by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:21 AM | Permalink
CPD says barriers worked, mostly; Freedom Center celebrates 10 years; a horrifying eggnog explosion
Hey all. As we all collectively recover from sitting in Washington Park for hours camped out for LumenoCity, let’s talk about what’s going on in the wide world, shall we? The Cincinnati Police Department has released a report (scroll down to page four in that agenda) about the effectiveness of the anti-prostitution barriers on McMicken, which the city put up in May and took down last week. According to the report, the barricades did reduce prostitution, though some activity simply shifted to nearby blocks in Over-the-Rhine. • The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center celebrated its 10th anniversary Sunday. After contention about its creation and financial struggles early in its existence, the museum and conference center looks to be on a very positive trajectory. Despite debt and a $1 million-plus operating deficit as recently as 2011, the Freedom Center has proven resilient. A July 2012 merger with the Museum Center has helped, as well as contributions from donors and the Center’s continually nationally recognized exhibitions and events. Attendance revenue is up 35 percent at the Center, a Cincinnati Enquirer article says, and the Center’s endowment is growing. On a personal note, this is one of my favorite places in the city, and the news that it’s doing well is great to hear indeed.• The big story this morning is in Toledo, which is now in its third day without water due to contamination from algae. Four-hundred-thousand residents woke up Saturday morning to a warning from the city instructing them not to use tap water for drinking, showering or cleaning. Making matters worse, boiling the water only increases the concentration of toxins, so the water is completely unusable. Toledo’s Mayor D. Michael Collins announced Monday that tests of the water supply showed it was getting safer after clean-up efforts, but wanted more time to ensure it is completely safe. Residents Sunday night were told it would probably be safe to shower quickly or do laundry. Meanwhile, Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency Saturday, the National Guard began shipping in vats of water and grocery stores were picked clean of bottled water.Experts say the current situation has been building for a decade, as sewage, farm and industrial runoff builds in Lake Erie. That’s supported the explosive growth of algae, which produces toxins that can cause liver problems and general illness, including nausea and dizziness. The toxins can also kill pets.• Hamilton County Commissioners at their staff meeting this morning will discuss whether to put the so-called icon tax on the November ballot. As of Friday, none of the three commissioners were completely on board with any of the scenarios for a proposed tax hike to pay for renovations to Union Terminal and Music Hall, though the commissioners have expressed interest in finding a proposal that works for everyone. Probably the hardest to sway will be Commissioner Todd Portune, who said he doesn’t feel “any pressure at all” to vote in favor of a tax plan. At issue: how much the city should chip in for the renovations and whether it would be more appropriate to pay for at least some of the renovations with fees added to tickets to events at the facilities. The commissioners must make a decision by Aug. 6. • LumenoCity wrapped up last night, and by all accounts it was a big success. The three-day event, which combined a light show projected onto Music Hall with a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performance, drew 37,500 people who reserved tickets online in order to enter the park. This year, festivities included LumenoCity village, where folks could shop and hang out whether they had a ticket or not. I went Sunday, and it was great to see so many people mingling. Plus the Charley Harper tribute was especially amazing. But a thought: Who was left out by the ticketing system, which was predominantly administered online? Also, it’s interesting to think about spending $1 million on an hour-and-a-half-long light show in a historically low-income neighborhood when that’s the same amount of money the city has budgeted for social service agencies for the whole year. Just a thought.• Finally, this story is the stuff of nightmares. Some kind of mechanical failure caused an explosion in an eggnog vat at a food lab in New Jersey. The ‘nog is one of my least favorite things in the world, and the thought of a violent explosion of the stuff is stomach-turning, to say the least. No one was killed in the blast (what a way to go that would be) but two scientists were injured and an entire back wall of the lab was blown down. One final thought about this whole thing — the establishment cooking up the beverage is called Pharmachem. Sounds delicious.
by Nick Swartsell
at 10:00 AM | Permalink
Butler County sheriff on immigration plan, LumenoCity goes interactive and The Banks... boring?
