by Natalie Krebs
19 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:52 AM | Permalink
Obama commutes life sentence of local man; Ohio House moves closer to approving medical marijuana bill; Trump heightens rifts in Republican party
President Barack Obama on Thursday gave a Cincinnati man named Thomas Farmer a second chance when commuted his life sentence along with 57 other federal convicts. Farmer has been in a federal prison serving a life sentence since 1995 for charges of cocaine possession and distribution. Obama's latest round of commutes targeted those serving life sentences for drug-related charges and brings the president's total commute number to 306. • There's less than two months before the world will finally get the chance to journey to Grant County, Kentucky, to experience a real-life replica of Noah's Ark. After 14 months of construction, the project is apparently coming along smoothly — and even under budget. The controversial structure, which is based on the Biblical tale of one man single-handedly building a giant ark and cramming it full of two of every kind of animal, is set to open on July 7 and is expected to attract 1.2 million visitors in the first year. • The Ohio House is set to vote on legislation next Tuesday that could legalize medical marijuana for Ohioans. After months of committee hearings, a special House committee approved HB 523 Thursday evening, making it the first time marijuana legislation has ever made it out of committee and on to a full House vote. The bill would create a tightly regulated system for growing, dispensing and prescribing the plant and would permit it only be used in a patch, vapor, oil or other extract.• If you're planning on getting out your wildest hat and watching the Kentucky Derby Saturday, as tradition goes, you're also going to hear the crowd sing along with University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band to Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home." But former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker believes some people are missing the racial undertones in the sweet-sounding, old-timey melody. Walker says the song, which was written by composer Stephen Foster as an anti-slavery song, actually has some pretty troubling lyrics related to slavery. • It's been less than two days since Donald Trump has taken the spot of the presumed GOP presidential nominee, and already the split in the Republican party is widening. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the country's highest-elected Republican, says he's not ready to endorse Trump for president. Trump responded to the comment saying he's "not ready" to support Speaker Ryan's agenda." In Ohio, Democrats are already hoping that Republican Sen. Rob Portman's support of Trump will hurt his chances of re-election this November. Incumbent Portman is running against former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland for the U.S. Senate.News tips go here. Enjoy your weekend, Cincy!
by Natalie Krebs
Posted In: News
at 10:19 AM | Permalink
ResponsibleOhio under investigation for submitting fraudulent voter registration forms; Sittenfeld calls for opponents to renounce NRA support; Blue Lives Matter launches billboard campaign; U.S. under fire for Doctors Without Borders bombing
Hey Cincy! Here are your morning headlines. • There's potentially more trouble on the horizon for ResponsibleOhio less than a month before voters head to the polls to vote on its ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. The Hamilton County Board of Elections is looking into possible voter registration fraud after the board found that at least four of the registration forms filed by a company on behalf of the super PAC were signed by dead people and two were signed by people currently incarcerated and therefore illegible to vote. The registrations forms were submitted by the Strategic Network, a Columbus company specializing in political campaigns that is headed by Ian James, the man who also serves as executive director for ResponsibleOhio. The board made the decision yesterday to issue subpoenas to James and the other leaders of the Strategic Network. James denies any intentional illegal wrongdoing and
claims that his company has a "zero tolerance policy" toward fraud.
It’s unclear who filled out and submitted the voter registration forms, but submitting a fraudulent voter registration
form is a felony offense. James claims that the group is required by
law to turn over every voter registration form it collects, even those
that are invalid. • Less than a week after the tragic shooting at a Roseburg, Ore. community college, city councilman and U.S. Senate candidate P.G. Sittenfeld
issue a statement asking his opponents to renounce their support for
the National Rifle Association. The NRA has previously endorsed Republican candidate Rob Portman and fellow Democratic opponent Ted Strickland in its famous rating program where it assigns a letter grade to politicians. In his video statement, Sittenfeld asks that his opponents "no
longer chase A+ ratings from the same organization that blocked a
universal background check bill following a horrific massacre of five and six-year old children in Newtown." Sittenfeld is trailing behind former Ohio governor and fellow Democrat Strickland, who is widely known across the state and has secured the endorsement from the state's Democratic party. • Cincinnati
is sitting on some serious cash. At the end of the 2015 fiscal year,
the city has $19 million left over, which turned out to be way more than the initial $3.9 million the city predicted to have at the end of June. In a memo to Mayor John Cranley, City Manager Harry Black has requested they should it safe and save most of it but also included a sizable wish list. Many of the items requested are related to law enforcement and crime reduction, which has been a hot topic since Cincinnati has experienced a spike in shootings and Black recently fired of former police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell. Some of the items, which must be approved by the city council,
included spending $2 million on a down payment for Cincinnati Police
body cameras, $500,000 for police overtime in spots with heavy crime,
$200,000 for a witness protection program and $175,000 for a partnership
with Hamilton County to a program to support the re-entry of offenders. • Surely
you've heard of Black Lives Matter by now, the group that has been
active for the past few years in bringing attention to the issue of
police brutality against African-Americans. Well, a new group has popped
up in support of police
called Blue Lives Matter and they've launched a national billboard
campaign with 14 billboards across the country. The group is hoping to spread awareness and fight what it sees
as anti-police rhetoric in the wake of high profile police shootings,
including the July shooting in Mount Auburn of Sam Dubose by a
University of Cincinnati police officer. • International aid group Doctors Without Borders appealed yesterday for an independent agency to investigate the bombing of one of its clinics in Afghanistan last Saturday by U.S. special operation forces.
