CityBeat - Blogs http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs.engine.php <![CDATA[Stage Door]]>

Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey met with great success when they created next to normal, winning several Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama. They didn’t strike gold with their next show, If/Then, onstage locally for just a week in a touring production — but I found it to be a very satisfying, if complex work. (Read my Curtain Call interview with Kitt and Yorkey here.) Elizabeth is recently divorced and trying to decide what path to take next. She asks herself musically “What If” she takes this path or that — and this show lets us follow her down two divergent threads, one toward a successful professional career as a city planner in New York, the other in a happy marriage with kids that doesn’t quite turn out as she imagined. Her stories are presented in overlapping narratives, since some moments and events are quite close. It requires paying close attention, but it’s definitely worth the effort. It’s made all the easier by a very strong cast — including Jackie Burns in the leading role, Broadway veteran Anthony Rapp as Lucas, one of her close friends (he originated the role on Broadway Lucas and played videographer Mark in the original cast of Rent back in 1996) and Tamyra Gray as Kate, who pushes Elizabeth in a different direction. The show’s inventive staging, using video and fluidly moving set pieces, is also a fine example of contemporary theater design. Definitely worth seeing. Onstage through Sunday. 

In BlackTop Sky at Know Theatre, Ida’s view from an asphalt-paved courtyard surrounded by the housing project where she lives isn’t pretty.  The 18-year-old yearns to escape, but her avenues are limited. The safe, predictable route is with Wynn, her boyfriend, a hardworking auto mechanic. Then there’s Klass, an all-but-inarticulate homeless man who settle on two park benches. Ida is caught between these two poles. This is a show about lives that are pretty dead-end. Nevertheless, Christina Anderson’s script has its moments, especially with Kimberly Faith Hickman’s purposeful staging of 34 distinct scenes, several of them entirely wordless. Anderson writes with occasional lyricism and feeling, but desperation underlies these sad stories. That being said, the telling holds out a promise of change. That’s an important if not altogether entertaining message. Onstage through Feb. 20.

Also at Know, the fourth outing of Serials gets under way on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. They’ve dubbed this one Thunderdome 2 – Beyond Thunder, meaning that each evening two of the five shows will be voted out by the audience, to be replaced by two new shows at the following session. Serials 4 features some writers and directors who entertained audiences in previous iterations of Serials. But several new talents have entered the fray, and the Know staff tells me, “There are some seriously strong story pitches this round!” They feel that the “gentle competition” of Thunderdome leads to stronger writing and a better audience experience. Writers who take the challenge must leap quickly into their narratives; if they lag behind, they’ll be struck by a thunderclap and end up in the audience at the next round. Subsequent episodes are set for Feb. 22, March 7 and 21 and April 4.

Finally: If you’re tuned in to the Super Bowl on Sunday evening, keep an eye out for a 30-second commercial for Gold Star Chili. It was shot locally, featuring 15 Cincinnati actors at several Gold Star locations. Ensemble Theatre’s Lynn Meyers did the casting for it, so you’ll see some familiar faces often featured on local stages. 


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List (2/5-2/7)]]> FRIDAY

EVENT: MAINSTRASSE MARDI GRAS

Laissez les bons temps rouler, y’all! Break out your beads for MainStrasse’s 20th-annual Mardi Gras parade and party. Events kick off Friday with New Orleans-style drinks and dancing at MainStrasse bars. Then the Grande Parade Saturday features a raucous collection of floats, Big Heads and various wandering intoxicated people weaving through the town starting at 9 p.m. Baubles, bangles and beads available at MainStrasse businesses. Friday and Saturday. Free. MainStrasse Village, Sixth Street, Covington, Ky., 859-491-0458, mainstrasse.org

Terri Kendall
Photo: greateyefilms
DANCE: PERFORMANCE & TIME ARTS
Produced and directed by Shakira Rae Adams and co-producer Jacque Corcoran, Contemporary Dance Theater’s Performance & Time Arts this weekend rolls out a typically diverse mix of music, dance, poetry and multimedia from local performers. Aerialist Terri Kendall’s acrobatic “The Spirited Crow” is dramatic yet whimsical and includes some challenging poses and rolls. Performing flow wand is Samiya Shamma, a freshman at Cincinnati State studying sign language interpreting. She has studied gymnastics and dance over the years and learned flow wand with the My Nose Turns Red youth circus. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $12-$15. College Hill Town Hall, 1805 Larch Ave., College Hill, cdt-dance.org.

Eli's BBQ
Photo: Sarah Urmston
EATS: CINCINNATI MEAT WEEK
Cincy Meat Week continues through Sunday, with events at different local barbecue joints. Eli’s BBQ hosts #SuperBBQSunday starting at 1 p.m. More info meatweek.com/cities/cincinnati.

Carolyn Wonderland
Photo: Sandra Dahdah
MUSIC: CINCY WINTER BLUES FEST
This Friday and Saturday, the Cincy Blues Society’s Winter Blues Fest returns to The Phoenix (812 Race St., Downtown, thephx.com) showcasing over two-dozen Cincinnati Blues acts, as well as headliners like the Nick Moss Band and Carolyn Wonderland on four stages. Music begins at 6 p.m. Friday and 5:15 p.m. Saturday. This year’s lineup shows just how celebrated our local Blues scene is, with many acclaimed and award-winning and nominated artists slated to appear. Read more here.

ONSTAGE: IF/THEN
Cincinnati audiences loved Ensemble Theatre’s 2011 production of next to normal, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Rock musical about a woman afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia. In fact, ETC revived it in 2012 at the end of the same season. Unlike many current Broadway hits, the show wasn’t a musical version of a movie or a collection of familiar Pop tunes. Kitt and Yorkey’s second Broadway collaboration, the musical If/Then, is another show that’s wholly their own creation. It’s currently onstage at the Aronoff Center. Read more about the play here. If/Then continues through Sunday at the Aronoff Center. More info/tickets: cincinnatiarts.org.

Native Gardens
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
ONSTAGE: NATIVE GARDENS
When longtime, waspy residents are proud of their formal garden and the young Hispanic couple moving in next door prefer a more natural “native garden,” the temperature goes up. And when there’s a dispute about the property line, well, then there’s outright warfare. This world premiere by Karen Zacarías will entertain audiences (her Book Club Play did the same in 2013), but they’ll also think about how we get along with people who aren’t just like us. Kudos to the Playhouse for commissioning a new play by this skilled playwright. Kudos to the Playhouse for commissioning a new play by this skilled playwright. Through Feb. 21. $30-$85. Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, 513-421-3888, cincyplay.com

TV: VICE
The Nigerian government sets out to eradicate Boko Haram, but the hunt for insurgents presents more danger; scientists have simplified the gene-editing method, making it easier than ever to retool human evolution. Vice, Season Premiere, 11 p.m., HBO.


SATURDAY

Garage Brewed Moto Show
Photo: Provided
EVENT: GARAGE BREWED MOTO SHOW

Rhinegeist will be packed with 50 custom bikes from builders all over the Midwest, who range in experience from professional builders to those who build straight outta their home garage. Come view the bikes, many of which were made specifically for the show, and vote for your favorite. That’s right, there are no professional judges. Builders will compete for the guests’ attention — and votes — during the moto show. 5 p.m.-midnight. Saturday. Free. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, garagebrewed.com

'Remember'
Photo: via IMDb
FILM: JEWISH & ISRAELI FILM FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT
The Mayerson JCC hosts a month-long festival of thought-provoking, controversial and inspiring films at theaters throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Featuring the work of both established and emerging filmmakers, selections include Jewish-interest films produced in and outside of Israel. The event kicks off Saturday with a screening of Remember at The Carnegie. The thriller follows an elderly man and Auschwitz survivor (Christopher Plummer) in his search — aided by a hand-written letter and fellow survivor — for the person responsible for the death of his family. Ticket price includes a drink, dessert reception and valet parking. 8 p.m. Saturday. $36; $32 JCC members. The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington, Ky., mayersonjcc.org.  http://citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-34554-festival_of_plenty.html 

Alex Stone
Photo: Provided
COMEDY: ALEX STONE
It has been quite a year for Sycamore Township native Alex Stone. After relocating to New York City, where he moved in with fellow Cincinnati comic Sam Evans, Stone released a CD titled Hello. Recorded at Go Bananas, the album perfectly encapsulates Stone’s storytelling style, while still containing plenty of absurdist jokes. Whether it’s talking about visiting home and staying in his old bedroom or telling the tale of how his girlfriend’s friend was hit on by actor John Stamos, Stone finds the funny. This past fall, Stone and roommate Evans started a podcast called F*** You We Like The Bengals, which each week deconstructed (or, more accurately, roasted) that week’s opponent. Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com

TV: SNL 
Bernie Sanders doppelgänger Larry David hosts; The 1975 performs. Saturday Night Live 11:30 p.m., NBC.

EVENT: CHRISTIAN MOERLEIN SUPER FIRKIN SATURDAY 
Moerlein hosts its first firkin cask beer festival Saturday to correspond with the big game. There will be innovative and experimental brews with one-time creations from Moerlein and other breweries from across Ohio. A dollar from each pint will be donated to the family of fallen firefighter Patrick Wolterman. 2-6 p.m. Free admission. Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, christianmoerlein.com.

