by German Lopez
39 hours ago
FitzGerald could replace running mate, streetcar supporters seek vote, winter shelter opens
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald is
preparing to replace running mate Eric Kearney, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Kearney, a state senator from Cincinnati, has been under increasing
pressure to drop out of the race following multiple media reports that
uncovered he, his wife and his business owe up to $826,000 in unpaid
taxes. FitzGerald is running against Republican Gov. John Kasich in 2014.Streetcar supporters will seek a city charter amendment that would task Cincinnati with continuing the $132.8 million streetcar project. Supporters say the amendment will act as a
back-up plan if Mayor John Cranley and City Council decide to strike
down the project after completion and cancellation costs are reviewed
through an independent audit. But the Federal Transit Administration
says the city would lose up to $44.9 million in federal funding —
roughly one-third of the streetcar project — if the city government doesn’t agree
to continue with the streetcar before Dec. 19. If the charter amendment gets enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot, voters could decide on the issue as
late as May.Cincinnati’s winter shelter opened today and will remain
open through February, according to the Greater Cincinnati Homeless
Coalition. The opening comes after winter storms covered Cincinnati’s
streets in ice and snow and sparked a citywide snow emergency over the weekend. The colder conditions will continue into the week,
according to the National Weather Service. It was originally unclear
whether the shelter would be able to open for its traditional
two-to-three months, but a $30,000 contribution from City Council helped
pave the way forward.The woman who was struck by a police cruiser in
Over-the-Rhine last month filed a lawsuit alleging the officer deliberately deleted
the dashboard camera video of the collision and lied when he claimed his
emergency lights and siren were on. The camera stopped recording for about three minutes right
before Officer Orlando Smith hit Natalie Cole with his cruiser. Police say the camera malfunctioned. But
the incident was the second time Smith’s camera stopped working in the
past year; previously, the camera failed to record during a shooting
that left one suspect dead and another wounded. CityBeat covered the issues surrounding cruiser cameras in further detail here.Councilman Charlie Winburn says the city wastefully
purchased and dumped 2,000 tons of road salt. Although other council
members on the Budget and Finance Committee appeared cautious of
Winburn’s accusations, he asked the city administration to
investigate the issue.
Ohioans can now enroll in an expanded Medicaid program,
which covers anyone up to 138 percent of the poverty level, or an annual
income of $15,856.20 or less. In October, a seven-member legislative
panel accepted federal funds to pay for expanded Medicaid eligibility
for two years despite resistance from the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature.
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber named a new president and CEO.
The rover Curiosity found a former lake on Mars.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
20 days ago
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
51 days ago
Republican governor bypasses GOP-controlled legislature for cornerstone of Obamacare
A seven-member legislative board on Monday accepted
federal funding to expand Ohio’s Medicaid program to cover more
low-income Ohioans for the next two years.
Republican Gov. John Kasich originally attempted to get
the Medicaid expansion through the General Assembly, but he ultimately
bypassed the legislature after months of unsuccessfully
wrangling with members of his own political party to embrace the
Kasich instead opted to go through the Controlling Board,
an obscure panel that typically handles less contentious budget issues
that keep with legislative intent.
Most Republican state representatives, including local Reps. Lou Terhar, Louis Blessing and Peter Stautberg, signed a letter
in protest of the tactic. The letter invokes legal arguments against
the governor’s decision and could be the basis for a lawsuit in the
“Our protest is not about the merits or lack of merit in
expanding Medicaid,” the letter states. “Our protest goes to the
fundamental form of government upon which our country was founded — a
Republic of checks and balances and separation of powers.”
Republican legislators say they’re concerned about the
government’s involvement in the health care system and whether the
federal government can afford to pay for the Medicaid expansion. They
argue it would be better to pursue Medicaid reforms instead of expanding
On the other side, Democrats, in a rare alliance with a
Republican governor, applauded Kasich for embracing a cornerstone of
President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
Under Obamacare, the federal government asked states to
expand their Medicaid programs to cover anyone at or below 138 percent
of the federal poverty level, or individuals with an annual income of
$15,856.20 or less. If states accept, the federal government pays for
the full expansion through fiscal year 2016, and then gradually phases down its
payments to an indefinite 90 percent of the expansion’s costs.
In comparison, the Kaiser Family Foundation found the federal government paid for nearly 64 percent of Ohio’s Medicaid program in fiscal year 2013.
