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

Hey all. Hope your Memorial Day weekend was grand. Mine involved bicycles, friends from near and far, brunch, puppies, beers and big sales on outdoor gear. So, yeah, basically everything that’s good in life.

Sometimes, the news is about everything that’s not so good in life. You’ve almost certainly already heard about the tragic death of Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot and killed after a 4-year-old child ell into his pen. Harambe's death has made national and even international news. Zookeepers say it was necessary to shoot the gorilla because he had started dragging the child and because tranquilizers and other ways to neutralize him wouldn’t work fast enough. The incident has caused waves of controversy here in Cincinnati and around the country, because, apparently, that’s how we are now. Internet commenters have launched hateful, sometimes racially tinged attacks on the parents. They’ve blasted the zoo. They’ve even tracked down other people in Ohio with the mother’s name and harassed them. Harambe’s death is definitely a tragedy, but the really awful thing about this is how terrible people are.

• This weekend’s Taste of Cincinnati mostly went off without a hitch, but there were some troubling moments, including one in which a 15-year-old was arrested for firing a gun. No one was hurt in that incident, but it’s the kind of thing Councilwoman Yvette Simpson says shows that more work needs to be done engaging teens at the event, which is mostly adult focused. Last year, 19 teenagers were arrested at Taste, mostly for curfew infractions. This year, Simpson took to the streets around the festival with a dozen or so volunteers to engage teens downtown. Simpson says she’s pitched more formal youth engagement measures for the festival to the city’s chamber of commerce. Those ideas weren’t taken up this year, but the councilwoman and potential mayoral candidate has pledged to make them a reality next year.

• The last remaining health clinic providing abortions in the greater Cincinnati area will stay open another year, thanks to a last-minute variance to state rules granted by the Ohio Department of Health. Planned Parenthood, which runs the Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center in Mount Auburn, has been fighting with Ohio around recently instituted rules that require abortion providers to have admitting privileges with local hospitals. Those rules also prohibit publicly funded hospitals from entering into those agreements, which cost the Mount Auburn clinic its agreement with UC Hospital a few years ago. But clinics can apply for exceptions to the rule if they have physicians on staff with individual admitting privileges at local hospitals. Over the last few years, the Mount Auburn clinic has been applying for those variances, though ODH has been slow in granting them. The clinic’s position was made all the more tenuous by another new Ohio law that gives the health department just 90 days to approve a variance request before it is automatically denied. The new rules have cut the number of clinics in the state from 16 to nine.

• Ohio voters won’t be weighing in on a medical marijuana initiative that a national group had hoped to get on the November statewide ballot. The Marijuana Policy Project and its Ohio arm, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, on Saturday suspended their campaign for the ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana for medical reasons, just days after the Ohio legislature passed its own, stricter medical marijuana legislation. The group needed to gather more than 300,000 signatures by early July to make the November ballot. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana originally decried the effort by state lawmakers currently awaiting Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s approval, saying it didn’t go far enough. Another group called Grassroots Ohio is shooting for a more expansive legalization effort for the 2017 ballot.

• Finally, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman on Wednesday will unveil his first three television ads in his bid for reelection in Ohio. Those ads highlight Portman’s role in fighting the state’s heroin crisis are another salvo in the tight battle between Portman and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat looking to take the incumbent Republican’s seat. The race is seen as pivotal in Democrats’ efforts to take back the Senate, where they currently face a slight majority held by Republicans. Portman is seen as vulnerable in that quest, and, indeed, he and Strickland are running neck and neck here. Strickland has hit Portman on his refusal to grant a hearing to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and for his endorsement of Donald Trump as the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To-Do List]]> FRIDAY

EVENT: FURRY FRIENDS FESTIVAL


The Furry Friends Festival is a dog-gone good time for pups and their people at Washington Park. Pet-friendly vendors will coalesce on the green, offering everything from dog food and accessories to toys and photography services. Share a plate of Eli’s BBQ with your pooch and imbibe craft beers from Taft’s, Rhinegeist, MadTree and Christian Moerlein. Live music takes place all weekend long, including bands Honey & Houston and Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle on Friday and The Tillers on Saturday. 7-10 p.m. Friday; 3-10 p.m. Saturday. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.

EVENT: PARK + VINE’S NINTH ANNIVERSARY PARTY Everyone’s favorite green general store Park + Vine celebrates nine years in business on Final Friday with a family-friendly party, featuring live music, food, a photo booth, vegan birthday cake and an ’80s-themed DJ. The events continue into Saturday with a sidewalk sale, featuring fresh food from local producers and info from environmental organizations. 6-10 p.m. Friday; sidewalk sale noon-3 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, parkandvine.com.

'Red Interior' - Artwork: Pang Jen

ART: PANG JEN AND BRUCE RILEY AT MILLER GALLERY

Known for his soft, bright oil paintings which have the look of pastels, Chinese-born American immigrant and artist Pang Jen’s romantic compositions will be on view at Miller Gallery in Hyde Park beginning Wednesday. Pang’s work often consists of still-lifes and landscapes, which include women and children as well as traditional Chinese boats, and Miller Gallery curators have juxtaposed Pang’s solo show with an exhibition of the equally colorful yet far more conceptual work of Chicago-based abstract artist Bruce Riley. Through June 25. Free. 2715 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, millergallery.com.
 
Taste of Cincinnati - Photo: Provided

SATURDAY

EVENT: TASTE OF CINCINNATI

The nation’s longest-running culinary arts festival returns to the streets of downtown, featuring booths from more than 50 restaurants, six stages of live music and an estimated 500,000 attendees. This 38th-annual Memorial Day Weekend tradition of fun and food provides Cincinnatians with the opportunity to sample the many flavors of the Queen City, ranging from Via Vite’s ricotta and veal meatballs to streetpops’ Thai-lime basil pops, with plenty of Cincinnati chili and hometown pizza sprinkled in between. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday. Free admission. Fifth Street between Vine and Sentinel streets, Downtown, tasteofcincinnati.com

EVENT: COCKTAILS & COMEDY FESTIVAL

Share some laughs and some drinks at Jungle Jim’s inaugural Cocktails & Comedy Festival. Each ticket includes eight craft cocktail samples, food and big laughs from area performers, including Holly Lynnea, Tom Schmidlin, Lee Kimbrell and Hayward J. Thompson. Kick the night off with a bloody mary bar — like dinner in a glass! — followed by more bold mixed drinks from the team at Jungle Jim’s. VIP access includes extra cocktails and a chance to meet and greet some famous NFL alumni. 5-10 p.m. Saturday. $40 pre-sale; $45 day-of; $80 VIP pre-sale; $85 VIP day-of. The Oscar Event Center at Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