SUNDAY
TV: THE SUPERBOWL
The Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in basically the only thing on TV tonight. First-timers Coldplay and Super Bowl vets Beyoncé and Bruno Mars look to one-up Left Shark for the halftime entertainment. Super Bowl 50, 6:30 p.m., CBS.

'The Guilty'
Photo: Ji Hyun Kwon
ART: JI HYUN KWON: THE GUILTY AT IRIS BOOKCAFE
Iris BookCafé has extended its current photography exhibition, Ji Hyun Kwon: The Guilty, through Feb. 12. Ji Hyun Kwon, a young Korean woman, began this series to “reconcile her own sense of guilt and selfishness for being an artist while the rest of the world continues in persistent suffering,” according to curator William Messer. She then went on to explore how those from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds wear their senses of guilt. She asked her subjects to express this guilt in writing and then transferred it to their faces in portraits. The show also separately provides their complete statements. Through Feb. 12. Free. 1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, irisbookcafe.com

Krohn Spring Floral Show
Photo: Provided
ATTRACTION: HATCHING SPRING BLOOMS AT KROHN
We might have just gotten our first snows of the season, but Krohn Conservatory is launching headlong into spring with its new floral show, Hatching Spring Blooms. Spring is in the air with fragrant daffodils, hyacinths, hydrangeas and bright green grass laid out in geometric patterns. Overhead, painted pastel branches hang above a canopy of trees, decorated with hundreds of painted eggs. You can even wander a hidden forest path lined with moss and stepping stones. Through March 13. $4 adults; $2 youth. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, 513-421-5707, cincinnatiparks.com



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<![CDATA[Report: Kentucky Official Disputes DeWine Claim on Fetal Tissue]]> Following controversy around videos released by anti-abortion groups purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials in Texas discussing the sale of fetal tissue to a fake medical company, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine launched an investigation of Ohio Planned Parenthood late last year.

That investigation didn't find any fetal tissue sales at the organization's Ohio clinics, but DeWine did announce that it appeared as if Planned Parenthood was violating state law by contracting with a company that autoclaved, or steam-treated, fetal tissue and then dumped it in landfills.

However, in an investigation published yesterday by Columbus WBNS-10TV, Lanny Brannock, spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, says intact fetuses were not disposed of in landfills there. What's more, Brannock says Ohio investigators never spoke to anyone at the facilities nor visited them during the course of their investigation.

“It is illegal to landfill any human tissue in Kentucky, and by law it’s required to be incinerated," Brannock said. "We have no knowledge of any human tissue going into Kentucky landfills."

The investigation also shows that the state contracts with the same disposal company, Kentucky-based Accu Medical Waste Services, Inc., to dispose of medical waste. That contract includes state prisons, where inmates occasionally suffer miscarriages. 

The state has declined to release records for the specific procedure used to dispose of fetal remains from miscarriages in prisons, but no other company has a contract to dispose of medical waste from those prisons. The state's contract with Accu Medical doesn't mention fetal tissue.

DeWine says investigators didn't look into Ohio's contracts because his office was focused on what Planned Parenthood does.

“I find it to be disturbing and I find it to be not humane," DeWine said. "I don't think it matters who does it.  What matters is this is being done. So I was not aware of that at all. You know when we began our investigation, it was a very narrow question."

The revelation comes after a Texas grand jury on Jan. 26 declined to indict Planned Parenthood officials shown in the original fetal tissue sale videos and instead indicted the video makers, activists with the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, on felony federal records tampering charges.

“Now I’m very troubled that our attorney general would go to such lengths in what seems to me to be a witch hunt," Ohio State Rep. Nicki Antonio, a Democrat, told the news station. “And this comes on the heels of Planned Parenthood being exonerated, found to be not guilty of anything. ... Clearly there was a plan to discredit Planned Parenthood."

The Ohio legislature has passed a bill that would strip Planned Parenthood of more than $1 million in federal and state funding following DeWine's investigation. That legislation currently awaits House approval of minor changes made in the state Senate. It will then go to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's desk. The move is the latest in continued efforts to chip away at the number of abortion providers in the state, which has dropped from from 26 to 14 to just nine in the last few years because of restrictive new laws and regulations designed to shut down clinics.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Morning all. Here’s what’s up in the news today.

Hamilton County Democratic Party’s executive commission last night voted not to censure Ben Lindy, a candidate to replace Denise Driehaus as state representative. But the party also had strong words about a paper Lindy authored that is currently in being used in a legal attack against teachers’ unions. Controversy erupted last week when party leaders found out that the paper, which Lindy wrote while studying at Yale University, is currently being used by anti-union groups in a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court case that could endanger collective bargaining arrangements for labor groups. Lindy says he supports unions and doesn’t agree with the suit. He’s facing other Democrats, including fellow Hyde Park resident Brigid Kelly, in the party’s primary to run for Ohio's District 31 state representative seat.

• I love going to Findlay Market, but like a lot of people, one of the big challenges I have is that I can’t get quite everything I need there. But that could change soon. Owners of current Findlay vendors Fresh Table are planning a new micro-grocery just across from the historic market. In addition to having a lunch counter, the store will feature hygiene items and other products that will help round out Findlay’s offerings. The store aims to serve people of all incomes and should be open by September, according to owners Meredith Trombly and Louis Snowden.

• A recent study shows that Cincinnati ranks favorably among the country’s biggest 100 cities when it comes to prosperity, but that it lags well behind when it comes to extending that prosperity beyond whites. The city ranked 18th in a Brookings Institution study released last week when it came to prosperity, but 81st in racial economic inclusion. We've checked out that study in-depth here.

• A men’s rights group whose leader has in the past advocated for rape legalization has cancelled plans for rallies around the world, including one near Cincinnati. Return of Kings, which was founded by 36-year-old Roosh Valizadeh, had planned numerous get-togethers for its so-called “tribesmen” this Saturday at 8 p.m. across the United States and as far away as Australia. Valizadeh has authored blog posts on the group’s website calling for women to be stripped of the right to vote and for rape to be legalized on private property. Valizadeh cited safety concerns for the cancellations. Feminist activists in Cincinnati called that “ironic,” saying that ROK represented the only threat to peoples’ safety in the area and that the group perpetuates rape culture.

• In the wake of its second student suicide in as many months, Cincinnati Public Schools is expanding its anti-suicide efforts. The push comes as community leaders highlight a crisis in teen suicide in the region, especially in its black communities. CPS has sent home suicide prevention guidelines and resources for parents. Meanwhile, faith leaders and others in those communities are working on long-term strategies to address that crisis.

• Finally, another night, another presidential primary debate. This time it was Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton who tussled. Their past debates have been markedly civil compared to the Republican primary debates’ circus-like atmosphere, but the gloves have finally come off.

That meant lengthy (and annoying) semantic debates about the words “progressive” and “establishment” that mirror similar ideological pissing contests within the Republican Party. Unencumbered by flagging third candidate former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sanders and Clinton were able to really go at it. But sandwiched in between the jabs traded back and forth there was some substance to the discussion.

Clinton came out well ahead on foreign policy, her home turf issue — she was U.S. Secretary of State, after all — with Sanders tripping over whether North Korea had one or multiple dictators. Seriously, man? Sanders, however, seemed to gain an upper hand on domestic issues around the economy, which is really the core of his campaign. He was able to land some substantive blows against Clinton when it came to her support from financial industry bigwigs, calling her out for donations and $100,000 speaking fees she’s received from big banks and other financial institutions. Sanders says should be more regulated by government.

Clinton called those questions an “artful smear” of her campaign, though she balked at promising to release transcripts of paid speeches she gave to those financial institutions, saying only that she would “look into it.” I say “I’ll look into it” when there is no chance in the world I’m going to do whatever it is I’m supposed to be looking into, but that’s just me.

And I’m out. Hit me on Twitter or via email.

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<![CDATA["Pro-Rape" Men's Rights Group Cancels Meetups; Cites Safety Concerns]]>

A group of so-called "men's rights" activists led by a blogger who once advocated the legalization of rape has cancelled a word-wide series of meetups, including one near Cincinnati.

Return of Kings founder Roosh Valizadeh, 36, wrote on the group's website that all meetups, which had been scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday across the U.S. and as far away as Australia, would be cancelled due to safety concerns for men who might attend.

"I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups can not be made private in time," a statement on the website says. Cincinnati's meetup was scheduled to take place near I-75 on Sharon Road near a gas station.

The supposed meetups caused anger, and sometimes fear, in many communities, including Cincinnati. Pushback across the country appears to have triggered the cancellations. Local feminist activists here set up strategy meetings for the best way to protest the group, which has published articles with titles such as "Women Should not be Allowed to Vote" and "Make Rape Legal on Private Property."

Roosh says that article was satire, but activists say his group represents a toxic and dangerous movement. Local activist group the Cincinnati Radical Feminist Collective called the cancellation "ironic," since Valizadeh's group threatens the safety of women and members of the LGBT community.

“The Cincinnati Radical Feminist Collective embraces a culture of consent," Cincinnati Radical Feminist Collective member Abby Friend said in a statement today in response to the events' cancellation. "Return of Kings (ROK), the group planning the now-cancelled Saturday pro-rape rally, is a blatant representation of the problems inherent in a culture that casually accepts sexual harassment, sexual assault, homophobia and rape."