It's Monday and stuff is already getting crazy. Here's the good, the bad and the befuddling in the news today.Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones shared his thoughts Friday on… something… ostensibly related to Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s recently announced immigration initiative. The initiative looks to attract documented immigrants who will contribute to economic growth in the region. Jones, who is well known for his vocal and strident opposition to immigration, went somewhere else entirely with it. Of note: Jones doesn’t seem to know the mayor’s name, calling him “Mayor Cranby” on 700 WLW. Anyway, Jones applauds Mayor Cranberry’s Cranley's plan, or the imaginary version of it he's conjured, for some fairly nontraditional reasons. I’ll just let him tell ya what’s on his mind:“I want [Cincinnati] to be a haven for illegal aliens also,” he said. “Really I do. If Cincinnati, with all the violence, the killings they have every night in downtown Cincinnati … anybody that’s illegal in the country, let alone in Butler County, I encourage them to go there. If you’re listening today, if you’re illegal, you’ve committed crime, the mayor, Cranley or Cranby or whatever his name is, wants you to come to Cincinnati. I encourage it.”Jones, you see, is freaked out about all the undocumented folks streaming into Butler County and would rather they come to a place like Cincinnati where someone gets shot downtown every night (note: this is not even remotely reality, but let’s keep moving). Jones was making the rounds Friday, also appearing on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze (where, puzzlingly, he posed in front of a picture of Cincinnati's skyline, probably because Hamilton's isn't nearly as epic or dangerous-looking). He went on the show to raise alarms about the incredibly dangerous influx of undocumented immigrants caused by Obama’s lax immigration policies and the upswing in horrific crimes that has happened since. Oh, and they’re going to spread disease because they haven’t been immunized. Jones is worried about that, too.Except a few things. State data shows crimes in Butler County have been steady or falling since 2007, including the drug-related crimes and violent offenses Jones cites. And while the sheriff vaguely highlighted a couple tragic and genuinely reprehensible individual examples, the flood of immigrant-related crime seems hard to find statistically. Also, epidemiologists say that refugees and immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America often have similar or even greater vaccination rates than U.S. citizens and pose little threat of spreading diseases. Finally, pinning a surge in illegal immigration on the Obama boogeyman is tough, since his administration has been pretty active in deporting undocumented immigrants. But, y'know, immigrants are scary and all. • LumenoCity organizers have something new in store this year: an interactive website, app and social media presence that will stream the event live as well as aggregate social media posts about the event, which takes place in Washington Park and combines a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performance with a dramatic light show projected onto Music Hall. The interactive portion will be introduced during the July 31 dress rehearsal, which has been opened up to an audience due to overwhelming demand for tickets to the event, which takes place Aug. 1 through Aug. 3. • While you’re at LumenoCity this weekend — or, if you didn’t get tickets, hanging out around the park craning your neck to see what’s going on — you can pick up a new card designed to promote the arts in Over-the-Rhine. The Explore OTR card will be distributed by the small arts organizations in the city like Know Theatre and the Art Academy. After you’ve used the card at five of these smaller venues, you can redeem it for deals at larger arts organizations like the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Pretty cool.• After some stinging criticism of General Electric’s proposed new building at The Banks, some hand-wringing has commenced as to whether the gargantuan, decade-in-the-making development along the Ohio River is too boring (spoiler: probably). A quote from Jim Fitzgerald, who sits on the city’s Urban Design Review Board: "We have been disappointed with the quality of architecture on The Banks to date other than the stadiums. The stadiums are of reasonably good architecture, but the other buildings are very vanilla, very uninteresting, very disappointing."The review board looks at all plans for buildings before construction begins, though their role is strictly advisory and their advice to the city is non-binding. Others, including city and county leaders, have pointed out that all the buildings currently constructed or planned for the site meet the standards the city has set out and say that the project is a work in progress.• I’m always trying to get my out of town friends hooked on Cincinnati chili, with varying degrees of success. Skyline, it seems, is doing the same, making plans to open a fifth location in Louisville. Why Louisville? My guess: It’s just close enough that on a clear day, with the wind blowing just right, the fragrance of that sweet but spicy meat sauce wafts across the rolling landscape between the cities and entices Kentuckians the same way it does Cincy natives. Or there are just a lot of people originally from Cincinnati who now live there. Probably the latter. Currently, the chain operates stores in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and five locations in Florida, of all places. Go forth, Skyline, and spread the gospel of mountainous cheese and tiny hotdogs.
