by Nick Swartsell 10.07.2015 49 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cranley's Anti-Poverty Plan Gets Mixed Reviews

Supporters cheer the mayor's focus on childhood poverty, but critics say Cranley's proposals don't go far enough

Mayor John Cranley’s State of the City speech earlier this week touched on a number of issues the mayor has deemed priorities in the coming year — among them, the city’s sky-high childhood poverty rate. Last year, according the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, 44.3 percent of the city’s children lived in poverty. That’s down from over 50 percent in 2012, when Cincinnati ranked second-highest in the country, but still double the national average of about 22 percent and nearly double Ohio’s average of 23 percent.Cranley says he wants to find ways to lift 10,000 of Cincinnati’s 30,000 poor kids out of poverty in the next five years. To do that, he’s proposing convening a task force that will present recommendations for reaching that goal. The task force will present those recommendations June 30, 2016 — the day before the city’s new fiscal year.Is that goal realistic? And does Cranley’s proposal to create a task force that will research ways to address childhood poverty in Cincinnati go far enough? Some say no, citing other Cranley proposals, including a parks charter amendment that would spend millions in property tax revenues to create new recreational attractions, that will spend much more money on things critics say are less pressing or effective. Meanwhile, others applaud the fact the mayor is focusing on the problem and say they are willing to give his ideas time to play out.City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson is among the critics of Cranley’s approach. In an Oct. 6 editorial for The Cincinnati Enquirer, Simpson said the mayor’s big speech left out some key considerations — from the University of Cincinnati police shooting death of Samuel DuBose and ongoing racial issues in the city to progress made on the city’s streetcar system. One of the speech’s big shortfalls, Simpson says, is the lack of a serious plan to address poverty in the city.“For those individuals living in poverty and organizations actively working on the root causes and effects of institutional, inter-generational poverty everyday, organizing a ‘summit’ and expecting it will lead to a one-third reduction in our childhood poverty rate in 5 years is, at best, out of touch and at worst, disrespectful,” Simpson wrote in the piece. Simpson said Cranley’s statements are surprising considering the recent fight between the mayor’s office and City Council over human services funding in the city’s budget. Democrats on Council pushed for more money for programs traditionally funded through human services in the budget to get the city back on track toward devoting at least 1 percent of the budget toward such programs. Council passed a resolution last fall asking the city to double funding for traditional human services programs. While making this year’s city budget, however, City Manager Harry Black ignored that resolution and put much of that money in new programs not usually associated with traditional human services. Meanwhile, federal money usually given to other programs was directed toward the mayor’s Hand Up Initiative, which looks to get more poor Cincinnatians into jobs making around $10 an hour through programs like Cincinnati Cooks! and Cincinnati Works. Those dynamics caused a big battle over the city budget.Community activist Mike Moroski sits on the steering committee for Hand Up. He’s also the executive director of UpSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the city’s childhood poverty problem. Moroski says he’s not always been a Cranley fan, but his time working on Hand Up has convinced him the mayor is responsive to input and new ideas. He says he’s willing to give Cranley’s anti-poverty ideas time to bear fruit.“I voted for [Cranley’s 2013 mayoral opponent] Roxanne Qualls,” Moroski says. “I didn't think John Cranley would be a very good mayor.”Moroski says he still disagrees with Cranley on some issues, including the streetcar, but says those issues aren’t as important as addressing the city’s big poverty problem. He says he believes the mayor — and City Council — are serious about working toward solving that problem and that he hopes city officials can work past politics together toward that end.  “Will Mayor Cranley's new Task Force do just that? I have no idea, but I am willing to be hopeful and wait and see,” Moroski said in an email yesterday. “I am not willing to dismiss it right out of the gate. Did he spend enough time on it last evening? I don't know — I am not going to pass judgment because it wasn't talked about enough — I am just happy it was talked about.” The city has made some efforts to address its deep economic divisions, including a recent raft of ordinances that would help address the racial and gender disparities in its contracting practices. However, Cincinnati is still a place of stunning inequalities when it comes to the economic conditions of its neighborhoods, and ways to address those inequalities look to remain front and center in conversations about the city’s future."Mayor Cranley wants 2016 to be the year that we dig in and have real conversations about poverty and take action," Moroski says. "And I will support that. I will also support any initiative that any council member proposes that does the same. And, as I said, if any of these initiatives appear to be hollow, then I will pass judgment. But not until I see what plays out."

Contract Controversy

Catholic teachers and their supporters speak out against new Archdiocese teacher contract

1 Comment · Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Richard Hague planned to teach in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools for 50 years, but the literature and writing teacher at Purcell Marian is retiring early after 45 years because he thinks church authority has crossed a line.    

Top Stories of 2013

The people, budgets and controversies CityBeat covered while writing about the streetcar all year

0 Comments · Thursday, December 26, 2013
Just like it was a big year for Cincinnati and Ohio, it was a big year for the CityBeat news team.   

CityBeat: Mike Moroski for City Council

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Mike Moroski is the biggest surprise of the City Council campaigns.  

