by Nick Swartsell
102 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:31 AM | Permalink
$3 billion for friendlier flushing; Cleveland Browns wide receiver on Rice/Crawford shirt; state gun laws changing
All right. Since today is a bit of a slow news day and because I’ve spent the past few days working on this week’s cover story and news feature along with several blogs and the trusty morning news, let’s play catch-up today and go through the week’s stories I didn’t get to earlier. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.• What costs more than $3 billion and smells awful? No, it’s not the amount of sauerkraut Cincinnati consumes annually. It’s the city’s sewer system, which is facing a court-ordered upgrade. After a lawsuit by environmental group the Sierra Club and area homeowners tired of sewage in their basements, the city was ordered to revamp its aging sewer system over the next 20 years. That’s going to cost more than the streetcar and the two stadiums. The system is owned by Hamilton County but administered by the city. Upgrades plus normal annual operating costs are expected to cost ratepayers $395 million this year alone. Rates have gone from $250 in 2000 to a projected level of more than $800 in 2015. All that for a bunch of pipes.• The fastest growing startup in Ohio is right here in Cincinnati. Ahalogy, a firm that helps companies market themselves using Pinterest, has gone from two employees in 2013 to more than 50 today. San Francisco-based Mattermark, which rates startups, gave Ahalogy the top spot in the state for the second year in a row due to its rapid growth. Local startup hubs like The Brandery and Cintrifuse helped the company rise so quickly. Ahalogy founders say the company is a good fit for Cincinnati because of the city’s strong consumer marketing scene.• On Sunday, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a controversial t-shirt during warm ups before the team’s home game shellacking by the Bengals. The shirt said simply, “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford” on the front and “The Real Battle for Ohio” on the back.Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer slammed Hawkins later that day, calling the shirt “pathetic.” Follmer demanded Hawkins apologize. "He's an athlete. He's someone with no facts of the case whatsoever," Follmer said. "He's disrespecting the police on a job that we had to do and make a split-second decision."A very similar situation played out with St. Louis Rams players last month who ran out onto the field while imitating protesters’ “hands up, don’t shoot” pose in solidarity for activists. The St. Louis Police Union demanded an apology, while the team stuck behind its players.Hawkins seems to have gotten the last word in the dispute. The Browns are standing behind him, and he gave this very thought-provoking interview Monday in which he stressed he respects the police, but couldn't stay silent against what he saw as injustice. Hawkins, who was visibly choked up, said he was motivated mostly by the thought of something similar happening to his two year old son.“The number one reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality,” he said. • It’s official: former Hamilton County Commissioner and Cincinnati City Councilman David Pepper is the Ohio Democratic Party’s new chairman. The state party’s executive committee elected Pepper last night after his main competitor, former lieutenant governor candidate Sharen Neuhardt, dropped out of the race. Pepper has indicated he’ll be asking another former statewide candidate, Nina Turner, to join the state’s leadership. Turner ran for secretary of state. The two will have a big job ahead — rebuilding after resounding losses statewide for the party.• Here’s another catch-up story for you: the Ohio General Assembly has passed some important changes to the state’s gun laws. A new bill passed by both the state house and senate last week would recognize other states’ concealed carry permits without additional permitting, allow silencers on some hunting rifles, give a six-month grace period for military service members’ license renewals and disallow those with non-immigrant visas and dishonorable discharges from the military from getting handgun licenses. The bill does not include an earlier provision that would have set up a “stand your ground” type law in Ohio. The changes are currently awaiting Gov. John Kasich’s signature. • 113th Congress, we hardly knew ye. Wait, yes we did, and we hated you. One of the least productive and lowest rated congressional sessions in the country’s history came to end yesterday when Barack Obama signed the body’s controversial $1 trillion “CRominubs” spending plan. At least they got something done. Over the last two years, Congress has passed just 200 laws, the least amount of legislating done in recent memory. For comparison, the last time that number was anywhere near that low was the infamous “do nothing” Congress of 1948-1949, which passed more than 900 pieces of legislation. Way to go guys!
