by Nick Swartsell
28 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:22 AM | Permalink
Council passes streetcar plans; Northside's Mayday bar goes up for sale; tell me where the chili is
Before we get to news this morning, I have a query for readers. I want to venture away from the safe world of our ubiquitous chain Cincinnati chili restaurants for a day, lovely as they are, and try a smaller, more obscure chili parlor in town for lunch. Where should I go? I’m thinking about this place, but I’m open to suggestions. I’ll report back my findings tomorrow morning.Ok, on to business. A bunch of stuff happened yesterday in City Council, but it was all stuff we sort of expected would happen, right? Council passed a streetcar operating agreement and funding mechanism, a bit of a landmark achievement for the project. After a couple years of fighting, hand-wringing and politicking, it seems like this thing is actually going to happen, funded by a roll back on property tax abatements in Over-the-Rhine, a parking meter increase there and of course rider fares. “Three months ago, I didn’t know if we’d be here today with a revenue stream,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray, who chairs Council’s transportation committee, yesterday during the meeting. Murray was opposed to the project originally, but voted for the measure along with the rest of Council minus Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman. Smitherman said he still had serious concerns about the project’s financial prospects, saying no one is sure what ridership will be like.• Who will be greeting those riders is still in question, though. A fight had been brewing over whether to employ SORTA’s unionized employees to run the streetcar or bid the work out to a private company. Consultants for the transit authority say a private company could save the city as much as $300,000 a year, though Democrats on council and representatives from SORTA’s union debate that number. Council sidestepped the argument for now by passing a resolution stating that SORTA should bid the job out to see what kind of offers it can get, but that the final decision on staffing will be voted on by council, which has so far leaned toward hiring SORTA employees. One possible arrangement: SORTA workers do the actual driving, so to speak, while a private company performs the managerial side of operating the streetcar. • Council also voted to co-name Third Street downtown Carl H. Lindner, Jr. Way. The vote was unanimous, but not without its own bit of controversy. Councilman Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati’s first openly-gay councilmember, said the vote required some deep soul-searching on his part. Lindner was a big funder of Citizens for Community Values, a group that pushed for Cincinnati’s harsh Article XII anti-gay charter amendment in the 1990s. Lindner also had some other dark moments during his career, though those didn’t enter into the street-naming conversation in Council.“As a gay person, I don’t want to be judged solely on my sexual orientation,” Seelbach said. “There’s a lot to me besides my sexual orientation. And there’s a lot to Mr. Lindner besides his anti-gay history and positions. And a lot of that is really wonderful, from the jobs he created to the nonprofits he supported. Those things make me see him as a more whole person than just his anti-gay past.”Despite Seelbach's yes vote, his comments drew an angry response from Councilman Charlie Winburn, who said Lindner was something of a mentor to him.“I think it’s shameful of you to make a comment like that when a man has died and has given so much to Cincinnati.” Winburn said. Lindner passed away in 2011. “You should keep your vote. Your vote is not received." • Well then. On a less awkward note, Council also approved a liquor license request for Nick and Drew Lachey’s Lachey’s Bar in Over-the-Rhine, which is hoping to open before Thanksgiving. So there’s that. • A judge has turned down suspended Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter’s first two requests for a new trial. Hunter filed three motions asking for a new trial after jury members recanted their guilty verdicts. The jurors said they were pressured into their decisions. Those motions would have been heard in court today."Once a jury has returned a verdict, and that jury has been polled, a juror may not rescind their verdict," Judge Norbert Nadel wrote in his decision. Hunter was tried on nine felony counts last month, and convicted on one — a charge stemming from her allegedly passing on documents about her brother, a court employee accused of punching a juvenile inmate. The jury hung on the other counts. A judge will hear Hunter’s final motion for retrial Dec. 2. • Business opportunity alert: did you know Mayday is for sale? For $285,000 you get the bar and all of its inventory. Not a bad deal. Owners Vanessa Barber and Kim Mauer are moving on to other opportunities after five years of running the bar, which was known as the Gypsy Hut prior to their tenure there. I have a lot of fond memories playing music and billiards there, as well as climbing onto the roof of that building under both its names, so I hope someone snatches it up. I’d buy it, but I’m just a little short on cash. About, oh, $284,000 short. No worries, though, the bar will stay open until a new owner comes along.• Speaking of opportunities… if you’re a fellow scribe, heads up. The Cincinnati Enquirer is hiring in tons of positions, many of them reporters to replace those it lost during a Gannett-wide restructuring process.• Finally, our most esteemed Twitter friend John Mattress is at it again. Bacon is expensive indeed.For chili tips, or heck, even if you want to throw some news my way, hit me up on Twitter or at email@example.com
by Nick Swartsell
48 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:56 AM | Permalink
Enquirer's innovative new layoffs drive reporter exodus; petition circulated to name the Norwood Lateral after Carl Lindner; Kanye or Cruz?