The expansion is necessary to fill a so-called “coverage
gap” under Obamacare and Ohio law. Without the expansion, parents with
incomes between 90 percent and 100 percent of the federal poverty level
and childless adults with incomes below 100 percent of the federal
poverty level don’t qualify for either Obamacare’s tax credits or
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found
the expansion would insure between 300,000 and 400,000 Ohioans through
fiscal year 2015. If legislators approve the expansion beyond that, the
institute says it would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly
half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
The federally funded expansion is set to begin in 2014. It will cost the federal government nearly $2.6 billion, according to the Ohio Department of Medicaid.
by German Lopez
55 days ago
Posted In: Governor
at 11:18 AM | Permalink
Governor signed new anti-abortion restrictions into law with state budget in June
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) could order the Lebanon Road
Surgery Center, a Cincinnati-area abortion clinic, to shut down after a
hearing examiner upheld ODH’s decision to revoke the clinic’s license because the clinic failed to establish a transfer agreement with a nearby hospital.
Abortion rights advocates touted the closure as
another example of how new regulations in the recently passed state
budget will limit access to legal abortions across the state. But ODH
handed down its original decision for the Cincinnati-area abortion
clinic in November 2012, more than half a year before Gov. John Kasich
in June signed the state budget and its anti-abortion restrictions into
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio decried
“the closure of an abortion provider in the Cincinnati area despite an
exemplary record of medical safety.”
“Just as we feared when Gov. Kasich enacted medically
unnecessary regulations on abortion providers, officials at the Ohio
Department of Health have launched a regulatory witch hunt against
Ohio’s abortion providers and have recommended the closure of an
abortion clinic in Cincinnati,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director
of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a statement.
Ohio Right to Life, which opposes abortion rights, celebrated the decision.
“We are gratified to see yet another late-term abortionist
shutting down,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life,
in a statement. “As a result of this Health Department order, Martin
Haskell, a strong proponent and former practitioner of the controversial
and deadly partial-birth abortion procedure, will no longer be able to
abort children and jeopardize women’s health in Hamilton County.”
Ohio law classifies abortion clinics as
ambulatory surgical facilities and requires they establish transfer agreements with
nearby hospitals, where clinics can send patients for more comprehensive care
in case of an emergency. The 2014-2015 state budget also barred
abortion clinics from establishing transfer agreements with public
hospitals, which abortion-rights advocates say greatly hinders the clinics because private hospitals are generally religious and oppose abortion rights.
The Cincinnati-area clinic is just one of five Ohio
clinics in the past year to either close down or face the threat of
closing down, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Without the five, Ohio would be reduced to just nine abortion clinics.
On Oct. 9, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio announced a lawsuit
against Ohio’s newest anti-abortion restrictions. The ACLU claims the
regulations went beyond the budget’s purpose of appropriating funds and
therefore violated the Ohio Constitution’s “single subject” rule, which
requires each individual law keep to a single subject to avoid
complexity and hidden language.
The hearing examiner’s decision:
by German Lopez
58 days ago
Governor bypasses legislature, voter turnout historically low, museum price tag criticized
Gov. John Kasich will not look to the full legislature to expand Medicaid
and is instead asking a seven-member legislative oversight panel to
consider using federal funds for the next two years to expand Medicaid
eligibility to more low-income Ohioans. The Controlling Board, which is
made up of one Kasich appointee, four Republican legislators and two
Democratic legislators, will make its decision on Oct. 21. The expansion
would allow Medicaid, the government-run health insurance program, to
cover all Ohioans up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or
individuals with an annual income of $15,856.20 or less. The Health
Policy Institute of Ohio previously found the expansion would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
Cincinnati’s 2013 mayoral and City Council elections may be on track
for the lowest ever voter turnout. As of Friday, the Hamilton County
Board of Elections had processed 3,173 absentee ballot applications in
Cincinnati. At the same point in 2011, the board had processed 8,964
applications in the city. The numbers come just one month after a measly 5.68 percent of voters cast a ballot in the
mayoral primary election,
much lower than the mayoral primaries held on Sept. 11, 2001, the day
of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and
Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann acknowledges Union Terminal is in need of repairs,
but he says the Museum Center must lower the estimated $180 million
price tag on the project. “These are great facilities, but we don't have
an unlimited amount of dollars, and I think taxpayers expect us to view
their tax dollars in that way. I think that number for the Museum
Center is too high right now. I've encouraged them to bring that number
way down for (county commissioners) to consider having the property tax
payers of this county pay for it,” Hartmann said.
