by German Lopez
55 days ago
City looks at railroad sale, sex trafficking mapped, youth prisons combat sexual assault
Councilman Charlie Winburn, City Council’s new budget and
finance chair, suggested selling the Cincinnati Southern Railroad to
help pay for the city’s $870 million unfunded pension liability. But
other city officials, including Mayor John Cranley, Councilman Chris
Seelbach and Councilwoman Amy Murray, voiced doubts about the idea,
saying it would cost the city annual revenue when there are other
options for fixing the pension problem. Meanwhile, the city and state’s
retirement boards appear to be looking into what it would take to merge
Cincinnati’s pension system into the state system, although that
solution could face political and legal hurdles.
A new report from The Imagine Foundation found sex
trafficking in the Cincinnati area follows the region’s spine on I-75
from Florency, Ky., to Sharonville, I-275 through Springfield and
Fairfield and I-74 to Batesville, Ind. “This is real,” foundation
Executive Director Jesse Bach told The Cincinnati Enquirer.
“There are women and girls who are being bought and sold for sex in the
Cincinnati area. The average person needs to take responsibility for
what they might see. To use a sports adage, the average citizen has to
be willing to say, ‘Not in our house.’ ”
Gov. John Kasich and other state officials yesterday
launched a public awareness campaign to combat human trafficking in Ohio
at HumanTrafficking.Ohio.gov. “We may not want to admit it — it’s
almost too horrific to imagine — but the fact is that human trafficking
is real and is happening across Ohio. Over the past two years we’ve
improved our laws to fight trafficking and begin getting victims the
help they need, but we must do more,” Kasich said in a statement.In light of the public awareness campaign, some activists say human trafficking should be addressed by going after the source of demand: men.The head of the Ohio Department of Youth Services told a
federal panel that his agency responded quickly and aggressively to
reports of high sexual assault rates at the state’s juvenile-detention
facilities. A June report found three of Ohio’s facilities had sexual
assault rates of 19 percent or above, with the Circleville Juvenile
Correctional Facility estimated at 30.3 percent — the second highest
rate in the nation. Since the report, the agency increased training,
hired a full-time employee devoted to the Prison Rape Elimination Act
and installed a tip line for prisoners, their families and staffers,
according to Director Harvey Reed.A northern Kentucky man was the first flu death of the season, prompting some tips from the Northern Kentucky Health Department.Some national Democrats see Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld as a potential
congressional candidate in 2022, assuming the next round of
redistricting makes the First Congressional District more competitive
for Democrats. The district used to be fairly moderate, but state
Republicans redrew it to include Republican stronghold Warren County in
the last round of redistricting.Billions of health-care dollars helped sustain Cincinnati’s economy during the latest economic downturn, a new study found.Downtown traffic came to a crawl this morning after burst pipes sent water gushing out of the former Terrace Plaza Hotel.
The U.S. economy added a measly 74,000 jobs in December in a particularly weak end to 2013.
Dayton Daily News: “Five things you need to know about butt selfies.”If the law catches up, robot ships could soon become reality.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Ohio’s Human Trafficking Commission on
June 28 released its first annual Human Trafficking Statistics Report
detailing human trafficking investigations conducted by local law
enforcement agencies across the state.
