Forget about those last-minute summertime picnics, Labor Day fireworks and Halloween hayrides. I wish November would hurry up and arrive. That’s because it’s still 76 days away from the elections for Cincinnati City Council and the level of grandstanding by incumbents already has reached irritating proportions.
There are certain topics that newspaper headline writers enjoy a lot, the type of stories that allow for the creation of puns so funny that every elderly person who can still read 48-point font will laugh until they pee their pants (and then hopefully laugh about that). One such topic offered itself to The Enquirer today — the possible legalization of medical marijuana — and its online editor came through with the following: “Pot ballot measure now a joint effort.”
In a letter sent July 8 to the Ethics Commission, attorney Tim Mara alleges that Towne Properties, a firm owned by the family of Councilman Chris Bortz, holds a 50-percent stake in a newly created firm established so the project could receive $21 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) from the city. City Council approved the TIF deal at its June 29 meeting, with Bortz abstaining from the vote.
One of the nice things about Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune is he never gives up trying to find a way to help taxpayers get out of the supremely bad deal that led to the construction of the Reds and Bengals stadiums.
Circumstances surrounding a racial slur allegedly used last week by a Cincinnati city councilman against a black municipal sanitation worker are getting murkier and murkier. Perhaps the only person who knows for certain whether Councilman Chris Bortz called garbage truck driver Shawn T. Allen a “nigger” and threatened to “shoot his ass” last week is the other sanitation worker.
In an effort to fortify Cincinnati’s ailing retirement system for municipal workers, City Council narrowly approved a package of reforms March 16 aimed at reversing the system’s current course toward a projected $1 billion shortfall. In a 5-4 vote, City Council approved reforms that stiffen eligibility requirements, reduce some benefits and increase the retirement age for current workers.
Some community groups are outraged about a hastily crafted proposal by Cincinnati officials that could result in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office taking control of all policing within city limits, adding it shows a lack of planning and judgment. Critics say the wide-sweeping proposal, which is being rushed through in three months, would disrupt many of the hard-fought police reforms that resulted from the Collaborative Agreement.
It’s a coincidence of timing that this issue of CityBeat contains a news article about a recent panel discussion on “the vanishing middle class.” People familiar with the topic probably already know one of the article’s salient points: Although worker productivity has increased significantly since the mid-1970s, wages for many workers have remained flat or even dropped in inflation-adjusted dollars. The people benefiting from the increased productivity are the wealthiest one-fifth of Americans, who saw their share of income increase. Most of us are working harder but we’re not reaping the fruits of our labor.
If everything goes as planned, Cincinnati’s streetcar system connecting the University of Cincinnati to Over-the-Rhine and the downtown riverfront will carry its first passengers on Reds Opening Day in 2013 — about 25 months from now. That’s the unofficial target date for the system’s opening, according to City Hall sources. But readers can safely bet that between now and then there will be plenty of overheated and inaccurate rhetoric designed to confuse citizens and block the project.