O.F.F. Market - Photo: Provided

EVENT: O.F.F. MARKET

It can be difficult for local artisans, peddlers and food vendors to get their products into the marketplace. Dynamic husband and wife duo Leah Durig and Mikey Griffin, designers and small business owners themselves, created the Oakley Fancy Flea Market four years ago to give entrepreneurs a jumping-off point. Now, the open-air marketplace is better known as the O.F.F. Market, located in the heart of Oakley, and is bigger than ever. Specialty food and beverage vendors, independent small businesses, artists, farmers and more will return to this stomping ground monthly to provide local community shopping. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. 2890 Madison Road, Oakley, theoffmarket.org.
Prince - Photo: YouTube

MUSIC: PURPLE REIGNS: A CELEBRATION OF THE MUSIC OF PRINCE 

The shock of Prince’s sudden death last month hasn’t waned, and tributes to the iconic musician continue to flow (most recently, Madonna and Stevie Wonder paid tribute to him at the Billboard Music Awards). This weekend, a local tribute featuring a diverse array of artists will honor Prince’s huge contribution to the music world. The event is hosted by Cincinnati-born Funk legend Bootsy Collins and his wife Pepperminte Patti, with proceeds going to the Bootsy Collins Foundation, an umbrella group for Collins’ many charitable undertakings (from supporting music education to promoting oral health care). The lineup includes artists who’ve worked with Prince (drummer John Blackwell and bassist MonoNeon), local singer/songwriters like Jess Lamb and Kelly Richey and Bootsy’s group, The Rubber Band, among others. 7 p.m. Saturday. $20. Bogart’s, 2621 Vine St., Corryville, bogarts.com.

Photo: FC Cincinnati

SPORTS: FC CINCINNATI

After a handful of packed games, it appears that Cincinnati is ready to bleed orange and blue for our hometown futbol team, FC Cincinnati — 23,000-plus fans broke the United Soccer League attendance record at the club’s May 14 home game. Come cheer the boys on at the University of Cincinnati’s revamped Nippert Stadium as they take on the Harrisburg City Islanders. 7 p.m. Saturday. $20-$25; discounts for kids and students. Nippert Stadium, 2700 Bearcat Way, Clifton Heights, fccincinnati.com

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<![CDATA[Dennison Vote Delayed]]>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Effort to Preserve 300 Units of OTR Affordable Housing Unveiled]]> Over-the-Rhine will get 300 improved units of affordable housing, many as part of mixed-income developments, if $2 million in funding in Mayor John Cranley’s budget proposal is approved. Another $2 million would be dedicated to affordable housing elsewhere in the city if the plan goes forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[What to Eat and Drink at Taste of Cincinnati]]> Practice your plate-balancing and Porta-Potty hovering skills: It’s Taste of Cincinnati weekend.

As the nation’s longest-running culinary arts festival, Taste of Cincinnati ain’t always fancy, but it certainly is fun. More than 500,000 people will descend on downtown over this coming Memorial Day Weekend to eat, drink and make a mess of Fifth Street. More than 50 local restaurants will be serving up portable bites, and local breweries like Rivertown, MadTree and Christian Moerlein will be pouring some of their best summer and non-summer beers (like the tart Nice Melons, Sol Drifter blonde ale and Strawberry Pig cream ale, respectively).

Also big in brew news, Moerlein is launching its Over-The-Rhine Cider Company during Taste. It’s original and crisp hard cider varieties will be on draft at the OTR Cider Company booth; original is both sweet and acidic with a fresh orchard aroma, and crisp is reminiscent of granny smith apples, with a moderate but “pleasingly effervescent” bubbly finish.

And while we as a city have more than proven we’re great at drinking, you obviously can’t eat everything (or can you #doubledogdare). May we recommend the following eats from the more than 250 selections (vendor map here). And don’t forget Food Truck Alley, on Broadway, with...food trucks, plus live music and seating.


NEW

Skyline: It’s Skyline’s first year at Taste, which seems weird, right? They’ll be serving Greek salads, along with 3-ways, coneys and chilitos, for people who really enjoy the challenge of trying to walk and eat at the same time.
Buona Terra:
We pick cake batter gelato from this Mount Lookout creamery.

Cazadores:
Mexican-style roasted corn tips!

Crave:
Mexican sushi? With tuna, jalapeño, avocado, cilantro and soy citrus sauce.

Cuban Pete:
Recently expanding from a food truck to a Court Street cafe, Cuban Pete will be serving their classic Cuban sandwiches. 

Delicio:
 Coal-fired pizza and wing joint. The wings are a fave, but their Black & Bleu pizza has blue cheese, fire-seared steak and red onions, topped with balsamic glaze and spinach. Sounds fancy.
Forno Osteria + Bar: From the owners of Via Vite. Try the Fritto Misto (mixed fried seafood).

FAVE
Eli’s BBQ: Doing both their pulled pork and smoked turkey sandwiches, with vegetarian sides.
Habanero: This Clifton burrito spot will have their unique and cakey fried chips and salsa.
Melt Eclectic Cafe: For all you vegetarians out there, Melt’s serving a vegan sloppy joe.
Urban Vistro (food truck alley): A food trailer from West Side fave Vitor’s Bistro. Anything will be good.
Tom+Chee: Three words: grilled cheese donut.
streetpops (food truck alley): Thai basil lime pops! Perfect frozen summer treat.
Red Sesame (food truck alley): All the Korean barbecue tacos.
Empanadas Aqui (food truck alley): Fried plantains aka Tostones are a must.
Alabama Fish Bar (food truck alley): Cod plate!
Catch-a-Fire Pizza (food truck alley): Three little pigs. It’s a very meaty slice, with pepperoni, prosciutto and Italian sausage.


BEST OF TASTE WINNERS (people sampled, voted and these won)
Restaurant Best Dessert 

First Place: Chocolate Chip/Blueberry Bread Pudding — Bella Luna
Second Place: Gourmet Pops — Delicio
Third Place: Cinnamon Bread Pudding — Alfio’s Buon Cibo

Restaurant Best Appetizer 
First Place: Ricotta & Veal Meatballs — Via Vite
Second Place: Antipasto on a Stick  Bella Luna
Third Place: Buffalo Chicken Empanada — Alfio’s Buon Cibo

Restaurant Best Soup-Salad-Side
First Place: Black & Bleu Tuna Salad —Market Street Grille
Second Place: Cioppino — Via Vite
Third Place: Silver Ladle Salad — Silver Ladle

Restaurant Best go Vibrant! 
First Place: Wonton Soup — Thai Taste
Second Place: Chicken Wrap — Market Street Grille
Third Place: Vegetarian Grape Leaves — Andy’s Mediterranean Grille
*go Vibrant! menu items adhere to the American Heart Association per-serving standards of 6.5 grams or less of total fat, 1 gram or less of saturated fat, a half gram or less of trans fat, 20 milligrams or less of cholesterol, and 480 milligrams or less of sodium

Restaurant Best Entrée
First Place: Teriyaki Marinated Sirloin — The Melting Pot 
Second Place: Sacchetti (Stuffed Shells) — Bella Luna
Third Place: Five Cheese Angus Raviolo — Alfio’s Buon Cibo

