CityBeat Blogs - Not-for-profit <![CDATA[Requiem Project Wants UC to Give Up Emery Building]]> When Mary Emery donated the money to build the Ohio Mechanics’ Institute in 1908, she stipulated that the building would contain an assembly hall available to the public. Her charitable trust has been tasked with ensuring that The Emery Theatre, located in the basement of the building at the corner of Walnut Street and Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine, is used for public performances ever since.

The Requiem Project, a nonprofit organization formed in 2008 to oversee programming and raise money to renovate the century-old theater, says that’s exactly where the University of Cincinnati has failed to fulfill the requirements of overseeing the property, and it is asking the Court of Common Pleas to remove UC from ownership of the building.

The Requiem Project yesterday filed an amendment to its lawsuit against UC and lessees of the property housing the Emery Theatre, arguing that UC and the organizations operating the building have systematically failed their charitable purpose by allowing the theater to fall into disrepair after non-use for so many years.

The suit asks the court to award the Requiem Project the lease under which another nonprofit, the Emery Center Corp. (ECC), is currently operating the theater via a series of subleases from UC. If UC is removed as owner, the building could be overseen by the city or another nonprofit organization and Requiem could sublease from it.

UC assumed control of the building in the 1970s but needed permission to renovate most of it into apartments because of the charitable trust’s requirement that the building continue to serve the community. A 1999 court ruling allowed the development but required all profits to be used to renovate the Emery Theatre. Fourteen years later, the apartment operators say there are multiple mortgages on the property and no profits. 

“The Court should remove UC as owner and trustee of the property, as UC has proved itself an unfit custodian,” the complaint states.

The complaint includes photos of various rundown areas inside the theater with captions such as, “Closed-off bathrooms. UC’s ‘saving’ The Emery” and “UC’s standard of fiduciary ‘care.’”

CityBeat covered the original lawsuit in August here.

The complaint accuses UC, ECC and Emery Center Apartments Limited Partnership (ECALP) — the for-profit company that oversees the building’s apartments of conspiring to breach a 2010 letter of intent that stated ECC would sublease the theater to Requiem on the same terms as ECC is currently operating the theater. Requiem says the binding letter of intent is still valid and gives its organizers the right to a long-term lease that will allow them to raise money while operating the theater.

The Requiem’s cofounders, Tina Manchise and Tara Gordon, maintain in their lawsuit that the ECC and UC are purposely blocking the Requiem from moving forward with their original plan to incrementally update the 1,600-seat theater and allow programming to continue during the process. 

After signing the letter of intent in 2010, the Requiem Project temporarily opened the Emery Theatre in 2011 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Mary Emery’s dedication of the theater and to reintroduce the public to the long-overlooked resource — the theater was modeled after Carnegie Hall in New York City and is considered “acoustically pure.” It was the home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1912-36 and has hosted the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Although UC owns the building, it subleases the building to ECALP, which subleases the Emery Theatre to ECC. When contacted by CityBeat in August, UC spokesperson Greg Hand declined to comment, only stating that UC doesn’t have a relationship with the Requiem Project because its only relationship is with ECALP.

ECC informed Requiem in January that it would not renew its management agreement “for no cause,” according to the lawsuit, and then asked Requiem to vacate the building in August.

The complaint also seeks damages related to money Requiem has invested in the theater and losses caused by the August eviction. It is schedule for trial in February.

<![CDATA[Ohio House Votes to Authorize Syringe-Exchange Programs]]>

The Ohio House yesterday offered overwhelming support for a bill that would authorize local health boards across the state to establish syringe-exchange programs with fewer roadblocks, which could pave the way for Cincinnati to establish myriad programs across its neighborhoods most afflicted by intravenous drug use and bloodborne pathogens.  

House Bill 92, sponsored jointly by Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania), would remove a restriction that stipulates programs can only be implemented when a local health emergency has been declared and lays out mandates for programs to protect the rights and educate the intravenous drug users who take advantage of the programs. 

Syringe exchange programs have been the privy to significant controversy; opposers say that offering addicts the tools they need to fuel drug habits ultimately fuels destructive habits and sends the wrong message to drug abusers. 

What’s helped turn the issue non-partisan, however, is overwhelming data supporting claims that the program saves lives. In 2004, the World Health Organization published a study on the effectiveness of syringe programming in reducing HIV/AIDS that found a “compelling case that (needle-exchange programs) substantially and cost effectively reduce the spread of HIV among (injection drug users) and do so without evidence of exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal level.” 

Adam Reilly, who is an HIV project manager for a local healthcare provider, says that a syringe exchange program is already in the works for Springdale; the location is expected to open in about a month. He says that project has been seven years in the making because of how entangled efforts to establish the program become in bureaucracy. Establishing a program is particularly laborious, he explains, because it requires citywide cooperation — including law enforcement — which has proven to be a challenge for programs in other states, where police officers are prone to harass participants entering or leaving an exchange facility.

The current bill would essentially take the issue out of the political arena, Reilly says, and thrust the responsibility onto health departments. The city of Cincinnati in 2012 already declared a public health emergency following significant proof of a citywide HIV/Hepatitis C epidemic sourced primarily from heroin abuse.

Cincinnati's now-defunct nonprofit agency STOP AIDS found through focus groups that the majority of intravenous drug users are Caucasian middle-aged males; 145 of 147 study subjects reported using ineffective methods to clean used equipment. Their data estimates that 4,000-6,000 people locally are currently living with HIV/AIDS.

STOP AIDS also estimated that spending $385,000 per year on a syringe exchange program has the potential to save nearly $50 million annually in health costs generated from contracting HIV or HCV infections.

