by Nick Swartsell
11 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:55 AM | Permalink
New housing downtown, tea party IRS suit goes forward, penal pizza party
The news transpiring this morning is all across the board. The reshaping of Cincinnati’s downtown continues, and one of the biggest signs of more impending changes is the increase in housing in the city’s urban core. More people are interested in living in or near downtown, and developers are happy to oblige. Construction is ongoing for nearly 1,000 new apartments and condos in and around downtown, The Business Courier reports in a rundown of new construction today. The biggest projects include phase two of The Banks, which will have 305 new apartments, the so-called 580 building on Walnut Street, which is being converted from office space to 179 luxury apartments, and between 180 and 225 new apartments going in above Macy’s downtown location. There are also a number of projects happening in Over-the-Rhine, including a $26 million development in the Pendleton area that will also include 40,000 feet of retail space.• All that change isn’t going unnoticed. It seems like I’m talking about Cincinnati making it onto some top 10 list or national publication at least a couple times a week here at the morning news, and here’s another one: Fortune magazine included Cincinnati in a list of top five cities with up-and-coming downtown areas. The article highlights Over-the-Rhine, saying, “while it’s still a work in progress, it’s already been transformed into one of Cincinnati’s most vibrant communities.” Oh, to work at a national magazine, parachute into a city for a couple days and reduce complex, decades-old dynamics into pithy, erudite observations. But I digress. • Tea partiers won a victory of sorts in U.S. District Court yesterday when Judge Susan Dlott ruled a group of the political activists could pursue suits against Internal Revenue Service employees in Cincinnati. The activists’ claims, first filed last year, state that IRS officials unfairly flagged their applications for nonprofit status based on the fact the groups have names indicating they are conservative or have “tea party” in the name. Nonprofits can’t be primarily political, and in assessing a groups’ application, the IRS must determine the level of political involvement in which a group engages. While the IRS admits it did flag tea party groups, it also did so for some liberal groups, including Occupy-affiliated activists. Still, the conservative groups argue that the IRS acted in a discriminatory way by delaying or denying their applications. The judge’s ruling clears the way for the groups’ lawsuits to go forward.• There’s a new senate candidate in Kentucky joining the Mitch McConnell/Alison Lundergan-Grimes fray, and he wants you to know he’s full of crap. “Honest” Gil Fulbright is a fake candidate created by represent.us, a group advocating to get big-money influence out of politics. Fulbright, who is played by an actor from New York, is pretty honest about his intentions. “People of Kentucky, you deserve complete honesty, so here it is,” he says in a video. “I don't care about you. Unless you are a donor, a lobbyist who can write a big fat check, the result that you get from voting for me is negligible."The parody is a way for the group to drive home its point that most politicians in Congress are beholden to the big-money donors who help them get elected. The group says satire is a more effective way to reach people than traditional news. Probably true.Kentucky’s senate race, where Democrat Lundergan-Grimes is working to unseat incumbent and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is expected to be the most expensive in history. Candidates and outside groups are on track to spend $100 million to convince voters they’re the better choice. A good deal of that money comes from big-money donors and PACs. • Finally, while we’re talking about Kentucky, I need to share this story with you. The morning news absolutely does not condone law breaking, but if you’re going to do it, you might take a tip from this criminal genius. A Corbin, Kentucky man was arrested Tuesday for shoplifting. When taken to the station, he asked to make his requisite one phone call. Did he use that call to get in touch with a family member, friend or significant other who could bail him out? No, no. He used his only phone call to order five pizzas in the name of the officer who arrested him. The pizzas were then delivered to the police station, to the confusion of officers. This was either an A-plus troll move or an act of kindness. Something tells me this guy knew it was going to be a long night for everyone involved and just wanted to get the party started right. The authorities were not amused, however, and are now adding charges of impersonating an officer to his shoplifting counts.
