3 Comments · Thursday, May 2, 2013
To cyclists, it’s a given that Cincinnati
desperately needs more bike lanes. But recent research shows bike lanes
don’t just pose advantages for cyclists; they can also help local
economies and public health.
by German Lopez
City and county budgets moving forward, Cincinnati master plan approved, few voted twice
Screw Cyber Monday; it’s budget day! The Hamilton County
Board of Commissioners is set to vote on its 2013 budget today. The
initial vote was delayed when commissioners couldn’t all agree on the full details. In City Council, a memo revealed the budget should be unveiled today. One part of the Cincinnati proposal has already been hinted at by a previous memo from the city manager: privatized parking.
On Wednesday, City Council approved Plan Cincinnati.
The master plan, which is the first the city has undertaken in 32
years, creates short-, medium- and long-term goals. Built largely on
public feedback, the plan emphasizes Cincinnati’s urban core with new
transportation programs, community health initiatives, new housing
options and more. CityBeat previously covered the plan in-depth here.
In Hamilton County, 81 people voted twice.
The votes, which involved provisional ballots, only reflects about 0.2
percent of the county’s vote, but it shows some of the confusion and
inefficiencies of modern elections. One particular problem is some
elderly voters cast absentee ballots before the election and then filed
provisional ballots on Election Day.
A California firm is using Alaskan pension dollars to buy hundreds of homes in Greater Cincinnati. The real estate will be used to provide corporate rentals.
Some education advocates are worried state education agencies won't have the proper time and resources to implement HB 555.
A few provisions will have to be ready by mid-2013, which some
advocates see as too little time; but the president of the Ohio Board of
Education remains confident. HB 555 will radically reform the state’s
school report card system, which evaluates and grades schools. Some state
officials are worried the new standards, which will be measured in part
by new standardized tests, will be too tough. An early simulation of the new report cards
in May showed Cincinnati Public Schools dropping from the second-best
rating of “Effective” under the current system to a D-, with 23 schools
flunking and Walnut Hills High School retaining its top mark with an A.
State Medicaid costs are rising, but more slowly.
The slowdown may be partially attributed to Gov. John Kasich’s reforms
of the program, which is one of the most prominent costs in state
budgets around the country.
Gas prices in Ohio have gone up
in the last week. The prices were higher than they were in 2011, and
some experts say instability in the Middle East is to blame.
Ohio is looking good for a revival of the pharmaceutical industry.
That’s good news since the industry could be on the cusp of a “golden
era of renewed productivity and prosperity,” according to
Unfortunately for the pharmaceutical industry, the next generation of water pollution could be flushed drugs.
Here is the pope made out of condoms.
Science has been hard at work in 2012. Here
is a list of the seven greatest engineering innovations of the year.
The list includes the world’s largest semi-submersible vessel, which can
be used as an offshore dock, and a carbon-neutral office building,
which is arguably the most sustainable workplace ever.
The greatest public service announcement ever made:
by Andy Brownfield
Comprehensive plan sets short-, long-term goals for development
Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved the first
comprehensive plan in the last 32 years to direct future city growth and
All eight present members of council voted in favor of the
plan, after a 10-minute “love-fest,” as Councilwoman Yvette Simpson put
it, praising one another and the team that created the plan. The
nine-member team worked on the comprehensive plan for the last three
Councilman Chris Smitherman was not present for the vote.
“I can’t use the term that Joe
Biden, our vice president used, but this is a big deal,” said Mayor Mark
Mallory, referencing an infamous gaffe where Biden uttered an expletive
into a hot microphone.
The 228-page plan emphasizes urban development over suburban, citing population movement back into city centers.
The plan focuses on key areas and offers proposals for the near-, middle- and long-terms.
These include proposals to stabilize residential and
business areas, improve quality of life, improve housing choices and
affordability and offer alternative means of transportation to
automobiles, including the controversial streetcar.
CityBeat previously covered the plan in depth.
by German Lopez
Plan Cincinnati set for approval, Hamilton County's budget delayed, waste wells return
Plan Cincinnati is expected to be approved by City Council
Wednesday, according to Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. The plan was
unanimously approved by the Livable Communities committee last night. Plan Cincinnati,
which is Cincinnati’s first comprehensive plan in 30 years, emphasizes the city’s urban center through new infrastructure, transportation
options and goals to make downtown residents stay in the area. CityBeat
previously covered the plan in greater detail here.
At the request of the sole Democrat on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, a vote on the 2013 budget is being delayed by one week.
Commissioner Todd Portune asked Commission President Greg Hartmann, a
Republican, for the vote delay to address funding to juvenile courts and
plans for future financial stability. Hartmann agreed to the delay,
noting consensus is important for budget issues. The budget won’t raise
taxes, but it could put 150 Hamilton County employees out of jobs.
Wastewater injection wells, which are used to dispose of fluids used during the fracking process, will soon be popping up around Ohio again.