Halloween is here. I’m taking an informal poll: how many folks are dressing up as Union Terminal and/or Music Hall tonight? I’m not knocking ya. I just wish I’d thought of that in time. Instead I have an Abraham Lincoln mask, American flag aviators, and a bow tie for a costume, so I will probably look like a very unappealing, election-themed male stripper. Procrastination is lame, folks.These are painful times for the Cincinnati Enquirer. A reorganization has been happening for a while now, but recently, news broke that a number of newsroom veterans are leaving the paper, including No. 2 in command Laura Trujillio and social issues reporter Mark Curnute, whose stories I've always been impressed with. Over the past couple months, employees have been asked to reapply for their jobs under new, more digitally-oriented job descriptions. That's definitely ruffled some feathers, and has caused the biggest shake-up in the paper's history. The departures probably have something to do with the fact Gannett brass have been wrapping layoffs at the Enquirer and other papers in the disingenuous corporate speak of an exciting new opportunity to create "the newsroom of the future", but who knows?• Right now the Ohio Department of Transportation is having its Southwestern Ohio town hall meeting on the future of public transit in the state. In Lebanon, because everyone knows that is the absolute hub of public transit in the region. You can watch the proceedings live here if you’d like to follow along at home. It’s standing room only there, maybe because I spread a rumor that there’s an ODOT party bus shuttling folks to some killer Halloween parties right after the meeting. That’s false, as far as I know. • You’ve probably already heard about the controversy over a proposal by outgoing State Sen. Eric Kearney to change the name of State Route 562 from the Norwood Lateral to the Barack Obama Norwood Lateral Highway. I bet you can guess some folks’ reaction to that idea. Norwood Mayor Tom Williams doesn’t want a name change, but did throw out another, much different suggestion: naming it after Norwood-raised business magnate Carl Lindner, who died in 2011. Williams called Lindner, who owned Chiquita, Great American Insurance, and a number of other businesses “a beautiful individual” and said the several times he got to hang out with him were “an absolute thrill.” Hm. Maybe let’s just keep calling it the Norwood Lateral. • More than 400 people in eastern Ohio were forced to leave their homes this week after a fracking operation there began leaking and “shooting an invisible gaseous discharge into the air.” …no, I’m just not even going to go there. The blowout happened about 6 p.m. Tuesday. Homes within a 2 mile radius of the site where evacuated, though officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources say no permanent environmental impact was caused by the leak and residents were back in their houses by midnight. No word on the cause of the accident.• Is the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party on the way out? Could be. Some say those within the party are furious at the monumental disaster that Dem gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald’s campaign has become, and party chair Chris Redfern could take the heat for that. We’ll see.• Almost a year exactly after political brinksmanship and partisan wrangling ground the U.S. government to a halt, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says if voters in Kentucky choose him, it’s because “they want divided government.” It may be true, though. New polls heading into the Nov. 4 election show McConnell up five points over his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. • Finally, I want to introduce you to perhaps the weirdest online quiz ever. Can you distinguish the wisdom passed down by ornery, Texan tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz from the golden, learned lessons of rapper and self-proclaimed genius Kanye West? The Washington Post wants to help you find out.
by Danny Cross
133 days ago
at 10:19 AM | Permalink
Editor says Findlay Market pee story was an “abberation” and won’t happen again
The Cincinnati Enquirer news department has seen
some hard times this week, taking down stories about rich people
getting arrested and now admitting that it was a bad idea to publish a
trashy collection of mug shots and arrest reports about people who are
likely mentally unstable or addicted to drugs.
