CityBeat - Blogs http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs.engine.php <![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey all, here’s the news today.

Two Cincinnati police officers face charges of covering up a car wreck involving fellow officer Sgt. Andrew Mitchell. Mitchell crashed his car March 22 on West McMicken Ave. According to dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice charges filed in Hamilton County Municipal Court, officers Jason Cotterman and Richard Sulfsted acted to remove Mitchell from the scene and hide his involvement from investigators after that accident. Mitchell now faces criminal charges, including reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

• It’s too early to tell if an attack that took place on Fountain Square July 4 was racially motivated, police said during a news conference yesterday. The incident took place during a period of unrest in which a crowd at a post-fireworks concert allegedly threw bottles and fireworks at officers, resulting in increased police presence including officers in riot gear. Just after that confrontation nearby, a man was beaten by a group of teens and young adults. Originally, responding officer Alicia Essert indicated the assault on Christopher McKnight, a white man from Albany, Indiana, was a hate crime. McKnight suffered a broken nose, facial lacerations and other minor injuries after an altercation with a group of teens and young adults. Essert reported the incident as “anti-white” because the teens were black, Cincinnati Police Capt. Mike Neville told reporters yesterday. He says that’s an incorrect assertion, and that officials are working to investigate what happened before calling the incident a hate crime.

• Let’s talk a little bit more about Transdev, the company tapped to run the Cincinnati streetcar. The private French transit operator has its U.S. offices in Chicago and employs about 18,000 people here. It runs four other rail projects around the country. Transdev only runs one other streetcar project, however — the nation’s largest in New Orleans. The company has overseen ridership increases on that transit project and even an expansion of its route, something streetcar boosters looking to take the trolley uptown will find encouraging. Here in Cincinnati, Transdev will be on the hook for any cost overruns the $4 million a year project incurs, since the contract currently being negotiated between the company and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority is a fixed-cost deal.

* Cincinnati is the best city in the country for recreation, according to personal finance website Wallethub. Researchers there took into account climate, recreational costs, quality of parks and the number of recreational facilities in 100 cities to arrive at its rankings. Cincy ranked high in most categories, though it took a big hit in climate — we're 58. Big shocker there. But otherwise, we shine when it comes to our parks and other recreational opportunities. Cincy has the third-most music venues per capita, for instance, and ranked number one in overall number of entertainment and recreational opportunities. Pretty cool.

• The three potential marijuana farms in Southwestern Ohio proposed by weed-legalization effort RepsonsibleOhio would be staffed by union workers, owners of those farms said yesterday. Former Cincinnati Bengal and current Arizona Cardinal Frostee Rucker, one of those owners, promised that the farms would protect workers’ rights at a news conference yesterday. Rucker and other owners signed an agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers union at that event. Owners of three potential marijuana farms in central Ohio have signed a similar agreement. The group, which is looking to put a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot, is proposing legalizing marijuana for anyone 21 and up, and making vending licenses available similar to liquor licenses. However, commercial growth of marijuana would be limited to 10 farms across the state owned by investors in the initiative. That’s caused cries of monopoly from a diverse array of critics spanning conservative state lawmakers and officials to other legalization groups.

• Attorneys for six Baltimore police officers charged in the police custody death of Freddy Gray are asking courts to move their trials, arguing that it’s impossible for the officers to get a fair trial in Baltimore. Gray died after sustaining severe spinal cord injuries in the back of a police van in April. After his death, large-scale civil unrest broke out in Baltimore and protests sprung up around the country. Because of the continued tension in the city, attorneys for the officers say it isn’t possible to assemble an unbiased jury pool in time for their October trials. Officers face various charges of murder, manslaughter and other lesser crimes.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Good morning y’all. I hope your holiday weekend was as crazy as mine in all the good ways a weekend can be crazy without being crazy in all the bad ways a weekend can be. One BAD way your July 4 extravaganza can be crazy is when you have to wrestle a strange naked man off your porch. Yes, that happened to me this weekend. Our country really needs better mental health care systems. But enough about that. Let’s get right to the news thing.

Just a bit ago, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority board voted to award the Cincinnati streetcar operating contract to Transdev, a Chicago-based company that submitted the winning turnkey bid to run and staff the project. That bid, which came in at $4 million for the first year of operations, proposed using non-union employees instead of SORTA personnel. Another bid utilizing unionized folks came in at $4.7 million, which was over the city’s $4.2 million budget for the project.

SORTA is making the decision because Cincinnati City Council could not come to agreement about who should operate the streetcar due to the price difference. The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents SORTA’s employees, tried unsuccessfully to convince Hamilton County courts to make council decide which bid should be selected, but a judge rejected their suit. Council’s five Democrats are pro-union, as is Mayor John Cranley. Cranley offered an extra $2 million toward the project if the union contract was selected, but some Democrats on council said they were worried that amount wasn’t enough to keep the project running at full capacity. Councilman Wendell Young voted against the union bid, citing those concerns and depriving the Dems of the fifth vote they needed to approve that bid.

• Here’s some more bad July 4 crazy. There was a rash of unrest on Fountain Square Saturday night as revelry turned into some fights. Cincinnati Police were called in and a group of 50 or more in the crowd became even more agitated, police say, throwing bottles and fireworks at officers. That in turn led to more police presence, this time in riot gear. Two officers were injured during the confrontation. Seven people were arrested. One person was hospitalized after he was beaten badly by a group of young men. It is unclear what connection, if any, the man had to the fights occurring in the area. Police are investigating that incident. Meanwhile, the biggest question local media can muster about the violence appears only to be what this means for next week’s MLB All-Star Game. Awesome.

• Where the ladies at? In the Cincinnati startup world, I mean. Women aren’t nearly as well-represented in the tech and startup industries here, despite being, you know, half the population. Business incubator The Brandery, for instance, had no females in its 2014 class, a problem the organization is looking to remedy for upcoming years, according to this story. It’s not just a problem for Cincinnati, of course — the world of entrepreneurs is famously male-centric. But there are some local efforts happening to change that here.

• Things are going to get interesting in Hamilton County in 2016, and not just because of the presidential election. There’s a big showdown brewing for a couple county commissioner seats. Both Democrat Todd Portune and Republican Greg Hartmann are up for re-election, and both could have some serious challengers.

Let’s zoom in on what’s likely to be the more interesting of the two races: State Rep. Denise Driehaus has signaled she’s carefully considering a run against Hartmann, who angered some voters with last year’s icon tax decision cutting renovations for landmark Music Hall out of a sales tax increase on last year’s ballot. Driehaus looks like she’ll be a strong candidate, but Hartmann has plenty of support, especially from the Hamilton County GOP and right wingers like anti-tax group COAST. He also has some donors with deep pockets. Hamilton County GOP Chairman Alex Triantafilou has been touting a recent fundraising event for Hartmann that raked in $250,000 in a single night. That’s big bucks. County Dems, though, say Driehaus won’t need that much cash to topple Hartmann, who will be fighting the tides of demographic change in the county. Republican electorate here has been eroded in recent years, with a younger, more diverse and generally Democratic-leaning population trickling into Hamilton County as Republican voters head out to the ‘burbs.

• More bad July 4 crazy. Someone vandalized Serpent Mound, the ancient Native American burial site in Adams County. It appears someone basically took a big ole truck and did some donuts on the mound. Officials with the historic site say it will take extensive work to restore the damage. The mound is internationally recognized for its historic and cultural importance.

• Finally, I feel like I link you, my dear readers, to a map at least once a week. I hope they’re as interesting to you as they are to me. This one is pretty insane, I think. It’s been put together by the Urban Institute and technically shows rental affordability in every county in the U.S. compared to the national average. The bigger picture? It shows the country’s steadily-intensifying affordable housing crisis, especially for very low-income renters. Even though we have relatively low rents here in Cincy (unless you’re trying to move to Over-the-Rhine, am I right?), that crisis has hit home. In Hamilton County last year, there were 34 affordable units for every 100 low-income families. That’s better than the national average of 28 units per 100 families, but it’s still striking. Even more striking is how much worse that would be without various types of government rental assistance: Hamilton County would only have 10 units of affordable housing for every 100 families that needs them in the market without those subsidies. Yowza.

That’s it for me. Tweet at me. Email me. But for god's sake if you come to hang out on my porch keep your clothes on.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend Playlist: America!]]>

There’s a lot to celebrate this year, folks. After Supreme Court officially legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, the feeling of freedom is especially felt in the LGBTQ community and the rest of those filled with joy for all the love in this ever-changing country. On June 25, history was made. And as July 4 approaches, it’s only acceptable to get a little crazy. We wouldn’t be Americans if we didn’t.

Whatever your plans are, you can’t forget your Fourth of July essentials: fireworks, beer, picnic grub and music. GOOD music. Although our speakers will mostly be filled with the classics by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty (nothing wrong with that), this doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the contemporary jams we love so much for one day.

Check out and hang out to this modern, Mellencamp-free playlist for your day of kicking back and celebrating all the perks of being a damn proud American.

My Morning Jacket

My favorite band of all time. Be sure to avoid their album Circuital, though. (Too deep/spacey for the Fourth). I went with anything from Z, It Still Moves and Evil Urges, where their experimentation outside of their Rock-meets-Country roots stays at a minimum.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

The collaboration between these two artists seems to work in the best way possible, especially because it perks our buddy Ryan Adams up a bit. Still following through with his Alternative Country vibes, Adams’ voice we all know and love is given a more upbeat tempo to jam along to while you drink your beer in the grass.

Trampled by Turtles

Bluegrass and Folk with a crazy-ass banjo blended with that old violin sound. If Old Crow Medicine Show and Avett Brothers had a baby, this is it. They can go fast, they can go slow. Whatever your preference, it’s all Folk all the time.

Spoon

As many films as “The Underdog” has been featured in, I still imagine it working in a Sandlot soundtrack. Doesn’t exist, but I can’t help but envision Smalls hitting that Babe Ruth ball when it comes on. If you can wrap your brain around that the same way I do, you’d understand why the rest of Spoon had to be on this playlist. Play ball!