Food Truck Best Dessert
First Place: Thai Lime Basil Pop — streetpops
Second Place: Sea Salted Belgian Waffle with Caramel Sauce topped with Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whipped Cream — Marty’s Waffles
Third Place: Frozen Cheesecake on a Stick — Sugar Snap! Sweet Treats

Food Truck Best Appetizer 
First Place: Borocado Martini — Urban Vistro
Second Place: Mini Quesadilla — Red Sesame
Third Place: 3 Meat Stroll — Adena’s Beefstroll

Food Truck Best go Vibrant!
First Place:
Korean BBQ Taco — Red Sesame
Second Place: Pomegranate Tangerine Pop — streetpops
Third Place: Psycho Hummus — Catch-a-Fire Pizza

Food Truck Best Entrée
First Place:
Bee Sting Sandwich — C’est Cheese
Second Place: Carnitas Taco — Urban Vistro
Third Place: 12 hour Braised Brisket Taco — Texas Joe Tex Mex


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Gov. Kasich, like Mayor Cranley, also appears to have a lot on his plate now. Also on its way to the Gov.'s desk: a bill that would require taxpayers to fork over thousands of dollars to keep polls open longer. The proposal from Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Green Township, came from the controversy sparked after a federal judge in Hamilton County ordered the polls during the March 15 primary to stay open 90 minutes longer. The bill would require state judges who order polls to stay open later to collect bonds. Several Democrats and the American Civil Liberties Union have objected to the proposed change, saying it could discourage people from voting.]]>
<![CDATA[Contemporary Arts Center Announces 2016-17 Season]]> The Contemporary Arts Center announced its 2016-17 exhibition season last evening during a special presentation to its Board of Trustees and media. At the same time, it also previewed several performances scheduled for that same season. (There may still be another art exhibition added.)

The biggest takeaways from the announcement are that the CAC is striving for diversity in the artists it will show next year, and that it doesn’t believe painting is passé in Contemporary art. 

The first show, indeed, features one of Britain’s greatest living painters, Glenn Brown. 

“We wanted to celebrate painting,” says Steven Matijcio, CAC curator. “I think because it’s been the preeminent medium of the past, sometimes it gets secondary status in today’s art world. Glenn Brown makes very few works per year because he spends so much time on them. If an Old Master were living today, he would be that person.”

Here is the list of shows, edited from a CAC press release. A fuller story will appear in next week’s The Big Picture column in CityBeat.

GLENN BROWN

Sept. 9, 2016 to Jan. 15, 2017:

Organized by the Des Moines Art Center; Curated by Jeff Fleming

This is the first solo museum exhibition in the United States to survey the work of renowned London-based artist Brown. Painting steadily for the last three decades, Brown crafts paintings with an immaculate, almost supernatural level of detail and fluidity.

ROE ETHRIDGE: NEAREST NEIGHBOR

Oct.7 2016 to March 12, 2017

Organized by FotoFocus; Curated by Kevin Moore

The exhibition leads the programming for the 2016 FotoFocus Biennial, which explores the theme of the Undocument in photography. Nearest Neighbor is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. and will present over 15 years of photographs.

NOEL ANDERSON: BLAK ORIGIN MOMENT

Feb. 10 to June 18, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

Noel Anderson is a Louisville-born artist and a professor at the University of Cincinnati, presently working in New York City. He is known for complex investigations into the evolving makeup of black-male identity translated through a variety of textiles — from old rugs to digitally produced tapestries. 

UGO RONDINONE: CHROMAphile

May 5 to Aug. 27, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Raphaela Platow

This exhibition will celebrate a new iteration of the Swiss-born, NY-based artist Ugo Rondinone’s color spectrum series that congregates his art, the gallery architecture and every visitor to the space as collaborators in an all-encompassing experience. 

NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY: THE PREDECESSORS

July 14 to Oct. 20, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center & Tang Museum, Skidmore College; Co-Curated by Ian Berry & Steven Matijcio

When Njideka Akunyili left Lagos for the U.S. at age 16, she detoured from her initial plan to be a doctor to pursue painting and tell another side of Nigeria’s story. She fuses painting, drawing, collage and the use of transfers — a typically Western printing process that involves transferring ink from photographs using solvent. 

JANE BENSON: HALF-TRUTHS

July 14 to Oct. 20, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

The story of two Iraqi brothers who escaped from Baghdad in early 2002 becomes a vehicle for British-born, N.Y.-based artist Jane Benson to explore the social reverberations caused by geo-cultural separation. The artist uses music to tell the story in a dual-channel video entitled Finding Baghdad (Part A), which serves as the show’s centerpiece. 

THE I-71 PROJECT

October through November, 2016 

Organized by the CAC, MOCA Cleveland and Columbus Museum of Art; Curated by Anne Thompson

The I-71 Project is a collaborative venture uniting three major art centers across Ohio to present art on billboards that confront the theater and confusion of elections in the U.S. It is organized by artist, writer and 2015-16 Missouri School of Journalism Fellow Anne Thompson, who successfully organized a similar project called The I-70 Sign Show. Some of the key artists will include Mel Bochner, Marilyn Minter, and Kay Rosen.

  • Here are the three performances that Drew Klein, performance curator, announced:

RADHOUANE EL MEDDEB: 

JE DANSE ET JE VOUS EN DONNE A BOUFFER

(I DANCE, AND GIVE YOU SOME TO EAT)

November 17-18, 2016

Here, Radhouane is immersed in his loves of dancing and cooking, creating and celebrating a bridge between the two. Seated before his couscous maker, he prepares a meal and dances with all the grandeur, generosity and poetry inspired by these two arts.  Between tomato concentrate, zucchini, carrots and cinnamon: a leap, a glance, a suspension or a rupture. Between the semolina and a chassé croisé, the dish simmers. This dazzling choreographic offering evokes all the senses in an almost synesthetic experience, the audience seized by the scents drifting through the air and captivated by the movement infused with generosity and poetry.

JAN MARTENS: SWEAT BABY SWEAT 

January 19-20, 2017

In Sweat Baby Sweat, Martens zeroes in on the most clichéd theme in dance: the relationship between a man and a woman. He traces the arc of their lifetime together in this physically demanding and intimate examination of a couple that just can’t let each other go. 

NAPOLEON MADDOX: TWICE THE FIRST TIME 

February 22-24, 2017

In the performance Twice The First Time, Maddox will dance, sing and rap the story of Millie-Christine, conjoined twins born into American slavery in 1851, into the 21st century. They were aunts of Maddox’s grandmother. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

• What policies will law enforcement officers and departments have to follow regarding body cameras across Ohio? We’ll have to wait until November to find out. State lawmakers have put off voting on legislation to set those policies until then, in part because of disagreements between some lawmakers and organizations representing law enforcement agencies. Legislators like State Rep. Alicia Reece say they want mandatory body cameras for all police across the state and a uniform body camera policy to cover every law enforcement agency in Ohio. Those ideas didn’t garner enough votes, but legislation requiring some form of body camera policy for agencies was on the table. But Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police has its own demand: the right for officers to review camera footage before they file reports. That’s sent the bill back to the drawing board, and with today the last day of the legislative term, it’ll be months until it’s taken back up.

