by Nick Swartsell
13 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:46 AM | Permalink
Sittenfeld gets support from major local fundraiser; construction company admits errors in Hopple Street offramp collapse; could some salaried employees be eligible for overtime soon?
Good morning Cincy. Remember last weekend when the high was 59 degrees? No, no, I don’t either. Let’s just not talk about the fact that winter is apparently going to last forever and get on with the news, shall we?A major Cincinnati fundraiser for the Democratic Party has put his backing behind current City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld in his run for the U.S. Senate. Cincinnati businessman Allan Berliant raised as much as $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 through his network of donors both here in Cincinnati and around the country. He expects many of those donors could chip in for Sittenfeld in his upcoming race. "I have been very pleased almost to the point of being surprised at the breadth, width and depth and passion of support, both politically and financially, that I've seen here in the last three weeks,” Berliant told the Cincinnati Business Courier about Sittenfeld’s campaign. “I'm a fairly seasoned political fundraiser. I will tell you there is a lot of excitement surrounding this campaign and that is off to a great start."The 30-year-old councilman has a big task ahead, as Democratic favorite and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has made noises about entering the race for the seat. And should Sittenfeld best Strickland and the other experienced Democrats eying the seat, he’ll have to take on sitting Sen. Rob Portman, who has already raised $6 million ahead of the election. Sources say Sittenfeld has raised about $500,000 since he announced his campaign a few weeks ago.• Officials with Columbus-based Kokosing construction company apologized Friday for the fatal collapse of the Hopple Street off ramp last month. The collapse, which investigators believe was at least in part caused by last-minute changes to demolition plans, killed construction foreman Brandon Carl. Officials with the company have said a review shows key details missing from the plans, including stipulations about how to remove the road surface on the ramp. "I am very sorry, and all of us are deeply troubled by these findings," CEO Brian Burgett said in a statement about the accident. The company will institute new safety policies as a result of the accident, having an independent engineering firm produce plans for bridge demolitions along with Kokosing’s in-house engineers. Demolition won’t proceed unless both plans match.• So this is cool: A proposed tribute to Crosley Field, the Cincinnati Reds’ former home in Queensgate, is making headway. Designs have been drawn up for replica foul poles, a mural depicting the field near where it stood at Findlay Street and Western Avenue, a pocket park with information about the Crosley and other historical features. Crosley was the home of the Reds from 1912 to 1970, when the team moved to Riverfront Stadium. It was demolished in 1972. Boosters are aiming to have the tribute done in time for the 2015 MLB All Star game, which will take place in Cincinnati July 14. • House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP members of the House are playing budget hardball again, this time over immigration. Republicans are risking shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security over several executive orders President Barack Obama has issued over the past two years. Boehner has signaled he won’t back down on a bill the House passed to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded for the next year. The department’s current funding ends Feb. 27. The GOP funding bill rolls back Obama’s 2012 and 2014 executive orders that have kept the federal government from deporting millions of undocumented immigrants. The GOP bill stands no chance with Democrats in the Senate and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it, putting the Department of Homeland Security’s funding in a precarious position. Boehner says the House has done its job and passed a bill to fund the department and that it’s up to Senate Democrats and the president to follow through. Democrats, on the other hand, are saying that the bill is an obvious no-go and that far-right members of the House are once again playing political brinksmanship.• Low-earning salaried positions could become eligible for overtime pay if a plan by the Obama administration comes to fruition. Under current rules, companies can declare some low-paid workers making as little as $23,600 “exempt" employees, meaning they’re not eligible for overtime. Labor advocates say that arrangement allows employers to take advantage of workers by forcing them to work long hours with no extra compensation, eroding the traditional 40 hour work week. The Department of Labor has discussed a plan would raise the floor for those who can be considered exempt to somewhere between $42,000 and $52,000 a year. Anyone under that salary range would have to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute says the increase could affect between 3 and 6 million workers in the U.S. The Department of Labor is expected to roll out its proposal sometime in February or March.