Fleet Foxes

These guys immediately make me want to take off my shoes, run through the grass and jump into a creek. That’s why I can only listen to them in the summer. (Kidding, but you get the idea.) Their Folky, earthy tunes are ideal for the Fourth. Hopefully you’re near a creek!

The Flaming Lips

Ridiculously weird with the best intentions. This holiday can get weird, so embrace it and throw these guys on there. Less Folky than the other stuff, but it still works. I promise.  

NEEDTOBREATHE

People totally underestimate these guys. I saw them live last summer, dancing around stage in their fedoras and denim flannels like the happiest people on the fucking planet. Singing songs about their hometown in South Carolina and this sweet, sweet country we live it — how could you not put these songs on your list? 

Have a great weekend, folks. ‘MURICA.

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<![CDATA[Stage Door]]>

With the Fourth of July falling on a weekend, most theaters will be dark, and all the hubbub around the All-Star Game means that most of them will wait until the dust settles at Great American Ball Park before they crank things up again. But if you’re jonesing for some good summer theater and you haven’t seen Cincinnati Shakespeare’s hilarious One Man, Two Guvnors, it has performances on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Be forewarned that both are sold out, but if you want to try your luck with the regional premiere of this excellent situation comedy about a hapless guy with two bosses, show up at the theater 719 Race St., Downtown 30 minutes before the performance and ask to join the waiting list. Box Office: 513-381-2273

While you’re waiting for the fireworks on Saturday, you might consider what theater you’ll see over the next week or so. Of particular interest is The 1st Cincinnati One-Minute Play Festival that will be presented at Know Theater at 8 p.m. on July 11 and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on July 12. It’s a collaboration between Know and One-Minute Play Festival (aka #1MPF). In nearly 20 cities #1MPF partners with local companies to present brief works by local writers. They are given a prompt that asks them to consider the world around them, their community and all the ways in which they view and engage with the world, and to write and submit moments that could only happen at this time and in this place. It’s a great chance to check out local talent in the form of brand-new one-minute plays by Linnea Bond, John Bromels, Michael Burnham, Nick Carmine, Kevin Crowley, Bekka Eaton, Kate Fine, Brian Griffin, Mike Hall, Becca Howell, Alan Jozwiak, David Loehr, Robert Macke, Erica MacDonald, Joe McDonough, Eric Pfeffinger, Maggie Lou Rader, Alison Rampa, Brant Russell, Paul Shortt, Stacy Sims, Andy Simpson, Nathan Singer, Jim Stark, Paul Strickland, Trey Tatum, Eileen Tull, Chris Wesselman, Torie Wiggins and Alison Vodnoy Wolf. It’s also a showcase for local directors including Michael Burnham, Ed Cohen, Katie Lupica, Regina Pugh, Brant Russell, Carrington Rowe and Torie Wiggins. Tickets ($20): 513-300-5669. Part of the proceeds will benefit new play development at Know Theatre.

In the mood for more locally generated material? Check out the premiere of Is This Really Happening Right Now? – A Series of Vignettes, developed and presented by Good People Theatre on July 9, 10 and 11 at 8 p.m.. They’re performing at Simple Space, located in Over-the-Rhine at 16 E. 13th St., just a block or so north of Know Theatre. Four original pieces by Mollie J. Amburgey and Will Bonfiglio are about friendships and relationships — one takes place on a blind date, one in a coffee shop, one via Tinder and one in a Laundromat. Tickets $20: http://goodpeopletheatre.ticketleap.com/CincyPremiere


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

What’s up Cincy? No morning news tomorrow so I can chase down sources for a longer piece I’m working on. I’ll also be pre-gaming patriotism in preparation for the Fourth. But let me give you a brief rundown of a few things happening around town and beyond before I go.

Locally-based Macy’s Department Stores dumped the Trump yesterday. Presumptive GOP presidential candidate and long-running punchline Donald Trump said some choice words about immigrants during his campaign announcement, which has inflamed a firestorm of controversy. Trump suggested that folks from Mexico are criminals and etc., etc., all the tired crap you hear from people who no one should be listening to. As a result, Macy’s has announced it will no longer carry Trump’s menswear line, breaking the hearts of I’m sure dozens of Cincinnati-area males who aspire to the Donald’s dizzying levels of douche-baggery. Trump released a statement on Instagram (of course) saying that the split was his idea and that Macy's is only a small portion of the brisk business he does selling ties that look like something a used car salesman would wear to a bachelor party.

• So is this kinda slimy? The vendors who usually sell you your pre-game Reds shirts, foam fingers, socks, underwear, and what-have-you won’t be allowed to do so during the MLB All-Star Game. As a condition of landing the big game, the city had to agree to limit the sale of merchandise between July 8 and July 15 in an area about a mile around the ballpark. Ticket sellers will also be prohibited from selling in the area during the All-Star Game period. Sellers will still be allowed to vend peanuts and water, however, a concession the city was able to wring from MLB. Some vendors aren’t happy about the arrangement, saying it will cut them out of one of the biggest potential money-making events in the city.

• Another state budget note: One of the provisions in the new financial plan has the state of Ohio dropping its relationship with Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the company that was administering standardized tests for Ohio schools. The so-called PARCC test rollout, which has been associated with the new federal Common Core educational standards, has been marked by criticism and tech problems. Next year, the Ohio Department of Education will go with another company, the American Institutes for Research, which already develops some public school tests for Ohio. The change won’t affect the state’s implementation of Common Core, state officials say, though lawmakers have called for less overall testing time for students.

• Ever wonder why Ohio works the way it does politically? Here’s a pretty good breakdown of gerrymandering, or the process of redrawing electoral districts for political advantage. The data shows the way in which parties can arrange districts to win more seats than they get votes. Both parties are guilty of the practice, but in Ohio, it’s Republicans who generally benefit. And that benefit has grown over time. In the period between 1982 and 1990, Republican congressional candidates got 49 percent of the popular vote and subsequently occupied 49 percent of Ohio’s seats in Congress. Fast forward to the time between 2012 and now. Republican congressional candidates get about 55 percent of the popular vote in the state, but occupy 75 percent of the state’s available congressional seats. But a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing citizen panels instead of state lawmakers to draw those districts could mean changes for the way the district-drawing process is handled, putting it in the hands of regular citizens instead of politicians.

• So. You may be wondering what the difference is between a Gov. John Kasich presidential run and the campaign fortunes of say, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Both are kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel right now when it comes to polls and shots at winning the GOP nod. But this pretty excellent analysis of the race, and of the positions GOP guvs running for office find themselves in, brings in some good points, showing that Kasich isn’t as badly-positioned as one might imagine compared to a candidate like Christie or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. It’s an interesting look at the politics behind governors running for president, and also kind of a window into how big of a mess the Republican field for the presidential nomination is right now.

That’s it for me! I hope your holiday weekend is great. Tweet at me, e-mail, you know the drill.

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<![CDATA[I Just Can't Get Enough]]>

It’s always weird when a celebrity agrees to do a local morning news show, especially when the local channel’s city has nothing to do with the star or whatever they’re promoting (a TV show, movie or product). Morning Show All-Star Tracy Morgan knows how to do the that local live TV circuit right, but most others just leave us wondering, “Why did your manager make you do this?”. Such is the case for Workaholics and Dope star Blake Anderson.

Doesn’t everybody know never to wake Blake up before noon and expect him to conduct a family-friendly interview and not just completely fuck shit up on in live TV? (It's like feeding a Gremlin after midnight!) Fox 19’s Frank Marzullo didn’t. He recently interviewed Blake via satellite, and between having a bagel v. donut debate, Blake dozing off and barely skirting around F-bombs, the segment was cut before they even really got to talk about the movie (which, it bears repeating, has nothing to do with Cincinnati or a Fox morning audience). Blame it on the Golden State Warriors!

Note to NPR: If you’ve got a Kardashian on the program (in this case Kim on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!) snobby nerds will revolt!

Did you hear about the young Florida boys who identified a house fire, called 911 and entered the burning home to rescue two babies? Amazing. Brave. Heroic. But they’re just not as fearless as Tyra Banks, who changed millions of lives recently when she posted a makeup-free, non-filtered photo of herself on Instagram. You so strong, Ty Ty Baby!

Ever want to look up a movie or show by name and find which streaming services have it? Problem solved. Can I Stream.It? lets you search for films and TV shows and tells you if it's available for streaming, digital rental, purchase, etc. and where to find it. The future is now!

Wet Hot American Summer’s Netflix series prequel debuts later this month, and we finally have a trailer!


Sessy math: Chris Pratt + Chris Evans = Chris Hemsworth

Fake documentaries are all the rage right now. OK, there’s like two premiering on TV this summer but it’s definitely worth noticing. First up: Andy Samberg and Kit Harington (dream threeway, right?) star as professional tennis players in the hilarious looking sport mockumentary 7 Days in Hell. Harrington is presumably pretty stoked to star in an HBO feature that’s light and funny not so murdery and full of spoilers (#thenightismurderyandfullofspoilers). Let’s not even speak of that other show he’s on…

Coming up later this summer on IFC is Documentary Now!, a faux music documentary starring Bill Hader and Fred Armisen. Keep it coming, funny dudez.

Thanks to Facebook, you know some of your embarrassing homophobic extended family and former classmates may equate gay pride parades with terrorism, but CNN actually thought they spotted an ISIS flag during New York Pride. But it wasn’t ISIS ... It was dildos. 

It was an epic Pride Week as the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states last Friday! Cheers to love, equality and Saturday Night Live for pulling this skit from the archives. Because, face it, we all really might need some Xanax for gay summer weddings.

xanax for Gay summer weddings from MisterB on Vimeo.

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

Hey hey all! Hope your week is going well as we speed toward what I’m sure is going to be an awesome July 4 weekend. Before we get to news, I wanted to welcome our new staff writer and news reporter Natalie Krebs, who starts today. Natalie comes to us after working in the Texas Senate. She has a master's in journalism from the University of Texas and also completed the prestigious News21 program at Arizona State University. She’s done work for great investigative magazine the Texas Observer and other publications, and we’re super-excited to have her here. You’ll be seeing her byline start popping up in the next couple weeks.

