by Hannah McCartney
16 days ago
Four Ohio energy providers earn spot on Pear Energy's "Dirty Dozen"
Cincinnati's main gas and electricity provider, Duke Energy, has scored a No. 1 ranking, but it's not exactly one you'll be wanting to clap your hands about. Remember when we blogged a couple of weeks ago about how Greater Cincinnati has some of the worst air pollution in the nation? Yep, the American Lung Association's report, "State of the Air," gave us an "F" for ozone pollution, a "D" for 24-hour particle pollution and a "fail" for year-round particle pollution. That put us at the 10th worst spot in the country for year-round particle pollution and 14th worst for ozone pollution. Solar and wind energy provider Pear Energy, which currently operates in all 50 states, released yesterday its "Dirty Dozen" compilation, a list of the 12 utility providers emitting the greatest carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a type of greenhouse gas. CO2 emissions, of course, are the gunk released into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels like gas, coal or oil. Excess CO2 in our atmosphere is directly linked to global warming. Coming from a company that wants to sell you energy itself, it's good to approach the list with a little skepticism, but the methodology seems transparent; according to the website, all rankings were determined by total CO2 emissions in 2010 of power producers with retail operations that have carbon intensities above the national average emissions rate (stats were sourced from Environmental Protection Agency data). While Duke Energy was pinpointed as the nation's worst offender, several other Ohio energy providers also earned accolades, including American Electric Power (No. 2), NRG (No. 8) and First Energy (No. 11). First Energy is the utility provider that in 2012 partnered with Duke Energy locally to bring Cincinnati an electric aggregation program, allegedly useful for both lowering electricity rates and increasing use of renewable energy sources with group buying power. Last month, CityBeat covered allegations that First Energy was focused on weakening energy efficiency standards under Ohio's Clean Energy Law, supposedly to protect prices from shooting up for its customers.
by German Lopez
15 days ago
Council combats human trafficking, Medicare reveals price data, Duke tops 'Dirty Dozen'
With a set of initiatives unanimously approved last week, City Council is looking to join the state in combating Cincinnati’s human trafficking problem.
The initiatives would evaluate local courts’ practices in human
trafficking and prostitution cases and study the need for more
surveillance cameras and streetlights at West McMicken Avenue, a
notorious prostitution hotspot. Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who
spearheaded the initiatives, says the West McMicken Avenue study will
serve as a pilot program that could eventually branch out to other
prostitution hotspots in Cincinnati, including Lower Price Hill and Camp
Medicare data released yesterday revealed charges and payments can vary by thousands of dollars
depending on the hospital, including in Cincinnati. Health care
advocates and experts attribute the price disparity to the lack of
transparency in the health care system, which allows hospitals to set
prices without worrying about typical market checks. CityBeat previously covered the lack of health care price transparency in Ohio here.
Duke Energy is the No. 1 utility company polluter
in the nation, according to new rankings from Pear Energy. The rankings
looked at carbon dioxide emissions, which directly contribute to global
warming. Pear Energy is a solar and wind energy company that competes
with utility companies like Duke Energy, but the methodology behind the
rankings was fairly transparent and based on U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency data.
Commentary: “Republicans Continue Voter Suppression Tactics.”
City Council approved form-based code yesterday, which
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls has been working on for years. In a statement,
Qualls’ office called form-based code an “innovative alternative to conventional
zoning” that will spur development. “Cincinnati now joins hundreds of
cities that are using form-based code to build and reinforce walkable
places that create value, preserve character and are the bedrock of
Cincinnati neighborhoods’ competitive advantage,” Qualls said in the statement.
State Sen. Peggy Lehner is looking to amend the Ohio budget bill to add a $100 million voucher program
that would cover preschool for three- and four-year-olds. The details
of the program are so far unclear, but Lehner said she might put most of
the funding on the second year of the biennium budget to give the state
time to prepare proper preschool programs. If the amendment proceeded,
it would join recent efforts in Cincinnati to open up early education
programs to low- and middle-income families. CityBeat covered the local efforts and many benefits of quality preschool here.
Gov. John Kasich says he would back a ballot initiative for a mostly federally funded Medicaid expansion,
which the Health Policy Institute of Ohio says would insure nearly half
a million Ohioans and save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars
in the next decade. CityBeat covered the Medicaid expansion in further detail here.
Policy Matters Ohio released a lengthy report
yesterday detailing how the state could move towards clean energy and
electric cars and calling for more state incentives for clean energy.
