by German Lopez
Posted In: 2013 Election
at 11:29 AM | Permalink
Zoo claims levy renewal is a good investment for region
After getting approval from county commissioners, a levy
renewal for the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot as Issue
The renewal wouldn’t increase taxes from today’s rates, but it would keep property taxes $10 higher for every
$100,000 of home value.If approved by voters, the funding would go to the care, feeding and maintenance of the zoo’s animals and botanical gardens.
The Cincinnati Zoo is promoting Issue 2 by claiming it’s a
good investment for the region. A study from the University of
Cincinnati Economic Center found the zoo had a $143 million impact on the Cincinnati area in 2012
— representing nearly 3.9 times the zoo’s total spending — and produced
1,700 jobs and nearly $1.6 million in tax revenue for Cincinnati and
The “Renew the Zoo” campaign is already in full motion at friendsofthecincinnatizoo.org.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Ohioans might not realize it yet, but
Issue 2 could be the most important item on the ballot in 2012. If
voters approve Issue 2, it would place redistricting in the hands of an
independent citizens commission. Currently, elected officials handle the
redistricting process, and they have used it time and time again for
politically advantageous ways.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
On Nov. 6, America will be watching Ohio
voters to see which presidential candidate we put over the top. But in
Ohio, no issue will hold the long-term weight of Issue 2. The
little-known issue seeks to reform a redistricting process that has long
been dominated by politicized redistricting — also known as
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.Issue 2 is getting outraised quite badly. Protect Your Vote
Ohio, the group opposing Issue 2, has raised $6.9 million, while Voters
First Ohio, the group supporting Issue 2, has raised $3.6 million since July. If
Issue 2 is approved by voters, it will put an independent citizens
commission in charge of the redistricting process. Currently, the
process is handled by elected officials, who have used the process in
politically advantageous ways. Republicans redrew the First
Congressional District, Cincinnati's district, to include Warren
County. The move put more emphasis on rural and suburban voters, which
tend to side with Republicans, and less on urbanites, which tend to side
Not only will Ohio play a pivotal role in the presidential
election, but RealClearPolitics, a website that aggregates polling,
says Hamilton County is among two Ohio counties that will play the
biggest role. In light of that, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be in town
this week. Obama will visit Oct. 31, and Romney will be here Nov. 2.
Currently, Obama leads in Ohio by 2.1 points, while Romney leads nationally by 0.9 points.
A partnership between the University of Cincinnati and
U.S. State Department is going to Iraq. For the third year, UC will be
working with Salahaddin University in Iraq to help
redesign the Iraqi school’s curriculum and establish a career center.
The Ohio Board of Regents and Ohio Department of Education (ODE) may merge soon, says Board of Regent Chancellor Jim Petro. The Board of Regents is already moving to ODE's building later this year. Petro said
the building move will allow the Board of Regents, which focuses on higher
education, to cooperate more with ODE, which
focuses on elementary, middle and high school.
The Ohio legislature could be getting a big ethics
overhaul in the coming weeks. Specifics weren’t offered, but Senate
President Tom Niehaus said disclosure and transparency will be
Cincinnati’s United Way beat its fundraising goal of $61 million in 2012. The goal was originally seen as “a stretch.”
The nationwide meningitis outbreak is forcing some Ohio
officials to take a look at the state’s compounding pharmacies.
Compounding is when pharmacists make custom preparations for patients
under special circumstances. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy has
already taken action against the New England Compounding Center, whose
compound was connected with starting the meningitis outbreak.
The FBI will join an investigation into fraudulent
attendance data reporting in Ohio schools. Previously, state Auditor
Dave Yost found five school districts were scrubbing data in his first
interim report, but a second interim report cleared every other district
checked so far, including Cincinnati Public Schools.
Romney is getting a bit of attention for offensive
remarks about the LGBT community he made when he was governor. On gay parents, Romney said: "Some
gays are actually having children born to them. ... It's not right on paper.
It's not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
In case you missed it, CityBeat is hosting a party
for the final presidential debate at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. There
will be live tweeting, and Councilman Chris Seelbach will be on-hand to discuss this year's key issues. Even if you can’t come, make sure to live tweet during the
presidential debate using the hashtag #cbdebate. More info can be found
at the event’s Facebook page.
A new study found redistricting makes
government even more partisan. The Fair Vote study says redistricting
divides government into clear partisan boundaries by eliminating
competitive districts. In Ohio, redistricting is handled by elected
officials, and they typically use the process for political advantage by
redrawing district boundaries to ensure the right demographics for
re-election. Issue 2 attempts to combat this problem. If voters approve
Issue 2, redistricting will be taken out of the hands of elected
officials and placed into the hands of an independent citizens
commission. The Republican-controlled process redrew the First
Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, by adding Warren
County to the district. Since Warren County typically votes Republican,
this gives an advantage to Republicans in the First Congressional
District. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting reform effort here.
Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican
challenger Josh Mandel will face off in another debate for Ohio’s seat
in the U.S. Senate today. The two candidates met Monday in a feisty
exchange in which the men argued over their records and policies. Brown and
Mandel will face off at 8 p.m. The debate will be streamed live on
10TV.com and Dispatch.com. Currently, the race is heavily in Brown’s
favor; he is up 5.2 points in aggregate polling.
Cincinnati is moving forward with its bike sharing
program. A new study found the program will attract 105,000 trips in its
first year, and it will eventually expand to 305,000 trips a year. With
the data in hand, Michael Moore, director of the Department of
Transportation and Engineering, justified the program to The Business Courier:
“We want Cincinnatians to be able to incorporate cycling into their
daily routine, and a bike share program will help with that. Bike share
helps introduce citizens to active transportation, it reduces the number
of short auto trips in the urban core, and it promotes sustainable
Cincinnati’s school-based health centers are showing promise. Two more are scheduled to open next year.Echoing earlier comments by Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted, Ohio Senate Republicans are now talking about using the lame
duck session to take up a bill that would set standard early voting
hours and tighten voting requirements. Republicans are promising broad
consensus, but Democrats worry the move could be another Republican ploy
at voter suppression. Republicans defend the law by saying it would
combat voter fraud, but in-person voter fraud isn’t a real issue. A recent study
by the Government Accountability Office found zero examples of in-person
voter fraud in the last 10 years. Another investigation by News21 had
similar results. Republicans have also justified making voting tougher
and shorter by citing racial politics and costs.
A Hamilton County judge’s directive is causing trouble. Judge Tracie Hunter sent out a directive to
hire a second court administrator because she believes the current
county administrator is only working for the other juvenile judge. The
county government is trying to figure out if Hunter has the authority to hire a new
This year’s school report card data held up a long-term
trend: Public schools did better than charter schools. In Ohio, the
average charter school meets slightly more than 30 percent of the
state’s indicators, while the average traditional public school meets 78
percent of the state’s indicators, according to findings from the
education policy fellow at left-leaning Innovation Ohio. The data for
all Ohio schools can be found here.
Some in the fracking industry are already feeling a bit of
a bust. The gas drilling business is seeing demand rapidly drop, and
that means $1 billion lost in profits. CityBeat wrote in-depth about the potential fracking bust here.
Ohio student loan debt is piling up. A report by Project
on Student Debt says Ohio has the seventh-highest student loan debt in
the nation with an average of $28,683 in 2011. That number is a 3.5
percent increase from 2010.
What if Abraham Lincoln ran for president today?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could soon be reality. Scientists are developing a drug that removes bad memories during sleep.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in
September — the lowest jobless rate in nearly four years. The country
added 114,000 jobs during the month, and labor participation actually
rose with 418,000 people joining the labor force. Jobs numbers for July
and August were also revised upward, indicating that the summer’s
economy was not as weak as previously estimated. Unlike previous reports
that were mired with dropping labor participation rates and job
additions below expectations, this report paints a generally rosy
picture of a recovering economy.A new report found Ohio-based Murray Energy might be
coercing employees into making campaign contributions to Republicans. It
seems Bob Murray, Murray Energy’s CEO, directly encourages employees to
make donations through memos and strong language. As a result, the
company has an unusually high amount of donations to Republican
candidates, including senatorial candidate Josh Mandel, presidential
candidate Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner. The company’s PAC and
staffers are the sixth biggest source of funding for Mandel.By their own admission, Republicans misrepresented Issue
2. The good news is they have agreed to stop using some of the
misleading language. If Issue 2 is approved by voters, it will give
redistricting powers to an independent citizens commission. Currently,
elected officials redraw the district boundaries, and they use the
system in politically advantageous ways. The Republican majority redrew
the First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati to include
Warren County, which places less emphasis on urban voters that typically
vote Democrat and more emphasis on rural voters that typically vote
Republican. CityBeat previously covered redistricting and Voters First’s
The state auditor gave a mixed review to Ohio’s schools
and education department yesterday. In an interim report, the auditor
criticized a handful of school districts for scrubbing attendance
reports and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for having poor
oversight. ODE promised “additional safeguards” in response to the
report.Gov. John Kasich is continuing his privatization campaign.
The governor is finally close to leasing the Ohio Turnpike, and he says
that could raise more than $1 billion.