by Nick Swartsell
13 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:23 AM | Permalink
DOJ will jump in on Ohio early voting; Cincinnati tops for design; race for governor heats up
Good morning all. I may be writing this news rundown from my porch at home, enjoying the amazing weather and eating Graeter’s black cherry ice cream for breakfast, but that doesn’t mean I’m not real, real serious about the news. Let’s do this.As we reported yesterday, the Obama administration is expected to jump into the fight over early voting in Ohio. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made remarks, released yesterday, indicating that the Justice Department will file with the Ohio ACLU and other civil rights organizations already fighting reductions to early voting in the state. The administration has made voting rights a key issue following last year’s Supreme Court decision that rolled back certain sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.• The head of Cincinnati Metro resigned yesterday, according to a press release by the Southern Ohio Regional Transit Authority. Metro’s CEO Terry Garcia Crews will step down immediately and will be temporarily replaced by Darryl Haley, who was Metro’s executive director of development. Metro will conduct a national search for her permanent replacement. In the press release, Crews says she’s leaving to focus on her family, including her parents, who live out of town, and to continue her transportation consulting business. “I have great confidence in the leadership and the team at Metro and community leaders to carry forth the discussion and implementation of expanding public transportation in this community,” Garcia Crews said. Metro gives about 17 million individual rides each year. Its role looks to grow as transit needs in the city expand and the streetcar comes online next year.• There was some drama in Over-the-Rhine last night, though the actual situation was not quite as intense as initial reports made it out to be. Police entered a building at 13th and Walnut to do an inspection at the request of the building’s owner. They came upon a man who fled from them. As he fled, a gun the man was carrying went off. Multiple news outlets reported the officers had been fired upon and that a standoff situation was developing. In reality, the gun accidentally went off as the man attempted to hide it in his pants. Which, yeah, probably not a great idea, but there you have it. The man fled to another building, threw the gun out a window and hid. He was arrested a short time later and faces multiple charges today. Still a scary scenario, but, you know, not exactly a police shootout. • A list put together by CityLab shows that Cincinnati is among the top cities in the country when it comes to design. While we all know the Queen City has some great graphic design and marketing talent, it’s surprising to see the city also ranks impressively high for industrial design. Our fair city is well-represented in nearly every category measured, which is pretty cool.• Remember that guy who threatened to shoot down a helicopter a couple days ago? Yeah, a judge told him today to cool it with the guns for a while, and required him to turn over his firearms to authorities. I’m sure there are some hardcore gun rights activists out there fuming about how the government is infringing on his 1st Amendment right to express displeasure with helicopters and his 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, but me, I’m perfectly OK with it in this particular case. At least he didn't try hiding them in his pants.• The race for Ohio governor is getting interesting. Democratic contender Ed FitzGerald’s campaign is citing polls that show him neck and neck with incumbent Gov. John Kasich, though, as with any poll that a campaign is excited about, it’s probably best to be wary. The poll was paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party and echoes another recent Democrat-funded poll showing FitzGerald within striking distance. However, both of these polls contradict earlier independent polling done this spring showing Kasich ahead by as many as 15 points. FitzGerald’s campaign is getting proactive, though, dropping its first TV ad today. In the ad, FitzGerald implies that Gov. Kasich is all about the 1 percenters. “Who is the promise of Ohio meant for?” FitzGerald asks in the 30 second spot. “Just the wealthy and well-connected?” FitzGerald gives a shout out to “Ohioans who get up early and get it done every day,” which made me kind of feel bad about working from home while eating ice cream. He goes on to promise support for the state’s middle class, including more funding for teachers, police and firefighters. Though he never mentions Kasich by name, he hits on the idea that the current administration favors the wealthy again at the end of the ad. Meanwhile, an attack site paid for by the Ohio Republican Party against the challenger called fitzgeraldforohio.com just sprung up. The site mostly attacks FitzGerald on his first choice of running mate, former lieutenant governor candidate Eric Kearney. Kearney quit the ticket in December last year after it was revealed he owed a large amount in back taxes. The site also features an ad linking FitzGerald to former Gov. Ted Strickland, who has endorsed FitzGerald. The ad argues that Strickland was bad for Ohio and FitzGerald would be, too. In a kind of strange twist, however, the ad seems to blame Strickland for many ills Ohio faced due to the great recession, including spiking unemployment and budget overruns. As if those same dynamics weren’t happening in nearly every state around the country during Strickland’s term from 2007 to 2011, when the recession was at its worst. The candidates’ next filing deadline is just a couple weeks away, and it will be interesting to see if either grab more big bucks. Stay tuned.
