WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 

Losing Democracy

Redistricting helped the GOP win the House, and it almost caused the fiscal cliff

0 Comments · Thursday, January 3, 2013
Over the past few weeks, the political drama in Washington, D.C., has circulated around the “fiscal cliff,” a series of tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in for 2013. On Jan. 1, U.S. Congress narrowly avoided the fiscal cliff. But the close call left some wondering: Could it have been more easily prevented, particularly through redistricting reform?   
by German Lopez 01.03.2013
Posted In: Budget, News, Congress, Gun Violence, Energy, Education, Economy at 10:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
capitol hill

Morning News and Stuff

Fiscal cliff averted despite local politicians, defense cuts delayed, wind tax credit renewed

The fiscal cliff was averted, but some Greater Cincinnati politicians didn’t do much to help. U.S. Speaker John Boehner voted for the final fiscal cliff deal, but Republican U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot, Jean Schmidt and Mike Turner voted against the deal. Ohio’s U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, voted in favor of the deal. U.S. Congress may have averted the fiscal cliff, but the spending cuts were only delayed for two months. For jobs at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, that means another congressional showdown in March could decide the fate of thousands of jobs. On the other hand, no one is surprised Congress reacted to a crisis by kicking the can down the road. As part of the fiscal cliff deal, Ohio’s wind industry should feel a little safer thanks to the extension of wind energy tax credits. Still, advocates are frustrated funding for wind energy is part of a “stop-and-start policy” that can suddenly continue or end depending on last-minute congressional deals. The Buckeye Firearms Association is training and arming 24 teachers through a pilot program in the spring. A previous CityBeat analysis found no evidence that arming teachers would help stop gun violence; in fact, armed people tend to be in greater danger of violence. Ohio and Kentucky are still in the bottom half of Forbes’ ranking for businesses, but they’re showing improvement. The Ohio Liberty Coalition, a tea party group, is not happy with Gov. John Kasich. The group is upset Kasich supposedly violated the state’s Health Care Freedom Amendment by signing legislation that compels all Ohioans with health care insurance to buy autism coverage. If even conservatives are angry at Kasich, who’s happy with him? Cincinnati-based Macy’s is closing six stores, but none of them are in the Cincinnati area. Surprise! Research has linked being overweight (but not obese) with lower risk of mortality. During her final days as commander, Sunita Williams of NASA recorded a tour of the International Space Station.  A new study found newborn babies know the difference between their native language and a foreign one.
 
 
by German Lopez 01.02.2013
 
 
john boehner

Morning News and Stuff

Fiscal cliff averted, Boehner uses naughty word, private prison penalized

Happy new year! Yes, planet Earth made it through another year. Welcome to an “extra saucy” Morning News and Stuff. U.S. Congress managed to narrowly avert the “fiscal cliff,” a series of tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in at the beginning of 2013. If the fiscal cliff had not been prevented, economists and the Congressional Budget Office warned the United States would have plunged back into recession. The final deal keeps tax hikes for those making more than $450,000 a year, and most Americans will see their taxes increase as the payroll tax break passed with President Barack Obama’s stimulus package expires. It’s important to remember that the passing of a deal is not some show of bipartisan heroism; instead, it’s Congress barely preventing an entirely self-inflicted problem. But the deal did not come smoothly. Not only did Congress wait until the very last moment, but U.S. Speaker John Boehner used a naughty word. At a White House meeting, the Ohio politician shot at unfavorable comments from Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s by telling Reid, “Go f— yourself.” In fact, Boehner actually used the naughty word twice! Reid replied, “What are you talking about?” Boehner once again said, “Go f— yourself.” Who knew U.S. Congress would turn out to be so much like high school? When Corrections Corporation of America’s (CCA) Lake Erie prison received an unfavorable audit, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction reacted by cutting payments to CCA by $573,000. CityBeat covered the audit and its troubling findings here. CityBeat also covered private prisons in-depth here. On the bright side, Ohio’s minimum wage went up, like it’s required to do so every year. Policy Matters Ohio says the increase will bring in $340 per year for 215,000 low-wage workers around the state.  Cincinnati-based Kroger is looking mighty tempting this year. Stock-wise, anyway. I don’t think many people like grocery shopping. A court ruled Ohio overcharged 270,000 businesses for workers’ compensation premiums and must repay them. The ruling could cost the state millions of dollars. In case anyone was worried, the national standards Ohio adopted for schools do not ban The Catcher in the Rye. Book cliff averted. Allstate is hiring in Ohio. I’m not sure why this is news, but it’s on multiple newspapers today, so there it is. Gays are now marrying in Maryland. Is the apocalypse near? Intel could be looking to revolutionize the cable industry by allowing people to subscribe to individual TV channels. That’s not a medieval weapon; it’s a space rover! The new rovers planned by top universities and NASA could visit Mars’ moon Phobos or an asteroid. It’s, like, whatever.
 