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<![CDATA[Study: Cincinnati Ranks High for Prosperity, Low for Racial Economic Inclusion]]>

As the economy continues to rebound from the Great Recession and as interest in urban living continues to build, many cities across the country are seeing a rebound in their fortunes. But who benefits from this resurgence?

A new study from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program released last week seeks to provide some answers to that question in 100 cities around the country by measuring economic activity in each from 2009 to 2014. Cincinnati’s results in that study are simultaneously promising and troubling.

The Queen City ranks squarely in the middle of those 100 cities when it comes to overall economic growth. But there’s more to the picture than just raw economic activity. The Brookings study also considered prosperity: that is, the degree to which increases in economic activity benefit individuals; and inclusion, which is defined by how much that prosperity extends across different groups of people.

Cincinnati ranked well on those two measures — 18th and 19th, respectively. But there are some caveats to those rankings. What’s more, the city ranks near the bottom of the list — 81st — when it comes to racial inclusion in economic prosperity.

What does each category measure? Brookings' prosperity ranking considers productivity, average annual wage and the standard of living in each city. Inclusion measures the median wage, relative poverty — or poverty measured by the percentage of people below 50 percent of the area median wage — and employment rate in each city. The study’s racial inclusion research considered those factors for non-white groups in each city.

It’s worth noting that economic inclusion is actually trending downward in many cities across the country and that a high ranking doesn’t mean cities are necessarily headed in the right direction. Eighty of the 100 cities in the study saw wages fall. Fifty-three saw relative poverty rise. Cincinnati’s relatively high ranking on the inclusion list comes even though median wages here have fallen in the past five years by 1.4 percent and are still below the levels they were at in 1999. There’s good news, too, of course: The number of jobs and standards of living are up and relative poverty here fell from its Great Recession peak in 2009 through 2013. But that number began rising again in 2014.

Thus, overall inclusion in Cincinnati post-recession can be described as a mixed bag at best, though we’re clearing faring better than many other major cities.

That is, except for one very important category. The most troubling numbers for Cincinnati come from the study’s ranking of how economically inclusive cities are by race. Here, the city is at the bottom of the heap, though it should be noted that five other Ohio cities — Cleveland, Columbus, Youngstown, Dayton and Akron — are ranked even lower. That begs a question for another day: Why are Ohio cities so economically segregated? Statewide policy probably plays some role, but there might be other factors at play.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati's ranking is low for a very simple reason: because wages here are going down for blacks and up for whites, while poverty levels in the city do the inverse.

Median yearly wages for non-whites in the city fell from $25,081 to $24,202 between 2009 and 2014, even as wages for whites rose from $32,714 to $35,295. That’s a 3.5 percent drop compared to an 8 percent gain. What’s more, relative poverty among non-whites in Cincinnati rose from 33 percent to 37 percent in that time period, while poverty for whites fell from 27.5 percent to 25.7 percent. Poverty for non-whites in Cincinnati increased by 4 percent and decreased for whites by nearly 2 percentage points.

What that means is that the economic gaps already present in Cincinnati are rising. There have been efforts to address this — new development aimed at low-income residents in neighborhoods like Avondale, for instance, and the city's recently created Department of Economic Inclusion.

Beyond all the numbers, though, the continuing disparity is causing a great deal of  frustration in the community, as this week's Xavier University town hall discussion on race relations in the aftermath of the 2001 civil unrest showed. As Brookings' study shows, the deeper economic issues many panelists and community members highlighted at that forum are real and growing.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. Here’s a quick rundown of the news today.

Cincinnati City Council yesterday passed an ordinance that would punish employers who don’t pay their workers, making Cincinnati the first city in the state to do so. We told you about that ordinance earlier this week. The law would allow the city to better enforce federal and state prohibitions against wage theft, revoke tax incentives and other deals and also allow it, in certain cases, to bar a company caught stealing wages from future city contracts. The ordinance has received praise from progressive groups, and city officials say they’ve received requests for copies of the ordinance from other cities like Columbus.

Victims of wage theft, faith leaders, advocates with Cincinnati’s Interfaith Workers Center and even representatives from contracting groups spoke before the vote, encouraging Council to pass the legislation. The decision wasn’t without some controversy, however, as Republicans Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn moved to amend the language of the ordinance to stipulate that it apply only to those who are working legally in the U.S.

"Wage theft is wrong," Winburn said, but claimed the proposed legislation would "discourage undocumented workers from going through proper channels."

That brought about a flurry of resistance from other Council members.

"It's not even a question of immigration," Councilman Kevin Flynn, a Charterite, said. Flynn said the ordinance is simply about the city not doing business with companies that steal from employees.

Vice Mayor David Mann, who authored the ordinance, refused to accept the amendment. The law passed 7-2.

• Now that the cat’s out of the bag about a potential $680 million in under-scrutinized spending by Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District over a nearly 10-year period, officials with both the city and the county are scrambling to place blame. Both Hamilton County Commissioners and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley have called for extensive auditing of the MSD. The sewer district is run by the city but owned by the county, and both say the other is to blame after revelations that a big chunk of a federal court-ordered $3 billion sewer upgrade has been done without competitive bidding for contracts and with little oversight outside the department. Cranley has said that the misspending has taken place “right under the noses” of county commissioners, while commissioners claim they’ve been trying to get better control of the sewer district’s spending for years. Cranley also pointed to former City Manager Milton Dohoney, who gave former MSD Director Tony Parrot a huge degree of latitude in purchasing decisions in 2007.

• The Hamilton County Board of Elections voted yesterday to move its headquarters from downtown Cincinnati to a location in Norwood. The county’s lease on its current headquarters on Broadway is set to expire this year, and BOE officials say the new location is more central to the entire county. However, many have decried the move, including Mayor Cranley. Having the BOE headquarters, where early voting takes place, close to the county’s transit hub is vital for low-income voters, Cranley says. If the headquarters moves to Norwood, another early voting location should be setup near Government Square, Metro’s downtown hub, the mayor says. Two bus routes serve the proposed location in Norwood, though BOE board members point out the location has a lot of free parking. Hamilton County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou, who sits on the BOE’s board, pointed to the unanimous decision by the four-member, bipartisan BOE board and said Cranley should “mind his own business” in response to the mayor’s criticism. This isn’t the first time a proposed move by the BOE has caused controversy. In 2014, it looked to move its headquarters to Mount Airy, though that plan was later scrapped.

• Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has coordinated closely with conservative right-to-life activists as he targets Planned Parenthood, a new investigation shows. DeWine exchanged congratulatory text messages and emails with the president of Ohio Right to Life. The group has also offered to share talking points and press materials with the AG and advisors to Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Officials with the organization say it’s not unusual for high-level state officials to be in touch with lobbyists and activists. “I’m not going to apologize for who my friends are,” pro-life lobbyist Mike Gonidakis told the Associated Press. But progressive groups and some government watchdogs have cried foul, saying the relationship between the AG and pro-life group is far too cozy.

• Here’s an interesting look by the Associated Press at the business costs of an anti-gay-rights backlash currently going on in Indiana’s state government. Generally conservative chamber of commerce members and state lawmakers there have become increasingly nervous about the state’s business prospects as the state fails to pass legislation banning discrimination against the LGBT community. The perception that Indiana is a place hostile to gays could hurt the resurgence of cities like Indianapolis, business leaders fear.

• Finally, thousands of Uber drivers plan to protest fare cuts by the company by disrupting Sunday’s Super Bowl in San Francisco. As many as 9,000 drivers are expected to congest the streets around Levi’s Stadium there as they decry changes to Uber’s policy that drivers say have left many of them making less than minimum wage. Smaller protests have already popped up in San Francisco and New York City, where on Feb. 1 coordinated demonstrations drew about 1,000 drivers each.

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<![CDATA[Slice of Cincinnati: Cincinnati Art Museum's Conservation Department]]>

It’s the 15th century, and remnants of the Middle Ages hang over Europe as it unknowingly waits for the Renaissance. In the dim candlelight somewhere in Spain shines an altarpiece painted to depict the lives of St. Peter and Jesus Christ along with images of the Virgin Mary and other saints. With its impressive strokes of paint and gold and silver leaf, Lorenzo Zaragoza’s “Retablo of St. Peter” is remarkable to behold.

More than 600 years later, the altarpiece rests under the skilled hands of Cincinnati Art Museum’s chief conservator Serena Urry. With only the clack of museum visitor’s shoes disturbing the quiet peace, the setting resembles the serenity of the piece’s original home.

Zaragoza’s piece has stood the test of time, more or less. While it has been admired by thousands of Cincinnati Art Museum visitors since the museum purchased the piece in1960, it was taken off exhibit in 2010 due to its poor condition. It is now back on exhibit through April 24, as visitors can watch Urry bring the retablo to life again through cleaning all 18 of its panels.

It’s a two-in-one exhibit, giving visitors an insider’s look at the work done by the museum’s conservation department while they view and learn about the piece. Established in 1935, the museum’s conservation department is one of the oldest in the country. Since then it has grown from one part-time paintings conservator to four professionally trained conservators, each of whom have their own specialization in paintings, paper, textiles or objects. The department is in charge of conserving the museum’s entire collection (with the exception of works that are on loan to the museum).

Urry proposed the exhibit because the retablo needed to be treated before it could go back on view in the galleries. However, this is no small task — the retouching is not expected to be complete for another few years. On view in the exhibit is only the first step of the process: cleaning and consolidating.