• A federal judge has ruled that Ohio state officials must restore the so-called “Golden Week” before elections for early voting. Republican lawmakers have reduced early voting times in the state over the past few years, causing consternation from voting rights advocates. Among those advocating for the reduction were Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who said that the extra hours were irregular from place to place and weren’t fair to all voters. However, those extra hours drew predominantly urban, mostly black voters who often vote Democratic, leading to charges that the move violated civil rights laws and the Constitution. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson agreed, striking down the elimination of the extra hours and restoring Ohio’s early voting provisions to a full 35 days leading up to the election. After reductions, the state was down to 28 early voting days, which Republicans point out is still more than many other states.

• Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he still can’t back GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, citing the real estate mogul’s “scapegoating, negativity and willingness to run people into the ditch.” Kasich, who until less than a month ago was fighting Trump for a shot at the GOP nomination, says there would need to be a fundamental shift in the way Trump campaigns before he would throw his weight behind him. Kasich made the remarks, among his first since he dropped out of the race earlier this month, during an interview with the Columbus Dispatch and the Cleveland Plain Dealer at his office in Columbus. Kasich says he doesn’t regret his scuttled bid for president and that he’s planning on writing a book about the experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Federal Court Blocks Ohio Law Defunding Planned Parenthood]]> A federal circuit court today temporarily blocked an Ohio law that would strip Planned Parenthood of about $1.4 million in state and federal funds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Stage Door: Happy Days, Sad Romances, Bad Dates and a Little Sleaze]]>

Since last week’s Stage Door I’ve seen several productions that are definitely worth checking out.

Diogenes Theatre Company is presenting Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days at the Aronoff Center’s Fifth Third Bank Theater through Sunday. Don’t ask me to tell you what it’s about — it’s by Beckett, so it’s an absurdist piece that deals with existence, loneliness and happiness.

There are two characters: Winnie talks incessantly, while Willie barely speaks at all. They’re a couple, it seems, but they’re living minimal and seemingly diminishing lives, literally stuck in holes in a vast, arid landscape. Nevertheless, Winnie seems to remain relentlessly optimistic about the future, while Willie doesn’t have much to say but seems weary of it all. It’s one of those works (like Beckett’s Waiting for Godot) that can be interpreted in numerous ways, so I’ll leave that to you. But I will say that it’s a rare opportunity to see an impressive acting performance by Amy Warner, a professional who graced local stages for more than a decade. She now lives in Minnesota with her husband, former Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Michael Evan Haney, who staged this piece. In the show’s shorter second act, she is buried up to her neck — and still presents a compelling performance based almost solely on facial expressions. (Willie is played by Michael Sommers who teaches at the University of Minnesota.) This show won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a fascinating script that will keep you talking with anyone who joins you to a performance. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is presenting Antony & Cleopatra, the second installment in its staging of Shakespeare’s Roman plays. It uses many of the same actors in roles established in its recent staging of Julius Caesar (April 8-May 7), most particularly Nick Rose as the ebullient but besotted Roman general Marc Antony. Guest actress Chantal Jean-Pierre is Cleopatra, the object of his obsession. The role is an unusual one for Shakespeare — the Egyptian queen is strong-willed, impulsive and downright willful. Jean-Pierre’s performance put me in mind of Beyoncé, strong and sassy performer who knows how to manipulate her audience. I can’t say her performance struck me as historically accurate, but it has an emotional essence that distills her power over the aging warrior. It’s not the chemistry I expected, but she’s intriguing to watch. Kyle Brumley plays a slightly creepy, slow-mo Emperor Octavius, a reticent but efficient in establishing his power yet drained of passion. Cincy Shakes stages this sweeping story with projected video and animation to depict sea battles and military combat, and that’s a plus for this production. The show is one for completists who want to check it off, but I found it overlong and not always compelling. Through June 4. Tickets: 513-381-2273.

The Cincinnati Playhouse’s staging of Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates is an entertaining evening of storytelling by a woman who’s trying to make a go at finding love after a dry spell and at middle age. It’s amusing without being in any way profound, but you’ll like Vivia Font’s charming performance as Haley Walker, a sweet but uninhibited girl next door — at least next door in New York City. This show was an immense hit for the playhouse in 2005, and it seems likely that this revival will pack the Shelterhouse Theatre through June 12. (CityBeat review here.) Tickets: 513-421-3888.

If you’re a musical theater fan and willing to spring for a ticket to the touring production of Cabaret at the Aronoff, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a fittingly slutty interpretation of Kander and Ebb’s powerful piece, and this rendition doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to the sinister undertones of life in Berlin before World War II as the Nazi regime rose to power. The show has great music, but sometimes that takes precedence over the admonitory tale of people unwilling to see what’s right in front of them. The tour features a strong ensemble, especially with 2000 CCM grad Randy Harrison as the sleazy, sinister emcee. He’s so engaged in this role that right after intermission he ad libs his way through a few minutes of audience interaction — spreading the discomfort beyond the stage. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Quite a few shows are wrapping up runs and seasons this weekend, what with Memorial Day not far behind when Cincinnati theaters tend to slow down. It’s final curtains for Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing at the Playhouse, Brigadoon at the Covedale, the truly excellent staging of Violet at Ensemble Theatre, plus Next Fall at Newport’s Falcon Theatre and Catch Me If You Can by Showbiz Players at the Carnegie in Covington.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List]]> FRIDAY

ONSTAGE: HAPPY DAYS

If you’re looking for uplifting plays, Samuel Beckett is not the guy you’d normally turn to. Nevertheless, the writer of Waiting for Godot had occasional lighter moments, and Happy Days was one of them — even though it’s an absurdist tale of a woman buried up to her waist and a man sleeping in a hole. This production by Diogenes Theatre Company features the return of two former Cincinnati theater favorites, director Michael Haney and actress Amy Warner, playing the indomitable Winnie, who maintains both sanity and optimism in the face of adversity. Joining Warner onstage is Minnesota actor Michael Sommers as her laconic husband Willie. Through May 22. $29; $14 students. Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-721-3344, diogenestheatrecompany.com

AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour
Photo: Provided by Jerry Milani
SPORTS: AVP PRO BEACH VOLLEYBALL TOUR
AVP’s beach volleyball tour returns to Cincinnati in the form of a five-day qualifying event for the Rio Olympic Games — the final qualifying event for the 2016 Summer Olympics held on American soil. The tour was scheduled to begin on May 17 with qualification tournaments, and features main draw tournaments and pool play into the weekend. The tour culminates 6:30 p.m. Saturday with men’s and women’s award ceremonies. But that isn’t all: The Linder Family Tennis Center transforms into a beachy getaway in honor of the event, featuring music, food and interactive activations, which let you personally assume the role of a pro volleyball player. Events continue through Saturday. Free. Lindner Family Tennis Center, 5460 Courseview Drive, Mason, avp.com

