by German Lopez
100 days ago
Mandel may have broken campaign law, Medicaid overhaul coming, endorsements roll out
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel was involved in two car crashes and reported neither,
and one of the crashes may have violated federal campaign
finance law. During a March accident, Mandel, a Republican, was riding
in a vehicle owned by his 2012 U.S. Senate campaign months after he
lost to Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. Federal law states Senate
campaign property can't be used for personal use or to campaign for a
different office, such as state treasurer. Mandel’s state treasurer
campaign says it rented out the car from the Senate campaign, but The
Associated Press found the check didn’t clear out until June 30 — seven
months after the Senate campaign and four months after the crash — and
the rent wasn’t fully paid for until reporters started asking questions.
Republican state legislators are drafting a bill that would overhaul Ohio’s Medicaid program. The legislation isn’t the Medicaid expansion,
which Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder now says isn’t a good idea.
Instead, the upcoming bill would make changes to attempt to control Medicaid’s rising costs, which
have put an increasing strain on the state budget in the past few years. Batchelder
says the bill will be introduced in the fall and likely voted out of the
House by the end of the year.
Mayoral candidates John Cranley and Roxanne Qualls are rolling out their latest endorsements.
Yesterday, State Rep. Alicia Reece said she’s backing Cranley. On
Friday, Qualls touted support from Equality Ohio, the Miami Group of the
Sierra Club, the National Organization of Women Cincinnati, Plumbers
and Pipefitters Local 392 and the Ohio-Kentucky Administrative District
Council of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers. Endorsements rarely influence the outcome of elections.
The Ohio Parole Board rejected a killer’s plea for mercy.
Harry Mitts Jr. is scheduled to die by injection on Sept. 25 for
killing two men, including a police officer, at an apartment. Court
records claim Mitts uttered racial slurs before killing his first
victim, who was black. Mitts’ defense says he was blacked out from
alcohol the night of the slayings and didn’t know what he was doing.
With the board’s rejection, Mitts’ fate is now up to Gov. John Kasich,
who could commute the sentence to life in prison.
Susan Castellini, wife of the Cincinnati Reds CEO, will join the Cincinnati Parks Board after being appointed earlier in August by Mayor Mark Mallory and City Council.
Hospice of Cincinnati obtained a $2.3 million grant from
from Bethesda Inc. and Catholic Health Initiatives to launch an
initiative that will encourage doctors, terminally ill patients and their families to discuss end-of-life planning.
Three former employees are suing Cincinnati-based Jeff Ruby eateries for allegedly taking tips from staff, which supposedly caused employees to earn less than minimum wage.
Between Sept. 19 and Sept. 30, Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino will become the first venue in Ohio to host a World Series of Poker circuit event.
Popular Science claims it met the world’s smartest dog.
by German Lopez
Seelbach calls for Voting Rights Act rework, 3CDC upkeep criticized, politics in budget veto
Councilman Chris Seelbach and other local leaders are
calling on Congress to rework the Voting Rights Act following a U.S.
Supreme Court decision that struck down key provisions. Supporters of
the Voting Rights Act argue it’s necessary to prevent discrimination and
protect people’s right to vote, while critics call it an outdated
measure from the Jim Crow era that unfairly targeted some states with
forgone histories of racism. “Within 24 hours of the Supreme Court’s
decision to gut the Voting Rights Act, five states are already moving
ahead with voter ID laws, some of which had previously been rejected by
the Department of Justice as discriminatory,” Seelbach said in a
statement. “The right to vote is one of the most sacred values in our
nation and Congress should act immediately to protect it”.
Nonprofit developer 3CDC says it’s restructuring staff and guidelines to take better care of its vacant buildings
following criticisms from residents and the local Board of Housing
Appeals. The board has fined the 3CDC three times this year for failing
to maintain Cincinnati’s minimum standards for vacant buildings, which
require owners keep the buildings watertight and safe for emergency
personnel to enter.
Gov. John Kasich said the funding allocation belonged in
the capital budget — not the operating budget he signed into law — when
he vetoed money going to State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office, but The Columbus Dispatch reports it might have been revenge
for Mandel’s opposition to the Medicaid expansion and an oil-and-gas
severance tax. Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols says the allegation is
“silly” and “absurd,” adding that Kasich said he would work with Mandel
on allocating the money during the capital budget process. The state
treasurer’s office says it needs the $10 million to upgrade computers
against cyberattacks. Mandel was one of the first state Republicans to
come out against the Medicaid expansion, which CityBeat covered here and here.
A series of mandatory across-the-board federal spending
cuts was supposed to take $66 million from Ohio schools, but state
officials say they’ll be able to soften the blow with $19 million in unspent federal aid.