CityBeat reported yesterday that The Enquirer
took down a story about police arresting Robert S. Castellini, son of
Reds owner Bob Castellini, and his wife Sunday night for allegedly fighting in front of their children. Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn explained in an email to CityBeat
that the story wasn’t pulled because any super-powerful local business
leaders whose team is hosting the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star
Game complained. She says neither the Castellinis nor anyone else
contacted The Enquirer about the story. Someone
in the news department apparently used flawed news judgment and then
someone else posted the story online before it had been properly vetted
by editors. Nothing sinister — just general, run-of-the-mill incompetence.
"An editor determined — and I agreed — that it did not meet our news standards for publication," Washburn wrote to CityBeat
in an email Wednesday evening. "The Mr. Castellini in question is not a
public figure, has nothing to do with the Reds, etc. We don't report
every domestic charge in the community. But while that was being
discussed, someone posted it. We quickly took it down but not before it
began to get traction."
CityBeat asked Washburn how the alleged crimes The Enquirer
published in Monday's "arrest roundup" meet the paper’s news standards
for publication based on these general guidelines. The story, titled
“Arrest roundup: Woman pees on Findlay Market,” was published just an
hour after “Reds' owners' son, daughter-in-law arrested.” The pee story detailed arrests involving a guy spitting on people at a bus stop, a dude
masturbating on the steps of a church, a woman caught with drug
paraphernalia after stealing Fig Newtons from a UDF and another lady
allegedly urinating on Findlay Market while “acting bizarre.”The story on Castellini was deleted, but the arrest roundup lives on.
Washburn says the arrest roundup was just another news-gathering fuckup.
“That was an aberration and not something we'll be doing more of,” she wrote in an email to CityBeat this morning. “That's not the kind of coverage we want to do.”
If true that The Enquirer’s news department plans
to back off dramatic stories about poor people going to jail, perhaps
focusing more on the causes of poverty than the effects, it would be a
good day for the tens of thousands of impoverished, mentally ill and
drug-addicted Cincinnatians continually underserved by city budgets that
underfund human services.
In the meantime, someone is still covering the Enquirer pee beat with gusto, although this one seems fairly deserved — Art Modell definitely screwed Cleveland over back in the day.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Fox’s WXIX 19 had a bizarre
“investigative” report which not only rehashed an earlier story at
unseemly length but also repeated itself during the rehash. City
departmental managers are supposed to live in the city, according to
Cincinnati City Council. Some apparently don’t. Good story.
0 Comments · Monday, April 14, 2014
The Enquirer recently took down a story by a “contributor” who works
for the organization her story promoted.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
An Enquirer cover story described a
local school program that could have fallen under the old-fashioned
rubrics of “shop” or “manual arts.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Abandoning its historic and
hardline anti-abortion stance, The Enquirer inadvertently
demonstrated the case for evolution last Tuesday.
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 31, 2013
CBS’ 60 Minutes
broadcast an uncritical presentation of National Security Agency’s
justifications for its constitutionally suspect surveillance of Americans.
by Danny Cross
The Cincinnati Enquirer abruptly changed its tone about the
streetcar project yesterday, writing in an editorial that the city should continue the project and leaving the newspaper on the opposite side of
Mayor-elect John Cranley on the two main issues of the campaign it endorsed just weeks ago.
