by German Lopez
8 days ago
ProgressOhio loses case against privatized development agency
The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously dismissed a request to compel JobsOhio to disclose various documents. The court argued the Republican-controlled General Assembly largely
exempted JobsOhio from public records law and therefore allowed the agency to keep most of its inner workings secret.The decision was a major loss
for advocacy group ProgressOhio, which claims the documents should be on the
The Republican-controlled legislature, with the support of
Republican Gov. John Kasich, in 2011 established JobsOhio, a privatized
development agency, to replace the Ohio Department of
Development. The JobsOhio Board of Directors is chaired by wealthy Ohio businessmen.
Republicans argue JobsOhio’s secretive, privatized nature
is necessary to quickly foster economic development deals across the
state. Democrats say the anti-transparency measures make it far too difficult to hold
JobsOhio accountable as it recommends how to spend taxpayer dollars.An Oct. 23 report criticized JobsOhio and other privatized development agencies around the country for consistently displaying conflicts of interest and other scandalous behavior. The report came from Good Jobs First, a
research center founded in 1998 that scrutinizes deals between
businesses and governments.
Kasich previously touted JobsOhio as one of the reasons
Ohio’s economy quickly recovered following the Great Recession, but
recent indicators show the state’s economy is now slowing down. Ohio is one of five states whose economy worsened in the past three months,
according to an index from the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia that
combines four economic indicators to gauge states’ economic health.
Others have more directly questioned the Kasich administration’s claims to success. An Oct. 29 investigation from The Toledo Blade found
jobs numbers from the Ohio Development Services Agency are vastly inflated,
indicating that the state government isn’t producing nearly as many
jobs as it claims.
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
23 days ago
JobsOhio benefits Columbus, property tax return could grow, museum levy gets conditions
JobsOhio, the state-funded privatized development agency, grants more tax credits around Columbus, the state capital, than anywhere else in the state. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer,
the discrepancy might be driven by Columbus’ high growth rate and the
city’s proximity to the state government, which could make Columbus officials more aware of tax-credit opportunities. But
Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann also blames local governments
in southwest Ohio for failing to act in unison with a concerted
economic plan to bring in more tax credits and jobs.
Hartmann today plans to introduce a partial restoration of the property tax return
that voters were promised when they approved a half-cent sales tax hike
to build Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium. The return
was reduced when there wasn’t enough money in the sales tax fund to pay
for the stadiums last year, but there might be enough money now to give
property taxpayers more of their money back. It was unclear as of Sunday
how much money someone with a $100,000 home would get back under Hartmann’s plan.
Hamilton County’s Tax Levy Review Committee will recommend a tax levy for the Cincinnati Museum Center only if a few conditions are met,
including transfer of ownership of the Union Terminal from the city to a
new, to-be-formed entity and allocation of public and private funds to
renovate and upkeep the terminal in a sustainable fashion.City Council last week asked the city administration
to find and allocate $30,000 for the winter shelter, which would put
the shelter closer to the $75,000 it needs to remain open between
mid-to-late December and February. The shelter currently estimates it’s
at approximately $32,000, according to Josh Spring, executive director
of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. The city administration
now needs to locate the money and turn the transaction into an
ordinance that needs City Council approval and would make the allocation of funds official. To
contribute to the winter shelter, go to tinyurl.com/WinterShelterCincinnati and type in “winter shelter” in the text box below “Designation (Optional)” before making a donation.
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced Thursday that it plans to cut about 500 jobs
in Akron, Ohio. State officials were apparently aware of the plan
in October but underestimated how quickly Lockheed Martin would carry
out the cuts. Ohio Democrats jumped on the opportunity to mock JobsOhio
for failing to move at the “speed of business,” as Republicans claim
only the privatized development agency can, to develop an incentive
package that could have kept Lockheed Martin in Akron. But state
officials say they were led to believe Lockheed Martin’s move would take
Intense storms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest over the weekend, killing at least six.
Ohio has issued a record-breaking amount of concealed-weapons licenses
this year. The state issued 82,000 licenses in the first nine months of
2013, more than the 64,000 in 2012 that set the previous record. About
426,000 permits have been issued since the state began the program in
This week, Ohio gas prices jumped back up but remained lower than the national average.
Popular Science looks at how artificial meat could “save the world.”Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Privatization schemes in Cincinnati and Ohio just went through a bad month.
by German Lopez
43 days ago
State job numbers mislead, Cranley didn't repay $75,000 loan, county to vote on budget
Many jobs the state government claims it’s creating don’t actually exist, according to The Toledo Blade.
