by Nick Swartsell
63 days ago
Posted In: News
at 11:20 AM | Permalink
Questions about I-71 interchange's benefit to Avondale, Walnut Hills; high-ranking GOP Congressman spoke at white power convention; whatever you're doing on New Year's is better than this
Morning all. It’s a slow news day around here, and we’re waiting for tomorrow for our obligatory end-of-year top 10 news stories list. But there are still some interesting things happening around the city and beyond in the waning days of 2014.Police officers from around the region gathered last night to pay respects to two officers killed by a gunman in New York City earlier this month. Police from Covington, Kenton County and Campbell County attended a rally at a memorial for fallen officers in Covington to remember New York City Police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. A few dozen members of the public also gathered for the event. Ramos and Liu’s shooter, who had earlier murdered his girlfriend in a Baltimore suburb, later killed himself. The incident has become a controversial moment in the nation’s tense struggle over police killings of unarmed people of color. Ramos and Liu’s shooter mentioned ongoing anger over the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who died after an officer placed him in a choke hold. Activists decrying police violence have said the shootings of the officers are a tragedy and have called for peaceful protests. • Cincinnati has gone all-in on a new highway interchange where I-71 passes through Walnut Hills and Avondale. But questions continue over whether that interchange will bring jobs and prosperity to some of the city’s poorest residents. It’s a tough question to answer because the project is fairly unique. Building a new highway on and off ramp in an already-built urban area is nearly unprecedented, and it’s tough to tell what will happen. That’s especially true since it’s unclear who will end up owning some of the 670 acres around the interchange officials say is blighted and in need of fresh development. City officials tout a study by the UC Economics Center that predicts the new interchange could create 7,000 jobs. But other studies of highway development projects say it can be exceedingly hard to tell what their impacts will be. The city has more than $25 million in the project, so stakes are high. They’re also high for residents of the neighborhood — as we reported this summer, Avondale has a 40 percent poverty rate and has historically found itself cut off from the rest of the city economically and geographically. What’s more, some residents will need to move to make way for the interchange. As the project continues toward its November 2016 completion date, questions keep swirling. • State Rep. John Becker, a staunch conservative representing suburban Cincinnati, has been busy during his freshman term, according to a recent profile in the Columbus Dispatch. The former anti-abortion activist has authored tons of right wing legislation — 27 bills, in fact — and has courted a similarly prodigious amount of controversy. He’s been outspoken about police shootings of people of color, even commenting that he “wasn’t sure who the victim was” in the case of Mike Brown, an unarmed black man shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. He has suggested that similar shootings in Cleveland and Beavercreek involved drugs or “suicide by cop.” He’s also questioned why Planned Parenthood isn’t considered a hate group. That’s all charming stuff. Becker was reelected in November and will enjoy an increasingly conservative House — Republicans will hold 65 seats there next session. Up next on his agenda: abolishing the state’s income tax. Great!• In national news, the Washington Post reports that House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, spoke at a white supremacist conference in 2002. The third most powerful member of the House appeared at a European-American Unity and Rights Organization convention in New Orleans hosted by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke when he was a state representative. Representatives for Scalise’s office say he was unaware of the group’s connections with the white power movement and was in the midst of a statewide campaign rallying support for lowering taxes and other conservative ideas. “For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous,” Scalise told the Times-Picayune as the story was breaking last night.The revelation comes as Republicans look to make a new start with an expanded majority in the House and a newly minted majority in the Senate. Meanwhile, Democrats are pummeling Scalise over the revelations.• Finally, if you’re not satisfied with Cincinnati’s New Year's Eve offerings (I can’t imagine why. There are about a million things to do) take heart: Whatever you get into is probably better than watching a giant nail drop in this Pennsylvania town. It's not even metal. It's wood. The, uh, nail dropping will commemorate a historic nail factory. Get wild.
by Nick Swartsell
77 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:18 AM | Permalink
City tax deals for developers draw scrutiny; streetcar passes selling briskly; Bush vs. Clinton: the rematch?