It turns out Kasich’s number about Ohio’s auto industry
losing 500 jobs might be correct, but only because of the time frame and
terms Kasich used. In general, the auto industry in Ohio has
improved since 2009.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is leading the
charge, but it’s only the beginning. A few movies are taking advantage
of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, which is meant to bring film
production to Ohio. Seven films will be filmed in Ohio: Underdogs, Crooked Tree, Blood of Redemption, The Tribunal, A Dog Named
Suki, In Other Words and The Do Over. Since the tax credit began,
the Ohio Film Office has helped employ more than 19,000 Ohioans and
added nearly $205 million to Ohio’s economy.
Some in the aerospace business want southwest Ohio to take
bigger advantage of the area’s strong aerospace industry and make it
A survey found Ohio is among the 25 best states for
entrepreneurs. The state moved up 18 spots — from No. 40 to No. 22 — in
the past year.
Update on Ohio Supreme Court candidate William O’Neill’s
demands for Justice Robert Cupp to “recuse or refuse” due to campaign
donations: Mark Weaver, Cupp’s spokesperson, responded, saying, “Mr.
O'Neill previously raised this argument with disciplinary authorities by
filing a complaint. It was reviewed by disciplinary authorities, and
they unanimously dismissed it as having no merit.”An Eden Park microbrewery got approval from City Council.
A study found students enrolled in parents’ health care
plans are 5.7 percent more likely to attend college full time. The
finding is good news for Obamacare, which forces insurance
companies to allow sons and daughters to stay on family insurance plans
until they turn 26.Robot sea turtles might soon carry cargo in their shells.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
The first presidential debate took place last night. Most of the
“liberal media” says Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama, but the
impact of the relatively dull debate is probably being overstated as the
media tries to sensationalize some sort of comeback narrative for Romney. Although
the debates are important for capturing a candidate’s policies and
speaking ability, they don’t matter much in political terms.
Policy-wise, it seems Romney ran to the center last night. If last night’s debate wasn’t enough debate for you, here are the three most awkward presidential debate moments in history.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus held
a conference call with Ohio reporters yesterday in response to Vice
President Joe Biden’s comments that the middle class has been “buried”
in the past four years. Priebus claimed the
Republican ground game in Ohio will “crush” Democrats. But that’s going
to require a lot of work. As it stands, Obama and Democratic Sen.
Sherrod Brown are beating their respective Republican opponents pretty
badly in aggregate polling.
PolitiFact says Republican claims that Issue 2 will create
a redistricting commission that will “have a blank check to spend our
money” are false. While there is no cap on spending designated in Issue
2, that does not mean the redistricting commission will get infinite
funding. If Issue 2 is approved by voters, redistricting will be handled
by an independent citizens commission. If Issue 2 is rejected by
voters, redistricting will continue being handled by politicians that
commonly use the system in politically advantageous ways. A Republican
majority redistricted the First Congressional District, which includes
Cincinnati, to also include Warren County. The new boundaries give
Republicans an advantage by putting more emphasis on rural voters, which
typically vote Republican, instead of urban voters, which typically vote
Democrat. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting process and Issue 2 here.
An analysis by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management
found Issue 2 would cost the state about $11-$15.2 million over eight
years. That’s about $1.4-$1.9 million a year, or about 0.005-0.007
percent of Ohio’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year.
To put the cost of Issue 2 in further context, state tax revenues were $39 million above estimates in September.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the Ohio
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and the
Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) have settled out
of court in a case involving health care in prisons. OJPC brought the
case forward with a lawsuit in 2003, arguing that inmates were not
receiving adequate health care as required by the Ohio Constitution.
Courts agreed in 2005, and they created an oversight committee to ensure
medical standards rose. Today, health care in prisons is much better. With the
settlement, OJPC and ODRC will continue watching over medical policies
and procedures for the next two years, but courts no longer have an
City Council unanimously approved six projects for historic tax credits yesterday.Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank reclaimed its top spot
for local bank deposits this year, although data released by the Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) shows it might never have lost the
top spot to U.S. Bank.U.S. service firms, which employ 90 percent of Americans,
grew at their fastest rate in six months. The boost was brought about
due to rising consumer demand.