To make the program as effective as possible, Reilly says other exchange programs offer participants assurance in writing that their identities will be protected; the House bill also says that future programs wold be required to encourage drug users to seek medical, mental health or social services, also offer counseling and other educational requirements.

The bill has been assigned to a Senate committee, where it will go through another vote and, if passed, will require Gov. John Kasich's signature to become law.  ]]>
<![CDATA[Anna Louise Inn Wins Zoning Appeal]]>

In the ongoing saga of Western & Southern vs. the Anna Louise Inn, there have been several court cases and zoning rulings, most of which have been appealed by one side or the other. Today it was the Cincinnati Zoning Board of Appeals’ turn to rule on something that’s already been ruled on, and it went in favor of the Anna Louise Inn. 

The Board upheld a certificate of appropriateness for the Anna Louise Inn’s planned renovation, which essentially also upholds the Historic Conservation Board’s right to issue a conditional use permit — at least for now. Western & Southern is expected to appeal that permit, granted by the Conservation Board Aug. 27, before its 30-day window to do so expires. 

Before this series of appeals can play out, the 1st District Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the Anna Louise Inn’s appeal of Judge Norbert Nadel’s May 27 ruling, which set in motion the Inn’s attempts to secure zoning approval from the Historical Conservation Board in the first place. 

(All of this could have been avoided if Western & Southern would have purchased the Anna Louise Inn when it had the chance. CityBeat previously reported the details of Western & Southern’s failure to purchase the Inn and the company’s subsequent attempts to force the Inn out of the neighborhood here.)

About 40 people attended today’s hearing, including City Councilman Wendell Young, who said he supports the Anna Louise Inn but was not there to testify on its behalf. 

By upholding the certificate of appropriateness, the ruling keeps alive a conditional use permit that could allow the Anna Louise Inn to move forward with a $13 million renovation of its historic building, once the expected appeals process plays out. (CityBeat covered the Aug. 27 Historical Conservation Board hearing here.)

The Board heard brief arguments from lawyers for both Western & Southern and Cincinnati Union Bethel and then entered executive session for about 15 minutes before ruling in favor of the Anna Louise Inn. 

Western & Southern lawyer Francis Barrett, who is the brother of Western & Southern CEO John Barrett and a member of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, told CityBeat after the meeting that he disagreed with the board’s finding because a designed expansion of the building’s fifth floor has not yet had its use approved. 

“With this case, the Historical Conservation Board is basically approving for the certificate of appropriateness the design of the building,” Barrett said. “But the design included an expansion of the fifth floor, and until that use issue is resolved the code reads, in my opinion, you can’t approve the design because the use hasn’t been approved.”

Barrett during the hearing read a written statement to the board arguing two main points: that the Historic Conservation Board didn’t have the jurisdiction to grant the certificate of appropriateness; and even if it did, Barrett argued, the physical expansion planned makes it a non-conforming use which wouldn’t qualify for the building permit. 

Cincinnati Union Bethel attorney Tim Burke told the Board that the Anna Louise Inn is not seeking a permit for non-conforming use because it already received a conditional use permit from the Historic Conservation Board. 

“Western & Southern is doing everything it can to block this renovation from happening,” Burke told the Board.

At the Historic Conservation Board hearing last month Western & Southern tried paint a picture of the Anna Louise Inn’s residents contributing to crime in the area because a condition of the conditional use permit is that the building’s use will not be detrimental to public health and safety or negatively affect property values in the neighborhood. But the Board granted the permit, stating that the Anna Louise Inn will not be detrimental to public health and safety or harmful to nearby properties in the neighborhood and that the Board found no direct evidence connecting residents of the Anna Louise Inn to criminal activity in the neighborhood. Western & Southern has until next week to appeal that ruling.

<![CDATA[Strategies to End Homelessness Loses Stimulus Funding]]>

When the stimulus package passed in 2009, the federal government sent out funds that worked to prevent homelessness. The funds, which seek to prevent homelessness instead of just treating the problem after it arises, made their way to local organization Strategies to End Homelessness. With the boost, the group, which coordinates efforts to combat homelessness in Cincinnati, has been helping thousands of at-risk people and those who are already homeless.

But that funding is soon coming to an end. The stimulus package was only meant to be a temporary jolt to deal with the Great Recession. It was not meant as a long-term funding package. For Strategies to End Homelessness, that prevents a new challenge.

The organization used the stimulus funding to partner with United Way and seven other local agencies to coordinate homeless aid. The organization is continuing its partnership with United Way and five of the agencies, but it will have to draw down some of its services.

“When the stimulus funding was in place, we were able to work with 250 households at a time to try to prevent them from becoming homeless,” says Kevin Finn, executive director of Strategies to End Homelessness. “Now, with the level of funding that is available, it’s more like 50 or 60 households at a time that we are able to work with.”

What this means is programs, such as the Homeless Prevention / Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP), will continue to service people who are at risk of becoming homeless, but the program will have a stricter limit on who to help.

One bright spot for Finn is that even though the organization is losing most of the funding, it’s not losing it all. Due to the success of organizations like Strategies to End Homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has decided to make some of the funding permanent. This will let the organization continue focusing on some preventive measures instead of just focusing on what Finn calls the “meat and potatoes” of anti-homelessness efforts — or services for people that are already homeless — that have always existed.

“Sometimes when you work with the homeless you struggle to find a silver lining,” he says. “That is one right there.”

