreens store and other pharmacies in Washington, D.C. are offering free HIV tests to make diagnosing the disease more convenient and to increase awareness. 

College football has approved a four-team playoff to determine its national championship rather than the computer-human two-team plan that has faced scrutiny over the years. The new format will start in the 2014-15 season. 

 
 
by Danny Cross 05.31.2012
 
 
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

The Enquirer today offered a dramatic headline on its front page story, asking the figurative question, “Who will blink first on Music Hall deal?” Although Mayor Mark Mallory is able to literally blink, such involuntary action will not directly affect his stance on giving away Music Hall, which he is still opposed to.

Cincinnati's outstanding stadium tax bonds were downgraded by Moody's Investor Services, partially as a result of the county's sale of Drake Hospital last year and its unwillingness to cut the property tax rollback that helped convince rich people to vote for the tax in the first place.

Gov. John Kasich this week signed an executive order allowing the Ohio Lottery Commission to expedite new rules allowing slot machines at racetracks. The state's seven racetracks are expected to begin submitting applications for the 17,500 machines within the next few months.

Condoleeze Rice endorsed Mitt Romney, as the Republican presidential candidate struggles to differentiate his foreign policy from Obama's.

A Seattle man yesterday killed five people before shooting himself as authorities closed in on him. Various security cameras caught footage of the suspect entering a cafe, where he allegedly shot and killed four people. He reportedly killed another person during a carjacking. According to The Seattle Times, the suspect is Ian Lee Stawicki, 40, of Seattle, whose brother says he is mentally ill.

Florida Democrats are wondering what's up with Republican Gov. Rick Scott's effort to purge illegal voters from the state's rolls before this year's elections, partially in response to legal voters being booted.

Job creation: light. Unemployment claims: slightly up. Economy: growing a little slower than expected. Details here

Ever ordered a medium soda only to realize that the giant cup doesn't fit in a normal car cup holder? New York City could soon ban large sodas and other sugary drinks.

 
 
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.

 
 

 

 

 
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