The federal cuts — also known as “sequestration” — were part of a debt
deal package approved by Congress and President Barack Obama that kicked
in March 1. Prior to its implementation, Obama asked Congress to rework
sequestration to lessen its negative fiscal impact, but Republican
legislators refused. CityBeat covered some of sequestration’s other statewide effects here.
The mayoral race officially dropped down to four candidates yesterday, with self-identified Republican Stacy Smith failing to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot.
Check out the Cincinnati Zoo’s latest expansion here.
Headline from The Cincinnati Enquirer: “Where does John Cranley live?”
It’s now legal to go 70 miles per hour in some state highways.
Cincinnati-based Kroger and Macy’s came in at No. 2 and No. 14 respectively in an annual list of the nation’s top 20 retailers from STORIES magazine.
The Tribune Co. is buying Local TV LLC in Newport for $2.7 billion to become the largest TV station operator in the nation.
Human head transplants may be closer than we think (and perhaps hope).
by German Lopez
Pillich to run for treasurer, medical marijuana language approved, Medicaid rally today
State Rep. Connie Pillich announced today that she will run for state treasurer,
putting the Greater Cincinnati Democrat on a collision course with
current Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican who ran for U.S. Senate
last year. Before becoming state representative, Pillich was in the Air
Force, a lawyer and a small business owner. “Whether as a captain in
the Air Force, a lawyer and owner of a small business, or a
representative in the legislature, I’ve dedicated my career to listening
to concerns, creating a plan of action, and working hard to deliver
real results,” she said in a statement.
Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the ballot language
for an amendment that would legalize medical marijuana in Ohio, opening the
possibility that the issue will be on the ballot in 2013 or 2014. CityBeat wrote more about the amendment and the group behind it here.
Supporters of the Medicaid expansion are hosting a
public meeting and presentation today at 10 a.m. at the Red Cross
headquarters at 2111 Dana Ave. CityBeat previously covered the
Medicaid expansion, which supporters claim will save the state money
and insure half a million Ohioans in the next decade, here.
Ohio is one of many states preparing to adopt Common Core
standards and other reforms in schools, but a recent survey by the
Thomas B. Fordham Institute of the state’s superintendents declared that
the state is not ready
for all the changes being proposed. Terry Ryan of the Thomas B. Fordham
Institute says Ohio should consider slowing down to give legislators
and educators more time to work through the new requirements.
A new Ohio bill would require only one license plate per vehicle,
potentially saving the state $1 million a year. But critics say the
bill would limit the amount of tools available to law enforcement to
fight and prevent crime.
Nearly two-thirds more suburban residents live below the poverty line in comparison to 2000, according to “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America,” a book by two Brookings Institution fellows. The book uses U.S. Census Bureau data to form a clearer picture on U.S. poverty trends. Previous analyses have correlated the U.S. rise in poverty with welfare reform, which former President Bill Clinton signed in 1996.
Ohio and U.S. gas prices are spiking this week.
It’s going to be hot today.
A study found a correlation between fiscal conservatives and big biceps.
The first American mission to sample an asteroid is moving forward.
by German Lopez
Obama gives State of the Union, archdiocese defends LGBT firing, Qualls against HUD sale
President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union speech
yesterday. During the speech, Obama outlined fairly liberal proposals for the economy, climate change, gun control and immigration. He also suggested raising the minimum wage to $9 and attaching it to rising cost of living standards. The Washington Post analyzed the proposals here. To watch a bunch of old people clap too much while the
president outlines policy proposals that will likely never pass a
gridlocked Congress, click here.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is standing firm
in its firing of Purcell Marian High School administrator Mike Moroski.
The termination came after Moroski publicly stated his support for
same-sex marriage on his blog — a position that contradicts the Catholic
Church’s teachings. CityBeat covered Moroski’s case in this week’s news story, and gay marriage was covered more broadly in a previous in-depth story.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls wants to stop
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from selling
768 housing units in Walnut Hills, Avondale and Millvale. Qualls says
the sale is “eerily similar” to a sale dating back to 2007, which
resulted in dropping property values and blighted buildings. She argues local buyers should get a chance to take up the properties before HUD makes the sale to a New York company.
State Treasurer Josh Mandel is up to his old tricks again. In a letter to Ohio legislators Monday, Mandel, a Republican, opposed the Medicaid expansion,
claiming, “There is no free money.” But for the state, the Medicaid
expansion is essentially free money. The federal government will cover
all the costs of the expansion for the first three years, then phase down to paying 90 percent of the costs by 2020 — essentially, free
John Kasich, another Republican, has backed the Medicaid expansion, claiming it makes
financial sense in the long term. In 2012, Mandel lost the race for Ohio’s Senate seat after he ran
a notoriously dishonest campaign against U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Financing details for the Brent Spence Bridge are due in March.