The bombing killed 22 patients and medical staff members, including
three children, and injured 37 people. The U.S. has claimed
responsibility for the attack, saying it was trying to take out Taliban
militants, and did not mean to hit the aid clinic, but U.S. military
officials' stories keep changing, which has prompted suspicion from the international community of the U.S.'s mission. As always, email me with story idea, comments or general concerns.
Cincinnati-area legislators are all up in the drama
0 Comments · Thursday, October 3, 2013
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Butler
County, didn’t want the government shutdown battle a few weeks ago. Then Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in and read Green Eggs and Ham for 21 hours.
by Andy Brownfield
Posted In: 2012 Election
at 01:00 PM | Permalink
Amusements and things that didn't make it into our story
There are a lot of things that don’t make it into any given news
story. When you attend an event as a reporter, such as Republican presidential
candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Union Terminal last Saturday (as I did), you
wait in line for about an hour, then wait inside for another hour while
security checks every visitor.
During that time, you’re talking to people who are attending,
taking notes to provide color for the story (things such as what songs are
playing, slogans on shirts or signs, the general mood or atmosphere) and
getting information from the event staff, such as how many tickets were given
out, how many people are estimated to attend, etc.
Then there are the speakers — about an hour of politicians
talking. After that, there’s the counter press conference with local Democratic
officials. Then you make phone calls to fill in any gaps.
With all of that material and the average reader attention span
on 800 words, a lot of information gets left out of any given piece. So here
are some things I found interesting from Romney’s visit that didn’t make it
into my story that day.
The most popular attire seemed to be Reds items. Many
event-goers wore Reds T-shirts or caps, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who spoke at
the event, wore a Reds ballcap and opened his speech with “So Cincinnati, how
about these Redlegs?” and talked about Jay Bruce’s homer the previous night.U.S. House Speaker John Boehner attended the rally. I remember
seeing him on TV at the Republican National Convention and commenting that he
didn’t look as tan anymore. Must have been the cameras. In person, he was at
least five shades darker than the pasty Portman.U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot also spoke at the rally. While most speakers
stuck to short speeches meant to pump up attendees and introduce Romney, Chabot
got local. He encouraged attendees to vote against Issue 2, a ballot measure
appearing in November that would change the way redistricting is done in Ohio.
Currently congressional redistricting is done by the Legislature, which can
give one party an advantage if they control both houses and the governor’s
mansion. Chabot said Issue 2, which would set up an independent commission to
redraw congressional districts, would allow special interest groups to take
voters out of the equation and have the lines drawn by “unelected,
unaccountable” people. (CityBeat covered this year's redistricting issue here and here.)As politicians do, speakers from both Republican and Democratic
camps tried to spin the message. Portman told rally attendees that we were in
the midst of the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, a
statement independent fact checkers determined to be false. UPDATE 9/5/12: According to Republicans in the Joint Economic Committee and a report by The Associated Press economic growth and consumer spending have recovered more slowly from this recession than any time since The Great Depression. A PolitiFact check of Romney's claim that it was the slowest jobs recovery was deemed to be false.Meanwhile, in their
press conference after the rally, Democrats had maybe a dozen local
Cincinnatians in a small public area near Music Hall. Obama’s campaign provided
signs and had them all crowd behind a podium where local politicians spoke. For
the TV cameras, it probably looked like a sizeable crowd, which is an old
by Danny Cross
Ohio political season will be in full
force today as Mitt Romney visits a manufacturing company in Carthage
to discuss the manufacturing industry and trade, Barack Obama will be in Cleveland
talking about the economy and Rob Portman, a candidate to be Romney's
vice presidential running mate, will be in Washington D.C. telling
the Faith and Freedom Coalition that it's still really important to
have religious freedom.
