1 Comment · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
U.S. Rep Steve Chabot is refusing to help the battered Northeast United States with federal disaster relief.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The city of Cincinnati and a union
representing city workers are currently negotiating an out-of-court
settlement for a lawsuit involving the city’s pension program.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
In line with the country’s increasing energy usage trends,
statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Agency found that China now
uses 47 percent of the world’s coal; its usage grew by 325 million tons
in 2011. WORLD -1
Pendleton residents lament developer’s plan to replace former SCPA building’s greenspace with a parking lot
6 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The three acres
of greenspace she sees every day from her front window surrounding the
old School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) building, is facing
serious threats of extinction.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
WEDNESDAY JAN. 23:
State Board of Education President Debe
Terhar has made some folks not so happy. She shared a link on Facebook
from some pitiful source who posts things like photos of our president
with the caption “Where’s Lee Harvey Oswalt when you need him?” (their
misspelling, not ours).
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:35 PM | Permalink
Traditional programs on par with charter schools, vouchers
In support of Ohio’s charter school and voucher programs, conservatives point to the wonders of “school choice.” But a new Policy Matters Ohio report revealed school choice may not be the boon supporters make it out to be.
Citing a study
from Community Research Partners, the Policy Matters report found the extra mobility enabled by school choice programs can lead to a worse education. Students who changed schools frequently performed worse than their peers, and the higher mobility can also put a strain on teachers
and staff by forcing them to make accommodations for new students. The Policy Matters report pointed out the two findings directly contradict the basis for more school choice: “School choice advocates envision parents and students acting as consumers in an education marketplace, trying out different schools until they find one that ‘fits,’ but as this study shows, the movement this implies clearly has far-reaching effects on teaching and student learning.”The report also looked through previous literature to gauge charter schools’ academic results. Research
from the Rand Corporation and Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes found only 17 percent of charter schools
performed better than traditional public schools. Compared to their
public school counterparts, charter school students did worse in math
and showed no difference in reading.
of Ohio’s 2011-2012 achievement test scores by the Thomas B. Fordham
Institute found only 6 percent of charter schools met the state goal of
having a performance index of 100 or higher and only 10 percent rated
excellent or above.The Policy Matters report attributes the poor academic results to faulty regulations. Lax rules and oversights were uncovered by a report
from the Rand Corporation. In another report, Policy Matters unveiled poor oversight
and loopholes in Ohio state law, which CityBeat covered here.
Poor academic results also applied to voucher programs. An in-depth look
at Cleveland’s voucher program from the Center for Evaluation and Education
Policy found voucher-toting students performed at the same level as students who did not use vouchers. Around the state, public school students outperformed voucher students in third to eighth grade achievement tests, according to the Policy Matters report. Students in public schools did better in math, while both types of students had mixed results in reading.
Voucher programs have been particularly controversial because
they can end up subsidizing private, religious schools — possibly violating
separation of church and state.
by German Lopez
Democrats sue over Terhar, JobsOhio ignores lawsuit, Monzel to change county mission
Ohio Democrats are moving to sue
the state if it continues blocking access to texts from State Board of
Education President Debe Terhar, a Republican from Cincinnati. The school board leader has been facing criticism for making a Facebook post that compared President
Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler. The post was a picture with the caption,
“Never forget what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm
its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.” There is no historical evidence Hitler made that quote.
Despite ongoing litigation questioning its constitutionality, JobsOhio intends to move ahead
with plans to sell liquor-backed bonds. The Supreme Court agreed to
take up ProgressOhio’s challenge of JobsOhio last week. JobsOhio is a
nonprofit private agency set up by Gov. John Kasich to drive economic
growth, but bipartisan questions have surrounded its legality and
constitutionality since its conception.
Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Chris Monzel wants to change the county’s mission statement.
His proposed changes would remove references to equity and add
conservative language about the county government living within its
means. The county is already required to balance its budget.
Ohio State University expects to save
nearly $1 million a year due to wind power. The university signed a
20-year agreement in October to buy 50 megawatts annually from Blue
Creek Wind Farm, the state’s largest commercial wind farm.
The city of Cincinnati is tearing down hundreds of blighted houses. The demolitions, which are being funded by a grant, are meant to make neighborhoods safer.
