0 Comments · Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Mayor John Cranley recently announced he
is replacing Planning Commission Chair Caleb Faux with former Pleasant
Ridge Community Council President Dan Driehaus.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:22 AM | Permalink
Faux out as planning commission head; Silicon Cincy; Congressional budget has big deals for big banks, big donors
Morning all. It’s Friday, I’m almost finished with a couple big stories for next week and I’m warm and cozy next to my portable fireplace (read: space heater). Things are looking up.Let’s talk about news. Mayor John Cranley recently announced he is replacing Planning Commission Chair Caleb Faux with former Pleasant Ridge Community Council President Dan Driehaus. Last month, Faux and Cranley got into a tiff after City Manager Harry Black removed a provision from the planning commission’s agenda that would have preserved the possibility of commuter rail in the city’s plans for Wasson Way on the East Side. Faux accused Cranley, who is no fan of rail projects, of trying to block future light rail along Wasson Way. Cranley said he simply wanted to give more time for consideration of the measure.Cranley said the move wasn't a reflection on Faux and that Driehaus is simply a better fit for the board. Council voted unanimously to approve Driehaus’ appointment.Faux fired back yesterday after Cranley announced his replacement. While Faux said Driehaus is capable and will do a good job, he painted the mayor as a foe of city planning attempts to create pedestrian-friendly, walkable neighborhoods and a friend of big developers. Faux and Cranley have been at odds for years on the subject of form-based versus use-based codes, going back to Oakley’s Center of Cincinnati development last decade. That development put a Target, Meijers and other big box stores in the neighborhood. Faux opposed the project."What the mayor seems to want is a planning commission that will accept his direction and won't be independent,” Faux told the Business Courier yesterday. “I think he has a philosophy that we need to be friendly to developers and that using land-use regulations as a way to shape the city is not a good idea."Cranley spokesman Kevin Osborne brushed off that criticism. He pointed to Cranley’s involvement in the creation of tax-increment financing districts for Over-the-Rhine and downtown while he was on City Council as evidence the mayor is invested in creating urban spaces. Pointing to redevelopment in OTR as a sign you’re not cozy with big developers is an interesting way to go. But I digress.• Also in City Hall news, Cranley announced yesterday he will appoint former congressman and Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken to the city’s port authority board. Luken, who was instrumental in creating the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, has strong ties in the Cincinnati business community. He’s also close with Cranley, and the move may be a way to improve strained relations between the port and City Hall.• Councilman Chris Seelbach yesterday announced a proposal to add people who are homeless to a list of those protected by the city’s hate crime laws. He also announced a second proposal adding $45,000 in funding for the city’s winter shelter in OTR. You can read more about both here.• Is Cincinnati the next Silicon Valley? The Huffington Post seems to think it’s possible. The blog cited Cincinnati as one of eight unexpected cities where investors are flocking. OTR-based business incubator The Brandery got a specific shout out, as did the city’s major Fortune 500 companies and its “All American Midwest” feel. Trigger warning: The term “flyover city” is used in reference to Cincy in this article.• Last night, the Ohio State Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would amend the state’s constitution and change the redistricting process for elections to the Ohio General Assembly. It took until 4 a.m. to reach the agreement, because the Senate parties hard. The amendment would create a seven-member board composed of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state and two legislators from each party. That is two more members than the current board, which is made up of two statewide office holders and three legislators. The 10-year district maps drawn by the board would need two votes from the minority party or they would come up for review after four years. The bill next goes to the Ohio House, where it is expected to pass.• Finally: Congress has agreed upon a budget, it seems, and the government won’t come to a grinding, weeks-long shutdown like it did last year. If you just leave it there and don’t think about it more than that, that’s good news. But looking into some of the budgetary sausage being made is a bit terrifying. Rolled up in the massive “CRomnibus” spending proposal (meaning continuing resolution plus omnibus spending bill) is a measure that would increase rich donors’ ability to give money to political parties. Currently, donors are limited to $97,200 as individuals. The new limit would be a seven-fold boost: $776,000. A married couple would be able to donate a jaw-dropping $3.1 million under the rule changes tucked into the shutdown-averting measure. Another worrisome measure would dismantle certain parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, which holds big banks accountable for reckless, risky financial dealings. In the simplest terms, the rules change would allow banks to keep certain risky assets in accounts insured by the federal government, leaving taxpayers on the hook for huge potential losses. As if we didn’t learn our lesson in 2008. The measures were last-minute concessions needed to win the votes of a number of conservative congressmen. It’s depressing to think that our options are either a complete lapse into governmental dysfunction or these gimmes to the nation’s most powerful financial interests, but there you have it. Have a fun Friday!
