by German Lopez
Local senator to run for lt. governor, audit clears JobsOhio, House OKs "stand your ground"
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald selected State Sen. Eric Kearney of Cincinnati as his running mate
for his bid against Gov. John Kasich in 2014. Although Kasich is widely
perceived as a favorite as the incumbent, recent polling found the race is tied. (The poll was commissioned by Ohio Democrats, but the firm behind it was deemed the most accurate national pollster of 2012.)
Republican State Auditor Dave Yost’s long-awaited audit of JobsOhio found no substantial conflicts of interests at the privatized development firm established by Gov. Kasich and
Republican legislators to replace the public Ohio Department of
Development. But the audit found 113 items totaling
nearly $69,000 in inadequately documented expenditures financed through the state’s leased liquor profits and insufficient safeguards to identify
potential conflicts of interest. In a statement, John Patrick Carney, the Democratic candidate for state auditor running against Yost in 2014, claimed the audit was “a whitewashed attempt that fails to give taxpayers a full accounting of JobsOhio” and touted it as evidence the state auditor’s office needs change. CityBeat previously wrote about criticisms towards JobsOhio in further detail here. (Updated at 10:45 a.m.: Rewrote paragraph to add Carney’s comments.)
The Ohio House yesterday approved sweeping gun legislation
that would impose “stand your ground” rules in the state and
automatically recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states.
“Stand your ground” rules remove a duty to retreat before using deadly
force in self-defense when a person is in areas in which he’s lawfully
allowed; current Ohio law only removes the duty to retreat when a person is
in his home or vehicle. The bill is particularly controversial
following Trayvon Martin’s death to George Zimmerman in Florida, where a
“stand your ground” law exists but supposedly played a minor role in
the trial that let Zimmerman go free. The bill now requires approval
from the Ohio Senate and Gov. Kasich to become law.
Commentary: “False Equivalency Confuses Streetcar Debate.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says it opposes new early voting limits
that would shorten the in-person early voting period from 35 to 29 days
and remove a “golden week” that allows Ohioans to simultaneously
register and vote in person. The Ohio Association of
Election Officials claims the limits are necessary to establish uniform
voting days across all counties without placing too much of a burden on
smaller counties. But Democrats claim the limits aim to suppress voters.
The Ohio Senate yesterday cleared the new early voting limits, which now require approval from the Ohio House and Gov. Kasich to become law.
If property and business owners along the planned
streetcar line sue over the cancellation of the $133 million project, legal experts say they have a very slim chance of winning.
The threat of litigation is one of the potential back-up options
discussed by streetcar supporters if Mayor-elect John Cranley and the
incoming City Council agree to cancel the project, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Hamilton County commissioners agreed to increase the tax return local property owners will get
as part of the deal funding Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball
Park. The deal boosts the rebate to $13 million in 2014, up from $10
million in 2013 but still below the $20.5 million promised to property
owners after voters approved a sales tax hike to fund the stadiums.
Commissioners estimate property owners will receive nearly $46 for each
$100,000 of property value from the boosted rebate, up from $35 this
year, but Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes told CityBeat that the exact number is unclear until the tax commissioner approves new tax rates.
College campuses generally struggle with too-frequent cases of sexual assault, but one lawsuit from an alleged victim is targeting Miami University
for supposed negligence and a breach of the student code of conduct.
The female student claims she was raped by former Miami University student Antonio
Charles, but she says that multiple red flags could have prevented the
alleged incident. Charles was eventually expelled from Miami University for “sexual
misconduct” in response to the incident involving the plaintiff, but
that was after he was investigated for multiple other accusations related to sexual misconduct. Miami University Sexual
Assault Response Coordinator Rebecca Getson defends some of the
university administration’s actions regarding sexual assault cases as a
strict adherence to protocol and blames some of the public perception on
the administration’s lack of awareness about the atmosphere.
Cincinnati’s economy will grow more slowly than the nation’s economy next year, according to Cincinnati USA Partnership for Economic Development’s panel of five regional economists.