Finn says preventive measures are very important in fighting homelessness because once someone becomes homeless and the longer someone becomes homeless, the harder it becomes to get them back into new homes. Finn gave one example for why this is the case: “If they would get mugged in the street and lose their ID, an ID is something that you need in order to get an apartment and in order to get a job.”

At the end of the day, Strategies to End Homelessness will continue working in Cincinnati, just with less funding. Finn says he wants his organization’s continuous work to break some misconceptions about anti-homelessness efforts in the city.

“I think sometimes the perception in the community is that services for the homeless and also prevention measures are sort of a number of little agencies out doing their own thing,” he says. “It’s very much a coordinated effort between us, the United Way and these five agencies.”

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

City Leaders have decided that they don't need to sell Music Hall to a private organization in order for the historic building to receive tax credits toward its renovation. Mayor Mallory on Sunday told The Enquirer that selling the building was not part of any discussion he's willing to have. While city leaders hope a public-private partnership like that which has renovated Washington Park can help update the building, organizers with the Music Hall Revitalization Co. say some donors willing to contribute to the private renovation of the building will not contribute to the project while it is city owned. On Saturday, the Music Hall Revitalization Co.'s leader, Jack Rouse, resigned.

First they had a giant bridge built over their neighborhood. Now the residents of Lower Price Hill who live near the Sixth Street viaduct hope construction crews can take it down without causing too many clouds of lead paint dust to cover their homes. The viaduct is being replaced by a new structure currently under construction south of the existing one.

Ohio's second of four new casinos is set to open in Toledo next week. Cleveland's casino opened last week, while Columbus' Hollywood Casino is scheduled to open this fall with Cincinnati's Horseshoe in-line for an early 2013 unveiling.

Jury selection in the trail of former Goldman Sachs/Procter & Gamble board member Rajat Gupta began today in federal court in Manhattan. Gupta is accused of insider trading stemming from a 2008 phone call that authorities have already used to convict hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence. From the AP:

Rajaratnam has been the biggest catch so far in a wide-ranging insider-trading investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara that's resulted in more than two dozen prosecutions of white collar defendants. But based on Gupta's standing in the world of finance, his trial could draw more attention — and a potential conviction could resonate farther.

Aside from his role at Goldman Sachs, the Indian-born Gupta is the former chief of McKinsey & Co., a highly regarded global consulting firm that zealously guards its reputation for discretion and integrity.

Gupta, 63, is also a former director of the huge consumer products company Procter & Gamble Co., a pillar of American industry and one of the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones industrial average. P&G owns many well-known brands including Bounty, Tide and Pringles.

Researchers have created a national registry of wrongful conviction exonerations that has identified 873 faulty convictions during the past 23 years that have been recognized by authorities. The registry's founders say the collection is only a fraction of such convictions and that it demonstrates a serious problem with America's criminal justice system.

"What this shows is that the criminal justice system makes mistakes, and they are more common than people think," said University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross, the registry's editor. "It is not the rule, but we won't learn to get better unless we pay attention to these cases."

Mitt Romney is having some trouble getting conservative donors to back his campaign. Meanwhile, Obama continues to talk about Romney's business dealings.

The John Edwards jury is still in deliberations today trying to determine whether the former Democratic presidential candidate conspired to violate election laws while hiding an extramarital affair during his campaign. Prosecutors say Edwards solicited more than $900,000 from a 101-year-old woman named Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and a Texas lawyer to hide a child from his wife, who had cancer at the time.

Protests continued in Chicago today during the final day of the NATO summit.

Apparently 25 percent of American teens have diabetes or pre-diabetes, up from 9 percent in 1999-2000.

People in Asia and the western U.S. last night got to see a solar eclipse that looked like a ring of fire.

The private rocket scheduled to launch a commercial space capsule was forced to abort its mission on Saturday but is scheduled to fly up into space on Tuesday.

<![CDATA[Changes In Store at Media Bridges]]> Inhabitants at the 1100 block of Race Street will lose a neighbor beginning March 1, when Media Bridges moves a few blocks away to a new location inside the Crosley Telecommunications Center in Over-the-Rhine at 1223 Central Pkwy. The move, although minor, means some improvements are in store for the non-profit.

Media Bridges provides diverse communities in Cincinnati with the opportunity to work with and produce forms of media. Although they've called their 1100 Race St. location home since 2002, the move means a larger production studio and purchase newer equipment and more up-to-date video editing software. The Crosley Telecommunications Center also houses CET and Cincinnati Public Radio. Because the facilities are shared, Media Bridges hopes to collaborate with the outlets and explore joint services, said CET Executive Vice President and Station Manager Jack Dominic in a news release

The decision to stay in OTR was an obvious choice, according to Tom Bishop, Media Bridges' Executive Director. "This is our neighborhood. We love this place," he says. The change comes thanks to a dent in funding; the City of Cincinnati cut Media Bridges' funding by one-third in 2007, and a downsize has been brewing in their plans since then.

Although the new facility will have a larger production facility, office space will be compressed to accommodate staff cuts. The new equipment and software will be purchased using reserved funds, but Bishop says it's worth the investment; "Some of our equipment was from 1989. You're driving dinosaurs if you're not updating your software and equipment every few years [in the media industry]."

The new equipment will make way for some promising advances in the future, according to Bishop. Plans to teach courses on Wordpress web design, computer classes for A + certification and a certification program for Adobe Production Premiere are in the works.

Media Bridges will begin its transition on March 1 while it continues to provide full services at its Race Street location. Its last day of operation will be on April 20, followed by an 11-day hiatus to complete the move to the new Central Parkway location, which is expected to open to the community on May 3.

