by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:16 AM | Permalink
Bummer news for Rhinegeist in KY; UC Law chooses first female dean; DOJ's report on Ferguson is frightening
Hello Cincy! Here’s a brief rundown of what’s going on in the news today.As I told you about earlier this week, Cincinnati City Council passed a new dog law that levies steep civil penalties (up to $15,000) for dog owners who don’t control their pets. The law was changed just slightly before passage, cutting out criminal penalties that duplicated already existing state laws. Council also wrangled over the streetcar again (surprise) and passed a measure that would increase the highest possible salary for assistant city manager to more than $160,000, a big bump. That move came with some argument from council members Yvette Simpson and Chris Seelbach, who felt raising prospective salaries at the top sent the wrong message when frontline workers are receiving just a 1.5 percent increase in pay. Council did also approve a small cost of living allowance increase for non-union city workers as well at their meeting yesterday, however. • Local craft brewers Rhinegeist got some bummer news yesterday from the state of Kentucky, though other craft brewers may feel differently about a bill that passed the state Senate. That bill, HB 168, prohibits brewers in Kentucky from also owning distribution companies. That’s bad news for Rhinegeist because the company is just three months into its River Ghost venture, which was to distribute their beer as well as other spirits in the Bluegrass State. Other craft brewers are elated by the prospective law, however, because it also prohibits brewing giant Anheuser-Busch from owning distribution in the state. Smaller brewers say giant brewing companies put their own beers front and center in their distribution, muscling the little guy out. Anheuser-Busch will have to sell or close its two distributing businesses in the state.• The University of Cincinnati College of Law now has a female dean for the first time in its 182-year history. UC announced yesterday that it has chosen Jennifer Bard for the top position at the law school. Bard is currently a law professor and assistant provost at Texas Tech University. She’s highly regarded: She was also a candidate for the top job at three other law schools. Bard, who has a background in bioethics and public health, will do double duty at UC, also serving on faculty at the university’s College of Medicine. • We here at CityBeat’s news desk (“we” being pretty much just me and editor Danny Cross sometimes) talk a lot about affordable housing here in the morning news and in our more in-depth reporting. And while it’s true that the rental market is seeing an affordability crisis, with rents going up and affordable units going down, the home ownership market is a different story. Cincinnati is one of the most affordable cities in the country in terms of owning a home, according to a recent ranking by website Next City. Cincinnati ranks fourth in the country, behind just Pittsburgh, Cleveland and St. Louis in the estimated yearly salary needed to afford the average house in the city. Of course, that’s still a firmly middle-class salary: about $33,500, which aligns pretty neatly with the city’s median household income of $33,700. • Think back about four months or so, if you can, to a flap about Ohio Gov. John Kasich allegedly saying that he didn’t think Obamacare could be repealed. The Associated Press insisted Kasich made the assertion during an interview, while the governor said he only meant that Medicaid expansions in the states that had accepted money from the federal government couldn’t be repealed. Kasich asked for a correction. AP stood its ground. Sound nitpicky? Kind of, but it was a really big deal because repealing Obamacare is a GOP obsession and any Republican, especially one of Kasich’s stature, saying it wasn’t possible risked all sorts of slings and arrows from the party. Now, as Kasich seeks to gain the GOP nomination for president, and as Obamacare hangs on a Supreme Court decision, Kasich has finally wrung a correction out of AP. The news group now says it misunderstood him and that he meant to say that Medicaid couldn’t be repealed, not Obamacare in total. Right. • The Department of Justice will not seek civil rights charges against Officer Darren Wilson or the Ferguson Police Department in connection with the August shooting death of unarmed black citizen Michael Brown. But they are not happy with the department. At all. The DOJ issued a scathing and, quite frankly, terrifying report about the Ferguson PD, citing numerous instances of racial bias, inappropriate use of force and seeming violations of citizens’ rights. Eighty-eight percent of the department’s uses of force were against black residents of the city, according to the DOJ. The report claims that the department has been functioning as little more than a revenue-collecting arm of the city’s government and that ticket quotas were established solely for the purpose of raising funds for the city. The revelations come as the country continues to grapple with questions around race and police use of force.That’s it for me. I’m off to put together next week’s feature and an upcoming cover story and will be out tomorrow doing so, so this is goodbye for the week. I'll miss y'all! What do you want to see CityBeat dive into next? Hit me with it on Twitter: @nwarstell or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 4, 2015
After high-profile dog attacks over the
past year, Cincinnati City Council is poised to pass a new law aimed at
encouraging responsible pet ownership without restricting breeds like
pit bulls that have been the targets of past breed-specific ordinances.