by Nick Swartsell
116 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:55 AM | Permalink
Hunter won't get new trial; Reds bling for sale; Republicans sink tax cuts for low-income
Hey all. Here’s the news this morning.Former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter won’t get a new trial, a judge has ruled. Hamilton County Judge Norbert Nadel has denied all three of Hunter’s motions for retrial after she was convicted last month of one of eight felony counts in relation to her time as judge. Since her conviction, three jurors have recanted their guilty verdicts, however, and Hunter’s attorney has alleged procedural mistakes mean she should get a new trial. With those motions denied, Hunter will be sentenced this Friday. She plans to file an appeal on her conviction.• Cincinnati must pay Duke Energy $15 million for moving utilities that stood in the way of the streetcar, a Hamilton County judge ruled Monday. The city already had that money in escrow as it awaited the ruling but plans to appeal Judge Carl Stich’s decision. That’s a good move, according to former city solicitor John Curp. Curp says the way Stich decided the case — by declaring the streetcar an “economic development project” — could set a hard precedent for other Ohio cities in the future. In order for Cincinnati to avoid paying Duke to move the utilities, the project would have to be something that benefits the city’s general welfare. Stich cited cases from the 1930s and the 1950s to justify his decision. Back then, public transit was run by private companies, a much different situation than today. Curp thinks the Ohio Supreme Court might have a different opinion of the streetcar and should hear the case to set a more modern precedent on transit projects.• Do you have about $6,000 just sitting around taking up valuable space that could be used to, say, store an enormous ring? Do you need a sports-themed piece of jewelry so ostentatious no one will ever question your love for America’s favorite pastime? If so, I have a solution to both of your weird, unlikely problems. A Cincinnati Reds 1990 World Series ring has gone up for sale at a local auction house, and for a few grand you can make it yours. But be advised: It’s not Chris Sabo or Eric Davis’ ring. Heck, it’s not even Glenn Sutko’s, who saw action in one game that season. It belonged to one of the team’s part-time accountants, who I’m sure did great work counting the Reds' money. Every position is important on a winning team. Anyway, it’s big, it’s red, it has the logo on it and you should buy the ring. Or, I dunno, you could buy me a nice used car instead. Up to you.• So it’s no secret the state’s Democratic party is hurting after last month’s disastrous statewide election. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern stepped down after losing his own state representative seat to a guy accused of burglary. Now there’s a scramble to take his spot, and former Cincinnati city councilman and recent attorney general candidate David Pepper is a frontrunner. But he’s got a challenge ahead of him in becoming the top Dem in the state: Ohio’s powerful Sen. Sherrod Brown has backed one of his opponents, former candidate for lieutenant governor Sharen Neuhardt, for the job. Pepper still sees himself as a front-runner in the contest to lead Democrats in one of the country’s most important swing states ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The new state chair will be decided by a vote within the party Dec. 16.• Chicago City Council voted yesterday to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour over the next five years. The move was a proposal by Mayor Rahm Emanuel ahead of proposed Illinois laws that could hamstring city governments when it comes to raising minimum wages and February’s Chicago mayoral election. The boost is expected to benefit about 400,000 workers in the city. Other cities like Seattle have passed similar increases recently.• Finally, Republicans have scuttled an extension on tax cuts for low-income and middle class workers while pushing bigger corporate tax breaks. The cuts were part of a $400 billion bipartisan tax deal lawmakers in Washington were working to put together. But President Barack Obama’s announcement last month of an executive action allowing some undocumented immigrants to stay in the country has killed the deal as Republicans pull back from the low-income tax cuts like the Earned Income Tax Credit and double down on the corporate breaks. They say undocumented immigrants will take advantage of the EITC and other credits in large numbers and therefore can’t support the cuts. Translation: Obama made us mad so we’re taking the ball that keeps millions out of poverty and going home.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:56 AM | Permalink
Enquirer's innovative new layoffs drive reporter exodus; petition circulated to name the Norwood Lateral after Carl Lindner; Kanye or Cruz?
