by Hannah McCartney
29 days ago
John Cranley had only a few unsullied hours of golden time on social media to celebrate his mayoral win on Wednesday before he became the subject of at least two Twitter accounts created solely to troll him, and they're worth a follow if you'd describe your sense of humor as somewhat to very immature or are still totally salty about Cran-man's victory. So far, we know of @CranleyVille and @MayorCranley, both of which have taken to creating alternate, highly egotistical and cartoon-like depictions of our new mayor. While whoever is behind CranleyVille clearly has more time on his or her hands (whoever it is tweeted 90 times in three days), both provide some pretty amusing fodder for 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Why social media has quickly taken to poking fun at Cranley in every way possible — or whether or not a Qualls victory would have brought something like an "Afghan Girl Qualls" to life — we'll never know. And while CityBeat holds a great deal of respect for the mayoral position and for Cranley, that doesn't mean we're not allowed to be immature and laugh a little bit. Oh, and here's the real deal, too.
by German Lopez
Senator loses support following shift in favor of same-sex marriage
An April 19 Quinnipiac University poll found a plurality of Ohioans now support same-sex marriage, continuing a trend first noted by a Washington Post poll in September.With a margin of error of 2.9 percent, the Quinnipiac poll found 48 percent of Ohio voters now support gay marriage, with 44 percent still in opposition. That's an improvement from a Dec. 12 poll, which found 47 percent of Ohio voters were against same-sex marriage and 45 percent favored it. The latest results varied greatly depending on the respondent's sex. Women supported same-sex marriage 52-40, while men opposed it 49-43.The poll also found Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, lost support after coming out in favor of same-sex marriage, but Quinnipiac's statement says the drop was likely attributable to a drop in overall Republican support. Portman's approval rating dropped to 40 percent, down from 44 percent in Feb. 28. Respondents had mixed feelings about Portman's same-sex marriage shift: 20 percent said they think more favorably of him, 25 percent said they think less favorably of him and 53 percent said it made no difference.Even if the small drop is attributable to Portman's new views on same-sex marriage, the shift could be a net gain for the senator through increased campaign funds. After President Barack Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage last year, his campaign raised $1.5 million in just 90 minutes even as some political pundits criticized the president's move as politically dangerous.The legalization of same-sex marriage could be on the ballot this year following Freedom Ohio's efforts ("Evolution of Equality," issue of Nov. 28). If approved by voters, Freedom Ohio's proposed amendment would repeal Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage and legalize it while retaining some protections for religious institutions.A Washington Post poll conducted in September found Ohioans were supportive of same-sex marriage for the very first time, with 52 percent in favor and 37 percent against.
by German Lopez
Vice mayor talks immigration, parking plan, streetcar
For better or worse, Cincinnati will have
to deal with
another major election cycle in 2013. With a few hot-button issues
already grabbing the public spotlight, a lot could be at stake when
voters pull the lever on Nov. 5 — making a proper understanding of the
candidates all the more important.
Most people get to know candidates through fragments of information spread out in multiple stories and media outlets, but a comprehensive question-and-answer format provides candidates with a chance to speak on
their own terms. CityBeat already did a one-on-one with Democratic mayoral candidate John Cranley, which can be read here.
Next up, CityBeat sat down with Vice Mayor Roxanne
Qualls, another Democrat who is running for mayor, to discuss her campaign and what
ideas she’s bringing to the table. Qualls has been a strong advocate of
the streetcar (“Back on the Ballot,” issue of Jan. 23) and parking plan (“Parking Stimulus,” issue of Feb. 27), and she says she wants to continue
development in Downtown and Cincinnati’s neighborhoods to create
sustainable growth. We asked her about those issues and more, and the
extensive conversation (with some edits for clarity and brevity) can be
CityBeat: How do you feel about the campaign in general so far?
Roxanne Qualls: I’m very excited about the
campaign. You know, a mayor’s race is very different than a council
race. A mayor’s race has many more components to it: higher fundraising
goals and more intensive outreach. I’ve been very encouraged by the
folks who are volunteering and those who are stepping up and making
contributions. It’s still early, but I’ve been excited.
CB: What kind of support have you seen so far?
