by Hannah McCartney
81 days ago
Independent mediator will work with supporters and opposition
The controversial proposed supportive housing facility
for Alaska Avenue in Avondale was the main subject of a heated session
of City Council's Budget and Finance Committee today, which resulted in the committee's decision to put the project on hold for two weeks. The committee also announced its intent to allocate $5,000 for an independent mediator, which the city administration will be responsible for finding. A slew of Avondale community members spoke out in opposition of
the project, while representatives from National Church Residences (NCR), Josh Spring of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and Kevin Finn of Strategies to End Homelessness were some of those who publicly expressed support for the project. Many in opposition articulated concern that predominantly poor black neighborhoods such as Avondale are "targeted" for low-income housing projects like these, while supporters insist a spread of misinformation is largely responsible for the tension and that the complex is a necessary step in moving forward with the city's 2008 Homeless to Homes Plan, which explicitly cited NCR as the well-regarded nonprofit developer and manager of supportive housing facilities commissioned to bring a permanent supportive housing facility to the city. The proposed project, coined Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit facility providing residency and supportive services to the area homeless population, particularly those with with severe mental health issues, physical disabilities and histories of alcohol and substance abuse. The project, which gained City Council's official support in February, has recently come under scrutiny from community group Avondale 29, Alaska Avenue residents and other community stakeholders who are fervently expressing public distaste for the facility, which they worry will threaten the safety and revitalization efforts in the neighborhood. CityBeat covered the controversy here. Councilman Smitherman, who originally voted against Council's support for the project in February, vocally expressed his opposition, and later, Councilman Winburn rescinded his support for the project. "It appears that maximum citizen participation did not happen... you are having hundreds of people who are not ready yet for this project. So something went wrong somewhere," he said. Winburn was also the one to announce the motion that asked council to suspend the project for two weeks. Both sides are expected to once again go in front of the Budget & Finance Committee on a Sept. 30 meeting.
by German Lopez
81 days ago
D.C. shooting leaves 13 dead, disparity study advances, Commons at Alaska project on hold
Yesterday’s shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., left 13 dead, including the suspected shooter. The suspect was identified as Aaron Alexis,
34, by the FBI. He died after a gun battle with police. Alexis was
discharged from the Navy Reserve in 2011, the same year he was arrested
for accidentally firing a bullet into his neighbor’s apartment. The
Associated Press also reported that Alexis had been suffering from severe mental health issues and hearing voices. The Washington Post will continue live blogging about the events here.
City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee yesterday unanimously approved a proposal
that will allow the city administration to study whether city contracts
should favorably target minority- and women-owned businesses and report
back with the results in February 2015. City officials support the
measures because reported city contract participation rates have
plummeted for minority-owned businesses and remained relatively flat for
women-owned businesses since Cincinnati dismantled its previous
minority- and women-owned business program in 1999. The study, which the
city now estimates will cost $450,000 to $1 million,
is necessary because of a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires
governments to empirically prove there is a racial or gender-based
disparity before enacting policies that favorably target such groups.
City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee also put a two-week hold
on the controversial supportive housing project in Avondale while an independent mediator, who will be paid $5,000 by the city administration, goes in to take community feedback. The Commons at Alaska project has been criticized by community
members who fear it will bring more deterioration to an already-blighted
neighborhood, but supporters argue that a spread of misinformation has led to
the current tensions. The proposed 99-unit facility would provide residence to
the homeless, particularly those with severe mental health issues,
physical disabilities and drug abuse histories. CityBeat covered the controversy in further detail here.