The wells are the first to get state approval since earthquakes around
Youngstown in December were blamed on nearby wastewater injection wells.
It’s clear little — not even earthquakes — will stop Ohio’s fracking
boom, but at what cost? It is generally accepted switching from coal to
natural gas would bring down pollution that causes global warming, but some findings from Australia suggest problems still lay ahead. One study
found an abnormal amount of greenhouse gases around an Australian
fracking site. Methane leakage in particular is a problem at natural gas
sites because over 100 years methane is 25 times more effective at
trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change.
Cincinnati home sales shot up in October,
according to the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. The report paints a
great picture for the city’s housing economy. Housing was one of the biggest sectors hit by the financial
crisis of 2007-2008, so a recovery in housing is a sign the economic downturn
could soon be a thing of the past.
University of Cincinnati researchers want to know if testing emergency-room patients for HIV makes sense.
ER doctors worry about longer wait times, disrupted operations and
possible interference with emergency services, but the health benefits
could outweigh the negatives.
FirstGroup America is looking into moving from its Cincinnati headquarters. The company originally got a million-dollar tax incentive from the city for moving to downtown.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich hopes his rejection of Obamacare’s health exchanges will ignite some re-election fundraising.
Kasich is up for re-election in 2014. Exchanges are subsidized, heavily
regulated insurance markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of
Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more
transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace.
With Kasich’s rejection, the federal government will manage Ohio’s
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted finally had a good day
in court on Saturday. In a reversal from the lower court’s ruling, the
Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said ballots without proper
identification should not be counted. It’s estimated that, at most, the ruling will affect about 2,000 votes.
A Dayton man allegedly robbed the same bank twice.
Behold, the greatest thing the internet has ever created: The Spice Kittens livestream.With a nose cell transplant, paralyzed dogs are walking again.
by German Lopez
Plan Cincinnati hearing tonight, fiscal cliff threatens schools, Kasich declines exchanges
City Council’s Livable Communities committee is expected
to hear about and likely vote tonight on the city’s first master plan in more than
30 years. The plan, which CityBeat previously covered,
seeks a renewed emphasis on Cincinnati’s urban core through new
infrastructure and transportation options. It was put together largely
based on public feedback.
The “fiscal cliff,” which is really more of a self-induced austerity crisis from the federal government, could seriously hurt Ohio schools. Educators around the state, including Cincinnati schools, are expecting a cut of about 8 percent in federal funding. A Cincinnati Public Schools levy was recently renewed after a decade of cuts and problems at the school district.
Gov. John Kasich has finally made a decision for Obamacare: The state will not run
the health exchanges that are a big part of the plan. With the
governor’s decision, managing the health exchanges now falls to the
federal government. Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, defended the
governor’s decision by pointing out that even if the state managed the
exchanges, the federal government would always have the final say,
creating an arrangement “just doesn’t make sense for the state.”
Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance markets that will
go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring
down costs by offering more transparent, open competition through a
fair, regulated marketplace.
Cincinnati’s economy is being carried largely by manufacturing, and that looks likely to continue.
Business schools at the University of Cincinnati, Miami
University, Xavier University and Northern Kentucky University were
found to be among the nation’s best, according to the Princeton Review. Still, none of the schools made the top 10 rankings for the review’s 11 categories.
City Council is holding a public hearing
today to find out what the city should do with casino revenue. Some of
the council members already have plans, but City Council wants public
feedback to shape the final decision.
In other council news, the Human Services Advisory committee recommended funding
for 56 out of 58 programs. The two programs left out are the
Over-The-Rhine Kitchen and a social education program offered by the
Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati.
Cincinnati’s Metro bus service will be getting a revamp in the next few years. The company released a comprehensive plan with short-term and long-term goals that focus on increasing travel speed and reach.
Charter schools are where a large amount of Ohio kids are getting their education. This is despite the fact that, in general, traditional public schools perform better than charter schools, according to state standards.
Food stamps for Ohio families are getting reduced by about $25 a month. The good news is the cut is lower than expected.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction released a “re-inspection report”
for the Lake Erie prison owned by Corrections Corporation of America.
According to the new report, CCA has come a long way and corrected many
of the violations the state originally found in the private prison. The
last report found the prison, which CCA bought in 2011, was riddled with problems. CityBeat looked at private prisons, their problems and the shady connections between state officials and CCA in an in-depth report.
found more Ohioans are taking advantage of a national settlement that
lets households refinance their mortgages. In total, more than 4,500
Ohioans have refinanced for $165 million in consumer relief. Still, many
eligible Ohioans are not taking advantage of the opportunity.
Here are pictures of a tiny octopus, fighting female robots and an orange-powered battery.