Halloween is here. I’m taking an informal poll: how many folks are dressing up as Union Terminal and/or Music Hall tonight? I’m not knocking ya. I just wish I’d thought of that in time. Instead I have an Abraham Lincoln mask, American flag aviators, and a bow tie for a costume, so I will probably look like a very unappealing, election-themed male stripper. Procrastination is lame, folks.These are painful times for the Cincinnati Enquirer. A reorganization has been happening for a while now, but recently, news broke that a number of newsroom veterans are leaving the paper, including No. 2 in command Laura Trujillio and social issues reporter Mark Curnute, whose stories I've always been impressed with. Over the past couple months, employees have been asked to reapply for their jobs under new, more digitally-oriented job descriptions. That's definitely ruffled some feathers, and has caused the biggest shake-up in the paper's history. The departures probably have something to do with the fact Gannett brass have been wrapping layoffs at the Enquirer and other papers in the disingenuous corporate speak of an exciting new opportunity to create "the newsroom of the future", but who knows?• Right now the Ohio Department of Transportation is having its Southwestern Ohio town hall meeting on the future of public transit in the state. In Lebanon, because everyone knows that is the absolute hub of public transit in the region. You can watch the proceedings live here if you’d like to follow along at home. It’s standing room only there, maybe because I spread a rumor that there’s an ODOT party bus shuttling folks to some killer Halloween parties right after the meeting. That’s false, as far as I know. • You’ve probably already heard about the controversy over a proposal by outgoing State Sen. Eric Kearney to change the name of State Route 562 from the Norwood Lateral to the Barack Obama Norwood Lateral Highway. I bet you can guess some folks’ reaction to that idea. Norwood Mayor Tom Williams doesn’t want a name change, but did throw out another, much different suggestion: naming it after Norwood-raised business magnate Carl Lindner, who died in 2011. Williams called Lindner, who owned Chiquita, Great American Insurance, and a number of other businesses “a beautiful individual” and said the several times he got to hang out with him were “an absolute thrill.” Hm. Maybe let’s just keep calling it the Norwood Lateral. • More than 400 people in eastern Ohio were forced to leave their homes this week after a fracking operation there began leaking and “shooting an invisible gaseous discharge into the air.” …no, I’m just not even going to go there. The blowout happened about 6 p.m. Tuesday. Homes within a 2 mile radius of the site where evacuated, though officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources say no permanent environmental impact was caused by the leak and residents were back in their houses by midnight. No word on the cause of the accident.• Is the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party on the way out? Could be. Some say those within the party are furious at the monumental disaster that Dem gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald’s campaign has become, and party chair Chris Redfern could take the heat for that. We’ll see.• Almost a year exactly after political brinksmanship and partisan wrangling ground the U.S. government to a halt, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says if voters in Kentucky choose him, it’s because “they want divided government.” It may be true, though. New polls heading into the Nov. 4 election show McConnell up five points over his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. • Finally, I want to introduce you to perhaps the weirdest online quiz ever. Can you distinguish the wisdom passed down by ornery, Texan tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz from the golden, learned lessons of rapper and self-proclaimed genius Kanye West? The Washington Post wants to help you find out.
Ohio Democrats launch statewide initiative to protect voting access from GOP-led limitations
6 Comments · Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Ohio is at the forefront of the fight as
activists work to defend long-held voting practices from Republican-led
efforts to limit citizens’ options for casting their ballots.
Ohio's ugly Senate race has national repercussions
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
The world will be watching Ohio this week, waiting
largely to see which presidential candidate’s weeks of time and millions
of dollars spent wooing Buckeye State voters will pay off. But slightly down the ballot is another race nearly as
important: for one of Ohio’s U.S. Senate seats.
by Andy Brownfield
Letters allege Murray Energy coercing employees to donate to Republican candidates
The Ohio Democratic Party is asking both state and federal
prosecutors to look into allegations that a major coal company is
coercing its employees to donate to political causes against their will.
The ODP on Monday sent letters to U.S. Attorney for the
Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach and Acting Cuyahoga County
Prosecutor Timothy McGinty asking them to launch a criminal
investigation into Ohio-based Murray Energy Corporation.
The letters allege that Murray Energy “may have engaged in
a pattern of illegal activity, extorting millions in financial
contributions from employees and vendors for Republican candidates
running for public office.”
Murray Energy fired back in a Monday statement, saying the
allegations “are simply an attempt to silence Murray Energy and its
owners from supporting their coal mining employees and families by
speaking out against President Barack Obama’s well known and documented
War on Coal.”
The allegations stem from an Oct. 4 investigation by left-leaning magazine The New Republic.
The article is based on the accounts of two anonymous
former Murray managers and a review of letters and memos to Murray
employees. It suggests that employees are pressured into making
donations to Republican candidates and contributing to the company’s
Political Action Committee.
“There’s a lot of coercion,” one of the sources told the
magazine. “I just want to work, but you feel this constant pressure
that, if you don’t contribute, your job’s at stake.”
ODP Chairman Chris Redfern told reporters during a conference
call that party research found that Ohio political candidates —
including all current statewide officeholders — had received almost
$750,000 from Murray Energy, its subsidiaries and employees.
Neither Dettelbach or McGinty returned CityBeat calls for comment on any pending investigations.
Murray Energy in its statement called The New Republic
biased and radically liberal. The company’s characterization in the
article is incorrect and untruthful, according to the statement.
