by German Lopez
Gay marriage case becomes election issue, local jobs report mixed, mayoral primary nears
Democratic attorney general candidate David Pepper is
criticizing Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine for contesting the case that’s forcing the state to recognize the same-sex
marriage of two Cincinnatians, one of who is currently sick with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a deadly neurodegenerative disease with
no known cure, and expected to die soon. “Above all, an Attorney General
takes an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. This case is
a truly sad example of constitutional rights being violated, and the
deep and personal harms that result from constitutionally unequal
treatment,” Pepper, a former Hamilton County commissioner and Cincinnati Council member, said in a statement. “I respectfully call upon
Attorney General DeWine to recognize the clear constitutional wrongs
taking place here. Allow this couple to spend their final weeks together
The Cincinnati metropolitan area received a mixed jobs report in June,
gaining some jobs over the year but not enough to match population
trends. Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate hit 7.4
percent in June, up from 6.8 percent in May and the same as the year
before. Although the jobs report was fairly negative, the area has
received some good news as of late: Housing sales were up in June despite higher interest rates, and CNBC host Joe Kernen, a Western Hills native, in July 22 segment declared, “Cincinnati has successfully reinvented itself as a hub for innovation” and technology.
Early voting for Cincinnati’s Sept. 10 mayoral primary begins Aug. 6. The candidates are Democrats Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley,
Libertarian Jim Berns and Independent Queen Noble. The top two
finishers will face each other again in the Nov. 5 election. Qualls and Cranley are
perceived as the leading contenders in the race.
University of Cincinnati’s police chief is stepping down.
Angela Thi Bennett, one of Gov. John Kasich’s appointees to the Ohio Board of Education, is leaving the board to take a job at a charter school. The board is dominated by Kasich and Republican appointees.
BRIDGES for a Just Community will shut down
by early September. The nonprofit, which was founded as the Cincinnati
chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, has promoted
religious inclusion in the workplace, schools and broader communities
since 1944. “Improving community attitudes toward diversity and
inclusion, which are a direct result of BRIDGES’ work, coupled with
increasing competition in providing services caused the organization to
experience persistent financial challenges in recent years,” the
organization said in a statement.
Butler County Sheriff’s deputies arrested and charged
two men for possessing 155 pounds of marijuana, valued at more than
$155,000, in their vehicle at a traffic stop Sunday. Butler County
Richard Jones is calling the case evidence that the Mexico-U.S. border
Talking Points Memo obtained the U.S. House Republicans’ political playbook for the congressional recess.
One highlight: “Remarkably, the packet includes virtually no discussion
of immigration reform — a major issue pending before the House after
comprehensive legislation passed the Senate.”
Here are 36 photos showing anti-gay Russians attacking LGBT activists.
Researchers from Heptares Therapeutics, a drug company, have found the molecule responsible for stress, hopefully giving them the ability to create drugs that precisely fit into its structure.
by German Lopez
121 days ago
Turnout much higher than mayoral primary
Early reports from the Hamilton County Board of Elections indicate Election Day is proceeding with
minimal problems and voter turnout is considerably better than it was for the Sept.
10 mayoral primary.
“There’s always bumps in every election … but nothing
highly unusual,” says Sally Krisel, deputy director of the board of
Countywide voter turnout was estimated at 20 percent
around noon, with turnout in Cincinnati stronger than the rest of the
county, according to Krisel. But she cautions that the numbers are still
unclear and could completely change, particularly after work hours.
Turnout is particularly strong in wards one, four and five,
according to Krisel. That could be good news for mayoral candidate John
Cranley, who handily won all three wards in the primary against opponents Roxanne Qualls, Jim Berns and Sandra “Queen” Noble.
But since citywide voter turnout was an abysmal 5.74 percent in the
primary election, it remains uncertain how much primary results will
ultimately reflect on Tuesday’s election. Historically, Cincinnati’s mayoral primaries failed to predict the winner of the general election.
Cranley obtained nearly 56 percent of the vote on Sept.
10, while Qualls got slightly more than 37 percent. Both candidates received enough support to advance to Tuesday’s ballot, but the
Qualls campaign acknowledged the lopsided results were disappointing.
To obtain the Election Day numbers, the county is for the
first time tracking ballot usage. Krisel says the measure allows the
county to gauge countywide voter turnout and whether more
ballots are needed in different voting locations.