The Ohio Development Services Agency claims it improved its process for
tracking the effects of taxpayer-financed loans, grants and subsidies,
but The Blade found errors led to more than 11,000 claimed jobs
that likely don’t exist. Part of the problem is that the state relies on
companies to self-report job numbers; although the Ohio Development
Services Agency is supposed to authenticate the reports, officials
almost never visit businesses that get tax incentives. The discrepancy
between claimed job creation and reality raises more questions about the
efforts of JobsOhio, the privatized development agency established by Gov. John Kasich and Republican legislators that recommends
many of the tax subsidies going to Ohio businesses. CityBeat covered JobsOhio in further detail here.
Mayoral candidate John Cranley didn’t repay a $75,000 loan
for his Incline Village Project in East Price Hill that was meant to go
to a medical office and 77 apartments that never came to fruition. Kathy Schwab of Local Initiatives Support
Corporation (LISC), which loaned the money to Cranley’s former
development company, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that they
worked out terms to repay the loan after the news broke yesterday.
Supporters of Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls’ mayoral campaign say the news
casts doubt on whether Cranley is as fiscally responsible as he’s led on
while stumping on the campaign trail. As The Enquirer notes,
Cranley is very proud of the Incline Project and often touts it to show
off his experience building a successful project in the private sector.Hamilton County commissioners are expected to vote on a budget
on Nov. 6. This year’s budget is the first time in six years that the
county won’t need to make major cuts to close a gap. But the
commissioners also told WVXU that it’s unlikely they’ll take up the
county coroner’s plan for a new crime lab, which county officials say is a dire need.
A lawsuit filed on Oct. 23 asks the Hamilton County Court of Appeals to compel the Hamilton County Board of Elections to scrub UrbanCincy.com owner Randy Simes off the voter rolls,
less than two weeks after the board of elections ruled Simes is
eligible to vote in Cincinnati. The case has been mired in politics
since it was first filed to the board of elections. Simes’ supporters
claim the legal actions are meant to suppress Simes’ support for the
streetcar project and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls’ mayoral campaign.
Proponents of the lawsuit, who are backed by the attorney that regularly
supports the anti-streetcar, anti-Qualls Coalition Opposed to
Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), argue they’re just trying to
uphold the integrity of voting. The dispute hinges on whether Simes’
registered residence for voting — a condo owned by his friend and business
colleague, Travis Estell — is a place where he truly lived or just
visited throughout 2013. Currently, no hearing or judge is set for the
Pure Romance officially signed a lease for new headquarters in downtown Cincinnati,
which means the $100-million-plus company is now set to move from its
Loveland, Ohio, location starting in January 2014. Pure Romance
originally considered moving to Kentucky after Ohio reneged on a tax
deal, but council ultimately upped its offer to bring the company to
Cincinnati. As part of its deal with the city, Pure Romance will get $854,000 in tax breaks over the next 10 years,
but it will need to stay in Cincinnati for 20 years. The city
administration estimates the deal will generate $2.6 million in net tax
revenue over two decades and at least 126 high-paying jobs over three
One in six Ohioans lived in poverty in 2012, putting the state poverty rate above pre-recession levels, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Two Butler County students were arrested yesterday after they allegedly threatened to go on a shooting spree on Facebook.
Rachel Maddow accused Ky. Sen. Rand Paul of plagiarizing his speech off Wikipedia.
The Taste of Belgium’s next location: Rookwood Exchange.
Pollinating bees could deliver pesticides in the future.
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.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
48 days ago
CityBeat endorsements unveiled, report slams JobsOhio, tax reform could hurt city budgets
CityBeat yesterday revealed its endorsements for the City Council and mayoral races. Check them out here. Also, 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.
JobsOhio and similar privatized development agencies in other states create scandals and potentials of conflicts of interests instead of jobs,
according to an Oct. 23 report from Good Jobs First. The report found
that privatized development agencies in seven states, including Ohio,
tend to also exaggerate job claims and resist basic oversight. JobsOhio
in particular is chaired by people who donated to Gov. John Kasich’s
campaign. The agency also received public money without informing the
legislature, and it gained a legal exemption from full public audits,
public records laws and open meeting rules. Kasich and Republican
legislators in 2011 established JobsOhio to replace the Ohio Department
of Development. They argue JobsOhio’s privatized,
secretive nature helps the agency establish job-creating development deals at the “speed of business.” But
Democrats say JobsOhio is ripe for abuse, difficult to hold accountable
and unclear in its results.
