4 Comments · Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Bill Nye to debate anti-science creationist, Chris Finney gets kicked out of law firm and more in the worst week ever.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Cincinnati Health Commissioner Noble Maseru said the city intends to
work toward greater equity in life expectancy among races, though he refused to admit
that reducing the life expectancy of whites would make this happen
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 08:17 PM | Permalink
City solicitor says conservative group's previous lawsuit forced changes
City Solicitor John Curp on Aug. 15 rebuked a conservative group that asked him to sue the city of Cincinnati over changes made to the city's parking lease without City Council's explicit approval.With Curp's denial, the conservative group behind the request — the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) — is now legally able to once again sue the city over its plans to lease Cincinnati's parking meters, lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority. It would be the second time COAST has taken major legal action over the parking plan.In a letter to COAST's attorney, Curp writes that the two changes COAST called "significant and material" in its July 17 letter were shifts in dates and time limits that were necessary because a previous lawsuit from COAST forced the city to delay implementation of the parking lease for more than two months. In other words, COAST is trying to use the delays it forced to stop the parking lease once again.Curp also argues in his letter that the lease gave the city manager the power to make changes that keep the lease "substantially in the form" approved by Council and authorizes city officials to "take all necessary and proper actions" to carry out the lease. Curp writes the disputed changes were within those terms.In response to Curp's denial, COAST member and attorney Chris Finney told The Cincinnati Enquirer that COAST will pursue another lawsuit against the parking lease if Council doesn't vote on the disputed changes. Although a majority of Council now says it opposes the parking lease, Mayor Mark Mallory has said he will hold any legislation trying to repeal or undo key elements of the deal. Under the parking lease, the city will receive a $92
million lump sum and at least $3 million in annual payments, according
to city estimates. Private operators will also be tasked with modernizing Cincinnati's parking assets so parking meters can accept credit cards and payment through a smartphone.Supporters of the parking lease argue it's necessary to leverage the city's parking assets for development projects and modernize the city’s parking
services.Opponents say the lease gives
up too much public control over the city’s parking assets
and will hurt local residents and businesses by causing meter rates and operation
hours to go up.The parking plan has been engulfed in political controversies since it was first unveiled by the city manager in October. Most recently, the city administration withheld a memo that was critical of the plan from the public, City Council and Port Authority — a move that triggered outrage about the administration's lack of transparency.
by German Lopez
Case moved back to common pleas court, hearing set for March 15
The plan to lease Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port
of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority remains up in the air today
after court rulings kept a court-mandated restraining order in place
until at least March 15, when a hearing is scheduled at the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.
The hearing on March 15 will establish whether the lawsuit
should move forward and whether the restraining order will remain until the lawsuit is resolved. The latter poses a budgetary challenge to the city; if the restraining
order is kept in place and opponents gather the signatures required for a November referendum on the parking plan, the city says it will have to make cuts before July to balance the budget
for fiscal year 2014, which could result in layoffs.“We’ve been very clear that, by state law, we need to have
a balanced budget starting July 1, so we will need to do all things
necessary at that point,” says Meg Olberding, city spokesperson.The lawsuit was originally moved to federal courts on March 7 because it included complaints regarding civil rights. Plaintiffs removed the mention of civil
rights, which then prompted Judge Michael Barrett to send the lawsuit back to
the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.
City Council approved the parking plan in a 5-4 vote on
March 6, but the plan was almost immediately held up by a temporary
restraining order from Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert
Winkler. The restraining order is meant to provide enough time to
process a lawsuit filed by Curt Hartman, an attorney who represents the
Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), on behalf of
local activists who oppose the plan and argue it should be subject to
“If there was even five seconds without a temporary
restraining order in place, the city’s going to sign that lease,” Chris Finney, another attorney that represents COAST, said in a public
statement after the hearing with Barrett. “At that point, the city will
argue that the case has moved and that the (referendum) petitions are
The legal dispute is focused on City Council’s use of the
emergency clause, which eliminates a 30-day waiting period on implementing laws but takes away the possibility of a referendum.