Al Neyer plans to build a $22 million luxury apartment tower in downtown Cincinnati.
Cancer research done on mice might get screwed up by standard laboratory temperatures.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Senators push immigrant policy, JobsOhio gets funding, parking plan passes committee
Two Ohio senators, including Senate Minority Leader Eric
Kearney of Cincinnati, are pushing a bill that will require the state’s
Bureau of Motor Vehicles to grant driver’s licenses
to the children of illegal immigrants. The senators claim state BMV
offices are inconsistently applying President Barack Obama’s Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows the children of
illegal immigrants to remain in the country without fear of prosecution, but the Ohio Department of Public Safety says the issue is still under
review. CityBeat originally broke the story after hearing of Ever Portillo’s experiences at a Columbus BMV office here, and a follow-up story covered the internal conflict at the BMV over the issue here.
Ohio officials have said the state has only put $1 million toward JobsOhio, but records recently acquired by The Columbus Dispatch show $5.3 million in funding has been directed to the program
so far, and the public investment could be as high as $9 million. State
officials said the funding is necessary because constitutional
challenges, which the Ohio Supreme Court recently agreed to take up,
have held up the program’s original source of funding — state liquor
profits. JobsOhio is a nonprofit company established with the support of
Gov. John Kasich that’s meant to attract investment and bring jobs to
the state. Kasich says he wants to replace the Ohio Department of Development with the nonprofit company in the future.
City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee approved a plan
to lease Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati
Development Authority in a 4-3 vote yesterday, but the plan will require
five votes to become law in a final City Council vote tomorrow. The
plan, which CityBeat previously covered,
would lease the city’s parking assets to fund development
projects, including a 30-story tower and a downtown grocery store, and
help balance the deficit. The deal would produce a $92 million upfront
payment, and the city projects that additional annual installments would
generate more than $263 million throughout the lease’s duration.
Critics are worried the city will give up too much control of its
parking assets as part of the deal, and concerns about the city’s long-term
deficits remain. The alternatives — plans B, C and S — would fix
structural deficit problems, while the budget only helps balance the deficit for the next
two fiscal years.
The company that will operate Cincinnati’s parking meters if the parking deal is approved by City Council had problems in the past,
according to a tip received by multiple news outlets from Tabitha
Woodruff, an advocate at Ohio Public Interest Research Group. The issues
surfaced years before Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) was bought by
Xerox in 2010, and Xerox now denies any wrongdoing. One of the issues is
a 2007 audit, which found ACS mismanaged parking meters in Washington,
D.C. Kevin Lightfoot, a spokesperson at Xerox, says the audit was based
on “faulty information,” and a lot of the problems found were because
the auditor improperly read parking meter screen displays.
An approved commitment by the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District (HCTID) may ensure a rail service is ready for Cincinnati
in time for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Hamilton
County Commissioner Todd Portune is pushing for local and state
governments to break down any barriers for Oasis Rail Transit, which
will carry passengers from Downtown to Milford.
The Ohio Board of Education will decide
between two candidates for state superintendent next week: acting
Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Sawyers or Dick Ross, Gov.
John Kasich’s top education adviser.
After years of development and anticipation, Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino opened yesterday. The casino comes with the promise of jobs and economic development, but it also poses the risk of crime, bankruptcy and even suicide.
State and local legislators are also looking forward to extra
government revenue from the casino, even though casino revenue around
the state has fallen short of projections.
For Over-the-Rhine residents, the grand opening, which culminated in a
fireworks display, was sort of like being in the middle of a
Livability.com named Cincinnati the No. 10 spring break destination
because of the Cincinnati Zoo, Botanical Garden, IKEA, Cincinnati Art
Museum, the 21c Museum Hotel, Newport Aquarium and the Clifton Cultural
Arts Center, among other places and family-friendly activities.
Science doesn’t want pregnant women to be capable of anything.
Here are two pictures of Venus from Saturn’s view.