by German Lopez
Judge halts council's parking plan, city's deficit options, gun records could be sealed
City Council approved a plan
to lease the city’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati
Development Authority, but the plan is now being held up by a judge’s
temporary restraining order (TRO). The plan was passed with an emergency
clause, which is meant to expedite the plan’s implementation, but it
also makes the law immune to referendum. The judge’s TRO, which will
delay implementation for at least one week, will provide enough time to
process a lawsuit filed by Curt Hartman, an attorney who represents the
Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), on behalf of
local activists who oppose the plan and argue it should be subject to
referendum. The parking plan will lease the city’s parking assets to
fund development projects, including a 30-story tower and a downtown
grocery store, and help balance the deficit for the next two fiscal
years. Opponents say they’re concerned about the plan leading to parking
rate hikes, and they say the plan will not fix the city’s structural
Before the final vote on the parking plan, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. gave a presentation
to City Council that showed options for reducing Cincinnati’s
structural deficit, including a reduction or elimination of
lower-ranked programs in the city’s Priority-Driven Budgeting Process, a
reduction in subsidies to health clinics that are getting more money
from Obamacare, the semi-automation of solid waste collection or the
introduction of new or increased fees for certain programs, among other
Ohio senators are pushing a law that would make records of people licensed to carry concealed firearms in Ohio off-limits to journalists.
The senators say they were inspired to push the law after a New York
newspaper published the names and addresses of permit holders in three
counties. Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper
Association, says the law will decrease government transparency and
limit rights: “I wish the pro-gun forces would be as respectful of the
First Amendment as they are of the second, and they should be fearful of
excessive government secrecy.”
The superintendent and treasurer of the Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy, a charter school, were indicted
after allegedly using school funds to go to “Girls weekends” in
Chicago, sightseeing tours through California and Europe and a trip to
Boston to see Oprah — allegedly costing taxpayers more than $148,000. Dave Yost, state auditor, said in a statement, “The
audacity of these school officials is appalling. The good work by our
auditors and investigators has built the strongest possible case to
ensure they can never use the public treasury as their personal travel
The Ohio Department of Transportation and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet are working together
to make the case that any delays in the Brent Spence Bridge project
will hurt Greater Cincinnati’s economy. Most people involved in the
issue agree the bridge needs rebuilding, but not everyone agrees on how
the project should be funded. Northern Kentucky politicians in
particular have strongly opposed instituting tolls — one of the leading
ideas for funding the project.
In public hearings yesterday, service industry officials
said Gov. John Kasich’s budget plan, which will expand the state’s sales
tax to apply to more service, would drive some service providers out of Ohio
and make the state less competitive. Among other complaints, Carter
Strang, president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, said
the plan could make it harder for Ohioans to access legal counsel by
increasing costs and reducing employment in the legal sector. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget proposal in detail here.
State Auditor Yost filed a subpoena
to get JobsOhio’s financial records after the agency failed to turn
them over. The subpoena puts Yost at odds with Kasich, a fellow
Republican who established JobsOhio, a nonprofit company, in an attempt
to bring more jobs to the state and replace the Ohio Department of
Hamilton County is launching the Hamilton County Community Re-entry Action Plan,
which will help integrate ex-convicts back into society. Commissioner
Todd Portune told WVXU the plan will help with overpopulation in jails
and prisons: “When you build (jail and prison) facilities, the
population in them always seems to rise to meet whatever the (capacity)
level is in the facility. You never seem to have enough space. The real
answer beyond facilities is that we've got to turn around the lives of
the individuals who are in our corrections system that have made bad
choices.”The University of Cincinnati says it won’t block an outdoor display of vagina pictures on campus.
Yesterday, Kentucky’s U.S. Sen. Rand Paul held a nearly 13-hour filibuster to protest any possible use of drone strikes on American soil. Paul was joined by
senators from both sides of the aisle in his opposition to using the
strikes, which were used in Yemen in 2011 to kill Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American
citizen accused of being a high-ranking al-Qaeda official.
The same Cleveland judge who made a woman hold an “idiot” sign for driving around a school bus is making a 58-year-old man hold another sign
for threatening officers in a 911 call. The sign will apologize to
officers and read, “I was being an idiot and it will never happen
again.” The man will also go to jail for 90 days.