Some Columbia-Tusculum residents are
upset about the proposed design of new apartment buildings on the
corner of Delta Avenue and Columbia Parkway. The 76-unit Delta Flats'
design was apparently supposed to fit into the nearby business
district, which includes the Precinct restaurant.
China doesn't want to have sanctions on
Syria, and Russia is reportedly still selling Syria weapons.
OPEC has decided to keep oil output on
hold, meaning Saudi Arabia gets to decide if gas costs go up.
A new poll suggests that Americans
blame George W. Bush more for America's economic issues than
HBO and showrunners for its new
medieval show Game of Thrones have apologized for using Bush's head
on a stake in a scene where one of the dudes shows someone a line of
traitors' heads on stakes.
Surgeons replaced a 10-year-old girl's
has blood vessel with one grown with her own stem cells. The vein was
taken from a dead person, stripped of its cells and then coated in
the girls' stem cells. Doctors says there has been a “striking”
improvement in her quality of life, according to the BBC.
Nokia will cut 10,000 jobs by the end
of 2013 after being hit hard by both expensive competitors like the
iPhone and cheaper Android models.
San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain
threw a perfect game against the Houston Astros last night. It
included an awesome diving catch by outfielder Gregor Blanco in the
by Danny Cross
Mitt Romney will visit the Cincinnati
area this week: tonight at a private fundraiser at the Hilton
Netherland Plaza, Thursday at a Carthage manufacturing comany and
this weekend to hang with Rep. John Boehner up north and probably
with Sen. Rob Portman at some point. President Obama plans to be
around soon, too.
Economists say Romney's job creation
claims need more specifics before they'll be believable. On the other
hand, Obama's American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act has saved or created 1.4 million to 3.3 million
jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and the American
Jobs Act would create 1.9 million, according to Moody's. From NPR:
+11.5 million — that's how many jobs
last September he would create in the first term of his
administration. But true to form, Romney never said how he would
create that many jobs, nor has any reputable economist backed up his
claim. "Nowhere in the 160 page plan could I find a stated job
creation number," wrote Rebecca Thiess of EPI. "The math
doesn't just appear to be fuzzy — it appears to be nonexistent."
Added David Madland of the Center for American Progress: "It is a plan from the Republican
candidate for president designed to maximize corporate profits. What
it doesn't do is help the middle class or create jobs." Even the
conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal called Romney's 59-point economic
tome "surprisingly timid and tactical considering our economic
Democrat Ron Barber won the
congressional seat left by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an
assassination attempt and resigned to focus on her recovery. The win
gives Democrats hope for taking control of the House in November.
California could become the first U.S.
State to require that genetically modified (GM) foods be labeled as
such on the package if a November measure, “The Right to Know
Genetically Engineered Food Act,” passes.
What makes the referendum in California different is that, for the
first time, voters and not politicians will be the ones to decide.
And this has the food industry worried. Understandably so, since only
one in four Americans is convinced that GMOs are "basically safe", according to a survey conducted by the Mellman Group, and a big majority wants
food containing GMOs to be labeled.
This is one of the few issues in America today that enjoys broad
bipartisan support: 89% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats want
genetically altered foods to be labeled, as they already are in 40
nations in Europe, in Brazil, and even in China. In 2007, then
candidate Obama latched onto this popular issue saying that he would
push for labeling – a promise the president has yet to keep.Retail sales were down for the second
month in May. Go buy something.
More than 2,000 proposals for new
internet suffixes have been proposed, including ".pizza,"
".space" and ".auto."
Scientists have figured out why woolly
mammoths went extinct: “Lots of reasons.”
by Danny Cross
A federal appeals court yesterday reinstated an antitrust lawsuit against Duke
Energy. The lawsuit accuses Duke of paying kickbacks to local companies in order to gain
support for a 2004 electric rate increase. The lawsuit alleges that
Duke appeased the more powerful opposing companies by including rebate
deals for them. The suit is seeking unspecified damages and seeks to
represent all Ohioans affected by the rate increase.
Todd Portune is continuing his quest to
become the East Side's county's property tax rebate savior, yesterday offering a new idea
to bail out the stadium fund: extend the half cent sales tax past
2032. The revenue created by extending the sales tax, which has no
sunset clause, would repay loans the county could use to pay for
maintenance and projects at the stadiums now. Republican Commissioner
Chris Monzel is open to “any ideas,” though Democratic
Commissioner Greg Hartmann says otherwise:
“Todd, here we go again,” snapped Commissioner Greg Hartmann.