by Nick Swartsell
14 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:29 AM | Permalink
Charter school stays open, city settles Washington Park suit and the loftiest of living spaces
Morning, y'all. It's only Tuesday and there is already lots and lots going on. Here we go.A Hamilton County Common Pleas judge has allowed troubled charter school VLT Academy to stay open and ordered the Ohio Department of Education to help fund it. In a decision yesterday, Judge Nadine Allen ordered ODE to become the school’s sponsoring organization and provide almost $300,000 to pay staff and administration there. The school, which serves about 600 students in Pendleton, was scheduled to close last month because its sponsoring organization did not renew its contract. Education Resource Consultants of Ohio declined to continue supporting the school due to its academic performance and financial situation. Ohio law stipulates that charter schools must have a sponsor to operate. VLT tried unsuccessfully to obtain a new sponsor, asking several organizations including the Ohio Department of Education. When ODE declined, citing the school’s poor academic performance, VLT sued in Hamilton County Common Please Court. VLT argued that its performance was never poor enough to trigger automatic closure. The school says that ODE is playing politics and that it warned other potential sponsoring organizations not to sponsor the school. ODE acknowledges it made organizations aware of the school’s performance issues.Allen ruled that ODE made it difficult for the school to find a new sponsor and that closing the school would do harm to its students. Ninety-nine percent of VLT’s students are economically disadvantaged. The school has lost a third of its student body, and subsequently almost $2 million in funding, in the past three years as Pendleton and Over-the-Rhine undergo demographic shifts. • State Rep. Connie Pillich will hold a roundtable discussion today in Cincinnati as part of a state-wide tour around veterans’ issues. That tour began July 2 in Huber Heights. The meeting with local veterans will focus on financial challenges facing the military community, including the need for financial literacy education for veterans and state-level unemployment benefits for their spouses. Pillich is a Democrat who has represented Montgomery in the state legislature since 2009. She’s currently vacating that seat to challenge State Treasurer Josh Mandel. She’s touting her efforts on veterans issues and her service in the armed forces as she travels around the state to meet with veterans and their families. Before her political career, Pillich served in the U.S. Air Force for eight years and did support duties during Operation Desert Storm. • The Cincinnati Park Board settled a federal lawsuit today brought by several residents of Over-the-Rhine regarding rules put in place after the 2012 renovation at Washington Park. The residents said the rules, which forbade distributing food and clothing in the park and taking items out of trashcans, were drawn up without public scrutiny and designed to keep the homeless out of the park. The city dropped the rules in September 2012. The city has not commented on how it decided upon the rules in the first place. The amount of today’s settlement in the case wasn’t disclosed. • Architect Magazine pulled no punches in an editorial on General Electric’s proposed new building at The Banks yesterday. Written by former Cincinnati Art Museum Director Aaron Betsky, a noted architecture critic, the piece caustically derided the building, and The Banks, for a gutless lack of panache. “Cincinnati, a proud city with a great heritage busily squandering it, will be stuck with the results of its own shortsightedness,” Betsky wrote in the piece. Ouch. • Gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and attorney general hopeful David Pepper will ask the Ohio General Assembly to provide more money for heroin clinics today in a press conference in Columbus. The Democrats say clinics around the state face a $20 million shortfall after recent changes in the way federal money is distributed. The heroin crisis has been a big talking point for Pepper, who has criticized Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine over his handling of the surge in addiction-related deaths.• The number of people commuting by bicycle is up 60 percent nationally from the year 2000, according to recent data from the U.S. Census. But that data also show another dynamic–most of that increase has come from relatively wealthy, white commuters who can afford to choose how they roll. Among low-income people, especially people of color, the desire for car ownership is much higher and the value placed on alternate means of commuting is much lower. This may be because people in low income neighborhoods face much longer commute times and an environment without the necessary infrastructure for safe cycling. But there are also probably social factors at play — cars are still strong symbols of success across all levels of society in the U.S., and low income commuters desire those symbols as much as anyone. • Finally, if you’re looking for the next big (literally, huge) thing in hip living arrangements, I’ve got you covered. If a renovated row house makes you yawn, and a partially reconstructed loft space is just too domestic for you, how about living in a Boeing 727? Bruce Campbell (no, not THAT Bruce Campbell, though I can totally see this plane abode being the setting of a campy horror flick) of Oregon is leading the way on this brave new trend. Share with all your friends who are still really, really, into Lost.