There used to be camels in Arctic Canada,
but that shouldn’t be too surprising — camels currently reside in the
Gobi Desert, which can reach -40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
When a reporter uses the law to pry
public records from resisting officials, readers are supposed to
benefit. And when readers value that invocation of open records laws, it
adds luster to the reporter’s work.
by Andy Brownfield
Suit claims governor is intentionally ignoring public records requests
The Ohio Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit against Gov.
John Kasich — who they claim is improperly using his office to campaign
for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney — to get the
governor to release his schedule of public events.
The ODP’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the Franklin County
Court of Common Pleas, contends that Kasich’s office either ignored or
only partially fulfilled the request.
“It’s unfortunate that this Governor is so opposed to
transparency and public disclosure that we have to ask the Court to
force him to follow the law,” ODP Chairman Chris Redfern said in a
“Serious questions remain regarding whether the Governor
has improperly used his office for the benefit of Mitt Romney, and it’s
deeply disappointing Kasich is so secretive he won’t even tell the
public what he’s done or where he’s gone.”
Kasich press secretary Rob Nichols said the administration
doesn’t comment on litigation, but dismissed the Ohio Democratic
“We release public records in accordance with the law, and
in fact have already publicly released the governor’s schedule six
times, including a schedule request to the ODP,” Nichols said.
“This is predictable election year politics from the same
people who were just rebuked for using public records demands to
interfere with the Auditor of State’s investigation into possible data
manipulation in some school districts.”
Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jerid Kurtz said Kasich’s
office did respond to one of the seven requests for the schedule, but
some of the information in the records was redacted — including an
entire week that was blacked out with no explanation.
“Ohio law is very clear, and it states you have to give a specific excuse when you redact something,” Kurtz said.
According to the lawsuit and court documents, the ODP
requested on July 2 Kasich’s public schedule from that date through Aug.
According to a letter to the Ohio Democratic Party from
Mehek M. Cook — assistant chief counsel to Kasich — the information
about the governor's future plans was blacked out because that information
could put him at risk.
“The governor and his office receive threats on any given
day and the release of his whereabouts increases security issues
surrounding the governor’s safety,” Cook wrote.
Cook wrote that any information in the records used by the
Executive Protection Unit assigned to guard Kasich constitutes a
security record and was redacted.
He also wrote that some information that would reveal
confidential business meetings and trade secrets that would harm Ohio
efforts to court businesses was blacked out. Additionally, information
not relevant to the request was redacted.
Kurtz said it’s important that the public have access
those schedules because voters have a right to know what their governor
is doing on the public dime.
The schedules include where the governor is and with whom
he meets, but they also show scheduled phone calls and media interviews.
The Ohio Democratic Party worries that Kasich is
improperly campaigning for Romney while receiving a taxpayer-funded
paycheck, or using public money to have his staff do so.
The concerns stem from statements made by Kasich both in
public and on his Twitter account either praising the presumed
Republican presidential nominee or slamming President Obama.
For instance, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported that when Obama visited Ohio on Aug. 1 the governor tweeted “On
the occasion of the President's latest visit to Ohio, we have a
question for him,” with a link to a graphic asking “If the President's
policies are behind Ohio's success, why is the rest of the country
Democrats claim that Ohio’s success relative to the rest
of the country are due to efforts by President Obama, while Republicans
say Governor Kasich is behind Ohio’s faster-than-average recovery.
While the Ohio Democratic Party is suing to have Kasich
release his public schedule (Kurtz says Attorney General Mike DeWine and
Auditor Dave Yost complied with similar requests in a timely manner)
the state Republican Party has also submitted similar requests to
Democrats throughout Ohio.
Kurtz characterized the GOP requests as being sent by
Kasich’s “hand-picked lieutenants in the Ohio Republican Party,” though
Nichols told The Plain Dealer that the governor had no involvement.
Ohio GOP executive director Matt Borges told the newspaper that the requests were routine.
Still, Kurtz called Kasich’s refusal to release his own schedule “hypocritical.”
“He’s a bully and the only way you can deal with a bully is fighting back.”