A Cleveland man was the first to benefit
from a law that expedites payouts to those who were wrongfully
imprisoned. After being imprisoned for 16 years, Darrell Houston will
receive a partial judgment of nearly $380,000.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is looking at removing
34 positions. One of the potentially affected jobs is a counselor position that helped
apprehend a man suspected of kidnapping two teenaged girls.
Ohio may soon require the replacement of old license plates.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority is assisting eleven companies in investing more than $51 million across Ohio. In Hamilton County, Jedson Engineering will spend an additional $2.8 million to create 30 full-time jobs.
StateImpact Ohio has an in-depth look at Nate DeRolph, one of the leaders in school funding equality.
A new gun shoots criminals with DNA tags,
which lets cops return to a suspect during less confrontational times.
The guns will be particularly useful during riots, when attempting an
arrest can result in injuries.
by Bill Sloat
Congressman urged victims of Southwest Ohio tornadoes last march to seek federal aid
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot called the deadly storms that hit
the Cincinnati area last March “catastrophic,” and he offered shattered
communities a financial lifeline through the U.S. Small Business
Administration’s low-interest rate disaster loan program.
In 1997, when Washington wrangling over budget issues held
up relief after the Ohio River flooded Cincinnati, Chabot raged against
“politics at its worst” and said his hometown truly needed federal
assistance to rebuild. His words at the time: “Let us get the disaster
relief to the people who truly need it.”
Fast-forward to January 2013, and Chabot is a refusenik
when it comes to helping the battered Northeast United States with
federal disaster relief.
Former New York Sen. Al D’Amato is calling the Republican
House members like Chabot who wouldn’t support $60 billion in aid for
Hurricane Sandy-ravaged states a "bunch of jackasses.” The jackasses are members of his D’Amato’s own political
party. Chabot apparently balked at the Sandy relief package because it
offered federal cash to the National Park Service and other agencies
that needed funding after the storm. Chabot saw pork where most in the
House — the two Sandy bills
passed by huge margins — saw responsible and necessary federal actions;
to borrow his words, getting “disaster relief to people who really need
it.” Chabot and his fellow travelers are getting pounded as short-sighted skinflints. And he probably can be criticized as a hypocrite.
After the massive March tornado outbreak, Chabot posted
links on his Twitter account and his official House website that guided
Ohioans in the ravaged areas on how to apply for federal help. He
pointed to the U.S. Small Business Administration as a source of
disaster loans. On April 16, 2012, Chabot said, “The tornadoes on March
12 affected many in our region in various ways, and the Small Business
Administration (SBA) may be able to help those who have experienced
‘uninsured’ losses caused by these catastrophic storms. If you are
located in Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton or Warren counties and
experienced damages caused by the tornadoes, high winds or flooding, you
may be eligible for assistance from the SBA’s Disaster Loan program.
The Disaster Loan Outreach Center has reopened in Moscow, Ohio, with
You can find the link from Chabot’s official House website by clicking here.
But there is more to the story. In 1997, after a
disastrous Ohio River flood wrecked much of Cincinnati’s riverfront,
Chabot ripped into then President Bill Clinton for vetoing a disaster
relief package. Clinton was furious that the GOP had tied flood aid to
his showdown with former Speaker Newt Gingrich over a government
shutdown. Chabot said stopping the 1997 disaster relief package was a
refusal to help Cincinnatian rebuild and get on with their lives.
Chabot took the House floor and gave a speech about
Cincinnati needing federal disaster relief. Here is his speech from June
“Mr. Speaker, yesterday President Clinton sent a callous
message to the flood-ravaged American families in the Midwest. Only
minutes after receiving the disaster relief bill from Capitol Hill, the
President who likes to say he feels our pain told thousands of flood
victims that he was going to veto the bill that would help them rebuild
their homes and get on with their lives.
“Why did President Clinton veto the legislation? Because
the bill contained a provision that would stop him from forcing another
Government shutdown. Let me repeat that. The President is withholding
aid to thousands of flood victims so he can reserve the right to once
again put thousands and thousands of government employees out of work
and bring the work of the federal government to a halt.
“Despite the fact that the President in a master of spin,
Mr. Speaker, I do not think he is going to be able to spin this one
much. The American people are going to see through this. It is politics
at this worst. Let us get disaster relief to the people who truly need
You can read his House speech here.
by German Lopez
School funding changes soon, prison union wants more security, drug abuse costs employers
School superintendents will hear
about Gov. John Kasich’s school funding proposal Thursday. The
proposal, which will change how all of Ohio’s schools are publicly
funded, will be released to the wider public Feb. 4. Many school
officials are bracing for the worst, according to Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer. Rob Nichols previously told CityBeat
that the proposal is “a big undertaking”: “Many governors have tried
before. Many states have been sued over their formulas. It’s something
we have to take our time with and get it done right.” Ohio’s largest prison staff union is asking Kasich’s administration to increase the amount of prison security officers
following a late December report from the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction. The report found a correlation
between rising prison violence and a decrease in prison security staff,
affirming a position the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association has
held for years.
A Journal News report found substance abuse comes at a heavy loss
for Ohio employers, including more workplace injuries, higher medical
costs, more absenteeism and reduced productivity. Some experts advocate
for drug testing to lower the costs, while others
argue drug testing can often affect innocent, responsible drug users.
Employers are much more likely to test for marijuana over alcohol, even
though multiple studies show cannabis is less addictive and
The flu epidemic may be leveling off in Ohio. The state
health department revealed the amount of hospitalizations involving the
flu have plateaued, but the department cautions the calm could be temporary.
The women’s sections of county and regional jails are facing higher levels of overcrowding.
The overcrowding is a result of a 2011 law that enables fourth- and
fifth-degree felons to be held at county jails instead of state prisons.
A new online tool reveals the salaries of public school teachers and staff.
The extensive audit of Ohio schools and their attendance information will be released Feb. 11. The preliminary reports found Cincinnati Public Schools were clean. The investigation into attendance fraud began when Lockland schools in Hamilton County were caught falsifying attendance data.
A new poll found an overwhelming majority of Kentucky parents favor raising the school dropout age to 18, up from the current age of 16.
Ohio gas prices are still rising.
Researchers made super-realistic lung tissue with levitating cells. The development allows researchers to better study how toxins affect the lungs.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Budget
at 03:37 PM | Permalink
April deadline to settle with AFSCME over accusations of underfunding
The city of Cincinnati and a union representing city workers are currently negotiating an out-of-court settlement for a lawsuit involving the city's pension program. The American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) claimed in a 2011 lawsuit that the city government isn’t meeting funding requirements. A Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas motion filed Jan. 4
and accepted Jan. 23 gives the city and AFSCME until April to settle the case out
By law, Cincinnati is required to heed to the Cincinnati
Retirement System (CRS) Board of Trustees when setting the percent of
payroll the city must contribute to retirees. But the AFSCME lawsuit argues
the city hasn’t been making contributions dictated by the board.
The lawsuit, which dates back to June 2011, cites minutes
from a CRS Board of Trustees meeting on July 20, 2010 to show the board
accepted a report from Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting, LLC. The report
asked the city to contribute 46.22 percent of payroll to retiree
benefits — 12.32 percent to retiree health benefits and 33.9 percent to other CRS benefits — during the 2011 fiscal year.
Instead, the city biennial budget for 2011 and 2012 established a contribution rate of 17 percent — way below the recommended sum.
The AFSCME lawsuit alleges the low contributions reflect a
“longstanding pattern” from city government. It points to a 2002
report from the CRS Board of Trustees that found the city was not meeting requirements set by the board then, either.
The lawsuit asks for a court mandate requiring city government to find out how much it needs to contribute, establish a mechanism for
collecting the amounts required and appropriate and contribute the
required amounts.City Solicitor John Curp says the debate is between long-term and short-term interests. On AFSCME’s side, the union wants to get as much from payroll contributions as possible for represented retirees, even if it means a short-term economic and budget shock for the city. On the city’s side, City Council is more interested in meeting long-term requirements for the pension fund, instead of keeping up with shifting annual numbers that could negatively impact the city economy and budget.City government’s approach attempts to balance short-term and long-term needs with a long-term goal. It means the city pension is underfunded during some years, particularly when the economy is in a bad state. But it keeps rates steady, letting the city avoid sudden funding changes that would require spending cuts or tax hikes to keep the budget balanced.By adopting a large short-term contribution rate, the city would likely hurt its budget in ways that would negatively affect city employees represented by AFSCME. If the city was forced to contribute 46.22 percent of payroll to CRS — up from 17 percent — it would probably be forced to cut spending elsewhere, which would lead to layoffs.This story was updated on Jan. 25 at 12:40 p.m. to reflect comments from City Solicitor John Curp.