by Nick Swartsell
38 days ago
Posted In: News
at 08:45 AM | Permalink
Sittenfeld makes Senate run official; Norwood mayor blasts "race baiting black leaders;" a week of meat
Hey all! The luxurious CityBeat HQ is getting an update on its swank factor at the moment (read: we’re getting new carpet) so I’m hanging out around the house today eating cookies and checking out the news. Here’s what I’ve got:We told you about the rumors last week, and now it’s official: Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is running for U.S. Senate. Sittenfeld is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Rob Portman in 2016. Portman’s looking for a second term and is gearing up with millions of dollars and an already established campaign machine to keep his seat. What’s more, Sittenfeld, 30, will need to navigate a primary season full of potential challengers, including former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland as well as U.S. Rep Tim Ryan and former Rep. Betty Sutton. But Sittenfeld thinks voters are ready for “a new generation of leaders” and says he’s the right guy for the job. Democrats think the seat may be vulnerable — Portman faces a likely primary challenge and has alienated some in his party by supporting same-sex marriage. They hope that increased voter turnout in the presidential election, which tends to skew Democratic, will put their candidate — perhaps Sittenfeld — over the top. • Norwood Mayor Thomas Williams sent a recent letter to the city's police department blasting "race baiting black leaders and cowardly elected officials" and pledging seemingly unconditional support for the police force in the midst of racially charged questions around police use of force around the country after the police related deaths of unarmed black men and children such as Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Tamir Rice and others. Williams warns police in Norwood to be extra careful and stick together, telling them that, "God forbid, something controversial would happen, I WILL NOT ABANDON YOU." But what if something controversial happens because, god forbid, one of the officers messes up? • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ruled the death of Brandon Carl, the worker killed in the I-75 off-ramp collapse, a preventable workplace accident. But officials say they still aren’t confident about what caused the collapse and that an investigation could take six months. The collapse happened in three phases over the course of a few seconds. The middle of the overpass, which was being demolished, fell last, sending heavy construction equipment toppling onto Carl and killing him. • Cincinnati is in the top 10 cities in the country for bedbugs yet again, but before you pack everything you own into black plastic garbage bags and burn it all, there’s hope. The city fell two spots on the list to number seven, behind Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Columbus and Dallas. We’ve also fallen behind Cleveland this year, which officially makes us the second least bed-buggy big city in Ohio behind Dayton. Congrats Cincy! I still feel really itchy now, just slightly less so than last year when I read about the list.• What does House Speaker John Boehner do after a long day sitting in the House making that Grinch face while the president is speechifying? (Note: Microsoft Word didn’t underline “speechifying,” meaning it’s officially a real word.) He goes home and watches golf reruns. Boehner revealed this lifestyle tip, along with his reactions to Obama’s Tuesday night State of the Union Address, in an interview with The Enquirer yesterday. He called many of Obama’s proposals, including the suggestion of two years of free community college education for some students, “ludicrous,” but did say he saw four areas where the GOP can work with the president. Those include fast tracking certain trade agreements with other countries, passing a new plan for funding the nation’s infrastructure, including highway funding, military intervention against terrorists and increasing the nation’s cybersecurity. Boehner also admitted he was a little rattled by the recent threat against his life by his old bartender, saying he would have never have ordered so many of those difficult-to-prepare mojitos if he knew the guy wanted to kill him and all. • So I just want to alert you all to an upcoming holiday of sorts: Meat Week. It’s a national… err… thing… that happens every year from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1 where folks are encouraged (probably by some meat industry-related advocacy organization) to eat as much of the stuff as possible. It’s been going on since 2005, and one heroic soul in Cincinnati named Justin Tabas has taken it upon himself to organize a list of places from which to get said meat (mostly BBQ places like Eli’s and Walt’s). So yeah. Meet me at the meat places. Also, I apologize to all my wonderful vegetarian friends.
by German Lopez
Strickland won't run in 2014, county reviewing MSD, freestanding restroom underway
Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland will not run for governor in 2014. In a statement released today, the Democrat who previously served four years as governor did not
give a reason for why he won’t run. But he did promise his wife and him
will “continue to be politically active private citizens.” Strickland
also touted his accomplishments as governor, including energy, health
care, social services and property tax reform. In September, Strickland
faced criticism from the left for pushing for the Democratic platform
to include a mention of God and a proclamation that Jerusalem is the
capital of Israel. The platform amendment contradicts decades of U.S.