“Walking away from these leases is just fantasyland.
“How many times are we going to do this?” he asked.
Rob Portman will test out his GOP
rallying cries at the Faith & Freedom Coalition in Washington,
D.C. next week.
Bill Clinton says a Mitt Romney
presidency would be “calamitous” for the U.S.
The Senate will vote on a gender pay
equity bill today.
China and Russia say they'll help the
UN more going forward, though they've been supporting Syria more than
anyone really wants them to.
Here's an explanation of the Transit of
Venus, for those who don't get it yet.
Nintendo has revamped its Wii to try to
lure gamers from free Internet games they play on iPads.
A new PC virus can infect computers by
imitating a Windows update.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Anyone who has heard about how important
bees are to the existence of humanity understands the fundamental
frailty of our ecosystem (and maybe likes honey a lot or has really
nerdy friends). Such an individual would have been interested in today’s
news that the Asian longhorned beetle will soon reemerge in Clermont
County and threaten to eat all the trees.
by Danny Cross
Mitt Romney's campaign has reportedly
entered an “audition phase” in its search for a vice presidential
candidate, and local boy Rob Portman is on the AP's speculative list. With three months to go before the Republican National Convention, Romney's people will soon be asking intensely personal questions of potential VPs, such as whether they've ever had marital problems, affairs or mental health counseling. In preparation, many Republicans are already speaking out against President Obama with hopes of sounding like a guy that can help Romney win in November. The AP included in its rundown of the more high-profile candidates the strengths and potential weaknesses of each:
who are informally auditioning would each bring different strengths —
and drawbacks — to the presidential ticket.
Ohio Sen. Rob
Portman supported Romney early, has a solid rapport with the
candidate and hails from Ohio, a critical battleground state that
could decide the election. But he wouldn't necessarily appeal
directly to Hispanic or women voters.
Bobby) Jindal, the Louisiana governor, could help Romney turn out the
religious right and would add diversity to the ticket as an
Indian-American, but he struggled during a national debut rebutting
the 2010 State of the Union address.
Virginia Gov. Bob
McDonnell appeals to social conservatives but signed a controversial
state law that requires Virginia women to have ultrasounds before
having an abortion.
New Hampshire Sen.
Kelly Ayotte, who's campaigned frequently with Romney, could help
with female voters and in her swing state of New Hampshire. But she's
from New England, the same region of the country as Romney, while
(New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie, a conservative favorite who can
work a crowd, is from New Jersey.
Marco) Rubio could bring Florida, always a deciding factor in a
general election, and appeal to Hispanics, a fast-growing voting
bloc, but he's run into some trouble over a foreclosed home and
possible misuse of an official credit card. And Ryan is a serious,
leading policy mind with a bright future — and a brand name that's
directly tied to a controversial budget that would make major changes
Meanwhile, Romney says Obama doesn't even understand free
enterprise. A Columbus tavern owner has lost his
freedom isn't free battle in the Ohio Supreme Court, which yesterday
unanimously ruled that the state's smoking ban is constitutional. The
owner of Zeno's Victorian Village had racked up thousands of dollars
in fines after 10 citations for violating the ban from July 2007 and
September 2009. The state has reportedly threatened to seize the bar
if the fines are not paid.
Meteorologists say after this weekend's heat wave this spring
could be the hottest on record.The Reds defeated the Atlanta
Braves last night on a Todd Frazier walk-off home run in the bottom
of the ninth inning. It was the Reds' fifth straight win, and they're
currently a half game behind St. Louis for first place in the
The Pakistan conviction of the Osama bin Laden doctor who helped
the CIA find him is not going over well with the U.S. government.
Pakistani authorities sentenced Shakeel Afridi to 33 years in prison
for treason, and Afridi was not entitled to representation, though he
has a right to appeal. The U.S. has threatened to cut aid to the
country, arguing that informants work against al-Qaeda and not
Britain's recession is worse than expected, as the country's
economy shrunk by .3 percent during the first quarter.
The SpaceX shuttle passed some tests
necessary to move forward with its landing on the International Space
Station Friday morning. President Obama called the company's CEO to
congratulate him and he answered despite thinking it might be a
John Malkovich is in the latest Apple
advertisement for Siri, during which Malkovich gets some life advice.
The ads follow those released starring Hollywood actors Zooey
Deschanel and Samuel Jackson last month.