“Museums usually put conservation on view to the public when the work of art is simply too big to remove it from the gallery or garden,” Urry says. Before the retablo was taken off exhibit, it was the only piece in the room it occupied.
Conserving a work of art like the retablo first involves examining them closely under infrared and ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light reveals differences on the painting’s surface that are not visible to the naked eye; infrared light reveals what is underneath the paint on the ground layer.

Urry says determining the full condition of a piece of art before beginning its conservation treatment is the hardest part of conserving art. The two most important tenants that guide painting conservation are reversibility, which ensures that nothing will be done to the work that cannot be removed later, and dissimilarity, which means suing conservation materials that are not found in the original painting.

Of course, Uri’s conservation efforts are not the first for the retablo. With a piece of art this old, it is common for there to be many years of retouching — the first effort to conserve the retablo may have occurred around the early 1500s. It is believed that the central sculpture of St. Peter was created to replace the original lost piece.

Urry’s work includes using a variety of solvents, hand tools and a hot air gun to remove the effects of older retouching campaigns, such as discolored varnish and wax. This includes a layer of wax added by the Art Museum in 1960 to contain flaking. Since then it has become clouded with dust and grime, and the wax tinted to match the gold leaf of the painting has discolored to a greenish metallic hue.

After cleaning, painting conservation also involves structural treatments, such as modifying or replacing the canvas, its lining and stretcher. There may also be surface treatments done to conserve paintings, such as filling losses of paint, toning the fillings and adding layers of varnish.

“All of the paintings in a multi-piece work like this should be worked on together to ensure consistency,” Urry says. “The gallery space gives me an opportunity to have all of them on view as they are conserved.”

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey hey Cincy! How are you all on this fine spring morning? Wait, it’s early February? Guess I better change out of these jean shorts and put the slip-n-slide away. Bummer. Be right back.

OK, where were we now? News. Right. Let’s get to it.

Last night Xavier University held a packed town hall discussion on the state of Cincinnati 15 years after the police shooting of unarmed black citizen Timothy Thomas and the civil unrest that shook the city afterward. Here’s my story about that ahead of a more in-depth dive later. I also live tweeted last night’s event and you can find quotes from panelists on my feed.

• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has proposed a new measure aimed at increasing pedestrian and bicyclist safety, according to a news release sent out this morning. Sittenfeld’s proposed motion, which would ask the city to identify the area’s most dangerous intersections for non-car-drivers and present options aimed at mitigating the dangers there. Sittenfeld says his motion, which comes in the wake of a hit-and-run accident that killed a popular Cincinnati cyclist in Anderson last week, has support of the rest of Council. As a cyclist and a walking commuter, I very much hope the city follows through on this.

• A visit by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in East Price Hill has some members of the immigrant community and their advocates on edge. Agents with ICE showed up yesterday morning at an apartment complex that houses a few Central American immigrant families, and now some in the community fear the visit is the precursor to a larger raid by the agency tasked with enforcing America’s immigration laws. Late last year, the Obama administration announced it would begin more strictly enforcing those laws and deporting undocumented families who arrived after 2014. Several states have already seen raids from the agency.

• Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District spent hundreds of millions of dollars over nearly a decade without necessary city oversight, city documents and officials say, much of it through contracts to third parties for work it didn’t put up for competitive bids. The spending has its roots in a policy shift started in 2007 that gives large amounts of control to MSD director without proper oversight from city officials outside the department, according to this Cincinnati Enquirer story. City Manager Harry Black has vowed to change the way the department operates so that spending is more transparent and accountable.

• Welp, we’ve talked a lot about how Ohio Gov. John Kasich has his hopes pinned on New Hampshire as he chases the GOP presidential nomination. But then Iowa happened. Specifically, Republican young gun U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t do that terribly in the state’s caucus, the first contest in the country where primary voters pick their favorites for their party’s nominee. Rubio finished third behind surprise winner U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and real estate hustler Donald Trump.

Consensus among political pundits is that Cruz and Trump are unelectable, but that Rubio could consolidate support from establishment GOP power players, putting him in position to surge ahead in polls. That’s got political talking heads going all crazy like this (only replace “Ru-fi-o!” with “Ru-bi-o!”), which could make their punditry a self-fulfilling prophecy in places like… you guessed it… New Hampshire. Kasich has been doing markedly better in that state, which he has identified as his make-or-break stand. He’s scooped up the vast majority of newspaper endorsements there and is polling a strong third behind Trump and Cruz. But that could change if Rubio-mania continues. So will Kasich go on the offensive against the Florida senator, who has some pretty big weak spots in terms of his congressional attendance record, his personal finances and other issues? We’ll see. Primaries in New Hampshire are Feb. 9.

• Here’s a brief, but important presidential election update: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky suspended his presidential campaign this morning so he can focus on his Senate re-election bid. Once though to be a big contender this election, Paul’s less interventionist foreign policy ideas and criminal justice reform domestic policy ideas have failed to gain traction in a GOP primary race full of war-loving ideologues convinced a wave of illegal immigrants is coming to rob us blind. Go figure.

• Finally, we’ve seen a lot of journalism about how much the various presidential campaigns are raising in contributions, which PACs and Super PACs are spending millions on those candidates, and the like. But under-covered until now has been the little-known but completely vital pizza primary. How much has your choice for president spent on pizza? Spoiler alert: Ohio’s big queso Kasich hasn’t spent much dough on the cheesy stuff.

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<![CDATA[Panelists and Community Discuss 2001's Ongoing Legacy]]>

Xavier University held a packed town hall discussion last night on the state of Cincinnati 15 years after the police shooting of unarmed black citizen Timothy Thomas and the civil unrest that shook the city afterward.

Thomas was the 15th black Cincinnatian killed by police during the previous three years, and frustrations in the black community over those killings, and deep economic and social isolation, bubbled over in Over-the-Rhine and other neighborhoods around the city.

Even after a decade and a half, the town hall was as timely as ever: Last summer saw the death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose at the hands of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, and events in the past year and a half across the country have brought the issue of racially charged police violence front and center. As evidenced by the sometimes-contentious discussion last night, frustration remains even as Cincinnati has enacted some meaningful reforms in its approach to policing.

Charlie Luken, who was Cincinnati's mayor in 2001, gave introductory remarks to the crowd. Luken admitted that officials at the time were slow to pay attention to the signs of unrest.

“Our community, including me, was slow to grasp the depths of legitimate complaint," he said.

Luken said he doesn't condone violence but also called the unrest in 2001 “part of the American tradition.” He said activism during the unrest led to positive change, a significant shift from statements he made in 2001 when he remarked that “some of them seem to be out here just for the fun of it.”

Activist Iris Roley of the Black United Front argued that the historic Collaborative Agreement that came after the unrest by federal order was a positive step, but that much more work is still needed. For example, Roley advocated for expanded community presence for the Citizen’s Complaint Authority, which handles citizens’ complaints against officers under the city’s police reforms. In 2014, the last year for which data was available, complaints about discrimination rose by 100 percent from the year prior. Complaints about excessive use of force rose 30 percent and firearm discharge allegations rose by 60 percent. Only improper pointing of a firearm complaints went down, by 67 percent. Overall, allegations rose 39 percent over 2013, though those percentages are somewhat skewed by the small numbers involved. Of the 320 complaints filed with the authority, 67 were investigated.

"Children want to know what the people did for them," Roley said of Collaborative Agreement, which she says is still very relevant now. Still, “policing is so huge in the black community. I wish we could think about other things," Roley said, and, "it's more stressful now" because much of police oversight work is done at the city level, and less is in the hands of activists.

Rev. Damon Lynch III, a pastor in OTR in 2001 whose church has since moved to Roselawn, said police issues are just a part of the city’s race problem and that much of the rest of the racial disparity, including huge socioeconomic gaps, haven’t shifted in Cincinnati since 2001.

"Childhood poverty won't start the next civil unrest," he said, suggesting that the economic issues that set up those conditions are the real issue. 

Civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein echoed Roley in his analysis that the Collaborative Agreement was a good step and that strategies like problem-oriented policing are better than previous law enforcement techniques even if larger systemic problems keep racial disparities in place.

“The original ask (in 2001) from my clients was addressing economic inequity,” Gerhardstein said of the fight the Black United Front and other activists waged in court over police reforms following Thomas’ death. “You can't sue capitalism. That's a problem."

Cincinnati Police Department District 4 Capt. Maris Harold, meanwhile, maintained that policing in Cincinnati has gotten remarkably better in the last two decades, touting what she calls the data-driven “science of policing,” which she says can result in fewer arrests by targeting the few violent criminals in an area.

“Policing is a paramilitary organization," and thus, all about strategy, Harold said. That strategy before 2001 was, "zero tolerance, arrest everything that moves," Harold said, but, “unless you're an irrational person, you have to realize the strategy wasn't working." She says police have since realized a small number of people commit violence and that to be effective they must narrow in on those individuals.

Black Lives Matter activist Brian Taylor, however, argued that a shift in police tactics can’t mask deeper problems and that the most powerful way to address those inequalities is through street-level activism. If policing is paramilitary, Taylor asked, “Who is the enemy? Racism is institutional, bound to the system on a molecular level." Taylor brought up the fact that officers who corroborated Tensing’s story around the shooting of DuBose this summer are still on the force and what he says are lingering questions around the CPD shooting of Quandavier Hicks last summer in Northside.