by Nick Swartsell
15 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:55 AM | Permalink
First anniversary of streetcar contracts, compost gone wild and shooting at helicopters
One year ago today, the city signed contracts to start construction on the streetcar. Fast forward 365 days, and the new transit loop through downtown and Over-the-Rhine is quickly taking shape. Roads are closed as major sections of track go in. Workers are constructing concrete slabs for the passenger stops. The cars themselves are being built. And the city recently named downtown-based Kolar Design to do branding work for the streetcar. The Business Courier has photos of the progress so far. Or you can just drive through Over-the-Rhine and see for yourself. Just don’t take Race Street if you’re hoping to get downtown — it's still closed at 12th Street.• We’ve all lived with roommates who don’t always take out their garbage. It’s gross. But I guess it could be worse. Like, tens of thousands of times worse. The city recently shut down a compost company called Cincy Compost in Winton Hills after two years of complaints from miles around about the ghastly smells emanating from what is effectively an 80,000 pound pile of rotting food, but things could get worse before they get better. The heap, which is piled two feet deep, needs to be cleaned up by the city now that the company is no longer in business. It seems the business didn’t get the correct balance of garbage for the compost process to work and was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of garbage it took in. It racked up 45 code violations while it was open. Now the city will have to spend $250,000 to kick-start the process and finish turning the garbage into soil. That involves stirring all that garbage around, basically, which is only going to make the smell worse in the short-term. Gross.• Community groups in the city will be holding a rally calling for an end to violence in the city at 7 p.m. in Piatt Park today. Last week, four people were shot, one fatally, in two separate but related incidents at the park. Cincinnati saw a surge in shootings early in the year, though that trend has slowed and the city may not see an increase over last year’s 75 murders. Forty-two people have been murdered in the city this year, many with guns. • One guy who will not be at that rally, I’d imagine, is this dude, who threatened to shoot down a University of Cincinnati Health Air Care helicopter yesterday. Angry that the helicopter was flying too low over his Green Township house, Leonard Pflanz is accused of driving to Mercy West Hospital and telling the helicopter’s pilot that he would shoot him if he did it again. Pflanz is appearing in court this morning over charges stemming from the threat.• General Motors may soon be in some big trouble with federal prosecutors, who are investigating whether the company made false statements about a defect in some of its cars that has killed at least 13 people. The defect relates to an ignition switch problem that has caused some GM cars to lose power while operating. The feds accuse GM of making misleading statements to the public about the defect, downplaying the dangers of the defective switches. The company has already been fined $35 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for dragging its feet in response to the problem. Some believe GM’s ultimate liability could end up being even more than the $1.2 billion Toyota was ordered to pay earlier this year over similar charges.• Finally, Smithsonian Magazine reports that skin cells may be able to detect odors and that some of these odors may aid the body in the healing process. Basically, this means the whole surface of your body is receptive to smells in one way or another. This is interesting, maybe even great news, unless of course you live near a failed composting facility or something.
