0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Even above the City Council and mayoral
races, Issue 4 could be the most decisive ballot item in the 2013
election. If voters approve it, Cincinnati could be ravaged by the city
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Issue 4, the ballot initiative that would
semi-privatize Cincinnati’s pension system, obtained most of its
financial support from out-of-town tea party groups.
by German Lopez
Few local contributions to Issue 4, private prison mired in violence, Ohio could limit voting
Issue 4, the ballot initiative that would semi-privatize Cincinnati’s pension system, obtained most of its financial support from out-of-town tea party groups,
according to financial disclosure forms filed to the Hamilton County
Board of Elections on Oct. 24. Of the more than $231,000 raised for Issue 4 by
Cincinnati for Pension Reform, $229,500 came from groups in
West Chester, Ohio, and Virginia. Chris Littleton, a leading consultant
for Issue 4 and a long-time tea party activist involved in a few of the
listed groups, is also based in West Chester. City leaders unanimously
oppose Issue 4 because they argue it would force the city to cut
services and city employees’ retirement benefits — two claims that have
been backed by studies on Issue 4. Supporters say Issue 4 is necessary
to help fix the pension system’s $862 unfunded liability. Vice Mayor
Roxanne Qualls previously told CityBeat that City Council will take up
further reforms to address the unfunded liability after the election,
assuming voters reject Issue 4 on Nov. 5.
A re-inspection of the privatized Lake Erie Correctional
Institution (LECI) found that, while the private prison has made some
improvements in rehabilitation, health services and staffing, it remains
on pace in 2013 to match the previous year’s increased levels of violence.
Various state reports found the facility quickly deteriorated after it
became the first state prison to be sold to a private company,
Corrections Corporation of America, in 2011, under the urging of Gov.
John Kasich. In particular, inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff
assaults rapidly rose between 2010 and 2012 and appear to remain at
similar increased levels in 2013, according to an audit conducted on
Sept. 9 and 10 by Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, Ohio’s
independent prison watchdog. CityBeat previously covered the deteriorating conditions at LECI in further detail here.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted advocated trimming the amount of early voting days
in a letter to the state legislature yesterday. Husted says he wants
the rules passed to establish uniformity across all Ohio counties. But
Democrats — including State Sen. Nina Turner, who is set to run against
Husted in 2014 for secretary of state — say the measures attempt to
limit voting opportunities and suppress voters. In 2012, Doug Preisse,
close adviser to Gov. Kasich and chairman of the Franklin County
Republican Party, explained similar measures that limit early voting in
an email to The Columbus Dispatch: “I guess I really actually
feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban —
read African-American — voter-turnout machine.” Husted’s suggestions
also included measures that would allow online voter registration and
limit ballot access for candidates in minor political parties.
A Hamilton County judge yesterday dismissed another legal challenge
against the city’s parking plan, but the conservative group behind the legal dispute
plans to appeal. The plan would lease Cincinnati’s parking meters, lots
and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority, which would then
use private operators to manage the assets. Supporters say the lease is
necessary to leverage the city’s parking assets for an $85 million
upfront payment that would help pay for development projects. Opponents argue
it gives up too much control over the city’s parking assets to private
Several Medicaid overhaul bills began moving in the Ohio House
yesterday, following months of work and promises from Republican
legislators. The bills increase penalties for defrauding the state,
require the Department of Medicaid to implement reforms that seek to
improve outcomes and emphasize personal responsibility, and make
specific tweaks on minors obtaining prescriptions, hospitals reporting
of neonatal abstinence syndrome, behavioral health services and other
smaller categories. The overhaul bills follow Gov. Kasich’s decision to bypass the Ohio legislature
and expand Medicaid eligibility for at least two years with federal
funds approved by the Controlling Board, an obscure seven-member legislative
Ohio’s controversial facial-recognition program can be used by some federal and out-of-state officials, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The program allows police officers and civilian employees to use a
photo to search state databases for names and contact information; previously,
law enforcement officials needed a name or address to search such
databases. Shortly after the program was revealed, Gov. Kasich compared it to privacy-breaching national intelligence agencies.