A bill that intends to bring uniformity to Ohio’s complex municipal income tax code got a makeover,
but cities say the bill still reduces their revenues. Business groups
are pushing for the bill so they can more easily work from city to city
and county to county without dealing with a web of different forms and
regulations, but cities are concerned they’ll lose as much as $2 million
a year. Many cities already lost some state funding after Kasich and
the Republican legislature slashed local government funding, which reduced revenues for Cincinnati in particular by $22.2 million in 2013, according to City Manager Milton Dohoney.Opponents of Issue 4, the tea party-backed city charter amendment that would semi-privatize Cincinnati’s pension system, say it could force the city to cut services by 41 percent or raise taxes significantly. CityBeat analyzed the amendment in further detail here.
Converting Mercy Mt. Airy Hospital into a crime lab for the county coroner’s office could cost $21.5 million,
well under the previously projected $56 million. Hamilton County
Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco says it could be the most economical way for
the county to get a crime lab, which the coroner’s office says it
desperately needs. Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman says
he’s still concerned about operating costs, but he’ll review the new
estimates and advise county commissioners on how to proceed.
An Over-the-Rhine business owner says Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) “dropped the ball” with incentives for retail businesses,
and he’s now looking to move his store, Joseph Williams Home, to the
suburbs. Specifically, Fred Arrowood says 3CDC has done a lot to
accommodate restaurants and bars, but it failed to live up to promises
to attract and retain retail businesses. But 3CDC points to its own
numbers: Spaces in OTR are currently leased in contracts with 20
businesses, 15 restaurants or bars and 14 soft goods retailers.
Cincinnati State and the University of Cincinnati yesterday signed an agreement that will make it easier for students with two-year degrees at Cincinnati State to get four-year degrees at UC.
The Cincinnati Enquirer hosted a City Council candidate forum yesterday. Find their coverage here.
Northeast Ohio Media: “Ohio abortion clinic closings likely to accelerate under new state regulations.” (CityBeat reported on the regulations, which were passed with the two-year state budget, here.)
Gov. Kasich and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, two Republicans widely perceived as potential presidential candidates in 2016, don’t register even 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, a key primary state.
Cincinnati-based Omnicare agreed to pay $120 million
to resolve a case involving alleged kickbacks and false claims,
according to lawyers representing a whistleblower. The company says the
settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing.
Chef David Falk of Boca wrote a moving love letter to Cincinnati.
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
49 days ago
Good Jobs First says privatized agencies create scandals, not jobs
JobsOhio and other privatized development agencies have created scandals and potential conflicts of interests
instead of jobs, claims an Oct. 23 report from Good Jobs First, a
research center founded in 1998 that scrutinizes deals between
businesses and governments.
The report looked at privatized development agencies in
seven states, including Ohio, and found that many of the same problems
and scandals appear from state to state.
“These experiments in privatization have, by and large,
become costly failures,” the report found. “Privatized development
corporations have issued grossly exaggerated job-creation claims. They
have created ‘pay to play’ appearances of insider dealing and conflicts
of interest. They have paid executives larger salaries than governors.
They have resisted basic oversight.”
The report focuses much of its findings on JobsOhio, a
privatized development agency that Gov. John Kasich and Republican
legislators established in 2011 to replace the Ohio Department of
Development. The agency uses tax subsidies and other financial
incentives to attract companies to Ohio with the intention of creating jobs.
But the report states JobsOhio “assembled a board of
directors whose members included some of (Kasich’s) major campaign
contributors and executives from companies that were recipients of large
state development subsidies. It received a large transfer of state
monies about which the legislature was not informed, intermingled public
and private monies, refused to name its private donors, and then won
legal exemption (advocated by Gov. Kasich) from review of its finances
by the state auditor.”
It found similar issues in privatized development agencies
in Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Rhode Island and Michigan. In
some cases, the scandals have cost states millions of dollars with
little job creation to show for it, according to the report.
The latest report concurred many of the findings in a
similar 2011 report from Good Jobs First, which sought to warn states,
including Ohio, about the potential risks of privatized development
For JobsOhio, a major cause for concern in the report is
how difficult it is to hold the agency accountable. State legislators
have approved multiple measures that shield JobsOhio from public
scrutiny, including exemptions that exclude the agency from public
records laws, open meeting rules and the possibility of a full public
Some of the controversy also focuses on how the state funds JobsOhio.