RQ: Support is good. A lot of neighborhood folks are
coming forward, partly because of the work I’ve been doing with them on
council to help them achieve their own visions for their
communities and neighborhoods. And I’m also getting support from
different groups of people who I’ve been working for a number of
years on major projects that help move the city and also the
CB: Before we get into parking and the streetcar,
one of the resolutions passed by City Council yesterday asked Congress to pass
comprehensive immigration reform. Do you think there’s anything the city
could do to be more inviting to immigrants?
RQ: Even though it was a resolution and is
therefore a symbolic act of the council, that symbolic act was very,
very important to the members of the immigrant community in Cincinnati
because many other communities are unwilling to say they even want
My own personal and professional belief is that if we’re actually going to grow as a city and really
thrive in the future in a sustainable way, we have to encourage
immigrants to come into the city of Cincinnati. If you look around the
country at cities that have increased their population significantly,
they don’t do it relying on baby boomers moving back to the city and Gen
Y-ers — those folks are important, but they’re not sufficient. You have
to have immigrants come into your community, buy up homes, buy up
stores and regenerate and rejuvenate the neighborhoods.
As a city that went from over 500,000 people to now under
300,000, we have to fill that gap. When I’m mayor, I will set a goal
that by 2025 we will increase our population by 100,000 people. We’re only
going to do that with immigrants.
CB: So what kind of programs do you think would help in that area?
RQ: A couple things, but there are things already
happening that many people are unaware of. For example, if you were to
go to Roberts Paideia at Price Hill, you would find 30
percent of the children there were
not speaking English in their households before attending school. So a very strong
Spanish-speaking community is growing up in Price Hill. First and
foremost, having an educational system that recognizes and responds is
The other thing is to be a very welcoming community,
particularly when it comes to issues of safety and security. We’re very
fortunate that District 3 has become very responsive, as is District 4,
to immigrants. The entire police department is sensitive, but we have a
very high concentration of folks who are Latinos in
District 3 — that’s why I focused on District 3 as very critical in
terms of the response.
The third thing that we need to do is work with organizations like
the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Chinese Chamber of Commerce to
really strengthen business relations and the support that’s
necessary for many of the small businesses that provide opportunities
and employment within those communities. As the city develops its small
business program, we need to pay attention to the fact that very small
businesses — under $100,000, let’s say, in terms of annual volume — are
those businesses that really are neighborhood-serving. They’re
businesses we should be encouraging within the immigrant community.
CB: One of the surprising statistics with public
safety is that a very small amount of the police force — 2 out of 981 —
speaks Spanish. Do you think there’s anything we could do to encourage
more Spanish speakers?
RQ: There’s an increasing recognition
that it’s important for people who provide services to speak more than one
language, so the police department can encourage its members to speak more than
But there are other things we can do in general, not just
that would impact the police. I’ve been trying to do something as simple
as multilingual signage.
The city could also aggressively promote simultaneous translation via its own
website and the information it puts out.
On my own personal website, one of the things that we use is the Google
Translator. So anyone who wants to read anything on the
website, all they have to do is press the Google Translator and
have it translate to any language.
CB: The other thing that was covered in City
Council yesterday was the parking plan. You supported it. What
do you think it will do for the city?
RQ: There are a couple things it’s going to do.
Simply on the level of parking, it’s going to provide the resources to
modernize the system. For the garages, that means all the capital
improvements that are necessary. For the meters, that’s everything
everybody has heard about in terms of putting in electronic meters,
allowing the use of smartphone apps, making it much more convenient for
people and giving us the ability as technology evolves over time to
adapt. For example, we shouldn’t assume that 30 years from now there
will be such things as meters in existence. We need to be able to adapt
in that environment. Already in other countries, you don’t have meters,
but you do have sensors and you do have means of paying, but it doesn’t
involve a physical object to do it with. It’s all oriented toward
customer service and staying up with the times.
The second thing is it gives us the resources to invest in things
like the MLK/I-71 Interchange, which everybody, I believe, at this point
agrees is a major economic development investment and will pay off in
significant job growth in the medical-university area of uptown.