In an interview on March 7, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who voted for the parking plan, told CityBeat
the dispute over emergency clauses is politically motivated: “I think it’s nothing but a
political controversy that’s generated for political gain and for
political purposes. Council passes many of its ordinances with emergency
clauses. In fact, the other candidate for mayor himself consistently
voted for emergency clauses.”
The other mayoral candidate Qualls is referring to is John
Cranley, a former council member who opposes the parking plan and says he will support a
“Just because the emergency clause may be used too often
doesn’t make it right,” says Cranley. “I never voted for an emergency
clause when there was a stated grassroots effort to have a referendum on
a vote that I was facing.”CityBeat previously covered the parking plan in further detail here.
1 Comment · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Even Christopher Smitherman and
Christopher Finney must roll over in the middle of the night in the
strange bed they share and look at one another and wonder: How the
hell’d this happen
by Andy Brownfield
Group threatens referendum of Blue Ash Airport resale
The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes
(COAST) has threatened to block a move that would allow Cincinnati to use $37.5 million from the 2007 sale of the Blue Ash Airport for projects other than aviation, $11 million of which would go to the Cincinnati streetcar.
The Blue Ash City Council voted Thursday to re-do the sale of 130 acres at the Blue Ash Airport to the City of Cincinnati. COAST
says it wants to put the matter before voters in a 2013 referendum,
which would halt the sale and re-instate the original agreement made in
2007 when Cincinnati made the sale.
The two cities decided to re-work the $37.5 million sale
because a federal rule requires proceeds from the sale of an operating
airport to be used for other aviation projects. The money would be
returned, airport shut down and then the property re-sold to Blue Ash
for the original amount.
“When they originally sold it they were stupid, which is
typical of the City of Cincinnati, and did not realize that the proceeds
on the sale of the airport have to go to other aviation-type things,” says COAST Chairman Tom Brinkman. “Now that they want to get the
streetcar, they want to crack that money.”
Brinkman openly admits he doesn’t want the money to go to
the streetcar (“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that
boondoggle doesn’t occur”) but says COAST is working with a group of local
pilots who want money from the sale to go to Cincinnati’s Lunken
Blue Ash is confident that the ordinance they passed approving the re-sale isn’t subject to referendum.
“Blue Ash believes everything enacted was lawful and would
survive any challenge,” says City Solicitor Brian Pachenco. He declined
to discuss specifics
The city wants the airport land to build a park.
Pachenco said the ordinance wasn’t written specifically to
exempt it from referendum attempts, but nevertheless it falls under a
section of the city’s charter that makes voters unable to recall it.
COAST isn’t so sure.
Chris Finney, legal counsel for COAST, said the buying and
selling of land under the Blue Ash charter is subject to referendum. He
said the ordinance was written to avoid using that language, but what
was happening was in reality a sale.
For its part, Cincinnati doesn’t seem too concerned with the threatened referendum.
“We’re not going to talk 'what ifs' at this point,” city
spokeswoman Meg Olberding said. “The streetcar has had two previous
referendums that have been shot down.”
She pointed out that only $11 million of the sale was
going toward the streetcar, and the remaining money would be available
for other projects.
Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach was also unconcerned.
“COAST and groups like COAST have tried to put up every
obstacle possible to prevent the streetcar from happening and we have
overcome all of them,” Seelbach said. “I am 100 percent positive if this
comes to a vote we will overcome it again and the streetcar will be
by Danny Cross
Gov. John Kasich has something to say
to anyone waiting on federal funding to help fix their bridges (and
while we're at it, any local governments who need funding for
something other than food and water): Forget about it. During an interview with Enquirer editors and reporters yesterday,*
Kasich said tolls are the best means for funding a new Brent Spence
“I do not believe that a white
charger is going to come galloping (from Washington) into Cincinnati
with $2 billion in the saddlebags,” Kasich said. “So if that
isn’t going to happen and all we do is delay, delay, delay and we
push this thing out until 2036 ... holy cow!”