Good morning all. It’s like, 8 a.m. and I’ve already experienced utter, terrifying confusion today. Normally that doesn’t happen until at least noon. Earlier, I woke up to a loud, continuous peal of thunder, which stupefied me in my half-awake state because it’s, you know, December and that usually doesn’t happen. I thought my house was falling down or exploding or something. Then I fell back asleep.Anyway, news time. Is the city doing some shady dealing on tax breaks? City Council’s Neighborhood Committee yesterday approved a number of property tax deals city officials say will help spur development and job growth. The committee is made up of all members of Council, so passage here means the measures are pretty much a done deal. Some critics, however, question whether the tax deals are in the city’s best interest. Drawing special scrutiny was a pair of proposed TIF districts in Queensgate and the West End. The narrowly drawn districts would encompass properties owned by Evanston-based developer Neyer, which is mulling some as-yet-unnamed but said to be large-scale improvements to the property. The TIF measures would set aside property taxes paid on those improvements for public infrastructure projects within the districts, instead of that money flowing into the city’s general fund. The measures were last minute additions to the agenda, and some, including downtown resident Kathy Holwadel, are suspicious. Holwadel penned an opinion piece for the Cincinnati Enquirer pointing out that the city doesn’t have any idea what it will use the TIF money for, which is unusual. Others have pointed out that various members of the Neyer family were Mayor John Cranley's second-largest donors during last year's mayoral election, kicking him more than $26,000. Critics ask if the administration is giving the developer special deals.The TIF districts don't represent out-and-out tax exemptions and Council will still have to vote on future uses of the taxes put in the TIF fund.Councilwoman Yvette Simpson at the meeting yesterday raised concerns that the TIF money would only go toward projects that benefit the developer and suggested a larger TIF district that would allow the city to spend the collected money on a wider area. City officials say state laws have limited the amount of money larger TIF districts can accumulate. Simpson abstained on the vote. Councilman Chris Seelbach voted against the districts. • The committee also approved a number of other tax deals, including a 15-year, $12 million tax exemption for Gilbane Development Co. on its proposed development project in Clifton Heights. This project has also been controversial, with residents saying there is already too much student-oriented housing like the Gilbane project in the neighborhood. Stay tuned for our in-depth story on that in the print edition tomorrow.• The family of John Crawford III will file a lawsuit against the officers involved in his shooting as well as the Walmart corporation. Crawford was shot by police officer Sean Williams in a Beavercreek Walmart while carrying a pellet gun Aug. 5. The family's attorneys, as well as Crawford's father, will announce more details about the lawsuit at a news conference at 11 a.m. today in Dayton.• The special edition Cincinnati streetcar passes Metro is offering have raised more than $40,000 so far, the department reports. The commemorative metal cards get riders 15, 30 or 60 days of unlimited rides on the streetcar for $25, $50 and $100, respectively. If you’re still thinking about getting one, better hurry — 1,000 of the 1,500 cards produced have already sold.• Would you kayak in the Ohio River? If so, you’ll be excited about this. The Covington City Commission will decide today whether to enter into a partnership with Queen City Water Sports Club to design and build a facility on the former location of Jeff Ruby’s Waterfront restaurant where people can rent canoes and kayaks. The boat that housed Waterfront sank in August, and now the city is looking for new uses for the property where it was docked. • Former Hamilton County Commissioner and Cincinnati City Councilman David Pepper looks likely to become the Ohio Democratic Party’s next chairman after his closest opponent, former lieutenant governor candidate Sharen Neuhardt, dropped out of the race yesterday. Pepper ran for attorney general in the last election but was beaten by incumbent Republican Mike DeWine. If he wins, he’ll replace outgoing chair Chris Redfern, who resigned after the Democrats faced big losses in November.• Nineties nostalgia is so hot right now. Doc Martens are on every foot. People are listening to Soundgarden unironically again. Flannel shirts, etc. If you’re really wanting to party like it’s 1992 again, though, you may soon get your chance. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is looking more and more like he’s going to jump into the race to become the Republican nominee for the presidency. He’s releasing a book. He’s raising some cash. His most likely opponent? Democratic nominee frontrunner Hillary Clinton, of course. If those last names don’t ring a deep, deja-vu inducing bell, don’t worry. Those Bush vs. Clinton tees are going to look great at an Urban Outfitters near you. America: where anyone can become president, but especially anyone from a wealthy political dynasty. Woo!
by Maria Seda-Reeder
120 days ago
the ever-growing number of public art murals in Covington, Ky., BLDG welcomed
the Brooklyn-based street art collective, FAILE in October to complete a
massive painted Pop art installation in their torn collage style that spans three
walls and either side of Sixth Street.