Gov. John Kasich yesterday reversed a decision
from the Ohio Development Services Agency that prevented the public
from seeing tax credit estimates that state agencies like JobsOhio
use to gauge whether giving a business a tax break is worthwhile. Kasich
agreed to the reversal after being questioned by reporters about
whether keeping the estimates secret only further perpetuates the
narrative that JobsOhio, the privatized development agency, is
unaccountable. JobsOhio has been mired in multiple scandals in the past
couple months after media reports revealed the agency suggested tax
credits for companies with direct financial ties to the governor and
JobsOhio board members. Republicans argue JobsOhio’s privatized,
secretive nature helps it more quickly establish job-creating
development deals, but Democrats say it allows the agency to waste
taxpayer money without public scrutiny.
Kasich also hinted that his administration might pursue the Medicaid expansion without legislation,
but he also clarified that the expansion will require agreement from
legislators at some level. Under Obamacare, the federal government is
asking states to expand Medicaid to include anyone at or below 138
percent of the federal poverty level; if states accept, the federal
government will pay for the entire expansion through 2016 then phase its
payments down to an indefinite 90 percent. Kasich has been a strong
proponent of the expansion, but Republican legislators have so far
rejected his support.A national organization could target Ohio’s LGBT population
as part of a nationwide campaign that will raise awareness about
Obamacare’s benefits. Kellan Baker, founder of Out 2 Enroll, says the
efforts are needed in Ohio and the rest of the country because gay,
lesbian, bisexual and especially transgendered people are often
uninsured at greater levels than the rest of the country as a result of
outright discrimination and poor outreach efforts. But three major
changes in Obamacare could help fix the trend: tax subsidies, online
marketplaces that will allow participants to compare insurance plans and
new regulations that protect LGBT groups from discrimination in the
health care and insurance industries.
A downtown office building at 906 Main St. is being converted to apartments.
Piracy apparently plays a major role in Netflix’s show purchases.
Wait But Why helps put time in perspective.
Small animals see the world in slow motion.
by Hannah McCartney
86 days ago
Winburn, Thomas cite "community outrage" in asking council to oppose project
The controversial permanent supportive housing facility proposed for a residential area of Avondale that caused outrage amongst Avondale community members took a small blow today when Cincinnati City Council members Pam Thomas and Charlie Winburn introduced a motion at a City Council meeting to rescind council's original support for the facility. The proposed facility, Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit housing facility providing residency and supportive services to the area homeless population, particularly those with severe mental health issues, physical disabilities and histories of alcohol and substance abuse. CityBeat covered extensively the Avondale community's concerns about the location of the facility and how the project's developers felt the facility was misunderstood ("Home Invasion," issue of Sept. 4). On Feb. 13, City Council offered its official support for the Commons at Alaska project in a resolution, a decision members of Avondale 29, the group formed to oppose the project, say was made without proper community outreach and neglect for proper considerations of the facility's effects on the already-blighted surrounding neighborhood. At that time, Christopher Smitherman and Cecil Thomas (before he resigned his position) were the only two members of council who did not vote to pass the resolution. The motion reads: "When the resolution was heard by City Council, a small minority of the 18,000 members of the Avondale Community expressed their support for the development. Further, the North Avondale Community Council has voiced their opposition to the development. With this resolution, the majority of the community who are opposed to the development are being heard." The developer, National Church Residences, is a well-respected developer and manager of housing facilities for the homeless nationwide. In June, the project received more than $1 million in tax credit financing from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which would allow NCR to move forward with building plans and eventually begin construction in summer 2014. City Council's official support was originally cited in NCR's application to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which may have factored in to OHFA's decision to award the tax credits. The motion will be voted on in council's Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.
Remedial efforts to combat and understand local food deserts strive to improve public health
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 12, 2013
When grocery store chain Aldi shuttered
the doors of its Avondale location in 2008, the neighborhood didn’t just
lose a community business. It lost a slice of its livelihood.
Gabriel's Place promotes the understanding of healthy, local foods
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Everything is better when you feel like you’re a part of it.
