WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 12.03.2014 19 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
reds

Morning News and Stuff

Hunter won't get new trial; Reds bling for sale; Republicans sink tax cuts for low-income

Hey all. Here’s the news this morning.Former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter won’t get a new trial, a judge has ruled. Hamilton County Judge Norbert Nadel has denied all three of Hunter’s motions for retrial after she was convicted last month of one of eight felony counts in relation to her time as judge. Since her conviction, three jurors have recanted their guilty verdicts, however, and Hunter’s attorney has alleged procedural mistakes mean she should get a new trial. With those motions denied, Hunter will be sentenced this Friday. She plans to file an appeal on her conviction.• Cincinnati must pay Duke Energy $15 million for moving utilities that stood in the way of the streetcar, a Hamilton County judge ruled Monday. The city already had that money in escrow as it awaited the ruling but plans to appeal Judge Carl Stich’s decision. That’s a good move, according to former city solicitor John Curp. Curp says the way Stich decided the case — by declaring the streetcar an “economic development project” — could set a hard precedent for other Ohio cities in the future. In order for Cincinnati to avoid paying Duke to move the utilities, the project would have to be something that benefits the city’s general welfare. Stich cited cases from the 1930s and the 1950s to justify his decision. Back then, public transit was run by private companies, a much different situation than today. Curp thinks the Ohio Supreme Court might have a different opinion of the streetcar and should hear the case to set a more modern precedent on transit projects.• Do you have about $6,000 just sitting around taking up valuable space that could be used to, say, store an enormous ring? Do you need a sports-themed piece of jewelry so ostentatious no one will ever question your love for America’s favorite pastime? If so, I have a solution to both of your weird, unlikely problems. A Cincinnati Reds 1990 World Series ring has gone up for sale at a local auction house, and for a few grand you can make it yours. But be advised: It’s not Chris Sabo or Eric Davis’ ring. Heck, it’s not even Glenn Sutko’s, who saw action in one game that season. It belonged to one of the team’s part-time accountants, who I’m sure did great work counting the Reds' money. Every position is important on a winning team. Anyway, it’s big, it’s red, it has the logo on it and you should buy the ring. Or, I dunno, you could buy me a nice used car instead. Up to you.• So it’s no secret the state’s Democratic party is hurting after last month’s disastrous statewide election. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern stepped down after losing his own state representative seat to a guy accused of burglary. Now there’s a scramble to take his spot, and former Cincinnati city councilman and recent attorney general candidate David Pepper is a frontrunner. But he’s got a challenge ahead of him  in becoming the top Dem in the state: Ohio’s powerful Sen. Sherrod Brown has backed one of his opponents, former candidate for lieutenant governor Sharen Neuhardt, for the job. Pepper still sees himself as a front-runner in the contest to lead Democrats in one of the country’s most important swing states ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The new state chair will be decided by a vote within the party Dec. 16.• Chicago City Council voted yesterday to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour over the next five years. The move was a proposal by Mayor Rahm Emanuel ahead of proposed Illinois laws that could hamstring city governments when it comes to raising minimum wages and February’s Chicago mayoral election. The boost is expected to benefit about 400,000 workers in the city. Other cities like Seattle have passed similar increases recently.• Finally, Republicans have scuttled an extension on tax cuts for low-income and middle class workers while pushing bigger corporate tax breaks. The cuts were part of a $400 billion bipartisan tax deal lawmakers in Washington were working to put together. But President Barack Obama’s announcement last month of an executive action allowing some undocumented immigrants to stay in the country has killed the deal as Republicans pull back from the low-income tax cuts like the Earned Income Tax Credit and double down on the corporate breaks. They say undocumented immigrants will take advantage of the EITC and other credits in large numbers and therefore can’t support the cuts. Translation: Obama made us mad so we’re taking the ball that keeps millions out of poverty and going home.
 
