by German Lopez
Streetcar project misrepresented, gun control battle continues, Media Bridges closing down
Ever since the Cincinnati streetcar has been envisioned,
the mass transit project has been mired in misrepresentations driven
largely by opponents and politicians. CityBeat has a breakdown of the misrepresentations here, showing some of the silliest and biggest falsehoods claimed by opponents and supporters.
The national battle over gun control came to Cincinnati on July 4 when former Rep. Gabby Giffords stopped at the Northside parade to call for new restrictions on firearms.
Giffords is part of a slew of national leaders calling for stronger
regulations and enforcement for background checks — a policy more than nine in 10 Americans support. Still, the call seems to be politically unheard so far: Federal legislation is stalled in Congress, and Ohio legislators are working to loosen gun restrictions.
Facing city budget cuts, public access media organization Media Bridges is shutting down by the end of the year.
The city picked up Media Bridges’ funding after the organization lost
state funding that had been provided through an agreement with Time
Warner Cable. But city officials claim the local funding was supposed to
act as a one-year reprieve and nothing more — a claim Media Bridges was
apparently never made aware of until it was too late. To justify the
cut, the city cites public
surveys that ranked budget programs in terms of importance, but a look
at the citizen surveys shows the demographics were skewed against
low-income people who make the most use out of programs like Media
Check out CityBeat’s editorial content for this week’s issue:• German Lopez: “Meet Daniela,” the hypothetical victim of Republican policies at the state and national level.• Ben Kaufman: “‘Enquirer’ Takes Questionable Approach to Covering Meyers Ordination,” which analyzes the questionable apathy to a supposedly “illegal” ordination of a woman Catholic priest.• Kathy Wilson: “Until It’s Time for You to Go,”
a look at the life story of South African leader Nelson Mandela and the
hurdles he faced as he helped end discriminatory apartheid policies.
If you’re headed to Fountain Square today, expect to see
some images of bloodied fetuses and fetal limbs. An anti-abortion group
is showing a video with the gruesome visuals
as part of a protest against what it sees as “the greatest human rights
injustice of our time.” The group defends its tactics by citing its
First Amendment rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has so far refused to
rule one way or the other on the issue, but, barring some restrictions
for airwave broadcasts, the court typically protects all kinds of
political speech as long as it’s not pornographic.
The Cincinnati Police Department is changing how it responds to calls
to focus on what it sees as the most important issues, such as impacting violent crime,
youth intervention efforts, long-term problem solving projects, traffic
safety and neighborhood quality-of-life issues. The biggest change will come with how the department reacts to minor traffic accidents: It will still
respond, but it may not file a report.
The so-far-unnamed Greater Cincinnati coalition working to reduce the local infant mortality rate set a goal
yesterday: zero. It’s a dramatic vision for a region that, at 13.6, has
an infant mortality rate more than twice the national average of six,
as CityBeat covered here.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced in a statement
yesterday that he will be gathering local leaders and health officials
to encourage the state to expand Medicaid. The expansion, which CityBeat covered in further detail here,
would save Ohio money and insure half a million Ohioans in the
next decade, according to an analysis by the Health Policy Institute of
Fish oils may increase the risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study.
A measure that would disallow employers from discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals made it through a U.S. Senate committee yesterday.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise could have the features to making self-driving cars viable.
A device trains blind people to see by listening.
Gabrielle Giffords visits Cincinnati to support responsible state gun legislation after NRA defeats federal attempts
4 Comments · Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Gun control advocates lobby for legislation, even as it falters at the federal level.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will
appear in Thursday’s Northside 4th of July Parade as part of a
nationwide tour supporting responsible gun legislation.
by German Lopez
Ohioans support Medicaid, bill would ease gun rules, Smitherman steps down from NAACP
Got questions for CityBeat about anything related to Cincinnati? Submit your questions here and we’ll try to get back to you in our first Answers Issue.
CityBeat is looking to talk to convicted drug offenders
from Ohio for an upcoming cover story. If you’d like to participate or
know anyone willing to participate, email email@example.com.
A new poll from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati found a majority of Ohioans support expanding Medicaid coverage,
but state legislators have passed on a federally funded expansion in
their latest budget bills and other legislation. About 63 percent of 866
Ohioans asked between May 19 and June 2
supported the expansion, with a margin of error of 3.3 percent. The
question was part of the Ohio Health Issues Poll, which the University
of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research has conducted for the
Health Foundation each year since 2005.