It also allows us to invest in some critical pieces of downtown
development that involve garages and residential development that will
help us capture the market. I think if you read all the papers,
everybody should realize that there’s no available product to meet the
demand for downtown housing. Any time something comes into the market,
it is either rented out or sold out. So we need to
bring residential online at a much faster pace in Downtown.
And we get to increase our reserves, so that the rating
agencies will be encouraged that we’re taking steps to ensure that we
can responsibly manage our budget. And for the moment, for fiscal year 2014,
it will help us reduce the deficit.
So there’s, one, modernization itself and, two, the
ability to invest in opportunities over the long term that will grow our
revenues and help us become more sustainable as a city.
CB: With the modernization part, do you think it’s
necessary to make this deal because the city can’t otherwise afford to
RQ: If you look at the money that
comes into the
current parking system and look at the needs of the parking system, the
current parking system can’t support the level of investment required
for modernization. By doing this lease agreement, those upgrades can
CB: On the deficit-reduction side, how do you think
the city will solve its structural deficit once the one-time money does
RQ: In fiscal year 2014,
obviously a portion of the money is there to help balance the budget.
Other members of council and I feel very strongly that this, starting
now, is the opportunity to bring the structural deficit under control.
Between June 2013 and July 2014, we
need to put in place a deficit reduction plan.
Now, the city manager has begun to talk about some of
that, but that needs to be accelerated. Among the things that we need to
do to make it a realistic possibility is we need to bring certain
players to the table: the folks who represent our collective bargaining
units, fire, police and AFSCME (American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees). They have as much of an interest in figuring
out how to deal with this issue as I do as an elected official, as the
city manager does, as anybody does. So they really need to be at the
table, talking — not in negotiations, but just talking — about how we’re
going to begin to approach this in a way that ensures what we all want,
which is a safe community that provides good quality jobs, great
quality service and great quality of life.
The other people that can come to the table is the
business community because they can bring their expertise, help and
resources, but also the civic community and neighborhoods who are the
ones who live and breathe the effects of anything that we do.
The other thing is that we already can begin to identify
certain areas that we should be exploring. Something very simple, for
example, is one of the major expense items is gas. We are buying new
vehicles for the police department that are better for gas mileage, but
we’re not doing that fast enough.
CB: Do you think any of the deficit reduction could involve attrition?
RQ: The bottom line for either police and fire is
there are minimal service levels. For police, how many of the officers
are actually available for the street? For the fire department, how do
you make sure that the response time is within acceptable parameters and
that the consequence of falling below a certain level isn’t such
extensive brownouts that you end up endangering people’s lives?
My own personal feeling is there’s a lot of professional
judgment that needs to be involved in this discussion and decision. I
would be incredibly hesitant to fall below the minimum staffing levels
without the support of Police Chief James Craig or Fire Chief Richard Braun.
CB: How do you feel about the controversy surrounding the emergency clause?
RQ: I think it’s nothing but a political
controversy that’s generated for political gain and for political
purposes. Council passes many of its ordinances with emergency clauses.
In fact, the other candidate for mayor himself consistently voted for
The emergency clause is necessary so that we can proceed to construct the budget for fiscal year 2014 by July.
CB: So you don’t think the referendum part of the emergency clause could be separated from the part that expedites the process?
RQ: No, because it is going to take until at least
June to get everything in place. We would like to move as quickly as
possible, so before we actually approve the budget by July 1, we actually have the money to balance it. If that doesn’t happen, the city manager will have to start
sending out layoff notices. By law, we would be required to do that
because we would not have that money in place.
CB: So not having the money would force Plan B or something like it?
RQ: Yes, a referendum would result in Plan B or
something similar. Regardless of whether you want to call it Plan B or
Plan Z, people should not be foolish enough to think that there would
not be layoffs. You cannot balance a budget deficit of $25 million
without personnel reductions.
other big item in the mayor’s race is the streetcar. I’ve talked to you
about this in the past, and you said you will push through the next
during your mayor’s term. How exactly do you envision that?
RQ: Currently, there are studies that are being
undertaken that are looking for alternatives in streetcar circulation in
the uptown area.