<![CDATA[Handel Resigns from Breast Cancer Charity]]>

The anti-abortion politician who urged Susan G. Komen for the Cure to pull its funding from Planned Parenthood has resigned from the charity.

Karen Handel, who was Komen’s vice president of public policy, submitted her resignation letter today, the Associated Press reported. Handel said she stands by her goal of ending grants to Planned Parenthood and is disappointed that Komen leaders reversed the decision after public outcry.---

Handel ran unsuccessfully for the GOP's nomination to be a candidate for Georgia governor in 2010. In the campaign, she was supported by Sarah Palin, largely for her anti-abortion views.

In Handel’s letter, she wrote, "Neither the decision (to pull the grants) nor the changes themselves were based on anyone's political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen's mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy."

How did that work out for you, Karen?

** UPDATE: Here is the full text of Handel's letter.

February 7, 2012

The Honorable Nancy Brinker

CEO, Susan G. Komen for the Cure VIA EMAIL

5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250

Dallas, Texas 75244

Dear Ambassador Brinker:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been the recognized leader for more 30 years in the fight against breast cancer here in the US – and increasingly around the world.

As you know, I have always kept Komen’s mission and the women we serve as my highest priority – as they have been for the entire organization, the Komen Affiliates, our many supporters and donors, and the entire community of breast cancer survivors. I have carried out my responsibilities faithfully and in line with the Board’s objectives and the direction provided by you and Liz.

We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. However, Komen’s decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization’s real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants.

What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision – one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact – has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.

Just as Komen’s best interests and the fight against breast cancer have always been foremost in every aspect of my work, so too are these my priorities in coming to the decision to resign effective immediately. While I appreciate your raising a possible severance package, I respectfully decline. It is my most sincere hope that Komen is allowed to now refocus its attention and energies on its mission.


Karen Handel


<![CDATA[Komen Restores PP Funding]]>

Despite its founder’s insistence Thursday that reaction had been mostly favorable, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity abruptly reversed course today and is restoring funding for Planned Parenthood.

The Los Angeles Times reports Nancy G. Brinker, Komen's founder and CEO, said that the breast cancer foundation's decision to halt funding to providers who were under investigation was not done for political reasons and was not meant to penalize Planned Parenthood specifically.---

"We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair," Brinker said in a prepared statement.

Planned Parenthood has come under political attack in recent months by conservatives in Congress, which had spurred Komen’s earlier decision.

Read more here.

<![CDATA[Freestore Begins Holiday Distribution]]>

The Freestore Foodbank today began its annual distribution of Thanksgiving meals to needy families. The delivery of meals will continue through Wednesday afternoon.

Workers at the Freestore will deliver boxes to about 23,000 families throughout the Tristate region.---

Each household will receive a box of food, a bag of produce, and either a chicken or turkey, depending on family size, according to the organization. Larger families receive larger boxes, but every family receives canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned cranberry or pumpkin, stuffing or rice, onions, potatoes, apples, macaroni and cheese, and brownie mix or another dessert.

The Freestore still is accepting donations of money or nonperishable food items, especially canned fruits and vegetables, cereals, tuna, canned chicken and soups. Donations may be made at the Customer Connection Center at 112 E. Liberty St., in Over-the-Rhine. Drive-up donations are accepted at the front bay from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Every dollar donated to the Freestore provides about four meals, a spokesperson said.

In recent years, the Freestore has seen the demand for its services increase due to the recession and high unemployment rate.

The Freestore was founded in 1971 by Frank Gerson, a worker at Cincinnati’s city dump who collected discarded items to help the needy. Since then, it has to become one of Ohio’s largest food banks. The Freestore provides food to about 450 pantries in a 20-county area in the Tristate, ranging from rural Indiana to Portsmouth, Ohio.

Facilities that receive the food include pantries operated by churches, battered women’s shelters and group homes.

Overall, the Freestore serves about 250,000 people each year, including roughly 110,000 in Hamilton County. About 40,000 people visit the Liberty Street facility for emergency food assistance annually.

The ambitious programs are possible due to the efforts of a staff of about 100 people, along with dedicated volunteers who offer 60,000 hours of help each year.

Funding is provided through a mix of federal grants, contributions from corporations and private foundations and from individual donations.

For more information, call 513-241-1064.

<![CDATA[Homeless Man-Turned-Author Holds Signing]]>

A man who was once homeless and relied on the Drop Inn Center in Over-the-Rhine for shelter will return there later this month to sign copies of his recently released autobiography.

Donald Whitehead Jr. will sign copies of his book, Most Unlikely to Succeed, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 29 at the shelter. The Drop Inn is located at 217 W. 12th St.---

The book chronicles Whitehead's journey from his days as a student at Hughes High School, where he was class vice president, homecoming king and voted "most likely to succeed,” to grappling with a substance abuse problem and living on the streets of Cincinnati. After successfully completing the Drop Inn Center’s recovery program, Whitehead went on to a successful career in Washington, D.C. In 2000 he was elected board chairman for the National Coalition for the Homeless, the first formerly homeless person and first African-American to hold the job.

Whitehead remains a board member for the national coalition. Also, he was appointed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as a commissioner on the State Drug Alcohol and Abuse Council, and appointed by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake to the Leadership Advisory Group for the Journey Home, which is implementing Baltimore’s 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Copies of Whitehead's book will be on sale at the signing for $14.95. Thirty percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Drop Inn Center.

For more information, call (513) 721-0643.