An Ohio bill would ease restrictions on semi-automatic magazines,
making it so gun owners can more easily purchase high-round clips for
their semi-automatic weapons. Supporters of the bill say the change helps
differentiate between automatic and semi-automatic weapons — a
differentiation that doesn’t currently occur under state law. Critics
argue the bill makes it easier for offenders to carry out violent
shootings, such as the recent massacre in Sandy Hook
Councilman Chris Smitherman is stepping down
as president of the local branch of the NAACP while he runs for
re-election. If he wins the election, Smitherman will then offer his resignation, which the NAACP's local executive committee can accept or reject. James Clingman, a vice president of the NAACP and founder
of the Greater Cincinnati African-American Chamber of Commerce, will
take Smitherman's spot for the time being. Before the move, Smitherman was criticized for engaging in
partisan political activity as he ran for re-election, which is
generally looked down upon by the NAACP and federal rules regarding
501(c)(3) organization like the federal branch of the NAACP.
The world’s most advanced solar plane touched down in Cincinnati Friday before continuing its record-breaking journey across the nation to Washington, D.C.
Apparently, cities with more room to grow actually grow more. For Cincinnati, that could be a good sign as the city moves to build more apartments.
The Columbus Dispatch says Internet cafes make gambling more convenient and accessible to problematic gamblers. As a result of recently passed legislation, Internet cafes are being effectively shut down around the state.
Ohio gas prices are coming back down.
If someone wants to get away from the U.S. government, Popular Science has a few suggestions.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology built a robot that helps people be less awkward.
by Hannah McCartney
Bill would remove language monitoring sizes of magazines
Six months ago today, 26 children and adults were slaughtered at the hands of Adam Lanza and a semi-automatic Bushmaster XM12 E2S rifle inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., one of the deadliest school shooting massacres in U.S. history. As parents, friends, family and gun control advocates around the country mourn and commemorate the loss of life, Ohio gun rights advocates are worried about something else. Their concern: how to make it easier for Ohio citizens to obtain high-round magazines for their semi-automatic weapons.A new Ohio House Bill introduced by State Rep. John Becker (R-Union Township) could, if passed, allow people to purchase high-round magazines for semi-automatic weapons, removing language from the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) that currently restricts use of magazines exceeding 31 rounds for semi-automatic weapons. Specifically, the proposed bill would remove the definition of "automatic firearm" from section 2923.11 from the ORC that currently qualifies a weapon traditionally defined as a semi-automatic firearm (which operated by firing only once for each pull of the trigger) as an automatic firearm under Ohio law when used with a magazine holding greater than 31 rounds of ammunition. Gun rights advocates are in favor of deleting the line because qualifying a semi-automatic as an automatic weapon under Ohio law (dependent on magazine size) subjects gun owners to greater background checks and stricter purchasing restrictions, which they consider an unlawful hassle and burden. Jim Irvine, Chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, says that the sentence Becker has proposed to remove is one that inherently conflicts the actual definition of an automatic weapon; he says it doesn't make sense to qualify a semi-automatic weapon under the same umbrella as an automatic weapon when the two are entirely different types of firearms. He says that the issue is one of convenience for most semi-automatic gun owners, including himself. "Loading up magazines can take time," he says. "When I go to the shooting range I want to use my time up shooting, not reloading." That extra time, though, is exactly the point of the wording in the ORC, explains Toby Hoover, executive director for the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. Limited magazines were what eventually stopped the Arizona gunman who shot former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords because a bystander was able to attack the shooter when he dropped a magazine while trying to reload. Hoover asserts that gun rights advocates like Irvine are being subversive in their reasons for wanting to change the changed law. She says the legal issue is not that the ORC is trying to directly equate semi-automatic weapons to automatic weapons — they clearly operate differently — but that grouping them together using that magazine restriction is a common-sense way to define them both as dangerous, unnecessary forms of firearms that simply shouldn't be readily accessible to the average gun owner. Semi-automatic weapons are extremely easy to purchase in Ohio, she says, while purchasing automatic weapons involves many more complicated restrictions and regulations. "I'm just really upset with the way they [Ohio Republicans and gun lobbyists] are ignoring the fact that people in Ohio want gun restrictions. They're just going the opposite direction," she says. "If they're really concerned about the wording of the law, just have them maybe separate the definitions but keep the restrictions the same." Ohio is one of several states monitor magazine limits on semi-automatic weapons, she explains, so it's not unusual at all that the ORC does so. Adam Lanza, Sandy Hook's shooter, had several 30-round magazines on him and was also carrying two handguns. It's estimated he used somewhere between four and 10 magazines during the shootings, which took place over a matter of minutes. The bill has been assigned to the House's Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security committee, where it currently awaits hearing
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
Cincinnati IRS employees violated IRS rules and maybe the law by
harassing scores of Tea Party and similar conservative groups seeking
vital nonprofit status.
an example of IRS intrusiveness, the Enquirer reports that the Liberty
Township Tea Party received a questionnaire demanding information the
IRS is not allowed to seek. “The letter was signed by a local IRS
official, who did not return calls seeking comment,” the paper initially
reported. Who? Name names. If the IRS employee signed and sent an
official government document, there’s no reason to grant anonymity.
in its initial full page A-section story, the Enquirer quotes Ohio IRS
spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins saying, “Mistakes were made.” By whom?