BLDG, the locally
grown art gallery/branding firm, is responsible for numerous murals around
Covington including (but not limited to) 10 recognizable black and white characters
done by The London Police on notable Covington landmarks and businesses, as
well as the current COV200 mural project for the city’s bicentennial
celebration, which will involve more than 20 murals by the time it’s completed.
artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller sent a crew of two studio assistants
to begin the initial layout for the piece, which involved pouncing an outline
of the design onto walls with cheesecloth bags filled with powdered pigment. Unfortunately
for their studio assistants who had come to do the initial legwork, whenever it
would rain (and before they could trace a more permanent outline with Sharpie),
a storm shower would come and wash it all away.
some less than ideal weather conditions during the two-week installation process,
the artists themselves came into town the final two days of painting and were
able to finish the grand installation by Oct. 23, when I met up with them at
Arnold’s amidst a full table of BLDG employees, headed by Lesley Amann.
stepped in as partner at BLDG after the founder — her husband, and the driving force
behind BLDG’s commitment to public art — passed away a year ago this month.
Lesley said that the FAILE mural was one of the last projects Mike began before
he got sick and when I asked Miller and McNeil, “Why Covington?” McNeil echoed
to the artist, a large factor in FAILE’s involvement was due to, “getting to
know these guys and wanting to pull through for them and represent.”
unveiled the new three-wall piece to the public on Oct. 23 and the mural
included such iconography as the FAILE dog and a cat burglar on the opposing
wall, as well as a visual reference to some of the collaborative’s newer works,
which depict classic American muscle cars.
Miller puts their artistic approach in simple terms.
has always been about making images that people can find their own narrative in
and relate to in their own way. It’s always more fun for us to see the way
people react to the work — the kind of stories they make up about it. Whenever
you’re doing public work, that’s the beauty of it: It’s meant for anyone to
by Paloma Ianes
131 days ago
Posted In: Street Art
at 11:16 AM | Permalink
of high-end street art expands today with the unveiling of a vibrant mural
created by Brooklyn-based artists FAILE. The mural will cover the rear walls of
the adjacent Republic Bank and Donna Salyer’s Fabulous Bridal buildings on the
corners of Sixth Street and Madison Avenue.
and Patrick Miller, collectively known as FAILE, create multimedia
installations and collage, incorporating an experimental style and popular
cultural references. Although FAILE has exhibited art in traditional gallery
spaces, their work on city walls across the globe has put them on the
innovative edge of the street art community. Amsterdam, New York, London,
Bethlehem, Palestine and Vienna are just a few of the cities where FAILE’s work
can be found.
collage-style mural was inspired by the artists’ “rip style painting.” It
features classic FAILE motifs along with suggestions of Kentucky culture. The
placement of the mural on two adjacent buildings allows the split images to
visually converse with each other through space. The mural’s high contrast and
dramatic aesthetic references FAILE’s inspiration from screen printing along
with urban contemporary art. The humorous overtone of the mural’s imagery makes
a strong visual connection to pop art and comic book illustrations.
BLDG, a cooperative arts organization working to “foster inspiration, the
visionary and the uncommon” will host the unveiling of the mural. BLDG nurtures
creativity by providing branding, gallery space, publicity and refuge for
artists and innovative thinkers. Their unique team brings internationally
celebrated artists to the Covington area, placing the city on the list of
artistically progressive areas. BLDG’s projects have included collaborations with the London
Police and Prefab77.