by Nick Swartsell
at 09:31 AM | Permalink
City must pay back neighborhood money, Cranley pledges city money for landmarks and a $40,000 climate change cruise
Good morning all! Here's what's happening today.A Hamilton County judge yesterday ordered the city to pay back the $4 million it borrowed from neighborhood funds in 2012. We reported on that money and other budget-related cuts to neighborhood funds in June. Common Pleas Judge Robert Gorman wasn’t amused, called the arrangement, which borrowed a total of $5 million from 12 neighborhoods, “creative financing.” He ordered the city to avoid such arrangements in the future. The city has paid off $1 million of the loan and had originally intended to pay the rest back in 2015. But that repayment was pushed until 2017 in Mayor Cranley’s recent budget. Now, the remaining money will be paid back on a court-ordered timeline that has not yet been set. The city hasn’t budgeted for that quicker repayment, though it says giving the money back won’t affect city services. The city originally borrowed the money to cover a debt to Cincinnati Public Schools.• Mayor Cranley announced yesterday that the city is willing to commit $200,000 a year for 25 years toward upkeep of Union Terminal, a show of support that seems aimed at convincing Hamilton County Commissioners to put the so-called icon tax on the November ballot. The Cultural Facilities Task Force, a group of business leaders tasked with finding ways to renovate the crumbling train station as well as the city’s historic Music Hall, suggested the .25 percent tax hike earlier this summer as the best way to raise some of the estimated $330 million or more needed to fix up the buildings. The city already pays the $200,000 a year to help with Union Terminal’s maintenance requirements, but it isn’t required to do so. Cranley’s proposal would simply lock that amount in long-term.• Dog owners in Cincinnati could soon be held more responsible for vicious pets. When it gets together again next week after its summer recess, City Council will consider an ordinance proposed by Councilman Chris Seelbach that would impose up to six months in jail for owners of dogs who seriously injury people. The proposed law doesn’t stipulate certain breeds and kicks in the first time a dog injures someone. Currently, no such penalties exist. A violent attack on a 6-year-old girl by two pit bulls in June resulted in only a $150 fine for the dogs’ owner. “For decades the city of Cincinnati has given a free pass to owners of dangerous and vicious dogs who attack children, adults and other pets in our community," Seelbach told The Enquirer. "The vast majority of these attacks are due to negligent and irresponsible owners. It's time to eliminate the free pass."• More trouble for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and this time it’s local. According to a federal report released Monday, accusations have surfaced that the Cincinnati VA hospital engaged in manipulation of patient wait-time data. Officials at the 277-bed hospital in Corryville altered records to hide the amount of time patients had to wait for care, according to an anonymous whistleblower cited in the report. Charges of record manipulation covering up long wait times for patients have brought intense scrutiny to the entire VA, sparking further investigation of 112 VA clinics nationally. Wait time data is tied to employee performance reviews and bonuses. • After years of preparation, school districts in Ohio are gearing up for final implementation of national Common Core educational standards. As they do so, Republican lawmakers in the statehouse are working to repeal those guidelines. State Rep. Andy Thompson of Marietta has introduced a bill to replace Common Core with state-specific benchmarks based in part on those used in Massachusetts. Thompson calls Common Core “the wrong road.” The standards were developed by education experts and politicians over a number of years and focus more on critical thinking skills in math and reading. The new benchmarks have caused criticism from both conservatives and liberals, however. Those to the right say the standards represent a federal takeover of education, while some on the left see massive benefits to large education companies like Pearson and see a corporate takeover of the school system.• Hey, y’all seen that Snow Piercer movie? So this next thing is just like that, but also kind of the opposite. Basically, both are icy and really dystopian. If you’re the kind of person who is really into apocalyptic stuff, you’ve got $20,000-$40,000 lying around and you’re also into irony, have I got a deal for you. You can now take a climate change-themed cruise ship through parts of the arctic that, until recently, were impassible by boat due to, you know, being covered in ice like they're supposed to be. However, thanks to global warming, it's now possible to take a luxury liner from Alaska, swing north of the Arctic Circle, pop out near Greenland and be in New York City a month later. And for only the average yearly salary of a school teacher, you can do it. The high end of the price range will get you a penthouse suite on the ship, all the better for watching sea waters rise and arctic seals and polar bears cling desperately to ice floes bask in the newly balmy temperatures. The 68,000-ton,13-deck, 1,000-passenger ship, which has three times the per-passenger carbon footprint of a 747, is called the Crystal Serenity, of course, because nothing is more serene than watching the planet come apart at the seams before your very eyes. Pure magic.