Murray had previously come under fire when Republican
presidential candidate Mitt Romney held a campaign event at one of its
mines. Some workers claim they were pulled out of the mine early when it
closed for the event and forced to attend without pay.
by Andy Brownfield
Group of Democratic state lawmakers wants Ohio governor to face legislative Q&As
Some Democratic lawmakers want answers from Republican Gov. John Kasich.
A group of Democratic state representatives has put forth
a bill that would require Kasich — and every governor after him — to
come before the Ohio House of Representatives 10 times per year for
45-minute question and answer sessions where the governor would have to
take at least five questions from each side of the aisle.
Rep. Mike Foley, D-Cleveland, is the bill’s sponsor. He did not return CityBeat’s call for comment as of Wednesday afternoon.
Cincinnati Democratic Rep. Denise Driehaus is one of the
bill’s co-sponsors. She said Foley had the idea while visiting Canada,
where their parliament has a similar procedure.
“I think it’s a great idea where the governor interacts
with the legislature and we have the opportunity to question him and
really engage on some of the issues and get his opinion on things,”
She said the Legislature doesn’t currently have a whole
lot of opportunity to interact with the governor, except for the State
of the State address, but even then they can’t really engage Ohio’s
The Ohio Democratic Party has recently filed suit against
Kasich for what it says is a failure to comply with open records laws
for redacting parts of his public schedules when responding to a public
The ODP has called Kasich opaque and secretive for failing to respond or only partially responding to records requests.
However, Driehaus said the bill isn’t meant to apply only
to Kasich, but would apply to every governor after him. She said she
didn’t think it was in reaction to her party’s spat with the governor.
“This is much broader and much more forward thinking than that,” Driehaus says.
by Jac Kern
at 12:38 PM | Permalink
Gerald Norman Springer is a man of many titles. He is the former mayor of Cincinnati, that dummy who bounced a personal check at a "massage parlor" and a pioneer of trashy television gold. Tonight, Jerry Springer is the special guest at the Ohio Democratic Party's LGBT/Young Professionals reception, hosted by City Council's Chris Seelbach. Admission is $35 and includes one drink. The event runs 6:30-8 p.m. at Know Theater. See if you can strike a pose with the "Ringmaster" in Flashbox's photo booth. Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!
Alanta's Joe Pettis is a self-proclaimed "level 14 comedian wizard," so it's kind of a big deal that he's performing a free show at Mayday tonight. Pettis has been featured on comedian Doug Benson's podcast, Doug Loves Movies and "Today's Riff" on TBS.com. Swing by the Northside bar around 9 p.m. to check him out alongside local comics Justin Schafer, George Allen and Tom
Schmidlin. Be sure to grab a delicious Mayday hotdog for dinner!
The Western & Southern Open continues today. Gates open at 5
p.m. for the evening matches and men’s and women’s middle rounds begin at 7
p.m. Tonight’s special events include Saks Fifth Avenue’s Night on the Runway.
The fashion show, featuring the Lafayette 148 New York collection, takes place
in the grandstand tent at 5:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy dinner, a cash bar,
make-up demos and more throughout the show, which will wrap up just in time for
the evening session matches.
Ongoing events: Reggae Wednesday on Fountain Square
with The Ohms; Hofbrauhaus beer stein-holding competition; Sexy Time Live Band
Karaoke at Northside Tavern; Apollo @ the Greenwich; Bandstand Bluegrass at Washington
Park with Moonshine Drive.
by Andy Brownfield
Suit claims governor is intentionally ignoring public records requests
The Ohio Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit against Gov.
John Kasich — who they claim is improperly using his office to campaign
for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney — to get the
governor to release his schedule of public events.
The ODP’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the Franklin County
Court of Common Pleas, contends that Kasich’s office either ignored or
only partially fulfilled the request.
“It’s unfortunate that this Governor is so opposed to
transparency and public disclosure that we have to ask the Court to
force him to follow the law,” ODP Chairman Chris Redfern said in a
“Serious questions remain regarding whether the Governor
has improperly used his office for the benefit of Mitt Romney, and it’s
deeply disappointing Kasich is so secretive he won’t even tell the
public what he’s done or where he’s gone.”
Kasich press secretary Rob Nichols said the administration
doesn’t comment on litigation, but dismissed the Ohio Democratic
“We release public records in accordance with the law, and
in fact have already publicly released the governor’s schedule six
times, including a schedule request to the ODP,” Nichols said.
“This is predictable election year politics from the same
people who were just rebuked for using public records demands to
interfere with the Auditor of State’s investigation into possible data
manipulation in some school districts.”
Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jerid Kurtz said Kasich’s
office did respond to one of the seven requests for the schedule, but
some of the information in the records was redacted — including an
entire week that was blacked out with no explanation.