Audience members had loads of questions surrounding the deeper issues that sparked the unrest in 2001, including socioeconomic inequalities and lack of jobs and educational opportunities in the black community.

Many audience members also decried what they see as the inequitable development of Over-the-Rhine, which came about during the years following the unrest when then-mayor Luken helped put together the Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation. 3CDC and other developers have subsequently spent nearly $1 billion redeveloping OTR, in the process changing parts of the neighborhood from a low-income community into a more upscale enclave.

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<![CDATA[Iowa Caucus: Razor-Thin Victory for Clinton, Cruz Takes GOP Win]]> It was a photo finish this morning for the Democratic candidates with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton squeaking by with an apparent victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with a 0.3-percent lead in the Iowa caucus. Some in the media such at the Associated Press aren’t ready to declare a victor.

The final results for the Democrats were Clinton with 49.9 percent, Sanders with 49.6 percent. The Clinton campaign claimed a humble win 3:35 a.m., hours after the Republicans found Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as their victor. However, some precincts are still unaccounted for and the Sanders campaign is calling for a raw vote count.

Clinton was awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents, versus 695.49 for Sanders. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley suspended his bid for the presidency only about an hour into the night.

Matt Paul, Hillary for America’s Iowa State Director, released a statement following Clinton’s caucus victory: "Hillary Clinton has won the Iowa Caucus. After thorough reporting – and analysis – of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates."

Sanders' spokeswoman Rania Batrice noted that one precinct remained outstanding, and said there were questions about the results in several other counties. "We definitely don't feel comfortable yet," she said early Tuesday.

NBC dubbed last night as the closest Iowa caucus for Democrats in history. The nail-biting battle for Iowa was literally decided by coin tosses to settle ties between the Vermont senator and former first lady. Some coin tosses went in Sanders' favor but some reports suggest Clinton made out with the most coin toss victories.

Neither candidate made a formal victory speech, however they both spoke to their supporters.

“Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” was chanted as the Democratic underdog took the stage to thank supporters. “Iowa, thank you,” he said. “Nine months ago, we came to this beautiful state. We had no political organization. We had no money. We had no name recognition and we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America.” Sanders went on to declare a “virtual tie.”

The smile on Sanders’ face was not the smile of a man that just lost a state — it was the smile of a man that knows he proved he can take on establishment politics.

Clinton gave a nod to Sanders’ strong showing in the Hawkeye state, saying, “I am excited about really getting into the debate with Sen. Sanders about the best way forward.”

“We have to be united against Republicans who will divide us,” she continued. “I intend to stand against it.”

Clinton started the race with a huge lead over Sanders, and while she can technically claim victory, her razor-thin win signals that her inevitability has drastically evaporated.

Some Clinton supporters might be worried the former secretary of state’s underestimation of Sanders’ populist campaign could lead to a repeat of 2008 when Barack Obama seemingly swooped out of nowhere and stole the election.

Polls showed Clinton as the presumptive nominee, with 60 percent when the fight for the Democratic nomination kicked off in May (Sanders had just 10 percent support). Few people in America knew who the Independent Vermont senator was.

The field of only two Democratic candidates goes into Tuesday’s New Hampshire with Sanders in the lead by 19 points, according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

Without a clear loss in Iowa, the momentum can give Sanders the needed financial and popularity boost to battle Clinton well into spring. "We're going to fight really hard in New Hampshire and then we're going to Nevada, to South Carolina, we're doing well around the country," Sanders said getting off a plane in New Hampshire this morning.

For young liberals around the country, the summer blockbuster was not the potential for the first woman president — it was a 74-year-old white Jewish career politician. Sanders is a frequent guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, which could be how some on the left initially knew about the Democratic socialist.

His rhetoric of lifting the weight of student debt and increasing the minimum wage plays well to the college crowd, who on average graduate with $29,000 of debt, according to the Department of Education.

Entrance polling of caucus-goers in Iowa showed that Sanders controlled the young vote with 90 percent of voters under 30 “feeling the Bern” along with voters making $50,000 or less. Clinton owned the female demographic with 57 percent, and moderate voters.

The Republican war for Iowa was not as much as an edge-of-your-seat ride. Sen. Ted Cruz claimed an early victory with 28 percent of the vote.

Donald Trump claimed a close second-place finish with 24.3 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio took an expected third-place with 23.1 percent.

Ben Carson ended the night with 9.3 percent of the vote, Sen. Rand Paul got 4.5 percent, and Jeb Bush came in with a disappointing 2.8 percent despite pouring $16 million into Iowa advertisement.

Despite losing Iowa, Trump gathered the second-largest amount of votes in Iowa caucus history — Cruz of course received a historic level of support with the most support in the state’s history.

Trump delivered a humble and short defeat speech.

“We finished second and I just want to tell you something — I’m just honored,” Trump said to supporters.  “I want to congratulate Ted and the I wanna congratulate all the incredible candidate including Mike Huckabee who has become a really good friend of mine. We will easily go on to defeat Hillary or Bernie who whoever the hell they throw up there” Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suspended his campaign last night.

Cruz didn’t mention Trump by name in his victory speech, but continued his firebrand politics that secured his Iowa victory.

“Tonight is a victory for every American who understands that after we survive eight long years of the Obama presidency, no one personality can right the wrongs done by Washington,” the freshman senator said.

Rubio delivered what sounded like a speech that was written in case the Florida senator secured Iowa. "So this is the moment they told us would never happen,” he said. “They told me my hair wasn't grey enough. They told me my boots were too high. They told me to wait my turn."

The polls missed foreseeing Cruz’s victory, but virtually all predictions going into Iowa showed Rubio taking third place.

The Ohio primary is March 15.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are today's headlines. 

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac unveiled a new crime reduction strategy that would target certain high crime locations in the city. Isaac presented the plan called Place-based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories, or PIVOT, Monday to the City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee. The idea is law enforcement will start to tackle super specific places and try to change the culture at that location. The "place-based" strategy means targeting these locations is as important as targeting people as other new offenders will just take the place of those who are removed from a particular "hot" location. The plan detailed 20 spots across the city in neighborhoods including Avondale, Over-The-Rhine, Walnut Hill and East Price Hill. Many locations are are businesses that are known centers for criminal activity. Isaac the businesses targeted will not necessarily face closure--unless they are non-compliant with police. 

• City Council is set to vote on an ordinance today that would help protect workers from wage theft. The ordinance, which was written by Vice Mayor David Mann, would allow the city to cut tax-agreements and force repayment of financial incentives if a business is found guilty of withholding worker wages. Migrant workers are often victims of this because of language barriers and possible undocumented immigration statuses.

• The University of Cincinnati is closer today to moving its law school to riverfront development The Banks. The finance committee of the university's board of trustees has voted to approve that move, which still needs full board approval. Should the board approve the proposal, the university will need to raise funds for a new facility and select a site at The Banks. Discussions about moving the law school to the riverfront have been circulating around the university for at least four years and have  taken on more serious potential in the last few months.

• Xavier University tonight will host a town hall discussion on the state of Cincinnati 15 years after the city's civil unrest in Over-the-Rhine and other neighborhoods over the police shooting death of unarmed Timothy Thomas. Thomas was the 15th black citizen shot by Cincinnati police over the course of just a few years, and his death uncovered deep inequities in the city's policing and beyond. While national media has celebrated Cincinnati's historic collaborative agreement, which ushered in big changes to CPD, deep socioeconomic inequalities remain here and police shootings of unarmed black citizens remain a huge issue in other Ohio cities and nationwide. Tonight's discussion will include police reform activist Iris Roley, Rev. Damon Lynch III, Cincinnati Black Lives Matter activist Brian Taylor, civil rights lawyer Al Gerhardstein, and CPD Capt. Maris Harold. It starts at 7 p.m. at Xavier's Cintas Center.

• As Gov. John Kasich hangs out in New Hampshire trying to play nice with his fellow GOP presidential nominees, the Washington Post published a story on his attempted aggressive takeover of Youngstown City Schools. Last summer, Kasich's administration introduced a last minute amendment to an education bill that would put a state-appointed highly powerful executive in charge of the low income-area school district and would offer a cash-bonus charter, private, parochial or suburban schools that took Youngstown students. Kasich's crew made sure the bill and the 66-page amendment sailed through the legislature within a matter of days after they had worked with non-elected Youngstown officials for months to carefully craft the plan. The legislation was only halted by a legal challenge that its speedy passage violated legislative rules. The matter is still pending.  

• Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz pulled in the state's evangelical Christian voters out to help him beat business tycoon Donald Trump in the Iowa caucuses Monday night. While the two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, finished neck and neck. The Associated Press said that race was too close to call. This has probably left Clinton must be shaking in her suit as she heads off to New Hampshire--where Sanders' has the advantage of winning his neighboring state.

Story tips go to nkrebs@citybeat.com.

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<![CDATA[Council Set to Pass Anti-Wage-Theft Ordinance]]>

Employers who don’t pay their workers might have new penalties to worry about after Cincinnati City Council’s Feb. 3 meeting.

Council is poised to approve a new ordinance that would allow the city to rescind tax agreements and force repayment of incentives such as grants if a company is caught committing wage theft. The city could also bar a company caught not paying its workers from receiving future city contracts.

Council’s Budget and Finance Committee passed the ordinance 6-0 Feb. 1. Though it doesn’t create any new laws, the ordinance gives the city more options for enforcing existing state and federal anti-wage theft legislation.