Dave Ross
Photo: Provided 
COMEDY: DAVE ROSS
Dave Ross is a stand-up comedian based in Los Angeles. When he’s not doing stand-up, he’s in a sketch group called WOMEN that produces skits for Comedy Central and IFC's Comedy Crib. He also hosts a podcast called Terrified, won a MOTH Grand Slam and was interviewed by Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast. His advice for young people? Turn 30. “If you’re still in your twenties, you should try this being in your thirties stuff. Everything is better now. I don’t throw up anymore; I have a teapot. It’s dope.” Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com

ReUse-apalooza
Photo: Provided
EVENT: REUSE-APALOOZA
This sustainable soirée brings customers, designers and local leaders together to celebrate the power of renewability. Featuring light bites, My Nose Turns Red circus performers and entertainment by Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke, ReUse-apalooza is the annual fundraiser of Building Value, a nonprofit that salvages reusable building materials for public sale. A highlight of the night is the opportunity to win a one-of-a-kind home or garden item — including everything from decorative plant holders to furniture — during the Designer Challenge Auction, which features functional pieces constructed from reused or repurposed materials. 7-11 p.m. Friday. $25. Building Value, 4040 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-475-6783, buildingvalue.org. 

'Da Vinci — The Genius'
Photo: Provided
ATTRACTIONS: DA VINCI – THE GENIUS 
What do an airplane, a helicopter, an automobile, a submarine, a parachute, a bicycle and a military tank have in common? They were all envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci, the 16th-century artist, scientist and thinker. The new Cincinnati Museum Center exhibit, Da Vinci – The Genius, lets you push, pull, crank and interact with replicas of the Renaissance Man’s machines. Explore da Vinci’s legacy like never before in 17 themed galleries with more than 200 pieces, plus educational animations of his most famous work and the most in-depth analysis ever of the iconic “Mona Lisa.” Through Sep. 25. $19.50; $17.50 senior; $12.50 children; discounts for members. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org

May Festival Chorus
ONSTAGE: MAY FESTIVAL
Surround yourself in song and celebrate music director James Conlon’s final season with the May Festival, America’s oldest choral festival. Performances include Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, the first piece Conlon conducted with the May Festival 37 years ago, plus a special concert of works by Mozart and two world premieres performed in the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. The fest’s finale concert on May 28 will be the very last performance at Music Hall before it closes for renovation. Through May 28. Ticket prices vary. Find a full schedule at mayfestival.com

Cincy Swing Fest
Photo: 3CDC
EVENT: CINCY SWING FEST WEEKEND
Rewind to the 1920s, when crowds in Harlem took to the dance floor with a new type of move called Swing; a time when Swing-era bandleader Cab Calloway referred to dancers as “jitterbugs,” out on the floor with their fast, bouncy movements. You too can Jitterbug, Charleston and Lindy Hop right at home on present-day Fountain Square. Free, impromptu dance instruction from The Lindy Society will be accompanied by local Jazz and Swing bands. Ambitious performers can participate in a Jack & Jill competition Saturday night, and pin-up studio Retrocentric will be on hand to give mini-makeovers. 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com

Sugar Candy Mountain
Photo: Sheva Kafai 
MUSIC: SUGAR CANDY MOUNTAIN
California’s Sugar Candy Mountain is one of the new breed of Pysch Rock's top artists to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of modern Psych Pop and Rock. Wonderfully showcasing the music’s tendency to meld vintage elements with new and unique visions, Sugar Candy Mountain is the brainchild of Will Halsey, an active Bay Area musician and engineer who played drums for successful Indie act The Blank Tapes, and singer/songwriter/guitarist Ash Reiter. The two musicians met when Halsey responded to ad Reiter had placed looking for a drummer for her eponymous band, an Indie Pop outfit. Halsey got the gig, and the two became romantically involved (they’re getting married later this year). Read more in this week's Sound Advice. Sugar Candy Mountain plays MOTR Pub Friday with All Seeing Eyes and A Giant Dog. More info/tickets: motrpub.com.

SATURDAY
Cincinnati Library Comic Con
Photo: Provided
EVENT: CINCINNATI LIBRARY COMIC CON 
Set your phasers to stun and head downtown for the fourth-annual Cincinnati Library Comic Con. This year’s event celebrates the 50th-anniversary of Star Trek with an exhibit of memorabilia ranging from the original series through the rebooted films, plus screenings of fan-favorite Star Trek movies. This daylong geeky get-together also features tabletop game play, cosplay contests, creator booths, special guest cartoonists/comics/graphic novelists, a drawing contest and additional events for kids, teens and adults. Noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org. 

EVENT: WESTSIDE MAKERS NEIGHBORHOOD FIELD DAY AND BOOK RELEASE
Calcagno Cullen, who has brought attention to Camp Washington’s potential through her Wave Pool gallery, has also noticed ripples in Covington’s west side neighborhood. Over the past four months, she’s used a grant from the Center for Great Neighborhoods to profile roughly 30 community-makers and compiled a book of their recipes, designs and DIY tips. Cullen says that when she started the project, she expected to meet artists quietly working in their basements. Instead she found budding philanthropists and other creatives eager to share and inspire. Get to know a chicken keeper, librarians, gardeners, yoga teachers, musicians, cooks, a sculptor and more at a party in and around Orchard Park. 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Free; $5 book. Orchard Park, 318 Orchard St., Covington, Ky., facebook.com/westsidemakers. 

'Domestic Departures'
Photo/Art: Susan Byrnes 
ART: DOMESTIC DEPARTURES AT KENNEDY HEIGHTS ART CENTER
Multimedia installation artist Susan Byrnes has taken over five rooms throughout the Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s historic house to reframe domestic activities for audiences and reflect the processes and environments that contain and shape the development of personal identity and family interaction. In addition to the sculptural installation and ambient audio work featured within the home, Byrnes will engage local Kennedy Heights residents to build upon existing pieces and create additional artworks to populate the exhibition. A public reception featuring the completed exhibition, including the community components, will be held Saturday. Reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday. Free. Through June 4. Kennedy Heights Arts Center, 6546 Montgomery Road, Kennedy Heights, kennedyarts.org. 

Ruby the Hatchet
Photo: Action PR
MUSIC: RUBY THE HATCHET
The band coalesced five years ago after a succession of basement jams in their home state of New Jersey, followed quickly by their relocation to Philadelphia. The fivesome — vocalist Jillian Taylor, guitarist Johnny Scarps, organist Sean Hur, bassist Mike Parise and drummer Owen Stewart — blended Black Sabbath’s black-hole heaviness, Blue Cheer’s acid-drenched mindmeld, shades of Led Zeppelin’s Brit Folk nuance and Alice in Chains’ growling-hellhound ferocity to forge a sound that pummels and purrs with equal intensity. Read more about the group in this week's Sound Advice. Ruby the Hatchet plays Northside Tavern Saturday with Electric Citizen. More info/tickets: northsidetav.com.