by Hannah McCartney
Law enforcement identified 38 trafficking victims last year among estimated thousands
New data released today in the first annual Human Trafficking Statistics Report, compiled by the state’s Human Trafficking Commission, provides reports on human trafficking investigations conducted by local law enforcement agencies across the state. Ohio’s Safe Harbor Law, also known as House Bill 262, was passed June 27 last year to combat Ohio’s human trafficking plague by harshening penalties for traffickers and offering trafficking victims more resources to heal. Included in the legislation was the mandate that the established task force, the Human Trafficking Commission, collect statistics and reports on human trafficking investigations, cases and arrests, for an annually published report. The report chronicles 30 different human trafficking investigations, which have resulted in 15 arrests and 17 prosecutions over the past year. Some of the investigations are still ongoing. Thirty-eight sex trafficking victims were identified by local law enforcement last year, most of whom where identified as white or between the ages of 18 and 29. Only one reported victim was male. That represents just a fraction of the thousands of total Ohioans who fall victim to human trafficking in Ohio each year; around 1,000 Ohio youths and 800 foreign-born were trafficked across Ohio. Thousands more are considered "at risk" of becoming trafficking victims, which makes grand estimates on the total number of actual victims virtually impossible.Law enforcement officers were also asked to identify possible social and economic vulnerabilities that made certain victims more susceptible to trafficking, which included a history of being oppressed or impoverished and possibly experiencing alcohol and drug dependency issues, although enforcement wasn't able to distinguish whether dependency issues actually made victims more vulnerable or if the experience of being trafficked facilitated dependency problems. Most traffickers were males between the ages of 21 and 29, according to the data. In 2010, the state of Ohio was considered among the "worst states" for human trafficking by the Polaris Project, a national organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking. In a 2012 report from Polaris, Ohio was ranked one of the "most improved" states of 2012, thanks to the passage of the Safe Harbor Law. However, in January, anti-human trafficking organization Shared Hope International gave Ohio a "C" for its human trafficking legislation, up several points from a "D" in 2012. In Ohio, two high-profile trafficking cases, including that of captor Ariel Castro, who kidnapped three young girls and locked them in a basement for nearly 10 years, and the four Ashland, Ohio, residents who enslaved a mentally disabled woman and her daughter into forced labor, have recently made international headlines. In Cincinnati, City Council recently approved a four-pronged set of initiatives to battle local issues with human trafficking and prostitution, which are especially prevalent along McMicken Avenue and in the neighborhoods of Camp Washington and Lower Price Hill.Ohio House Bill 130, which was recently approved unanimously by the Ohio House, would, if passed, further increase penalties for sex-trafficking and prostitution related offenses involving minors and disabled persons and also establish a spousal notification requirement for convicted trafficking and prostitution offenders. It will now move to the Ohio Senate for consideration.
by German Lopez
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.
Local efforts join state battle against sex trafficking, prostitution
2 Comments · Wednesday, May 8, 2013
In our present-day American society, the
term “modern-day slavery” sounds almost like an oxymoron. Slavery, we
think, is a dark stamp in a long American history; at worst, it’s
something we think is isolated to poorly developed countries.
by German Lopez
More laws to curb human trafficking, feds stop fracking waste, Mallory tours with feds
Gov. John Kasich is ready to support further action on human trafficking.
Members of the Ohio legislature have already committed to further action.
The next few measures will address the statute of limitations for
trafficking, parents who traffic their children and laws affecting
children services and child welfare. Last session, the legislature
passed a “safe harbor” law that changed the classification of children
caught in prostitution from criminals to victims. A 2010 bill also
increased penalties for human trafficking and related crimes.A Texas-based company wants to ship
thousands of barrels of fracking waste through river barges to Ohio. But the
U.S. Coast Guard is halting the plan while it investigates whether the
waste can be transported through water routes and the plan’s potential
environmental impact. Critics are worried Ohio is becoming a dumping ground for fracking waste.Mayor Mark Mallory took a tour
with federal officials to show off developments going on in the city
and the potential route for the streetcar. The tour was meant to show
off projects that have gotten help from the federal government. After
the bus tour, Mallory acknowledged the city has “a lot of work to do,”
but he added, “There really is a buzz about Cincinnati around this
country. It is true.”
A Cincinnati Children’s Hospital survey found one-third of teen girls report meeting with someone they’ve met online.
Psychologist Jennie Noll says abused or neglected girls are more likely
to present themselves in sexually provocative ways on the Internet and
meet more people in real life. Noll warned the meetings can be dangerous for young girls. Apparently, the meetings seem to
happen regardless of Internet filtering software, but high-quality
parenting and monitoring can help.
Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority is planning housing development for Mount Healthy. The development is coming after a study found the need for more housing in the area.
A controversial luxury apartment complex has been approved in Blue Ash. The approval came despite neighbors complaining that the complex will be an eyesore for the community.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Cincinnati will hire 200 positions.
A recent rise in smuggling led a Conneaut, Ohio, councilman to send a letter to Gov. John Kasich asking for the state to intervene at Corrections Corporation of America’s Lake Erie Correctional Institution.