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 11:00 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati area follows national trend in arrest disparities; rail advocates concerned city leaders are trying to shut down a commuter rail project; someone made a video game controller that draws blood
Morning all. Let’s get right to the news, shall we?It’s hardly a secret that arrest rates in communities across the country are often much higher for minorities. That’s certainly true for suburbs in the Cincinnati area, where authorities often arrest a much higher proportion of blacks than whites. In Sharonville, for instance, blacks are 12 times more likely to be arrested, and in Norwood, they’re seven times more likely. Law enforcement authorities in those communities say that the data controls for the lower population of blacks in those communities but doesn’t take into account the fact that not everyone committing crimes in those places lives there, which they say skews the numbers. Civil rights activists, however, say the data shows a clear racial disparity caused by a number of factors that need to be addressed. Many studies have made it clear that drug use, for instance, is just as high among whites as it is blacks, but law enforcement in many communities makes many more arrests in the latter. • Are City Manager Harry Black and Mayor John Cranley trying to pre-empt a rail project right out of existence? It seems a little premature to say, but that’s the concern expressed by the city’s planning commission chair Caleb Faux and some advocates for a rail component of the proposed Wasson Way trail. The project looks to extend bike paths and eventually, possible commuter rail lanes through Evanston, Hyde Park and Mount Lookout. But on Thursday, Black removed from the city’s planning commission agenda legislation seeking to preserve the possibility of rail in the area by creating a transportation overlay district. The move has sparked worries that Black was acting on orders from Cranley, no friend of rail, in a bid to pre-emptively block a future rail project through the Wasson Way corridor. Cranley said he only wanted to give time for more public input before a vote on the overlay district was taken.• In other City Hall news, Black announced his pick for the city’s director of trade and development today in a news release. Oscar Bedolla will be the city’s head of economic development. He previously worked for the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration on infrastructure projects in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Chicago and Denver. • State Rep. Alicia Reece, who represents Cincinnati, is pushing for a law that would require greater aesthetic differences between fake guns and real ones in the wake of another police shooting Saturday night in Cleveland. A 12-year-old boy was shot and killed by police officers, who thought the toy gun he was carrying was a semi-automatic pistol. The incident has tragic echoes of the August shooting of John Crawford III in a Beavercreek Walmart. Crawford was carrying a pellet gun sold in the store when police shot him. • As lawmakers in the Ohio General Assembly wrangle over how to fix the state’s unemployment compensation system, a new report on the fund reviews how slashes to taxes on employers put the state in debt to the federal government to the tune of $1.3 billion. It’s interesting reading, to say the least, and a primer in the problems that can arise from some lawmakers' "cut every possible tax to the bone” mentality.• Finally, if you’re really serious about video games, I have a Kickstarter for you to check out. It’s for a company that wants to make a controller that extracts real blood from you every time you’re injured in a video game. “It’s stupidly simple,” the pitch starts. Well, that’s at least partially right. Yow. The device keeps track of how much blood it hass removed, however, so you don’t like, pass out or bleed to death because you’re terrible at "Call of Duty."
by James McNair
Posted In: News
at 08:56 AM | Permalink
Voting memo suggests Obama policies bad for company, workers
It’s no secret that Cintas Corp. CEO Scott Farmer showers
part of his wealth on Republican political candidates. Over the years,
he has thrown money at George W. Bush, Rob Portman and Steve Chabot.
This year, he has given $52,500 to the Mitt Romney campaign. His wife
Mary has ponied up $22,500.
But votes, not money, win elections, and the Farmers’ two
meager votes don’t amount to much. So what better way to help the Romney
effort than to muster the votes of the Cintas-employed masses, as Scott
Farmer did in an Oct. 19 letter e-mailed to his 30,000 or so workers,
or “partners” as he likes to call them.
Farmer, the son of Cintas founder Richard Farmer, takes
issue with Obamacare, the “potential of government to increase current
tax rates” and what he considers business-impeding “over-regulation” by
federal agencies. All three are straight from the Romney playbook.
Farmer, though, insists that the company doesn’t “endorse one candidate
over another.” Cintas spokeswoman Heather Maley said the letter was sent
to help employees “make an informed decision.”
“In today’s political climate, the issues can certainly be
confusing and even overwhelming,” Maley said in a statement. “We
believe our partners want to be informed about issues that affect our
company and are interested to know where the company stands on these
One would think that after Cintas’ shabby treatment at the
hands of the Bush administration, Farmer would welcome a second Obama
term. In 2008, Cintas agreed to pay a $2.8 million fine to settle
federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration charges that it
was willfully negligent in the death of a Cintas worker who fell into an
industrial dryer while clearing a tangle of wet laundry at a company
plant in Tulsa, Okla. In 2005, Cintas had to fend off U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission claims that it was biased against
women in filling sales jobs. The claims were dismissed in court. And in
2004, the Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service investigated
whether Cintas tacked millions of dollars in “environmental fees” on
uniforms, towels and mats it cleaned for the postal service under a
10-year, $200 million contract. Cintas halted the practice.
One person who doesn’t buy into Cintas’ professed
ambivalence about its workers’ voting choices is Caleb Faux, executive
director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. Cintas is based in
Mason, and many of its workers live and vote in Hamilton County. He sees
the Farmer letter as a brazen reminder to workers of the source of
“I think that it’s disgraceful that any employer would use
the power implicit in the employer-employee relationship to coerce
people while they are making their voting decisions,” Faux said.
Kentucky ruling could affect how Ohio elects judges
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 20, 2010
A federal appeals court recently made a groundbreaking decision that will change the way judicial candidates run for office in Kentucky and has some experts worried about how it could potentially impact Ohio judicial elections and the impartiality of judges. The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the rules used in Kentucky for electing judges, stating the current rules violate the candidates' First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 3, 2010
When a Jan. 25 e-mail exchange between Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune and Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke became public through a leak, it lifted the veil on the thinking of some political bigwigs. The pair began the exchange to discuss who should be appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Elections and ended up opening an ugly window into inter-party dealings and behind-the-scenes jockeying.