The report praises Cincinnati in particular for using municipal policies
to build local clean energy and keep energy jobs in the city.
The last tenant at Tower Place Mall is moving out.
Scientists are working on a microchip that could be implanted into the brain to restore memories.
They also found proof that seafloor bacteria ate radioactive supernova dust.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 8, 2013
A Washington school principal canceled classes on Friday,
May 3 for a “sun-day” to “celebrate an exceptionally nice day of the
spring season,” according to a letter he sent home to students and
parents. WORLD +1
by Hannah McCartney
112 days ago
Mallory announces construction to begin in April on track for 2015 completion
Another hurdle in the ongoing struggle to make the streetcar a reality was bypassed today, when Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. announced that after months entangled in a gridlock, Duke Energy and the city of Cincinnati have finally reached an agreement over who will pay for the relocation of utility lines. Somewhat of an agreement, anyway. Mallory said that the city and Duke will go before a judge in Common Pleas court, who will make the final decision as to who should pay for the utility relocation. According to the agreement, Duke Energy will begin moving its utilities in the next few weeks, and the court decision will determine cost responsibility later. The city and Duke are expected to file in Common Pleas court within the next few weeks, although the court decision could take years to finalize.The city broke ground on the streetcar nearly a year ago, but the skirmish between Duke and the city delayed further development — Duke refused to begin any kind of construction before financial responsibility was determined. The reconciliation contains two separate agreements, one of which outlines how Duke will safely operate its utilities once the streetcar is in place. The other demarcates how Duke and the city will resolve the issue of financial responsibility; they've both agreed to abide by the court ruling after any appeals are exhausted. "The utilities' agreements are in place, the cars are being ordered and
the construction bids are coming in," announced Dohoney. Roxanne Qualls, city council member and Democratic mayoral candidate, has long been a supporter of the streetcar project, which she values as an indispensable economic investment for the city of Cincinnati. Yesterday, Qualls announced her request for the city to ramp up the streetcar construction timeline in order to have the project completed in time for the All-Star Games, which will take place in Cincinnati July 2015. Her announcement came just weeks after the city revised its timetable to delay project completion until April 2016. In a letter from Qualls to Mallory and Dohoney, she explains: “This may present a
challenge, but it is one I am sure the administration is capable of
meeting. The streetcar will serve a critical role in efficiently and
effectively moving visitors to and from Great American Ballpark and
allowing them to conveniently visit other venues such as Fountain
Square, Horseshoe Casino, Over-the-Rhine, Washington Park, etc.” At the meeting, Mallory announced that the city would shoot for construction to be completed prior to the games, but there were no guarantees. The streetcar builder will ultimately set the timeline for the project, according to Jason Barron, Mallory's director of public affairs. CityBeat recently covered the streetcar project's delays and how the 2013 mayoral race could affect its progress here.
by Andy Brownfield
Measures front Duke $15 million, add utility responsibility to move lines to city code
Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved a set of
measures to alter funding of the $110 million streetcar project in order
avoid further delaying its 2015 opening.
The three measures set up $15 million to front to Duke
Energy to move utility lines out of the proposed path; changes the
source of funding to repay some $25 million in bonds used to pay for the
streetcar; sells $14 million in bonds for streetcar improvements; and
changes the municipal code to clarify that it is the responsibility of a
utility to relocate its structures.
The $15 million comes from the $37 million sale of city-owned land near the former Blue Ash Airport.
Council voted 6-3 to approve the front money, improvement
bonds and bond repayment, a vote that largely mirrored a Monday Budget
and Finance Committee vote. Councilman Chris Smitherman was the sole
“no” vote on the ordinance to change the municipal code.
Councilmembers Cecil Thomas, Wendell Young, Roxanne
Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson voted to pass
funding, while Councilmembers Smitherman, P.G. Sittenfeld and Charles
Winburn voted against.
“My concern with all of these votes … in particular the
Blue Ash Airport dollars, these were promises that you made to the
neighborhoods and I don’t have the confidence that the legal battle
against Duke Energy is going to yield a 100 percent win for the city of
Cincinnati, so there’s no assurance that these dollars are going to come
back,” said Councilman Chris Smitherman, one of the most vocal
opponents of the streetcar.
“I want to be clear that it’s something that I don’t support.”