Recaps of six cover stories people talked about in 2012
1 Comment · Thursday, December 27, 2012
CityBeat covered a variety of topics in 2012. Here are the stories that really stuck through, from the former pit bull ban to the Anna Louise Inn to private prisons.
by Jac Kern
In celebration of City Council’s repeal of the breed-specific language in
Cincinnati’s vicious dog ordinance, Cincinnati Pit Crew invites pups of all
sorts to strut the streets tonight. Pitties on Parade is a chance for pit bulls
and other breeds to show off their sweet side and display why the May 16 repeal
was a good decision. The group walk begins on the West Grove of Fountain Square
(pets are not allowed on the actual square) at 5:30 p.m. and will continue on
various routes, where participants will break into groups to saunter across the
city. Everyone will re-group at Smale Riverfront Park at 7 p.m. Make sure your
dog is healthy, at least 6 months old, up-to-date on vaccinations and
good-natured (the same should probably go for owners). Meet up at Neon’s
Unplugged, the pooch-friendly bar in OTR, for an after-party 'til 9 p.m.
E.A.T.S. (Epicureans About Town Society) hosts a Subterranean Picnic Party at
Jimmy G’s tonight. Cincinnati E.A.T.S. aims to bring locals to the best
independent area restaurants by presenting themed evenings of fixed-price
meals. Tonight, Chef Jimmy Gibson has created a three-course menu with
shareable sides. Pre-dinner drinks and wine pairings will be available (not
included in $44.50 ticket price). There is also a benefit aspect to each event
— tonight guests are encouraged to bring several non-perishable food items to
be donated to the Freestore Foodbank. Cocktail hour begins at 7 p.m. and dinner
will be served at 8 p.m. Grab a last-minute ticket here.
Tonight is the
first official evening of Fringe Festival performances. Offerings include Breaking Rank, The Sweet, Burning Yonder, METHTACULAR!, Grim and Fischer, Rodney
Rumple’s Random Realty, Blown Up,
You Will Have 25 Minutes to Complete This
Essay, Female Desires and Quake: A Closet Love Story. Whew! Check
out the official Fringe guide, with performance descriptions, ticket
information and full schedule here.Party in the Park
continues tonight at Yeatman’s Cove with Stays in Vegas. Happy hour runs 5-6:30
p.m., offering $2 off beer, wine and cocktails. The free concert runs until 10
p.m.Did you know today is Water a Flower Day? Make sure you're watering your thirsty plants during what's looking like a very hot summer!