If we can connect the streetcar into uptown and have it
circulate up there, you have it benefiting these institutions and
immediately adjoining neighborhoods. One of the greatest pressures in
very dense neighborhoods is that we want to take the pressure off of
both the streets in terms of the volume of traffic and parking because
parking garages are very expensive and consume a lot of land. We can
create an environment in the uptown area that would have a
great synergy that would result in the redevelopment of these
neighborhoods. Once people get that as the vision, I think the
streetcar, even for folks who will never use it, becomes more
CB: One of the recurring problems with the streetcar project has been delays. What would you do as mayor to
have the streetcar ready in time for the 2015 Major League Baseball
All-Star Game, which you previously said you would like?
RQ: I have said I want it ready in time for the
2015 All-Star Game, but that was before the three construction bids came in much higher than expected. The big issue
immediately is how to get those costs under control. We have yet to hear
from the administration; they’re still reviewing the bids and
approaches to handling the cost issues.
As mayor, my approach to it would be to insist that the
administration value engineer this project to ensure that for what is
being invested, we are actually getting results that we want.
I am a firm supporter of the streetcar, but I also want
people to be very clear that this is not an open checkbook. I don’t
think anyone — supporter or opponent — has ever believed it’s an open
checkbook. Within the budget that we have given, we should be able to
build this system.
CB: What do you mean by value engineering?
RQ: Look at what the actual proposed design is.
This is kind of standard in all major projects. You have all the
designers and engineers who have put together the original designs for
the system. Then what you do is have other eyes who are also experts sit
down and start looking at it to ask if there are other things we can do to start saving money.
CB: Do you think the framework of the original bid process was off?
RQ: I think very strongly that it was probably off.
We saw that reflected when over 80 contractors downloaded the bid
documents and only three bids were received. That says something about
those bid documents.
CB: A lot of the mayor’s race has focused on the
streetcar and parking deal, but can you give a rundown of some other
ideas you have for the city?
RQ: Absolutely. Well, we already talked about one
(increasing the population of the city by 100,000). There are a variety
of ways to do it — one of which is to be an opening, welcoming city to
everybody, but particularly opening and welcoming to immigrants.
The second thing we need to do is look at the tax
structure. Currently, there is a commission, which I helped establish,
called Investing in the Future Commission, which is examining that and
will be making recommendations on specific things that we can do to
reward people for making the choice to live and work in the city. That’s
When looking at job creation, we know that we are very
fortunate to have Children’s Hospital, the University of Cincinnati and
all of the research coming out of the uptown area. We are very
competitive as a region when it comes to patents, but we are laggards
when it comes to commercialization of research. Given the institutions
we’re blessed to have within city limits, we need to financially support
the environments where commercialization can actually occur to make
sure we are retaining startup businesses so that they don’t just start
here, they stay here. Again, looking at the tax structure would
encourage those startups to stay in a way we’re not doing right now.
When you’re looking at neighborhoods, redevelopment of
neighborhoods is a critical piece of anybody’s agenda. The good news is
we have a lot of good things happening, but neighborhoods need
financial support. Part of the $92 million from the parking deal
is to provide financial support to some neighborhoods. More importantly,
there’s using the casino revenue to actually support transformative
developments in neighborhoods. We’ve started to do that, but we have to
Another area is a stronger partnership with the Cincinnati
Public Schools (CPS) system. There are many people who like to
criticize CPS, but the reality is they have some great-performing
schools. We need to make sure that we capitalize on that relationship by
working in partnership with CPS to ensure that community learning
centers are in enough schools so that any young family with kids has
access. Right now, there are about 600
families on the waiting list because there’s not enough room. That’s a
specific thing we could be doing right now that would really encourage
young families with children to stay in the city.
CB: That covers everything I had to ask. Is there anything you would like to add?
RQ: This election for mayor is about vision,
leadership and results. It’s also about looking to the future and
saying yes to the future. Lots of decisions will have to be made by the
next mayor that will be tough decisions, will require resources and will
require investment. Cincinnati needs a mayor that is willing to say yes
and work with people and organizations to move the community forward.
by German Lopez
Federal unemployment down, state joblessness up, Tower Place Mall renovations detailed
In February, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent,
from 7.9 percent in January, and the nation added 236,000 jobs. Many of
the new jobs — about 48,000 — came from construction, while government
employment saw a drop even before sequestration, a series of
across-the-board federal spending cuts, began on March 1. Economists seem quite positive
about the report.