Again, names, please. Americans increasingly favor the passive voice,
“mistakes were made” but no one made them. If the paper pressed for
names of mistake-makers, it’s not evident. And who was fired? Anyone?
Associated Press — whose reporter broke this scandal story — says the
Cincinnati mess is at least two years old. This isn’t new. We’ve seen
IRS harassment of activists before and probably will again. Each time,
it’s a scandal. Or should be.
loss of residual confidence in IRS nonpartisanship is a helluva lot more
serious than the muddle surrounding the killing of four Americans in
Benghazi or the murder of three spectators at the Boston marathon.
sure it’s coincidence that the Cincinnati IRS harassment preceded the
2012 election. And I’m sure those employees were motivated only by zeal
to protect the purity of the 501(c)(4) status from improper or illegal
political activity. But I’m also sure that any agnostic or atheist
Republicans are looking at this Cincinnati-born national IRS scandal as
proof that “there is a God.” Now, to keep that wrath boiling with
hearings until 2014 elections.
Associated Press says it’s the target of a sweeping Justice Department
search for the news service’s confidential sources. Monday, AP reported
the Justice Department “secretly obtained two
months of telephone records of reporters and editors . . . in what the
news cooperative's top executive called a ‘massive and unprecedented
intrusion’ into how news organizations gather the news.
records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for
the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP
office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main
number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery,
according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also
included incoming calls or the duration of calls.
all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate
telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of
2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during
that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices
where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about
government and other matters.”
Maybe it’s time to call in the Plumbers.
no fan of public radio’s Ira Glass. His whiney voice sends me to WLW
700 AM radio for something more insanely macho. Now, he’s shoveling
natural soil enrichment in recorded promos for public radio fund
raising. I heard them on WVXU-FM’s just-ended fund drive. His point: We
should all be happy because everyone who listens to public radio helps
support public radio. Not true. Never will be. At WVXU, fewer than 10 percent
of us donate to its support. That means Ira Glass’s everyone are mostly
parasites, listening but not paying. (Our family is a sustaining member
of WVXU and WGUC . . . )
do our local news media track Macy’s commitment to ethical sourcing of
its house-brand clothing from Asian countries where factory fires,
collapses, etc., are just a cost of doing business? Contracts go where
labor is cheapest. People work or go hungry. It’s only going to get
worse when huge numbers of youngsters mature. Macy’s said the right
things after hundreds died after a Bangladesh factory crumbled, but now
it’s up to reporters to stay on the story.
glad Macy’s says it will continue to buy products made in Bangladesh.
Pleasing writers of anguished Letters to the Editor and leaving
Bangladesh in a virtuous huff doesn’t employ or feed anyone. I’ve been
in and out of developing countries for half a century. Lots of cheap
unskilled or semi-skilled labor feeds more families than one machine
(that breaks and rusts unrepaired). Whether it’s subsistence farming,
breaking stones with hammers for roadbeds, pedaling a rickshaw or
laborers carrying building materials up ladders in baskets on their
heads, it’s work that feeds. We can feel guilty, but walking away helps
accuses the Plain Dealer of racist news judgment over stories about
kidnapped young women freed recently after a decade of imprisonment and
abuse. BBC based its provocative judgment on its count of stories about
two of the three young women, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry. “In
Cleveland, the newspaper stories were mainly about the white girl,” BBC
News Magazine reporter Tara McKelvey wrote. “In the 10 years Berry was
missing, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper published 36 articles
about her, according to a search of electronic news archive Lexis-Nexis.
During the nine-year period that DeJesus, who is Hispanic, was missing, the newspaper published 19 articles about her case.”
is typical of American news media where MWW (Missing White Woman) gets
more coverage than black or Hispanic girls and women, according to
academics McKelvey quoted.
Chris Quinn, the Plain Dealer’s assistant managing editor/metro, rejects
McKelvey’s accusation. He says it’s not only wrong but “based on an
analysis so simplistic we would have thought it beneath an organization
such as yours.” Quinn said his “much more thorough review” shows the
reverse of the BBC tally. “The number of stories about DeJesus actually
is greater than the number mentioning Berry, contrary what you assert.