Ever curious about why politicians use similar body
language in all their public appearances? The New York Times has an
explanation.A new, strange dinosaur was recently identified.
by German Lopez
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber released its positions
on this November’s ballot issues. The chamber supports the Cincinnati
Public Schools tax levy and Hamilton County mental health and services
levy, but it does not support extending City Council’s terms to four
years. The chamber also opposes Issue 2, which would place the
redistricting process in the hands of an independent citizens commission
instead of a commission run by politicians. The chamber said it opposes
Issue 2 partially because it excludes “some Ohioans” from the
redistricting process. The excluded Ohioans are lobbyists and
politicians, who have a vested interest in redrawing district boundaries
in politically advantageous ways in a process known as
“gerrymandering.” In Cincinnati’s district, the district was redrawn by
the Republican-controlled commission to include Warren County, which
puts more emphasis on the rural vote that tends to vote Republican
instead of the urban vote that tends to vote Democrat. CityBeat
previously covered the redistricting issue here and here.Related to Issue 2, the controversial ballot language that
was approved by the state seems to be weighing down the amendment. Public Policy Polling said voters are confused by the ballot initiative.Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost found Value Learning and
Teaching (VLT) Academy, a charter school in downtown Cincinnati, to be
wasteful and unethical. According to a state audit, the school had
multiple instances in the 2010-2011 school year in which it made
excessive payments in possible conflicts of interest.In another audit, Yost also criticized his own political
party. Yost found the Ohio Republican Party accepted prohibited
contributions and improperly spent money.A recent police chase that resulted in a crash and the the injury of minors is coming under scrutiny. The cop involved was found to be in violation of department procedure.Even though he resigned abruptly, the University of
Cincinnati Board of Trustees is considering separation payments for
former UC President Greg Williams. Board Chairman Fran Barrett says the
payments will tie up “loose ends” and buyout Williams’ tenure.Gov. John Kasich is asking public colleges to collaborate
on a funding formula. He says the schools should have a better idea than the state government of
what they need. The schools previously collaborated on a construction
wishlist, which apparently impressed Kasich.A proposed state policy will force schools to keep better
track of who is kept in seclusion rooms and for how long, but the
details will be closed to the public.The fired Democrats suing Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted will be getting their day in court. Yesterday, a federal judge
agreed to a hearing on Sept. 21. The fired Democrats are suing Husted
after he dismissed them for attempting to extend in-person early voting,
which broke Husted’s uniform rules on voting hours.
Even Republicans are now demanding more substance from presidential candidate Mitt Romney.A North Dakota college football player says he got kicked off his
team for kissing his boyfriend.Scientists planted false short-term memories in the brains of rats.
by German Lopez
Boehner staffer got request filled in 13 minutes, no questions asked
The Ohio Voters First campaign for Issue 2 has shined some
light into how Ohio’s district boundaries are redrawn. In a new graph, the campaign revealed that getting a business added to a district
is sometimes as simple as asking for a favor.
Just a day before the approval of Ohio’s new district
maps, Tom Whatman, a Boehner staffer, sent an email to Adam Kincaid, a
staffer for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and others in charge of redistricting. In the
back-and-forth, Whatman asks for a “small carve out” to include a
manufacturing business in the congressional district for Rep. Jim
Renacci, a Republican who has received support from the business in the
past. Before 13 minutes had passed, Kincaid replied to Whatman, securing
the change with no questions asked.
“Thanks guys,” Whatman replied. “Very important to someone important to us all.”
The Voters First graph, which mocks the 13-minute exchange
with the title “Jim Renacci: The 13 Minute Man,” can be found here. The
full emails, which were released by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable
Redistricting in a Dec. 2011 report, can be seen online here.Jim Slagle, who served as manager for the Ohio Campaign
for Accountable Redistricting, says the emails are indicative of a
redistricting process that is controlled entirely by “political
insiders.” Slagle says the interests of the people come second to politics under the current system.
If Issue 2 is approved by voters this November, the
redistricting process will be placed in the hands of an independent
citizens commission. Under the current system, the state government is
tasked with redrawing district boundaries every 10 years. Republicans have controlled
the process four out of six times since 1967, which is when the process
was first enacted into law. The political party in charge typically redraws
districts in a politically favorable manner in a process known as
“gerrymandering.”On Saturday, Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents Cincinnati
in the U.S. House of Representatives, told supporters to vote against
Issue 2. Chabot is enormously benefiting off the current redistricting
process. Cincinnati’s district was redrawn to include Warren County,
which has more rural voters that typically vote Republican, and less of
Cincinnati, which has more urban voters that typically vote Democrat. The
shift to less urban voters is emphasized in this graph by MapGrapher:
CityBeat’s endorsements on local and state issues
5 Comments · Wednesday, November 2, 2011
When voters go to the polls on Nov. 8,
they will be faced with making a bevy of wide-ranging decisions that
will directly and indirectly impact their lives in the months and years
ahead. They range from whether Ohioans will be
subject to the provisions of federal health-care reforms passed by
Congress in late 2009 to whether police and firefighter unions may
negotiate for staffing levels to whether Cincinnati should develop any
passenger rail projects during the next decade.