Tuesday’s votes come in addition to 20,500 absentee and early voters
across the county, about 90 percent of who already submitted ballots to the board of elections. Krisel claims that’s about half the amount of early
voters from two years ago, but she says she doesn’t know whether that
will reflect on the final turnout numbers.
The election is the first time Cincinnati voters will
elect City Council members for four-year terms, which means Tuesday’s
results will effectively set the city’s agenda for the next four years.
Voters are also deciding on a new mayor, the Cincinnati Public Schools board, two property tax levies for the local library and zoo, and a proposal that would privatize Cincinnati’s pension system for city employees.
Polls will remain open until 7:30 p.m. To find out where to vote, visit the board of elections website.
For more election coverage and CityBeat’s endorsements, go to the official election page here.
0 Comments · Thursday, December 26, 2013
Why 2013 was a lot of the same bullshit.
by Danny Cross
99 days ago
The Cincinnati Enquirer abruptly changed its tone about the
streetcar project yesterday, writing in an editorial that the city should continue the project and leaving the newspaper on the opposite side of
Mayor-elect John Cranley on the two main issues of the campaign it endorsed just weeks ago.
Fourteen months after publishing an editorial against the
streetcar project, the three-member Enquirer editorial board yesterday spelled
out why it now supports completing the project, suggesting that a main part of
its opposition — and to Roxanne Qualls as mayor — was the
current administration’s inability to “argue effectively for the project” that
Cranley and other conservatives used to take office during an election that saw
extremely low voter turnout.
CityBeat’s German Lopez noted on Twitter the irony of The
Enquirer now supporting both the streetcar and parking plan while the candidate
it endorsed attempts to unravel both — Cranley already stopped the parking
plan. The comment drew a response from Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn, who is
on the newspaper’s editorial board along with Publisher Margaret Buchanan and
Editorial Page Editor David Holthaus.
The editorial includes the following paragraph: “In endorsing Cranley, we said
he would ‘have to rein in his dictatorial tendencies and discipline himself to
be diplomatic, respectful and collaborative.’ What we’ve seen so far is a
matter for concern. Hurling insults at professionals like streetcar project manager
John Deatrick isn’t what we need. Deatrick enjoys a good reputation as someone
who has managed The Banks project and the rebuild of Fort Washington Way. He
needs to stay on the streetcar project.”
editorial was published the same day City Council put completing the project
into law and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced his decision to support the
project’s completion, which Lopez pointed out leaves Council short of the six
votes required for an emergency clause that would immediately halt the project without leaving it open to referendum.
Without the emergency clause, streetcar supporters could gather the required signatures to put a 5-4 cancellation
vote to referendum, which would force the city to continue working on the
project until voters decide on it in November.
Mayor-elect Cranley will
hold a vote to stop the project on Monday. With Sittenfeld set to vote against halting the project, Cranley will need either newly elected David Mann
or Kevin Flynn to vote in favor of stopping it. Both are on the record as
being against the project but have left room to consider the financial realities
before making their final decisions. Cranley
announced this morning that he will name the new city manager at 2 p.m. today.
Cranley removed former city manager Milton Dohoney last week.
A story by The Enquirer’s
Mark Curnutte yesterday detailed life expectancy disparities among Cincinnati’s
poor neighborhoods, finding a 20 year difference at times between citizens of
predominantly black or urban Appalachian neighborhoods and people of wealthy white neighborhoods like Mount Lookout, Columbia
Tusculum and Hyde Park. The Cincinnati
Health Department will release more statistics Tuesday and a community
discussion on the issue is set for Jan. 10.
Pope Francis yesterday criticized the world’s growing wealth
disparity, mentioning things like “idolatry
of money” and “a new tyranny” in a 50,000-word statement that sharply
criticized trickle-down economics.
The Pope via The Washington Post:
"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which
assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably
succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This
opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and
naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized
workings of the prevailing economic system. … Meanwhile, the excluded are still
OTR restaurant Kaze will begin offering lunch hours starting
on Black Friday.
Away from home and tired of “Friends-giving” gatherings?
Here’s a bunch of restaurants serving good stuff on Thanksgiving day. Skip Black Friday craziness and use CityBeat’s Gift Guide to
shop local this holiday season. There
are also plenty of local retailers you can hit up online if you don't wait until the last minute!
If you’re traveling to some stuck-up East Coast city for
Thanksgiving, charge the iPad or whatever because there are going to be some
And high winds might cause the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day
Parade to take all the air out of the Snoopy balloons so no one flies up into
the air like in movies.