In January, Ohio’s unemployment rate rose to 7 percent,
from 6.7 percent in December, with the number of unemployed in
the state rising to 399,000, from 385,000 the month before.
Goods-producing and service-providing industries and local government
saw a rise in employment, while jobs were lost in trade, transportation,
utilities, financial activities, professional and business services,
leisure and hospitality, state government and federal government. In
January, U.S. unemployment rose to 7.9 percent, from 7.8 percent in
A new report outlined renovations for the city-owned Tower Place Mall, which is getting a makeover as part of Cincinnati’s parking plan.
A lot of the retail space in the mall will be replaced to make room for
parking that will be accessed through what is currently Pogue’s Garage,
but two rings of retail space will remain, according to the report. The
parking plan was approved by City Council Wednesday, but it was temporarily halted by a Hamilton County judge. The legal contest has now moved to federal court, and it’s set to get a hearing today.
Meet the mayoral candidates through CityBeat’s two extensive Q&As: Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley.
Qualls spoke mostly about her support for immigration, the parking plan
and streetcar, while Cranley discussed his opposition to the parking
plan and streetcar and some of his ideas for Cincinnati.
A Hamilton County court ruled against
the controversial traffic cameras in Elmwood Place, and the Ohio
legislature is considering a statewide ban on the cameras. In his
ruling, Judge Robert Ruehlman pointed out there were no signs making motorists
aware of the cameras and the cameras are calibrated once a year by a
for-profit operator. The judge added, “Elmwood Place is engaged in
nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-card Monty. … It is a scam that
motorists can’t win.” Bipartisan legislation was recently introduced to
prohibit traffic cameras in Ohio.
JobsOhio, the state-funded nonprofit corporation, quietly got $5.3 million in state grants,
even though the state legislature only appropriated $1 million for
startup costs. JobsOhio says it needed the extra funds because
legal challenges have held up liquor profits that were
originally supposed to provide funding. In the past few days, State
Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican, has been pushing
Republican Gov. John Kasich and JobsOhio to release more details about
the nonprofit corporation’s finances, but Kasich and JobsOhio have been
Advocates for Ohio’s charter schools say Kasich’s budget amounts to a per-pupil cut,
with funding dropping from $5,704 per pupil to $5,000 plus some
targeted assistance that ranges from hundreds of dollars to nothing
depending on the school. A previous CityBeat report on online schools
found traditional public schools get about $3,193 per student — much
less than the funding that apparently goes to charter schools.
Fountain Square will be getting a new television
from Cincinnati-based LSI Industries with the help of Fifth-Third Bank
and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). The new
video board will have better image quality and viewing angles, but it
will also come with more screen space for sponsors.
Ohio’s casino revenues rose in January. That could be a good sign for Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino, which opened Monday.
In light of recent discussion, Popular Science posted a Q&A on drones.
by Andy Brownfield
Mayor Mallory to join Qualls in official campaign kickoff
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls will be formally announcing her run for the top spot in Cincinnati on Thursday.
Qualls’ campaign site has been up for some time already,
and the vice mayor’s team had a meeting with political writers and
bloggers on Nov. 26.
The vice mayor will be joined by current term-limited Mayor Mark Mallory, implying his support for her mayoral run. The event is taking place at 10 a.m. at Core Clay, Inc., a small women-owned business in Walnut Hills.
Qualls, who is endorsed by both the Democratic Party and
Charter Committee, previously served as mayor from 1993-1999 after
serving in Cincinnati City Council from 1991-1993. She returned to
council in 2007.
Former city councilman John Cranley, also a Democrat, is
also running for mayor. Cranley served on council between 2001 and 2007.
His campaign will officially launch in January and former mayor Charlie
Luken will serve as the honorary chair.
Republican Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners
President Greg Hartmann is also considering a run for mayor, but hasn’t
made a formal announcement.
Cincinnati has an open mayoral primary, which means that
the top two vote-getters will run against each other in the general
election, regardless of party affiliation.