Hamilton County judges say witness intimidation is on the rise,
which could be making it more difficult to put criminals in prison.
Judges are so concerned that they banned cellphones from their
courtrooms after some residents used the devices to take pictures of
witnesses and showed the photos in neighborhoods as an intimidation tactic, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Now, some witnesses are refusing to
testify even when threatened with jail. To them, the threat of violent
crime is so real that some jail time makes more sense in comparison.
City officials plan to break ground today for a new police
station for District 3 on the west side of Cincinnati. The district
serves East Price Hill, East Westwood, English Woods, Lower Price Hill,
Millvale, North Fairmount, Riverside, Roll Hill, Sayler Park,
Sedamsville, South Cumminsville, South Fairmount, West Price Hill and
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the Ohio EPA to explain in writing
why a proposed permit for Murray Energy’s coal slurry project doesn’t
include certain pollution limits. Without the restrictions on specific
toxic gases, the U.S. EPA could reject the project’s permit. Former Ohio
EPA Surface Water Division Chief George Elmaraghy previously said his
call to adhere to pollution limits for coal companies led the Kasich
administration to fire him.
Part of Ohio’s electronic food stamp system temporarily shut down
on Saturday after a glitch cropped up at Xerox, the company that
handles the electronic benefit system. The partial shutdown affected 16
other states as well.
StateImpact Ohio recommends “eight must-read posts” on Ohio’s new Common Core education standards.
Ohio gas prices increased this week, edging toward the U.S. average.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble appeared in Reuters’ list of top 100 innovators for the third year in a row.
Popular Science hosts an in-depth look at what it will take to find life outside of Earth. Hint: It requires more funding and public support.Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
5 Comments · Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Politicized redistricting is impacting yet another important state issue.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Over the weekend, The Columbus Dispatch
ran a story asking if cutting government hurts the economy and job
creation. Really, the only answer to that question is a resounding,
by German Lopez
106 days ago
Former governor dies, facial recognition program criticized, county prosecutor mocks court
Former Gov. John Gilligan, a Cincinnati Democrat best known for winning the creation of the state income tax, died at 92
yesterday. Gilligan’s most lasting accomplishment was also what doomed
his career; the state income tax was unpopular when it passed, even
though it allowed Gilligan to boost funding for education, mental health
and law enforcement programs. Gilligan’s political career began in
Cincinnati Council. From there, he rose to U.S. representative and then
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio yesterday asked Attorney General Mike DeWine to shut down a facial recognition program
used by law enforcement until state officials verify and develop safety
protocols that protect Ohioans’ rights to privacy. DeWine formally
unveiled the program in a press conference yesterday. It allows police
officers and civilian employees to use a photo to search databases for
names and contact information. Previously, law enforcement officials
needed a name or address to search such databases. The program has been
live for more than two months and so far used for 2,677 searches, but until now it was kept hidden from the public and hasn’t
been checked by outside groups for proper safety protocols.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters stepped down as Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter’s attorney and
called her handling of the court a “judicial circus.” Hunter has been
mired in controversy ever since she took the bench: She was found in
contempt by a higher court, and she’s been sued multiple times by media,
including four times by The Cincinnati Enquirer. Deters, who
under state law had to legally represent Hunter, said the legal troubles
were too much, but his stepping down also complies with Hunter’s wishes
to find her own hand-picked attorney.
The University of Cincinnati is one of the top colleges where students can get the most out of their money, according to PolicyMic.
UC performs better than average in the graduation rate, debt at time of
graduation, percentage of undergraduate students receiving Pell grants
and starting salary after graduation, yet the school manages to stay
only slightly above the national average for tuition and board and room
Mayor Mark Mallory previously approved eliminating city parking requirements,
which should allow residential development projects to greatly reduce
or completely toss out parking space mandates downtown. “The goal of the
ordinance is to encourage development in the urban core by permitting
developers to determine their own parking needs for downtown
developments,” said Councilwoman Yvette Simpson. “I firmly believe that
the market will work to meet parking demands better than government
minimum parking requirements.”