“The proposal called for ‘leasing’ the state liquor
profits ($228 million the year prior) for up to 25 years to JobsOhio,
which would eventually issue $1.4 billion in bonds to pay for the use of
the funds,” according to the report. “Critics charged that this was not
a fair market price for profits that could potentially amount to $6
billion over the term of the agreement.”
The report laments that the privatized and secretive
agency represents a shift for Ohio, which the report claims “was an
early practitioner of online subsidy disclosure.”
Good Jobs First concludes privatized development agencies
perpetuate an economic environment in which big companies already have
too much say.
“The privatization structures we describe here, including
the increasing use of corporate seats for sale on governing or advisory
boards, absolutely favor large businesses that have the money and
executive staff time to pay and play at such levels,” the report
concluded. “But small businesses already get short shrift in economic
development resource allocation, and they are still suffering the most
in the Great Recession’s aftermath.”
The organization also takes issue with the idea that
public agencies aren’t “nimble”: “In all of our years tracking
development deals, we have yet to hear of a state agency that lost an
important deal because it failed to provide labor market or real estate
or incentive data in a timely manner.”
Asked about the report, Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols
responded in an email, “We don't pay much attention to
politically-motivated opponents whose mission is to combat job
Kasich and other Republicans claim JobsOhio’s privatized,
secretive nature is necessary to secure job-creating development deals
with private companies in an economic environment that, through the
Internet and globalization, moves more quickly than ever before.
Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Ed
FitzGerald, claim the agency is ripe for abuse, difficult to hold
accountable and unclear in its results.
State Auditor Dave Yost plans to release an audit of
JobsOhio soon, but no specific date or time frame is set for the
release. The audit was granted prior to state legislation that barred
the state auditor from doing a full sweep of JobsOhio’s financial
details.The full report:
by German Lopez
75 days ago
Conflicts of interest at JobsOhio, transportation projects approved, Ohio women fare poorly
CityBeat is participating in a City Council candidate forum on Oct. 5. Have any questions you would like to ask candidates? Submit them here.
State Auditor Dave Yost says he will investigate
the potential conflicts of interest found by the Ohio Ethics Commission
for nine of 22 top JobsOhio officials, including six of nine board
members. For critics, the conflicts of interest add more concerns about JobsOhio, the
privatized development agency that proposes tax breaks for businesses
and has been mired in controversy ever since it was set up by Gov. John
Kasich and Republicans to replace the Ohio Department of Development.
Because the agency is privatized and deals with private businesses, many
of its dealings are kept from the public under state law. Republicans
argue the secrecy is necessary to allow JobsOhio to more quickly
establish job-creating development deals, but Democrats say the secrecy
makes it too difficult to hold JobsOhio accountable.A state board approved nearly $3 billion in transportation projects
proposed by Kasich, including work on the MLK/I-75
Interchange in Cincinnati that city and state officials say will create
thousands of jobs in the region. The projects will require additional
state and local money to be fully funded over the next few years.
In comparison to men, Ohio women have lower incomes, hold
fewer leadership roles and disproportionately suffer from the state’s
high infant mortality rate. The issues placed Ohio at No. 30 out of 50 states for women’s issues
in a Sept. 25 report from the Center for American Progress (CAP). The report analyzed 36
indicators for women in the categories of economic security, leadership
and health; it then graded the states and ranked them based on the
grades. CAP, a left-leaning organization, is touting the report to
support progressive policies that could help lift women out of such
disparities, including the federally funded Medicaid expansion and an
increase to minimum wages.Commentary: “Ohio legislator worried a same-sex marriage case will turn the country socialist, make him cry.”
Mayoral candidate John Cranley, who’s running against fellow Democrat and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, says he doesn’t know if he can stop the parking plan if he’s elected.
Cranley explained it will only be possible if the Greater Cincinnati
Port Authority doesn’t set up contracts and sell bonds for the deal
before the election. Under the parking plan, the city is leasing its
parking meters, lots and garages to the Port Authority, which will then
hire various private operators to manage the assets. Qualls supports the
plan because it will raise money and resources to fund development
projects and modernize the city’s parking services, but Cranley argues
it cedes too much control over the city’s parking assets.
It turns out Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye won’t be removed
from Ohio’s education guidelines. State Board of Education
President Debe Terhar, a Cincinnati Republican, initially called the
book “pornographic” and demanded its removal from the state guidelines,
which led the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio to criticize Terhar and ask her to reconsider her comments.