On to news. A new report in the Washington Post says that local law enforcement agencies seized more than $11,000 from a young black man at CVG airport last year under federal asset-forfeiture laws. Those laws allow agencies to seize money associated with drug trafficking or other major crimes. Drug Enforcement Agency task force members took the money from Charles Clarke despite the fact that they didn’t find any drugs, guns or other illegal substances on him. Clarke, who smokes marijuana occasionally, reportedly had the smell of the drug on his belongings at the time, which was enough along with his one-way ticket and inability to account for the money’s source for cops to stop him and seize his stuff.

The airport’s police force and the Covington Police Department were the two agencies involved in the seizure, but a total of 11 local agencies want a piece of the money, including the Cincinnati Police Department. That’s due to the way DEA task forces are set up and the way they disperse asset forfeiture money. The agency defends the practice, saying it helps fund vital local law enforcement efforts across the country. The Post’s story is a pretty incredible read and definitely something worth knowing about.

• In lighter-hearted news: Soon, the enormous, 20-story ghost of a 19th century man will visit downtown Cincinnati every night. Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to alarm you. The giant specter will be the image of a vintage Cincinnati Red Stockings player, which will be projected onto Carew Tower in the evenings to celebrate the upcoming Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Festivities around the game will take place July 10-14. The haunting… err, I mean… celebration starts tonight with a ceremony at 9:30 p.m. After that, the display will be up every night at that time until 5 a.m. through July 15.

• On to state stuff. Gov. John Kasich used his line-item veto power to cut up the state Senate’s budget yesterday, nixing 44 provisions from the financial plan as he signed it into law. Among those provisions, he cut $78 million from public education funding by eliminating a pay-back for schools that once received money from what was called the tangible personal property tax. That tax has since been eliminated, but lawmakers have carved out the reimbursement to assure that schools continue to get adequate levels of funding. Local schools like Princeton and Mason received millions from the TPP funds and have protested their elimination. Kasich and the Ohio Board of Education say they haven’t nailed down which schools will see decreases in funding from the move. Kasich has argued that the TPP money mostly went to schools in high-income areas that could afford to provide more local support and that the money from the program could be better used to support low-income districts. Kasich tried to adjust the state-funding formula in his version of the budget, but that attempt was punted by state legislators.

• Among the things Kasich didn’t veto yesterday: new abortion restrictions slipped into the budget last-minute. You can read all about that situation in this week’s feature news story. Here’s a little preview: Those regulations could threaten Cincinnati’s last clinic that provides abortions.

• One thing the legislature and governor didn’t tackle in the flurry of legislative activity: charter school reform. As we’ve discussed in past articles, there are calls for the reform of Ohio’s charter school system on both sides of the aisle. But it won’t happen just yet. Lawmakers have tabled efforts at reform of the system until September. Lawmakers cite major changes to a controversial bill that would have adjusted the charter system, saying they need more time than the rapidly approaching summer break allows them. Critics of charters say lack of accountability and big issues with use of funds, testing and attendance records show that the charter system in the state needs to be reworked.

• It’s a big day for statewide news. Ahead of today’s deadline, marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio yesterday delivered nearly 700,000 signatures to Secretary of State Jon Husted. If enough signatures are valid and the initiative makes it onto the ballot, voters will decide whether to green-light the group’s constitutional amendment creating 10 legalized marijuana grow sites around the state run by ResponsibleOhio investors. Possession of marijuana would be legal for anyone over 21, and licenses would be issued for sale of the drug. No other commercial growers would be permitted, however, a detail that has created controversy. Meanwhile, state lawmakers have introduced their own ballot proposal that would make it much tougher for such so-called constitutional monopolies to pass. That law would more than likely invalidate ResponsibleOhio’s amendment. Voters will have a strange and potentially confusing choice at the ballots come November.

• Here’s an interesting read on U.S. Sen. Rob Portman as he runs for re-election. Portman’s taking a shellacking in the polls right now against his presumed Democratic challenger, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. Despite being the incumbent in a state with a Republican governor, Portman is down six points to Strickland in two recent polls. Strickland still has to make it through a Democratic primary, where he faces Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, but he’s opened up a comfortable lead against the young councilman. He’ll also have to contend with Portman’s formidable $8 million campaign war chest, the largest of any GOP Senate candidate seeking 2016 reelection. The above article explores the reasons why Portman is floundering right now in his race — reasons that may be beyond his campaign’s control.

I’m out! Tweet at me about all the fun stuff to do this July 4. Or, you know, email me your boring news tips. I love em.

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<![CDATA[Review: <i>Morning Star</i> World Premiere]]>

Morning Star, the new opera by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist William Hoffman, had its world premiere last night before a near-capacity audience in the School for Creative and Performing Arts’ Corbett Theater. Based on a 1940 play by Sylvia Regan, the story follows a Jewish immigrant family in the early decades of the 20th century. Think of it as a follow-up to the Tevye family from Fiddler on the Roof coming to America and having to abandon all that tradition.

Morning Star was originally commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Goodman Theater but was dropped when artistic differences killed the collaboration. In 2012, Opera Fusion: New Works offered Gordon and Hoffman the opportunity to rework Morning Star. The final result is light-years from what was heard in workshops, but to paraphrase a line from the opera, the story abides.

Gordon writes beautifully for the voice and his score has moments of dramatic intensity, playfulness and heartbreaking beauty. He’s a favorite among American singers, so it’s not surprising how great the singing is — but that’s also thanks to Ron Daniel’s staging.

Daniels also guided the shaping of the piece, strengthening the drama and developing characters. But there are still problems with the libretto. Many of Hoffman’s images and lines are poetic but much of the rhymed verses are more distracting than descriptive. But when he nails it, the words and music are a gorgeous synthesis.

The Triangle Shirtwaist fire in Manhattan serves as a framing device and a looming presence. On March 25, 1911, the Triangle erupted in flames, killing 146 workers — mostly young immigrant women who were trapped by locked doors, non-functioning elevators and broken fire escapes.

The opera’s prologue is a brilliant evocation of the public viewing of the victims in the factory, which took place during a torrential downpour. Against a background of images from that day, singers clad in raincoats and holding black umbrellas recite accounts of what took place as the music swirls into a collective moan.

The Triangle Shirtwaist fire serves as a framing device and a looming presence. In March 1911, the Triangle erupted in flames, killing 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women, who were trapped by locked doors, non-functioning elevators, and broken fire escapes.

The opera’s prologue is a brilliant evocation of the public viewing of the victims in the factory, which took place during a torrential downpour. Against a background of images from that day, singers clad in raincoats and holding black umbrellas recite accounts of what took place as the music swirls into a collective moan.

Widow Becky Felderman presides over her family of three teenaged daughters and a young son. Like many immigrant families, the Feldermans have a border, Aaron, who happens to come from the same village and is a friend of the family. He also happens to be in love with Becky.

It’s a terrific cast made up of some of the best American voices out there. Jeanine De Bique stole the show as Pearl with a velvety, lyric mezzo that elevated her aria “I See Colors” into a showpiece. Soprano Twyla Robinson’s Becky has a sweetness tempered by determination and she’ll break your heart when she sings “The Family Abides.”  The daughters get powerful performances from Elizabeth Zharoff, Jennifer Zetlan and Elizabeth Pojanowski.

Andrew Bidlack sings the title song with great style. Andrew Lovato is a sensitive and sympathetic Harry Engel, the unhappy husband of Sadie Felderman. Morgan Smith is an amazing baritone and I wish that Aaron’s character had more depth, but Smith makes it his own and it’s worth hearing.

Riccardo Hernandez’s scenic design incorporates the Triangle factory and Wendall K. Harrington’s projections are used to great effect, particularly in the prologue and in the final ensemble in which the fire claims its victims.

Is it perfect? No. But it’s got staying power, a score with a lot of memorable music, and this production features voices you should hear. Bravo to Cincinnati Opera and Opera Fusion: New Works for fostering this project.

And damned if I can’t get that song “Morning Star” out of my head.

MORNING STAR continues through July 19 at SCPA’s Corbett Theater. More info: cincinnatiopera.com.

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<![CDATA[Taste of Belgium Rookwood: Now Open]]>
Taste of Belgium, the local Belgian bistro that specializes in great beers and Belgian food with an American twist, opened its third Greater Cincinnati location in the Rookwood Exchange (3825 Edwards Road) — beginning with breakfast today. 

“We are delighted to be a locally owned restaurant in the already great lineup at Rookwood,” says owner and founder Jean-Francois Flechet. 

“The area clearly ‘respects the waffle,' as we’ve been wonderfully received at the Hyde Park Farmers’ Market, and are still there, since we began in 2007,” he adds.

Flechet and the Taste of Belgium team worked with many local artists and companies, including HGC Construction, the drawing dept. architecture firm, Betty Bone Design, Brave Berlin production company and Frameshop, to create a sleek, sophisticated atmosphere that echoes the Over-the-Rhine and Corryville bistros, but like each of those locations, it retains its own identity and still reflects the neighborhood in which it exists. 


Brave Berlin’s projection mapping technology, the same used for LumenoCity, has been scaled down to fit in custom picture frames by Frameshop to provide dynamic, ever-changing artwork for the walls in the general dining area. A private dining room features René Magritte-style artwork. Oversized garage doors to the outdoor patio — the first doors of their kind in the area — will provide a complete open-air dining experience.


“OTR was our first restaurant. We chose it because of the streetcar route," Flechet says. "We love the energy in Corryville and wanted to make an investment in Uptown. And here at Rookwood, we are taking the company to a new level. The décor and attention to detail punctuate that.”

Taste of Belgium Rookwood will be open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, featuring the same menu as its sister locations. It boasts an expanded wine list, 24 taps for draft beers, a private dining room, chef’s table and a large patio for outdoor dining. The kitchen has six waffle irons, four crêpe irons, and is the first Cincinnati restaurant to use P&G’s commercial dish program.