The details will provide much-wanted information for local residents
cautious about the new tolling scheme, which will help pay for the bridge’s
Cincinnati officials and residents celebrated
the work completed near the Horseshoe Casino at an event yesterday.
Mayor Mark Mallory highlighted the infrastructure improvements made to
accommodate the casino, calling the work a successful collaboration
between city government, the casino and residents.
The Ohio Resource Center has a new website for K-12 digital content. The website, ilearnOhio, is supposed to provide parents and students with the tools needed for online distance learning.
Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is being sued
for not paying rent. The restaurant claims it’s financially viable, but
it’s holding the rent in escrow after its landlord allegedly violated the
leasing agreement. The establishment was one of the first to open at
A public Ohio school district is fighting a lawsuit in order to keep its portrait of Jesus.
The school district claims the portrait is owned by a student club and
is “private speech,” but opponents argue the portrait violates
separation of church and state.
Update on the Alamo situation at Tower Place Mall: Only one tenant remains.
The unofficial spokesman of Heart Attack Grill, the infamous Las Vegas restaurant, died of a heart attack.
Americans expect a human mission to Mars in the next 20 years, but that’s probably because they don’t know how little funding NASA gets.
An asteroid will barely miss
Earth on Feb. 15. If it were to hit, it would generate the explosive
equivalent of 2,500 kilotons of TNT. In comparison, the nuclear bomb
that hit Hiroshima during World War 2 generated a measly equivalent of
17 kilotons of TNT.
by German Lopez
Mandel hires political workers, county will raise taxes, city faces privatization or layoffs
Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is hiring political workers and friends at his job again.
His latest hires are Joe Aquilino, former campaign political director
to Mandel’s U.S. Senate campaign, and Jared Borg, former campaign
political coordinator. During the 2010 campaign for the state
treasurer’s office, Mandel said, “Unlike the current officeholder, I
will ensure that my staff is comprised of qualified financial
professionals — rather than political cronies and friends — and that
investment decisions are based on what is best for Ohioans.” Mandel’s
spokesperson defended the hires by touting the treasurer’s
accomplishments in office.
With a vote set for tomorrow, it’s still unsure how the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners will solve the stadium fund deficit, but it seems like both options require tax increases.
Commissioner Todd Portune, the lone Democrat on the board, proposed
increasing the sales tax by 0.25 percent. Board President Greg Hartmann,
a Republican, presented an alternative plan that reduces the property
tax rollback by 50 percent for two years, but he also said he’s not sure
how he’ll vote. Commissioner Chris Monzel, a Republican, says he
wants to find a plan that doesn’t raise taxes.
Either parking services are privatized or 344 city employees are laid off. That’s how City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. framed budget talks to City Council yesterday.
The city has already made drastic cuts since 2000, laying off 802
employees. Dohoney also pushed for repealing the property tax rollback
promised as part of the stadium deal in 1996, but City Council does not
want to raise taxes in the middle of a slow economy. The fact is any form of austerity will be painful,
so City Council should be as cautious of spending cuts as tax hikes. A
public hearing on the budget will be held Thursday at 6 p.m.
The city of Cincinnati’s plan to buy Tower Place Mall and the adjacent Pogue’s Garage in downtown is moving forward.
The city offered to buy the mall and garage for $8.5 million in order
to spur economic development in the area. The parking garage and
half-empty mall are currently in foreclosure.
Cincinnati State is looking to expand.
The Horseshoe Casino has begun its final round of hiring. The casino is set to open in spring 2013. A Washington Post analysis found casinos bring jobs, but also crime, bankruptcy and suicide.
One year later, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources hasn’t followed up on a court order to compensate flooded landowners.
The State Controlling Board approved three programs
that will provide transitional housing and other services to the
homeless. As part of the initiative, Habitat for Humanity of Ohio will
receive $200,000, the Homeless Crisis Response Program will receive
$12,680,700 and the Supportive Housing Program will receive $9,807,600
from the Ohio Housing Trust Fund.Great numbers from November from auto companies could mean more hires.
The U.S. Supreme Court is delaying action on same-sex marriage. CityBeat covered gay marriage in Ohio and whether Ohioans are ready to embrace it in a Nov. 28 cover story.