will take place from 5-7 p.m. tonight at the mural site. Drinks and food will
be provided by Rhinegeist, Arnolds, Tito’s Vodka and The Gruff (a pizza
shop/deli coming soon to Covington). Go here for more info.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 22, 2014
A community already known for its poverty
and rampant drug use and its less-than-stellar track
record of public education and housing doesn’t need the stench of
rapists added to its long list of ills and
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:54 AM | Permalink
Icon tax war of words heats up; soon you'll be able to smoke up and play the slots; Rand Paul's excellent adventure in the Hamptons
The thing about mornings and news is that they both keep happening over and over again, and you've gotta work to keep up with them. So here we are.The furor over the icon tax change-up is not going away just yet. Mayor John Cranley had some choice words for Hamilton County Commissioners Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann yesterday on the subject, calling for the two to take the Union Terminal-only tax initiative off the November ballot. He also questioned the commissioners’ disregard for former P&G head Bob McDonald’s input. McDonald is the head of the Cultural Facilities Task Force, which researched, vetted and recommended the initial tax plan.“I fear for the future of our county when the project can be hijacked – I’m not even sure by who,” Cranley said, lambasting the commissioners and their plan. “Nobody was pushing the plan they put forward.”Hartmann shot back that Cranley was making statements out of emotion and that county voters would not have approved the original plan. He said the county has a relationship with Union Terminal it doesn’t have with Music Hall. Cranley has said the city won’t be putting any money forward toward Union Terminal without Music Hall in the plan.• The Ohio Department of Transportation is commissioning an $8 million study to determine the impact tolls would have on traffic and low-income drivers if part a replacement to the outdated Brent Spence Bridge. The move comes after officials in both Ohio and Kentucky have said that tolls are the only way to pay for rebuilding the bridge, which will cost $2.6 billion. That’s a crazy amount of money. Isn’t anyone out there selling a gently used bridge on Craigslist or something? Or maybe just a big, Evel Knievel-style ramp system that shoots drivers over the river? I don’t know, just trying to think outside the box here. I’m imagining those angles won’t be covered by the study, which will be used to set the specifics of tolls, including possible variable rates for local drivers and various traffic levels at different times. There may also need to be adjustments for low-income drivers, though it is unclear what those would be. • While we’re crossing the river, let’s talk about Covington. The city is opening up its Section 8 waiting list today, and before Covington City Hall even opened its doors, people were already lined up around the block. The Housing Authority of Covington serves all of Kenton County, which, like most other areas around the region, has experienced shortages of affordable housing since the Great Recession. The HAC office is at 2300 Madison Ave.• A local radio host who lives in Maderia was arrested last night for allegedly shooting his wife after an argument. Blake Seylhouwer, who hosts Small Business Sunday on 55KRC and runs a cleaning business, says a gun he had with him accidentally went off as the two argued in their driveway, though authorities say Seylhouwer purposely fired at Misty Seylhouwer when she turned her back. She sustained wounds from bullet fragments in her chest, leg, neck and head. She was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover fully. Seylhouwer called 911 to report his wife’s injuries and was arrested shortly after paramedics arrived at the house. He’s been ordered to stay away from her and the couple’s two children and is being held on $250,000 bond.• There’s really nothing like the wild rush of freedom that comes when you shrug off the bonds of state regulations to play the slots while enjoying a nice calming smoke. Customers of Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino downtown will soon be able to experience that most basic and noble of liberties should a proposed expansion at the casino be approved by the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The expansion will create a 10,000 square foot smoking deck where gamblers can puff while they play. Casino owners in Ohio say other gaming sites in Indiana have an advantage in the market because they aren’t burdened by anti-smoking regulations. • Finally, did Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul ditch ultra-conservatives in Iowa to hang out with none other than Alec Baldwin, an icon of the liberal media celebrity complex? That’s the word on the street. Paul skipped the Family Leadership Summit on Saturday, citing family commitments, but was later spotted with Baldwin and others at a fundraiser for a library in the Hamptons. The Summit has been a regular stop for GOP presidential hopefuls in the past, and it was expected Paul would attend as he builds steam for a presidential run in 2016. But he said family affairs called him to New York and that the Hamptons fundraiser was just a side stop. To be fair, I'd ditch a bunch of cranky tea party folks to hang out with the guy who played Liz Lemon's boss, too, and other conservatives, including Bill O’Reilly, were also in attendance at the fundraiser. Which is just a stirring reminder that nothing brings people together like libraries. Or maybe just parties thrown by people in the Hamptons with lots and lots of money. The ultra-posh region is a destination for cash farming, with everyone from Hillary Clinton to Sen. Ted Cruz heading that way to shake the area's various money trees.