Taste of Belgium is open for:
  • Breakfast: 7-10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday
  • Lunch: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
  • Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursdays; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday 
  • Brunch: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday  
Reservations are available for early dinner seating only (at 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m.). 3825 Edwards Road, Suite 110, Norwood, 513-396-5800, authenticwaffle.com.  

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

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

If you were wondering what all the traffic was about downtown this morning (I was) this probably had something to do with it. The Hamilton County Courthouse was evacuated around 8:20 a.m. due to a suspicious suitcase that was flagged by bomb sniffing dogs there. The perimeter around the courthouse was cleared and a bomb unit and federal anti-terrorism personnel were dispatched to the scene. No word yet on what the item in the suitcase turned out to be.

• Guess what I have for you… it’s… you guessed it. More streetcar drama. The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents employees for the Southwest Regional Ohio Transit Authority, has announced it will file a lawsuit against SORTA and the city of Cincinnati to try and prevent them from accepting a bid that wouldn’t use union employees to operate the transit project.

According to the union, Cincinnati City Council must direct SORTA on which bid to select. Some members of Council supported a more expensive pro-union bid that cost $4.7 million to the non-union’s $4 million in the first year of operations, but couldn’t reach an agreement to recommend that bid during voting. The union-friendly contract comes in about $500,000 over budget for the city, which has caused conservatives on council to balk at the option. Democrat Wendell Young also voted against the pro-union deal, sinking it the last time it came before council, because he worried the $2 million from the city’s general fund Mayor John Cranley agreed to use toward the project wouldn’t be enough and that a shortfall would cause reduction in service for the streetcar.

Without an agreement, council punted the decision to SORTA, which says it has no choice but to choose the less-expensive option. The ATU is seeking an injunction in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to force council to make the decision, saying that is what is required under the language of a motion about streetcar operations council passed last year. A separate operations and maintenance agreement between SORTA and the city makes no mention of such a stipulation, however.

• Seven projects in Cincinnati representing more than $61 million in development will receive Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits, the state announced today. Among those projects is the revamp of the Baldwin building on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills. The historic former piano factory will be converted from office space into market-rate apartments by Cincinnati-based Neyer Properties. Neyer will receive $4.8 million in tax credits on the $39 million project.

• New affordable housing for seniors is coming to Northside. Episcopal Retirement Homes is building the 56-unit, $10 million development at Knowlton and Mad Anthony streets, one of 10 the group is doing in Greater Cincinnati. The Northside development will be LEED certified and handicap accessible. Cincinnati City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee approved tax exemptions on the development yesterday and full council is expected to approve them tomorrow.

• Gov. John Kasich today is expected to sign into law the state’s $71 billion biennial budget drawn up by state lawmakers. Kasich didn’t get a lot of what he wanted in the budget — sweeping tax cuts for businesses and high-earners, taxes on oil and gas fracking, his revamp of the state’s educational funding formula — but the state legislature’s budget is still plenty conservative, ushering in its own big income tax cuts. And Kasich will have a bit of revenge as he vetoes some items in the state house’s budget, though it’s unclear what he will slash with the veto pen.

Abortion advocates hope against hope he’ll cut out some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, which conservative lawmakers slid into the budget at the last minute earlier this month. Those include a stipulation that clinics’ partner hospitals must be within 20 miles of the abortion provider and a tweak to the rules over how clinics without agreements with local hospitals are licensed. You can read in-depth about those rule changes and what they mean for Cincinnati and the state in tomorrow’s CityBeat print edition. Kasich is much more likely to veto items that limit his executive authority, including an attempt to close out a method Kasich used to expand Medicaid in the state over lawmakers’ objections. Kasich is ushering in the state’s budget even as he has his eye on bigger things: He’ll announce his run for president in Columbus July 21.

• Finally, this is a story that is probably most interesting to journalists, but here we go anyway. The city of McKinney, Texas, where police officer Eric Casebolt resigned earlier this month after he was shown on video pointing a gun at teenage pool party goers and slamming a teenaged girl to the ground, is charging journalists almost $80,000 for access to public records about Casebolt. Gawker Media has requested all official emails about Casebolt’s 10-year career as well as his personnel file. McKinney officials say that the city’s emails predating 2014 aren’t searchable and that they’ll have to hire a computer programmer to retrieve them, thus the huge expense. 

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

Hello all. I hope your weekend was great and you got to spend some time soaking up the victorious vibes at the pride parade Saturday following Friday’s historic Supreme Court decision. It was indeed epic.

But now it’s Monday, so let’s talk about news for a minute. You may have seen the news about Bree Newsome, the woman who climbed up a flagpole in front of the South Carolina State House and took down a confederate flag flying there. It turns out she has a pretty strong local connection. Newsome’s father, Clarence Newsome, is the president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center here in Cincinnati. The elder Newsome hasn’t commented publicly on his daughter’s actions. Bree Newsome and another activist were arrested immediately after removing the flag. She is currently out on bond and is charged with defacing a state monument. That misdemeanor has a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Newsome’s actions come as debate rages about whether the banner should come down from state buildings there after the horrific shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston. The gunman, Dylann Roof, prominently displayed confederate flags on his car and other belongings and was a supporter of white supremacist causes. Roof’s act of violence has been followed by a spate of arsons against black churches in the South.

• Here’s a lighter story. You can now get a lil tipsy while pedaling around the city. No, I’m not talking about the old whiskey in the water bottle trick some local cyclists swear by, though that one is especially useful in dulling the pain of Cincinnati's hills. Recently-passed legislation allows passengers on so-called Pedal Wagons, which have been carrying people around downtown Cincinnati since 2012, to sip on some adult bevs while they ride. It used to be you had to pedal those 15-passenger wagons sober. But don’t worry. Those partaking only provide the pedal power, not the steering and navigation. A sober nerd… err, driver… does all that.

• Back to that historic same-sex marriage decision for a couple beats. Boone County will continue issuing marriage licenses today following a halt after the SCOTUS decision Friday. County officials said they had questions about the law for the Kentucky attorney general and would cease issuing the licenses until they were answered. But since those answers could take a while, and since it looks pretty bad to clam up and stop issuing licenses to everyone just because gay folks suddenly have the same rights as straight ones, the county clerk’s office has resumed granting the licenses as it waits for clarification. 

• More overt in their opposition to the SCOTUS decision: a dozen or so marchers in the pride parade, who carried signs about eternal damnation and the like, along with conservative groups like Greater Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values and the Ohio Christian Alliance. The latter group released a statement Friday warning that the country is "heading into a moral unknown" and that states' rights are being trampled by the ruling.

• Meanwhile, some economists expect that newly-legal same-sex marriage will pump millions of dollars in economic activity into Ohio. Nearly 10,000 same-sex couples are expected to marry over the next three years — half of the state’s total number of same-sex couples — according to a study by economic researchers Regionomics LLC. That could bring an extra $127 million to the state’s economy, creating 930 new jobs in the first year. And that’s just the money spent on the weddings. Other factors weren’t accounted for, including the benefit of keeping young people in the state who won’t have to leave to marry their partners. The study isn’t the end-all, be-all on the matter, of course, and it should be noted pro-marriage equality group Freedom to Marry commissioned the report. The study estimates that about 1,000 same-sex couples in Hamilton County will marry over the next three years, bringing in about $8 million in economic activity.

• Well, it’s kind of official. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has taken the next step in a dance rivaled in complexity and ambiguity by only the dating rituals of Millennials. Kasich's campaign staff has announced that he will announce July 21 that he’s going to run for the GOP’s nomination to run for president in 2016. Got all that? Basically, the pre-announcement shows that Kasich is serious and settled about his bid and will be mobilizing support for what is certain to be an uphill battle winning over GOP primary voters. It's basically Kasich 2 a.m. texting all those voters he's been flirting with to say, "Wut's up?" He’s got a lot of work ahead of him in wooing those voters though: polls show him catching about 1 percent of the primary vote right now, well behind front runners like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, also from Florida.

That's it for me today. Tweet or e-mail me with any news tips or rainy-day bike commuting tips that don't involve rye whiskey in my water bottle. I need 'em.

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<![CDATA[Salazar 2.0: Mita's]]>
My brother is a bellboy at the Cincinnatian Hotel, and when he turned 20 this past January, there was only one place he wanted to go for his birthday dinner: OTR’s Salazar. His obsession was well placed — the former executive chef at the Cincinnatian’s Palace Restaurant, Jose Salazar’s eponymous bistro serves up some of the best small plates in the city. (If you’ve never had the restaurant's fried oyster sandwich with kimchi, do so immediately.)

Getting a table at a small space that doesn’t take reservations can be a nightmare, though, so my brother opted to use his birthday money for Elton John tickets instead. But once his 21st birthday rolls around in a few months, there will be a second Salazar restaurant in town — Mita’s — and this time they take reservations.

The 6,000-square-foot Mita's — inspired by the decor, food, beverages and culture of Spain — will be on the first floor of the 84.51 building (aka the new dunnhumby building) on the corner of Ffith and Race streets. Named after and inspired by Salazar's expression for his grandmother, the space will hold 130 seats for full-service dining. The interior, designed by local MSA Architects, will feature hand-painted tiles and reclaimed wood floors, echoing the Moorish architecture of the Iberian Peninsula. 

Interior progress shot
Photo: facebook.com/SalazarCincinnati

“I wanted to tap my Latin heritage by incorporating the cuisines of South and Central America,” says Salazar. “There isn’t yet a place like that in Cincinnati.”

According to a recent press release, the concept was inspired by Salazar's close relationship with his Mita (who turns 87 tomorrow, June 27). He spent summers in Medellin, Colombia with Mita, watching her cook and paint. So in terms of food and drinks, expect a collection of sweet and savory dishes, including tapas, ceviches, crudos, cured meats, paella and large plates, plus several Colombian dishes inspired by Mita's Colombian kitchen. The curated wine list will include one of the city's largest collections of Spanish wines; cocktails will feature customary liquors from Latin American cultures.
 
