0 Comments · Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Cincinnati City Council will soon vote on
tax abatements worth more than half a million dollars for a
controversial luxury hotel project undertaken by Eagle Realty at the
former site of the Anna Louise Inn women’s shelter downtown.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:20 AM | Permalink
3CDC eyes Ziegler Park; streetcar contract drama; an unclear sentence could cost millions their healthcare
Hey all. Let’s get this news thing going before the snow comes once again and grinds everything to a halt. Or just dusts the ground with a little inconvenient powder, depending on how much you trust weather forecasters. Yesterday I told you a bit about 3CDC’s presentation to City Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee. During that meeting, 3CDC head Steven Leeper said the developer might cross the $1 billion threshold this year for investment made in the basin since it began in 2003. Let’s dig into my notes a bit and talk in more detail about a couple things regarding Over-the-Rhine the developers have planned. One of the noteworthy projects on the group’s radar is a redevelopment of Ziegler Park on Sycamore Street. The park is across from the former SCPA building and just a block from Main Street’s active corridor of restaurants, bars and apartments. 3CDC head Steve Leeper said Ziegler’s revamp would increase the number of basketball courts and other active features currently found there. Removal of the courts at Washington Park during its 2010 revamp by 3CDC caused controversy among neighborhood residents, many of whom used the courts regularly. Leeper promised that while Washington Park’s character is more “passive” in nature, Ziegler would be a much more “active” park.“There will be a lot more athletic activities going on there,” Leeper said, “and hopefully it will attract kids from the neighborhood who can spend their time in those athletic endeavors like we all did when we were kids."• Leeper also outlined progress on three facilities for individuals without homes — two in Queensgate set to replace the Drop Inn Center and City Gospel Mission facilities currently in Over-the-Rhine and a third in Mount Auburn built to replace the Anna Louise Inn downtown. These projects have been controversial — advocates fought hard for years to keep the Drop Inn Center at its location in OTR and a protracted legal battle stretched on for many months between Cincinnati Union Bethel, which runs the Anna Louise Inn in Lytle Park, and Western & Southern Financial Group, which eventually purchased the property against CUB’s wishes. The new spaces are a bit further from the city’s center, though they do have a larger capacity. • Speaking of the Drop Inn Center, its winter shelter will be open the rest of this week in response to dropping temperatures, according to a release sent out by the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Usually, the winter shelter is closed by this time of year, but with winter taking its time going away, the shelter will stay open a bit longer. • Here we go again: More streetcar drama could be coming our way. There is currently a potential fight brewing over who will operate the transit project. Council has set a limit of $4.3 million a year on bids for running the streetcar. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority is taking bids on the contract, and there’s controversy over whether to use union employees for the job or not. Some council members favor that move, even if it costs a bit more, and they’ve asked SORTA to negotiate with the Amalgamated Transit Union, which also runs the city’s bus service. But ATU has accused SORTA of dragging its feet on contract negotiations and trying to undercut the union by demanding a separate collective bargaining agreement for running the streetcar. SORTA says a separate agreement is necessary because the scale of the streetcar — just 30 employees at most — is much smaller than 750 people who run the city’s bus service. Union officials, however, says that SORTA is trying to get the lowest bid possible out of the union in order to drive other bids down as well. My guess is we’ll be hearing a lot more on this one. A decision must be made on the operator of the project by July. • Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld today said he will stay in the race for U.S. Senate, ending speculation he might bow out after former governor Ted Strickland entered the race last week. Sittenfeld will face Strickland in the Democratic primary. The winner will face incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, unless he is felled by a primary challenger — an unlikely possibility. “Since we launched our campaign, I have been more grateful than I can express for the enthusiasm, encouragement and support we've received,” Sittenfeld said today in a statement on social media and his website. “So I want you — my supporters and friends — to hear it from me directly: I'm all in. Ohio needs a forward-looking leader to replace Rob Portman and the broken culture in Washington that he's long been part of.”
• You might be able to walk around The Banks with a bit of the ole’ alcheyhol on Opening Day. For a while now, lawmakers in Ohio have been trying to pass legislation that would allow cities to designate open container districts where folks can have a beer out in public. It looks like the legislation is good to go, with enough support at the State House, and now local officials are telling the Ohio General Assembly to hurry the dang thing up so we can chug a couple Moerleins in public to celebrate the Reds beating the Pirates April 6. The bill looks likely to pass the House, hopefully with the two-thirds vote margin needed to put it into effect immediately. Local State Sens. Democrat Cecil Thomas and Republican Bill Seitz have introduced a bill in the Senate to speed the process up there as well. Now that’s what I call bipartisanship. If the bill passes, council will have to scramble to create and approve the districts, one of which looks likely to be the area around the stadium. Ladies and gentlemen, you have a month. Get to work.• Hey! Do you want people fracking in state parks? It could happen soon whether you like it or not. Four years ago, Gov. John Kasich signed into law a provision allowing fracking on state land. He then pulled a fast one and declined to fund the commission that would give drillers approval for fracking permits on that land, basically circumventing the law he signed. Very clever. But the Ohio General Assembly, which is currently dominated by pro-fracking Republicans, is working to pass a bill called House Bill 8 that would bypass that commission. Proponents of the bill say it’s meant to help private landowners who want to sell drilling rights to wells that might end up under state land. But critics note that under the current version of the bill, so called “surface impacts,” or drilling directly on state land, are not outlawed and would be permissible if the law passes. The bill heads to committee next week and looks to pass there, after which it will be considered by the whole House. • In national news, Supreme Court arguments begin in King vs. Burwell today, a lawsuit which could revoke health care subsidies for 7.5 million people currently signed up under the Affordable Care Act under the federal exchange. The core of the case is the contention that the language of the 2009 law does not allow the federal government to issue subsidies to people who went through the federal exchange, and that only those living in states that created their own exchanges are eligible for government help with their health care bills. It’s a nitpicky suit turning on a few words in a turn of phrase, but it could completely unravel Obamacare by making it unaffordable for those in the 34 states that did not or could not establish their own health care exchanges online. Many agree that’s the point of the suit, in fact — another attempt to repeal the healthcare system by throwing a legal wrench into its works. Just think! A pedantic semantics debate could leave millions without access to health care. And you thought clear writing wasn’t important.That’s it for me. Hit me with those tweets and those e-mails: @nswartsell or firstname.lastname@example.org
Western & Southern wants its neighborhood back from the nonprofit that was there first
6 Comments · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The Anna Louise Inn has been helping women in the Lytle Park neighborhood since 1909. Western & Southern thinks that’s long enough.
by German Lopez
Death penalty questioned, county advances crime lab, Anna Louise Inn to break ground
For some, Dennis McGuire’s 26-minute, seemingly painful
execution raises constitutional and ethical questions about Ohio’s use
of the death penalty. In particular, the convicted killer’s family and
medical experts say the state’s use of a new cocktail of drugs presented
problems even before McGuire was killed, with one Harvard professor of
anesthesia warning the state prior to the execution that its dosage was
too low for McGuire’s size and the drugs inadequate. Jonathan Groner, a
professor of clinical surgery at Ohio State University, told CityBeat, “I wouldn’t want what he got to have my appendix out. … I would be concerned that I would feel something.”Hamilton County commissioners yesterday accepted a Mount
Airy facility offered to the county as a gift by Catholic Health
Partners, with plans to use the former hospital as the campus for a new
crime lab. The acceptance came despite previous warnings that the Mount
Airy facility could not be taken in by the county if the Board of
Elections didn’t also move its office and early voting to the Mount
Airy location, where only one bus line runs, from its current downtown
office. A party-line tie vote left the Board of Elections move in limbo,
with a tie-breaking decision expected from the Republican secretary of
state in the next few weeks. Democrats oppose the move because it would
limit voting access for people who rely on public transportation, while
Republicans argue free parking at the new facility would outweigh the
loss of bus access.Officials plan to break ground today on the Anna Louise
Inn’s new location at Mount Auburn. The start of construction marks the
beginning of the next chapter for the Inn afters its owner, Cincinnati
Union Bethel (CUB), lost a contentious legal battle against
financial giant Western & Southern. CUB sought to keep the Inn at
the location it has been at since 1909, while Western & Southern aimed to claim the property to invoke its full development vision on the Lytle
Park neighborhood. After two years of litigation, both sides reached a
settlement in which CUB agreed to move.Commentary: Media Should End Reliance on “He Says, She Says.”A local abortion clinic asked a Hamilton County judge to
suspend a state order that would shut down the facility. The Sharonville
clinic would close down by Feb. 4 if courts don’t step in.With bipartisan support, the Ohio House cleared a bill that
reduces the costs and speeds up the process of adoptions. But some
Democrats worry the bill goes too far by shortening the period a
putative father must register with the state if he wants to be able to
consent to an adoption.The tea party failed to put forward a Republican primary challenger to Gov. John Kasich.Meanwhile, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune says
he’s talking to former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford as a potential running
mate in a Democratic primary challenge against gubernatorial candidate
Ed FitzGerald. With less than one week left, Portune needs to name a
running mate and gather 1,000 valid petition signatures to actually run —
a prospect that’s looking dimmer by the day.A federal judge sentenced an Ohio man who threatened to kill President Barack Obama to 16 months in prison.Cincinnati-based Kroger might test an online ordering system.Gladys, the Cincinnati Zoo’s newest gorilla, celebrated her first birthday party with cake.Scientists developed hair-growing cells from ordinary skin cells, potentially providing a new option for curing baldness.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
New facility follows Inn’s intense legal battle with Western & Southern
City leaders will break ground Thursday for the Anna Louise Inn’s new location at Mount Auburn.
The start of construction begins the next phase for the
Anna Louise Inn and owner Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB) after a failed
legal battle against financial giant Western & Southern forced the
Inn to move.
CUB sought to keep the Inn at the Lytle Park location that
has housed struggling women since 1909. Western & Southern demanded
the property so it could round out its development vision for the Lytle
Park neighborhood. (CityBeat covered the issue in greater detail here.)After nearly two years of litigation held up CUB’s
renovations at the Lytle Park location, both sides abruptly reached a
settlement and announced the Anna Louise Inn would move. Many supporters
of the Anna Louise Inn saw the settlement and decision to move as a
huge loss.The $14 million project comes through the collaboration of
various organizations, according to the city. It’s expected
construction will finish in the spring of 2015.The facility will consist of four stories with 85 studio
apartments, the Off-the-Streets program’s residential dormitory-style
units, community space and CUB’s office.The city’s attendee list for the groundbreaking includes CUB, Mayor John Cranley, City Council, Mount Auburn Community Council,
Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, U.S. Bank, Model Group and various
other officials and organizations from the city and state.But there is one notable omission: Western & Southern.
Anti-gentrification organization says OTR redevelopment is leaving low- and middle-income people out
8 Comments · Wednesday, January 22, 2014
A new coalition hopes to stop what it sees as gentrification in Over-the-Rhine and downtown, but some locals take issue with their claims.
7 Comments · Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Rich people get to do whatever the hell they want in this city. Maybe that’s the way it is in every city
and anyone surprised by it is a simpleton who clearly grew up on the
wrong side of I-75. But the influence that Cincinnati's rich people have over the direction of this city and the distribution of its resources should disturb everyone.
1 Comment · Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Western & Southern on May 13
announced an agreement with Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB) that will sell
the Anna Louise Inn in Lytle Park to Western & Southern for $4
by German Lopez
Mallory to propose budget today, ALI settlement criticized, council reviewing rules
Mayor Mark Mallory will deliver his operating budget proposal to City Council today after making changes to the city manager’s proposal,
which hikes property taxes and lays off 201 city
employees, including cops and firefighters. City Council will then be
able to change and give final approval to the budget plan before June 1.
Some of the cuts may hit parks the hardest,
but city administration officials are cautioning that they did not
recommend the specific cuts being outlined, and it’s up to the
Cincinnati Parks Board to decide which areas the cuts will impact. The
city planned to help balance its $35 million operating budget
deficit with the parking plan, but that plan is currently being held up in court.
The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition is speaking out against the settlement to sell the Anna Louise Inn to Western & Southern for $4 million.