 
by German Lopez 12.21.2012
Posted In: Barack Obama, Budget, Economy, News, Government at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
apocalypse

Morning News and Stuff

End of world today, state unemployment dips, fiscal cliff plan abandoned

Today is the end of the world. Whatever. Life sucks anyway. Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.9 percent to 6.8 percent in November. Gains were concentrated in trade, transportation, and utilities, financial activities and educational and health services, with losses in construction, leisure and hospitality, government, professional and business services and information services. Overall, the state’s non-agricultural wage and salary employment increased by 1,600. But could the recovery last? U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is now ditching efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff, a series of spending cuts and tax hikes set to kick in at the end of the year. Boehner could not get Republicans to vote on a tax hike for people making more than $1 million a year, which isn’t even enough to make President Barack Obama’s demand of increased taxes on anyone making more than $400,000. If the United States goes over the fiscal cliff, the spending cuts and tax hikes will likely devastate the economy. CityBeat wrote about U.S. Congress’ inability to focus on jobs here. Ohio Gov. John Kasich finished the lame-duck session by signing 42 bills into law. The laws include loosened restrictions on gun control, an update to Ohio’s education rating system and $4.4 million in appropriations. The loosened gun control law in particular is getting criticized from Democrats in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre. The law allows guns in the Ohio Statehouse garage, loosens concealed carry rules and changes the definition of an unloaded gun so gun owners can have loaded clips in cars as long as they are stored separately from guns. CityBeat wrote about the need for more gun control in this week’s commentary. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters suggested arming teachers to avoid school shootings, but a considerable amount of research shows that doesn’t work. Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig says arming teachers is a bad idea: “Certainly we can look at other options, but when you talk about arming  school teachers or a school administrator without the appropriate training, and training is not just going to a target range and being able to hit center mass. How do you deal with a crisis? We're talking about a place with children.” Craig is now pushing crisis training as a major initiative. Meanwhile, Sen. Rob Portman says school shootings need a holistic approach. The Ohio Republican says he will consider further restrictions on guns and armed school officials. It seems a housing recovery is well underway. Cincinnati home sales are showing no signs of a slowdown. Cincinnati is getting six historic preservation tax credits from the state government. As part of the ninth round of the program, the Ohio Development Services Agency is giving the city credits for parts of Main Street, parts of East 12th Street, parts of East McMillan Street, Abington Flats, Eden Park Pump Station and Pendleton Apartments. The U.S. Department of Education is looking into whether Ohio charter schools discriminate against students with disabilities. Overall, charter schools in the state enroll as many students with disabilities as traditional public schools, but students with disabilities are concentrated in a few charter schools. A federal judge upheld Ohio’s exotic animal law, which restricts who can own the animals in the state. Judith French, a Republican, will replace retiring Justice Evelyn Stratton on the Ohio Supreme Court. Gov. Kasich’s appointment of French keeps the court’s makeup of six Republicans and one Democrat. Genetics is perfecting the Christmas tree. From the Twilight Zone archives comes Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Christmas special.
 
 

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs?

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
If someone turned on the news during the past few weeks, it would be hard to blame him if he thought the most pressing issues in the world right now are budgets and abortions.   
by German Lopez 11.19.2012
 
 
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Plan Cincinnati hearing tonight, fiscal cliff threatens schools, Kasich declines exchanges

City Council’s Livable Communities committee is expected to hear about and likely vote tonight on the city’s first master plan in more than 30 years. The plan, which CityBeat previously covered, seeks a renewed emphasis on Cincinnati’s urban core through new infrastructure and transportation options. It was put together largely based on public feedback. The “fiscal cliff,” which is really more of a self-induced austerity crisis from the federal government, could seriously hurt Ohio schools. Educators around the state, including Cincinnati schools, are expecting a cut of about 8 percent in federal funding. A Cincinnati Public Schools levy was recently renewed after a decade of cuts and problems at the school district. Gov. John Kasich has finally made a decision for Obamacare: The state will not run the health exchanges that are a big part of the plan. With the governor’s decision, managing the health exchanges now falls to the federal government. Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, defended the governor’s decision by pointing out that even if the state managed the exchanges, the federal government would always have the final say, creating an arrangement “just doesn’t make sense for the state.” Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace. Cincinnati’s economy is being carried largely by manufacturing, and that looks likely to continue. Business schools at the University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Xavier University and Northern Kentucky University were found to be among the nation’s best, according to the Princeton Review. Still, none of the schools made the top 10 rankings for the review’s 11 categories. City Council is holding a public hearing today to find out what the city should do with casino revenue. Some of the council members already have plans, but City Council wants public feedback to shape the final decision. In other council news, the Human Services Advisory committee recommended funding for 56 out of 58 programs. The two programs left out are the Over-The-Rhine Kitchen and a social education program offered by the Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati. Cincinnati’s Metro bus service will be getting a revamp in the next few years. The company released a comprehensive plan with short-term and long-term goals that focus on increasing travel speed and reach. Charter schools are where a large amount of Ohio kids are getting their education. This is despite the fact that, in general, traditional public schools perform better than charter schools, according to state standards. Food stamps for Ohio families are getting reduced by about $25 a month. The good news is the cut is lower than expected. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction released a “re-inspection report” for the Lake Erie prison owned by Corrections Corporation of America. According to the new report, CCA has come a long way and corrected many of the violations the state originally found in the private prison. The last report found the prison, which CCA bought in 2011, was riddled with problems. CityBeat looked at private prisons, their problems and the shady connections between state officials and CCA in an in-depth report. A report found more Ohioans are taking advantage of a national settlement that lets households refinance their mortgages. In total, more than 4,500 Ohioans have refinanced for $165 million in consumer relief. Still, many eligible Ohioans are not taking advantage of the opportunity. Here are pictures of a tiny octopus, fighting female robots and an orange-powered battery.
 