by Benjamin Kitchen
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
has announced expanded access to their forthcoming LumenoCity series at
Over-the-Rhine’s Washington Park after initial tickets sold out in 12
At last year’s inaugural LumenoCity,
a total of 35,000 spectators were dazzled over the course of two nights as
Music Hall was lit up with three-dimensional graphics, bringing OTR to life
with a visual and musical spectacle.
When tickets for a trio of
concerts on Aug. 1-3 became available to the general public in June, CSO
clocked more than 300,000 visits to its website, and the event capacity of 37,500
over three nights was reached in 12 minutes.
CSO has unveiled plans to make the
groundbreaking concert experience open to an even larger number of
Cincinnatians, streaming each concert live on the web at lumenocity2014.com and
broadcasting to nearly 900,000 households throughout the region.
“From day one, LumenoCity has been
guided by a spirit and character of equity, access and generosity,” said CSO
President Trey Devey. “Demand for the event far exceeds the capacity of the
Washington Park viewing area.”
“Now, we’re able to make this free
event available on television, radio, live simulcast sites and the worldwide
web. It is our goal to reach as many people as possible with LumenoCity and
highlight the extraordinary creative energy of our community.”
90.9 WGUC, Cincinnati’s classical
public radio station, will broadcast the performance live on Friday, Aug. 1,
which will open LumenoCity up to listeners who can eye Music Hall from hilltops
or rooftops. Public television station CET will air the event on Saturday, Aug.
In addition to live Internet
streams, the third and final performance will be simulcast at Fountain Square and Riverbend Music Center on Sunday, Aug. 3. Additionally, CSO will issue
5,000 free tickets for a dress rehearsal on Thursday, July 31.
CSO is also putting 3,300 newly
released tickets for the trio of shows up for grabs, which will be issued for
free via a drawing. Patrons may register at lumenocity2014.com, but those who
already have reserved tickets will not be eligible.
The 2014 LumenoCity concert
performances will begin at 8:30 p.m. each of the three evenings with John
Morris Russell conducting the Orchestra as the Cincinnati Pops. After a brief
intermission, Music Director Louis Langrée will lead the Cincinnati Symphony
The visual effects will accompany a
live 40-minute CSO program featuring works from Copland, John Adams,
Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Borodin.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Millions of student debtors now qualify to use “Pay as You
Earn” to repay their loans after President Obama signed an executive
order June 9. Debtors won’t have to pay more than 10 percent of monthly
incomes, and after 20 years anything left is forgiven.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:41 AM | Permalink
Ticket scalping, Section 8 shenanigans and drugs
Here's what's up today in Cincy, Ohio, and beyond. Vice Mayor David Mann isn’t super happy about the fact that LumenoCity tickets sold out in 12 minutes yesterday morning and then popped up just as quickly on Craigslist and eBay. He’s requesting an investigation into the ticket giveaway to find out about any illegal sale of the free passes. In a statement yesterday, Mann said he wants to make sure “all members of the public — including all neighborhoods and income ranges — have an opportunity to avail themselves of any opportunities to get tickets to this extraordinary performance in the future.”The event was so crowded last year, organizers decided to give out tickets this time around. The tickets were available online and also at several branches of the library. Organizers stress only a small percentage of the available passes were given out online, and that more will be available ahead of the event, which takes place Aug. 1-3. • Here’s a heartwarming story about a city doing everything it can for its residents. Err, wait, no, this is actually a nightmarish scenario in which the city of Middletown has been working to eliminate a number of its Section 8 vouchers by investigating landlords and tenants and then kicking them out of the program for minor violations of law or policy, including late water bills. An Enquirer investigation found the city was actively working to eliminate many of its more than 1,600 HUD vouchers. HUD is now looking at shutting down the city’s public housing authority. Nearly a quarter of Middletown residents live below the poverty level, according to 2008-2012 Census data. The city of 50,000 has more than half of the Section 8 vouchers in Butler County.