The tax changes passed in the state budget earlier this year, including an income tax cut and sales tax hike, will go into effect on Sept. 1. The changes have been criticized for favoring the wealthiest Ohioans, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Gov. John Kasich approved tax credits
that are expected to create more than 591 jobs statewide, with at least
40 of the jobs being created at the Benjamin Steel Company in
Nearly one in five workers at Ohio casinos has quit or been fired. High turnover isn’t unusual in the casino business, but the numbers give a clearer glimpse at the volatility.
Piloting a military drone can apparently take quite the psychological toll.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Like many politicians, Gov. John Kasich
touted transparency and openness on the campaign trail, but this year’s
JobsOhio controversies have proven that the governor was all talk and no
action when he made such claims.
by German Lopez
113 days ago
City refuses parking lease challenge, Qualls calls for transparency, Kasich losing in new poll
City Solicitor John Curp rebuked a conservative group
that asked him to sue the city of Cincinnati over changes made to the
city’s parking lease without City Council's explicit approval. Curp
wrote in a letter that the two changes disputed by the Coalition Opposed
to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) were within the lease’s terms
and only made because COAST’s previous lawsuit forced the city to delay
leasing its parking meters, lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati
Port Authority. If COAST hadn’t pursued the lawsuit, the city would have
been able to continue with the original timetable for the parking
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls yesterday unveiled a motion
calling for the first expansion of local disclosure and reporting
requirements since 1997 that would impose new rules on city officials,
lobbyists and contractors and require the city administration to post
the disclosed information on the city’s website. Qualls said in a
statement that the update is particularly timely because the
Metropolitan Sewer District is taking on a federally mandated $3.2
billion, 15-year reworking of the city’s sewers, which will presumably
involve many lobbyists trying to get lucrative contracts for businesses
New poll results from Public Policy Polling (PPP) show Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald beating Gov. John Kasich 38-35 percent in the 2014 election. Kasich’s approval rating now
stands at 42-47 percent, down 10 points from November. Most respondents
still seem unaware of FitzGerald, with 62 percent saying they aren’t
sure if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of him. PPP is
affiliated with Democrats, but the polling firm performed well in the
2012 presidential race and, if anything, favored Republicans with its results.
Hop On Cincinnati is asking the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District to support a trackless trolley
that the group says could live alongside the Cincinnati streetcar. The
trolley, estimated to cost $10 million to $15 million, would be similar
to the system in Northern Kentucky, and each route would run past major
garages to allow people to park before getting on board. If the Hamilton
County Transportation Improvement District gives the project approval,
it could get federal funding.
Investors are upset with SoMoLend,
the crowdfunding incubator that has been targeted by a state
investigation with accusations of fraud. Critics of the company say that
the allegations could hurt future crowdfunding pursuits and harm the
state. Shortly after the charges came to light, the city of Cincinnati
announced it would cut ties with SoMoLend, which partnered with the city to connect small businesses and startups with up to $400,000 in loans.
Ohio is the seventh worst state for debt, according to a recent study from NerdWallet.com.
The number of low-income Ohio children in Head Start, the early education program, will drop by more than 1,800 following automatic spending cuts at the federal level. CityBeat previously covered the cuts here.
Ohio’s top waterways watchdog is stepping down from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency after his boss and Kasich asked him to step down. Kasich was apparently angered by an email in which George Elmaraghy, chief of the Ohio EPA’s division of surface water, told his staff that the coal industry wants
permits that would damage the state’s streams and wetlands and break
state and federal laws.
Various state officials are criticizing a “stand your ground” bill
currently sitting in the Ohio legislature. The self-defense law has
been scrutinized because of George Zimmerman, a Florida resident who was
acquitted of murder in the shooting of unarmed black 17-year-old
Trayvon Martin. Many people blame Florida’s “stand your ground” law,
which expands self-defense rights, for Martin’s death. Zimmerman’s legal
defense team didn’t invoke the law, but the judge involved in the case mentioned it in her jury
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says some school safety plans would be “useless” during a real shooting because they’re too long and complicated.
Ohio is releasing school report cards this week, but the standards may be biased against income and racial diversity.
Cincinnati-based Macy’s stocks plunged last week, alongside other Cincinnati stocks and the rest of the market.
Renowned “Star Trek” actor George Takei will lead Cincinnati in the Chicken Dance at Oktoberfest this year.
Ancient Egyptian jewelry was made from meteorites.