by German Lopez
30 days ago
Voters elect anti-streetcar majority, pension privatization rejected, turnout at record low
Voters last night elected an anti-streetcar City Council majority and mayor,
which raises questions about the $133 million project’s future even as
construction remains underway. Ex-Councilman John Cranley, who ran
largely on his opposition to the project, easily defeated streetcar
supporter Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls 58-42 percent, while non-incumbents
Democrat David Mann, Charterite Kevin Flynn and Republican Amy Murray
replaced Qualls, Laure Quinlivan and Pam Thomas on council to create a
6-3 anti-streetcar majority with Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld, Republican
Charlie Winburn and Independent Chris Smitherman. Democrats Chris
Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young — all supporters of the
project — also won re-election. It remains unclear if the new government
will actually cancel the project once it takes power in December, given concerns about contractual obligations and sunk costs that could make canceling the project costly in terms of dollars and Cincinnati’s business reputation.
Other election results: Cincinnati voters rejected Issue
4, which would have privatized Cincinnati’s pension system for city
employees, in a 78-22 percent vote. Hamilton County voters
overwhelmingly approved property tax levies for the Cincinnati Zoo and
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in 80-20 percent votes.
In the Cincinnati Public Schools board election, Melanie Bates, Ericka
Copeland-Dansby, Elisa Hoffman and Daniel Minera won the four available
At 28 percent, citywide voter turnout was at the lowest since 1975, Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke told The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ohio Libertarians are threatening to sue
if Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-controlled Ohio
legislature pass a bill that would limit ballot access for minor
parties. Although many of the new requirements for signatures and votes were
relaxed in the Ohio House, minor parties claim the standards are still
too much. Critics, who call the bill the “John Kasich Re-election
Protection Act,” claim the proposal exists to protect Republicans,
particularly Kasich, from third-party challengers who are unhappy with
the approval of the federally funded Medicaid expansion. CityBeat covered the Ohio Senate proposal in further detail here.
Meanwhile, the Kasich administration stands by its decision to bypass the legislature
and go through the Controlling Board, a seven-member legislative panel,
to enact the federally funded Medicaid expansion despite resistance in
the Ohio House and Senate. The Ohio Supreme Court recently expedited hearings over the constitutional conflict,
presumably so it can make a decision before the expansion goes into
effect in January. Opponents of the expansion, particularly Republicans,
argue the federal government can’t afford to pay for 90 to 100 percent
of the expansion through Obamacare as currently planned, while
supporters, particularly Kasich and Democrats, say it’s a great deal for
the state that helps cover nearly half a million Ohioans over the next
Across the state, voters approved most school levy renewals but rejected new property taxes.
Maximize your caffeine: The scientifically approved time for coffee drinking is between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
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0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Even above the City Council and mayoral
races, Issue 4 could be the most decisive ballot item in the 2013
election. If voters approve it, Cincinnati could be ravaged by the city
Conservative study suggests tea-party backed pension amendment would reduce benefits
2 Comments · Wednesday, October 2, 2013
A conservative group’s report helps explain why most of Cincinnati’s political establishment strongly opposes a tea party-backed pension amendment.
by German Lopez
136 days ago
Ohio must recognize gay couple, Qualls knocks pension plan, 1.25 million in state uninsured
A federal judge ruled that a state death certificate must recognize the marriage of a newlywed same-sex couple,
but the order only applies to James Obergefell
and John Arthur. It’s the first time a same-sex marriage is recognized
in Ohio. The two men had the case expedited because Arthur is suffering
from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a deadly neurological disease with
no known cure. Al Gerhardstein, the attorney for the two husbands, says
the ruling could be the beginning of legal challenges from gay couples
inspired by the Supreme Court’s ruling against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which could put further pressure on Ohio to legalize same-sex marriage. CityBeat covered ongoing efforts to legalize gay marriage in the state here,
although the group in charge of the movement is now aiming to put the
issue on the ballot in 2014, not 2013 as originally planned.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls in a statement called the tea
party-backed charter amendment that would revamp the city’s pension
system “a wolf in sheep's clothing.” She is also requesting the city
administration study the amendment’s consequences and report back to
City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Aug. 5. The amendment
would funnel new hires into a private retirement plan similar to what’s
typically found in the private sector — except, unlike private-sector
workers, city employees don’t pay into Social Security and don’t collect
Social Security benefits from their years with the city. The amendment
was announced less than a week after Moody’s, a credit ratings agency, downgraded Cincinnati’s bond rating in part because of the city’s increasing pension liability.
A poll analysis from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati suggests more than 1.25 million Ohioans are uninsured,
with about 17 percent of the working-age population lacking insurance.
It also found that Ohioans are increasingly reliant on public programs
to obtain health benefits. The analysis looked at the Health
Foundation’s 2013 Ohio Health Issues Poll.
The results could spur further efforts to expand Medicaid eligibility
in the state, which the Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found
would save the state money and insure nearly half a million Ohioans
over the next decade. Republican legislators rejected the Medicaid
expansion in the state budget, citing concerns that the federal government wouldn’t be able to uphold its 90-percent funding commitment.
Gov. John Kasich wants to fast track
the I-71/MLK Interchange in part by using revenue from the Ohio
Turnpike’s tolls. Kasich’s recommendations, which must be approved by
the state’s Transportation Review Advisory Council, add up to $107.7
million in state funds.
State Rep. Peter Beck, a Mason Republican who’s facing 16 felony charges of fraud, won’t resign his seat.
Twenty-eight people have applied to become Cincinnati’s next police chief.
With a recent uptick in violence, many have called on the city to
expedite the process of replacing James Craig, the former police chief
who left for Detroit earlier in the year.Despite rising interest rates, Cincinnati-area home sales in June continued their strong trend up.
For-profit entities are opening more online schools in Ohio, with the process set by state legislators to shut out public educators. A previous investigation by CityBeat found online schools tend to do worse and cost more than their peers.
The city administration and social media network Nextdoor are partnering up
to better link Cincinnati’s neighborhoods with the local government.
The network will provide a free website for each of the city’s
neighborhoods, which the city says will allow residents to “to get to
know their neighbors, ask questions and exchange local advice and
recommendations.” City officials plan to use the websites to regularly
reach out to local citizens.
Computer software from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could make the Internet three times faster.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Just like a binging consumer who continues using credit cards to buy new items while making only minimum payments on the bills, Cincinnati officials now face the harsh reality of a financial problem they've tried to ignore for the past decade: properly funding the troubled pension fund for retired city employees.