by German Lopez
112 days ago
Ohio’s jobless rate unchanged, Port patches parking lease, anti-abortion bill returns
Ohio’s unemployment rate remained at 7.2 percent in July, unchanged from June, according to new data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The amount of employed Ohioans went up by 5,300 from month-to-month and
37,700 year-over-year, showing stronger signs of job growth than earlier in the year. But the amount of jobless Ohioans still looking for jobs went up by
3,000 between June and July. In the past year, the private
service-providing sector, education and health services and leisure and
hospitality have gained the most jobs, while local government and
construction jobs have plummeted.
The Port Authority of Greater Cincinnati proposed keeping neighborhood parking meter hours the same under a lease agreement with Cincinnati in which the city is handing over control of its parking meters, lots and garages to the Port and the agency is tasking private companies with operating the assets. Keeping the meter hours
the same as today, instead of expanding them as previously suggested,
would lower Cincinnati’s upfront lease revenue from $92 million
to $88.3 million and reduce annual payments, which were originally
projected at $3 million but estimated to go up over the life of the
lease. Still, the move would satisfy neighborhood residents and businesses who were worried the expanded hours would quickly become a financial hassle. CityBeat covered the parking lease and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.
Republican legislators are reintroducing a bill that would ban abortions in Ohio as early as six weeks after conception,
even though questions remain about the proposal’s constitutionality.
The bill has been dubbed the “heartbeat bill” because it prohibits
abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. A federal judge on July
22 blocked a similar law in North Dakota after deeming it
unconstitutional. “The United States Supreme Court has unequivocally
said that no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her
pregnancy at a point prior to viability,” wrote U.S. District Judge
Daniel Hovland, who was appointed to the District of North Dakota seat
by former President George W. Bush in 2002. Health experts generally
agree viability is not reached until 24 weeks into the pregnancy.
Part of the Cincinnati streetcar route could be operational in late 2015, much earlier than the Sept. 15, 2016 date the city previously announced for the entire track.
The Ohio Ethics Commission won’t investigate Gov. John Kasich’s relationship with a company
that received $619,000 in tax credits from JobsOhio because Kasich
supposedly made a clean break from the company upon taking office.
JobsOhio, the privatized development agency established by Kasich and
Republican legislators, has been mired in controversy in the past few
weeks for providing state aid to companies that have direct financial
ties to JobsOhio board members and the governor.
Meanwhile, Kasich is fueling speculation that he will run for president in 2016.
Cincinnati mayoral candidate and ex-Councilman John Cranley on Thursday unveiled an innovation plan
that he says will boost government transparency and help foster
Cincinnati’s newly gained reputation as a tech startup hub. The plan
would take $5 million in capital funds over four years and ask local
startup incubators Cintrifuse, The Brandery and CincyTech where they
would like to see the money going. It would also call for hiring a chief
innovation officer (CIO) and creating “CincyData,” a transparency
initiative that would gather and publish city data to create “a more
efficient, effective and user-friendly City government.” Under the plan,
both the CIO position and CincyData would be leveraged to find new ways
to carry out city services in the hopes of running the local government
Cincinnati Public Schools’ ratings are likely to dip
as the school district transitions into Common Core standards and a
new state report card system. Superintendent Mary Ronan says the
district is doing well but needs to work on getting kids’ reading scores
up to grade level. CityBeat originally covered the ratings drop here and some of the hurdles faced by CPS in the past few years here.
New data show the growth of health care costs is slowing down in the Cincinnati area.
Ohio will come up with a new plan to execute condemned inmates
no later than Oct. 4 to deal with the state’s expiring supply of drugs
used to carry out capital punishments. Specifics were not detailed in
Procter & Gamble is recalling dog and cat food because some of the product may be contaminated with Salmonella.
Science confirmed pulling out is a bad way to avoid pregnancy.
by German Lopez
121 days ago
Council to fund disparity study, pension reform signatures turned in, Goetz House might fall
Six out of nine City Council members signed a motion to use money from the city’s parking lease
to conduct a disparity study that would gauge whether minority- and
women-owned businesses should be favorably targeted by the city’s
contracting policies. Democrats Roxanne Qualls, Yvette Simpson, Wendell
Young, Chris Seelbach, Pam Thomas and P.G. Sittenfeld signed the motion.
The study, which could cost between $500,000 and $1 million, is
required to change city contracting policies after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that governments must
prove there is a racial or gender-based disparity before changing rules to favor any specific race or gender. CityBeat first covered a disparity study in further detail here. Council members will hold a press conference about the issue at noon today.
Petitioners pushing to reform Cincinnati’s public retirement system with a controversial city charter amendment turned in almost 16,000 signatures to City Hall yesterday.
Of those signatures, 7,443 have to be validated by the Hamilton County
Board of Elections. The plan would put future city workers in individual
retirement accounts similar to 401K plans used in the private sector.
But city officials argue that, unlike private workers, public employees
don’t get Social Security benefits on top of their pensions, which means
public workers could get considerably less retirement money under
the amendment than someone would in the private sector. Supporters of the amendment point to the city’s struggles with properly funding its pension system, which led to a bond rating downgrade from credit rating agency Moody’s. Opponents of the
amendment plan to hold a press conference in front of City Hall at 3
p.m. today or after today’s Council meeting, whichever is later.