Hamilton County wants an efficiency review
of the Metropolitan Sewer District. Republican Commissioner Chris
Monzel ordered the review. He says he expects “things at the
Metropolitan Sewer District are being managed and operated in a highly
efficient and effective manner,” but he wants to make sure. MSD is
currently taking part in a multi-billion dollar, federally mandated upgraded
system. CityBeat wrote about MSD’s green initiatives here.
Findlay Market might soon host Cincinnati’s first freestanding restroom.
If it goes well, it could be the start of a much bigger city-wide
project, and freestanding restrooms will be built all around downtown
and Over-the-Rhine. The test facility is being touted by Councilman
Chris Seelbach and other city officials as they seek to provide better
access to restrooms throughout the city.Rep. Peter Beck, a Republican from Mason, is facing a possible ethics investigation from the Ohio House of Representatives. The controversy was prompted by a recently filed lawsuit, which alleges Beck participated in a fraud that cheated investors out of more than $1.2 million.
Some local educators are supporting the use of seclusion rooms in Ohio. The rooms, which are enclosed spaces used to calm or restrain children who become violent, have come under criticism after an investigation from StateImpact Ohio and The Columbus Dispatch
found the rooms were being abused for the convenience of staff. Ohio
does not currently regulate the use of seclusion rooms, but that is
likely to change in an upcoming Ohio Board of Education meeting.
On the bright side, Ohio has the 10th best education laws, according to a study from StudentsFirst.
Overall, Ohio got a C-, making it one of the 12 states to get a B or C.
No state received an A. StateImpact Ohio has more on the grade here.
State officials probably understand how I felt when I dropped out of a
college history class because the professor was too strict of a grader.
Then again, state education systems are probably more important than
Colonial History 101.
The Blue Wisp, home of the greatest spinach-and-artichoke dip in the universe, is looking to renegotiate its lease.
Over the holidays, restaurant hero and Blue Wisp manager Ed Felson told
customers his jazz-themed restaurant and club is having financial
problems.The most emailed phrase while committing fraud at work is “cover up.”
One major problem with prolonged space missions: Humans become lazy and sleepy. It seems like being an astronaut isn’t different from any other job. Who can we rely on when aliens finally invade?
by German Lopez
Strickland calls for gun control, Kasich to loosen gun rules, Mallory rebuts streetcar claims
Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who rose to the governorship with the help of the National Rifle Association, says
gun rights and gun control can co-exist. The claim is in light of the
massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed
20 children and six adults. Many have called for stricter gun control
in light of the past year’s bouts of gun violence, but Republicans are
typically opposed to such proposals. A recent poll from The Washington Post and ABC News found 59 percent of Americans support
banning high-capacity ammunition clips, much like the ones used in the
Newtown shooting. Another 52 percent back the ban of semi-automatic
Still, Gov. John Kasich isn’t changing his mind on the Second Amendment. He says he will sign
a bill that allows guns in the Ohio Statehouse parking garage. The bill
will also change the definition of an unloaded gun, allowing gun owners
to carry loaded clips in their vehicles as long as they are in a
separate compartment from the gun, and make concealed carry permits from
other states easier to validate in Ohio.
Despite denials from city officials, mayoral candidate John Cranley and Councilman Chris Smitherman insist city government is trying to use the transit fund to fund the streetcar. But Mayor Mark Mallory in an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer said it will not happen.