The NSA reportedly considered revealing the “porn-browsing
history” of certain people considered to have ties to terrorist activity in
order to discredit them.
Great, now America’s durable goods orders are down. Thanks a
lot, government shutdown!
At least the country’s jobless claims are back to
pre-recession levels. Thanks, Obama?
The University of Cincinnati Bearcats beat UMass Lowell in basketball last
night and senior forward Justin Jackson jammed one in the hoop hard.
by German Lopez
120 days ago
John Cranley wins mayoral race; three non-incumbents win City Council seats
Cincinnati’s streetcar project lost big on Tuesday as voters ushered in ex-Councilman John Cranley over Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls in the mayoral race and three non-incumbents who oppose the project to City Council, according to unofficial election results from the Hamilton County Board of Elections. With all precincts reporting, Cranley handily defeated Qualls 58-42 percent. Cranley ran largely on his opposition to the $133 million streetcar, while Qualls promised to expand the project.Voters also elected three non-incumbents to City Council: Democrat David Mann, Charterite Kevin Flynn and Republican Amy Murray. The three non-incumbents oppose the streetcar project, which means re-elected Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld, Republican Charlie Winburn and Independent Chris Smitherman are now part of a 6-3 majority on council that opposes the project.Democrats Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young — all supporters of the streetcar project — also won re-election. Incumbent Democrats Laure Quinlivan and Pam Thomas lost.It’s unclear if the newly elected council and mayor will stop current construction on the streetcar once they take power in December, given concerns about contractual obligations and sunk costs that could make canceling the project costly in terms of dollars and Cincinnati’s business reputation. But Cranley and the six anti-streetcar elects on City Council vested much of their campaigns on their opposition to the project, which they claim is too costly and the wrong priority for Cincinnati.Supporters argue the project will produce a three-to-one return on investment — an estimate derived from a 2007 study from consulting firm HDR and a follow-up assessment to the HDR study from the University of Cincinnati.City Council’s new make-up will be five Democrats, two Republicans, one Charterite and one Independent. That’s a shift from the current make-up of seven Democrats, one Republican and one Independent.The new council slate will be the first to take up four-year terms following a city charter amendment voters approved in 2012.Sittenfeld also landed a huge win and easily topped the City Council race with 10,000 more votes than Winburn, who, at 27,000 votes, got the second most ballots cast in his favor out of the nine council victors. Sittenfeld netted nearly 5,000 more votes than Cranley did in the mayoral race, although Cranley ran in a head-to-head race with Qualls while Sittenfeld was one of nine candidates voters could pick out of a pool of 21.Citywide voter turnout ended up at roughly 28 percent.Other election results:Cincinnati voters rejected Issue 4, which would have privatized Cincinnati’s pension system for city employees, in a 78-22 percent vote.In the Cincinnati Public Schools board election, Melanie Bates, Ericka Copeland-Dansby, Elisa Hoffman and Daniel Minera won the four seats up for grabs.Hamilton County voters overwhelmingly approved property tax levies for the Cincinnati Zoo and Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in 80-20 percent votes.This story was updated with the final reported results.
City Hall continues underfunding human services despite historical goals and pressing needs
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Since 2004, the city has failed to meet its own goals for human services funding, leaving some agencies behind.
by German Lopez
126 days ago
Election Issue hits stands, ballot restrictions move forward, Cranley helped move jobs
CityBeat’s full Election Issue is in stands now. Check out our feature stories on three remarkable City Council challengers: Mike Moroski, Michelle Dillingham and Greg Landsman. Find the rest of our election coverage, along with our endorsements, here.
The Ohio legislature is working through a bill that would limit ballot access
for minor parties, which argue the petitioning and voting requirements
are meant to help Gov. John Kasich’s chances of re-election in 2014. The
Ohio House narrowly passed the bill
yesterday with looser restrictions than those set by the Ohio Senate
earlier in the month, but a legislative error in the House means neither
chamber will hammer out the final details until they reconvene next week.
Republicans say the bill is necessary to set some basic standards for
who can get on the ballot. Democrats have joined with minor parties in
calling the bill the “John Kasich Re-election Protection Act” because it
would supposedly protect Kasich from tea party and other third-party
challengers after his support for the federally funded Medicaid expansion turned members of his conservative base against him.