The $15 million would be fronted to Duke to move its lines
while the city and utility work out who is responsible for funding the
Duke estimates the full cost at $18 million and argues
that the lines would not have to be moved if the streetcar wasn’t being
built. The city maintains that it has always been the responsibility of
utilities to move or upgrade their structures — which the third measure
clarified in the municipal code. If the city loses a legal battle against Duke, it will not
recoup the $15 million.
The second proposal switches the source of funding for
streetcar bonds from money coming into city coffers from southern
downtown and the riverfront area to a 1995 fund set up to collect
service payments from the Westin/Star, Hyatt and Saks. The measure wouldn't use any additional new money for the streetcar.
That downtown area wasn’t bringing in as much cash as
expected but the city hopes to repay the other fund once the downtown
district — which includes the Banks and the casino — rebounds.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
THURSDAY SEPT. 13: Amanda Bynes, once named one of Teen People’s
“25 Hottest Stars Under 25” got herself into hot water today after
paparazzi filmed her driving around for hours while hitting a marijuana
pipe that looks like a car lighter.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The $110 million streetcar project’s opening is being delayed by more than a full year — from spring 2014 to summer 2015.
Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, attributes the delay to “a number of scheduling issues.”
by German Lopez
City says a number of issues contributed to more than yearlong postponement
The $110 million streetcar project's opening is being delayed by more than a full year — from spring 2014 to summer 2015.
Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, attributes the delay to “a number of scheduling issues.”
“There’s so many moving pieces,” she says. “There are
issues with utility and we have to order the cars. We
have to get a contractor on-board for the work. So we still have a
couple of things that are taking longer than we thought.”The delay, which was announced Sept. 10, is
the latest in a history of plan and schedule changes for the Cincinnati
streetcar, which saw $52 million pulled by Gov. John Kasich last year and forced
the city to abandon its Uptown connector lines. Kasich, who has been against other rail projects in the state, claimed the move was necessary to balance the 2012-2013 budget.Today, a feud between
the city and Duke Energy is causing more trouble. The city and utility company disagree over
who should pay for moving utility lines to accommodate the
streetcar. On Aug. 29, the city said it was considering a lawsuit to
resolve the issue. Olberding says the conflict played a role in the delay.“We need to resolve that quickly because, obviously, the
longer we can’t get utility work done, it’ll cause delays and cost
overruns,” she says. “So we want to get that done as soon as possible.”
Before the current spat, the city and Duke could not agree
on whether manhole covers and utility lines should be eight feet from
streetcar tracks or three to four feet. The city claimed the smaller
number was fine, but Duke disagreed, citing fears for its workers. In a
previous look at the issue, CityBeat found the city’s standard
was supported by experiences in other cities (“The Great Eight Debate,”
issue of March 6). The city eventually won out, and manholes will only be required to be three to four feet from streetcar tracks.The streetcar has faced consistent opposition from other Republicans besides Kasich. U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati successfully amended the 2013 transportation bill to ban federal funding from going to the streetcar and other light rail projects. Councilman Charlie Winburn, the lone Republican on Cincinnati City Council, said the city should stop its threat of lawsuit against Duke Energy.
by German Lopez
A federal judge is ordering Secretary of State Jon Husted
to appear in court to explain why Husted is ignoring a recent ruling. The judge
ruled Friday that Husted must enact in-person early voting for all
voters on the weekend and Monday before Election Day. Husted told county
boards of elections to ignore the ruling until after an appeal process.
Republicans have consistently blocked the expansion of early voting,
citing racial politics and costs.After a merger with Progress Energy, Duke Energy will
rebrand itself. The details are sparse, but CEO Jim Rogers promised in a
letter last week that the company will be going some big changes. Even a
name change was hinted at in the letter, which promised the commission
“a rollout of the new logo and name-change occurring at the end of the
first quarter of 2013 and beginning of the second quarter.” An activist group is demanding the U.S. Department of
Labor investigate allegations that Murray Energy forced its miners in
Bealsville, Ohio to attend a campaign rally for presidential candidate
Mitt Romney. CREDO Action, the group filing the petition, wants the
Department of Labor to see if any laws were broken in the process.
