0 Comments · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Democratic Councilman Cecil Thomas will
resign his council seat after the April 17 council meeting. Thomas
recommended that his wife of 32 years, Pam Thomas, take his seat.
by German Lopez
Streetcar faces $22.7m budget gap, bill would restrict sex education, councilman resigns
In a memo to the mayor and City Council members last night, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. revealed the streetcar is facing a $22.7 million shortfall because construction bids were way over budget. The memo says $5.3 million of that budget gap could be brought down through cuts, but fixing the rest requires $17.4 million in additional funds. The memo comes at a time the city is attempting to balance its operating budget by laying off cops and firefighters. But as John Deatrick explained when the city moved to hire him for the streetcar project, the streetcar is part of the capital budget, which is separate from the operating budget and can't be used to balance the operating budget because of legal and traditional constraints.The budget bill heading to the Ohio House floor would ban comprehensive sex education, defund Planned Parenthood and fund crisis pregnancy centers that pro-choice groups consider "anti-choice." Citing "gateway sexual activity," the bill would open teachers to up to $5,000 in fines for explaining the use of condoms and other birth control to students, and it also bans the distribution of any birth control on school grounds. The bill takes its anti-contraceptive measures to promote an abstinence-only education program. Research has found abstinence-only programs to be generally ineffective, while birth control programs ultimately save money by avoiding costly pregnancies and sexually transmitted infection treatment.Councilman Cecil Thomas is stepping down, and he will be replaced by his wife of 32 years, Pam Thomas. The appointment has raised questions about how council members are replaced upon resignation, but Thomas says he's just following the rules. Under the current system, designees appoint successors to council seats, but the designees give great weight to the incumbent's input.JobsOhio repaid $8.4 million to Ohio yesterday — fulfilling a promise it made in March that it would fully repay the state for public funding received since it opened on July 5, 2011. The sum is much higher than the $1 million state officials originally said would go to the agency. JobsOhio's finances came under criticism after it was revealed that Gov. John Kasich was redirecting public funds to the agency, prompting a closer look from State Auditor Dave Yost. JobsOhio is a privatized development agency that Kasich and Republicans established to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development.In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, Flying Pig Marathon organizers are evaluating security measures, but they're not sure whether additional measures are needed just yet. The Flying Pig Marathon is expected to draw more than 20,000 participants on May 5 — close to the 23,000 who typically attend the Boston Marathon. Still, only about 150,000 spectators are expected at the Flying Pig Marathon, while about 500,000 typically spectate the Boston Marathon.City Council is expected to vote today in support of expanding mobile food vending in the city and make the program, which is handled by 3CDC, permanent. The new mobile vending spots will be near nightlife areas in Over-the-Rhine and during the day at Washington Park.TriHealth and Mercy Health are among the top 15 hospital systems in the United States, according to a new ranking from Truven Health Analytics.When renewing its contract with Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., Kroger asked the company to move its center from Des Moines, Iowa, to Cincinnati, bringing an estimated 55 new jobs to the city.New surgical tape works like a parasitic worm for extra stickiness.For the first time, scientists are being allowed to study psychedelics for potential medical treatments.
by German Lopez
Cecil Thomas recommends Pam Thomas for replacement
Democratic Councilman Cecil Thomas’ last City Council
meeting will be Wednesday, after which he will be replaced by his wife of
32 years, Pam Thomas.
“Her qualifications are impeccable,” Thomas told reporters Tuesday. “She will give this city a good representation.”
Thomas’ wife ran for Hamilton County clerk of courts last
year, ultimately losing to Tracy Winkler. But Thomas said she won 70
percent of the vote in Cincinnati, making her an obviously strong
contender as a local candidate.
Thomas’ recommendation has raised questions among critics about how council members are replaced upon resignation. Incumbents can only make recommendations to successor designees, who make the final decision, but as Councilman Wendell Young, one of Thomas’ designees, noted at the meeting, the designees typically give great weight to the incumbent’s recommendation. When asked whether council members should have so much
power in recommending appointees, Thomas said, “I just follow the
rules.” He said if City Council wants to change the rules, it can.
