Worst Week Ever! Nov. 25-Dec. 1

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Cranley emails self-righteous press statement and wishes someone had paused it; meanwhile at the NRA; women earning closer to equal pay, but that's only kind of good; weed investors regret Buddie mascot; research chimps to receive gold watches for catching hell all those years.  

Cranley Asks Feds Not to Send Syrian Refugees to Cincinnati

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Following attacks in Egypt, Beirut and Paris that killed hundreds, the United States should place a moratorium on Syrian refugees, Mayor John Cranley said in a Nov. 16 statement.   

Worst Week Ever! Nov. 18-24

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Renewed interest in what others think fuels Cranley concert-promotion efforts; terrorist attacks in Paris prompt Rob Lowe to share immigration policy tips; uniforms make Bills and Jets look the same to colorblind fans; OSU sues Horseshoe Casino over attempts to copyright generic name  

Confused By ‘Enquirer’ Parks Levy Endorsement

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 11, 2015
The election’s done, but I’m still puzzling over the Enquirer endorsement of the parks levy. From what the two endorsement editorials said about the park board, its president Otto Budig and Mayor John Cranley, I expected Enquirer opposition to the levy.  
by Natalie Krebs 11.11.2015 19 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Cincy tries to figure out just what happened on Election Day; SORTA looks at extending streetcars hours; Kasich interrupts his way through fourth GOP debate

Good morning! Here is your daily roundup of streetcar issues and past and future elections. Democrats and Republicans gathered in front of the board of elections yesterday scratching their heads and trying to figure out just what went wrong on Election Day when a series of glitches forced Hamilton County polling places to stay open two additional hours. Most of the blame was placed on the new electronic sign in system, which was programmed with the wrong cut-off date for voter registration, excluding as many as 11,000 people. The system's manufacturer Tenex Software Solutions, which created the system for $1.2 million and set the cutoff date as July 6 and not October 5, issued a public apology yesterday. But lucky for them, as voter turnout is generally low across the United States, official estimates put the number of excluded people around 4,000. Other culprits for the Election Day disaster include poor Internet connections, older poll workers unfamiliar with the new technology and problems with the machines reading old, worn down driver's licenses' barcodes.   Is your dream to ride the streetcar in a drunken haze Friday night post-OTR bar hopping and binge drinking? Well, Mayor John Cranley and SORTA are working to make that dream a reality! SORTA is thinking of extending the streetcars' hours before it's even made its debut to the public. Currently, the streetcar is scheduled to operate 6 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every other day of the week. Two plans have been launched that would generally start service a little later in the morning, around 7 a.m., and keep it running until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends, which conveniently coordinates with closing time for the bars. Mayor Cranley says he supports the streetcar operating later to support the growing nightlife in Over-the-Rhine and downtown. SORTA will submit the revised schedule to its board and City Council at the beginning of next year. The Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative by the Federal Housing Finance Agency has selected Cincinnati as one of 18 cities that will let local community organizations get first dibs before the general public on foreclosed properties owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. The project, which hopes to help cities that were hit the hardest by the housing crisis, selected cities that have at least 100 properties valued at less than $75,000. Cincinnati easily hit this mark with between 301 and 700 properties falling into this category. The program will launch Dec. 1 and also be extended to other troubled Ohio cities like Akron, Dayton, Columbus and Toledo. Gov. John Kasich might still be lagging behind in polls, but at least he's determined to be heard. In the fourth GOP presidential debate last night, Kasich got the second most air time, but obtained most of it by interrupting fellow nominees and moderators. In the process, he managed to get Donald Trump booed then himself booed when he said he would bail out the big banks and launched into an exchange with real estate tycoon Trump over immigration and fracking. The Columbus Dispatch reported that while Kasich's new aggressive tactics and moderate positions may be good in the general election, it might not fare so well for him in the primaries, where he is already the underdog and is easily overshadowed by the more extreme Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Football, America's favorite sport, causes head injuries and concussions. So we should all be signing up little Billy and Jane for soccer, right? Well, turns out soccer also causes head injuries when players heading the ball, which looks impressive, but may actually cause a lot of damage later on. So the United States Soccer Federation, which oversees U.S. soccer youth national teams, has unveiled a new set of regulation, one of which is prohibiting children 10 and under with their precious developing brains from heading the ball. The move comes to resolve a lawsuit was filed by players and parents in August 2014 against FIFA, U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization for failing to monitor all the head injuries.   Email me at nkrebs@citybeat.com. I'd love to hear your story tips!      

Immigration Task Force Announces Recommendations

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Mayor John Cranley and the Task Force on Immigration he convened last year announced a series of recommendations on Oct. 28 aimed at making Cincinnati the most welcoming city in the country for immigrants.   

Political Spending, Park Board Bonuses Spur Further Debate on Parks Charter Amendment

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Debate over Mayor John Cranley’s proposed permanent tax increase to fund park projects has gotten more contentious as revelations about questionable spending by the Cincinnati Park Board came to light last week.   