 

Sen. Sherrod Brown Pushes Student Loan Refinancing

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 11, 2014
At a time when charges for borrowing money have hit nearly historic lows, students and those currently repaying federal student loans have been locked into older, higher rates.  
by Rachel Podnar 06.05.2014
at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
sherrod brown

Sherrod Brown Pushes Student Loan Refinancing

New bill would save students and government money, but tax those with big bucks

What’s something that homeowners, business and local governments can do that college students cannot?   Aside from buying alcohol, everyone else can refinance loans for lower interest rates. But at a time when charges for borrowing money have hit nearly historic lows, students have been locked into their older, higher rates. A new bill looks to remedy that and promises to not only pay for itself, but cut government spending.So, students, graduates and budget hawks are happy, and everybody wins. Wrong. The tricky part — paying for the program — is something called the Fair Share Tax. The reduction in spending would come from the second part of the bill. Also called “The Buffet Rule,” named after Warren Buffet and championed by Elizabeth Warren, the tax mandates a minimum rate of 30 percent on those who bring in a million dollars or more a year.    Offering students loans without a refinancing option is a profitable business — the government is set to take in $66 billion on interest alone from loans issued between 2007-2013, according to the Government Accountability Office. Eliminating that money would have big budget implications. That's where the Fair Share Tax comes in.The Banking on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would allow those with loans issued before August 9 last year to refinance at the rates passed in 2013 — 3.8 percent for undergraduate loans. Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, are trying to gather support for the bill. Brown filed the bill with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.   Warren introduced the bill in the Senate on May 5. She, Brown and other Democrats will be pushing it in the upcoming week. “Every dollar a current borrower pays in interest is a dollar he or she can’t spend on a car, on a mortgage, or on starting a small business,” Brown said in an email sent out on Thursday requesting signatures to support the bill. So far, 36 senators have signed it. Last year, Congress lowered the rate of new loans but left existing rates the same. Those higher rates are drowning graduates, keeping them stuck in their parents' basements, Warren said on the Senate floor last month. “Make no mistake, this is an emergency,” she said. “Student loan debt is exploding and it threatens the stability of young people and the future of our economy.” The Congressional Budget Office released a report on the bill Wednesday. The report found that lowering the rates of outstanding loans would increase spending by $51 billion, but with the new tax thrown in, the bill would also increase revenue by $72 billion between 2015-2019. The report said deficits could be reduced in the next 10 years by about $22 billion. Congressional Republicans are sure to oppose the tax increase, considering most have signed Americans for Tax Reform’s taxpayer protection pledge to not raise taxes. This won’t be the first time congressional Republicans have opposed the proposed tax. It was introduced in 2012 as the Paying a Fair Share Act and fell short of the votes needed to leave the Senate. In the meantime, student loan debt totals $1.2 trillion, greater than all outstanding credit card debt.
 
 

Worst Week Ever!: May 28-June 3

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 4, 2014
For many Cincinnatians, the scariest part of going across the Western Hills Viaduct is not knowing which lane you should be in as you wrap around that McDonald’s that greets you on the West Side — one wrong turn and you could be headed down State Street and wondering both what year it is and if parts of Gummo were filmed there.    
by German Lopez 11.18.2013
Posted In: News, Environment, Energy at 01:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
environment rally

Ohioans Rally for Global Warming Regulations

Environmental groups call on Sen. Brown to show support

More than 200 Ohioans gathered at the Ohio Statehouse on Saturday to call on U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to support federal regulations that would attempt to curtail human-caused global warming. The regulations would impose stricter pollution limits on power plants across the nation, which Environment Ohio says are responsible for 41 percent of U.S. carbon emissions — a primary contributor to global warming. The new rules are part of the climate plan President Barack Obama proposed in June to skip legislative action from a gridlocked Congress and slow down global warming by using the already-established regulatory arm of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Our message today is clear. The time is now to act on climate,” said Christian Adams, state associate with Environment Ohio, in a statement. “Global warming threatens our health, our environment and our children’s future. Ohioans support President Obama’s plan to clean up the biggest carbon polluters.” The Obama administration proposed regulations on new power plants on Sept. 20 that effectively prevent any new coal power plants from opening up if they don’t capture and sequester carbon pollution. Experts argue those limits will have little effect on future carbon emissions because new coal power plants are already being phased out by natural gas. But the statehouse rally asked Ohio’s senators to support incoming regulations that will impose further restrictions on existing power plants and — if they’re effective — reduce the amount of carbon going into the atmosphere. The regulations could have large implications for Ohio. A previous report from Environment Ohio found Ohio’s power plants pollute more than those in any state except Texas. Coal companies warn the regulations could cost jobs. St. Louis-based Patriot Coal says “burdensome environmental and governmental regulations” have already “impacted demand for coal and increased costs.” But the regulations could simply shift jobs to cleaner energy sectors. A 2012 report from Environment Ohio found Cincinnati could become the regional capital of solar power and help revitalize its economy with new jobs in the process. Scientists have historically called for reducing global warming to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst effects of climate change. That would involve greatly reducing the amount of carbon that goes into the atmosphere over the next few decades, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In the IPCC’s 2013 report, scientists said they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions contribute to global warming. Many economists argue a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system are better ways to tackle climate change than regulations. But those policies would require legislative action that is unlikely in the current political climate, especially since many Republican legislators deny the science behind human-caused global warming.
 