Thomas said he will now run for the
State Senate seat being left vacant by State Sen. Eric Kearney, who is
term limited. He acknowledged the State Senate may be a more
difficult place for Democrats, which are in the minority at the state
level, but he said he hopes to “bridge divides” if he serves.
Until then, Thomas said he is looking forward to his time
off, although he will miss having a role in local politics: “It's going
to be tough to not be able to have that direct hands-on.”
Thomas said he wanted to step down earlier in the year,
but he decided to stay in office to see if the city could avoid laying
off cops and firefighters by balancing the fiscal year 2014 budget through the parking plan
(“Parking Stimulus,” issue of Feb. 27), which Thomas strongly supports. With the parking plan now in legal limbo and the layoffs going through, Thomas is stepping down.
by German Lopez
Explosions shake Boston Marathon, council member could resign, sequestration hurts Ohio
Two explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday led to the deaths of at least three and injured at least 140 others,
with the deaths including an 8-year-old boy. So far, it is
unclear who carried out the bombings. Police said the two bombs
were set in trash cans, less than 100 yards apart, near the finish line
of the marathon. Officials said police also found two bombs in different
locations, but they were not set off. At least 134 entrants
from Greater Cincinnati were at the marathon, but none are believed to
be hurt, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The bombings were carried out on Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts-based
holiday that commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution,
and tax day. They were the first major act of terrorism on U.S. soil
since Sept. 11, 2001.
Councilman Cecil Thomas is set to make a major
announcement today at 11:30 a.m. The speculation is that Thomas will
officially announce he’s appointing his wife Pamula Thomas to replace him on City Council — a
move he’s hinted at for a couple months now. Thomas is term limited
from running again in City Council, but appointing his wife to his seat
could give her some credibility and experience to run in November.
Federal sequestration, a series of across-the-board budget cuts at the federal level, is already having an effect on Cincinnati and Ohio,
with cuts taking place for education, housing and the environment. In
Cincinnati, the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency plans
to carry out $1 million in cuts by dropping 200 kids from the Head
Start program, which helps low-income families get their children into
preschool and other early education programs. Wendy Patton, a senior
project director at Policy Matters Ohio, says the cuts are only the “tip
of the iceberg.”
David Pepper, a Democrat who previously served on City
Council and the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, announced
yesterday that he will run for state attorney general. “I have been traveling
the state for years now listening to working and middle class Ohioans
and it is clear they want a change, a new direction at all levels,”
Pepper said in a statement. “I’m running for Ohio Attorney General
because Ohioans deserve better.” In the statement, Pepper touted his
experience working with law enforcement in Cincinnati and Hamilton
At least seven members of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees are asking fellow member Stan Chesley to resign
after Chesley’s permanent disbarment by the Kentucky Supreme Court last
month. A letter to Chesley from his fellow board members cited the
Kentucky Supreme Court ruling, claiming he “engaged in conduct involving
dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”Greater Cincinnati housing permits increased by 41
percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati. The numbers are another sign the local economy is quickly recovering from the Great Recession.
Convergys plans to fill 1,000 work-at-home call jobs in 60 days.
DunnhumbyUSA is preparing for future growth in Cincinnati by building a new headquarters.
Solar panels may be used to make natural gas 20 percent more efficient and therefore pollute 20 percent less greenhouse gases.
Two new studies of mice and rat skin cells could be used to treat brain disease.
by German Lopez
Councilman says more gun regulations unlikely at local level
In light of the Newtown, Conn., massacre, a City Council member wants metal detectors put back in City Hall.
Democratic Councilman Cecil Thomas says he’s always been
concerned about security, and he hopes recent bouts of gun
violence will make it clear more protective steps are necessary.
Thomas argues City Hall should not be
an exception to a practice that’s carried out in other government buildings. He
points to federal and county buildings and other city halls around the
nation, which tend to use metal detectors.