That’s Chef Kristen St. Clair’s philosophy. She’s a chef who welcomes
the community into her kitchen, where they become a part of growing,
harvesting, cooking and understanding fresh, healthy food.
by Kevin Osborne
Cincinnati City Council took the first step Tuesday in repealing the city's ban on owning Pit Bull terriers. Council's Livable Communities Committee voted 5-1 to support repeal, saying it was unfair to single out a specific breed for harsher treatment. Experts have said Pit Bulls aren't inherently vicious, and that their treatment and training by their owners is responsible for any bad behavior. Councilman Cecil Thomas opposed the repeal, stating he was concerned about “enforcement issues.” The full City Council could make a final decision as soon as this afternoon. CityBeat examined the ban in-depth here.Police Chief James Craig met Tuesday morning with 19 ministers and community leaders in an Avondale church. Craig wants to create a partnership with clergy to combat youth violence and shootings. It was the second such session that Craig has held this month. Since police presence was increased in Avondale April 2, no more shootings have occurred in the neighborhood.A Cincinnati police officer was hospitalized after being hurt for the second time on the job. Officer Jerry Enneking has survived four car crashes while on-duty. The 23-year police veteran was rear-ended in a five-car crash Tuesday. Seeing another driver trapped, Enneking ignored his own injuries and helped rescue the person.Tim Tebow, the prayerful quarterback for the New York Jets, will be in town today for two events at Cincinnati Christian University in Price Hill. The first already is sold out, but there are $500 tickets still available for a banquet. Both events will focus on how Tebow balances his life in the NFL with his faith.The School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in Over-the-Rhine is being awarded a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The SCPA competed with more than 300 other groups for the cash, which will be used to support the school's Master's Artist Series and Artists in Residence programs for the next school year.In news elsewhere, an ex-drilling engineer for BP Oil has been arrested on charges of intentionally destroying text messages sought by federal authorities as evidence in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The charges of obstruction of justice filed against Kurt Mix, in the Eastern District of Louisiana, are the first criminal charges connected to the oil spill. If found guilty, Mix could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each count.As expected, Willard Mitt Romney swept the five Republican presidential primaries held Tuesday. The former Massachusetts governor got 67.4 percent of the vote in Connecticut, 56.5 percent in Delaware, 62.4 percent in New York, 58 percent in Pennsylvania, and 63.2 percent in Rhode Island. Most of the other GOP contenders have conceded the nomination race to Romney.During the presidency of George W. Bush, the United States had the worst job creation record in decades, suffered the worst recession since the Great Depression and borrowed billions of dollars from China to support two wars. If you've been wondering how Romney or other Republican politicians running for office would do anything differently, wonder no more. Alexandra Franceschi, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said in an interview last week that the GOP's economic platform will be the same as that under Bush, just “updated.” There, voters: You have been warned.A Brooklyn district attorney is resisting a public records request to divulge the names of 85 Orthodox Jews arrested on sex charges there during the past three years. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes says the "tight-knit" nature of the Orthodox community makes it impossible to disclose the identities of abuse suspects without also identifying their victims. A Jewish newspaper might file a legal challenge to the decision.Despite numerous cuts to government spending in the name of austerity — or perhaps because of it, if you listen to some economists — the United Kingdom has now officially sunk into a double-dip recession, its first since the 1970s. Economic indicators reveal the U.K. economy has performed even more weakly since the current financial crisis began than in the Great Depression.
