by Nick Swartsell
45 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:07 AM | Permalink
Mahogany's seeks deal with city; Kentucky felons could regain voting rights; journalists are the most caffeinated
Hey Cincinnati! Here’s your news for the day. Mahogany’s at The Banks is closed, but the controversy continues. The restaurant closed Friday after its landlord asked it to vacate The Banks due to state sales tax violations and back rent the restaurant owed. Yesterday, owner Liz Rogers and her attorney presented the city with a proposal via a multi-page letter to City Manager Harry Black. The letter said that Mahogany’s had indeed closed its location at The Banks, but suggested a seven-point compromise between the city and the restaurant. That compromise includes forgiveness of a $300,000 debt Rogers owes the city and a $12,000 payment from Rogers to the city for furniture and equipment purchased with the city loan. The letter charges that the city, while accommodating in some ways, set the restaurant up to fail by not providing conditions necessary to keep the business going and by leaking information about its financial struggles to the press. Rogers’ attorney states that she was told there would be a hotel and other amenities that would draw people to the riverfront development and suggested she could sue the city and her landlord for fraud, defamation of character, discrimination, breach of contract and other charges for not meeting its end of the bargain. It’s a fairly brazen move, considering Mahogany’s has fallen behind on loan and rent payments and that the city of late has been less than interested in making further deals with the restaurant. No word on a response from the city yet, but we’ll be updating as that happens.• When folks say the Brent Spence Bridge is falling apart, they mean it literally. A group of Bengals fans Sunday got a rude surprise when big concrete chunks of an offramp from the bridge plunged from a support beam into the windshield of their car, parked just East of Longworth Hall. They were at the game at the time and no one was injured, but the incident underscores the precarious condition of the vital bridge that carries Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River. An annual inspection of the roadways around the bridge is scheduled to begin today. • Officials in Butler County are mulling converting part of a struggling county-run nursing home into a detox center for heroin addicts.
Support for government-run nursing homes has been waning for years, and
Butler County’s is one of the last in the state. Officials with the
nursing home argue there is a need for the facility and that by
extending care to those needing addiction treatment, they can serve
another need while staying solvent. But some county officials, including
outspoken Sherriff Richard Jones, aren’t convinced the nursing home
should continue to exist at all, and they see addiction treatment there
as more risk than it's worth. • Kentucky is moving closer to restoring voting for people with certain felonies. Currently, Kentuckians who have served time for a felony need a pardon from the governor to regain their voting rights. Only three other states have this requirement. Three bills proposing an amendment to the state’s constitution are currently being considered in the Kentucky legislature. An amendment, which requires passage by 60 percent of legislators and a statewide vote, would allow felons to cast ballots again after they’ve served prison time and probation. Those convicted of homicide, treason, bribery or sex crimes would not be eligible. One supporter of the proposal is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has been using justice system reform as a way to reach out to voters outside the traditional Republican base as he positions himself to run for president in 2016.• In national news, the Census Bureau tomorrow will release its 2013 poverty statistics for America, giving us data on how much slow-moving economic recovery from the Great Recession has aided the country’s lowest earners. The news is not expected to be overwhelmingly good: While the unemployment rate has been falling, the poverty rate has barely budged, revealing that simply employing folks in any old (increasingly low-wage) job can’t get us back to where we were before the recession. Jared Bernstein, an economist with progressive think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, sums up his projection of the data thusly: “…if I’m in the ballpark, Tuesday’s release will be another reminder of why many Americans still feel pretty gloomy about the recovery: It hasn’t much reached them.”• Finally, I just have to throw this in here: a new study says that journalists consume more coffee than those in any other profession, drinking an average of four cups a day. I’d say I’m still just a fledgling journalist, and so I stick with one cup, though like my dark, cynical journalist heart, it is always completely black, ice cold and nearly bottomless. No, seriously, I get the biggest one Dunkin Donuts has, which is roughly the size of a small wastebasket.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 9, 2014
A federal judge on July 1 ruled
Kentucky’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. But same-sex couples
in the state can’t get marriage licenses just yet.