• Ohio is imposing new requirements on those receiving unemployment benefits, because not having a job is easy and awesome and if the state didn’t impose tons of busy work on those seeking benefits, everyone would crowd around the government teat.Anyone receiving benefits in Ohio must update an automatic resume made for them on OhioMeansJobs.com, Ohio’s job search site, take three assessments on their skills within 14 weeks and fill out a survey within 20 weeks to figure out careers that might suit them. Recipients will still need to apply for two jobs a week as well. State officials say they hope this will help recipients transition to work more quickly, because clearly most job seekers have no idea what kind of skills they have and just plum forgot to put their resumes online somewhere. Ohio’s unemployment rate hovers around 6 percent. About 67,000 in the state were receiving unemployment benefits in May.• The Justice Department is giving support to a proposal to shorten the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders in federal prison. The move could save taxpayers more than $2 billion. Some measures to reduce sentences have already been approved, but the new proposal would make those reduced sentences retroactive, meaning those already imprisoned for nonviolent drug crimes may see freedom sooner. There is a surprising amount of bipartisan interest drug sentencing reform, with libertarian-minded conservatives, rank and file Republican budget hawks and those on the left all calling for a new approach to the drug issue.The federal government spent more than $25 billion on the drug war in 2013. More than half the inmates in federal prisons are there for drug-related crimes, according to studies by the federal government.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:04 AM | Permalink
Uptown changes, LumenoCity sells out, $3 million in Nikes
Good morning all. Let’s start out this Monday news rundown by going uptown. •On Friday, Cincinnati’s Planning Commission passed a sweeping new plan for the area in the coming years. The plan anticipates the upcoming reworking of Interstate 71 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and envisions big changes to the area in Avondale, Corryville, and Mount Auburn. Planners hope after the new interchange at MLK and I-71 is completed, Reading Road will become a kind of innovation corridor, with new biomedical and other scientific research facilities lining a redesigned, more pedestrian-friendly roadway. The plan also calls for increased development in neighboring business districts, new construction on the numerous vacant plots in the area and increased housing stock close to the central cores of Clifton, Avondale, Corryville, CUF and Walnut Hills.•Other changes are coming to Avondale. Four large apartment buildings housing Section 8 tenants and another vacant building in the neighborhood will be renovated, and the owners of the buildings are looking to have them placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Alameda, Ambassador, Crescent, Poinciana, and Somerset buildings, built between 1896 and the 1920s, will be overhauled starting this fall. The Ambassador, currently empty, will be revamped first, and then the other buildings will follow suit. The Community Builders Cincinnati, the buildings’ owners, will help 120 families who will have to vacate during renovations move to other buildings temporarily. The renovations are expected to cost about $25 million and will finish up sometime in 2016.• Hey, do you wanna go to LumenoCity? Too late. Tickets sold out in 13 minutes this morning. Yeah, I didn’t get any either, because 8 a.m. is way too early for me to operate a computer. But if you’ve got a hundred bucks to drop, you can still scoop some tickets up on eBay. • Nationally, the 2016 presidential race is shaping up to be a wild ride. While Democrats so far seem pretty content with Hillary, the GOP is still courting their man (and yes, their nominee will almost assuredly be a man). Lately, Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas has been getting a lot of attention. Cruz handily won a straw poll at the Texas Republican Convention this weekend. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is often cited as a front-runner, came in third. Chalk it up to home-state advantage. It’s hard to know who to root for in a contest like that, so I’m just going to hope that somehow the GOP jumps on the whole throw-back trend and nominates Abraham Lincoln again.• Finally, a woman in Kentucky was found selling $3 million in ill-gotten Nikes from her front lawn. That’s a lot of stolen shoes. She said she didn’t know they were stolen and was selling them for $5 a piece. Not a bad deal, really.Tweet at your boy (@nswartsell) or email me tips: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Kelsey Kennedy
years ago, Over-the-Rhine was considered one of the most dangerous and
dilapidated neighborhoods in the United States, a title earned through a
controversial analysis of the area’s crime statistics. Today it’s a different
story, with Over-the-Rhine at the forefront of community revitalization, and Washington
Park at the core of that progress.