Plan Cincinnati places a renewed emphasis on urban living
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
City officials on Aug. 21 finished and
released the final draft for Plan Cincinnati, the city’s first master
plan since 1980. The 228-page plan
touts a renewed emphasis on a
societal movement from neighborhoods back to the urban core of cities.
by German Lopez
The Ohio Republican Party has given an excuse for Franklin
County Republican Party Chairman Doug Preisse’s racist comment: Preisse
thought he was off the record. The defense solidifies that
Preisse, who is also a top adviser to Gov. John Kasich, was being honest
— just not public — when he wrote in an email to The Columbus Dispatch,
“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process
to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout
machine.” The comment was supposed to defend the Ohio Republican Party’s
position against expanding in-person early voting, but it only revealed
that racial politics play a pivotal role in the Republican Party’s
opposition to expanded voting.Cincinnati has revealed the first master plan for the city
since 1980. The plan seeks to put back an emphasis on urban living with
policies that are friendlier to the environment and non-automotive
transportation.President Barack Obama’s campaign will host an open
house at the campaign’s new offices at Over-the-Rhine tomorrow. John
Legend will be there.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank is facing a class action
lawsuit for what the plaintiff calls “payday loans.” The plaintiff
alleges that the bank was charging illegally high interest rates.University of Cincinnati President Greg Williams is
stepping down, citing personal reasons. Santa Onos, who previously
served as provost, will take over temporarily as interim president.Greater Cincinnati’s unemployment rate, which is not
adjusted for seasonal factors, remained at 7.2 percent in July. The
number is lower than the state’s unadjusted rate of 7.4 percent and the
federal unadjusted rate of 8.6 percent. Governments typically give
numbers that are seasonally adjusted, which is why in July a 7.2 percent
unemployment rate was reported for Ohio and an 8.3 percent unemployment
rate was reported for the United States.The Ohio Hospital Association is backing the Medicaid expansion. The expansion is an optional part of Obamacare. The Dispatch
blog calls the expansion “costly,” but Medicaid expansions can actually
save the state money by eliminating uncompensated hospital visits — on
top of possibly saving lives.
The Ohio Board of Education will hold an emergency
meeting tomorrow. The meeting will set the “process and criteria” for
the Board’s search for a new superintendent of public instruction.The Horseshoe Casino will begin hiring today. The casino is looking to fill more than 750 positions.
Forty-one Greater Cincinnati companies made it on the latest Inc. 5000 list.Obama was in Columbus yesterday. During the trip, the president
talked mostly about young people and education in an attempt to rally
the youth vote.U.S. spending on health care is set to rise by
50 percent by 2020, a new report says. As part of Obamacare and other
programs, the federal government is trying to bring health-care costs
down, which have risen faster than the rate of inflation in recent
history.Scientists have caught a glimpse of a red giant — an expanding star in its final stages — devouring one of its own planets. The same will happen to our galaxy someday, painting a fairly grim future for Earth. Fortunately, humanity has a few billion years to find a solution.
by German Lopez
Plan Cincinnati seeks to make city friendlier to bikes and environment
The City of Cincinnati today released the final draft for its
plan to “re-establish (Cincinnati) as a model of a thriving urban
city.” Plan Cincinnati, which will be taken up in a public hearing on
Aug. 30 at 6 p.m., is the first master plan for Cincinnati since 1980.
The primary goal behind the plan is to transition the city
away from a model that emphasizes suburban living back to a more urban
model. The plan’s report justifies the shift by attributing it to a new
“Dissatisfied, American society is now beginning to
reverse the trend (of suburban living) with the hope of returning to an
environment that is more economically and environmentally sustainable,
less dependent on the automobile, closer in scale to human form, and
ultimately, truly more livable,” the report says.
The plan will make this transition with six guiding
principles: Provide more transportation choices, promote equitable,
affordable housing, enhance economic competitiveness, support existing
communities, coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment,
and value communities and neighborhoods.
The vague principles are outlined in greater detail in the 228-page report, which can be read in full here.
One of the key parts of the plan is its expansion of
options for non-automotive travel. The plan promises to focus more work
on bicycle paths, support a Bicycle and Pedestrian Program and build
links between bicycle systems to allow more cycling through the city.
The city will also “design and construct the Ohio River Bike Trail
through Cincinnati” and make the city safer for cyclists by making roads
smoother and cleaner.
The plan also encourages other transportation programs.
Establishing better coordination with Metro buses, building intercity
rail systems and integrating the new streetcar into a greater
transportation model are a few of the many suggestions in the plan. With
these systems, the plan hopes to “facilitate economic development
Beyond transportation, the plan also seeks to establish
environmentally friendly programs. Some of the suggestions are
developing a green construction incentive program, implementing smart
grid networks and reforming the LEED tax abatement program to include
additional energy efficient rating systems.
However, the plan is missing one important detail: cost.
The report says Plan Cincinnati will be reviewed every year using the
new Priority-Driven Budgeting process, but no estimates for cost are
currently available. Katherine Keough-Jurs, senior city
planner, explained why in an email: “That is not something that we provide. We have
found over the years that providing cost estimates in long-range plans
is problematic and the estimates can be misleading. Also, some of the
Action Steps listed are not necessarily things that would have a
monetary cost associated.”