 

Uphill Battle

Gabrielle Giffords visits Cincinnati to support responsible state gun legislation after NRA defeats federal attempts

4 Comments · Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Gun control advocates lobby for legislation, even as it falters at the federal level.  
by German Lopez 03.14.2013
Posted In: Bailout, Economy, News, Governor, Prisons, Budget at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_bigbanks

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio senator goes after big banks, governors clash, Ohio reduces prison re-entry

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is putting forward legislation that would break up the big banks to avoid what has been colloquially dubbed “too big to fail.” The liberal senator is teaming up with Sen. David Vitter, a very conservative Republican from Louisiana, to put together the bill, which Brown says will make the economy safer, secure taxpayer money and help create jobs. In his push, Brown has compared the big banks to Standard Oil, which was broken up by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1911 after the oil giant breached antitrust laws. Indiana Gov. Mike Spence fired back at Ohio Gov. John Kasich for insulting Indiana in recent remarks: “Indiana is the best state in the Midwest to start a business, grow a business and get a job. … With the Hoosier state consistently winning the competition for fiscal responsibility and reform, somebody should remind the governor of Ohio that trash talk usually comes before the game.” In a speech Monday, Kasich said, “This is not Indiana where you go to Indianapolis … and then say, ‘Where else are we going to go? Gary?’ ” Ohio is a leader in reducing prison re-entry, and that’s translating to millions of dollars for the state’s taxpayers. Ohio’s recidivism rate, which measures how many prison convicts are returning to prison after being released, dropped to 28.7 percent in 2009, from 39.5 percent in 2003. The latest data is from 2009, so it’s before Gov. John Kasich took office and passed measures to further reduce prison recidivism, which provide new ways for criminals to get records expunged, allow released criminals to obtain a certificate of qualification from courts for employment and offer sentence-reduction incentives for prisoners to get job training and education programs while in prison. The Ohio House approved a bill that would effectively shut down Internet sweepstakes cafes, which state officials claim are havens for gambling and other criminal activity, by limiting their prize payouts to $10. The bill received support from law-enforcement groups, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, some charity organizations and the state’s casino operators. Mayoral candidate John Cranley says the city should redirect funding meant for the streetcar to the MLK/I-71 Interchange project, but the funding is set up through federal grants that are highly competitive and allocated specifically to the streetcar project. Opponents of the city’s parking plan briefly celebrated yesterday when they assumed Graeter’s had joined their efforts, but the ice cream company says it was all a misunderstanding. Graeter’s is allowing opponents to gather petition signatures in front of its stores because the sidewalks are public property, but the company says it didn’t give permission to gather signatures within the stores. Cincinnati’s Findlay Market earned a glowing review in The Boston Globe, sparking a wave of celebration on social media. The Smale Riverfront Park is forging ahead largely thanks to the help of private funders, who have made up for an unexpected drop in state and federal funds. The Ohio Senate paved ahead with legislation that will raise the speed limit on some highways, particularly in rural areas, to 70 miles per hour. The bill contains obvious time benefits for drivers, but environmental groups say higher speed limits mean worse fuel efficiency and insurance groups say it will make roads more dangerous. A West Chester trucking company is cutting 250 jobs. Popular Science has nine reasons to avoid sugar to save your life.
 
 

Too Big to Manage?

