by German Lopez
123 days ago
Posted In: News
at 11:20 AM | Permalink
Despite higher median income, county scores worse than various statewide averages
Hamilton County fares worse
than Ohio overall in a series of measurements for children’s
economic well-being, health, education and safety, according to a report released Aug. 7.
The 2013 “Ohio’s Kids Count” report
from the Children’s Defense Fund and Annie E. Casey Foundation finds
Hamilton County has a higher median income than Ohio does on average. But
the county fares worse than the state in various categories, including childhood poverty, fourth-grade
reading and math proficiency, felony convictions and the amount of
babies with low birth weights, an early sign of poor health.
One example: Hamilton County’s childhood poverty rate is
27.7 percent, while Ohio’s overall rate is 23.9 percent. If the county
brought the rate down to the state average, it would pull more than 3,000
local children out of poverty.
Hamilton County’s childhood poverty rate dropped from 28.5 percent to 27.7 percent between 2010 and 2011.
The report uses state data from between 2009 and 2011 to
look at various indicators for children under the age of 18. Some of the
data differs from findings from other groups, such as the National
Center for Children in Poverty, which found about 48 percent of
Cincinnati’s children are in poverty.
The report claims many of the measured indicators are
socially and economically linked, so it should come as little surprise
that Hamilton County is doing worse across the board. Still, it advises
local, state and federal officials to continue taking action to bring
down the troubling numbers.
In Cincinnati, City Hall has historically failed to meet its goals for human services funding, which in part helps homeless youth and other struggling children.
But local leaders, including city officials and business executives, have backed the Cincinnati Preschool Promise,
which aims to place more low- and middle-income Cincinnati children in
early education programs. Shiloh Turner, vice president for community
investment at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, today wrote in an email
to CityBeat that Preschool Promise backers are currently looking
at funding options and will iron out plans and partnerships through
meetings scheduled for the next three months.
The Kids Count report credits Ohio officials in particular
for approving a new voucher program that will subsidize preschool for
families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The
program is expected to reach 7,000 children in the state over the next
But the state has generally cut education funding
since Gov. John Kasich took office, leaving Cincinnati Public Schools
with $15 million less state funding than it received in 2009.
At the same time, the federal government is set to cut its food stamp program
in November, which progressive think tanks like the Center for Budget
and Policy Priorities argue will hurt low-income families in Ohio.
by German Lopez
130 days ago
Human services funding falls short, state to kill murderer, longshot mayoral candidates rage
Although this year’s cuts are being undone, City Hall has been cutting resources
to the homeless, long-term unemployed, crime victims and casualties of
domestic abuse since 2004. Aid to those groups is part of human services
funding, which is supposed to receive 1.5 percent of the operating
budget but currently gets a quarter of that at 0.4 percent. To explain
the decade of cuts, the city administration typically points to citizen
surveys and meetings conducted as part of the priority-driven budgeting
process. But a CityBeat analysis of the demographics of the process found they were skewed in favor of the wealthiest
Cincinnatians and against low-income people, who benefit the most from
human services. For the agencies that receive funding, the history of cuts is even
more worrying as Cincinnati prepares for more budget gaps in the next
The state of Ohio will execute Billy Slagle on Aug. 7,
even though the prosecutor’s office behind the charges asked the Ohio
Parole Board to grant him clemency. The parole board denied the request,
and Gov. John Kasich last week declined to commute the sentence to life
in prison. Slagle was convicted in 1988 of murdering a 40-year-old
woman in a gruesome stabbing. His family says he was in an alcohol- and
drug-fueled haze at the time and has a history of problems at home, including
domestic abuse, that presents extenuating circumstances.
Two longshot mayoral candidates are really upset
about Cincinnati’s primary system: Independent Sandra “Queen” Noble
sent an F-bomb-laden email to debate organizers, and Libertarian Jim
Berns quit the race. Under the current primary system, multiple mayoral
candidates are allowed to run. But come Sept. 10, voters will select the
top two contenders in a primary. Those frontrunners will then face off
in a final election on Nov. 5 to pick who will take over City Hall on
Dec. 1. Noble and Berns claim the current system favors the two
frontrunners — Democrats Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley — by helping
them get the most exposure through televised debates after the primary
Commentaries:• “GOP Continues Playing Politics with Ohioans’ Health”• “Is Ohio’s New License Plate the Worst or Just Bad?”
Cranley has raised more money
than Qualls in the mayoral race, according to campaign finance reports
filed yesterday. Cranley has raised about $472,000, compared to $348,000
for Qualls. Cranley also has about $264,000 in the bank, while the
Qualls campaign has about $192,000 in hand.
Undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children will be eligible for in-state tuition
at Ohio public colleges, following a decision from the Ohio Board of
Regents. The change will save the students thousands of dollars at the
state’s public schools, which were charging exorbitant out-of-state and
international rates before. The undocumented immigrants qualify for
legal benefits because of an executive order signed by President Barack Obama earlier in the year
that prevents the federal government from prosecuting them. The order
falls short of actual legalization on the books, but it grants many benefits under state and federal law.
In quite possibly the worst news ever, Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones announced they’re leaving “Parks and Recreation” after the 13th episode of the upcoming season.
German scientists have proposed a new strategy for combating climate change: turn coastal deserts into forests.
By science, ostriches can now fly:
by German Lopez
132 days ago
Human services, parks among programs getting funding restorations
A motion proposed by a majority of City Council today would use leftover
revenue from the previous budget year to undo cuts to various programs,
including human services, parks and the Health Department. The restorations mean no city workers will be laid off as a result of the operating budget passed in May. Previously, 60 positions had been cut, but many employees remained in different offices while the budget situation was worked out.