<![CDATA[Freestore Feeds More Than 18,000]]>

As part of its annual Christmas Day preparations for the needy, the Freestore Foodbank distributed nearly 300,000 pounds of food, its largest amount ever for the holiday.

During the past three days, the emergency food provider distributed 297,050 pounds of food to 6,677 households. That's enough to feed 18,516 people, according to a spokeswoman.---

The ongoing economic downturn and high unemployment rate are increasng the need for the Freestore's services. The numbers are the largest in the history of the agency's Christmas distribution and include group distributions and distribution through member agencies.

Freestore personnel said the 2010 holiday season, which includes the three days prior to Thanksgiving and three days prior to Christmas, surpassed 2009 as the busiest on record.

Overall, the agency distributed 696,710 pounds of food to 18,881 households, enough to feed 53,496 people.

The Freestore is the largest emergency food provider in the Tri-State area, serving a 20-county region in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. It solicits, collects, purchases and stores food from manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and government agencies and distributes it to more than 325 nonprofit member agencies that provide free food to those in need.

The Freestore is a member of Feeding America — formerly America’s Second Harvest — the national network of food banks and food rescue programs. It is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

The agency's motto is, “We provide food and services, create stability, and further self-reliance for people in crisis.”

<![CDATA[Help Lay Baldy to Rest]]>

An account has been created at a local bank to accept donations to help pay for the funeral expenses of a homeless man who died last weekend.

William "Baldy" Floyd, 45, died late Sunday night after a fire spread through a camp near Mehring Way and Sixth Street downtown. Baldy was featured in a CityBeat cover story about homeless camps in September.---

Donations of any amount can be made at any Fifth Third Bank branch location in Greater Cincinnati or online at The account number for donations is 9023556468.

Here is a photograph of Baldy in happier times, courtesy of his ex-wife, Deborah Floyd.


<![CDATA[A Rough Life Comes to an End ]]>

A homeless man who was featured on the cover of CityBeat in September and talked about his life in makeshift camps under bridges and in vacant lots throughout the city has died.

William Floyd, known as “Baldy” to most people, died late Sunday night after a fire spread through a camp near Mehring Way and Sixth Street downtown. Baldy was 44 or 45, according to different records.---

A former welder and truck driver, Baldy had problems with alcohol and was divorced. He told CityBeat that he didn't like formal homeless shelters, like the Drop Inn Center in Over-the-Rhine, because “nobody can tell me what to do in here,” he said, referring to the camp.

As Baldy told writer Stephen Carter-Novotni at the time, “I don’t know what the future’s gonna bring. I can’t predict the future, but I think I’m gonna die soon. I’m not in good shape. A lot of things happened to me.

“I mean, I could be wrong. Hell, I might live another 10 years but if you want to ask me my prediction, I think I’ll probably be dead soon,” Baldy added. “I mean look at me. I’m scuffed up, beat up, scarred up. I ain’t no kid no more. I might live 10 years, I might live one. But if I was going to guess, I’d be in the one category.”

Listen to the audio file of Novotni's full interview with Baldy using the control at the top of this blog item.

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless said Baldy's death stresses the need for the city to fund an emergency cold shelter where homeless people can keep warm on frigid or wet nights.

Until winter 2008-09, Cincinnati's cold shelter — the Over-the-Rhine Recreation Center on Republic Street — didn't open unless the outdoor temperature reached zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower. For the past two years, the shelter opened when temperatures reach 10 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. The shelter is used by people who don't feel comfortable in a normal shelter environment or when other shelters are filled.

In 2009, the cold shelter almost was closed because City Council hadn't allocated sufficient funds for its operation. This year, city staffers, emergency service providers and the Homeless Coalition have teamed up to improve the cold shelter and is attemping to raise money for the project. Their goal is to keep the shelter open every night during winter.

Last year the cold shelter kept between 80 and 140 people warm each night it was open, the coaltion said. It will take $20,000 just to operate the shelter on nights that are 10 degrees or colder.

Josh Spring, the coalition's director, is urging people to contact Cincinnati City Council and ask for funding for the cold shelter. For more information, contact the coalition at 513-421-7803, ext. 13, or via e-mail at

Although the need exists for a cold shelter, the sad reality is that Baldy probably wouldn't have used it even if one had been available, said people who knew him.

<![CDATA[Freestore Helps Feed Nearly 35,000]]>

As part of its annual Thanksgiving Day preparations for the needy, the Freestore Foodbank distributed almost 400,000 pounds of food, its largest amount ever for the holiday.

During the past three days, the emergency food provider distributed 399,660 pounds of food to 12,204 households. That's enough to feed 34,980 people, according to a spokeswoman.---

The ongoing economic downturn and high unemployment rate are increasng the need for the Freestore's services. The numbers are the largest in the history of the agency's Thanksgiving distribution and include group distributions and distribution through member agencies.

Freestore personnel estimate the 2010 holiday season, which includes the three days prior to Thanksgiving and three days prior to Christmas, will surpass 2009 as the busiest on record.

Overall, the agency estimates it will distribute 650,000 pounds of food for holiday meals.

The Freestore is the largest emergency food provider in the Tri-State area, serving a 20-county region in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. It solicits, collects, purchases and stores food from manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and government agencies and distributes it to more than 325 nonprofit member agencies that provide free food to those in need.

The Freestore is a member of Feeding America — formerly America’s Second Harvest — the national network of food banks and food rescue programs. It is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

The agency's motto is, “We provide food and services, create stability, and further self-reliance for people in crisis.”

<![CDATA['SistaHood' Returns to WAIF]]> Ending a seven-month suspension from the air, The SistaHood Show is returning to its weekly berth at WAIF (88.3 FM) beginning today.