Thomas, who was a police officer until 2000, acknowledges
metal detectors are a “little bit of an inconvenience” to visitors, but he adds, “These are times when a little bit more
inconvenience can go a long way to possibly save a lot of lives.”So City Hall could get more security, but what about the city as a whole? Earlier today, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced City Council will work on a resolution to encourage Congress to pass new gun regulations at a federal level. Beyond that, Thomas says not much is likely.The problem is state law trumps local law
when it comes to gun regulations, so City Council’s hands are tied on the issue. “I would like to see us be able to
control our own destiny as it relates to gun laws, but, obviously, I
have no control over that,” Thomas says.
Metal detectors were in place at City Hall until
2006, when Mayor Mark Mallory had them taken down to make City Hall more
open to the public.
by Andy Brownfield
Local Democrats say GOP nominee's plans would hurt middle class, Hamilton County
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Saturday laid out
five steps that he said would have America “roaring back” during his first campaign stop since formally accepting the
Republican nomination.At Cincinnati's Union Terminal, Romney was joined on stage by his wife Anne, who spoke briefly, echoing her convention speech meant to humanize her husband.
He said his plan involved encouraging development in oil
and coal, implementing a trade policy that favored American companies
and not “cheaters” like China, making sure workers and students had
skills to succeed in the coming century, reducing the deficit and
encouraging small business growth.
“America is going to come roaring back,” Romney told the crowd of thousands packed inside Union Terminal.
Not everyone was so impressed with the GOP nominee’s promises.
About an hour after the Romney campaign event, Cincinnati
Democratic leaders held a news conference to rebut the Republican’s
“Much of his (Romney’s) speech was like his speech in
Tampa, which is where Romney gave Cincinnatians nothing more than vague
platitudes, false and misleading attacks without one single tangible
idea on how to move forward,” said Democratic/Charterite Cincinnati City
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson.
Simpson, along with Democratic Councilman Cecil Thomas and
Bishop Bobby Hilton, attacked the tax plan put forward by Romney and
his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. They said it would cut taxes
for the richest Americans while raising taxes on the middle class by
about $2,000 per household, citing an analysis from the nonpartisan Tax
“Mitt Romney’s plan would take Ohio and Cincinnati backwards, and we don’t have time to go backwards,” Hilton said.
Hilton credited Cincinnati’s revitalization and urban development in part on federal money obtained from Obama’s stimulus plan.
“We deserve better than this. We deserve better than Romney/Ryan,” he said.
Romney would have disagreed with Hilton’s assessment of
Cincinnati’s growth. During his speech he praised Ohio Gov. John Kasich,
crediting him with bringing jobs and businesses to the state.
Romney also took time to attack President Barack Obama’s
record in office. The GOP nominee said in preparation for his convention
speech he read many past convention speeches — including Obama’s.
“He was not one of the ones that I wanted to draw from,
except I could not resist a couple of things he said, because he made a
lot of promises,” Romney said. “And I noted that he didn't keep a lot of
Romney also criticized what he called the bitterness and
divisiveness of Obama’s campaign, saying as president he would bring the
country together. He mentioned the “patriotism and courage” of the late
Neil Armstrong, who was honored in a private service in Cincinnati on
“I will do everything in my power to bring us together,
because, united, America built the strongest economy in the history of
the earth. United, we put Neil Armstrong on the moon. United, we faced
down unspeakable darkness,” Romney said.
“United, our men and women in uniform continue to defend
freedom today. I love those people who serve our great nation. This is a
time for us to come together as a nation.”
The candidate’s remarks ignited the crowd of thousands,
many of whom wore shirts with slogans like “Mr. President, I did build
my business,” in response to a remark made by Obama about businesses being helped to grow by government contracts and
infrastructure, and “Mitt 2012: At least he never ate dog meat,” referring to a passage in Obama’s 2008 memoir during which he recalls being
fed dog meat as a boy in Indonesia.
Steve Heckman, a 62-year-old environmental consultant from
Springfield, Ohio, said he voted for Obama in 2008 but will likely
vote for Romney in this election.
He said he’d written “some pretty ugly stuff” about Romney
in the past but felt jobs was the No. 1 issue and thought the Obama
administration’s policies were sending them out of the country.