Vice Mayor David Mann authored the ordinance, which came about through a push from the Over-the-Rhine based Interfaith Workers Center. Brennan Grayson, director of the IWC, says the ordinance is modeled on similar measures taken in other major cities.

A number of wage theft cases have been documented in Cincinnati and across Ohio. Between 2005 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor seized more than $6.5 million in wages construction companies shorted 5,500 Ohio workers laboring on public projects.

This summer, CityBeat wrote about immigrants who were initially shorted wages for their construction work on a fraternity near the University of Cincinnati. The workers were eventually able to gain back thousands of dollars in unpaid wages with the help of IWC.

Migrant workers are especially vulnerable to wage theft, often due to vulnerabilities that arise from limited language proficiency or, sometimes, their undocumented status.

“It’s no secret that people who don’t speak English are viewed as not being in a position to complain,” Councilman Wendell Young said at the budget and finance meeting.
Young would like to see additional measures that involve the city’s newly created Office of Economic Inclusion in wage theft-related issues.

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<![CDATA[Judge: Third Party to Take Control of Neglected Apartment Buildings ]]>

Tenants of several Cincinnati low-income apartment complexes will see relief from the starkly sub-standard conditions found in those buildings after a court decision today.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Beth Meyer ruled that five buildings with more than 600 units of affordable housing owned by New Jersey-based PF Holdings company will be placed in receivership with a third party, effectively keeping it from collecting rent from tenants and the more than $5 millions it gets annually from the Department of Housing and Urban Development until repairs are made. Those funds and repairs will be handled by court-appointed receiver Milhaus Management, a property management company requested by U.S. Bank Wilmington Trust, which holds mortgages on the properties. 

CityBeat in March reported on conditions at The Alms Apartments in Walnut Hills, one of the properties placed in receivership. Tenants in that building suffered from lack of heating, plumbing problems, insect infestations and other substandard conditions. In November, the roof collapsed on another PF Holdings-owned building, the Burton in Avondale, due to heavy rains and lack of maintenance. All told, that building had more than 1,800 municipal code violations, city inspections late last year found. The total cost of fixing the buildings is more than $3 million, according to court filings.

Tenants at those buildings and others owned by the company organized to demand better conditions in their buildings with the help of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless and the Society for Legal Aid of Greater Cincinnati. Advocates and tenants say the company "willfully" hid conditions in the buildings and failed to do basic maintenance. They hailed today's decision as a step in the right direction.

"Finally, after a year of fighting, residents should start to see improvements soon," the Homeless Coalition said in a statement. "We still have a ways to go and a lot of work to do to ensure these buildings become what they should have always been, but today we took a major step forward at saving these invaluable affordable homes."

Trouble at the PF Holdings properties has come as the Greater Cincinnati area and many other areas around country face historic shortages of affordable housing. Federal guidelines say housing should cost no more than 30 percent of a household’s monthly income. However, 11 million people in the U.S. pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing, and that’s expected to swell in the coming years as rental markets across the country continue to heat up.

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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Entertainment Awards 2016: The Winners]]>

Last night at the Madison Theater in Covington, CityBeat hosted the 19th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, honoring Greater Cincinnati’s rich music scene. Check out this week’s CityBeat for a full wrap-up. In the meantime, here’s who won what:


World Music/Reggae: The Cliftones

Jazz: Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra

Singer/Songwriter: Kate Wakefield

Country: Taylor Shannon

Punk/Post Punk: Tweens

Indie/Alternative: Us, Today

Rock: Wussy 

Electronic: Black Signal 

Blues: The Whiskey Shambles

Bluegrass: Rumpke Mountain Boys

Folk/Americana: Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle

Hard Rock/Metal: Casino Warrior

R&B/Funk/Soul: Krystal Peterson & the Queen City Band

Hip Hop: Buggs Tha Rocka

Best Music Video: Molly Sullivan – “Before” 

New Artist of the Year: Dawg Yawp

Best Live Act: The Cliftones

Album of the Year: Honeyspiders – Honeyspiders

Artist of the Year: Jess Lamb


If you missed the show in person (or perhaps your memory is a little foggy), you can watch a replay courtesy of ICRC-TV below.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. With the Iowa caucuses today, it seems like a good time to talk politics, and we’ve got a bunch of local political stories to touch on. Let’s get to it.

Cincinnati City Councilman and U.S. Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld is running neck and neck in with an opponent in the upcoming March Democratic primary, according to a new poll, but it’s not Ted Strickland. In a recent survey paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, about 10 percent of 1,138 Ohio Democrats said they would vote for Price Hill resident Kelli Prather, an relatively unknown candidate who has never held elected office before. That’s the same proportion of support that Sittenfeld received in the poll. Strickland received 61 percent of the vote in the poll.

Sittenfeld’s campaign has shrugged off that poll, saying it’s biased and designed by the Democratic Party to support Strickland — who the party has endorsed — in the primary. Sittenfeld has raised a good deal of money from some notable donors, but has yet to catalyze much needed statewide recognition. Prather, meanwhile, has received little news coverage or other attention. She’s an occupational therapist whose harrowing experience as a victim of gun violence in 2004, when her husband shot her, inspired her to run for office, she says. Sittenfeld and Prather will debate in Cleveland Feb. 22. Strickland has declined to attend that event.

• More drama within the Democratic Party: A candidate to replace outgoing State Rep. Denise Driehaus in Ohio House District 31 says the local party is sidelining him over a research paper he wrote in 2009 while he was a student at Yale University. Candidate Ben Lindy says Hamilton County Democrats might take away his party rights — access to voter files and mailing information, lower postage rates and other benefits of being part of the Democratic Party — because the paper is now being used in anti-union arguments in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. That paper was published by Yale Law Journal in 2011 and is currently being used by anti-union groups in a case that could seriously undermine organized labor. Lindy says that’s not fair. 

Hamilton County Democrat head Tim Burke has said  he doesn’t want to totally marginalize Lindy but that the content of that paper is “bothersome.” In the research, Lindy found that public schools in New Mexico with mandatory union membership had higher SAT scores, but also lower graduation rates, than schools where collective bargaining arrangements weren’t mandatory. Lindy says in the paper that the results suggest collective bargaining arrangements for teachers actually hurt low-income students. He’s stuck by that particular research, but says that overall he supports unions and opposes efforts to restrict union dues collection in the current Supreme Court case. But he also points to other Democrats who have beliefs outside the party, such as those who are pro-life, and says he doesn’t deserve to be drummed out of the party for his position.

• Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman will step down from his job as county government’s top appointed official in September, he told county commissioners Friday. Sigman has served in the role — in which he helps set county budgets and oversees economic development plans — since 2011. He’s recently had a rocky time in the position, however, having been removed from oversight of riverfront development The Banks by county commissioners after he made statements suggesting that the county should consider working with another developer. Initially, commissioners considered firing him over those statements.

• Here’s a break from politics for a business story: Will local giant corporation Procter & Gamble split up? There’s a buzz going around financial analysts and others in the business world that it could, or should, happen as the company sees slow sales growth. It might be too large to grow any more, some experts say, and should consider splitting the company up. While the company has made some progress under new CEO David Taylor, lack of major progress could cause stockholders to push for the split-up, something that has happened at more than 300 other large companies in the last five years. Proponents of that course of action at P&G say it would allow the resulting companies to better focus on particular sectors of P&G’s business. However, others say the company’s sales problem exists across all its various enterprises and wouldn’t be solved by breaking them up. Already, P&G has sold off 100 smaller brands that were not as successful as its core products.

• And now, back to politics. Two political action committees supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich as he vies for the GOP presidential nomination saw a significant slowdown in fundraising in the second half of last year, recently released financial disclosures show. Super PACs New Day for America and New Day Independent Media Committee, both of which were formed to tout Kasich’s bid, saw about $6 million in contributions from July to December last year. That’s little more than half the $11.7 million those PACs took in in the first half of the year. Much of that money came from big donors with ties to large corporations.

Under campaign finance rules, Super PACs have no contribution limits but cannot coordinate directly with candidates’ campaigns. Kasich’s fundraising has trailed other candidates in the heated primary race. Similar super PACs for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio raised  $30 million last year, for instance. The PACs supporting Kasich have seen an uptick in fundraising, however, in the last couple weeks, as primary season starts in earnest. Kasich hopes some of that support pays off in Iowa tonight, where he’s trailing far-right candidates like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in polls of Iowa’s staunchly conservative caucus-goers.

That’s it for me. Enjoy this warm weather while it lasts, eh?

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<![CDATA[Stage Door]]>

There are so many things happening on local stages it’s a bit of a challenge make recommendations. But every one of these productions has some sort of conflict at its heart.

Grounded opened Wednesday night Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. George Brant’s a one-woman script is about a fearless fighter pilot whose career is cut short by an unexpected pregnancy, marriage and parenthood. Her new job is to fly military drones from a trailer outside Las Vegas; but she goes home to her family every night — and before long, she has trouble sorting out the boundaries between her two worlds. Kathleen Wise makes her ETC debut with this challenging performance, a woman who knows her way “in the blue” as a pilot, but must navigate new paths when she’s relegated to the “chair force,” wandering remotely “in the gray,” targeting “personality strikes.” Michael Haney is back in town to stage this one, and he always succeeds with making solo shows a powerful experience. Grounded is a pressure-filled, cautionary tale, gripping but not easy to watch. Nevertheless, it’s compelling theater. Through Feb. 14. Tickets: 513-421-3555.