As an attorney and lobbyist at Keating, Muething & Klekamp (KMK), mayoral candidate John Cranley helped payroll company Paycor finalize plans to move its headquarters
— and 450 to 500 jobs with it — from Queensgate in Cincinnati to
Norwood, Ohio. Specifically, KMK and several of its employees, including
Cranley, helped Paycor and Norwood set up a tax credit deal to
incentivize the company’s relocation. The Cranley campaign says he was
just doing his job after Paycor went to KMK, not the other way around.
But supporters of Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, Cranley’s opponent in the
mayoral race, say he shouldn’t be helping companies leave the city he
wants to lead. Paycor’s move in 2014 means the city will have to take
back some of the money it gave the company, through two tax deals that
Cranley approved while on City Council, to encourage it to stay in Cincinnati through 2015. Cranley received a $1,100 campaign contribution from Paycor CEO Bob Coughlin on Aug. 20.
Opinion:• “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Streetcar?”• “The Folly of Privatization.”
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
(CVG) board travels widely and often dines at public expense, according
to an investigation from The Cincinnati Enquirer. Among other findings, The Enquirer
found the CVG board, which is considered a governmental agency, has a
much more lenient travel expense policy for itself than it does for
staff members, and it sometimes uses airport funds to pay for liquor. On
Twitter, Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartman called the findings outrageous and demanded resignations.
Northside property crime is on the rise,
and police and residents are taking notice. Business leaders in the
neighborhood are concerned the negative stigma surrounding the crime
will hurt their businesses.
With federal stimulus funding expiring in November, 1.8
million Ohioans will get less food assistance starting tomorrow. The
news comes after 18,000 in Hamilton County were hit by additional
restrictions this month, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Hamilton County commissioners yesterday agreed to pay $883,000 to cover legal fees
for Judge Tracie Hunter and her legal team. The Hamilton County Board
of Elections racked up the bill for the county by repeatedly appealing
Hunter’s demands that the board count more than one-third of previously
discarded provisional ballots, which were enough to turn the juvenile
court election in Hunter’s favor. Hunter’s opponent, John Williams,
later won a separate appointment and election to get on the juvenile
Metro, Cincinnati’s local bus service, announced it’s relaxing time limits on transfer tickets, which should make it easier to catch a bus without sprinting to the stop.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp laid off nearly 500 employees in the past six months, with some of the layoffs hitting Cincinnati. The bank blames the job cuts on slowdowns in the mortgage business.
A new study finds cheaters are more likely to strike in the afternoon.
Early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here.
Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are
extended. If you don’t vote early, you can still vote on Election Day
(Nov. 5). Check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements for the 2013 election here.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
127 days ago
Mayoral candidate represented company as it moved headquarters to Norwood
As an attorney and lobbyist at Keating, Muething &
Klekamp (KMK), mayoral candidate John Cranley helped payroll company
Paycor finalize plans to move its headquarters — and 450 to 500 jobs
with it — from Queensgate in Cincinnati to Norwood, Ohio.
Specifically, KMK helped Paycor and Norwood set up a tax credit deal to incentivize the company’s relocation. Throughout the
process, the law firm called on several of its employees, including
Cranley, to help with the negotiations.
For Paycor, the move comes after more than two decades in
Cincinnati. The company originally looked in Cincinnati for bigger
headquarters with better parking options, but ultimately couldn’t find a
location to its liking, according to a May 2012 memo
from the city manager. So when Paycor found a location outside city
limits and worked out a tax incentive package with Norwood and Ohio, it
decided to move.
Cities and states often deploy incentive packages, ranging
from property tax abatements to deductions on income taxes, to attract
and retain companies. Pure Romance, a $100-million-plus “relationship
enhancement” company, recently agreed to move from Loveland, Ohio, to
downtown Cincinnati after securing such a tax deal with the city.
Paycor broke ground on its new headquarters in December and
plans to move there next spring. The transition will pull 450 to 500
employees out of Cincinnati, and the company plans to add another 250
to 300 employees over time at its new facilities.
Cranley campaign manager Jay Kincaid says Cranley and KMK
won’t comment on the details of their work with Paycor or other clients
for ethical reasons. But Kincaid says Cranley was just doing his job
after Paycor went to KMK, not the other way around.
“In the legal profession you’re asked to represent
clients, and you do it to the best of your ability,” Kincaid says. “At
the time I don’t think (Cranley) was even running for office. The firm
came to him and said, ‘Hey, we have a job that we need you to work on.’