 

Report: Ohio’s Jobless Face Continued Uncertainty

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 14, 2012
It was only one day after President Barack Obama’s re-election, and some groups were already demanding action. In a Nov. 7 report by left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio, the group said the expiration of federal unemployment benefits could leave Ohio’s jobless stranded.   
by German Lopez 11.08.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Economy, Homelessness at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
qualls

Morning News and Stuff

Homeless to Homes plan approved, unemployment benefits could expire, fiscal cliff looms

With a push from Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and City Council approval, the Homeless to Homes plan is moving forward. The shelter-moving plan, which was originally put together by Strategies to End Homelessness, will use $37 million in loans to build new shelters for the Drop Inn Center, City Gospel Mission and the YWCA. But some homeless advocates have criticized the plan because it forces them to move homeless shelters they don’t want to move. Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, says the money could be spent better developing affordable housing and creating jobs to help eliminate homelessness. Just one day after President Barack Obama’s re-election, one left-leaning Ohio group was already making demands. They want federal unemployment benefits renewed. The group’s research director, supported by economic data, says the expiration of those benefits could have bad repercussions for the unemployed and the federal and state economies. Meanwhile, Cincinnati investment professionals are beginning to renew worries about the federal fiscal cliff. The fiscal cliff, which includes emergency unemployment benefits, is a mix of tax hikes and budget cuts set to automatically occur at the end of the year. The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan agency that measures the impact of federal budgets and policy, has warned about the fiscal cliff’s potential economic damage. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has also warned lawmakers about the fiscal cliff. A state appeals court ruled today that the city of Cincinnati is allowed to reduce retirees’ health benefits. The cuts in benefits are meant to shore up the city’s pension plan, but retirees, including former City Clerk Sandy Sherman, filed a lawsuit arguing the benefits can only be increased, not decreased. The case could still move to the Ohio Supreme Court. Hamilton County’s new Democratic sheriff, Jim Neil, is already making plans. He says he favors alternative sentencing to deal with jail overcrowding, and he wants to audit and restructure the sheriff department’s budget to cut waste. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will be in Cincinnati Thursday to unveil Cincinnati’s first prescription drug drop box. The drop boxes are meant to reduce prescription drug abuse and improper ingestion. A sign of what could come to Cincinnati next spring: Columbus’s casino reported $18.3 million in revenue for its first month. Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino is currently being constructed and is expected to open in spring 2013. Blue Ash-based Empire Marketing Strategies is buying a plant site in Mason for about $820,000, and it could create 200 jobs. In case you missed it, CityBeat posted comprehensive election results for Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio and the U.S. State Democrats and Republicans have an explanation for two incumbents losing in the Ohio Supreme Court: names. On Democrat William O’Neill defeating Republican incumbent Robert Cupp, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett said O’Neill won because he has an Irish-American name. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said, “Sharon Kennedy is a great ballot name. That’s why she won.” Redfern says he will introduce legislation that will require party affiliation to appear on the Ohio Supreme Court ballots. The election didn’t change much in the Ohio Board of Education. It remains five Democrats and six Republicans. Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan said the approval of Issue 4, which extends City Council terms to four years, will be good for local business. She argues “there’s a great business case to be made for having a more stable and reliable local government.” While marijuana was legalized in some states, Butler County led what it believes is its biggest marijuana bust in history. More than 900 lbs of marijuana were seized. Bill Cunningham, local conservative radio talk show host, may retire due to Obama’s re-election. Oh well. In the story of another conservative meltdown, CityBeat has a special letter for the Lebanon tea party: We’re sorry. Perhaps the national media’s most under-reported story of election night was that Puerto Ricans favored statehood in the polls for the first time. If Congress and Obama act, the island could become the 51st state.Popular Science has an open letter to President Barack Obama. While they like how Obama generally supports science funding more than a President Mitt Romney would, they want Obama to do more.
 
 

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