Karen Zacarías’ Native Gardens, a world premiere, opened at the Cincinnati Playhouse last evening. Her Book Club Play was a Playhouse hit in 2013; this time around the subject is a tad more serious, but it’s handled with deft humor as neighbors battle over styles of gardening — formal vs. natural — and choices driven by cultural differences. New neighbors Pablo and Tania are of Hispanic descent, moving in next door to Frank and Virginia, who are as waspy as can be. You can imagine where that goes: Straight down the road to audience gasps as the couples insult one another when boundaries are crossed. The 80-minute show wraps up neatly — maybe a little too much so. But there’s no denying this is a show that has lots of comic appeal involving circumstances many people will recognize. Through Feb. 21. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

Tonight is the opening for Black Top Sky at Know Theatre. Christina Anderson, a resident playwright with New York City’s New Dramatists, makes her Cincinnati debut with this show about the residents of a housing project. Ida, 18, befriends Klass, an unpredictable young homeless man. Their friendship forces Idea to make a choice: Embrace the struggle for justice or embrace a life with her successful boyfriend. Kimberly Faith Hickman, who staged 2014’s The Twentieth-Century Way for Know, is back from New York to direct. Andrew Hungerford, Know’s artistic director, chose this show because he was “struck by the poetry of the language, the visual poetry of the stage directions and the gut-wrenching timelessness of the story.” He adds, “It flips from humor to heaviness at the speed of light.” Onstage through Feb. 20. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

Shakespeare’s chronicling of King Henry VI took three plays back in the 16th-century; Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has rearranged them into two productions, one onstage now and another coming next season. This portion details the roots of the War of the Roses, with relatives vying for power — it’s truly a historic “game of thrones.” It’s also is a predecessor of today’s action movies, with lots of combat — and the fiery presence of Joan of Arc (played with zest by Caitlin McWethy), as England’s zeal for dominance in France runs a parallel track to the jockeying for position among royal relatives back home. Through Feb. 13. Tickets: 513-381-2273. 


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List (1/29-1/31)]]> FRIDAY

ART: ART AFTER DARK: WINTER WILDERNESS

The Cincinnati Art Museum’s Art After Dark: Winter Wilderness celebrates art and nature with an after-hours party. There will be live Folk music by local band Wilder and guided tours of the exhibit Field Guide: Photographs by Jochen Lempert. Lempert is a German photographer who studied biology and presents a special view on plants and animals. Wear black and white to go along with Lempert’s black-and-white photography. 5-9 p.m. Friday. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, 513-721-2787, cincinnatiartmuseum.org

Photo: Matthew Kolodziej

ART: PATCH WORK: NEW PAINTINGS AT CARL SOLWAY GALLERY
Carl Solway Gallery hosts an opening reception for Matthew Kolodziej’s Patch Work: New Paintings, a selection of work informed by the painter’s interest in materials, archeology and construction processes. Although they resemble Abstract Expressionism, Kolodziej’s pieces are multi-layered fragments of visual details captured from architectural sites in flux. The painter, a professor of art at the University of Akron, photographs sites in the Midwest rust belt and then creates a patchwork of dimensional surfaces via a sophisticated process of computer manipulation, projection, tracing and paint application. Opening reception 5-8 p.m. Friday. On view through March 26. Free. 424 Findlay St., Over-the-Rhine, solwaygallery.com.

'Grounded'
Photo: Ryan Kurtz
ONSTAGE: GROUNDED
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s 30th-anniversary season continues with an intense one-woman story told through the eyes of a fierce fighter pilot whose pregnancy “grounds” her. Instead of spending time flying missions, she is stationed in a windowless trailer in the desert outside Las Vegas, flying military drones above the Middle East to hunt down and kill terrorists. Pulled between two worlds, she is trapped in an unsettling pressure cooker. Kathleen Wise, a Cincinnati native with an impressive professional acting career, plays the pilot. Michael Evan Haney, a Cincinnati Playhouse veteran who knows how to shape solo performances into compelling drama, is the director. Through Feb. 14. $28-$44. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-3555, ensemblecincinnati.org.

ONSTAGE: SALOME
There's a heat wave coming Friday in Corbett Auditorium. The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music concludes its “Great Decade” festival with a concert performance of Richard Strauss’ Salome, an opera that packs enough obsession, erotic sensuality and dysfunction to fuel an entire reality-show season for E! — in 90 minutes. Oscar Wilde based his Symbolist play Salome on the New Testament story of a young woman whose dancing won her the head of John the Baptist. The play was banned in London; Wilde translated it into French for the Paris premiere in 1896 and Strauss used a German translation for the libretto of his 1905 opera. Read more about the performance here. CCM Philharmonia presents Salome Friday at CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. More info: ccm.uc.edu.

ONSTAGE: THE WIZARD OF OZ
Yes, it’s a stage rendition of Dorothy’s 1939 cinematic dream of Oz, with every bit of music you will recall — plus a number you won’t (it includes “The Jitterbug,” deleted from the film) — performed lushly by the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. This is a rather ambitious undertaking for The Carnegie, given the rather small stage: it’s accommodating 14 musicians and KSO conductor J. R. Cassidy as well as this expansive, highly visual story. But it’s all been managed with a whopping dose of creativity, especially the scenic design by Pam Kravetz. Her imagination knows no bounds, it seems, and I suspect it inspired some of director Matt Wilson’s zany choices as well as other design aspects of the show — such as the head of the “Great and Powerful Oz,” a large puppet made of cardboard boxes and paper cups, with moveable jaws and wiggling eyebrows. Or the Wicked Witch’s flying monkeys — augmented by cardboard cut-outs on sticks waved up and down the aisles by young cast members. Read the full review here. The Wizard of Oz, presented by The Carnegie in Covington, will be onstage through Jan. 31. More info/tickets: thecarnegie.com.

SATURDAY
Tanya Tagaq's Cincinnati performance will feature her voice and the film Nanook of the North.
Photo: Ivan Otis
MUSIC: TANYA TAGAQ
Tanya Tagaq, the extraordinary Inuit throat singer, will provide vocal accompaniment to a screening of the silent film Nanook of the North at Cincinnati’s Woodward Theater this weekend. Her unusual background and performance style need introductions. Tagaq grew up in far northern Canada, at the small Arctic Archipelago town of Cambridge Bay in the largest and least-populated Canadian territory, Nunavut. Her town is on Victoria Island, one of the world’s largest. The Inuit are indigenous residents, originating from the land where they continue to live. They used to be called Eskimo, a term that has fallen out of favor. But while Tagaq very much identifies with those roots — her mother lived in an igloo until age 12 — her father was from Great Britain. After attending a residential high school at Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, she moved far away to study at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, where she fell in love with cutting-edge contemporary art forms. Read a full feature on Tagaq hereTanya Tagaq performs Saturday at Woodward Theater. Tickets are available at contemporaryartscenter.org.

MadTree's Winter Bonanza
Photo: Provided
EVENT: MADTREE WINTER BONANZA
MadTree celebrates its third birthday with the annual Winter Bonanza. This event features nearly 60 warming craft beers with favorites, limited releases and barrel-aged brews from MadTree, plus guest taps from other local and regional breweries. All beer tickets are $5, and pours range from 7-16 oz. depending on the brew. Keep your ears open for music from the likes of The Almighty Get Down and Rumpke Mountain Boys, and keep your belly full with bites from Catch-a-Fire Pizza, Red Sesame, Bone’s Burgers and C’est Cheese. Noon-1 a.m. Saturday. Free admission. MadTree Brewing Company, 5164 Kennedy Ave., Oakley, 513-836-8733, madtreebrewing.com.

Chad Daniels
Photo: Provided
COMEDY: CHAD DANIELS
“I think one of the biggest problems I’m talking about right now is parents giving their kids excuses,” says comedian Chad Daniels. “The problem is all the kid knows is excuses and he just keeps acting like an asshole. That’s the middle of my set right now.” But Daniels is quick to point out, “I can tell you I have zero answers to anything, but I do like to stir the pot a little bit.” Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com. 

'Chapter Two'
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
ONSTAGE: CHAPTER TWO
For years, Neil Simon wrote hilarious comedies — Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. But in 1977, he began to mine his own life for material. Chapter Two, a play about a widowed writer trying to start over while still grieving for his late wife, was rooted in his own experience. Simon’s trademarked one-liners are still there, but woven into the show’s humor is a story about coming to terms with death and moving on. With this whimsical play, Simon began to be taken more seriously. Local director Ed Cohen stages Chapter Two, which increases the odds for a good production. Through Feb. 14. $26; $23 seniors/students. Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, 4990 Glendale Ave., Covedale, 513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.

Keeps
Photo: Provided
MUSIC: KEEPS
If you thought “Nashville” and “Stoner Rock” were the most incongruous words to show up in the same sentence (see my All Them Witches preview from last year’s MidPont Music Festival), replace the latter with “Dream Pop” and prepare to have your mind blown by the two-man-with-help Psychedelic Indie Rock orchestra known as Keeps.  Gusti Escalante and Robbie Jackson met on their first day at Belmont University in Nashville and forged a friendship over their mutual distaste for the glittery Country veneer of their newly adopted hometown. Read more about Keeps in this week's Sound Advice. See Keeps with The Yugos and Orchards Saturday at Southgate House Revival. More info/tickets: southgatehouse.com. 