And he did the work, just like anyone else would at their job.”
Norwood City Council approved the deal with Paycor on Oct.
23, 2012. Cranley announced his mayoral campaign three weeks later, on
Cranley’s critics argue that a mayoral candidate shouldn’t be helping companies leave the city he wants to lead.
“It is disappointing that John (Cranley) helped Paycor
leave the city with its over 450 tax-paying jobs. His efforts undercut
the city’s efforts to retain jobs and businesses,” said Vice Mayor
Roxanne Qualls, who is running against Cranley, in an emailed statement.
The move comes despite Cincinnati’s various attempts to
hang on to Paycor, including previous tax deals. In 2001,
then-Councilman Cranley and the rest of City Council approved tax
incentives to keep the company in Cincinnati, retain its 142 jobs at the
time and create another 25. The city administration estimated the deal
would cost the city $225,750 and generate $546,000 in net tax revenue
over five years.In 2006, Cranley and seven council members approved another incentive package to further secure Paycor’s stay in Cincinnati.
But the deals also required Paycor to remain in Cincinnati
through 2015. Since Paycor’s move violates the agreement, the city
administration says it plans to claw back some of the tax benefits given
to the company.
In other words, Cranley in 2001 and 2006 approved tax deals with Paycor that the company, with his help, is now set to break.
City spokesperson Meg Olberding says the clawback process
will begin after Paycor moves to Norwood in 2014. So if Cranley is
elected by voters on Nov. 5, he would be mayor as the city is taking
back some of the money it gave away.
Although the city is taking a hit, Cranley’s relations
with the payroll company appear unscathed. Paycor CEO Bob Coughlin
contributed $1,100 to Cranley’s campaign on Aug. 20, according to
campaign finance reports.Updated with more details about the tax deals between Cincinnati and Paycor.
6 Comments · Wednesday, October 23, 2013
If John Cranley wants to make the mayoral
election a referendum on the streetcar project, so be it. That
immediately vanquishes any possibility that CityBeat could support his campaign.
by German Lopez
135 days ago
City solicitor, ethics director: Realty work not a conflict of interest
City Solicitor John Curp and Ohio Ethics Commission
Executive Director Paul Nick said in an Oct. 22 email exchange that it
was OK for Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls to retain her job as a realtor and
vote in support of the streetcar project, even though the project could
indirectly benefit Qualls by increasing property values — and therefore
her compensation as a realtor — along the route.
The email exchange was provided to CityBeat and
other media outlets after mayoral candidate John Cranley criticized
Qualls, who is also running for mayor, for the alleged conflict of
interest at an Oct. 22 press conference.
Curp stated in an email to Nick that Qualls’ potential
gains from the streetcar project are too speculative and indirect to
present a conflict of interest or ethical violation because the real
estate sales are “arms-length transactions between private parties” with
a flat 1 to 2 percent fee.
Nick’s emailed response cited two previous Ohio Ethics Commission opinions to support Curp’s analysis.
“It would be unreasonable to hold that lawyers,
accountants, insurance agents, and other professionals have an interest
in the contracts of their business clients. In general, such
professionals are not deemed to be interested in the business dealings
of a client, merely because they receive fees for professional
services,” according to a February 1986 opinion.
The opinion then clarifies that ethics violations must be
directly tied to a project. For example, an insurance agent on City
Council would violate ethics law if he or she voted on a construction
contract in which his or her insurance agency is charged with handling
bond sales for the contract in some way.
Curp also noted that Qualls had asked about the potential conflict of interest on “a minimum of two prior occasions.”Nick told CityBeat in a phone interview that it’s normal for city officials to go through city solicitors before going to the Ohio Ethics Commission with an ethical question. If the city solicitor and commission agree a formal analysis isn’t necessary, the situation is resolved with brief guidance.
For Cranley, the concerns suggest a contradiction to his previously touted beliefs about the streetcar.
Supporters of the streetcar project, including Qualls,
often tout potential property value increases and the economic gains
they would bring to Cincinnati as a reason to back the project. The economic gains were supported by studies from consulting firm HDR and the University of Cincinnati, which found the streetcar would produce a three-to-one return on investment in Over-the-Rhine and downtown.
Critics, including Cranley, say such property value increases are overblown to falsely justify what they call a “pet project.”
But if the property values never materialize, Qualls isn’t financially benefiting in the way Cranley’s campaign described.