The program, co-hosted by Victoria Straughn and Crystal Allen, was a casualty of the ongoing strife at the community radio station between many longtime volunteer programmers and Board Chairman Donald Shabazz, about how he manages the station.---

SistaHood — which is described as a one-hour, black empowerment show — airs 5-6 p.m. Fridays.

Straughn and Allen recently sent a mass e-mail to listeners, thanking them for their support during the suspension.

In the e-mail, they also mentioned the topic for this week’s episode.

“In keeping with current issues and solutions for the vast problems facing black, urban America including the lack of viable grocery stores in the ‘hood, I'll be playing a very important (pre-taped) discussion about what we must do as a community or nation within a nation to survive the food genocide that's plaguing our communities while focusing on solutions,” they wrote.

The studio telephone line at the station is 513-749-1444.

<![CDATA['Westwood Works' Gets Mural]]> A new group in Cincinnati’s Westwood neighborhood that seeks to be less political and more positive than its counterparts has achieved one of its initial goals.

The group, Westwood Works, formed late last winter to help revitalize and publicize the neighborhood. Its creation, in part, was due to discussions about how another organization — the Westwood Civic Association — decided not to muster support for an ArtWorks mural in the neighborhood, despite the interest of some residents.---

ArtWorks is a downtown-based, nonprofit organization that has created murals in 20 different Cincinnati neighborhoods, including Over-the-Rhine and Clifton Heights.

Now, by working in conjunction with the Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corp., ArtWorks has selected the neighborhood as one of the sites for this summer’s mural program.

The groups are discussing with local business owners and others exactly where the mural should be created.

<![CDATA[In All Her Enunciated Glory]]>

Maybe you’ve heard her on BBC Radio via the Internet, when she’s filled in for Diane Rehm on National Public Radio or seen her as a pundit on one of TV’s political talk shows. No matter, British journalist Katty Kay has a growing American fan base.---

Kay is coming to town next week as part of the Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati’s “National Speaker Forum.” She will give a talk entitled, “Washington from a Different Angle,” focusing on how she views U.S. politics as a foreign reporter.

As the BBC Washington correspondent, her reports also appear on the BBC America cable TV network.

Along with Claire Shipman, Kay has co-authored Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success, which is described as showing “the significant value of women’s management style in today’s workplace.”

Kay’s speech will be given at 7:30 p.m., March 11, at the Millennium Hotel, 150 W. Fifth St., downtown.

Tickets are $25 or $125 for the lecture and a private reception afterward. Call 513-751-0100 or visit the club’s Web site for more information.

Woman’s City Club is a non-profit group that offers programs to educate and encourage citizens to become active in civic affairs. The club promotes diversity and inclusiveness, and collaborates with other community groups to work toward shared goals.

<![CDATA[More Rants at WAIF]]>

Some people believe a person’s writing style says a lot about him or her. If you dot i’s with a heart, for example, people might consider you dreamy or perhaps immature. If you regularly misuse punctuation or choose words that aren’t appropriate for the intended meaning, it might indicate a lack of education.---

We’ll let our readers make their own judgments about an e-mail sent to members and volunteers at the troubled WAIF (88.3 AM) by the station’s board chairman, Donald A. Shabazz.

Shabazz was responding to allegations made in a newsletter that criticizes him and other board members for how they operate the station. For at least the past four years, several volunteers at WAIF — some who had been there for decades — have left due to what they say is the heavy-handed management style of Shabazz and Station Manager Howard Riley.

First, however, here’s some background and context.

Beginning in 2006 and 2007, CityBeat and local bloggers examined the turmoil at the station and some of Shabazz’ actions. During that period, WAIF’s property taxes were declared delinquent, questions arose about whether its license with the Federal Communications Commission was current, and there was an unsuccessful effort to unseat the board of trustees amid allegations of unfair voting practices.

Also, Shabazz had cameras installed throughout the station, allegedly to prevent equipment and the surrounding studio and offices from being damaged and abused by WAIF programmers. Critics countered that the move was made to intimidate Shabazz’ critics.

Shabazz is a mortgage broker who hosts Final Call News Hour, a Nation of Islam talk show on the station. He heads a seven-member majority on WAIF’s board.

At the time, Shabazz sent WAIF members a letter describing CityBeat’s coverage as “the wicked scheme being hatched by a certain group of racist, right-wing political operatives who are trying to hijack our station and destroy WAIF as we know it.”

Since then, WAIF board member Victoria Straughn — an African-American activist who works to reduce and treat HIV/AIDS among blacks and to help improve police-community relations, among other issues — has filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office alleging that the station’s board violates state law for non-profit groups.

In Straughn’s complaint, filed late last summer, she states that WAIF “had been operating without a treasurer for nearly 3 years, and both the general membership body and (the board) had not received proper or adequate financial reports. Further, the (board) has not discussed or approved an operating budget since I was elected (in 2007).”

Further, her letter continues:

“In the past couple of months things have gotten worse and I have witnessed what could only be described as verbal intimidation, sabotaging and corruption from the senior members of the (board). Several members have run repeatedly for the past 4 to 7 years, overseeing multiple operations.

“During the annual meetings, members have attempted to bring the issue of ‘Term Limits’ for board members only to be ignored by the Chair and majority members of the board who were controlling the agenda, and who hired off-duty police officers to physically remove any members whom they deem as ‘Out of Order.’”

The letter also describes several other circumstances of what Straughn calls inappropriate behavior or actions.