Your analysis did not include all variations of the DeJesus first name, a
rather glaring lapse.”
continued, “Because of the racial aspect your network chose to focus
on, we also included in our review stories about Shakira Johnson, a
black child who went missing around the same time as Amanda and Gina.
The hunt for Shakira was as big a community effort as the hunt for the
other missing girls.” Here’s his tally:
Stories mentioning Shakira Johnson and not Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry: 145
Stories mentioning only Gina DeJesus (or Georgina DeJesus): 24
Stories mentioning only Amanda Berry: 17
Stories mentioning Berry and DeJesus together: 8
Stories mentioning Berry, DeJesus and Johnson: 6
Stories mentioning DeJesus and Johnson together: 2
Quinn closed, “The suggestion that this newspaper has used race as any
kind of filter in its story choices is offensive in the extreme. We’re
shocked that such a poorly reported story could be posted by a network
with your reputation.”
can thank Time magazine and writer Steven Brill for prying comparative
hospital costs from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Enquirer carried a sample for local hospitals.
According to Poynter.com,
the journalism website, Brian Cook at the department’s Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services tells Brill the move “comes in part”
because of Brill’s article from March about health-care costs. HHS
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is also offering $87 million to the states
to create what she calls “health-care-data-pricing centers.”
continues, saying the centers will make pricing transparency more local
and user friendly than the giant data file. Brill says the report
“should become a tip sheet for reporters in every American city and
town, who can now ask hospitals to explain their pricing...If your
medical insurance requires you pay a percentage of a procedure’s cost,
that’s very useful information.”
are reporters going to call their bluff when speakers wax lyrical about
the joys of good guys with guns stopping bad guys with guns? Instead of
spreading these fantasies, interview people who train others in the
defensive use of handguns. Or talk to police and military firearms
instructors and combat veterans on how difficult it can be to overcome
the normal resistance to shooting another person.
at news stories that describe how many rounds officers fired in armed
confrontations; adrenalin does nothing to steady the gun hand or
restrain how many times an officer pulls the trigger. And these are the
best we have.
used handguns for more than 50 years. I passed the official Ohio
12-hour concealed/carry course for a CityBeat cover story. If anyone
thinks that training prepared them to provide armed response in schools,
movie theaters, malls, etc., they’re suffering a potentially deadly
delusion. It’s time reporters began to add that context to the debate of
guns in our society.
campuses are perfect for training student reporters. These schools
typically are rich with conflicts of interest, executives with edifice
complexes, misspent millions, and bureaucrats eager to escape blame or
avoid offending alumni. The Columbus Dispatch reported this example last
week about suburban Otterbein University, a United Methodist four-year
It said Otterbein
agreed to stop requiring students involved in sexual-assault cases to
sign confidentiality agreements because student newspaper journalists
discovered it was violating federal law. After
initially denying it, the Dispatch reported, an Otterbein official told
reporters for the student newspaper that he didn’t realize Otterbein had
had victims, as well as others, sign a nondisclosure clause.
just followed the bread crumbs,” Chelsea Coleman, a 21-year-old
journalism and public relations major who wrote the Tan & Cardinal
story with another student, told the Dispatch.
need not agree with Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman to appreciate
his recent criticism of how news media handle stories involving
expertise. In his New York Times op-ed column, Krugman singles out the
Washington Post but he could have included many if not most news media.
a controversial study by Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth
Rogoff, the Post warned that Americans are “dangerously near the 90 percent
mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth.”
Krugman pounced. “Notice the
phrasing: ‘economists,’ not ‘some economists,’ let alone ‘some
economists, vigorously disputed by other economists with equally good
credentials,’ which was the reality.”
can be too eager to substitute formulaic brevity for accuracy: doctors
say, psychologists say, weight loss experts say, police say, reporters
say, etc. My advice: beware of any news story that identifies someone as
an “expert” without a clear explanation of their expertise.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 24, 2013
We need a bit more mindfulness and maybe a
little less blind, thoughtless passion. Let’s make some hard decisions
about who we are and acknowledge the “strange” diversity of our
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Typically, invoking a Great Man to settle
an argument involves Lincoln, Twain, Stalin, Churchill, Chief Seattle,
etc. Hitler is a provocative new favorite. Among some gun control foes, quoting
Hitler proves what will happen if Obama has his way: gun registration,
confiscation and tyranny.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I swear there are days when it would be
best to turn off the television, stay away from computers, the Internet
and smartphones, maybe just remain in bed with the covers firmly clasped
over my head to silence the ignorant noise spewing out of the mouths
(and from the furiously tweeting thumbs) of politicians, commentators