Wisewater
Photo: Chris Key
MUSIC: WISEWATER 
The latest show at the DownTowne Listening Room — an intimate, listener-friendly space located in the former Shillito’s building in the heart of downtown — is being headlined by Nashville’s on-the-rise Wisewater, an acoustic Folk/Americana duo featuring members with some impressive chops and credentials. Kate Lee, who has backed artists from Lady Antebellum to Rod Stewart, sings and plays fiddle, while Forrest O’Connor, busy Nashville session player and son of world-renowned fiddler Mark O’Connor, also sings and plays mandolin and guitar. Formed in 2014, Wisewater has drawn praise from peers and critics for its impeccable musicianship and impressive, crafty songwriting. The twosome’s introductory release, the buzz-building EP The Demonstration, was released last year and a full-length is in the works. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. $12. DownTowne Listening Room, 151 W. Seventh St., Downtown, downtownelisteningroom.com. 

OTR 5K
Photo: Provided
EVENT: OTR 5K AND SUMMER CELEBRATION
Summer is on the way and Over-the-Rhine is celebrating its arrival early with a neighborhood 5k and block party. The 10th-annual OTR 5k run/walk leaves and returns to Washington Park, with a course that winds its way through city streets, led by The Garage OTR – Segway of Cincinnati to keep everyone on track. After the race, cool down in the park with a big-ass party. There will be live music, the first official City Flea of the season, Art on Vine, kids activities and more. Expect food from local vendors, plus local beer and coffee, and cocktails on the deck starting at 11 a.m. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. $35 race registration; free Summer Celebration. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, otr5k.com, washingtonpark.org. 

Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real
Photo: Jim Eckenrode
MUSIC: LUKAS NELSON & PROMISE OF THE REAL
It is always interesting to see what the spawn of legendary musicians will come up with when moving into the family business. One of them is guitarist and vocalist Lukas Nelson, who has been slowly rising up on his own laurels while also still playing with his dad, Willie Nelson, on occasion. Lukas is more of a rocker than his father — he’s someone who’d rather plug in his electric guitar and jam with Neil Young than play Country music with Pops. And for the past couple of years, Lukas has been doing just that. He and his band, Promise of the Real, made the 2015 album The Monsanto Years with Young, and toured with him to support it. Things must’ve gone well, because they’re backing Young on tour again this summer. That’s a heady endorsement — the characteristically outspoken and honest Young would not play with Lukas and his crew if they didn’t have the chops. Read more in this week's Sound Advice. Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real play Southgate House Revival Saturday with Jim Castro. More info/tickets: southgatehouse.com.

SUNDAY
Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer
Photo: Lewis Jacobs/AMC
TV: PREACHER
AMC — home of The Walking Dead — continues to cash in on the comic book craze currently taking over screens with its latest original series. Developed by Seth Rogen and frequent contributor/childhood friend Evan Goldberg along with Breaking Bad writer/producer Sam Catlin, Preacher brings to life the dark graphic novel by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. The Preacher at hand is Jesse Custer, a rugged Texan minister who develops an unbelievable power and sets out on a mission of biblical proportions: a journey to find God — literally. By his side are his BFF Irish vampire Cassidy (the stellar Joe Gilgun) and his trigger-happy, on again, off again girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga). Expect the action-packed brutality of Dead with far more twisted humor. And because Chris Hardwick is AMC’s Ryan Seacrest, of course he’s hosting a Talking Preacher after-show — but only following the May 29 re-airing of the premiere and the July 31 finale. Catlin, Cooper, Goldberg and Rogen will join Hardwick on the show next Sunday at 10:30 p.m. New episodes will pick up at Preacher’s regular 9 p.m. Sunday time slot on June 5. Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Sunday, AMC.

See the zoo's cheetah cubs in the Nursery throughout May.
Photo: Cassandre Crawford
ATTRACTION: ZOO BABIES
Oh, baby: ’tis the season for tots of all sorts at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Cubs, calves, chicks and more will be on exhibit throughout the month of May. Gasp and squeal in the presence of more than a dozen babies, including Bowie the penguin in the Children’s Zoo; Dale the takin at Wildlife Canyon; Boca the alligator in Manatee Springs; and bonobos Kibibi and Bolingo in the Jungle Trails. The zoo’s recently born cheetah cubs will also be viewable at the nursery, and Emperor scorplings (aka baby scorpions) are on exhibit in the Insect World building. Human moms receive free admission on Mother’s Day (May 8). Through May 31. $18 adults; $13 children and seniors. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org

ONSTAGE: VIOLET
Ensemble Theatre staged this moving musical back in 1999 to great success, but that was before people were flocking to Over-the-Rhine as they do today. To close out its 30th-anniversary season, ETC has revived the story of an anxious young woman bearing a disfiguring scar from a childhood accident. She’s on a cross-country pilgrimage to a televangelist she hopes will heal her, but along the way she meets people who help her find the true meaning of beauty. Composer Jeanine Tesori created powerful anthems for this show, and director D. Lynn Meyers has assembled excellent singers and actors to perform them. Tickets are selling fast. Through May 22. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, ensemblecincinnati.com.

ONSTAGE: BRIGADOON
This old-fashioned show from 1949 is just the kind of musical that Cincinnati Landmark Productions excels at staging. The story of a town in Scotland that disappears into the Highland mists and only returns one day every hundred years is a delightful, tuneful fantasy from writer Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe (the team that created My Fair Lady and Camelot). This tribute to simplicity, goodness and the power of love will have you humming your way out of the theater, especially “Almost Like Being in Love.” Through May 22. $23-$26. Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, 4990 Glenway Ave., 513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com

'Butterflies of the Caribbean'
Photo: Krohn Conservatory
ATTRACTION: BUTTERFLIES OF THE CARIBBEAN
Krohn Conservatory’s annual extremely popular and extremely beautiful International Butterfly Show returns with Butterflies of the Caribbean. The Caribbean is a collection of cultures and colorful islands connected by a bright blue sea, and the flora, fauna and free-flying butterflies of this exhibit reflect that whimsical seaside attitude. Find white sand, a coral reef, palm trees and an island-inspired floral display in the pinks and yellows of a Caribbean sunset. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Through June 19. $7 adults; $4 children. 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, 513-421-5707, cincinnatiparks.com

“Legacies” by Kari Steihaug
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
ART: UNRAVELED: TEXTILES RECONSIDERED AT THE CAC
In Unraveled: Textiles Reconsidered, nine artists deconstruct and reanimate clothing, blankets, rugs and other fabrics into emblems of political and personal expression. Textiles are mined for their metaphors to explore aspects of identity and interconnectedness. Adrian Esparza's “Dawn,” an azure weft spun around a grid of nails using a cheap serape’s single thread, may act as the exhibit’s skeleton key. It depicts, abstractly, a 1908 photograph of the Mount Adams incline, a long-demolished structure. Its title refers to the Procter & Gamble detergent — which Esparza reserves a certain nostalgia for — yet it could just as easily indicate artistic genesis. Read more about the exhibit here. Unraveled: Textiles Reconsidered is on display at the CAC through Aug. 14. More info: contemporaryartscenter.org.