Ohio students aren’t as good at math and science as students in China, Japan, Korea and Singapore, among other countries.
A bipartisan “open container” bill would allow cities, including Cincinnati, to legalize drinking alcohol in the streets. In the case of Cincinnati, the city could allow public drinking in up to two districts if the bill passed.
Supporters of the bill say it would boost economic activity in certain
areas, but some are concerned the bill will enable “trash and
Cincinnati leads the way on Twitter.
Vitamin B2, which is commonly found in cottage cheese, green veggies and meat, could be used to 3-D print medical implants.
Early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended. Check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements for the 2013 election here.
On Oct. 29, local residents will be able to give feedback
to Cincinnati officials about the city budget — and also nab some free
pizza. The open budgeting event is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29
at 1115 Bates Ave., Cincinnati.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Ohio Supreme Court forces board to change ballot language for pension amendment
More than 3,000 Cincinnatians who already voted early will
get new ballots in the mail after an Ohio Supreme Court decision forced
the Hamilton County Board of Elections to change the ballot language
for Issue 4, the tea party-backed city charter amendment that would semi-privatize
Cincinnati’s pension system.
It remains unclear whether the early voters, who represent
roughly 1.5 percent of registered Cincinnati voters, will have their
old votes for or against Issue 4 counted if they fail to send in a new ballot with
the new language. The board will decide on that issue after hearing
back from state officials and reviewing election law, according to Sally
Krisel, deputy director of Hamilton County Board of Elections.
The Ohio Supreme Court on Oct. 10 upheld most of the
ballot language for Issue 4, including portions that claim the amendment
could lead to higher taxes and cut city services. But the court also
ordered the Board of Elections to add language describing how much
Cincinnati can contribute to retirement accounts under the new system
and how the amendment will affect future retirees.
The court’s decision came after the Board of Elections received more than 3,000 ballots from early voters. Those voters will now get new ballots with revised language for Issue 4.
Cincinnati for Pension Reform, the
tea party group behind Issue 4, sued the Board of Elections to get the
ballot language changed. The organization complained that the ballot language included speculation not included in the actual city charter amendment, but the Supreme Court ultimately allowed the language to remain.
Krisel says the original ballot language was suggested by
the city, approved by the board and signed off by Ohio’s secretary of
Although the Ohio Supreme Court asked the board to add new sections, Krisel notes the additions have very little to do with the
tax and spending portions that led Cincinnati for Pension Reform to sue
in the first place. The court’s ruling instead took issue with how the board used its discretion on other issues.
If approved by voters, the charter
amendment would move future city employees into individual retirement
accounts similar to 401k plans that are common in the private sector.
Currently, the city pools pension funds into a public system and manages
the investments through an independent board.
City officials and other opponents of Issue 4 argue the
amendment could increase costs and cut benefits for city employees. Both
the concerns were acknowledged in a Sept. 27 report from the conservative Buckeye Institute, even though the think tank actually backs Issue 4.
Supporters of Issue 4 argue it’s necessary to address
Cincinnati’s unfunded pension liability, which reached $862 million
in 2013 after the city underfunded the pension system for years and
economic downturns shrunk investments financing the system. Moody’s
named the liability as one of the reasons it downgraded Cincinnati’s bond rating.
City officials acknowledge the enormous financial problems posed by the unfunded pension liability,
but they say it would be better to make reforms within the system
instead of scrapping it altogether.
City Council passed reforms in 2011 that address future
costs, and council is expected to take up reforms that address the
unfunded liability after the November election, Vice Mayor Roxanne
Qualls previously told CityBeat.
Voters will make the final decision on Issue 4 on Nov. 5.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Imagine if you had to take every other
year at your job off to defend all your career decisions. Every other
year would be completely unproductive. Essentially, you would be
unproductive half the time.