Now, back to the present. Here, in all of its unexpurgated glory, is the Shabazz e-mail sent Monday.


Subject: Reply To The Publishers of The Alert WAIF Hate Letter / More Good News From WAIF, The Truth

Sent: Feb 1, 2010 3:49 PM

From The Desk Of The Chairman Dr. Donald Shabazz, JD


Dear Programmers, Co-hosts, Members and Faithful Supporters of WAIF As I am sure you know, within every large organization, group, company or corporation, you have a fringe group of individuals, who are driven by "Hatred, Jealousy, Envy, and Racism. " The type of people who seem to take pride in being "Dumb." These individuals, mostly a handful of disgruntled and disillusioned ex-programmers, malcontents, political operatives, white racists, and their black imps, who in reality, are actually against the very organization(s) they claim they are for. Sad to say,, but WAIF has just such a group. This on the Fringe Group, more appropriately called the "Enemies of WAIF" __who hide in their dark holes like snakes and vipers, and hide behind phony web-sites and email addresses, are currently advocating a so-called boycott of WAIF. In other words, these "Enemies Of WAIF"..."Are Seeking To Destroy WAIF, In Order To Save It." WHAT A Dumb IDEA. !!! How does a "TRUE FRIEND"__ think they are helping WAIF by publicly spewing their vicious lies and falsehoods about WAIF, its Chairman, Station Manager, and it's Board Of Trustees. Or by Slandering, Defaming, and dragging WAIF's good reputation through the mud __is somehow helping WAIF? __ Whoever came up with that DUMB IDEA??? How is conducting a Libelous and Defamatory "SMEAR CAMPAIGN" against WAIF and its current leadership, or by trying to damage WAIF's reputation in the eyes of the General Public, its Programmers and Supporters, is going to help WAIF? Don't you know or have enough sense to know, that any damage that you cause to the reputation of WAIF is Permanent? DUMB, DUMB, DUMB!!! This little small group of false-accusers, foolishly believe that by spreading their poisonous venom, and unsubstantiated lies against WAIF, that they can actually cut off WAIF's income, and put WAIF in a position where we will not be able to pay our bills, or continue the wonderful progress that WAIF is making.__ HOW DUMB IS THAT? These vicious back-biters don't have a clue. The "REAL FRIENDS OF WAIF" will never allow that to happen. We who really love WAIF know that WAIF is more than just a Radio Station, WAIF is a beloved "Institution." __Unlike any other local Radio Station, WAIF has continuously and faithfully served the un-served, and under-served communication needs of a diverse community for over forty (40) years. Moreover, under my leadership as Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) for the last 15 years, and under the leadership of Mr. Howard Riley as Station Manager for nearly 10 years, the Board of Trustees has never had to hold any special fund raising drives, nor have we had to beg or borrow one red cent from any programmer, bank or lending institution to pay any of our bills. And by the way, WAIF is always current in all of its bills. Nor have we incurred any debt. Under the fiscal policy we established, WAIF has always paid cash for all of its repairs, extensive renovations, broadcast equipment and studio furnishings, therefore, WAIF has never had to pay out one dime in interest payments for these expenditures in 15 years. Does that sound like bad administration or management? I don't think so! Moreover, what these "ENEMIES OF WAIF" and "HYPOCRITES" don't know or understand, is that WAIF's obvious success and longevity, is not based upon money! Of course money is absolutely necessary, but WAIF's real success is based upon its' dedicated and talented Volunteers, its' BOT, and the proper Administration, and Management of OUR Station Policies, Assets, and Resources I openly "challenge" any of these jealous-hearted "Enemies of WAIF" to point out a time in WAIF's approximately Forty Three (43) year long history, when WAIF was better off financially, better administered or managed, or when WAIF has made more progress than it has in the last 15 years. You can't do it. If you think you can, then "Put Up" or "SHUT UP!!! I further challenge ALL of you who are affiliated with, or is a member of this Hate Group,... who say they are not a racist, jealous, envious, a right-winger, imp, or a hater_ to "Demand" that the organizers of this so-called boycott, produce one Fact or an ounce of credible evidence to prove any of the false allegations they have made against me, the Station Manager or the Board of Trustees... Or "Does The Truth Matter To You??? Despite the _"FACT"_ WAIF is unquestionably the most successful, best equipped, best administered, best managed, financially solvent, debt free, racially diverse, longest running community radio station in the Mid-West,__ these brazen and unrepentant liars are accusing the Chairman, Station Manager, and the BOT of being thieves and stealing, or misusing WAIF's monies. My question to all of you who believe this Bold-Face Lie is....If the BOT is stealing WAIF's monies__ "How" were we able to pay-off nearly $200,000 in mortgage payments in 3-1/2 years, equip and re-equip our station with the best broadcast equipment three separate times, complete our renovations and improvements, purchase new furnishings, and "Pay Cash" for everything__ and at the same time, remain current in all of our monthly bills. Now explain that Glaring Inconsistency and Contradiction, if you can!!! I "DARE" you to take up my" challenge and prove that Dr. Shabazz has ever stolen or misused a single penny of WAIF's money. Let me say for the hundredth time, ... that as a matter of official fiscal policy __ "WAIF DOES NOT DEAL IN CASH." Ninety-Nine Point Nine Percent (99.9%) of all the monies that come into WAIF, comes in by checks. And all of the monies that are paid out, are paid by check. Therefore, there is _ "No Cash" _to steal !!! Furthermore, I am not now, nor have I ever been a check signer for WAIF. Neither do I handle the in-coming mail, nor have I ever written a WAIF check. If anyone of you can prove Dr. Shabazz is a crook, or corrupt, or that I have stolen so much as a plug penny from WAIF, then present your evidence ...and Prove It. Furthermore, I double dare you to produce any credible evidence that proves that Dr. Shabazz has intentionally been unjust or unfair to any member of WAIF. And I further challenge you to produce a single member that was officially charged with some Violation of Station Policies or Rules,_ that did not have an opportunity to be represented by someone of their own choice, or Legal Counsel, or to have a fair Administrative Hearing, and an Appeal. But as your "Counterfeit"- (full of errors and typos) __ "Alert WAIF Hate Letter" reveals, the wicked publishers of that letter, and the leadership of this mis-guided fringe group, are nothing but Liars, False Accusers, and Character Assassins. Also, let me say to all of the "Hate Mongers" who are trying to defame my character and make me out to be a bad guy, the "Record" proves that I have only presided over "NINE" (9) Disciplinary Hearings in over Fifteen Years (15) as the Chairman of WAIF. That's less than one Hearing a year. So If I have been putting all of these people out of the Station as you faslely claim, then, Where Is Your Proof??? If you claim I have been manipulating the BOT Elections,..."Which Election" did I manipulate? ... and where are the "facts"_ where is your Proof??? If you say someone died and paid off WAIF's mortgage, as you falsely claim, again, I ask you, where is your Proof??? You don't have a speck of Proof or Evidence, to support any of these false claims and ridiculous allegations, because these "Enemies Of WAIF" are nothing but a pitiful, frustrated, group of wicked and deceitful Liars." Dear WAIF Family, just because this group calls me ugly names, and they make unfounded and false accusations against me, that does not make me guilty of their false accusations? Consider This... ARE YOU... the kind of person that will believe any kind of criticism or accusation without any credible evidence or proof? Well if you are __ then what kind of person are you? Let me also inform the new members and faithful supporters of WAIF, there is nothing new about a handful of _"REBELS WITHOUT A CAUSE"_ and a group of Racists associating themselves with WAIF. Where else can they go to have a voice? In the early History of WAIF, the Station was plagued with Racism. That is how and why I got involved with WAIF. However, if you are truthful, you will have to admit, that under my leadership and administration, racism is nearly abated, and now it plays absolutely no role in WAIF's internal affairs, policies, or decisions. Now comes this outside group of crooked deceivers, subtle racists, and their imps, who are trying to "Gain Control" of WAIF, by re-introducing Racism back into WAIF's affairs, by trying to pit white against black. Have you noticed, that this Weird mix of Haters, all use the same evil tactics as they are trying to do right now? Most of them lack the educational background, the necessary administrative abilities, the ability to properly interpret FCC regulations, the technical skills, professionalism, and the experience to honestly administer a 501(C)(3) Ohio Corporation. So they make up false allegations, vicious lies, deceitful schemes, and cook up sinister plots to undermine the current leadership in order to gain control of WAIF for their own wicked purposes. These COWARDS send out _"Unsigned Hate Letters"_, and then hide their true identities behind some so-called organizational or group name. These straight-up COWARDS are to afraid to sign their Real Names to their slanderous letters, and own up to their wickedness. If you are telling the truth, then why don't you COWARDS stand up and identify yourselves. You won't, because like all COWARDS__ "You'll Throw A Rock, Then Hide Your Dirty Hands." Dr. Donald Shabazz, JD. Chairman The opinions expressed in this letter represent my views, and not the views of WAIF, its staff or BOT.