“The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has, to me, become a little too almost like a fringe group, putting so much pressure
on businesses that they are moving to Canada,” Heckman said. “Things
like air permits, the EPA is taking too long to issue them. It’s not
just power plants they’re affecting, but all manufacturing.”
Heckman said he didn’t blame the president personally but thinks whoever he put in charge of the agency is being too strict.
“I grew up when the EPA was first put in place in the '70s, and they were, in my opinion, doing God’s work,” he said, citing
the cleaning up of rivers such as the Cuyahoga near Cleveland, which
famously caught fire because of pollution in 1969.
“I support the EPA, but it’s driving businesses out of here.”
Speaking ahead of Romney were U.S. House Speaker John
Boehner, Sen. Rob Portman, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, Ohio treasurer and
GOP senatorial candidate Josh Mandel and Republican U.S. House candidate
for Ohio’s 2nd District, Brad Wenstrup.
“This election is all about changing Washington,” Mandel
said. “The only way to change Washington is to change the people we send
by Andy Brownfield
DNC causes first week's cancellations, Council to resume Sept. 19
After taking a two-month summer break — with a week for
some committee hearings and a council meeting — Cincinnati City Council
has canceled its meetings for the first half of September.
The council meetings for Sept. 6 and 12 have been
canceled, along with all committee meetings for the first week of
September and the Job Growth Committee meeting for Sept. 10.
Jason Barron, spokesman for Mayor Mark Mallory, said the
council meetings were canceled due to the Democratic National
Convention, which is occurring in the first week of September. Barron
said many of the Democratic officials in the city are delegates to the
Asked why the City Council meeting was canceled for the second week of September, Barron said he didn’t know.Council did meet once in August, where they approved a ballot measure to lengthen council terms from two to four years, as well as a plan to undo the sale of the Blue Ash airport.
All of the committee meetings for the week of the DNC were
canceled as well. Strategic Growth Committee chairwoman Laure Quinlivan
is not a delegate to the convention, but is attending, an aide said.
Council members Roxanne Qualls and Cecil Thomas, who chair
the Budget and Finance and Public Safety Committees respectively, did
not respond to CityBeat’s requests for comment as of Friday afternoon.
A special meeting of the Rules and Government Operations
Committee is meeting on Sept. 10 — the first committee meeting after the
summer break. An aide to committee chairman Wendell Young says the
committee is meeting to receive a report from a task force charged with
recommending ways to put grocery stores in so-called “food deserts” — neighborhoods where fresh food isn’t readily available.
The Livable Communities Committee and Major Transportation
& Infrastructure Sub-committee are meeting during the second week
of September, but the first full council meeting isn’t until the 19th.
Council still has a few big-ticket items it is expected
to deal with this year, including proposed budget cuts from City Manager
Milton Dohoney (expected to be laid out in November) and the approval
of a new city plan, which shifts development emphasis from downtown and
Over-the-Rhine to the city’s other 50 neighborhoods. More on that plan here.
Lawsuit, new local movement fight foreclosure practices
3 Comments · Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Ten years ago, Demetrious Smith hoped to
buy a building and work as a landlord after non-work-related injury
ended his 13-year career with General Electric, but getting financed on
the strength of his monthly $1,182 disability check seemed unlikely.
Then a postcard arrived in his family’s mailbox from a company called
National Mortgage Funding, which promised home financing for anyone.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 2, 2011
No one has ever accused Citizens Opposed
to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) of being less than honorable
and forthright. (Wait, no, that’s backwards. It happens all the time,
sorry.) The group best known for arguing from the suburbs that the city
should stop spending money trying to fix its problems today was accused
by a pro-rail group of knowingly making false statements about streetcar
0 Comments · Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Last week's extended soap opera at City Hall about how to fill a $54.7 million deficit in the budget ended anti-climatically, with differing City Council factions temporarily solving the dilemma by resorting to the same sort of tricks they did last year — instead of showing leadership or political courage, the mayor and nine elected council members decided to use $27 million in one-time sources of cash to patch over the immediate problem and approve studies into possible changes that could yield the rest of the savings.