“Branded Head” by Hank Willis Thomas
Photo: Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection. © Hank Willis ThomaS
ART: 30 AMERICANS AT THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM
If you’ve been to the Cincinnati Art Museum lately, you’ve seen an early arrival for the show 30 Americans, which opens Saturday. It is the mural-sized “Sleep,” by Kehinde Wiley, the New York-based portrait painter whose depictions of young African-American men in poses reminiscent of Old Masters paintings have made him an art star. It is in the Schmidlapp Gallery, the corridor between the main entrance and the Great Hall, and is impossible to miss. 30 Americans, which primarily features some 60 artworks on loan from Miami’s Rubell Family Collection, also has such important contemporary African-American artists as Kara Walker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mickalene Thomas, Glenn Ligon and more. On view through Aug. 28. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

TV: GAME OF THRONES
Sansa finally gets to confront Littlefinger for setting her up with Ramsay; Arya goes to work; Tyrion meets with a new Red Woman; Bran’s latest voyage brings him face to face with the Night’s King and White Walker army. 9 p.m. HBO.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News tips go here.

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<![CDATA[It's City Budget Season Again!]]> Are you ready for city budget season? It started today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Will Sen. Sherrod Brown be Clinton's VP Pick?]]> You might have missed it, but U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from the Cleveland area, was traveling around with Vice President Joe Biden yesterday in Columbus.

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

But is Brown actually a contender in the veepstakes?

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

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

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

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

But don’t count Brown out just yet.

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

Among other possible picks are Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and progressive firebrand Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who some say Clinton could choose to try and build a bridge with supporters of her primary rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. Let’s talk about that news stuff.

Cincinnati’s population increased slightly again last year, though not as much as the surrounding suburbs. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Queen City’s population grew to 298,550 people from the 298,041 who lived here in 2014. That’s a .17 percent bump — smaller than the metropolitan area’s growth rate of .4 percent. But hey, at least we’re not losing people like we were just a decade ago, and like cities such as Cleveland, St. Louis and Pittsburgh still are. Other cities in our region outperformed us in population growth, however, including Columbus, Indianapolis and Louisville, which each added a couple thousand people. So, Cincy’s doing OK when it comes to rebounding from decades of population loss, but could be doing better. Personally, I’d like to see us get above 300,000 again, so please, invite 1,450 of your closest friends to move here. Just as long as they’re not jerks.

• Did you know that your sewer bills have helped pay the salaries of the Cincinnati Park Board? It’s true, apparently. Due to some joint cooperation between the city’s Metropolitan Sewer District and the parks, money from MSD goes to personnel like Parks Director Willie Carden. That money exchange started when parks began helping MSD with some green infrastructure projects, but now some county officials are questioning whether the funding should go so far as to pay administrative salaries. Both MSD and parks have been mired in recent oversight issues around spending, so this revelation will probably anger some folks. You can read more about the situation here.

• Soon, you’ll be able to hop on Metro buses and the streetcar using a mobile app to pay your fare. Officials with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Tuesday announced an agreement with Passport, which makes payment apps. The contract between the two means that riders will be able to pay via a Passport app and show Metro and streetcar drivers their tickets on their phone. That will eliminate the need to carry cash for many customers, SORTA officials say. The app will also let riders track their bus as it makes its way to the bus stop, which is pretty cool.

• Hamilton County Democrats have tapped a big-name political consultant to help turn the county blue in the 2016 election. Candidates for county-wide office have pooled campaign funds to hire Ernie Davis, a longtime political consultant for the party. Davis will help strategize ways to convince voters to elect down-ballot candidates come November, including Hamilton County Commission candidate Denise Driehaus, Aftab Pureval for clerk of courts and others. Driehaus is in a highly competitive race with Dennis Deters for the Commission seat, which Deters currently holds after the surprise departure of former commissioner Greg Hartmann. Pureval faces a tougher challenge against current Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler, a well-established Republican.

• You might have guessed that outspoken immigration critic Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones has something to say about Cincinnati City Council’s recent move to recognize alternate IDs for those without state-issued identification, including undocumented immigrants. You’d be right. Like any reputable, professional public servant, Jones weighed in on the issue in a tweet asking Butler County officials not to recognize cards provided by the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati.

“I am asking butler county not 2 except Cincinnati mark cards for illegals,” Jones tweeted recently. He later clarified that he meant “MARCC ID cards,” though he has yet to confirm that he meant to use the word “accept” instead of “except.”

• Northern Kentucky University will cut more than 100 jobs in response to budget cuts to higher education from recently elected Governor Matt Bevin. NKU will eliminate 37 faculty positions and 68 staff and administrative positions as part of the attempt to make do with less money from the state. The move will save the school about $8 million. Funding for higher education in Kentucky has been sliding for most of the decade, officials with the school say, forcing tough situations for all the state’s public universities. The funding crunch has gotten worse in the state’s most recent budget, however, as Bevin looks to drastically cut state spending.

• Health officials in Ohio are scrambling to find replacement clinics that can administer services like HIV and cancer screenings ahead of a state move to cut federal and state funding for such services from Planned Parenthood. Many health officials say it’s challenging to find other clinics that can step into the void left by the controversial health organization, which state lawmakers say shouldn’t receive public money because it provides abortions. The $1 million conservatives are withholding from Planned Parenthood didn’t go to providing that service, but instead went to other health services. Lawmakers say the money will be rerouted to other clinics that don’t provide abortions, but critics say there aren’t enough clinics with the capacity to take over for Planned Parenthood.

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

Hey all. It's news time.

Let’s start out with some good news today, shall we? Yesterday, MadTree Brewering Co. hosted a ground-breaking celebration for their new Oakley brewing facility, MadTree 2.0. That facility in a former manufacturing site in Oakley will have 50,000 square feet of production space and another 10,000 square feet for a beer garden. The move is a sign of the brewery’s growth: The new site will allow MadTree to quadruple its production and the beer garden is twice the size of its current taproom.

• The controversial Dennison Hotel might soon be designated an “endangered” historic site by a statewide preservation nonprofit. Columbus-based Preservation Ohio is set to announce its list of endangered buildings across the state today. Local preservationists have nominated the Dennison, constructed downtown in 1892 by the firm of noted architect Samuel Hannaford. That designation won’t necessarily provide more legal protection for the building, which could soon face demolition by owners the Joseph family pending a May 26 Historic Conservation Board vote. But appearing on the list can draw more attention and support for historic structures, preservationists say.

• As we’ve talked about here and elsewhere in CityBeat a lot, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is still walking off a loss in the Democratic Party’s Ohio primary against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland for the chance to challenge U.S. Sen. Rob Portman for his Senate seat. So what’s a young man who just lost a Senate race to do? Sittenfeld is weighing his professional options, it seems. He told WCPO recently that he has yet to decide whether to seek a third term on Cincinnati City Council. Sittenfeld, just 31, was the top vote-getter in his first run for the office. If he doesn’t do that, he might jump into a startup venture and wait until he’s a bit more seasoned to continue his career in politics. In the meantime, he’s going full-tilt on Council, and has some solid summer plans: getting married.  