year’s inaugural LumenoCity, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra brought in a
total of 35,000 spectators over two nights to see Music Hall come to life
through a visual and musical collaboration. The crowds alone were proof of the growth
OTR has made as a neighborhood and the mark it continues to make on Cincinnati.
year, the free concert experience will be expanded to three days – Aug. 1-3, rain
or shine. The 40-minute, all-new visual performances promise heart-pounding
music paired with stunning animation.
technique called architectural mapping, three-dimensional graphics will be
projected from trailers on Race Street onto the façade of Music Hall, quite
literally shining a light on a cherished city landmark. Each performance will
begin at 8:30 p.m. with John Morris Russell conducting the orchestra as the
Cincinnati Pops. After a brief intermission, Music Director Louis Langree will
lead the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the light show for the second time.
In an interview
with CityBeat’s Anne Arenstein last year, Langree stated why he loved
performing in Over-the-Rhine over other venues: “There’s a great sense of
creativity and innovation you can feel. Washington Park is a great venue. I
know that at one time it was a sketchy place but now it’s alive and thriving.
To see so many thousands of people gathered to celebrate the city was
visual elements for the concert’s second half are being developed by Brave
Berlin, a world-class creative design and production company based in
Cincinnati. Music to be featured in the second performance include Copland’s “Fanfare
for the Common Man,” John Adams’ “Short Ride in a Fast Machine,” the fourth
movement from Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, Elgar’s “Nimrod” and Borodin’s “Polovtsian
Dances.” Details of the concert’s first half with Russell and the Cincinnati
Pops will be announced on a date closer to the festival.
isn’t just a collaboration between some of Cincinnati’s best music and art
scenes, but a celebration of the city itself. In addition to the performances,
organizers are planning an all-new LumenoCity Village with pre-concert performances,
arts and crafts, and greatly expanded food and beverage services. Two
additional speaker arrays are being added this year for improved sound
coverage, as well as expanded restroom services. Performers from the May Festival
Chorus, Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera will also be showcased during
The village will open at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug.
1, and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The designated viewing area inside
Washington Park will be fenced in to ensure guest safety and comfort, and
attendance within that designated area will be capped at 12,500 people each
night. All are welcome, and this year’s concerts will be free to the general
public, but ticketed. Advance tickets will be offered starting May 19 to CSO and
Pops season ticket holders. Complimentary tickets will be available starting
Monday, June 9, at 8 a.m. at lumenocity.com and will be issued until capacity
is reached. For audience members without a computer or Internet access, a
supply of free tickets will be made available to several of CSO’s partner
organizations. In addition to the www.lumenocity2014.com
website, the CSO has established a LumenoCity telephone information line at
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Louis Langrée on his debut concert, Cincinnati and LumenoCity's afterglow
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 6, 2013
During our conversation (in French), it becomes clear that the CSO’s
marketing blast, “Louis + CSO + You,” sums up Langrée’s vision for the
orchestra and the community: He frequently uses partager, French for “to share.”
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
NBC’s Parenthood (10
p.m. Thursdays), now in its fifth season, is loosely based on the 1989
Ron Howard film starring Steve Martin. This hilarious offering from the
quotable ’80s movie vault sets the stage for its contemporary series
5 Comments · Wednesday, August 7, 2013
It’s impossible to separate what happened
in Washington Park on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 from the economic
revitalization Cincinnati has achieved in the past few years.