'The People's State of the Union'
Photo: Brandon Simmoneau
ART: THE PEOPLE'S STATE OF THE UNION
Through her work as a cultural agent for the radically inclusive grassroots “U.S. Department of Arts and Culture” — not affiliated with any governmental agency — artist and activist Joi Sears has organized an exhibition and storytelling event called The People’s State of the Union at the new Artspace Hamilton Lofts this weekend. Artists and visitors are encouraged to bring their own artwork, stories and poetry — or game-changing ideas — to share and reflect on the challenges and opportunities affecting the nation. 5-8 p.m. Saturday. Free. Artspace Hamilton Lofts, 222 High St., Hamilton, tinyurl.com/htsvqxz.


SUNDAY
Cincinnati Entertainment Awards
Photo: Khoi Nguyen
EVENT: CINCINNATI ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS

You know the bands. You’ve seen them perform. You’ve voted for your favorites. Now it’s time to find out which local musical acts are winners of the 2016 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. CityBeat’s 19th-annual CEAs take over Covington’s Madison Theater for a night of unforgettable results and performances. CEA nominees including Jess Lamb, The Slippery Lips, Abiyah, The Whiskey Shambles and Rumpke Mountain Boys take the stage between award presentations. But the celebration doesn’t end there — stick around for the CEA After Party at Madison Live with music all night from Skeleton Hands. A portion of proceeds benefits the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation. 6 p.m. Sunday. $20 advance; $25 door; $50 VIP. Madison Theater, 730 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-491-2444, citybeat.com.

Park Vine Vegan Chili Cook-off
Photo: Provided
EVENT: PARK + VINE CHILI COOK-OFF
Cincinnati’s favorite vegan café and green general store invites you to show off your unique twist on chili, with recipes featuring tofu, tempeh, seitan and/or vegetables. Enter your recipe to be judged by local celebrity foodies — including Colonel De and Joanne Drilling of Cincinnati Magazine — in categories like Most Likely to Serve to Unsuspecting Family or Guests. Or come ready to sample the results. Contest entry required by 6 p.m. Saturday; space is limited to 15. 3-5 p.m. Sunday. $10 entry fee; $10 chili tasting; $15 at the door; free for children under 10. Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7275, parkandvine.com

FILM: MOVING IMAGES: THOMAS STRUTH AND THOMAS RUFF
The Cincinnati Art Museum’s monthly Moving Images film series starts off 2016 with short documentaries about two contemporary German photographers named Thomas: Ralph Goertz and Werner Raeune’s Thomas Struth and Goertz’s Thomas Ruff. Both Struth and Ruff studied with Bernd and Hilla Becher, whose deadpan architectural photos have proven very influential. Also, both Struth and Ruff, men who worked in color, began showing in the late 1970s and are in the permanent collections of many museums. 2-4 p.m. Free. Cincinnati Art Museum, Fath Auditorium, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

Scott H. Biram
Photo: Sandy Carson
MUSIC: SCOTT H. BIRAM
Scott H. Biram is an acclaimed singer/songwriter who performs unaccompanied. But those going to his show expecting to see a laidback, unplugged troubadour are in for a rude (and often rowdy) awakening. While his music shows the influence of Roots/Americana, Biram injects his songwriting with a broad range of inspirations, calling his sound “the bastard child of Punk, Blues, Country, Hillbilly, Bluegrass, Chain Gang, Metal and Classic Rock.” His latest album for Bloodshot Records, Nothin’ But Blood, wonderfully showcases his dynamic output. Read more about Biram in this week's Sound Advice. See Scott H. Biram with Strahan & The Good Neighbors Sunday at Southgate House Revival. More info/tickets: southgatehouse.com.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey hey all! Here’s what’s going on around town today.


The University of Cincinnati is hosting a two-day national conference on race and policing starting today. The conference comes in the wake of the July 19 police shooting of Samuel DuBose by UC police officer Ray Tensing. DuBose was unarmed when Tensing stopped him for a missing front license plate. Tensing ended up shooting DuBose and has been indicted on murder charges for his death. The conference will feature panels and talks by national experts on policing and race issues as well as talks by Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, former Cincinnati City Manager Valerie Lemme and others. Sessions on police profiling, challenges to trusting law enforcement, gun policy and other issues will also be offered. A UC student group called UC Students Against Injustice, meanwhile, has planned a protest of the event, calling it a “PR stunt” in light of what they say are failures by the university to make substantive changes following DuBose’s death.

 

• One of the region’s most iconic and beloved museums had a banner year in 2015. The Cincinnati Museum Center, housed in historic Union Terminal, had its second-busiest year since it opened in 1990, attracting nearly 1.5 million visitors last year. And it saved the best for last: It also had its single busiest month in December, when 224,000 people streamed through its doors. Museum officials credit popular temporary exhibits like the Lego-themed “The Art of the Brick” and “Mummies of the World” — along with the center’s permanent exhibits — for the success. The good news for the museum comes as Union Terminal prepares to undergo an extensive two-year restoration.

 

• Yesterday we told you Cincinnati City Councilman and aspirant to the U.S. Senate P.G. Sittenfeld was holding a news conference in Columbus to announce a big idea on gun control, a key issue for his Senate campaign. Well, here are the deets — Sittenfeld wants to pass an amendment to the Ohio constitution that would allow cities to make their own gun laws, meaning that places like Cincinnati could pass tighter restrictions on guns as long as they were within the scope of state and federal laws. The amendment would also allow cities like Cleveland to reinstate bans on assault weapons that were overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2006. The drivers behind Sittenfeld’s call for the amendment are two-fold. One, he used yesterday’s announcement to criticize Republican lawmakers who recently expanded the places concealed carry license holders can have their guns to include places like college campuses and daycare facilities. He’s also made the move to further illustrate differences between himself and his primary opponent, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. Sittenfeld has drawn attention to past pro-gun votes by Strickland.

 

• Online voting registration may soon be an option for some Ohioans, but only for those with a valid Ohio driver’s license. Legislation setting up online registration not requiring signed paperwork is making its way through the Ohio state house and has bipartisan support. Lawmakers are hoping to get the bill passed in time for it to go into effect before the Oct. 11 deadline for the November election, but some conservative groups say it should be held until 2017 so online security issues can be vetted to prevent hacking. The Ohio House of Representatives is next to vote on the bill, which would go into effect 90 days after it is passed.

 

• One in four children under the age of six is food insecure in Ohio and the state is 38th in the country when it comes to childhood poverty, a new study says. The Ohio Children’s Defense Fund conducted the study, which found that 653,000, or 24 percent, of Ohio kids don’t get enough to eat. That sets poor children up for learning and development challenges that can linger for years, the organization says. OCDF says efforts like school lunch programs and other initiatives that help low-income people are vital to fixing that problem, and has pushed lawmakers to do more to expand those programs.

 

• Finally, did Ohio Gov. John Kasich shine in his first Trump-less debate last night? Well, not so much, but he also didn’t crash and burn either. Kasich mostly ignored addressing traditionally hard-right primary voters in the debate’s host state Iowa, which has a Feb. 1 primary looming. Instead, he spent much of his time sending a more pragmatic and even friendly message, a move pundits think is calibrated to woo New Hampshire’s less ideologically-hidebound conservatives set to cast their own primary vote Feb. 9. Kasich again tried on the compassionate conservative routine last night, pulling out his best lines about the ways biblical scripture have informed his stance on the need to help the needy. Kasich also said that speedy action would have been the best response to the ongoing crisis with Flint, Mich.'s lead-polluted water scandal.


If you just read the blurb above about childhood poverty, know about the lead crisis in Sebring, Ohio, are familiar with the state's economic performance or the way Kasich’s administration deals out food stamp work waivers, that probably sounds a little disingenuous. But then, welcome to the world of politics. By comparison, the rest of the GOP field had a pretty rowdy night, even absent Trump. U.S. Sens Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, tangled over immigration, which is shaping up to be a huge issue among xenophobes, err, I mean GOP primary voters. Most of the other candidates faded into the background, with Cruz and Rubio getting the most airtime — 13 minutes of speaking time a piece. Kasich came in at a respectable 9 minutes, though mostly avoided tangling with or being addressed by the other candidates. Trump, meanwhile, still leads in the polls despite skipping the debate in protest.

 

That’s it for me. Twitter. E-mail. You know the drill. It’s supposed to be really nice this weekend, so give me tips on your favorite off-the-radar long bike ride route. I’m out!

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<![CDATA[Watch the 2016 CEA Live Stream Here]]>

If you can’t make it out to this Sunday’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony at the Madison Theater, you can still watch the performances and see which local musicians won by watching this year’s live stream, brought to you again by the folks at ICRC-TV. 

Starting at 6:45 p.m. the show, featuring performances by The Slippery Lips, The Whiskey Shambles, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Noah Wotherspoon Band, Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Shuffle, Abiyah and Jess Lamb, will be simulcast on YouTube. You can watch below:



The show will be rebroadcast television on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. (channels TBA; we’ll keep you posted). 


If you’ve never been and want a taste of what the CEA parties are like, here are the links for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 editions. 


If you’re attending this year’s event in person Sunday, doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are available in advance here and also at the door. Click here for more info. 

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