• The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is one of my favorite places, like, ever, which makes this story all the more heartbreaking. Overdoses at the main branch of the library downtown have increased significantly as the heroin crisis continues to grip our region. The main branch is on pace to see 18 overdoses this year — as many as the last two years combined. Solutions to the problem might be difficult, police say, and the situation is just one sign of the larger opiate problem that has taken hold in Ohio and other parts of the country. That problem persists, even as treatment options for addiction have narrowed for many low-income people.

• Finally, how’d that Democratic presidential primary contest go just south of the Ohio River last night? It was a nail-biter. Dem frontrunner Hillary Clinton ended up pulling out a slim victory over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. She took 46.8 percent of the vote, netting 29 delegates, to Sanders’ 46.3 percent of the vote and 27 delegates.

The contest didn’t matter much numerically — Clinton still has a comfortable lead in the overall primary, and Sanders only the narrowest path to victory, even with his win in Oregon’s primary last night. But Clinton desperately wants to put the primary behind her and focus on the general election, where she’s likely to face off against GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump. The problem for her: Democratic voters aren’t lining up behind her yet, instead continuing to support Sanders’ populist campaign and somewhat more liberal message. Upcoming early June primaries should put Clinton over the top numbers-wise for the nomination, but even after she sews up the primary, she’ll have a bigger task: wooing Sanders supporters to back her in the general election. That may be a big hill to climb, given what happened in Nevada last week and the overall contentiousness of the Democratic primary this season.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Do you live in Kentucky? Well, if you do, it's primary day! Unfortunately, it looks like Kentucky's primary has come too late for Republicans to participate in what was the GOP presidential show down. Kentuckians won't be able to vote on which Republican they'd like to see in the White House because Trump became the presumed nominee earlier this month after all other candidates dropped out. But Democrats can still cast their votes for Team Clinton or Team Sanders. If that's not enough to get you to the polls, you can also vote on one of the little-known candidates running for Rand Paul's U.S. Senate seat and who gets to fill the vacant spot in the state House left by retiring state Rep. Tom Kerr. 

• University of Cincinnati construction partner Skanska and Megan Construction announced Monday that it has signed a $70 million deal to begin renovating the Bearcats' basketball arena in June. The University says it's still fundraising to come up with the rest of the money for the planned $87 million renovation of Fifth Third Arena. The announcement appears to be UC's latest attempt to flaunt its feathers to convince Big 12 officials to allow the university to join the conference, which UC has been trying to join for two years. UC officials are scheduled to meet with Big 12 officials in Dallas in two weeks.

• The Centers for Disease Control is concerned that Kentucky's heroin crisis is leading to another possible crisis: an AIDS/HIV outbreak. The CDC has ranked Kentucky as the state with the highest risk for an HIV outbreak, placing thirteen of the state's counties on its top 20 at-risk list. The federal agency began analyzing every U.S. county after the virus rapidly spread through needle sharing in rural Scott County, Indiana, which has a population of just 20,000 people, and found 220 counties posed a high risk for an outbreak, which includes nearby Brown and Adams counties in Ohio.

• Less than two weeks after bidding farewell to his shot at the White House, Gov. John Kasich sat down on Monday with CNN's Anderson Cooper. In his first interview since dropping out of the race, Kasich told Cooper he wasn't quite ready to endorse presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump, he definitely won't be running as a third party candidate and Republicans need to start appealing to more minority groups if they hope to win the election.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey all. Let’s do this news thing.

Democrat presidential primary front runner Hillary Clinton came to Northern Kentucky yesterday for some last-minute campaigning before the state’s primary tomorrow. Clinton mostly bashed her likely general election opponent, real estate magnate and GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump, and didn’t mention her primary opponent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was also campaigning around the state. In addition to landing punches against Trump, Clinton touched on local issues like replacing the Brent Spence Bridge and the region’s heroin crisis. There has been limited polling in Kentucky, so it’s hard to know who’s ahead. The primary is closed, meaning independents can’t vote in it. That should help Clinton. On the other hand, the state’s demographic makeup — heavily white and working class — looks to work in Sanders’ favor, given results in other states. Stay tuned.

• Speaking of the Brent Spence, the bridge carrying I-75 over the Ohio River into Kentucky just got some national media attention. It’s not necessarily the good kind of press, though. The Hill, a D.C.-centric publication covering national politics and policy, put the 53-year-old bridge at the top of an article about the nation’s “Five Big Infrastructure Emergencies.” The article highlighted the struggle over how to pay for a replacement and the fact that the bridge carries four percent of the nation’s gross national product over it every year.

• Cincinnati has scored its biggest major conference since 2012, but the crowds won’t be coming for a little bit. The African American Methodist Episcopalian Church announced yesterday it will hold its 2024 convention in Cincinnati. It’s one of the largest African American conventions in the country and is expected to draw 20,000 people. The last time the city saw that many guests at once was the World Choir Games four years ago. It’s not the only convention Cincinnati has slated, however. This year, the NAACP will hold its national conference here, which is expected to draw 10,000 people and is one of the most important political conventions in the country — an especially big get for the city considering we’re in the midst of one of the most intense presidential campaigns in modern memory.

• There is about to be a beer garden on Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine. Queen City Radio, named for the former business that occupied the location at West 12th Street, will carry local brews like Braxton, Listermann’s, Rhinegeist, Morelein, Madtree, Rivertown and others. It’s also right next to the Central Parkway Bikeway, something owners and siblings Louisa Reckman and Gabriel Deutsch have highlighted as a reason for choosing the location. The two expect to open in July.

• Former house speaker John Boehner spoke this weekend at Xavier University’s graduation, though he didn’t drop any news-making bombs about the 2016 presidential election like he did at an earlier speech at Stanford last month. Boehner, who graduated from Xavier before his career in Congress, stuck mostly to the inspirational fare common to commencement addresses. But in true form, he did tear up a little bit. Boehner last month told a group of students at Stanford that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, then a presidential primary contender, was "Lucifer in the flesh."

• Kentucky public schools will resist an order from the federal government requiring it to recognize the expressed gender identity of transgender students, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has said. That sets up a big fight between the state, as well as some others in the South, and the federal government. President Barack Obama announced the measure, an effort to clarify standards under the anti-sex-discrimination law known as Title IX. Bevin says the order amounts to intimidation by the feds, however, and that Kentucky won’t comply.

• Following the exit of the last opponents to GOP presidential primary presumptive nominee Donald Trump, some bigwigs in the party have taken up an effort to draft a third-party candidate to compete against the real estate mogul and his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton. But Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was briefly Trump’s last opponent standing, won’t be that candidate. Despite being on a shortlist of possible Trump/Clinton challengers, a staffer for Kasich’s campaign told Columbus’ 10TV that Kasich isn’t interested in that particular suicide mission, which is perhaps the most clear-headed decision the governor has made in this whole mess.

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