by Nick Swartsell
120 days ago
Posted In: News
at 08:36 AM | Permalink
Kentucky's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, ticket hike to save historic buildings, Kasich and Brown take an usie
Here at the morning news desk (which is really just my desk, only in the morning), we usually lead off with some local news. But the big story of the moment comes from across the river.Kentucky's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled yesterday. The judge struck down Kentucky’s amendment to its state constitution banning same-sex marriages, though he is holding implementation of his ruling until after hearings here in Cincinnati next month. The next showdown over gay marriage in the region comes Aug. 6, when the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals downtown will hear cases from Ohio, Kentucky and other states about same-sex marriage bans. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune is pitching user fees for events at Music Hall and the Cincinnati Museum Center as a way to raise funds to renovate the historic buildings. He floated the idea in a letter yesterday, where he also indicated he’s not sold on the idea of a sales tax hike to pay for the renovation projects. Portune said he’s not a flat no on the tax hike but that it will be a tough sell for him without some kind of ticket price increase. The buildings need more than $300 million in repairs. An Indianapolis-based developer working on rehab projects for three iconic historic buildings in Cincinnati is making progress. Core Redevelopment LLC is redeveloping the former School for Creative and Performing Arts building in Pendleton, the Crosley building in Camp Washington and the old Windsor Elementary School in Walnut Hills. The group was just awarded tax credits on the Windsor project, which will contain 44 units of housing. CEO John Watson indicated that he thinks Walnut Hills is on the verge of a “full scale redevelopment” as a neighborhood. The SCPA project is expected to break ground in September and will be home to 142 units. Finally, the group will develop 238 units in the looming white Crosley building, which was built in the 1920s by the Crosley company as a factory for radios and other items. All three projects will be market rate housing. The group expects the 800-square-foot, one bedroom units at the Windsor building will run a little over $800 a month.The city of Middletown is officially dissolving its housing authority after complaints it tried to kick people off Section 8 rolls. The Middletown Public Housing Authority voted unanimously to dissolve itself yesterday. MPHA will shut down by September, turning over 1,662 Section 8 vouchers to Butler and Warren Counties. Miami University of Ohio is the most expensive public university in the country, a new study finds, and Ohio’s other public universities are also among the priciest. Miami rings up at a net cost of $24,000 a year after financial aid is considered. As an alum, this makes me wonder if the resale value of their degrees is higher, too. I have one recent-model English/Poli Sci double if any one’s interested… rarely used, buyer takes over payments.It’s not every day you see your state’s Democratic senator take a selfie with your ultra conservative, Republican governor. But Sen. Sherrod Brown and Gov. John Kasich apparently got cozy for the camera yesterday at The Banks while celebrating the new GE deal. Cincinnati, bringing people together.Finally, scientists are working on breeding bald chickens that can withstand the increased heat caused by climate change in regions near the equator. That's... terrifying. I imagine they'll be able to do it, though, since they've already been able to genetically engineer the spicy and extra crispy varieties.