“Ohio law is very clear, and it states you have to give a specific excuse when you redact something,” Kurtz said.
According to the lawsuit and court documents, the ODP
requested on July 2 Kasich’s public schedule from that date through Aug.
According to a letter to the Ohio Democratic Party from
Mehek M. Cook — assistant chief counsel to Kasich — the information
about the governor's future plans was blacked out because that information
could put him at risk.
“The governor and his office receive threats on any given
day and the release of his whereabouts increases security issues
surrounding the governor’s safety,” Cook wrote.
Cook wrote that any information in the records used by the
Executive Protection Unit assigned to guard Kasich constitutes a
security record and was redacted.
He also wrote that some information that would reveal
confidential business meetings and trade secrets that would harm Ohio
efforts to court businesses was blacked out. Additionally, information
not relevant to the request was redacted.
Kurtz said it’s important that the public have access
those schedules because voters have a right to know what their governor
is doing on the public dime.
The schedules include where the governor is and with whom
he meets, but they also show scheduled phone calls and media interviews.
The Ohio Democratic Party worries that Kasich is
improperly campaigning for Romney while receiving a taxpayer-funded
paycheck, or using public money to have his staff do so.
The concerns stem from statements made by Kasich both in
public and on his Twitter account either praising the presumed
Republican presidential nominee or slamming President Obama.
For instance, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported that when Obama visited Ohio on Aug. 1 the governor tweeted “On
the occasion of the President's latest visit to Ohio, we have a
question for him,” with a link to a graphic asking “If the President's
policies are behind Ohio's success, why is the rest of the country
Democrats claim that Ohio’s success relative to the rest
of the country are due to efforts by President Obama, while Republicans
say Governor Kasich is behind Ohio’s faster-than-average recovery.
While the Ohio Democratic Party is suing to have Kasich
release his public schedule (Kurtz says Attorney General Mike DeWine and
Auditor Dave Yost complied with similar requests in a timely manner)
the state Republican Party has also submitted similar requests to
Democrats throughout Ohio.
Kurtz characterized the GOP requests as being sent by
Kasich’s “hand-picked lieutenants in the Ohio Republican Party,” though
Nichols told The Plain Dealer that the governor had no involvement.
Ohio GOP executive director Matt Borges told the newspaper that the requests were routine.
Still, Kurtz called Kasich’s refusal to release his own schedule “hypocritical.”
“He’s a bully and the only way you can deal with a bully is fighting back.”
by Andy Brownfield
Posted In: 2012 Election
at 03:14 PM | Permalink
And the rest of the world blinks with mild incredulity
BREAKING NEWS EVERYBODY!
The Boy Who Cried Wolf, yes, the proverbial shepherd boy
from Aesop’s Fables who was so lonely that he invents a wolf attack to
get the villagers’ attention, has endorsed serial liar state Treasurer Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate. According to the Ohio Democratic Party.
We at CityBeat receive many news releases all day, but
this appears to be the first time a fictional character has endorsed a
candidate for Senate. Though the release is right that Mandel has a
“penchant for repeating previously debunked lies,” the sheer absurdity
of the release has caused the news team here at your friendly
neighborhood alt weekly to dub it “the dumbest press release of the
Here’s the release in its entirety, with names of the guilty redacted. Happy weekend, y’all.
Friday, August 3, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BREAKING: Boy Who Cried Wolf Endorses Josh Mandel For Senate
Touts Mandel's Ability To Consistently Repeat Previously Debunked Lies: "Us Serial Liars Need To Stick Together"
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Boy Who Cried Wolf announced
his endorsement of Josh Mandel today, ending speculation about who the
world renowned liar would support in the Ohio senate race this November.
"Josh Mandel shares my ideals, my values and most importantly my less-than-casual relationship with the truth," said the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
"Us serial liars need to stick together, and now that Josh Mandel's
officially been crowned King of Ohio's Liars, the choice for me is
simple. I'm honored to support Josh and I look forward to joining him
and his special interest friends on the campaign trail as they lie about
Sherrod and distort his record on the issues from now through
The Boy Who Cried Wolf rose to fame for repeatedly
proclaiming that his sheep were being attacked by a wolf, when in fact,
no wolf had attacked his sheep. Much like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, Josh
Mandel's star has risen largely because of his penchant for repeating
previously debunked lies. This week Josh Mandel earned the "Pants on Fire crown" from Politifact Ohio, an award reserved for the worst liar among all Ohio politicians.
Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, Chairman