The cuts were previously approved with the 2014 budget
before council members knew final revenue numbers for fiscal year 2013,
which ended June 30. Council had to pass the budget 30 days early
because the city’s use of emergency clauses, which eliminate a waiting
period on passed laws, was being held up in court.
The city ended up with roughly $10 million more revenue
than projected in the past budget year. The Council motion uses nearly
$4 million to undo some of the $20 million in cuts carried out in the
latest budget. The rest of the extra revenue will be held until the city
manager makes further suggestions, but some of that money will likely
be saved for next year’s budget gap, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls said at a
Human services funding is getting more than $510,000
restored, putting the program at 0.4 percent of the operating budget.
Cincinnati has historically set a goal of directing 1.5 percent of the
operating budget to human services, which flows through various agencies
that aid low-income and homeless Cincinnatians.
The Health Department is getting the largest restoration
at $900,000, allowing the city to bring back positions affecting junked
vehicles, rodent control, litter and weed response, infant mortality and
Parks will also get back $400,000 out of $1 million that
was cut in the previous budget. Another $312,000 is being used to
restore recreation funding, particularly to keep the Busch Center open.
Other programs getting money back: the Center for Closing
the Health Gap, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Film Commission,
African American Chamber of Commerce, Urban Agriculture Program, Office
of Environmental Quality, Neighborhood Support Fund, Neighborhood
Business District Support Fund, Law Department and funding to 3CDC for
Fountain Square maintenance.
Qualls claimed the higher-than-projected revenues are evidence the city’s economic strategy is so far successful.
“Cincinnati’s strategy of investing in jobs,
neighborhoods, people is working,” she said. “We are seeing an increase
in revenue as a result of investments we are making.”
Qualls also acknowledged that the budget debate has felt
like a “roller coaster” for many citizens. Originally, Mayor Mark Mallory’s
administration claimed it would have to lay off police and firefighters
if the city didn’t lease its parking meters, lots and garages to the
Greater Cincinnati Port Authority. But when the parking lease
was held up in a court challenge, Council managed to pass a budget
without the public safety layoffs. Now, Council is undoing further cuts and moving forward with the parking lease.
After the press conference, Qualls told CityBeat that some of the unused revenue may also be used to finance a disparity study
that would gauge whether the city should change its contracting
policies to favorably target minority- and women-owned businesses.
by German Lopez
136 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:18 AM | Permalink
Meet Roger Ramundo, city budget cuts could be reduced, AG won't appeal marriage order
Meet Roger Jeremy Ramundo,
the man police shot and killed on July 24 after what’s now being called
a “life or death struggle.” Police say they first tried to subdue
Ramundo, who had a history of mental health problems. But when Ramundo
fired his gun once, an officer retaliated by firing two fatal shots into
Ramundo’s left back. For family members and colleagues, Ramundo’s death
came as a shock; none of them seemed to expect that he could turn
violent. Ramundo was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized
anxiety disorder, according to the health care worker who notified police that Ramundo left home with his licensed gun, but he had been refusing to take his medication for
either illness at the time of his death.
Budget cuts to human services, parks and other areas could be retroactively reduced or eliminated
with higher-than-projected revenues from the previous budget cycle,
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced yesterday. When City Council passed
the city’s operating budget in May, it had not yet received the full
revenue numbers for the fiscal year that ended on June 30. With the full
numbers expected to come in higher than originally projected, Council
will be able to evaluate options for what and how much can be restored.
Human services funding was cut by roughly one-third in the city budget,
putting it at 0.3 percent of overall spending — far below the city’s
historic goal of 1.5 percent.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine won’t appeal the temporary restraining order that forces the state to recognize a Cincinnati same-sex couple on their death certificate,
but DeWine says he’ll continue defending the state’s ban on gay marriage.
Lisa Hackley, DeWine’s spokesperson, noted that such restraining orders
are normally not susceptible to appeal. Hackley’s explanation contradicts an earlier report from The Cincinnati Enquirer that the order was going to be appealed. Meanwhile, FreedomOhio says it
will try to put an amendment legalizing marriage equality on the
November 2014 ballot, which CityBeat covered here when the group was still aiming for the 2013 ballot.
The I-71/MLK Interchange yesterday moved closer to its
$107.7 million funding goal when Ohio’s Transportation Review Advisory
Council gave preliminary approval to Gov. John Kasich’s transportation
plan, which will use $3 billion raised through Ohio Turnpike revenues to
fund infrastructure projects around the state.
The Ohio Supreme Court will review whether anti-gambling opponents of racinos have standing to sue.
Among other issues, critics argue that Kasich’s legalization of video
lottery terminals didn’t represent an actual extension of the Ohio
Lottery, which is why the state claims it was allowed to legalize the
gambling machines without voter approval. The state’s Supreme Court says
it will decide the issue after it rules on a similar case involving
privatized development agency JobsOhio.
Democrats are voicing uncertainty about whether Republicans will actually take up a Medicaid expansion bill in September. Republican legislators rejected the expansion in the state budget,
but they’ve said they will take up the issue in the fall. The Health
Policy Institute of Ohio found the expansion, which is funded mostly
through federal funds from Obamacare, would insure half a million
Ohioans and save the state money over the next decade.
Charter schools’ big challenge: finding space to house their facilities.
An Ohio gun group raised $12,000 to buy George Zimmerman a gun or security system.
Drivers, beware: Hackers could soon be crashing your cars.
Drinking coffee has been linked to a 50 percent lower risk of suicide.