by Kevin Osborne
A crowd estimated at close to 1,500 people attended a rally Monday evening at downtown's Fountain Square to express outrage that the alleged shooter of an unarmed teenager in Sanford, Fla., hasn't been arrested. The Feb. 26 killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, has sparked widespread outrage, but some of the marchers at the Cincinnati rally said it's a time to remember all victims of violent crimes. The Rev. Peterson Mingo, who's lost five relatives to violence, urged attendees to take non-violent action. "The same thing can happen to either one of you, someone you know, family or friends,” Mingo said. “And it doesn't matter the color of your skin. We have all the same rights."Meanwhile, details about the shooter's account of the incident were leaked to a Florida newspaper near Sanford. Police reports indicate George Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin, told police the teenager punched him in the nose and tackled him, bashing his head into the ground. That's when Zimmerman shot Martin at point blank range in the chest, the reports said. The reports state that Zimmerman was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. Some — but not all — of the witnesses to the incident have corroborated this version of events.Neighborhood activists in Avondale, where 11 murders occurred last year, will be the first in the nation to try a new anti-violence program that uses a relatively simple approach. The Moral Voice program involves using “people of influence” in the lives of criminals to speak to them, encourage them to stop shooting and selling drugs, and offer help to get their lives back on track. It's unclear how this differs from the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), which uses a similar approach.Some area Tea Party groups have taken umbrage at letters they've received from the IRS. The agency has sent questionnaires to various groups, including the Liberty Township Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Council, seeking information about their political activities because they've applied for tax-exempt status. But some groups think the questions are too intrusive and constitute harassment. A University of Notre Dame law professor, however, said the IRS inquiries do not seem overly intrusive or unusual.The Great Recession hit Ohio harder than just about every other state in terms of private-sector job loss. Only three states lost more private-sector jobs than Ohio during the last four years, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Buckeye State lost 266,300 private-sector jobs between 2008-12, leaving it with about 4.36 million positions.A longtime West Side fixture has died. Demetrios Christos James Kostopoulo, or just “Jim” to his many friends and acquaintances, recently died at age 74 while working at his popular restaurant, Delhi Chili. A Greek immigrant, Kostopoulo came to the United States in 1956. He opened his eatery in 1963 and would work 12-day shifts before taking time off, his daughter said.In news elsewhere, the impact of the individual mandate in President Obama's health-care reform law is being vastly overstated, some economists say. Even as the Supreme Court hears arguments about the law's constitutionality, analysts note that most Americans already have coverage that satisfies the mandate. For the remainder, the law would create subsidies that would help pay for coverage. The mandate most likely will affect about 25 million people when it takes effect in 2014 — many of whom are younger, healthier people who were taking the risk of going without health insurance. (That's probably you, dear CityBeat reader.)Syria has reportedly accepted a ceasefire plan drawn up by Kofi Annan, a special envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League. Annan's spokesman confirmed that the government had accepted the six-point peace plan, which the U.N. Security Council has endorsed. Annan said it dealt with "political discussions, withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, humanitarian assistance being allowed in unimpeded, (and) release of prisoners,” although few details were available. Syria has waged a violent crackdown against anti-government protestors for more than 12 months.A strong earthquake shook northern Japan today, but no damage was reported and there was no risk of a tsunami. The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded a 6.4 preliminary magnitude. There may be a small change in sea levels, the agency said, but it didn't issue any tsunami warnings.There was a close call in space over the weekend. A leftover piece of an old Russian satellite forced six astronauts on the International Space Station to take shelter in a pair of lifeboat-like space capsules Saturday, but passed harmlessly by the outpost to the crew's relief. The space junk was spotted too late to move the orbiting laboratory out of the way and flew as close as 6.8 miles when it zoomed by, NASA officials said. Where's Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and those other Armageddon space cowboys when you need them?
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 10, 2011
In what’s the largest solar project in downtown Cincinnati to date, 429 solar energy collection panels have been installed on the roof of the Duke Energy Convention Center. The 101 kilowatt installation is expected to receive 1,000 hours of sunlight annually and reduce the center’s greenhouse gas emissions by 57.9 metric tons each year.
Beth Robinson leads Uptown Consortium's mission to revitalize urban neighborhoods around UC
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Uptown Cincinnati is home to some of the city's largest employers, best known attractions and entertainment spots. In the right spots you'll see vibrancy, potential and even a little charm. But like in so many areas of the urban core, other parts are run down, prone to violence. The nonprofit Uptown Consortium has promoted the revitalization of these urban neighborhoods since 2004.