Debate Heats Up on Parks Charter Amendment

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 14, 2015
A proposal by Mayor John Cranley to amend Cincinnati’s charter in order to raise funds for the city’s parks has created a good deal of controversy ahead of the Nov. 3 election, where voters will decide whether or not to adopt it.   
by Nick Swartsell 10.13.2015 48 days ago
Posted In: News at 01:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
to do_smale riverfront park-courtesy cincinnati parks

Parks Tax Fight Gets Real

A 95-year-old civil rights icon says she hung up on Cranley; local lawyer wants campaign money returned to Parks Board

As voters get nearer to weighing in on Mayor John Cranley's proposed amendment to Cincinnati's charter that would create a permanent property tax to fund the city's parks, things are getting contentious. Supporters of Issue 22, which would raise property taxes by about $35 for a $100,000 house, say it will help Cincinnati create “world class parks,” boost neighborhoods and economic development throughout the city. But detractors say the amendment gives too much control to the mayor and will allow him to take on debt the city will be paying for years to come, money that will be used to boost for-profit ventures in the city’s public parks.Former Cincinnati vice mayor and civil rights leader Marian Spencer today said that Mayor John Cranley had harsh words for her regarding her opposition to the proposed charter amendment."He said to me, angrily, 'Your face will be on the Enquirer, the front page, opposing the levy, and you're not going to like that,' " Spencer said during an appearance today on 1230 AM WDBZ. "I told him I'm 95 and nobody tells me how to vote. He didn't have anything else to say because I think I hung up."Cranley remembers the conversation differently, though, according to a social media post by Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Carrie Blackmore Smith reported by the Cincinnati Business Courier. According to that post, Cranley says he didn't threaten Spencer, but merely told her she would be the most prominent opponent of the amendment if she came out against it. Spencer originally supported the levy, but says once she read the full text of the amendment, she pulled her endorsement. She says she's concerned that the proposed tax increase is a permanent charter amendment, which she called "bad policy" in a letter to Parks Board Director Willie Carden last month. She also expressed consternation in that letter that the amendment language doesn't guarantee that improvements made to parks will be free of admissions charges to Cincinnati residents. Finally, she said in the missive that large changes to the city's parks should be initiated by citizens, not the mayor, and should go through the normal budget process involving City Council.Spencer's letter isn't the only unfriendly missive in Carden's mailbox lately.In a letter delivered to the parks director today, Cincinnati attorney Timothy Mara of anti-Issue 22 group Save Our Parks called a $200,000 contribution to a campaign boosting the parks levy “illegal” and demanded the money be taken back. "Given the facts as we know them, it is imperative that the Park Board act today to set this matter right by first securing the return of its $200,000 campaign contribution," Mara wrote in the letter delivered this morning. Cranley appears in the television ad funded in part with the park board's contribution, touting the charter amendment as he plays various sports including football, basketball and baseball. The ad features slick production and is running in local markets.The two sides of the fight battled it out at a public debate hosted by The Cincinnati Enquirer Oct. 12 at The Phoenix downtown. Don Mooney, a Cincinnati attorney who has helped organize opposition to the plan, argued against the amendment, while environmentalist Brewster Rhoads presented the case for it. Cranley himself was invited to participate in the event, but declined unless he would not be on the stage at the same time as the opposition and could speak last, according to the Enquirer. At the debate, Mooney blasted Cranley’s proposal, calling it a “slush fund” for the mayor. He pointed to the ballot language, which gives control over the money raised to the mayor and the Cincinnati Park Board. The mayor appoints the park board with council approval. Critics like Mooney have questioned why the amendment language doesn’t stipulate any requirements for Cincinnati City Council or community involvement.That, Mooney says, primes Cincinnati for “a commercial and corporate takeover of our parks.” Mooney cites recent closures of Washington Park due to for-profit events as evidence for this, as well as a proposed public-private partnership with Western & Southern to remake Lytle Park downtown.But Rhoads says the amendment is about boosting Cincinnati’s public parks, not selling them off. He says for-profit events like those at Washington Park are rare events that put much-needed funds in the city’s coffers for parks. At the debate, Rhoads also pushed back against the assertion that the mayor will control the funds raised by the amendment. Ohio law requires City Council to approve any bonds issued by the city, he said, giving the elected body a say over which projects will be funded by the amendment. Rhoads did acknowledge that the amendment’s language would be better if it had specific guidelines for community involvement, but said that the parks board does a good job with getting the community engaged.“It’s not a perfect plan,” he said. “But we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”The mayor has proposed 16 projects to be funded by bonds issued with seed money from the property tax increase, though none are specifically listed in the amendment language. Among these are an effort to save and restore the former King Records site in Evanston and create a museum there; millions in funding for the Wasson Way bike path, which would cut through a number of East Side neighborhoods on its way into Uptown; and money to give large urban woods like Burnet Woods and Mount Airy Forest facelifts. All told, the price tag for those projects comes to about $80 million.Rhoads argued that the city doesn’t have enough money to fund park maintenance currently. He and other supporters say 25 percent of the money raised by the property tax levy will go toward maintenance costs. Critics, however, point out that the language on the ballot only stipulates that the 25 percent cannot be used toward debt service for capital projects, not a requirement for it to be used for maintenance. Mooney questioned how the city doesn’t have enough money for park maintenance when the Park Board has millions in its accounts and was able to spend $200,000 to fund the pro-Issue 22 ad featuring Cranley. Rhoads demurred on that question, saying he doesn’t speak for the Issue 22 campaign. Parks Board President Carl Budig said the donation to the campaign came from a special endowment. He defended the contribution as appropriate and legal.Mara pushed back against that assertion, however."The fact that the money may originally have come from an endowment or donation to the Park Board does not mean that the $200,000 political campaign gift is legal," he wrote in the letter. "Once accepted by the Park Board, that money became 'public funds' subject to the above-described prohibition against campaign expenditures by a public entity."

City Reveals Steps to Eliminate Gender, Racial Inequities in Contracting

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 7, 2015
City of Cincinnati officials on Sept. 30 unveiled ordinances to address inequalities in the city’s contracting practices, including race- and gender-based requirements for contractors.