by Nick Swartsell
26 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:28 AM | Permalink
P&G protesters still up for felony charges, Woodward project moves forward and Cincinnati ranks high for the 4th of July
It's almost the 4th of July, and what's more American than protests, historic music venues, under-funding education and weird robot selfies? That's what's on tap for the morning news today.A Hamilton County judge ruled yesterday that nine Greenpeace protesters who hung huge banners from Procter and Gamble headquarters in March are still on the hook for burglary charges.Lawyers for the group argued that no other laws were broken when the group trespassed on P&G property to protest the company’s use of palm oil. Felony burglary charges require more than just trespassing, but prosecutors say the group also damaged windows and could also be charged with criminal mischief or disorderly conduct. The distinction matters because trespassing is a minor charge, while the burglary counts carry penalties of up to eight years in prison.The group was let into the building after one of the protesters posed as a business person. Once inside, they hung the banners from cables that prosecutors say caused damage. The Greenpeace members have said they didn’t damage anything. The group was protesting palm oil because its harvest is destructive to rain forest habitats that are home to many endangered animals, including tigers, which were featured prominently on the banners.The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 21.• Over-the-Rhine will get a big music venue and a historic building will be rehabbed at the same time. A project to redevelop OTR’s Woodward Theater is progressing with fresh financing. The owners of MOTR Pub, which is right across Main Street, purchased the theater last year. The plan has been to fix up the building, built in 1913, and turn it into a 600-capacity music venue for bands that draw a bigger crowd than MOTR can handle. MOTR’s owners announced yesterday that they’ve secured the necessary $1.25 million in financing for the project from two nonprofit lenders. Building plans and permits have already been approved, and work will start soon to renovate the structure, which will include adding bars and a large stage. In the past, the building has been a theater (obviously), a Kroger store and an antique shop.• Tomorrow when you’re lighting up some explosives and celebrating our founding fathers’ infinite wisdom, think about this: Cincinnati is No. 3 on the list of top places to celebrate the 4th of July. A ranking touted by Parade Magazine and originally put together by finance website WalletHub (sounds totally legit) put the city above Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and other quintessentially American cities. We came in just under Richmond, Virginia and Irvine, California, both of which clearly cheated. The rankings take into account 14 different factors including legality of fireworks, weather, average drink prices, the number of tri-cornered hats per capita and the statistical chance a bald eagle will land on your head while holding roman candles in its talons and screeching the "The Star Spangled Banner." Err, not so much the last two, but I would like to see the data on those. Cincinnati fared especially well in the “most swimming pools per capita” category (we ranked second) and the “most outdoor attractions” category (we ranked third). The worst place to celebrate the fourth? Corpus Christie, Texas. Seems about right.• Let’s play good news/bad news. The state of Ohio is running a surplus this year, but most of it is already spoken for. The state is $800 million in the black, about 3 percent of Ohio’s total budget. But the majority of that extra money is going to tax cuts and a Medicare savings fund. About $76 million will go to low-income tax credits, $91 million to more general income tax reductions and about $229 million to tax breaks for businesses. The rest gets stashed away for next fiscal year, which starts today. Meanwhile, spending on education and other vital services remains flat, a point Democrats are highlighting as they look to unseat Gov. John Kasich in November.• Finally, Google recently unleashed its street view cameras to take pictures of the insides of more than 200 museums across the country, including Union Terminal. A strange, postmodern byproduct of this effort is that sometimes these cameras come across mirrors inside the museums and end up taking weird robot selfies. The future is now, and I really don’t know how to feel about it. Questions: Are these robots on Instagram, and how long until Kim Kardashian and Kanye photobomb one of these shots?
by Jac Kern
29 days ago
Posted In: Live Music
at 10:00 AM | Permalink
The first family of Hip
Hop/R&B — and perhaps music in general — graced Cincinnati with their
presence Saturday for Jay Z and Beyoncé’s On The Run tour. Downtown’s Great American
Ballpark was Jay and Bey’s second stop on their first joint stadium tour, aptly
abbreviated OTR (cue the wave of #thisisotr hashtags). The BeyHive was out in full force, along with whatever maniacal Jay Z fans call themselves.
After a stormy afternoon,
skies cleared in time for the concert, which began around 9:30 p.m. (an
hour-and-a-half past the show time listed on tickets, but no surprise to regular
concertgoers or fans in-the-know). The couple kicked off the set with “03 Bonnie
and Clyde,” their first collaboration, recorded more than a decade ago. Next up
were two more duets, “Upgrade U” and “Crazy in Love,” followed by two hours of
tag-teaming many of their hits.
People were blown away by the
reported 42 songs performed at the inaugural OTR stop in Miami last Wednesday, and the
couple delivered in Cincinnati (peep the full set list here),
though every song was condensed and often mashed up with or bled into another tune.
The duo performed
individually and together, creating a musical tapestry of their iconic hits (“Single Ladies,” “99 Problems,” “Diva,” “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”), classics (“Hard
Knock Life,” “Big Pimpin’,” “Baby Boy”) and newer work (“Tom Ford,” “Pretty
Hurts,” “No Church in the Wild,” “Yoncé”). Snippets of their short film/tour
preview for On The Run, which featured a ridiculously long list of celebrity
cameos, played throughout the show. Other high-production videos dazzled on the
two big screens, ensuring everyone from the nosebleeds to the VIPs had a decent view.