Murray Energy’s CEO says workers were told the campaign rally “was
mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” But that explanation makes
no sense.Cincinnati hospitals and medical centers saw higher
expenses and revenues in the past few fiscal years. Urban hospitals and
centers in particular were more likely to see higher costs and income,
while rural hospitals and centers sometimes saw decreases.Voters First is mocking the redistricting system with a
new graph. The graph shows a real email exchange between politicians
carving out districts for personal gain. The exchange only lasts 13
minutes and has no questions asked before Republican redistricting officials agree
to redraw a district to benefit Rep. Jim Renacci, a Republican. Voters First also held
a 13-minute press conference to mock the exchange further and explain
the redistricting process.I-75 will be undergoing a massive widening project starting in 2021. The project is estimated to cost $467 million.Three downtown buildings have been sold to 3CDC for $10. The company currently has no plans for the buildings.Ohio is hosting an international venture capital
conference. The National Association of Seed and Venture Funds
conference is in Cleveland between Oct. 15 and 17. The nonprofit
organization has 200 members, and 22 of them are in Ohio. Venture
capital has come under fire during the current campaign season due to
Romney’s campaign and Romney’s work as CEO of Bain Capital.The Miami University frat that was suspended is dropping
its $10 million lawsuit. The frat was suspended after a fireworks
battle led to police finding illegal substances inside the frat.Ohio farmers from all counties are now seeking disaster aid after severe storms and drought hurt crops this summer.Former Gov. Ted Strickland got “God” and “Jerusalem” put
back in the Democratic Party’s official platform. There was some booing
after the pandering addition was made. Former President Bill Clinton made a speech defending
President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night.
In the speech, Clinton points out that Republicans were in power when
the recession began, and Obama inherited a horrible situation from them.
But Clinton passed the largest deregulatory law in history when in 1999 he repealed the
Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, and the severe lack of regulation is
often blamed for the financial crisis that helped spur the Great
Recession.A scientist is linking global warming to the amount of exploding stars in the sky.
by German Lopez
Duke Energy told city officials to OK an operating deal
for the streetcar before trying to talk costs. The fighting words are in the
middle of an ongoing feud between city officials and Duke Energy about
who will move utility lines and pipes to accommodate the streetcar.
The operating details will help Duke know what “unbreakable rules” about
maintenance and emergency repairs exist and where the streetcar will go,
according to the company’s spokesperson. CityBeat previously covered the streetcar issue and all the pettiness from Duke here.
A suspended frat is suing Miami University. The frat was
suspended after a fireworks battle led to the discovery of illegal
substances in the frat. The frat claims the university improperly
suspended it, damaged its business and property, and made libelous
allegations out of “malice, hatred and ill will.” The frat says it
shouldn’t have been suspended without a written complaint, but Miami's spokesperson said the university is allowed to suspend
students without a written complaint if there is a pending
investigation.Ohio will soon begin tying college funding to graduation rates. If only that was done with e-schools.Equality Ohio announced Columbus, Ohio made a step forward
in LGBT rights yesterday. It is now among the few cities in Ohio to
have a domestic partner registry, which allows same-sex couples to
legally declare their relationships without marriage or civil unions.
Toledo, Cleveland, Athens and Dayton also have registries.Secretary of State Jon Husted wrote a “guest column” on his own website defending early voting rules in Ohio. Republicans are facing criticism over bringing racial politics and poor arguments into the early voting debate.Ohio’s unemployed will soon get a little less help from the
federal government, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Ohio’s rapidly falling unemployment rate has triggered a second
reduction in the amount of aid the unemployed can get. Before April
2012, unemployed Ohioans were eligible for 99 weeks of benefits. The eligible weeks dropped to 73 weeks in April
and will drop to 63 weeks starting in September. However, the benefits are set to expire in December if the federal government doesn't act, and that would push the eligible weeks down to 26 weeks. Ohio's unemployment rate is currently 7.2 percent, down from 10.6 percent at the height of the recession.
The University of Cincinnati’s new interim president just got a nice raise.The state texting-while-driving ban goes into effect tomorrow.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio made his speech at the Republican
national convention yesterday. In the speech, he criticized President
Barack Obama for the current state of the economy. In return, Democrats criticized
Portman for his budget work for former President George W. Bush,
whose administration is widely blamed for the current economic crisis.It seems like Paul Ryan spent a lot of time lying in his
speech at the Republican national convention yesterday. The vice
presidential candidate blamed Obama for an auto plant closing
that closed before Obama was president. It seems Ryan is getting
on-board with the Romney-Mandel plan of running on dishonesty.
Cincinnati is the top hot dog city, according to a new
survey. The survey says 7.3 percent of Cincinnati restaurant menus have hot dog options, making it the city with the most accessible hot dogs.Space sugars have been found around a young star.