Current projected hours are 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with bar service until 1 a.m. on weekends. Salazar plans to be open by late summer, with lunch expansion plans in fall. For now, follow progress at facebook.com/SalazarCincinnati.
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<![CDATA[Summer Music Fests in the Great Indoors]]>

When you think summer music festivals, you probably think about things like high-powered sunscreen, hydration and the chance that you might get drenched if a storm rolls through. But this weekend in Greater Cincinnati, there are three festival that spotlight our great music scene, and you won’t need an umbrella, SPF 500 or $8 bottles of water for any of them. (Two of them feature “patio stages” that are outside, but schedules will be adjusted if harsh weather strikes.) Click on the artists' names for more on each of the acts.

Stanley’s Reggae Fest returns for its fifth year to Stanley’s Pub Saturday, showcasing some perfect summertime music with vendors, Jamaican food (from Ena's Jerkmania) and an outdoor patio stage (weather permitting; see above). 


Cincinnati faves The Cliftones head up the lineup, which also features fellow locals Know Prisoners, Nashville, Tenn.’s Roots of a Rebellion and Columbus, Ohio Reggae/Rap/Rock crew Shrub. 


Music starts at 6 p.m. Get a ticket today for $12 here, or pay $15 at the door. 


• The eclectic Folk/Americana scene in Greater Cincinnati is one of local music’s most thriving, and Saturday at Newport, Ky.’s Southgate House Revival, you’ll be able to catch some of its guiding lights (as well as a few touring acts). The inaugural Cincy Folk Festival is being presented by the local music website cincygroove.com and proceeds benefit local Northern Kentucky radio station WNKU. 


The fest will utilize all three stages at the Southgate. Tickets $20 (get yours in advance here). There are also VIP tickets available for $30 (VIPs will be treated to catered food and music from The Young Heirlooms and Honey and Houston at 5 p.m.).


Here is the full schedule (visit cincyfolkfestival.com for updates and full info). 

Sanctuary stage

7:30 p.m. Bulletville

8:30 p.m. David Gans

9:30 p.m. Kim Taylor

10:30 p.m. AJ Ghent Band

12 a.m. Chicago Farmer


Revival Room

8 p.m.Daniel Wayne and The Silver Lines

9 p.m. Mamadrones

10 p.m. Hickory Robot

11:15 p.m. Souse

12:30 a.m. Gabbard Brothers


Lounge stage

8 p.m. Carole Walker

9 p.m. Tracy Walker

10 p.m. Ma Crow & The Lady Slippers

11 p.m. My Brother The Bear

12:30 a.m. Wilder


• Tonight and tomorrow (Friday/Saturday), the Northside Tavern hosts the return of the Northside Music Festival on three stages, including one on its outdoor patio. The fest, now in its eighth year, features some of the city’s finest Indie and Rock acts of various shades and styles. And it’s all FREE. Visit the NMF’s Facebook event page here for the “in case of rain” schedule.


FRIDAY LINEUP

Back Room stage 

10:45 p.m. Skeleton Hands

11:45 p.m. Artisan

12:45 a.m. Dream Tiger


Front Bar stage

10 p.m. Smut

11 p.m. Everyday Objects


Patio stage

7:30 p.m. The Slippery Lips

9 p.m. Subsets

10:30 p.m. Tweens


SATURDAY LINEUP

Back Room stage 

10:45 p.m. The Harlequins

11:45 p.m. Temple

12:45 a.m. Soledad Brothers


Front Bar stage

10 p.m. New Strange

11 p.m. The Sundresses


Patio stage

7:30 p.m. Leggy

9 p.m. The Tigerlilies 

10:30 p.m. Fairmount Girls

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

Goood morning y’all. I’m a bit bleary today, having spent yesterday on a bus to Columbus and back to watch the State Senate do its thang. More on that later, though.

In somber news, today is the funeral for Sonny Kim, the 27-year Cincinnati Police Department veteran who was shot to death last week while responding to a 911 call. The funeral service is being held at Xavier University’s Cintas Center, and Kim will be laid to rest at Gate of Heaven Cemetery. Tributes to Kim have poured in from around the city and across the country, and officers from places near and far have made the trip here to pay their respects. Thousands came to the visitation yesterday and are attending the funeral today.

• Mayor John Cranley made a big announcement yesterday, rolling out his plan for a huge revamp of Cincinnati’s parks. Cranley is proposing a property tax levy on the November ballot to raise about $5 million a year toward big parks and recreation revamps and new projects. In addition, the mayor has proposed issuing up to $100 million in bonds to fund those projects. Recipients of the money would include proposed bike trails like the Wasson Way Trail, a mountain bike trail through Mount Airy Forest, additions to one along the Mill Creek that could eventually extend from Queensgate to Carthage and beyond and the Oasis River Trail on the city’s south east side. The big bucks would also be used to revamp Inwood Park in Mount Auburn, Smale Riverfront Park downtown and Burnet Woods in Clifton. That last one has me a little worried. I’ve seen different descriptions of proposed changes to my favorite Cincy urban forest, and they sound harmless enough: updated parking lots, removing a road, installing a concession stand and restaurant at the park’s opening. But I also remember Cranley once remarking that the park was “creepy” because the trees are too dense there. Please don’t touch the trees. Other proposals include working to restore former King Records studios in Evanston and an urban campsite in Roselawn.

• Do you wanna know the top-paid CEOs for public companies in Cincinnati? Of course you do. Everyone wants to know about money and power brokers, right? The Cincinnati Business Courier just published its list of the highest earners, and it’s worth perusing so you know who’s got the cash and who’s got the clout. No surprises here, really. Procter & Gamble’s CEO A.G Lafley comes in at number one. He raked in $19.5 million in 2014. American Financial Group’s Carl and Craig Lindner came in at number two with a $15 million haul last year. Execs from Macy’s, Kroger and Ashland, Inc. rounded out the top five.

• The Ohio Senate has passed its version of the state’s budget, and today the Ohio House will vote on it as well. The big news about that, which I’ll be telling you about in detail next week, is that two anti-abortion provision that were squeezed into the budget last-minute look likely to make it through the process unscathed. One bans nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The other would require all clinics to get a variance within 60 days on requirements that they have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Cincinnati’s last remaining clinic providing abortions, a Planned Parenthood facility in Mount Auburn, has been waiting on a variance to that rule for more than a year. Under the proposed rule change, the Ohio Department of Health would have to issue the variance within two months or it would be automatically denied. If the Mount Auburn facility shuts down, Cincinnati would be the largest metropolitan area in the country without direct access to a clinic. The state House and Senate have already reconciled their differences and the votes are mainly ceremonial, meaning the last hope for preventing those rules is a line-item veto from Gov. John Kasich.

• Other points from the state budget: the state’s historic preservation tax credit program will live to see another day, despite threats to zero it out for two years. Journalists lose big because a provision in the budget will seal concealed handgun license records, meaning we won’t be able to file public records requests for that information. Oil and gas companies will dodge a new fracking tax proposed by Gov. John Kasich, which wasn’t included in the budget. The legislature said no thanks to Kasich’s proposed huge tax cut for high-income earners and businesses, but did implement a more moderate cut for businesses and income taxes across the board. Kasich got a compromise on cigarette taxes: the Senate budget raises them by 35 cents, less than the dollar Kasich wanted but at least some boost to offset the budget’s big tax cuts.

• Here's some news that isn't really new: even after yesterday's big Supreme Court decision upholding a key tenet of Obamacare, Ohio Republicans are still promising to kill the president's signature healthcare law. Yawn.

• South Carolina State Senator, civil rights leader and Charleston church shooting victim Clementa Pinckney is being laid to rest today. President Obama is delivering the eulogy. Other victims of the massacre are also being remember today and over the weekend.

• Finally, you’ve probably already heard about the fact that history happened today in a major way. After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this morning, same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. You can read our coverage here. Click through all those links, get to know the Cincinnati plaintiffs in the case and what they’ve been fighting for, and hear Ohio’s reasoning for why it didn’t want to give up its ban.

That’s it for me. Tweet at me or e-mail me with info on where the celebrations will be this weekend.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List (6/26-6/28)]]>

FRIDAY

PRIDE!!!! Kick off the weekend with the PRIDE PUB CRAWL

Friday the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges, a set of cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. The court ruled in a 5-4 opinion that the equal protection clause of the constitution requires all states to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. "The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state," the decision, penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy reads. ""It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality," the decision later states.

Celebrate with a Pride Pub Crawl: Tour 16 LGBTQ+ bars across Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Shuttles will run with stops in downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Clifton, Northside, Newport and Covington. Wristbands required. No cover. 9 p.m.-3 a.m. $10 wristbands. cincinnatipride.org.


Celebrate love and Hip Hop with the OFFICIAL RAINBOW FEST
Love & Hip Hop Atlanta star Rasheeda performs with a special celebrity guest, featuring DJ Trubb and hosted by Bo$$ Britt of Cincy LGBT and M.A. of Sauce Gang. 10:30 p.m. $10 with any other Friday night event ticket. Bogart's 2621 Vine St., Corryville, 614-999-3905.

Panegyri Greek Festival
Photo: Provided
Gorge on baklava sundaes at PANEGYRI GREEK FESTIVAL
If you’re a fan of cult-classic My Big Fat Greek Wedding (and who isn’t?), then get yourself to Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church for their annual Panegyri Greek Festival. This Queen City favorite features bouzouki music, traditional Greek dancers (where visitors are encouraged to join in on group dances!), rides, a Greek culture exhibit, cooking demonstrations, and, most importantly, a plethora of delicious Greek foodstuffs. There will be souvlaki, spanakopita, Greek pizza, moussaka, gyros, and much, much more — you can even pick up handmade Greek pastries to take home. 5-11 p.m. Friday; 3-11 p.m. Saturday; 1-8 p.m. Sunday. $2; free ages 12 and younger. 7000 Winton Road, Finneytown, 513-591-0030, panegyri.com.