With the latest delay, small businesses won’t be able to enroll online for Obamacare’s marketplaces until November. Until then, small businesses will
only be able to sign up by mail, fax or phone. The delay is the latest of a
few setbacks for Obamacare, but the rest of the federally run online marketplaces will still launch on Oct. 1 as planned. CityBeat covered statewide efforts to promote and obstruct the marketplaces in further detail here.Gov. Kasich is donating to charity more than $22,000 that he received in campaign contributions from an indicted man.
The city has begun work on a retail corridor that will start on Fourth Street and run north through Race Street. The corridor will take years to complete, but city officials say it will be different than previous failed plans.
The number of passengers whose trips originate at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has increased for six straight months, according to airport officials.
Data-analysis company Dunnhumby is looking to invest in Cincinnati startups.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center landed federal money to test vaccines. The contract could prove the largest the hospital has ever obtained, according to The Business Courier.
Police in the Netherlands use trained rats to catch criminals.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
It’s difficult to consider the Cincinnati
Bengals to be one of the NFL’s more innovative franchises — aside from
winning the most lopsided stadium deal in the history of football and
then hiring the guy who negotiated it for the county, the team is really
only known for losing Super Bowls to the 49ers and a funny 1990s
by German Lopez
86 days ago
Medicaid expansion petition certified, more tax credit secrecy, disparity study in 2015
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine certified a petition effort
that, if approved by voters, would require the state to expand its
Medicaid program. The effort
now must gather roughly 116,000 signatures to be approved by the Ohio
Ballot Board and eventually end up on the 2014 ballot. Under Obamacare, states are asked to expand their Medicaid programs; if
they accept, the federal government will pay for the full expansion
through 2016 then indefinitely phase down its payments to 90 percent
after that. The Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found
the expansion would insure nearly half a million Ohioans and generate $1.8
billion in extra revenue. But the expansion has been so far rejected by
Republican legislators, who tend to be opposed to government-run health care
programs and say they’re concerned the federal government won’t be able
to uphold its commitment to Medicaid as it has for nearly four decades. CityBeat covered the expansion in greater detail here.
In another example of rising secrecy surrounding JobsOhio, state tax credit estimates are now exempt from public records law,
which means the public will no longer be able to see the value of tax
credits granted to new and expanding businesses. The estimate is used by
JobsOhio to gauge whether it should propose granting a tax break to a certain business, but the
Ohio Development Services Agency says it’s concerned the numbers aren’t
accurate in the long term. In the past few months, JobsOhio has been
mired in controversy because of its lack of transparency. Republicans
argue that JobsOhio’s secretive nature allow the privatized development
agency to move more quickly with job-creating development deals, but
Democrats argue tax dollars are being used with little accountability.
The final results of Cincinnati’s disparity study for city contracts aren’t expected until 2015.
The city is pursuing the study, which is estimated to cost between
$500,000 and $1.5 million, to gauge whether Cincinnati should change its contracting policies
to favorably target minority- and women-owned businesses. The study is
necessary before making such changes because of a U.S. Supreme Court
ruling that requires governments to empirically prove there is a racial or
gender-based disparity before favorably targeting such groups.
Meet Cincinnati’s new police chief: Jeffrey Blackwell.
He’s currently deputy chief at the Columbus Division of Police, where
he’s been for 26 years. Blackwell was picked over three other finalists:
Paul Humphries, who’s been acting Cincinnati Police chief since June; Michael Dvorak, deputy chief of the Mesa, Ariz., Police
Department; and Jerry Speziale, deputy superintendent of the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey Police.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio criticized Debe Terhar,
president of the State Board of Education, for calling Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye
“pornographic” and demanding it be removed from the state’s teaching
guidelines. Terhar and others have criticized the book because it
contains a scene in which a father rapes his daughter. The Common Core
standards adopted by Ohio suggest The Bluest Eye as an example of reading text complexity, quality and range
for high school juniors who are typically 16 or 17 years old, but it’s
ultimately up to school districts to decide whether the novel belongs in
the curriculum. Removing mention of the book from the state’s
guidelines wouldn’t explicitly ban the book in Ohio schools, but it
would weaken the novel’s prominence as a teaching tool.
The University of Cincinnati Medical Center is part of an international effort
involving clinical trials to cure Alzheimer’s, the neurodegenerative
disease with no known cure that causes long-term memory loss, confusion, mood
swings and other symptoms typical of dementia.
Police are searching for an active shooter
on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard in the District of Columbia.
The shooter has barricaded himself in a room after allegedly shooting
at least three people.
Ohio gas prices are back down.
An unarmed drone club for children with autism might teach the children to view things from different perspectives.