0 Comments · Tuesday, May 22, 2012
City Council officially repealed Cincinnati’s nine-year
pit bull ban last week, removing all breed-specific language from the
city’s municipal code.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: City Council
at 02:33 PM | Permalink
Breed-specific legislation repealed after nine years
Pit bulls can legally put their paws on Cincinnati ground today for the first time in nine years. After a long, arduous battle for dog lovers and Cincinnati animal welfare advocates, success has arrived. Today, Cincinnati City Council voted 8-1 to officially repeal the breed-specific language in Cincinnati's vicious dog ordinance, which previously made ownership of pit bulls within city limits illegal. Read CityBeat's coverage about the old ban here. "It's fantastic. It's been a long effort, but we've had some great supporters from all across the country ... that's had an overwhelming affect on Council. Dog owners, of pit bulls or not, have flooded Council with requests to change the law," said Jim Tomaszewski, SPCA Cincinnati trustee and one of the main forces lobbying for the removal of the breed-specific language. The amendments to Section 701-1-V of the Cincinnati Municipal code completely remove breed-specific terminology, meaning today marks the first day since 2003 in which ownership of pit bulls within Cincinnati city limits is officially legal. Today, City Council also assigned the following members to the Task Force for the Humane Treatment of Animals, which will recommend future amendments and strategies to further promote responsible animal care and humane animal treatment in city limits: • Veterinarian - Dr. Tamara Goforth, Veterinarian for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)• Representative from SPCA Cincinnati - Jim Tomaszewski, SPCA Cincinnati Trustee• Representative from the animal rescue community - Elizabeth Johnson, Executive Director, Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic• Representative fro the City Prosecutor's Office - to be chosen by John Curp, City Solicitor• Representative from the Cincinnati Police Department - to be chosen by Chief James Craig
by Kevin Osborne
Cincinnati City Council took the first step Tuesday in repealing the city's ban on owning Pit Bull terriers. Council's Livable Communities Committee voted 5-1 to support repeal, saying it was unfair to single out a specific breed for harsher treatment. Experts have said Pit Bulls aren't inherently vicious, and that their treatment and training by their owners is responsible for any bad behavior. Councilman Cecil Thomas opposed the repeal, stating he was concerned about “enforcement issues.” The full City Council could make a final decision as soon as this afternoon. CityBeat examined the ban in-depth here.Police Chief James Craig met Tuesday morning with 19 ministers and community leaders in an Avondale church. Craig wants to create a partnership with clergy to combat youth violence and shootings. It was the second such session that Craig has held this month. Since police presence was increased in Avondale April 2, no more shootings have occurred in the neighborhood.A Cincinnati police officer was hospitalized after being hurt for the second time on the job. Officer Jerry Enneking has survived four car crashes while on-duty. The 23-year police veteran was rear-ended in a five-car crash Tuesday. Seeing another driver trapped, Enneking ignored his own injuries and helped rescue the person.Tim Tebow, the prayerful quarterback for the New York Jets, will be in town today for two events at Cincinnati Christian University in Price Hill. The first already is sold out, but there are $500 tickets still available for a banquet. Both events will focus on how Tebow balances his life in the NFL with his faith.The School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in Over-the-Rhine is being awarded a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The SCPA competed with more than 300 other groups for the cash, which will be used to support the school's Master's Artist Series and Artists in Residence programs for the next school year.In news elsewhere, an ex-drilling engineer for BP Oil has been arrested on charges of intentionally destroying text messages sought by federal authorities as evidence in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The charges of obstruction of justice filed against Kurt Mix, in the Eastern District of Louisiana, are the first criminal charges connected to the oil spill. If found guilty, Mix could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each count.As expected, Willard Mitt Romney swept the five Republican presidential primaries held Tuesday. The former Massachusetts governor got 67.4 percent of the vote in Connecticut, 56.5 percent in Delaware, 62.4 percent in New York, 58 percent in Pennsylvania, and 63.2 percent in Rhode Island. Most of the other GOP contenders have conceded the nomination race to Romney.During the presidency of George W. Bush, the United States had the worst job creation record in decades, suffered the worst recession since the Great Depression and borrowed billions of dollars from China to support two wars. If you've been wondering how Romney or other Republican politicians running for office would do anything differently, wonder no more. Alexandra Franceschi, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said in an interview last week that the GOP's economic platform will be the same as that under Bush, just “updated.” There, voters: You have been warned.A Brooklyn district attorney is resisting a public records request to divulge the names of 85 Orthodox Jews arrested on sex charges there during the past three years. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes says the "tight-knit" nature of the Orthodox community makes it impossible to disclose the identities of abuse suspects without also identifying their victims. A Jewish newspaper might file a legal challenge to the decision.Despite numerous cuts to government spending in the name of austerity — or perhaps because of it, if you listen to some economists — the United Kingdom has now officially sunk into a double-dip recession, its first since the 1970s. Economic indicators reveal the U.K. economy has performed even more weakly since the current financial crisis began than in the Great Depression.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: City Council
at 01:11 PM | Permalink
Seelbach says he has support of four colleagues for repealing pit bull ban
Repealing discriminatory breed-specific legislation could come sooner than expected for Cincinnati. Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach is working to draft a motion that he says could be ready for council signatures as early as today. Yesterday, Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach tweeted this: Last week, CityBeat's April 4 cover story, "Losing Fight," discussed Cincinnati's legislation that's outlawed ownership of pit bulls within city limits since 2003. Seelbach reveals to CityBeat that he made a pledge to work to repeal the city's ban on pit bulls when he was first elected to office in December 2011, and has met in with stakeholders in the past to discuss reform strategies. "I've always believed that entire breeds should not be punished — we need to punish bad owners," he says. Seelbach's motion reportedly will seek to increase punishments for negligent owners, removing all breed-specific language and re-allowing the possession of pit bulls within Cincinnati city limits, similar to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's Substitute House Bill 14, which was signed into effect in February. Once the motion is drafted, Seelbach says he'll need to obtain a minimum of five signatures from his eight council colleagues before the motion can be voted on in a committee. He counts off the names of four council members he's already heard are in support of creating new legislation, before the motion has even been discussed. If the committee — most likely city council's public safety committee, according to Seelbach — chooses to pass the motion, it would then proceed to a formal vote before city council.
by Hannah McCartney
at 12:50 PM | Permalink
Gov. John Kasich signs substitute bill removing breed-discriminatory clause
Dog lover or not, one must admit that pit bulls suffer from a pretty abysmal reputation. Thanks to their depictions in pop culture and history as fighting dogs, pit bulls have arguably garnered the most discrimination of any dog breed; many have visions of them constantly gnashing their teeth, chomping down on everything in sight, from little children to helpless dogs. That means they're often the target of unnecessary euthanasia, abuse or neglect. Meet a socialized pit bull and you'll likely attest members of the breed can be, in a word, wimpy. Finally, however, legislation is seeming to catch up with that knowledge — the breed has come upon a much-deserved stroke of good fortune. On Tuesday, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill that no longer declares pit bulls vicious or dangerous prior to an incident or inspection. For 25 years, Ohio has been the only state in the country to automatically declare a dog vicious based solely on breed, without regard to demeanor or behavior. Pit bulls have always fallen under that category, meaning they typically have a difficult time getting adopted or following their owners to apartment complexes or other multi-family housing (Read Martin Brennan's blog about pit bull treatment in Cincinnati here). In fact, thanks to an old grandfather clause, owning a pit bull is technically illegal in Hamilton County, although that hasn't really stopping dog owners from adopting the breed.In 2011, a bill was introduced to remove pit bulls from Ohio's definition of vicious dogs. Although the bill passed in the House of Representatives, it was never voted on in the Senate. Recently, Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Lucas County) reintroduced legislation to protect pit bulls. A petition at Change.org earned nearly 19,000 signatures of those in favor of the bill's passing. The bill, Substitute House Bill 14, not only removes the breed-discriminatory clause, but tightens the reins on dangerous dog laws, meaning law enforcement can better target their time on punishing reckless owners and truly violent dogs rather than otherwise innocent family pets. The bill outlines a clear system for determining a dog "dangerous," defined by killing another dog or injuring a person without provocation. Before the amendment of HB 14, an owner with a dog declared "vicious" would be required to obtain liability insurance. According to John Dunham and Associates, an economic research firm, it cost Ohioans $17 million each year to enforce the old law. The bill is expected to go into effect in 90 days.Told you they're wimpy: