by German Lopez
County blocks sewer projects, sex toy company welcomed in Kentucky, Kasich fights for coal
Hamilton County once again froze new work on a $3.2 billion project that will retrofit Cincinnati’s sewers
because of a dispute concerning the city’s established bidding
requirements. City Council in 2012 passed and in 2013 further adjusted
rules that require companies bidding for lucrative sewer contracts to
meet specific local hiring and training standards. City Council says the
requirements will produce more local jobs, but Hamilton County
commissioners argue that the rules favor unions and cost too much for
businesses. Councilman Chris Seelbach and Commissioner Chris Monzel were
originally working on a compromise, but prospects fell through after
City Council rejected the deal. CityBeat covered the conflict in further detail here.
Covington, Ky., is publicly welcoming Pure Romance to the other side of the Ohio River,
which could cost Cincinnati and Ohio up to 120 jobs and $100 million in
revenue. Pure Romance was initially planning to move from Loveland,
Ohio, to downtown Cincinnati with some tax support from the city and
state, but after the state’s tax credit agencies rejected the plan, the
company has been getting better offers from out-of-state sources,
including Covington. Ohio officials say they denied Pure Romance because the
company isn’t part of a target industry such as biotech, energy or
logistics, but emails have suggested that the Republican state government is worried about the
deal coming off as politically embarrassing because some of Pure
Romance’s products include sex toys.
Ohio coal officials repeatedly complained about the state’s water pollution rules
to Gov. John Kasich, whose administration then carried on the
complaints to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Kasich’s
office insists it was just trying to collect “different viewpoints and then work
together to challenge each other to do the best job possible,” but
environmental advocates say the governor was putting unfair pressure on a
state agency just trying to do its job. The conflict might explain why
the Ohio EPA’s top water-quality official, George Elmaraghy, was forced
to resign after claiming that coal companies are pursuing permits “that
may have a negative impact on Ohio streams and wetlands and violate
state and federal laws.”
The tea party-backed pension reform effort on Thursday sued to change ballot language
approved by the Hamilton County Board of Elections. The lawsuit says
the current ballot language is making “conjecture and partisan
argumentation” by claiming the pension amendment will force the city to
raise taxes, fees or other revenues to cope with stricter requirements
for paying back Cincinnati’s $872 million pension liability. If it’s
approved by voters, the amendment would effectively privatize the city’s
pension system so future city employees, minus police and firefighters,
would be required to contribute to and manage an individual 401k-style
plan; currently, the city pools city employees’ retirement funds, makes
its own contribution and invests the funds through an independent board.
CityBeat covered the tea party-backed pension amendment in further detail here.
Hamilton County sheriffs are rolling out a three-phase plan
to move homeless squatters out of county buildings and especially the
Hamilton County Courthouse, where much of the city’s homeless population
has been sleeping and defecating. Sheriffs will first set up bathrooms,
such as portable potties, and try to identify the needs of the
squatters and whether they should be connected to mental health or other
services; during the month of the first phase, homeless people will be
allowed to remain in the buildings. Then sheriffs will get more strict
and forcibly remove people but still connect them to special services.
Finally, the affected buildings will be cleaned up.
An upcoming report will likely place legislators and police and fire officials in conflict
over the state’s police and fire pension system. Supporters of the
pension system claim it’s financially stable, but a state consultants
predicted that an actuarial report will soon show the pension system is
failing to make its required commitments and will be unable to play for
health care benefits beyond 15 years. Despite the problems, pension
officials say they want to avoid more changes until the most recent
changes are in place for one year. The most recent reforms will be
officially in place for one year on July 2014, but they won’t show up on
actuarial reports until late 2015, which means further changes would
have to be held off until 2016 at the earliest under pension
A lengthy, scathing report from the state’s independent prison watchdog found skyrocketing violence and drug use, high staff turnover and low staff morale at the Toledo Correctional Institution.
Two private organizations and the city of Cincinnati are working to place 21 bike share stations with 10 bicycles each in Over-the-Rhine and downtown Cincinnati by spring 2014.
The reason reported mayoral primary results seemed to stall midway through counting: a memory card mix-up.
Hamilton County Board of Elections Director Amy Searcy says the memory
cards were never in an insecure environment, but some memory cards were
locked up and left behind, while others were accidentally taken to a
warehouse instead of the Board of Elections.
At four times their usual number, bats are forcing health officials to recommend rabies vaccinations and other disease-avoiding precautions to people in Kenton County in northern Kentucky.
Cincinnati’s largest mall, currently known as Forest Fair
Village and previously named Cincinnati Mall, Cincinnati Mills and
Forest Fair Mall, is apparently not for sale, despite early reports from The Business Courier.
Social robots can easily replace humans as dogs’ best friend, according to a new study in Animal Recognition.
by German Lopez
Environment Ohio calls on regulators to limit effects on global warming
In the United States, Ohio’s power plants pollute more
than all but Texas’ power plants, making Ohio one of the nation’s
leading contributors to global warming, according to a Sept. 10 report
from Environment Ohio.
“America’s dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the
room when it comes to global warming,” said Kathryn Lee, field associate
for Environment Ohio, in a statement. “If we want a cleaner, safer
future for our kids, we can’t afford to ignore power plants’
overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Ohio, tackling the
problem means cleaning up the dirtiest power plants.”
Power plants are responsible for 41 percent of the United States’ carbon dioxide pollution, which means they contribute more to
global warming than any other source in the nation, according to the
“Dirty power plants produce a disproportionate share of
the nation’s global warming pollution — especially given the relatively
small share of total electricity they produce. For example, despite
producing 30 percent of all power-sector carbon dioxide emissions, the
50 dirtiest power plants only produced 16 percent of the nation’s
electricity in 2011,” the report found.
The report narrows down the pollution problem to specific power plants and the disproportionate amount of greenhouse gases they emit: “The dirtiest power plant in the United States, Georgia Power’s Plant
Scherer, produced more than 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in
2011 — more than the total energy-related emissions of Maine.”
The report ultimately calls on regulators to encourage
alternative energy sources and curtail greenhouse gases that contribute
to global warming.
Specifically, the report asks the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to meet a timeline put forth by President Barack
Obama for setting strict limits and regulations on how much future and existing power
plants can pollute. It also calls on all levels of government to
continue setting standards and incentives that encourage clean energy.
In 2008, Ohio passed its Clean Energy Law to require and
incentivize Ohio companies to pursue energy portfolios that are cleaner,
more efficient and more diverse.
Environment Ohio has consistently called on state
legislators to strengthen the standards, with the latest report
suggesting goals that would require even more clean, renewable energy
sources than Ohio currently mandates.
But even the renewable energy standards that Environment Ohio deems too weak are likely to be diminished
by a proposal from State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), following an
aggressive lobbying effort from national conservative groups.
Seitz is a member of the conservative American Legislative
Exchange Council (ALEC), which has teamed up with the conservative
Heartland Institute to dismantle state energy regulations. The two
conservative groups deny global warming is driven by human
actions, even though scientists reportedly said they’re 95 percent
certain humans are contributing to global warming in a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Another report from Environment Ohio
found Ohio’s standards, which require utility companies get 12.5
percent of their energy needs from renewable sources, have spurred clean
energy projects in Cincinnati and the rest of the state. In 2011, the
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden used the state incentives to install
solar panels in its parking lot that will generate enough electricity
to meet 20 percent of the zoo’s electricity needs and reduce pollution
associated with global warming by 1,775 tons annually, according to the
report.Meanwhile, Cincinnati has taken its own actions.
“The city has been a leader in greenhouse gas reduction
efforts since adopting the Green Cincinnati Plan in 2007,” said Larry
Falkin, director of the Office of Environmental Quality of the City of
Cincinnati, in a statement. “We have succeeded in reducing emissions by
more than 8 percent through measures including energy efficiency,
renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicles. What we have learned is
that if you do it right, climate protection work saves more than it
costs, improves public health and improves the quality of life.”Still, some companies argue the standards impose unreasonable costs on businesses and customers. Akron-based utility company FirstEnergy previously asked for a review of Ohio’s energy efficiency standards to address the concerns, but Seitz told Gongwer that the efficiency standards will remain untouched by his legislation.
Scientists have historically called for reducing global
warming to 2 degrees Celsius. That wouldn’t involve immediately
eliminating all carbon pollution — such a goal is widely viewed as
unrealistic — but it would likely require the United States and other
developed countries to cut their carbon pollution by 80 to 95 percent
below 1990 levels by 2050, according to the IPCC’s 2007 report.
With its latest report, Environment Ohio is aiming to push the country in that direction.
by Hannah McCartney
Gaslight grocery store loses steam, record rainfall, return of gas chambers?
Construction to renovate the former IGA in Clifton's Gaslight district will come to a halt soon, and the future for the building remains uncertain; contractors told the Enquirer they'd finish working on the roof and then pull off the project. Steve Goessling, who purchased the property when it was vacated two years ago, says he plans on continuing to build out the building, but he doesn't have the $4.1 million he needs to make it happen. He recently hired Cassidy Turley to market the property to higher-end grocery chains. It’s Monday, the most un-fun, unhappy day of the week. But smile: Here are 18 signs you’re doing better than you think. The attorney general for the state of Missouri, Chris Koster, is talking about bringing back the use of gas chambers on death row inmates because he's worried about the state running out of lethal injection drugs. Cincinnati had an entire month's worth of rainfall over the past week — 3.75 inches as of Sunday. The norm for July is 3.76 inches.A near-record algae bloom is ensconcing the popular beaches of a coastal Chinese city with thick, bright green “sea lettuce,” as the locals call it. It’s not harmful to humans, but it does suffocate the marine life and kind of scares away tourists. Two men with HIV now appear to now be virus-free after they received stem-cell transplants to treat their lymphoma. Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute combed through 18,000 hours of deep-sea video footage and found the ocean seafloor around Monterey Bay is covered in trash.
by Hannah McCartney
Four Ohio energy providers earn spot on Pear Energy's "Dirty Dozen"
Cincinnati's main gas and electricity provider, Duke Energy, has scored a No. 1 ranking, but it's not exactly one you'll be wanting to clap your hands about. Remember when we blogged a couple of weeks ago about how Greater Cincinnati has some of the worst air pollution in the nation? Yep, the American Lung Association's report, "State of the Air," gave us an "F" for ozone pollution, a "D" for 24-hour particle pollution and a "fail" for year-round particle pollution. That put us at the 10th worst spot in the country for year-round particle pollution and 14th worst for ozone pollution. Solar and wind energy provider Pear Energy, which currently operates in all 50 states, released yesterday its "Dirty Dozen" compilation, a list of the 12 utility providers emitting the greatest carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a type of greenhouse gas. CO2 emissions, of course, are the gunk released into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels like gas, coal or oil. Excess CO2 in our atmosphere is directly linked to global warming. Coming from a company that wants to sell you energy itself, it's good to approach the list with a little skepticism, but the methodology seems transparent; according to the website, all rankings were determined by total CO2 emissions in 2010 of power producers with retail operations that have carbon intensities above the national average emissions rate (stats were sourced from Environmental Protection Agency data). While Duke Energy was pinpointed as the nation's worst offender, several other Ohio energy providers also earned accolades, including American Electric Power (No. 2), NRG (No. 8) and First Energy (No. 11). First Energy is the utility provider that in 2012 partnered with Duke Energy locally to bring Cincinnati an electric aggregation program, allegedly useful for both lowering electricity rates and increasing use of renewable energy sources with group buying power. Last month, CityBeat covered allegations that First Energy was focused on weakening energy efficiency standards under Ohio's Clean Energy Law, supposedly to protect prices from shooting up for its customers.
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.
by German Lopez
Ohio may allow open containers, Medicaid may be on ballot, pollution afflicts region
State Sen. Eric Kearney, a Cincinnati Democrat, introduced a bill
in the Ohio Senate yesterday that would allow opened alcoholic
beverages in “entertainment districts,” which must have populations of more than
50,000 within one-half mile by one-half mile. Kearney said Over-the-Rhine
would be an ideal benefactor of the new bill. “Senate Bill 116 will
promote tourism and business development across the state,” Kearney said
in a statement. “By modifying Ohio’s law, this will provide an
opportunity for developments such as the Over-the-Rhine Gateway in
Cincinnati and The Flats in Cleveland to create an entertainment
experience and attract more customers.”
Supporters of the Medicaid expansion say they may attempt to put the issue on the November ballot
if the Ohio General Assembly fails to take action by fall. Republicans
in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate have so far rejected Gov. John
Kasich’s pleas for an expansion, instead moving toward asking the federal government for a Medicaid waiver
that would allow the state to make broader
reforms. At least 90 percent of the expansion would be funded by the
federal government. CityBeat covered the Medicaid expansion and other aspects of the Ohio House budget bill in further detail here.
The Greater Cincinnati region and Hamilton County ranked among the worst in the nation
in the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report.
The report, which used 2009-2011 U.S. EPA data, found Greater Cincinnati
to be No. 10 worst for year-round particle pollution and No. 14 for
ozone pollution. Still, the report did find overall improvement around
the nation, with Greater Cincinnati making some advances in pollution
reduction in the past few decades.
A new Ohio law going into effect today will require school coaches to acquire additional concussion awareness training.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross says the
training will make it easier for coaches to identify symptoms of
concussions and get help for students.
A University of Cincinnati study found it could be cost-effective to screen at-risk populations for hepatitis C.
A vegetarian lifestyle may fit some of CityBeat’s most beautiful employees, but Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble says pets need a more expansive diet.
Not only do they have multiple cultural traditions, but humpback whales also learn new tricks by watching their friends.
by German Lopez
Report finds region 10th worst for year-round particle pollution
Cincinnati area and Hamilton County ranked poorly in the American Lung
Association’s annual “State of the Air” report, released April 24, with failing grades in a couple categories.
The report, which used 2009-2011 U.S. EPA data, gave
the Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington region an “F” for ozone pollution,
a “D” for 24-hour particle pollution and a “fail” for year-round particle
pollution. The region ranked 10th worst for year-round particle
pollution and No. 14 worst for ozone pollution.
Meanwhile, Hamilton County received an “F”
for its overall performance, with an “F” in ozone pollution, a “D” in
24-hour particle pollution and a “fail” in year-round particle
But the report found overall improvement around the
nation, with most cities reducing year-round particle pollution and days
of high ozone pollution.
Despite its current standing, Greater Cincinnati has also
improved in the past few decades. In comparison to 1996, the region has
16.9 fewer high ozone days per year. In comparison to 2000, the region
has 19.9 fewer days of high particle pollution and a lower concentration
of pollutants in the air throughout the year.
Exposure to ozone and other pollutants can damage lung
tissue, putting Greater Cincinnati at a higher risk for
Particle pollution occurs when the air is tainted by a
complex mix of pollutants. Year-round exposure can lead to death and cancer, while 24-hour spikes in exposure can cause
illness and even death under some circumstances.
To help combat the issue, the report makes policy recommendations
to the U.S. EPA, asking for stronger regulations on various sources of
pollution, including power plants, gasoline, cars and even wood smoke.
The Clean Air Act, which was strengthened in 1990, gives the EPA the regulatory power necessary to hand down regulations on many of these issues, but funding more
enforcement would likely require congressional action.
States and cities can also curtail air pollution by passing clean energy policies. Ohio began supporting clean energy
when it passed its Clean Energy Law in 2008, but State Sen. Bill Seitz, a
Cincinnati Republican, is reviewing the law’s energy efficiency and
clean energy standards and may ultimately weaken them (“How Clean is Too Clean?” issue of March 27).
In Cincinnati, the state standards have helped foster more solar energy developments, which Environment Ohio says could turn Cincinnati into the solar capital of the region (“Solar Cincinnati,” issue of Dec. 19).
More public transportation options can also help reduce
air pollution. The advocacy group American Public Transportation
Association says switching from private to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon footprint:
“A single commuter switching his or her commute to public
transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent
and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car. When compared
to other household actions that limit CO2, taking public transportation
can be 10 times greater in reducing this harmful greenhouse gas.”
Cincinnati is currently pursuing plans to build a streetcar, but the project is being threatened by a major budget gap. The city is also planning to build more bike trails
and other transportation options as part of Plan Cincinnati, the city’s
first master plan since 1980.
5 Comments · Wednesday, April 24, 2013
It makes me sad, angry and bewildered
every time I see a black person littering, just blatantly tossing down
with impunity and careless disregard for their surroundings the remnants
of their ghetto diets and their ghetto lifestyles
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Fast-food giant Burger King admitted that some of its beef
patties sold in the U.K. contained traces of horsemeat thanks to a
negligent supplier, although it insists those patties never made it to
restaurants. WORLD -2
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary’s 2012 updates
included crowning “F-bomb,” “sexting” and “man cave” official words.
’Murica! WORLD +1