A dissolving nanofabric could soon replace condoms for protecting against pregnancy and HIV.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
If there’s a Democrat-led war on coal in Ohio, it’s not showing in
the numbers. PolitiFact checked Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s claim that coal
jobs and production have gone up in the state since five years ago, and it turns out he’s right. Brown’s remark was in response to Republican challenger Josh Mandel’s claim that Democrats are leading a war on coal. Brown and Mandel are fighting for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat, which CityBeat covered in-depth here. Currently, Brown leads by 5.5 points in aggregate polling.
The presidential campaigns are turning it up in Ohio. Ann Romney was in Greater Cincinnati yesterday to campaign for her husband, echoing past visits from Michelle Obama. President Barack Obama will be in Cincinnati Sunday. Mitt Romney will hold a big rally in West Chester on Friday. Ohio could be the state to decide whether Romney or Obama is the next president. Due to Ohio’s importance, lawyers from around the county will be keeping a close eye on the state. With six days of voting left, aggregate polling shows Obama up 2.3 points in Ohio and the race tied nationally. FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ forecasting model, says Obama has a 79.9 percent chance of winning Ohio and a 79 percent chance of winning the election.
The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) is suing Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) for allegedly using city resources to campaign for Issue 42,
which will renew a CPS levy from 2008. In the emails, school officials
discuss voter registration drives, signing up to support the levy and
contributing to the levy campaign. But in a few emails, Jens Sutmoller, campaign coordinator for Issue 42, asks for personal emails to properly respond. COAST has endorsed a “No” vote on Issue 42. CityBeat covered Issue 42 and the problems facing CPS here. CityBeat also endorsed a “Yes” vote on Issue 42 here.
Dropping enrollment in urban district schools, including CPS, has caused some schools to revise building programs downward,
saving the state money. In CPS in particular, the school’s project has
dropped down to 50 buildings from 66 partly in response to a decline in
about 10,000 students since 2002 to about 32,687 enrolled students today. The shift apparently has less to do
with students moving to the suburbs and more to do with the greater
availability of charter and private schools.
The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority’s CEO Laura Brunner laid out the Port Authority’s strategic plan yesterday.
The Port Authority seeks to fight poverty, attract residents and increase jobs by
expanding inland port operations, developing land, stabilizing targeted
communities, upgrading its public financing plan and transparently
communicating progress, according to Brunner.
A small fraction of absentee ballots might have been rejected due to a state data glitch.
The glitch caused Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to deliver 33,000
updated registration records to local elections issues. Tim Burke,
chairman of the county Democratic Party and county Board of Elections,
expressed mixed feelings about the error: “Obviously, you hate like hell
to have the secretary of state’s office, which had promised to have a
very efficient election, popping something like that on us seven days
out. … Having said that, I’m glad at least once they recognized that
these names are out there they moved to get them to us so that we can do
our best to ensure that these folks are not disenfranchised because of
some administrative glitch.”
In related news, Husted got the emergency stay he asked for on a recent voting ruling. Husted said he was happy with the decision in a statement:
“With six days to go before Election Day, I am pleased that the Court
has granted a stay in this case so that I can give the 88 county boards
of elections the clear direction they need on the rules for processing
There are a few teachers campaigning for office in Ohio, and NPR says the campaigns could give Democrats and Obama a boost.
The surge of teachers is largely attributed to Senate Bill 5, which
tried to limit collective bargaining among public employees. The
teachers figure the only way to prevent another Senate Bill 5 is by
There are also Ohio Board of Education candidates on this
year’s ballot. StateImpact Ohio has a look into some of those candidates
found small firms are doing very little to prepare for Obamacare. Most
don’t know what the national health care plan will even do for them.
About 70 percent were unsure or incorrectly believed Obamacare will make
them pay a tax. Ever want to play Tetris with a pumpkin? Well, apparently someone has.
Ohio's ugly Senate race has national repercussions
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
The world will be watching Ohio this week, waiting
largely to see which presidential candidate’s weeks of time and millions
of dollars spent wooing Buckeye State voters will pay off. But slightly down the ballot is another race nearly as
important: for one of Ohio’s U.S. Senate seats.
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Remove Democrat and Republican for a
second. Assume there are two candidates outside of partisan labels.
Candidate A is the current sitting senator. He has a clear record and
policies to run on. Candidate B is the challenger. He has little record
and policies, and he’s been caught being dishonest time and time again —
to the extent that one major newspaper gave him an award for lying so
5 Comments · Wednesday, October 24, 2012
We at CityBeat take election endorsements seriously, and
you should too! Our writers spent considerable time researching 2012’s
candidates and issues and what each means to the future of Cincinnati
and America. (We also figured out what the Hamilton County coroner does
besides chopping up bodies...) This is the first half of our
endorsements — the entire collection will be available in our Election
Issue Oct. 31. Read ’em and weep, voter suppressionists!