by Nick Swartsell
120 days ago
Posted In: Courts
at 12:39 PM | Permalink
Next showdown will happen at federal appeals court in Cincinnati
A federal judge today ruled Kentucky’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. But same-sex couples in the state can’t get marriage licenses just yet. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that a 2004 amendment to Kentucky's state constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage violates the guarantee of equal protection under the law found in the U.S. constitution. It's another sign that the tide may be turning in the region. The decision comes as a similar ban looks to be in serious legal trouble in Indiana, and just before an August federal court date that will decide
questions surrounding the issue in Ohio and other states. Since February last year, federal courts have upheld the right to marry for same-sex couples 19 times.The decision came in response to a challenge to Kentucky’s ban by two same-sex couples. Maurice Blanchard and Dominique James were denied a marriage license on Jan. 2013. They were charged with trespassing after refusing to leave the Jefferson County Clerk’s office after being turned down for their license. A jury eventually found them guilty, though the two were fined only $1. The two other plaintiffs in the case, Timothy Love and Lawrence Ysunza, applied for a license in February 2013. The two have lived together for 34 years.The plaintiffs and other same-sex couples looking to marry will have to wait a little longer, though. Heyburn has delayed implementation of his decision until after Aug. 6, when a higher court, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, will hear several gay marriage cases from Kentucky, Ohio and two other states. Those cases will be heard in Cincinnati.Heyburn, who in February also ruled that the state must recognize
same-sex marriages from other states, rejected Kentucky’s reasons for
its ban. Lawyers hired by the Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear argued that traditional marriage helps ensure economic stability and a favorable birth rate in the state. The state’s Attorney General Jack Conway refused to defend the law on behalf of the state.“These arguments are not those of serious people,” Heyburn said in his decision. He said there is “no conceivable, legitimate purpose” for the ban, which keeps same-sex couples in the state from enjoying the economic, social and emotional benefits of marriage. These include tax benefits, the ability to share insurance, the ability to adopt children as a couple and other rights.The ruling continues a wave of recent decisions by federal courts upholding marriage rights for same-sex couples. But there’s still uncertainty even as the tide shifts. Most recently, on June 25, a judge struck down Indiana’s ban, allowing same-sex couples to immediately apply for marriage licenses. That decision was overturned a few days later on appeal, and couples who married in the three-day window are now waiting for a final decision to see if their marriages are valid in the state’s eyes. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.
by Judy George
Posted In: City Roots
at 02:00 PM | Permalink
Freestore Foodbank grows fresh produce for people in need
Tucked away on the Ohio River, 10 miles
from downtown Cincinnati, lies a quiet farm with long, beautiful rows of
nutrient-dense kale, broccoli and lettuce, ripe strawberries and blueberries,
bee hives and a magnificent orchard of nearly 400 fruit trees.
This idyllic and very productive farm
doesn't earn a penny.
Welcome to the Giving Fields in
Melbourne, Ky., a 10-acre farm operated by the Freestore Foodbank growing
fresh produce for people who can’t afford to buy food.
people we feed are at high risk for diabetes and heart disease," says
Jennifer Steele, director of community partnerships for the Freestore
Foodbank. "We want to serve more
fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer highly salted, highly sugared processed
years ago, less than 10 percent of the food the Freestore distributed was fresh;
most was canned or boxed. Now, 40
percent of the Freestore's food is fresh or frozen, Steele says.
the Giving Fields, farm manager Molly Jordan grows produce specifically for the
Freestore’s food pantry and soup kitchen partners in Northern Kentucky."Our food goes to Northern Kentucky because the need is greater
there," Steele says.
It’s easy to see why, since state
laws make fresh food less available to Kentucky charities.
In Ohio, the Agricultural Clearance
Program sets aside $17 million a year for Ohio farmers to sell surplus or
blemished food to food banks. A similar initiative in Kentucky, still in
its infancy, allocates only $600,000 for food banks to receive surplus produce
At the same time, the number of
Kentucky residents who depend on food donations is increasing. The Kentucky Association of Food Banks reported
that 620,100 people now rely on food banks, an 84-percent increase from 2006.
The Giving Fields harvests fruits
and vegetables for 117,000 meals in Northern Kentucky each season. Food pantries and soup kitchens receive the
produce the day it is picked.
"The Kentucky Department of
Agriculture also gives out recipe cards at food pantries so people can learn
how to prepare the food we grow," Jordan says.
The farm relies on more than 1,000 volunteers — civic organizations, corporate teams, church groups and others — who
work there each year. Jordan alternates
rows of crops with wide strips of grass so volunteers can move easily
throughout the fields. She also cultivates
plants in tall wooden beds so people with limited mobility and senior citizens
can weed and harvest, too.
At 10 acres, the Giving Fields is one
of the largest food bank farms in the country, according to Feeding America, a
of U.S. food banks.