Fourteen months after publishing an editorial against the
streetcar project, the three-member Enquirer editorial board yesterday spelled
out why it now supports completing the project, suggesting that a main part of
its opposition — and to Roxanne Qualls as mayor — was the
current administration’s inability to “argue effectively for the project” that
Cranley and other conservatives used to take office during an election that saw
extremely low voter turnout.
CityBeat’s German Lopez noted on Twitter the irony of The
Enquirer now supporting both the streetcar and parking plan while the candidate
it endorsed attempts to unravel both — Cranley already stopped the parking
plan. The comment drew a response from Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn, who is
on the newspaper’s editorial board along with Publisher Margaret Buchanan and
Editorial Page Editor David Holthaus.
The editorial includes the following paragraph: “In endorsing Cranley, we said
he would ‘have to rein in his dictatorial tendencies and discipline himself to
be diplomatic, respectful and collaborative.’ What we’ve seen so far is a
matter for concern. Hurling insults at professionals like streetcar project manager
John Deatrick isn’t what we need. Deatrick enjoys a good reputation as someone
who has managed The Banks project and the rebuild of Fort Washington Way. He
needs to stay on the streetcar project.”
editorial was published the same day City Council put completing the project
into law and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced his decision to support the
project’s completion, which Lopez pointed out leaves Council short of the six
votes required for an emergency clause that would immediately halt the project without leaving it open to referendum.
Without the emergency clause, streetcar supporters could gather the required signatures to put a 5-4 cancellation
vote to referendum, which would force the city to continue working on the
project until voters decide on it in November.
Mayor-elect Cranley will
hold a vote to stop the project on Monday. With Sittenfeld set to vote against halting the project, Cranley will need either newly elected David Mann
or Kevin Flynn to vote in favor of stopping it. Both are on the record as
being against the project but have left room to consider the financial realities
before making their final decisions. Cranley
announced this morning that he will name the new city manager at 2 p.m. today.
Cranley removed former city manager Milton Dohoney last week.
A story by The Enquirer’s
Mark Curnutte yesterday detailed life expectancy disparities among Cincinnati’s
poor neighborhoods, finding a 20 year difference at times between citizens of
predominantly black or urban Appalachian neighborhoods and people of wealthy white neighborhoods like Mount Lookout, Columbia
Tusculum and Hyde Park. The Cincinnati
Health Department will release more statistics Tuesday and a community
discussion on the issue is set for Jan. 10.
Pope Francis yesterday criticized the world’s growing wealth
disparity, mentioning things like “idolatry
of money” and “a new tyranny” in a 50,000-word statement that sharply
criticized trickle-down economics.
The Pope via The Washington Post:
"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which
assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably
succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This
opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and
naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized
workings of the prevailing economic system. … Meanwhile, the excluded are still
OTR restaurant Kaze will begin offering lunch hours starting
on Black Friday.
Away from home and tired of “Friends-giving” gatherings?
Here’s a bunch of restaurants serving good stuff on Thanksgiving day. Skip Black Friday craziness and use CityBeat’s Gift Guide to
shop local this holiday season. There
are also plenty of local retailers you can hit up online if you don't wait until the last minute!
If you’re traveling to some stuck-up East Coast city for
Thanksgiving, charge the iPad or whatever because there are going to be some
And high winds might cause the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day
Parade to take all the air out of the Snoopy balloons so no one flies up into
the air like in movies.
The NSA reportedly considered revealing the “porn-browsing
history” of certain people considered to have ties to terrorist activity in
order to discredit them.
Great, now America’s durable goods orders are down. Thanks a
lot, government shutdown!
At least the country’s jobless claims are back to
pre-recession levels. Thanks, Obama?
The University of Cincinnati Bearcats beat UMass Lowell in basketball last
night and senior forward Justin Jackson jammed one in the hoop hard.
0 Comments · Monday, November 18, 2013
With all of the talk
about “doing more with less,” it’s time to seriously, thoughtfully resurrect
and reconsider the dreaded M Word. It’s not MuthaFuckah.