For "Holy Grail," originally performed by Jay Z and Justin Timberlake (who toured together last year), Bey took on JT's lyrics, performing a powerful collaboration that left me asking, "Justin who?" "Izzo" was accompanied by a slideshow of celebrity mugshots, which culminated with Justin Bieber's — timed perfectly with the lyrics, "So poof! Vamoose, son of a bitch." “Partition” was a sexy
surprise: Jay came out to a center stage in the crowd, sat in a simple
chair and rapped over the simple but catchy beat. Then Bey and her thonged
backup dancers took the main stage, complete with poles, performing the
infectious, erotic hit. So basically, we all watched Beyoncé dance for her
husband, and we’re all better people because of it. Bey tore the house down as
she recreated the video, moving behind a screen to dance/seductively mount her now-signature weirdly shaped chair thing. A very similar performance was screened at the BET Awards Sunday night.Jay and Bey closed the show
with “Part II ( On the Run)," “Young Forever” and “Halo,” walking through a
crowd of fans to the center stage at one point. They kissed, which temporarily
stopped the hearts of all in attendance, even if it was perhaps slightly awkward and possibly
staged. A video medley of home footage played during the last two songs,
featuring clips of the couple’s early years, engagement (where a romantic trip
to the Crazy Horse strip club would later inspire Bey’s “Partition” video), secret
wedding, daughter Blue Ivy’s birth and more recent shots of the family. Again,
perhaps a bit overkill to non-diehard fans — “See, we’re really happy!!!” —
but in the moment, it felt like the thousands of us in the park were sharing a
special moment with the artists. And isn’t that what makes a successful
Regardless of whether the
tour is a big relationship-reaffirming publicity stunt, the show was a wholly
entertaining spectacle. Both Jay Z and Beyoncé performed hard, making full use of the two stages, interacting with the
audience and consistently changing ensembles. Another plus for fans: the duo
really seemed to be having fun, which always keeps energy levels up. Jay was
sure to throw in Cincinnati references in some of his songs — a small gesture
that goes a long way for fans at shows. And Beyoncé teased us all during “Why
Don’t You Love Me,” in which the singer plays up a crazy, needy girlfriend
persona. She belted out the titular lyrics, then paused, playfully pouting, waiting for a loud enough roar
from the audience before she’d continue. We roared. The crowd at GABP was one of
the most diverse I’ve ever seen at a concert in town, with visitors traveling
from around the country to witness the power couple at work. Some came to dance
to the Pop diva’s hits; for others, it was all about Hov’s famous rhymes; and
many were eager for the rare opportunity to see two powerhouses collaborate —
the audience represented a full spectrum of fans, eager to dance, drink and
Who run the world? Jayoncé.
3CDC eyes first major project in OTR north of Liberty Street
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 25, 2014
The southern section of Vine Street in
Over-the-Rhine is a row of shiny glass facades, boutique shops and
start-ups. Nearby Washington Park has received an extensive facelift,
and other projects are popping up around the neighborhood.
by Nick Swartsell
35 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:40 AM | Permalink
Renovations for landmarks, renewal for OTR, rebirth for a guy stuck in an anatomically correct sculpture
As previously noted, tons happened yesterday. Let’s dive in now that the dust is settling.The Cultural Facilities Task Force pitched its ideas for ways to fund Union Terminal and Music Hall renovations to Hamilton County Commissioners. The group of business leaders suggested a tax levy that would raise either sales or property taxes to net about $300 million for the projects. Both buildings need significant work. The sales tax would be a quarter of a percent, while the less-favored property tax would amount to about $35 a year on a $100,000 home. The task force recommended the sales tax in part because it will net money from visitors who don’t live in the county as well as residents. But some experts say sales tax puts more burden on the low-income.The Cincinnati Zoo saw all that prospective cash and decided it wants in. Zoo Director Thane Maynard wrote a letter to the commissioners asking them to consider cutting the zoo into the deal. Many of its buildings are old, even historic, and in need of restoration, Maynard said. Commissioners were skeptical about the possibility of extending the money to three cultural institutions, though they noted the zoo’s needs.Both Music Hall and Union Terminal were just placed on the National Trust’s list of 11 most endangered buildings. They’re the only two in Ohio on the list, which, if you think about it, is pretty astounding. It’s the first time the Trust has spotlighted two buildings in the same city on its list.