“What has been served today is not justice nor moral on the part of
Western & Southern, and we will push for a day when Western Southern
recognizes their wrong-doings, asks for forgiveness and turns to doing
good,” said Josh Spring, executive of the Homeless Coalition, in a
statement. The group is asking supporters of the Anna Louise Inn to meet
at the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church Friday at 6 p.m. to discuss
City Council is likely to keep its ability to call votes on different items
in larger ordinances and motions after seemingly failing to get support
from six elected council members. Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who
proposed the changes, says the power is confusing because there’s no
hard standard set for what is separable, but Councilwoman Laure
Quinlivan, who has used the power before and supports it, says the rule
retains choice and flexibility. City Council is currently reviewing many
of its procedural rules, according to Simpson.
Ohio’s third grade reading guarantee was reworked by the Ohio House in part to relax standards for teachers. Previously, the law mandated teachers providing
reading guarantee services to have taught the subject for at least three
years, which critics of the law previously called “impossible to meet.”
The Ohio House is slowing down
with its Internet cafe moratorium bill while the Ohio Senate works on its bill that would effectively ban the businesses altogether. State
officials, particularly Attorney General Mike DeWine, have warned that
Internet cafes are prone to criminal activity, but supporters say the
businesses are just providing a demanded service.
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending states strengthen drunken driving standards from a blood-alcohol limit of 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.
Here is the science behind hating nails on a chalkboard.
by German Lopez
Police chief leaving to Detroit, council scrutinizes streetcar, Anna Louise Inn sold
The city confirmed today that Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig
will be leaving Cincinnati to take a job in Detroit. During Craig’s
time, the city experienced a significant drop in crime. City officials praised Craig for his attempts to forge better ties between the
Cincinnati Police Department and local communities, particularly by establishing
the External Advisory Committee, a group of active local
community members and business leaders that gives advice on the police department’s policies and procedures. City Manager
Milton Dohoney Jr. said the city will begin a nationwide search for
Craig’s replacement tomorrow.
Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB) is selling the Anna Louise Inn to Western & Southern for $4 million,
and CUB will be relocating the Inn’s services to Mount Auburn. Many Anna Louise Inn
supporters are taking the sale as a sign Western & Southern won,
while others are glad the extensive legal battles are finally over. The
sale came after years of Western & Southern obstructing the planned renovations for the Anna Louise
Inn through court battles and other legal challenges, which CityBeat covered here. In a Q&A with The Cincinnati Enquirer,
Western & Southern CEO John Barrett reflected on the events, saying
his company took the “high road” throughout the controversy — a claim many Anna Louise Inn supporters dispute.
City Council grilled Dohoney
yesterday over fixing the streetcar project’s $17.4 million budget gap and
whether paying for the cost overruns to save the project is worth it.
Supporters of the streetcar pushed questions and comments that touted
the streetcar project’s return on investment, which was further
supported by Dohoney’s testimony and previous studies
from HDR, a consulting firm, and the University of Cincinnati.
Opponents suggested the cost overruns were too much and the project,
which now stands at $133 million, is too expensive. A final decision is
expected by the end of May. The streetcar project’s funding comes from
the capital budget, which can’t be used to fix the city’s $35 million
operating budget deficit because of limits established in state law.
The city and county governments are clashing over the city’s hiring policies
for companies bidding on the Metropolitan Sewer District’s (MSD)
construction projects. The city’s laws require construction
firms to have apprenticeship programs, which the city says promotes job
training on top of employment. But the Hamilton County Board of
Commissioners claims the requirements aren’t feasible and put too much
of a strain on companies. Democratic Commissioner Todd Portune
questioned why the city’s policy only applies to MSD and not other local
The Duke Energy Garden is the latest addition to the Smale Riverfront Park.
A Catholic teacher union will not support Carla Hale,
a gay Columbus-area teacher who was fired after she named her
girlfriend in an obituary for her mother. Hale says she was fired over
her sexuality, but the Catholic Church says she was fired for revealing a
“quasi-spousal relationship” outside of marriage. The Catholic Church
opposes same-sex marriage, which means all gay couples are in a
non-marital relationship under the Church’s desired policies.The Internal Revenue Service scandal, which involves IRS officials unfairly scrutinizing conservative groups, is now nationwide. Previous reports pinned the practice on a Cincinnati field office, but numerous IRS offices around the country, including one in Washington, D.C., were found to be guilty of the practice in documents acquired by The Washington Post.
Headline from The Columbus Dispatch: “Man who killed wife, then self: ‘I couldn’t take her mouth anymore.’”
The brain catches grammar errors even when a person doesn’t realize it.