* CityBeat had a similar meeting
scheduled but we forgot about it and weren't here at the time —
sorry Kasich, we'll get ya next time!
Things are about to get weird in a
Clermont County courtroom if David Krikorian and Chris Finney get
their wish — to have Jean Schmidt on the witness stand on May 17.
Finney, the attorney for Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and
Taxes (COAST), has been representing Krikorian, a former Democratic
and independent candidate who unsuccessfully ran against Schmidt for
Ohio's 2nd congressional district seat, has served Schmidt with a
subpoena as part of Krikorian's lawsuit claiming a Schmidt lawsuit
against Krikorian was frivolous. COAST's ghost-written blog posted
commentary in February in response to accusations from Brad Wenstrup
that Schmidt was using campaign funds to pay off legal fund debt from
earlier campaign nonsense against Krikorian. Eastsiders mad.
Some high-level Procter & Gamble
executives are getting the Bearcat Bounce out of Cincinnati, heading
to Singapore where the company believes growth opportunities for its
beauty care products are the highest. About 20 positions will be
moved to the Singapore office during the next two years.
Does it matter that Mitt Romney might
have led a group of teenagers in a “pin that dude down and cut his
hair” prank during the '60s? The Nation says Obama's gay-marriage
announcement caught Romney off guard. As expected, Obama's fundraiser at
George Clooney's house raked in the dough, raising $15 million in one
British Prime Minister David Cameron
only recently learned what LOL means in text-speak. The explanation
occurred during witness testimony from Rebekah Brooks, the former
head of Rupert Murdoch's the now-defunct News of the World.
Brooks was forced to resign last year amid a phone-hacking scandal.
"He would sign them off 'DC' in the main," Brooks
said, referring to Cameron's initials. "Occasionally he would
sign them off 'LOL' — 'lots of love' — until I told him it meant
'laugh out loud,' and then he didn't sign them off [that way]
It was certainly an LOL moment during Brooks' testimony in a
London courtroom Friday as part of a judicial inquiry into media
ethics. But the disclosure also underscored the warm personal ties
between the prime minister and Brooks, the former head of media baron
Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers who was forced to resign in
disgrace last summer.
Someone found a really old Mayan
calendar, and it offers good news: It goes way beyond Dec, 12, 2012.
Major League Baseball phenom Bryce
Harper is in town for a three-game series with his Washington
Nationals. The 19-year-old was the No. 1 overall pick in 2010 and is
the first superstar-caliber player to make it to the big leagues this
quickly prompting comparisons to Ken Griffey, Jr. at that age. Here's
the local spin about on freak outfielder coming to town for a
weekend series against the Reds.
3 Comments · Wednesday, April 13, 2011
For those not familiar with the concept, codependency is a psychological term that refers to the tendency in a person to become fixated on another person for approval or sustenance. In the instance of the two demagogues named Chris, Messrs. Finney and Smitherman, the underlying reasons are all about relevance, credibility and (mostly) free legal services.
2 Comments · Wednesday, February 16, 2011
If everything goes as planned, Cincinnati’s streetcar system connecting the University of Cincinnati to Over-the-Rhine and the downtown riverfront will carry its first passengers on Reds Opening Day in 2013 — about 25 months from now. That’s the unofficial target date for the system’s opening, according to City Hall sources. But readers can safely bet that between now and then there will be plenty of overheated and inaccurate rhetoric designed to confuse citizens and block the project.
3 Comments · Wednesday, November 3, 2010
To borrow a phrase from Richard Nixon, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not a fan of the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST). But they might have a point in the latest local election controversy about 31 students being driven from Hughes High School to the Board of Elections Oct. 13, during school hours, to participate in early voting. When the students disembarked from vans, they were spotted by a campaign worker for Brinkman, who alleged they were wearing stickers promoting Congressman Steve Driehaus and holding green Democratic sample ballots. Hughes Principal Virginia Rhodes has been suspended for two weeks as a result.