Over-the-Rhine businesses and residents fight back as newly elected city government threatens to cancel streetcar project
1 Comment · Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Over-the-Rhine businesses and residents
are organizing with supporters of the $133 million streetcar project in a
last-stand effort to keep the project on track.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 01:40 PM | Permalink
Minority-owned businesses struggle to regain foothold
City Council could use leftover revenue from the previous budget cycle and money from the parking lease
to fund a disparity study that would gauge whether minority- and
women-owned businesses should be favorably targeted by the city’s
“Once we conclude the parking lease agreement and see the
results of the close-out of the last budget year, I believe there may be
a majority (of Council) that would support funding a Croson study,”
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls told CityBeat.
The disparity study — named a “Croson study” after a U.S.
Supreme Court case — could cost between $500,000 and $1 million,
according to city officials.Qualls expects to see the final revenue numbers from the previous budget cycle sometime this week. The numbers are expected to come in higher than projected, which would give Council some leftover money to allocate for newer priorities, including a disparity study and human services funding.Another potential funding source: the city’s parking lease agreement with the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority, which will take over Cincinnati’s parking meters, lots and garages and manage them through various private companies from around the nation.The announcement comes shortly after minority inclusion
became a major issue in the 2013 mayoral race between Qualls, John
Cranley, Jim Berns and Sandra “Queen” Noble. Cranley announced his minority inclusion plan, which includes a disparity study, on July 12.
Because of a 1989 Supreme Court ruling, city governments are unable
to enact programs that favorably target minorities or women
without first doing a disparity study that proves those groups are underrepresented.
The city’s last disparity study was done between 1999 and
2002. It found evidence of disparities but ultimately
recommended race- and gender-neutral policies to avoid legal uncertainty that
surrounded the issue at the time.
But since the city did away with its affirmative-action
contracting policies in 1999, contract participation rates for
minority-owned businesses dropped from a high of 22.4 percent in 1997 to
a low of 2.7 percent in 2007. Participation among women-owned
businesses remained relatively stable, hitting a high of 6 percent in 2005
and otherwise fluctuating between 0.9 percent and 3.8 percent from year
Rochelle Thompson, head of the city’s Office of Contract
Compliance, points out that classifying as a minority- or women-owned
business is now voluntary, whereas it was mandated through the city’s
policies in the 1990s. That, she argues, might be understating how many contracted
businesses are truly minority- or women-owned.
Still, business leaders are calling on the city to do
more. They claim minority-owned businesses are more likely to hire
minorities, which could alleviate an unemployment rate that’s twice as
high for them as it is for white Cincinnatians.
Qualls says City Council hasn’t pursued a disparity study
until now because it was waiting for the full implementation of
recommendations from OPEN Cincinnati, a task force established in 2009
after Mayor Mark Mallory and his administration were criticized for
neglecting the city’s small business program. The resulting policies
forced the city administration to be more transparent and accountable
for the program’s established goals.
Thompson claims OPEN Cincinnati’s changes “breathed life”
into the small business program, but none of the changes specifically
targeted minority- and women-owned businesses. Instead, the program
broadly favors and promotes small businesses, which Thompson calls the
drivers of job and economic growth.
by German Lopez
Streetcar gets executive, businesses call for inclusion, gun control group opens Ohio chapter
John Deatrick is taking over as project executive of the Cincinnati streetcar project, moving on from his previous work as project manager of The Banks. Deatrick’s hiring announcement happened in April, but it was delayed while City Council fixed the project’s budget gap. Deatrick and his team previously won an award
for their work at The Banks, and he says he will bring the same scrutiny
and success to the streetcar project. A new project manager for The
Banks is set to be hired in August. Since the streetcar project’s
inception, it has been mired in misrepresentations and political
controversy, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Local business leaders are calling on the city government to change its contracting policies to target minority- and women-owned businesses. Advocates argue the city’s inclusion rates have greatly dropped
since Cincinnati did away with its inclusion program in the 1990s, but
the city administration points out the rates are likely understated
because women- and minority-owned businesses are no longer required to report
themselves as minorities or women. The business leaders say the figures are too low regardless,
which could have big implications since minority-owned businesses are
more likely to hire minorities, who have twice the unemployment rate as
white residents. As a result of court rulings, Cincinnati needs to first
conduct a disparity study before it makes any changes that specifically target minorities or women.
Gabrielle Giffords’s anti-gun violence organization is opening an Ohio chapter
to promote legislation that intends to protect both the public
and the rights of gun owners. Giffords, a former U.S. representative
who survived an assassination attempt, has been touring around the
country — at one point coming to Cincinnati
— to speak out against gun violence. Gun control legislation
failed in the U.S. Senate in April after it fell short of getting 60 votes to overcome
procedural hurdles, even though polling shows a clear majority of
Americans favor such legislation.
Local government funding may be further reduced
as a result of recent tax cuts because the Local Government Fund traditionally gets a percent of state tax revenue. Specifically, critics are concerned
less state tax revenue will slow down “natural growth” in funding to
cities and counties. Last week, an analysis from Policy Matters Ohio
found the recently passed two-year state budget already reduces local government funding, following even steeper reductions in the previous budget. The cuts since Gov. John Kasich took office have cost Cincinnati more than $22 million.
A traffic camera ban would cost Ohio cities and counties millions of dollars in revenue.
Ohio gas prices are starting down this week.
Home-schooled and private-school students have a right to play on public school teams because of a provision in the recently passed state budget.
When Columbus’ parking meters were upgraded to accept credit cards, revenue jumped by 13.2 percent. Cincinnati’s meters will be upgraded as part of the parking privatization plan.Ohio air bases are undergoing review
this week as part of Congress’ attempts to gauge whether the nation’s
Air Force is prepared for current and future missions and homeland
Slow news day, Enquirer?
Florida researchers found “fat shaming” actually perpetuates obesity.
It would probably take 300 to 500 piranhas five minutes to strip the flesh off a 180-pound human.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Is your company going to be receiving stimulus money? Will you be partnering with the state or local government to build something for your community? What, you don’t know how to become part of the stimulus program? You don’t have connections with legislators to get your idea funded? You’re not part of the club? State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Avondale) feels your pain.