• 3CDC is one step away from gaining preferred developer status for 33 buildings around Findlay Market after the council’s Budget and Finance Committee approved its request yesterday. The status means 3CDC would vet and approve development projects proposed for the buildings as well as carry out its own. It’s the first major play by the development group north of Liberty Street. OTR Community Council wrote a letter last week to the Mayor John Cranley asking for the city to hold off on the deal, citing concerns about resident involvement and affordable housing. Stay tuned for our in-depth news story about developments north of Liberty, coming tomorrow. Council takes a final vote on 3CDC’s request at tomorrow’s council meeting.• Also in the Budget and Finance Committee meeting yesterday, council members navigated a tricky conundrum between two affordable housing projects looking for funds. In the past, council has supported giving about $500,000 to a project in Avondale call the Commons at Alaska. The project would provide permanent supportive housing for about 100 people, including some who are disabled. That money would come from a pot of federal funds totaling about $1.9 million. However, Columbus-based developer NCR has encountered difficulties with its chosen site as some members of the surrounding community have protested the plans. Meanwhile, Over-the-Rhine Community Housing has been working with a developer on a plan to buy 40 subsidized units in neglected properties in Pendleton and renovate them. The city administration indicated they’d have access to that same $1.9 million, so the group didn’t go looking for other money. The two groups found themselves at an impasse. Neither wanted to compete with the other for the money, but both need the funds for their projects. Vice Mayor David Mann suggested splitting the money, and after some wrangling the committee parceled out $1.3 million to the Pendleton project and will hold the rest until the Commons at Alaska, or some other permanent supportive housing project, is ready to go online. • Representatives from Columbus were in D.C. yesterday to make the case that Columbus is the best possible host for the Democratic National Convention. They're competing with Cleveland and some other cities that aren't in Ohio for the event, which will determine the party's nominee for president in 2016. Both Columbus and Cleveland also courted the GOP for the Republican convention, but I won't tell if you don't.• There’s a terrible “born again” joke in this next story, but I will not be the one dropping it. Just the facts: A guy from the U.S. got stuck in a giant vagina sculpture in Germany. It took 22 rescuers 30 minutes to get him out. America!• If you can’t take the Heat, get out of Miami. At least, that’s what someone has advised LeBron James, and he's apparently listening. Ohio’s not-yet-prodigal son has opted out of the last two years of his contract with the team and is now a free agent, according to news reports. It’s not certain that he’ll leave the Heat, but it’s clear he’s at least taking stock of his options. Meanwhile, the entire city of Cleveland sits patiently, waiting for that “so, what’s up?” text message from James…
by Nick Swartsell
42 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:04 AM | Permalink
Barricades, free speech, and museums up, McDonalds down
It's morning. I've got news. Check it out.Barricades along McMicken Avenue in Over-the-Rhine and Fairview
are working to deter prostitution, Cincinnati Police said yesterday in a
presentation to City Council’s Human Services Committee. The barriers sit in
three locations along the street and were put up April 30 as part of a program
to fight sex work and human trafficking in the area. Other efforts include new
laws making penalties tougher for pimps and johns and releasing the names of
those convicted of soliciting prostitutes.
The stretch of McMicken is known for high levels of
prostitution and other crime. In January, a 24-year-old woman was shot in the
head and killed on the street. Authorities suspect she was involved in the sex
trade. Police say the volume of prostitution in the area has gone down with the
barricades, though they also acknowledge that they’ve seen an uptick in
activity in places like the West End. Residents in West Price Hill have also
reported an increase in prostitution since the barriers went up.
Some residents in the area aren’t convinced the barricades
help and say they make their daily commutes more difficult, though others say
they’ve noticed a difference in the level of crime. The barricades will come
down by the end of the summer.
• Everyone’s favorite proto-tea party group and an anti-abortion
organization got a win yesterday when the Supreme Court ruled that they can
challenge an Ohio law prohibiting false statements in political advertising.