Celebrate Radiohead with RADIOHEAD: THE BENDS TRIBUTE SHOW
Radiohead’s 1997 album, OK Computer, is considered a classic by critics and fans alike, while post-OK albums like Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows are hailed for their progressive experimentalism. But in 1995, after garnering attention with the hit “Creep” and before breaking wide with OK Computer, Radiohead released one of the more underappreciated LPs of its discography, the melodic, guitar-driven The Bends, which contained classics like “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Just.” In honor of the album’s 20th anniversary, local musicians Kyle Knapp, Todd Patton, Dennis DeZarn, Christopher Robinson and Josh Purnell perform the album in its entirety. Saturn Batteries opens. 9:30 p.m. Friday $5. Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary Room), 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com.

Despite her battle with cancer, Sharon Jones has continued to bring her unbridled energy to stages across the country while on tour with her powerhouse Soul band, The Dap-Kings.
Photo: Jake Chessum
Head to Riverbend for the TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND and SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, both individually and as a unit, are musicians about whom words can barely do justice. Something of a power duo, Tedeschi and Trucks have been slaying it onstage separately for decades. With every member bringing strong, varied influences and serious commitment, the band is as hot as ever and only getting better with every show. See Tedeschi Trucks Band with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Doyle Bramhall II Friday at PNC Pavilion at Riverbend. More info/tickets: riverbend.org. Read an interview with Jones here.

Heartless Bastards
Photo: Courtney Chavanell
Catch the second night of the HEARTLESS BASTARDS at Woodward Theater
From the very start, Heartless Bastards made it clear they weren’t interested in reinventing the Blues/Classic Rock wheel, just riding it as far and as fast as humanly possible without ever forgetting how they got where they were going and where they came from in the first place, musically and geographically. Wennerstrom was never aiming to become Rock’s poet laureate; she just wanted to play her guitar to the very limits of its tolerances and project her wildly distinctive voice into the atmosphere with no greater purpose than to dust a few rafters, open a few clogged ears, make a few new fans and entertain the ones smart enough to have been around from the beginning. Restless? Absolutely. Heartless? Not by a long shot. Heartless Bastards with Craig Finn perform Thursday and Friday at Woodward Theater. More info/tickets: woodwardtheater.com.

SATURDAY
Erika Ervin
Have the best time at the PRIDE PARADE

The annual Cincinnati Pride Parade steps off at Central Avenue and Seventh Street downtown at 11 a.m., continues down Seventh to Vine, past Fountain Square and The Banks, ending at Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove. Model/actress Erika Ervin (American Horror Story: Freak Show’s Amazon Eve) serves as Grand Marshal. 11 a.m. Free. Downtown, cincinnatipride.org.


Then go to the PRIDE FESTIVAL 

Following the parade, the fun continues at Sawyer Point with food, drinks, vendors, a family-fun zone and live music from headliners Betty Who and Steve Grand. Noon-9 p.m. Free. Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincinnatipride.org.


Karina Rice bakes artisan donuts for her traveling pop-up, Gadabout Doughnuts.
Photo: Jesse Fox

Get a rare GADABOUT DOUGHNUT at the O.F.F. Market

Cincinnati is filled with artisan bakers, so what’s one more? At Oakley Fancy Flea Market (O.F.F. Market) on May 30, Karina Rice debuted her handcrafted donuts under the moniker Gadabout Doughnuts, a term meaning “a person who flits about in social activity.” The market was a success, and it marked the beginning of Gadabout making life in the city a little bit sweeter.  Last November, Rice was working at a Starbucks in Madeira, but she wasn’t satisfied.  “I was really tired of doing that, and I wasn’t finding what I was looking for,” she says. “I was like, ‘I’m going to start something on my own. I’m not sure what.’ We (she and husband Chaz) looked at the pop-up shop model, and then donuts had really gotten popular. I saw that modeled together and was like, ‘That could work.’ ” Gadabout Doughnuts will be at Oakley’s O.F.F. Market Saturday. For more info, visit gadaboutdoughnuts.com or follow @gadaboutdonuts on Instagram.


Party at the inaugural OTR BEERFEST: CANIVAL

Washington Park hosts the inaugural Over-the-Rhine brew festival dedicated solely to cans — OTR Beerfest: CANival. It’s a celebration of canned craft beer (no glass bottles here) and features more than 100 different varieties from breweries all over the country, including locals. There will entertainment on stage all day, food trucks lining 14th Street, and the event producers promise there are many more surprises up their sleeves. Buy three beer tokens for $5, each good for a 4-ounce pour of beer, or use all three for a 12-ounce can. 1-11 p.m. Saturday. 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.


SUNDAY

Pop Up Drag Brunch
Photo: Provided 
Get a hangover recovery brunch at Metropole's POP UP DRAG BRUNCH

Help turn the Queen City into Drag Queen City while getting your brunch game on. You can celebrate Cincinnati Pride and your appetite at 21c Museum Hotel’s Metropole restaurant during Pop Up Drag Brunch, an event that includes cocktails from mixologist Catherine Manabat, a brunch prepared by chef Jared Bennett and, of course, live performances from local drag queens. The brunch is part of the city’s much larger Pride Week Festival, Parade and other associated events, which celebrate Cincinnati’s LGBTQ+ community. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. Call for reservations. 609 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-578-6660, 21ccincinnati.com.

Brooklyn Steele-Tate
Photo: Provided
Hit a surprise party with the CINCINNATI MEN'S CHORUS TEA DANCE
Celebrate the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus’ 25th-anniversary season with a pool party at a surprise location — buy a ticket to find out where. Includes adult beverages, light bites and pool fun with music by Brooklyn Steele-Tate. 2-5 p.m. Sunday. $50. cincinnatipride.org.

Head to Cheviot for WESTFEST
Harrison Avenue transforms into the West Side’s biggest street party for the 14th year in a row. An estimated 30,000 people will fill the block, featuring two separate stages for live local music, as well as beer booths, snow cone stands and grub from local eateries such as N.Y.P.D. Pizza, Maury’s Tiny Cove, Big Dog BBQ and many more. This event also offers a Kid Zone with rides, games and contests. 1 p.m.-midnight Saturday; 1-10 p.m. Sunday. $2. Harrison Avenue, Cheviot, cheviotwestfest.com.

Greensleeves Garlic Festival
Photo: Provided
Bring the gum to GREENSLEEVES GARLIC FESTIVAL
Garlic: It’s not just for scaring away vampires. This bulb, a cousin to the onion, has been in both culinary and medicinal use for thousands of years, and is a staple in Asian and Mediterranean diets. The annual Greensleeves Garlic Festival lets you sample 20 varieties of garlic during a day-long event with live music, farm tours and more, including a Garden Scamper cooking competition. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. $5. Greensleeves Farm, 10851 Pleasant Ridge Road, Alexandria, Ky., greensleevesfarm.com.

Find vintage and art treasures at the MAINSTRASSE VILLAGE BAZAAR
This outdoor marketplace is an antique- and art-lover’s dream, filled with vintage treasures and repurposed items such as furniture, home goods and décor, architectural elements, jewelry, clothing, collectibles, etc. Spend the afternoon browsing Sixth Street and check out every unique item vendors have to offer. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Free. Sixth Street, Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Photo: Laure Vincent Bouleau
Have a fun-loving hippie evening at Horseshoe Casino with EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS
The fun-loving hippies that make up Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are coming to The Shoe. If you like good music and are great at ignoring band politics, you should definitely check ’em out. Just do yourself a favor and don’t land at the barricade.From the moment the group burst onto the scene in 2009, the band’s “Home” began soundtracking first dances everywhere. The sweetest sentiment from the song — “Home is wherever I’m with you” — can be found cross-stitched, painted or decaled onto seemingly half the items for sale on Etsy. With songs like “Home” and “40 Day Dream,” the band’s frontman, Alex Ebert (no, there isn’t an actual “Edward Sharpe” in the band), his female counterpart, Jade Castrinos, and their rotating cast of backing musicians quickly found adoration among a strange mix of Psychedelic music lovers and folksters alike. Read more here.  See Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros with The Bright Light Social Hour and Letts Sunday at The Shoe at The Horseshoe Casino. More info/tickets: caesars.com/horseshoe-cincinnati.

Future Science
Photo: Provided
Be super cool and go to sketch comedy show FUTURE SCIENCE at MOTR Pub
What happens when you put science and cooking together? Well, Breaking Bad, but also Future Science’s upcoming show, “Food.” A group of “scientists,” who also happen to be local comedians Andy Gasper, Karl Spaeth, Chris Weir and Logan Lautzenheiser, will discuss the present and future of food in their variously themed monthly live comedy show held at MOTR Pub. 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Free. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/futurescienceshow.
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<![CDATA[Stage Door: Too Many Bosses, One Crusader and a Theater Party]]>

Need a good laugh this weekend? Cincinnati Shakespeare has the show you want to see: One Man Two Guvnors, based on an 18th-century comedy, The Servant of Two Masters. It’s a riot of slapstick, fart jokes, pratfalls, lewd innuendo and more. Francis Henshaw (Matthew Lewis Johnson) is the hapless hero, trapped between jealous bosses and a crew of comic types, each one funnier than the last. The show was an award winner London and on Broadway, where James Corden played the manic guy who can barely keep all the plates spinning. I gave this one a Critic’s Pick. Read my full review here. Tickets: 513-381-2273.

In 1916, Margaret Sanger founded the organization that eventually became Planned Parenthood. She was a fearless protester for women’s rights and an ardent crusader for birth control when it was a hush-hush topic. She was often arrested for speaking frankly about sexuality. Cincinnati native Pamela Daly this weekend is presenting a one-woman show that she personally commissioned; it’s onstage at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. Sanger uses the militant firebrand’s own words to dig into issues that remain inflammatory today: abortion, birth control, sex education and the plight of women. Performances on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. is the first installment in the third run of Serials! at Know Theatre. This time the theme is “Roundhouse”: You’ll find the 15-minute episodes of new plays, every two weeks for a total of five evenings. Five playwrights, five stories, five directors, five casts. Each week the playwrights switch, so not even the original writers know where their shows are headed. Here at the titles: Hangin’ with BenFire Down Below#roxybalboaThe Good, The Bad, and the Elderly; and Real Time Strategy. Tickets for this crazy episodic theater party: 513-300-5669  More info here.