Mallory said the dispute dates back to a lawsuit filed by Southwest
Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which runs the Metro bus
system. The lawsuit demands transit funds be solely dedicated to SORTA.
Cincinnati’s U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot has vowed to continue trying to kill
the streetcar. Even though voters have approved of the streetcar twice,
Chabot, who also represents Warren County in district boundaries that
were redrawn by Republicans, says he would rather focus federal funding
on other projects, like the Brent Spence Bridge.
A conservative northern Kentucky lawmaker is supporting
a bill that expands prisoners’ rights to DNA testing. The bill would
allow a Cincinnati man to push for DNA testing that he claims will
exonerate him of a 1987 rape and murder in Newport. Ky. Sen. John
Schickel argued, “If DNA testing is good enough to send you to prison it
should be good enough to get you out of prison.”
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank bought
another $100 million in stock from Credit Suisse International. The
deal is part of a larger program to buy back 100 million shares.
Cincinnati State is in line to obtain $123,000 from the state government. The funding could create 51 new or expanded co-op jobs.
The United Way of Greater Cincinnati announced
$50.7 million in investments for 2013, a slight increase from 2012. The increase will help boost funding to
prepare children for kindergarten by 5 percent. It will also fund 288
programs at 146 agencies, with seven becoming new United Way agency
The Prince Hall Shriners, which describes itself as “the world’s oldest African-American fraternal organization,” is returning to Cincinnati in 2015. The convention was in Cincinnati in 2011.
Duke Energy’s local management is being shaken up. Jim Henning will take over as president for Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.
Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro is retiring.
Did you know our solar system is sort of like a phoenix? It apparently rose from the cumulative ashes of countless stars, not one supernova.
The Tea Party's crazy contradictions put their stamp on the 2010 elections
2 Comments · Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The 2010 elections will be remembered mostly for the Tea Party movement, though the exact meaning of the movement is yet to be determined. If Republicans are successful in co-opting Tea Partiers' anti-government anger and gain majorities in the U.S. House and/or Senate, the movement will have "arrived." If voters wake up and realize that the Tea Party simply is a "populist" cover for the Republican Party, Democrats will be given further time to continue cleaning up the mess left by the Bush administration.
Costs rise as prison population skyrockets
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 15, 2010
A recent ACLU report evaluates two decades of studies that expose ineffective policies, inefficient use of funds and racial unfairness associated with Ohio's criminal justice system. Among a gauntlet of alarming statistics, the report shows that Ohio's prisons have reached 133 percent capacity and cost taxpayers almost $2 billion a year.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers recently auctioned off Elvis Presley collectibles featuring clothes and "sweat-stained scarves," as well as a clump of what is alleged to be The King's actual hair. The dark locks are believed to be from when Elvis received his crewcut upon entering the Army in 1958. The clippings sold for a meager $18,300.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 7, 2009
There's an old saying that goes something like, "Once you learn how to ride a bike it's really easy to do it again at any later point in your life." The same can't be said for the education of local transportation planners, who today asked the public what it would take to get more people riding bikes even though it's kind of their job to know that.
Survivor of Ohio’s latest botched execution speaks out
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Romell Broom achieved a macabre notoriety this past month when he became the first man to survive his date with the needle — not just in Ohio, but anywhere. The convicted rapist and murderer endured more than two hours of poking and stabbing before his execution was called off indefinitely. The eyes of the world are on Ohio now, and many are questioning our death-penalty apparatus.
Victim's family convinces governor to spare Hill's life
0 Comments · Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Jeffrey Hill was set to be executed on March 3 for murdering his mother in Cincinnati. But Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland followed the recommendation of the Adult Parole Board, as he's done with all other death penalty cases during his tenure, and now Hill won't be killed. The parole board voted unanimously to commute Hill's death sentence to life in prison with eligibility for parole in 25 years, and board members went out of their way to detail their unusual reasoning.