The court ruled both the Coalition Opposed to Additional
Spending and Taxes, or COAST, and the Susan B. Anthony List were harmed by the
Ohio law and could sue the state. In 2010, Democrat Steve Driehaus, then
running for governor, threatened legal action over SBA plans to buy billboards
saying he voted for “tax-payer funded abortions.” SBA cited Driehaus’ support
of the Affordable Care Act as proof of the claim. Though Driehaus dropped the
matter after losing the election, SBA sued, saying their First Amendment rights
were violated. COAST jumped on the suit as well, claiming they did not carry out
plans for similar advertisements due to fear of legal action.
SBA’s assertion against Driehaus was incredibly
questionable — using taxpayer money for abortions is still illegal under the ACA, and abortion
providers must still go to great pains to show they’re not using public money to
administer the procedure — but the larger issue of free speech convinced both liberal
and conservative justices at the Supreme Court. Lower courts originally
dismissed the groups’ suits, but the case will now go back to them to be
• Former Reds slugger and skipper Pete Rose got to manage a baseball team again yesterday,
doing a one-day stint with the Bridgeport Bluefish, a Connecticut team in the
independent Atlantic League. The 73-year-old hasn’t managed a game since his
suspension from major league baseball 25 years ago for gambling. • In other sports news, Team USA won over Ghana to kick off
its bid for the World Cup, but you probably already know that from all the
yelling your neighbors did about it last night. At least that’s how I know
about it. We're number one!
• …Except when it comes to health care. In fact, a new study
by the Commonwealth Fund shows the United States is number 11 when it comes to
our health care system when compared with 10 other developed countries. The
U.S. ranked behind the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Germany,
The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, France and Canada in terms of quality of
healthcare available. We’re number 11! That’s like being number one twice! The
U.S. was legitimately number one in a single category, though: We have the
most expensive health care of all the countries in the study.
• Before you get too sad, consider this: Another study
found there are more museums in the United States than Starbucks and McDonalds
combined. We have about 25,000 of the two chains combined, and more than 35,000
museums. Now if they would just combine the two so I can see some postmodern
art and grab a Big Mac at the same time, or maybe enjoy a smoothie as I check out the Kansas Underground Salt Museum.
by Jac Kern
74 days ago
Posted In: Events
at 10:52 AM | Permalink
The Contemporary Arts
Center turns 75 this year and she’s looking as good as ever! Celebrate the
CAC’s long history of pushing Cincinnati along the cutting edge with an epic
birthday bash tonight. The festivities start at the CAC’s former location in
the Mercantile Center with dinner and silent and live auctions from 6-9 p.m. (email
email@example.com or call 513-345-8422 to get on the waiting
list). More food and drink, dancing and art awaits at the CAC with a Diamonds +
Debauchery after-party from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. CityBeat’s
own Jesse Fox will be taking fabulous photobooth pics and there will be an
appearance by California avant-garde performance artist boychild. After-party
tickets are $40 in advance, $75 per couple and $100 for a group of three
(online sales end at 4 p.m.)
or $50 at the door. Read this week's cover story
on the Contemporary Arts Center here.
Downtown nightlife staple Mt.
Adams Pavilion recently underwent a facelift, complete with interior
renovations of the dance floor area and penthouse, new cocktails and a menu created
by Chef Brian Duffy (of Bar Rescue fame).
Check out the updated digs tonight at Pavilion’s re-launch party from 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
Head down to Washington
Park for an OTR-rific Saturday with the first City Flea of the season and the
eighth annual OTR 5K. City Flea, Cincy’s local curated urban flea market, embarks on its fourth season this
weekend, offering handcrafted goods, art, antiques, local grub and more fun
goodies from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The OTR 5K
also kicks off at 10 a.m., with festivities following in the park.
Northside is a hub for
creativity, so it’s fitting that the Cincinnati Arts Association is sponsoring
a self-guided tour of Hamilton Avenue artist studios from 2-5 p.m. this Sunday.
North By Northside
features studio tours, pop-up exhibitions and an overall celebration of art in
the eclectic neighborhood. Start at Hoffner Lodge (4120 Hamilton Ave.), where
tickets can be purchased beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, then make your way through
several artist studios and creative spaces. Head back to the lodge
from 5-7 p.m. for an after-party including food, drinks and music. Tickets are
$35; the event benefits non-profit gallery Weston Art Gallery.
For more art openings, parties, festivals and other
stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks,
full calendar and Rick
for weekend theater offerings.