A majority of City Council on Tuesday sided with the Windholtz family,
who will now be able to sell and demolish the old Lenhardt’s
restaurant building — also known as the Goetz House — in Clifton
Heights. Only Councilwoman Yvette Simpson sided with community members
who argued that the building should be declared a historical landmark
and preserved. “If I were counting votes, I would go with the community.
There are a whole bunch of you and a very few people named Windholtz,”
Councilman Wendell Young said. “I believe that the courage to do what’s
right this time is to side with the family.”
Election results from yesterday: The Norwood tax levy failed, the Arlington Heights levy failed with a tie vote and the Cleves tax levy passed.
Gov. John Kasich says there’s no need to change oversight over JobsOhio, the privatized development agency that has been mired in controversy in the past few weeks. Most recently, a story in the Dayton Daily News
found six of nine members on the JobsOhio board had direct financial
ties to companies receiving state aid. Republicans argue JobsOhio’s
privatized nature allows it to move quickly with deals that bring in
businesses and jobs to the state, but Democrats say the secretive agency
is too difficult to hold accountable and could be wasting taxpayer
Former Gov. Ted Strickland is calling on Ohioans
to act now and reduce the effects of global warming. Strickland is
apparently siding with the near-unanimous scientific consent that global
warming is real and man-made. Scientists generally want to reduce
carbon and other greenhouse-gas emissions enough so global warming
doesn’t exceed two degrees Celsius,
but the planet is currently on a path to warm by five degrees Celsius.
If that trend continues, there could be devastating effects, including
more drought and other extraordinary weather events.
The second phase of The Banks might include a grocery store.
Procter & Gamble plans to move 50 customer service jobs from Cincinnati to San Jose, Costa Rica.
The house of Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who held captive and raped three women for more than a decade, was demolished
today. The neighborhood is still celebrating the capture of Castro, who
was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years last week, but many in the area
are wondering how the man got away with his crimes for so long.
Entrepreneurs were more likely to cause trouble than teenagers, according to a new study.
by German Lopez
129 days ago
City mulling disparity study, Medicaid expansion bill underway, parking hours criticized
City Council could use leftover revenue from the previous budget cycle and money from the parking lease
to fund a disparity study that would gauge whether minority- and
women-owned businesses should be favorably targeted by the city’s
contracting policies. The study could cost between $500,000 to $1 million, according to city officials. Because of a U.S. Supreme Court case, the city must carry out the study before it can impose policies that favorably target minorities or women with business contracts. Since the city's last race- and gender-based program was dismantled in 1999, contract participation rates for
minority-owned businesses dropped from a high of 22.4 percent in 1997 to
a low of 2.7 percent in 2007, but rates for women-owned businesses have remained relatively unchanged. But the numbers could be understating how many minority-owned businesses there are because classifying as one is now voluntary, while it was mandatory in the 1990s.State Rep. Ron Amstutz, chairman of the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee, says he wants to move on a package of bills that would include the Medicaid expansion by early October. The bills will also tackle other issues, such as how to deal with growing concerns about opiate addiction in Ohio. The Health Policy Institute of Ohio says the federally funded Medicaid expansion would insure nearly half a million Ohioans and generate roughly $1.8 billion for the state in the next year. But Republican legislators in the General Assembly say they're concerned the federal government won't be able to uphold its commitment to the expansion. Recent polling found about 63 percent of Ohioans support expanding Medicaid.East side residents pleaded with Greater Cincinnati Port Authority officials yesterday to reduce enforcement hours for parking meters under the city's controversial parking lease. The plan allows for enforcement until 9 p.m., but residents say it should only go to 6 p.m. to avoid hurting local businesses that might rely on free parking during the evening. The city is leasing its parking meters, lots and garages to the Port Authority, which will then manage the assets through private operators from around the country. The city administration estimates the deal will produce $92 million up front and at least $3 million a year afterward for Cincinnati, which officials plan to use for development projects and to help close budget gaps.Meanwhile, opponents of the parking lease appealed their legal challenge to the Ohio Supreme Court. Opponents argue the lease should be susceptible to voter referendum. The city claims Cincinnati's emergency clause powers allow council members to expedite laws and remove the possibility of referendum altogether. The legal challenge was initially successful in a lower court, but the appeals court ultimately sided with the city. It's unclear whether the Ohio Supreme Court will hear the challenge.Legal experts say it's unclear which, if any, of Ohio's new abortion restrictions could survive a court battle. The anti-abortion measures, which were passed in the state budget by Republican legislators and Gov. John Kasich, impose a series of regulatory hurdles that require extra medical procedures prior to getting an abortion and could be used to shut down abortion clinics.An internal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report suggests that fracking, an oil- and gas-extraction process, can contaminate underground drinking water. The findings could have implications for Ohio, which is currently undergoing a fracking boom as companies rush to tap into oil and gas reserves in northeastern parts of the state. CityBeat covered Ohio’s fracking boom in further detail here.Councilwoman Pam Thomas and ex-Councilman Cecil Thomas want everyone to know that they have not endorsed anyone for mayor.Ryan Widmer's mother, who gained notoriety for defending Widmer during his three trials, was found dead yesterday. There were no obvious signs of trauma or foul play. Widmer is currently serving 15 years for drowning his wife in a bathtub in 2008.Scientists may have to genetically modify oranges to save them from a deadly disease.