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown finds bipartisan support for bringing America’s biggest banks in line

1 Comment · Wednesday, March 13, 2013
In 1911, Standard Oil underwent what many of today’s conservatives would decry as government and judicial overreach; the petroleum giant — 41 years old and originally from Cleveland — was taken apart by the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Extra! Extra! 2012 Didn’t Suck

0 Comments · Thursday, December 27, 2012
A lot happened in Cincinnati and Ohio in 2012, and, for the most part, the year was good to progressives around the nation and in Cincinnati.   
by German Lopez 11.01.2012
 
 
cover_brownmandel_fightin

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here. If there’s a Democrat-led war on coal in Ohio, it’s not showing in the numbers. PolitiFact checked Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s claim that coal jobs and production have gone up in the state since five years ago, and it turns out he’s right. Brown’s remark was in response to Republican challenger Josh Mandel’s claim that Democrats are leading a war on coal. Brown and Mandel are fighting for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat, which CityBeat covered in-depth here. Currently, Brown leads by 5.5 points in aggregate polling. The presidential campaigns are turning it up in Ohio. Ann Romney was in Greater Cincinnati yesterday to campaign for her husband, echoing past visits from Michelle Obama. President Barack Obama will be in Cincinnati Sunday. Mitt Romney will hold a big rally in West Chester on Friday. Ohio could be the state to decide whether Romney or Obama is the next president. Due to Ohio’s importance, lawyers from around the county will be keeping a close eye on the state. With six days of voting left, aggregate polling shows Obama up 2.3 points in Ohio and the race tied nationally. FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ forecasting model, says Obama has a 79.9 percent chance of winning Ohio and a 79 percent chance of winning the election. The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) is suing Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) for allegedly using city resources to campaign for Issue 42, which will renew a CPS levy from 2008. In the emails, school officials discuss voter registration drives, signing up to support the levy and contributing to the levy campaign. But in a few emails, Jens Sutmoller, campaign coordinator for Issue 42, asks for personal emails to properly respond. COAST has endorsed a “No” vote on Issue 42. CityBeat covered Issue 42 and the problems facing CPS here. CityBeat also endorsed a “Yes” vote on Issue 42 here. Dropping enrollment in urban district schools, including CPS, has caused some schools to revise building programs downward, saving the state money. In CPS in particular, the school’s project has dropped down to 50 buildings from 66 partly in response to a decline in about 10,000 students since 2002 to about 32,687 enrolled students today. The shift apparently has less to do with students moving to the suburbs and more to do with the greater availability of charter and private schools. The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority’s CEO Laura Brunner laid out the Port Authority’s strategic plan yesterday. The Port Authority seeks to fight poverty, attract residents and increase jobs by expanding inland port operations, developing land, stabilizing targeted communities, upgrading its public financing plan and transparently communicating progress, according to Brunner. A small fraction of absentee ballots might have been rejected due to a state data glitch. The glitch caused Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to deliver 33,000 updated registration records to local elections issues. Tim Burke, chairman of the county Democratic Party and county Board of Elections, expressed mixed feelings about the error: “Obviously, you hate like hell to have the secretary of state’s office, which had promised to have a very efficient election, popping something like that on us seven days out. … Having said that, I’m glad at least once they recognized that these names are out there they moved to get them to us so that we can do our best to ensure that these folks are not disenfranchised because of some administrative glitch.” In related news, Husted got the emergency stay he asked for on a recent voting ruling. Husted said he was happy with the decision in a statement: “With six days to go before Election Day, I am pleased that the Court has granted a stay in this case so that I can give the 88 county boards of elections the clear direction they need on the rules for processing provisional ballots.” There are a few teachers campaigning for office in Ohio, and NPR says the campaigns could give Democrats and Obama a boost. The surge of teachers is largely attributed to Senate Bill 5, which tried to limit collective bargaining among public employees. The teachers figure the only way to prevent another Senate Bill 5 is by holding office. There are also Ohio Board of Education candidates on this year’s ballot. StateImpact Ohio has a look into some of those candidates here. A survey found small firms are doing very little to prepare for Obamacare. Most don’t know what the national health care plan will even do for them. About 70 percent were unsure or incorrectly believed Obamacare will make them pay a tax. Ever want to play Tetris with a pumpkin? Well, apparently someone has.
 
 

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