0 Comments · Friday, August 1, 2014
I decided to brave that slope with my quad cane and my old, rickety folding utility cart. I told myself I
could handle this just fine. I was
telling myself a lie.
Nuvo at Greenup and its sister restaurant present two creative dining destinations under one roof
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 25, 2014
The implicit question that the brand-new
Nando and its sister restaurant Nuvo ask: Is this town ready for an
adventure in dining unlike anything it has seen before?
The Nothing’s eclectic, streetwise sound combines every loud and angry genre
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Sitting down with Northern Kentucky-based
Punk rockers The Nothing on May the 4th (Star Wars Day for the
non-geeks in the audience) felt like fate. The members of the band
(vocalist Jimi Caudill, guitarist Paulie Burgio, drummer Eric Robinson
and bassist Dan Snow) have all had a Jedi-esque journey of redemption
littered with band transitions, relationship implosions, addiction and
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:33 AM | Permalink
Old smokestacks, Congress mulling cuts, hitting the high notes for dating success
All right, folks. Morning news time again.The iconic Hudepohl smokestack you see from I-75 could end up in Over-the-Rhine. The city is looking at ways to save the old Hudepohl brewery, which it bought last month. The former Hudepohl headquarters, built in 1946 and used until 1985, includes four buildings on Sixth Street in Queensgate. It's currently abandoned. The complex includes the Hudepohl tower, a 170-foot-tall brick smokestack with the company’s named spelled on it in white bricks that has become a Cincinnati landmark. One set of plans being considered is the relocation of 70 feet of the tower (from just under the L in “Hudepohl” to the top) to Over-the-Rhine, where the company was originally founded in 1885.• Right across the river, Covington is the eighth most affordable city in the country,
according to a study by finance website NerdWallet.com. The study
looked at a number of cost of living considerations, including housing
costs and average prices for groceries. Columbus (15), Indianapolis
(22), Lexington (53) and Louisville (89) also made the top 100 list,
though Cincinnati is nowhere to be found.• An article in the new issue of Inc. Magazine prominently features Cincinnati’s startup scene. It highlights the city’s business incubators, co-working spaces, marketers and investors who are boosting the city’s tech profile. The author applauds strides the city has made fostering startups, and concludes that the region is on the right course for expanding innovation and tech-related jobs. • Procter and Gamble has committed $1 million to the Regional Economic Development Initiative, an organization focused on bringing jobs to the Greater Cincinnati area. REDI is lead by a 15-member board of Cincinnati political and business leaders including Mayor John Cranley, Western and Southern CEO John Barrett and Reds minority owner Tom Williams, the board’s chair.• The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today that payday lenders aren’t subject to a law governing short-term loans and that they can continue making loans to low-income folks at, like, 12 billion percent interest. Great, because that’s totally good for society and our economy.• The House this week is considering a Republican-drafted spending bill for The Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The appropriations bill contains more than $1.8 billion in cuts to housing programs, commuter rail initiatives and efforts to help the homeless. The White House has slammed the bill, and it will face a tough ride in the Senate.• The big national story this morning, of course, is that Virginia Republican and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary election to tea party challenger David Brat. Brat toppled Cantor even though the seven-term incumbent outspent him twenty five to one and is one of the most powerful Republicans in the country. A majority leader in the House has never lost a primary since the position was created 115 years ago. That's probably good news for House Speaker and everyone's favorite Southwestern Ohio spray tan aficionado John Boehner, who was feeling the heat from far-right Republicans looking to oust him from the speaker's seat. Cantor, who had an often antagonistic relationship with Boehner, was thought to be his strongest possible successor. Or, Cantor's loss may stress Boehner out even more, as the tea party torches get closer to the speaker's office...• Finally, a newly discovered katydid has the highest-pitched vocalizations of any animal ever recorded. Scientists say the noises help attract the opposite sex, which is weird, because every time I’m in a bar and start hitting the high notes in my silky falsetto the opposite happens. And that’s every thing that has happened in the past 24 hours, give or take. Follow me on Twitter at @nswartsell, where I retweet Parks and Rec quotes and news stories about appropriation bills. I’m a man of many moods.