Not for this weekend (in fact, this fills in a gap in Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s upcoming season next spring, March 22-April 10, 2016), but you might want to know that Sharr White’s Annapurna will be onstage. White wrote The Other Place, a well-received script that ETC presented earlier this year. The award-winning show from 2011 is a simple piece — two people in a room, in fact, a room in a mobile home. It’s about a woman and her husband, a poet, who deserted her. He’s in failing health, living in a low-rent trailer park, and she decides to re-enter his life. More information about ETC’s complete season here.


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

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<![CDATA[Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage Nationwide]]>

Just moments ago, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges, a set of cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. The court ruled in a 5-4 opinion that the equal protection clause of the constitution requires all states to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. 

"The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state," the decision, penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy reads. ""It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality," the decision later states.

The Supreme Court showdown arose from an earlier decision released by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals here in Cincinnati. That court upheld the same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. That decision put the Sixth Circuit at odds with other federal circuit courts, which had struck down marriage bans in other states. Lawyers for the plaintiffs appealed, bringing the case to the nation's highest court.

The Supreme Court case Obergefell vs. Hodges gets its name from Jim Obergefell, one of the plaintiffs, who hails from Cincinnati. Richard Hodges, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, is the named defendant. Cincinnatians

Brittani Henry-Rogers and Brittni Rogers are also among the plaintiffs. They're fighting to both be listed on their son Jayseon's birth certificate. You can read more about the Rogers and Obergefell and their involvement in this historic case in CityBeat's coverage here.

Marriage licenses will be available in Ohio counties immediately. In Hamilton County,. couples can obtain them from the Hamilton County Probate Court downtown among other locations.

The First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati has announced that Rev. Sharron Dittmar will be performing same-sex marriages to couples with marriage licenses free of charge June 30-July 2 at the Hamilton County Courthouse or at the First Unitarian Church in Avondale. You can reach the church at 513 351 6530.
Brittani Henry-Rogers and Brittni Rogers display son Jayseon’s birth certificate. The Rogers are part of the U.S. Supreme Court case over Ohio’s gay marriage ban.
Nick Swartsell

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend Playlist: Rainy Day Tunes]]>

Since the forecast for this upcoming weekend screams “absolutely sucky,” instead of fighting it, go ahead and embrace the rain. Whether you’re allowing yourself some “me” time to sink into your own thoughts or are keeping your favorite human close to your side, slide your ass back into bed, pour yourself some tea and put on these slower, deeper jams, old and new. (You know, when you’re done binging on Netflix). 

"Think of England" – Bear’s Den

“Do you lie back and think of England?” Maybe, maybe not. But the concept is there. Whether it’s a place or a person from your past, this song is dedicated to a memory that questions if it’s been forgotten or not. Many of us experience this “letting go of the past” feeling in our lives, and Indie Folk trio Bear’s Den’s does it well through such heartfelt poetry.

"Holocene" – Bon Iver

The immediate peace behind Justin Vernon’s voice paired with the tranquil melody that takes you out of this world and beyond is enough. It’s just enough. As much of Bon Iver’s music is based off of a pain or time of love and loss, this particular song is wrapped around the beauty given by earth and embracing the parts of life that are greater than you’ll ever be. (Little tip: I recommend watching the video. Absolutely worth it).

"Love You" – For Against

The wonderful thing about instrumentals is that they can be interpreted any way you like and let them take you wherever you want to go. It’s pretty awesome. It causes listeners to get more caught up in the title rather than the assigned lyrics, leaving an open canvas for their most creative thoughts to tell a story. For Against uses distinct rhythms and their Post-Punk/Dream Pop sound to allow you to capture a story throughout each of their tracks.

"Come Back to Bed" – John Mayer

If I’m being honest, in my wildest dreams, if John Mayer told me to come back to bed I’m sure as hell going to do it. Whether you’re embracing the emptiness or wishing your person were by your side, this song is a calling to bring you back into your sheets and leaving the bad things behind. John is a major necessity to any rainy day soundtrack, and this particular track is a strong winner.

"Jolene" – Ray Lamontagne

I don’t care who you are or what genre you prefer, everyone admires this beaut. Ray Lamontagne’s rough-meets-earthy voice is exactly what anyone needs on the slowest of days. It’s sad, yes, but a wise man once told me, “The sad ones cause you to feel the most.” Sometimes we need that, especially while the dreary rain pours outside our windows. And Ray is the king of that.

"Song For Zula" – Ronnie Fauss

This acoustic remake is simply remarkable. I first heard it in one of my music-loving friend’s cars, driving home late from a Hozier concert, and I was hooked. I wanted to crawl under the sheets and sleep the weekend off, drifting away to this sweet lullaby dedicated to a lover. If you enjoy the original, this version will tug just as strongly at your heartstrings.

"Dye" – Tycho

Another instrumental, another story. This one with a more Techno-feel and a beat you’ll feel. It reminds me of a club at 2 a.m. in complete slow motion. Weird, I know. But like I said, it’s all about where your creative mind takes you. This artist especially is creative and unique enough in itself to get the ball rolling in your mind. So while you’re lying there watching the day pass by, let your thoughts drift to this song, this artist, and this album.

"More Streets" – zpiderflower

This instrumental is a bit darker feeling than the rest with its deep, electric strings flicking one after the other and its low and steady beat remaining consistent throughout the entire track. This song was made for sleep. It was made to hide out from the nasty weather while still accepting it’s among you. These guys aren’t likely to come across often, so grab on and give them a chance while it’s still raining outside. You’ll grow for them more now than ever.

"Georgia" – Vance Joy

I LOVE this song. I love the verses more than the actual chorus, and that’s totally OK with me. It’s sweet and pretty and talks of love in such an elegant way. Vance Joy describes a woman as electric and strong, with a weight of love that’s worth it all. Sure, we all are familiar with Joy’s ever-so-popular song "Riptide," but in reality his other work is equally as incredible. You can’t help but think of the person you love most when you hear this tune.

"Comrade" – Volcano Choir

You bet your ass I put Justin Vernon on twice. As used as this phrase is, I can’t help but best describe Volcano Choir as Bon Iver “on steroids.” Its electric twist is strong, loud and powerful, while keeping its simplistic/natural style and sounds in the works. The entire Repave album is worth giving a listen, however, if you’re adding to a mellow playlist, I pick "Comrade."

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

Hello all. Here’s what’s up this morning in Cincinnati. Before I begin, I want to repurpose a joke I made on Twitter as a (not really) serious proposition. Someone should be allowed to sell beer at City Hall. Heck, they could brew it in the basement. Two words: REVENUE STREAM. Am I right?

I say all this because yesterday was another crazy day at City Hall as Cincinnati City Council rushed through a number of last-minute deals before it goes on recess for the rest of the summer. It also got in more streetcar wrangling and a surprise twist fitting of any season finale. Council, which couldn’t come to an agreement previously on whether to choose a union or non-union streetcar operations contract, punted that decision to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which look poised to choose the cheaper, non-union option. That bid, called the turnkey scenario, would cost $4 million in the first year of operation, well less than the $4.7 million union-friendly bid called the management scenario. 

But City Manager Harry Black and Mayor John Cranley re-introduced that decision this week after Cranley pledged to allow $2 million from the city’s general fund to be used toward streetcar operations in an effort to pass the union-friendly operating agreement. That’s a big switch-up for Cranley, who previously pledged that he wouldn’t allow any extra city money to be used for the transit project. All seemed primed for the five Democrats on council to pass the union version of the contract. But Councilman Wendell Young, one of the Democratic coalition, voted against the measure. Young expressed serious concerns that the $2 million pledged by Cranley wouldn’t be enough, citing a letter by SORTA stating such. 

With the more expensive contract and less than enough money to operate the streetcar, Young expressed concern that operating hours for the streetcar would be cut. That could have put Cincinnati in a showdown with the Federal Transportation Administration since it stipulated the frequency of streetcar operations in its successful applications for millions in federal dollars for the project. So now, the ball is back in SORTA’s court, and the transit agency will almost certainly opt for the cheaper, non-union contract. Young and other Democrats decried what they called a false choice as yet another “game” turning the streetcar into a political football. Phew. Got all that? All right moving on.


• Cincinnatians in the 1880s had Music Hall. Local folks in the 1930s had Union Terminal. One-hundred years from now, architecture buffs and historians will look back fondly on this era as the golden age of magnificent edifices in which to leave your aging 1997 Toyota Corolla. What I mean to say is congrats, taxpayers! Soon, you’ll own more parking garages downtown and elsewhere. That’s great for me since I don’t own a car at all. Maybe I can park my bike in there. Council passed a number of big development deals yesterday, shoveling a ton of public cash to developers. These deals included more than $5 million in taxpayer money for a $34-million,130-unit apartment complex with commercial space and a parking garage at Eighth and Sycamore streets. That public money includes a $3.5 million city grant, which is awesome because I’m totally going to use one of those taxpayer funded apartments (I’m not) and a $2 million loan to 3CDC, which will build the city-owned parking garage. The development, undertaken by North Pointe Developers and North American Properties, will also receive a 15-year property tax abatement. On the other side of downtown, at Fourth and Race streets, the city will spend another $3 million to build another parking garage for another big development. An eight-story, 200-unit apartment building will sit atop that city-owned garage. Council also gave away some land, amending a deal with Model Group to give the developer property at Elder and Race streets in Over-the-Rhine for $1 upon the timely completion of a planned $21 million project that will bring 23 new apartments and 10 condos to that location. Should Model Group not finish the project in time, it will pay $106,000 for the land.

• Services for fallen Cincinnati Police officer Sonny Kim begin today at Xavier’s Cintas Center. A visitation for Kim will be held there starting at 1 p.m. Kim’s funeral is tomorrow at 11 a.m. Both are open to the public, which is asked to arrive and be seated by 10 a.m. tomorrow for the funeral. Officials say they expect crowds of thousands to attend, including officers from across the country. Kim died Friday after he and other officers were lured to Madisonville by a gunman who called 911 on himself.

