by Natalie Krebs
15 days ago
Posted In: News
at 01:45 PM | Permalink
Eight-month endeavor results in new informational campaign and city portal for support services
A task force created by City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld unveiled new initiatives at a Tuesday press conference aimed at better supporting survivors and educating the community about sexual assault. The effort, called the Task Force Reduce Campus Gender-Based Violence, involved eight months of concerned parties working together to come up with ways the city can reduce campus sexual assault and better aid survivors. Participants included the Cincinnati
Police Department, University of Cincinnati, Xavier University,
Cincinnati Public Schools, local nonprofits, university students and
sexual assault survivors. As chair of Council's Education and Entrepreneurship Committee, Sittenfeld said he saw sexual assault as a disruption to a student's right to education. "Last fall, Cincinnati became one of the first and only cities in the country to convene a city wide task force to address reducing gender-based violence, especially on and around our college campuses," Sittenfeld said, "and we've been developing community-specific best practices around awareness and prevention, survivor support, and policies and protocols." Kristin Shrimplin is the executive director of nonprofit Women Helping Women and co-chaired the task force. She introduced the city-wide gender-based violence awareness campaign called, "It's On Us, Cincinnati." Based off of the national "It's On Us" initiative created by President Barack Obama in 2014, the campaign focuses on educating and engaging the general public about gender-based violence by having people sign a pledge to make a personal commitment to help end sexual assault on campus. "This campaign is about energizing and educating the community and surrounding students about what gender-based violence is," Shrimplin said, "how it impacts all of us and how we all have a role in ending it, and supporting those students who have already experience such violence." Kate Lawson, chief Title IX officer for Xavier University, who also co-chaired the task force, said members also developed and launched a one-stop city web portal that will include information for survivors and the community on support services. The portal will also feature videos from task force members dispelling common myths and misconceptions associated with sexual assault. Task Force members Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, Xavier President Michael J. Graham and University of Cincinnati Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Beverly Davenport also spoke at the conference about the importance of the new initiatives and newly established cooperation between community resources. In recent years the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been a growing concern nationwide for universities. A 2015 National Sexual Violence Resource Center Report found that one in five college women and one in 16 college men will experience some form of attempted form of sexual assault as a college student. Kristen Meyer of Oakley said when she sexually assaulted five years ago just before her sophomore year at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, the university's police department did little to support her. "I was told this was happening every weekend on campus, and I was also told that 70 percent of rapes go unreported," said Meyer, who was visibly emotional while recounting the experience. "On top of that, I was told this process would be grueling. That's when I realized this crime is shrouded in silence, and it incriminates the victims rather than the offenders." Meyer said the experience led to pushback from her friends and members of the small campus community. She developed severe anxiety and depression from the assault and aftermath and eventually dropped out of school. Meyer's speech at the end of the conference was abruptly interrupted when Sittenfeld collapsed about 25 minutes into it. Medics quickly tended to him, and he said later that the incident was caused by overheating and having low-blood sugar. Sittenfeld attended other meetings later in the day.
by Natalie Krebs
16 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:59 AM | Permalink
Councilman says he's going back to work after scare during announcement on initiative to combat sexual assault on campus
City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld collapsed this morning during a press conference at City Hall. Medics arrived quickly to assist the councilman, who was unconscious and reportedly having difficulty breathing at first. Sittenfeld was seen standing, talking and smiling in the third floor conference room where the event was being held within 20 minutes.Sittenfeld appeared unalarmed when he addressed the various members of the press in the hall about 25 minutes after he fell. It's unclear why he collapsed, but Sittenfeld said he thought he was overheated with low blood sugar."We'll make sure the AC is pumped up a little more," he said. The incident happened about 25 minutes into a press conference announcing a new city-wide initiative to combat sexual assault on campus. Sittenfeld was holding the event with about 20 members of his Task Force to Reduce Campus Gender-Based Violence, which he created last year.Sexual assault survivor Kristen Meyer was speaking at the podium when Sittenfeld, who was standing off to her left, suddenly collapsed. The councilman's staff and members of the task force, which included Cincinnati Police Department Chief Elliot Isaac, ushered bystanders out of the room and into the hallway while assisting Sittenfeld. Emergency medical technicians arrived to the closed room about five minutes after, but stayed for only 10 minutes. People leaving the room reported Sittenfeld was OK about 15 minutes after the fall. Sittenfeld said he did not plan on seeing a doctor and will continue on with his scheduled day, which includes chairing the Education and Entrepreneurship Committee meeting at 2 p.m. Around 11:30 a.m., Sittenfeld announced on Twitter that he is doing fine. "Hi everyone, glad to report I'm doing fine. Got over-heated and passed out. Sorry for causing a stir — now everyone get back to work!"
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.
by Andy Brownfield
Council also approves 2014 property tax increase
Cincinnati City Council on Friday approved a budget that
relies on parking privatization as a means to plug a $34 million budget
deficit while also raising property taxes in 2014.
Mayor Mark Mallory opened up the council meeting with a
moment of silent prayer for the 27 students and adults killed at an
elementary school in Connecticut.
“I want us all to take a moment and put into perspective what we’re doing today,” he said.
Council voted to increase the property tax by about 24
percent, from 4.6 mills (a mill is equal to one-tenth of a cent) to 5.71
mills. That means Cincinnatians would pay an additional $34 for every
$100,000 of their home’s value.
The vote reverses a move made last year by conservatives on council, who reduced property taxes.
Council also passed a budget that relies on $21 million
from a proposed lease of the city’s parking facilities — a deal that is
expected to be voted on in March. Of the proposals submitted to the city
so far, Cincinnati stands to gain $100 million to $150 million in an
upfront payment and a share of the profits over the 30-year lease.
“My concern about balancing this budget with a onetime
revenue source by selling our parking system seems to be ill advised,”
said Independent Councilman Chris Smitherman. “We don’t know how council
will vote in March … but we have tied not only the budget to this one
time revenue source, but we have also tied reciprocity.”
Council nixed a plan to eliminate tax reciprocity for
people who lived in Cincinnati but worked elsewhere and paid income tax
in both cities.
Though the budget doesn’t mention parking privatization, council hasn’t mentioned other options to close the budget deficit.
If opponents of parking privatization want to keep
facilities under city control, they would have to come up with $21
million in revenue elsewhere or make $21 million in cuts.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld suggested using casino revenue,
cutting travel expenses, downsizing the ratio of managers to workers,
sharing services with nearby jurisdictions and downsizing the city’s
fleet as ways to cut down the budget.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, long an advocate of
downsizing the police and fire departments, voted against the property tax increase
in protest of what she said was bloated spending on departments that
were outpacing population growth.
The budget also requires Cincinnati to accept police and
fire recruit classes in 2014, regardless of whether the city gets a
federal grant to fund the classes.
The budget also restores the Cincinnati Police
Department’s mounted patrol, which patrols downtown on horseback. The
city will use $105,000 from off-duty detail fees from businesses that
hire off-duty officers. Council also voted to start charging those
businesses an extra $1.64 on top of the off-duty pay.
Council also voted to shift $50,000 for repairs and
upgrades to the Contemporary Arts Center to pay for maintenance and
beautification at Washington Park, which is operated by 3CDC.