But Col. John Born, superintendent at the Ohio State Highway Patrol,
wrote in a response that criminal incidents have gone down at the CCA
facility, even though drug smuggling has gone up. He also writes the
state has deployed more cruisers, but he claims local law enforcement
have better means and legal authority to deal with cases at the prison.
In other prison news, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Gary Mohr wants to keep misbehaving inmates in prison longer. In the last legislative session, Mohr helped push laws that reduced sentences for low-crime offenders.
Looks like State Treasurer Josh Mandel is firing 10 percent of his staff. The press release
for the announcement has great wording for the bad news: “Treasurer
Mandel announces further payroll reductions and personnel
Ohio gas prices ticked up in response to hopes of a larger economic recovery.
The Cincinnati Zoo has another adorable animal: the Brazilian ocelot kitten.
Science says global warming won’t suck for everyone.
Canadian killer whales tend to make gains, for example. Should humanity
really risk making killer whales even stronger? They can already take down animals that are on solid surface.
by German Lopez
State gets C in human trafficking, Kasich funds mental health, mall businesses evicted
An annual human trafficking report released by Attorney General Mike DeWine gave Ohio a C.
The grade, which comes from Shared Hope International, was a step up
from D's in the previous two years. But DeWine says it’s not enough, and
further action will be taken. Ohio has made some
strides on the human trafficking issue, including passage of a new “Safe Harbor” law for sex-trafficking victims, new details for minor
trafficking victims and the training of 24,000 law-enforcement officers to
better detect and help trafficking victims.
Gov. John Kasich is giving $5 million
to mental health services to help curb and prevent violence. The news
comes in the wake of school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary
School on Dec. 14 and a California high school yesterday. Mental health
services are important, but so is gun control, as CityBeat pointed out here. Vice President Joe Biden is currently heading an investigation to make suggestions on gun control to President Barack Obama.
The remaining businesses in Tower Place Mall were told to get out.
Cassidy Turley, the court-appointed receiver of the mall, apparently
filed eviction notices telling businesses to leave by March. The mall
has been struggling for some time now, and the city of Cincinnati is
currently in the process of trying to buy it. City Manager Milton
Dohoney says the city had no part in the evictions.
The city of Mason is apparently becoming a technology corridor.
Since 2011, the city has brought in $110 million in investments and
created 1,400 jobs. The new jobs are related to technology, robotics,
automation, innovation and health care.
Warren and Butler counties are apparently seeing a surge in sales tax revenue. The budgetary boost is being seen by some as a sign of further economic expansion.
Surrounded by dogs, Gov. Kasich signed legislation effectively banning puppy mills.
Previously, animal advocates claimed lax rules and regulations had made
Ohio a breeding ground for abusive practices. The lack of oversight
also helped enable Ohio’s dog auctions, which CityBeat covered here. The new law will go into effect within 30 days.
An Ohio school is apparently arming janitors. Previously, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters made a suggestion to arm school staff, but research shows it doesn’t help deter or stop acts of violence.
Natural gas is being slightly deregulated in Ohio.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is allowing two
companies — Columbia Gas of Ohio and Dominion East Ohio Gas — to
eliminate regulated pricing for businesses, with some conditions.
Supporters say the move will create more competition and lower prices,
but the deregulation gives a substantial advantage to two big energy
Congress is apparently less popular than head lice,
but it’s more popular than Lindsay Lohan. Damn. Does that mean people
prefer head lice to Lindsay Lohan? Even Nickelback and Ghengis Khan beat
Congress. Poor Lindsay.
Science has now found that animal grunts can act similarly to Morse code. Is this yet another warning of the impending animal takeover?
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Women spend less than half as much time cleaning today as
they did 50 years ago, according to a study on the cleaning habits of
adult women living in the UK. WORLD +2
Report offers latest data on Ohio's human trafficking problem
1 Comment · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Since 2010, Ohio has woken up to the
realities of its human trafficking problem. Back then, the state was
considered to be among “the worst states” — or tier 4 — by the Polaris
Project, an organization focused on the nationwide issue of human