• Wrong place. Wrong time. Incredibly unfortunate name. Mason City Councilman Richard Cox (can’t make this stuff up folks) is answering some tough questions today after he was spotted during a police sting at a motel room with a suspected sex worker. Authorities were led to the room by online ads and insider tips. Officers saw Cox leave a room occupied by the alleged sex worker, but Cox says he was simply there because an older man at a nearby store had asked him to deliver a note to the woman there, and Cox complied because he thought she was the man’s daughter. No charges have been filed in the incident.

• U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is cosponsoring two new bills designed to provide more help to opioid addicts. The Recovery Enhancement and Addiction Treatment act would expand treatment options for addicts, including lifting a limit on how many patients addiction treatment doctors can see in a year. That limit has left many in the state seeking treatment on long waiting lists. Another bill, the Jason Simcakoski bill, would provide more pain treatment options for military veterans. That bill is named after a Marine vet who fatally overdosed last summer. Ohio continues to struggle in the grips of a large-scale heroin and opioid crisis, with overdoses and overdose deaths on a steady incline. Overdose deaths in Ohio tripled between 2003 to 2013, when 2,100 died of drug overdoses.

• A huge U.S. Supreme Court decisions were announced today. SCOTUS upheld Affordable Care Act subsidies to states, including Ohio, meaning the ACA remains structurally sound. A challenge to the ability of the federal government to facilitate those subsidies called King v. Burwell could have shook Obama's signature healthcare law to its core; without the subsidies, many low-income residents in states with health care exchanges would not have been able to afford health care plans. Another important SCOTUS decision in a case around affordable housing in Texas delivered a huge victory for those looking to desegregate low-income, subsidized housing. Read more about that decision here. 

That’s it for me. I’m heading to Columbus to cover the final days of voting on the state’s budget, specifically some last minute provisions that Republican lawmakers have slipped into the financial plan that would make life very hard for Cincinnati’s last remaining abortion clinic and other clinics around the state. More soon. In the meantime, tweet at me or email with your suggestion for best lunch around the capitol.

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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining Events]]>
WEDNESDAY 24
Food Truckin' for Josh Cares — Spend your lunch hour on Fountain Square raising funds for Josh Cares, an organization dedicated to providing companionship and support to hospitalized children and their families. The third annual Food Truckin’ for Josh Cares brings more than 15 area food trucks to the Square, including C’est Cheese, Hungry Bros, Red Sesame, Urban Grill and more to feed you and compete for a coveted Golden Spatula award, given to selected winners by a panel of celebrity judges. Eat lunch. Do good. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday. Free; food prices vary. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, joshcares.org

MadTree Beer Dinner — Head to the Moerlein Lager House for a chef-prepared paired dinner, matched with MadTree beers. 6 p.m. $55. Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, 513-421-2337.

Recipes from Peru — A cooking class at Nectar restaurant with chef Julie Francis and sous chef Amanda Bowman. Learn to make fish and vegetable ceviches. 6-9 p.m. $75. Nectar, 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, dinenectar.com.

Lobstapalooza — Lobster soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, cocktails, quesadillas, curries and more. Through July 3. Prices vary. Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.

Young Chef’s Kitchen — Kids learn to cook at the Northside Farmers Market, using foods from the vendors themselves. 4:45-6 p.m. $3. Hoffner Park, Blue Rock and Hamilton Avenue, Northside, northsidefm.org.

Dinner and Dance: The Waltz — Starts with a dance class in the waltz. Romantic date night dinner recipes follow. 6-9 p.m. $140 per couple. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

THURSDAY 25
Cincinnati Food + Wine Pop-Up Cooking Demo — Chef Joel Mollow of Nicola’s gives a cooking demo with wine pairings. 5:30-7 p.m. Free. Lexus RiverCenter, 633 W. Third St., Covington, Ky., 859-547-5300.

Chilling and Grilling — The Spice and Tea Exchange heads to The Art of Entertaining for a special grilling dinner. 6-8:30 p.m. $35; $50 with wine. The Art of Entertaining, 2019 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, cincyartofentertaining.com.

Charity Event for Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation — Champps will donate 10 percent of sales from the day to the foundation. Also includes signature drinks and drink specials. 6-9 p.m. Free. Champps Restaurant and Bar, 9424 Civic Center Blvd., West Chester, gdatf.org.

FRIDAY 26
Panegyri
Photo: Provided
Panegyri Greek Festival — If you’re a fan of cult-classic My Big Fat Greek Wedding (and who isn’t?), then get yourself to Holy Trinity- St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church for their annual Panegyri Greek Festival. This Queen City favorite features bouzouki music, traditional Greek dancers (where visitors are encouraged to join in on group dances!), rides, a Greek culture exhibit, cooking demonstrations, and, most importantly, a plethora of delicious Greek foodstuffs. There will be souvlaki, spanakopita, Greek pizza, moussaka, gyros, and much, much more — you can even pick up handmade Greek pastries to take home with you. 5-11 p.m. Friday; 3-11 p.m. Saturday; 1-8 p.m. Sunday. $2; free ages 12 and younger. 7000 Winton Road, Finneytown, 513-591-0030, panegyri.com

ArtsWave Happy Hour — Moerlein donates $1 of every pint sold to ArtsWave. 4-9 p.m. Free. Christian Moerlein Brewery Malt House Taproom, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, christianmoerlein.com.

SATURDAY 27 
OTR Beerfest CANival — Washington Park hosts the inaugural Over-the-Rhine brew festival dedicated solely to cans — OTR Beerfest: CANival. It’s a celebration of canned craft beer (no glass bottles here) and features more than 100 different varieties from breweries all over the country (plus locals). There will entertainment on stage all day, food trucks lining 14th Street, and the event producers promise there are many more surprises up their sleeves. Buy three beer tokens for $5, each good for a 4-ounce pour of beer, or use all three for a 12-ounce can. Brought to you by the same group that puts on Cincy BeerFest on Fountain Square. 1-11 p.m. Saturday. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org

Rhinegeist Turns 2 — Rhinegeist celebrates its second anniversary with a party featuring a ton of special releases — Tart Cherry Sour Cougar, Barrel-Aged Knucklehead (aged in Buffalo Trace barrels), Mango Sci-Fi, Double-Oaked Mastadon and mannnnny more — live music in the taproom and lounge space, plus food from Dutch's, Mazunte and Dojo Gelato. The day includes brewery tours and shuttle busses every 20 minutes to and from Washington Park, provided by Cincy Brew Bus and Craft Connection. Noon. Free admission. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, goo.gl/RVSXXY.

WestFest — Join the Cheviot/Westwood community as they transform Harrison Avenue into the West Side’s biggest street party for the 14th year in a row. An estimated 30,000 people will fill the block, featuring two separate stages for live local music, as well as beer booths, snow cone stands and grub from local eateries such as N.Y.P.D. Pizza, Maury’s Tiny Cove, Big Dog BBQ and much more. This event also offers a Kid Zone for children of all ages to experience rides, games and various contests. 1 p.m.-midnight Saturday; 1-10 p.m. Sunday. $2. Downtown Cheviot, cheviotwestfest.com.

Gadabout Doughnut Pop-Up at Oakley Fancy Flea — The Oakley Fancy Flea is a curated market with high-end wares in the heart of Oakley. The Fancy Flea has almost doubled the space for the market this year, meaning almost double the amount of stuff to peruse and double the fun. This Saturday, find Gadabout Doughnuts, baker Karina Rice's pop-up donut shop, on the grounds. Read an interview with Rice here. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. 2980 Madison Road, Oakley, theoffmarket.org.

Cincy Brew Bus Eastside Tour — Take the bus to Old Firehouse, Fifty West, Mt. Carmel and Bad Tom Smith. 12:10-5:30 p.m. $55-$65. Leaves from the Growler House, 1526 Madison Road, East  Walnut Hills, cincybrewbus.com.

SUNDAY 28
Pop-Up Drag Brunch — Help turn the Queen City into Drag Queen City while getting your brunch game on. You can celebrate Cincinnati Pride and your appetite at 21c Museum Hotel’s Metropole restaurant during Pop Up Drag Brunch, an event that includes cocktails from mixologist Catherine Manabat, a brunch prepared by chef Jared Bennett and, of course, live performances from local drag queens. The brunch is part of the city’s much larger Pride Week festival, parade and other associated events, which celebrate Cincinnati’s LGBTQ+ community. The festival will be using the hashtag #CincyPride2015 during the events, which take place through Sunday. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. Call for reservations. 609 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-578-6660, 21ccincinnati.com

Garlic Festival — Garlic: It’s not just for scaring away vampires. The bulb, a cousin to the onion, has been in both culinary and medicinal use for thousands of years, and is a staple in Asian and Mediterranean diets. The second annual Greensleeves Garlic Festival lets you sample 20 varieties of garlic during a daylong event with live music, farm tours and more. If you’re one to judge, sign up to judge the Garden Scamper, a cooking competition. Just remember to bring some gum. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. $5. Greensleeves Farm, 10851 Pleasant Ridge Road, Alexandria, Ky., greensleevesfarm.com

Future Science Presents: Food! — What happens when you put science and cooking together? Well, Breaking Bad, but also Future Science’s upcoming show. A group of four “scientists” who also happen to be comedians will discuss the present and future of food, eat food and present new ideas about food in their variously themed monthly live comedy show held at MOTR Pub. This time, comedians Andy Gasper, Karl Spaeth and Logan Lautzenheiser focus on nutrition in a world where food is constantly changing. As Jesse says: Science, bitch. 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/futurescienceshow

MONDAY 29
The Upscale Side of The Eagle — Chef Dana Adkins teaches you to make minted diver scallops, herb-crusted skirt steak, homemade ketchup and more. 6-9 p.m. $60. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

TUESDAY 30
Simple Seasonal Italian — Classic Italian dishes that are easier than you think: creamy polenta, affogato sundaes, herb-roasted fish in parchment and buerre blanc sauce. 6:30-9 p.m. $45. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

A Steakhouse Dinner — Make a steakhouse dinner at home: steamed artichoke, potato-crusted jumbo shrimp, grilled beef tenderloin with blue cheese chive butter, roasted new potatoes, kale gratin and frozen key lime pie. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

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