Being Like Mike

If every local politician were more like Mike Moroski, Cincinnati would be a better place

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Cincinnati could stand to have a few more politicians like Mike Moroski. Really, the world could just use a few more people like him, too.    
by German Lopez 08.21.2013
Posted In: News, City Council, 2013 Election at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
pg sittenfeld

Sittenfeld to Appear on Ballot

Councilman collects more than 1,500 signatures

Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has resolved his petition problems and will appear on the ballot for reelection this November. “The (Hamilton County Board of Elections) confirmed last night we have more than enough signatures to be placed on the ballot,” Sittenfeld wrote in an email. Sally Krisel, deputy director of the Board of Elections, says the board has so far verified more than 900 signatures out of the 1,500 Sittenfeld turned in. Council candidates need 500 to get on the ballot. Sittenfeld was one of two candidates who faced petition problems last week. In his case, petitions were found to have crossed-out dates with corrections written on the back, which election officials said might disqualify hundreds of signatures. In response, Sittenfeld renewed his petition drive. In a Facebook post this morning, Sittenfeld thanked a 93-year-old family friend, a former teacher, City Council candidates and other volunteers for helping with the effort. Mike Moroski, who was told his original batch of petitions fell 46 signatures short, wrote on Twitter that he turned in more than 1,100 signatures this morning. In a statement, Moroski thanked his team and participants for helping him collect the signatures, which the Board of Elections will now need to verify.The deadline for turning in City Council petitions is Aug. 22. Once the Board of Elections finishes verifying the numbers, it will release the full slate of candidates.
by German Lopez 08.14.2013
Posted In: 2013 Election, News, City Council at 03:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
mike moroski

Council Candidates Facing Petition Problems

P.G. Sittenfeld, Mike Moroski renewing drives

Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and City Council candidate Mike Moroski are both facing issues that could keep them off the ballot this November, but both candidates are renewing their petition drives to correct the issues before it’s too late. Council candidates must file 500 valid petition signatures to the Hamilton County Board of Elections by Aug. 22 to get on the ballot, but two different circumstances are putting those prospects in doubt for Moroski and Sittenfeld. In Moroski’s case, he fell 46 signatures short of the 500 needed. Because the petitions were already filed, he now has to regather all of the necessary signatures and file them to the Board of Elections. Moroski told CityBeat that he’s already collected more than 200 signatures in the past 24 hours and intends to turn in a batch of 800 to 900 before the filing deadline. “We’re determined to get on the ballot, and we’re determined to win,” he says. For Sittenfeld, the circumstances are a little more technical: Because dates were crossed out on various petitions and corrected on the back of the forms, the board isn’t sure whether the rules allow them to accept the signatures. If the petitions aren’t accepted, Sittenfeld would fall under the 500-signature threshold, even though more than 700 valid signatures were confirmed, according to Sittenfeld’s campaign. To avoid the problems entirely, Sittenfeld is now regathering the necessary signatures. “The four board members of the (Board of Elections) will make the final decision on the validity of my petitions and I hope and believe it is unlikely that they will invalidate my signatures,” Sittenfeld said in an emailed statement to supporters. “However, I am leaving nothing to chance and am determined to continue serving the citizens of our community.” Both candidates are asking supporters who signed the old petitions to come back to them and sign the new ones. If not, they might not appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.
by German Lopez 02.21.2013
Posted In: LGBT Issues, News, Religion at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
evolution of equality

Local Faith Leaders Endorse Freedom to Marry Ohio

Christians, Muslims, Jews come together to support marriage equality

Some of Cincinnati’s religious leaders gathered at a press conference today to endorse the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment, an amendment from FreedomOhio that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Pastor Mike Underhill of the Nexus United Church of Christ (UCC) in Butler County, Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp of Temple Sholom, Pamela Taylor of Muslims for Progressive Values and Mike Moroski, who recently lost his job as assistant principal at Purcell Marian High School for standing up for LGBT rights (“Testing Faith,” issue of Feb. 13), all took part in the event — showcasing a diversity of religious support for marriage equality. In a statement, Underhill said UCC was the first major Christian denomination to embrace marriage equality. He added, “All people have the right to lead lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent and pleasure.” The sentiment was echoed by the other religious leaders. Moroski said in a statement, “I’m elated to stand here today with these wonderful faith leaders, who truly, deeply and spiritually believe that two people who love one another deserve the right to be married.” FreedomOhio is aiming to get its amendment on the ballot as soon as November, according to Ian James, the organization’s co-founder. “Our balanced amendment gives a loving same-gender couple the right to marry while respecting a religious institution’s freedom to choose to recognize and perform that marriage or not,” James said in a statement. CityBeat previously covered the Freedom to Marry Ohio amendment and some of its hurdles with other LGBT groups (“The Evolution of Equality,” issue of Nov. 28).
by German Lopez 02.13.2013
barack obama 2

Morning News and Stuff

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 money. Gov. 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 reconstruction. 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 The Banks. 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.

Testing Faith

Catholic Church fires Purcell Marian assistant principal over support of gay marriage

11 Comments · Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Mike Moroski realizes the irony of teaching his students a lesson by choosing not to teach them anymore.