The Freestore funds operational costs
for the farm, collaborating with Doug and Sheila Bray of Wilder, who own the
land, and the UK Cooperative Extension Office. The Giving Fields is now in its fourth growing season.
volunteer at the Giving Fields, call the Freestore Foodbank at 513-482-7557
or email Tawanda Rollins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE CITY ROOTS CALENDAR
7: Gardening for Pollinators Workshop
Honeybees, which are crucial to the production of local
fruits and vegetables, are vanishing. Greenacres offers a workshop to learn how to attract butterflies,
bumblebees, honeybees and other pollinators to your yard from 10 a.m. to noon
at Greenacres Old Church, 8680 Spooky Hollow Road. $15. green-acres.org.
9: Garden Basics Class
Pest control, plant disease, watering and water conservation
and other seasonal topics will be reviewed in this class offered by
horticulturist Bennett Dowling at the Civic Garden Center from 6-8 p.m., 2715
Reading Road. $10; free to Civic Garden
Center volunteers. civicgardencenter.org.
17: Foraged Foods Dinner
As part of its farm-to-table dinner series, Carriage House
Farm features wild and foraged foods from the farm collected by botanist Abby
Artemisia and prepared by Nuvo on Greenup. Artemisia will be on hand to talk about local foraging. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. at Carriage House
Farm, 10251 Miami View Road in North Bend; $125 for dinner, drinks, tax and tip. Tickets available at nuvoatgreenup.com.
28: Medicinal and Edible Plant Workshop
Using plants for food and medicine connects us with our
ancestors, say Wes and Diantha Duren of Marvin's Organic Gardens. Their workshop at the Civic Garden Center introduces
useful plants to grow in home gardens and shows how to blend herbs to make
tinctures and teas. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
at the Civic Garden Center, 2715 Reading Road.
$30; registration required by June 15. civicgardencenter.org.CITY ROOTS is a recurring monthly blog at citybeat.com about local urban agriculture issues.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Covering or writing about a community are very different.
One requires being embedded; the other is what reporters do when they
parachute in and too-often rely on the usual suspects.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Members of the Kentucky state legislature are pondering the
merits of "angel investors," while admitting that rich angels are crucial when
it comes to competing with Ohio businesses.
Northern Kentuckians promote neighborhood spirit with quirky collective
0 Comments · Tuesday, February 12, 2013
A group of Covington denizens
known as The Awesome Collective of Covington preceded the "Kentucky Kicks Ass" slogan
campaign when they came up with their own strategy to let people know
how remarkable their peculiar town of 40,000 people truly is.
by German Lopez
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 Andy Brownfield
Sex dungeon discovered during construction in Louisville
Construction crews working to restore historic apartments in Louisville’s Whiskey Row discovered an underground sex dungeon two floors underground. The Associated Press reports that the dungeon had mural reproductions of paintings by the
likes of Salvador Dali, Edvar Munch and Fancisco Goya and contained
what appears to be a medieval stretching rack complete with winch and
rusty chain.The artist who
painted the murals tells the AP that he did the work at the request of
friends, and the room was meant to attract people who were into sadism
The artist says the room was only used for one night in the 1990s, but he couldn’t remember the year.
However, digging deeper into the story, CityBeat learned
not to Google “Louisville sex dungeon” on an office computer WHAS-TV
spoke with the founders of the club, who said that it was in operation
from the mid to late '90s and had close to 1,000 dues-paying members.
In stories with pithy titles like "50 Shades of Louisville" (more like "50 Shades of Y'all Need Jesus) the station spoke with one of the dungeon's founders, who said the
dungeon included dozens of other bondage and “torture” implements,
including a large rope “spider web” with manacles, in addition to the torture rack.
Some of the plumbing had “DO NOT HANG” stenciled on it, but the founder said some people were still hung from their ankles.
He was quick to disclaim that there was “never, ever any nudity or sex acts.”
While much of the dungeon has rotted away, Whiskey Row’s owners plan on preserving the
paintings and torture rack as a link to history.