<![CDATA[They're Equal Opportunity Offenders]]>

To celebrate its 90th anniversary, the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area is holding a fundraiser that will put the heat to some local politicians with the help of talk show host Jerry Springer. The league is hosting a political roast on Feb. 27. Targets of the evening’s entertainment will be Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Patricia Clancy and former Cincinnati Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell, who is planning a campaign for the county commission.---

They are respectively a Democrat, a Republican and a Charterite.

The trio will be roasted by Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Bortz, a Charterite; Democratic activists Jene and Jerry Galvin; and Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Republican.

Springer, a former Cincinnati mayor and TV newscaster, will serve as master of ceremonies. Judge Nadine Allen will be the event’s timekeeper.

The event will be held at the Westin Hotel ballroom, 21 E. Fifth St., Downtown. A social hour and silent auction will begin at 6:30 p.m., with dinner and the roast following at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $50 for league members, $75 for non-members and $750 for a table seating 10. Reservations can be made online.

LWV is a non-partisan, grassroots political organization that works at the local, state, and national levels. Its mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government, along with working to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influencing public policy through education and advocacy.

<![CDATA[IJPC Holds Holiday Fundraiser]]> A local nonprofit group dedicated to efforts at promoting peace and social justice will hold its annual holiday sale on Saturday.

The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) will stage its seventh annual St. Nick Day Sale from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Peaslee Neighborhood Center, 215 E. 14th St., in Over-the-Rhine.---

Various goods and products are featured at the fundraiser including Syracuse Cultural Worker items, greeting cards, mugs, bags, CDs, and more; Equal Exchange coffee, tea and hot cocoa; Divine Chocolate; international art and crafts from Ecuador, Ghana, Madagascar, El Salvador and elsewhere; work by local artist Mary Ann Lederer’s art, books by local authors and more.

Founded in 1985, IJPC is a coalition of faith-based organizations and individuals who work together to educate around justice issues, take collaborative action and do public witness. The group addresses local, national and international concerns focusing on economic justice, women's issues, human rights, racial equality, the death penalty, peace and the environment.

For more information, call 513-579-8547.