by German Lopez
School report card reform passed, governors call for bridge tolls, casino to open March 4
School report card reform is about to head to Gov. John Kasich, who is likely to sign it. The bill, which places higher grading standards on
the Ohio Senate yesterday with some minor tweaks. The Ohio House is
expected to approve the bill again, and then Kasich will need to sign it
for it to become law. In an early simulation
of tougher report card standards in May, Cincinnati Public Schools
dropped from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current
system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking and Walnut Hills High School
retaining its top mark with an A.
The governors of Ohio and Kentucky agree tolls will be necessary
to fund the Brent Spence Bridge project. The governors also said there
will be a financing plan by next summer and construction will begin in
2014. Kasich and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear met yesterday with U.S.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to discuss funding for the bridge
The Horseshoe Casino will open in Cincinnati on March 4. What can Cincinnatians expect? According to one Washington Post analysis, casinos bring jobs, but also crime, bankruptcy and even suicide.
Sewer rates in Hamilton County will go up next year, but not as much as expected.
Cincinnati has 1,300 properties awaiting demolition.
With same-sex marriage likely coming on the ballot in
2013, a Quinnipiac University poll found Ohio voters thinly oppose its
legalization 47 percent to 45 percent, but it’s within the margin of error of 2.9 percent. A Washington Post poll in September found Ohioans support same-sex marriage 52 percent to 37 percent — well outside of the poll’s margin of error of 4.5 percent. CityBeat recently wrote about the same-sex marriage legalization in Ohio here.
The same poll found Ohio voters deadlocked on whether
marijuana should be legalized with 47 percent for it and 47 percent
against it. The results are slightly more conservative than the rest of
the nation. Washington state recently legalized marijuana and same-sex
marriage in the same day, and the world didn’t end.
Ohio gained approval
on a coordinated Medicare-Medicaid initiative that will change funding
for low-income seniors who qualify for both public health programs. With
the go-ahead from the federal government, the plan will push forward in
coordinating Medicare and Medicaid more efficiently to cut costs.
But on the topic of a Medicaid expansion, Ohio will not make a final decision until February.
As part of Obamacare, states are encouraged to expand their Medicaid
plans to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. If they do it, the federal
government will pick up 100 percent of the tab through 2016. After that,
federal funding drops annually, eventually reaching 90 percent for 2020
and beyond. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid improved lives.
Another study found Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion saves states money
in the long term by reducing the amount of uncompensated health care.
Cleveland's The Plain Dealer says Gov. Kasich will not privatize the Ohio Turnpike, but he will ask for a toll hike to help finance new projects. Kasich will officially announce his plans later today.
With opposition from law enforcement, a Senate committee is pushing ahead with a bill that lessens restrictions on gun-carrying laws.
Redistricting reform will soon be taken up by the Ohio Senate. The measure passed committee in an 8-1 vote. Redistricting is often used by politicians to redraw district borders in politically beneficial ways.
Gov. Kasich signed into law a measure that cracks down
on dog breeders in Ohio. The measure has long been pushed by animal
advocates, who say lax regulations for puppy mills have made the state a
breeding ground for bad practices. CityBeat previously wrote about how these bad practices lead to abusive dog auctions in Ohio.Homosexuality may not be in our genes, but it may be in the molecules that regulate genes.
by German Lopez
Romney loss stops heartbeat bill, tougher report cards pass House, S&P criticizes Cincinnati
Mitt Romney’s big loss is finally getting to Ohio
Republicans. Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus made procedural moves to
block the heartbeat bill from a vote before the end of the lame-duck
session. Niehaus, a Republican, said his decision was largely influenced by Romney’s loss on Nov. 6.
When the heartbeat bill was originally proposed, it was labeled the
most radical anti-abortion bill in the country. It banned abortion as
soon as a heartbeat was detected, which can happen six weeks into
pregnancy. It made no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of
the mother. CityBeat recently wrote about the GOP's renewed anti-abortion agenda, but if Republicans begin taking lessons from the most recent election, the renewed agenda will never come to light.
The Ohio House of Representatives approved
Cincinnati’s tougher school report card standards. An early simulation
of the proposed system in May showed Cincinnati Public Schools would
drop from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current system
to a D-, with 23 schools flunking and Walnut Hills High School
retaining its top mark with an A. The bill will also impose more
regulations and oversight on charter schools. As part of the overall
reform, the state is replacing its standardized tests, but some Democrats are worried the new tests and system will be too tough on schools.
Standard & Poor's is not optimistic about Cincinnati. The firm gave the city’s debt rating a negative outlook
due to structural budget problems. City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. says
ratings firms are looking for spending cuts or revenue growth from
Cincinnati to achieve structurally balanced budgets in the next two
years, but Dohoney’s most recent budget proposal
largely balances the deficit with a one-time source from privatizing
parking services. On the other hand, pursuing austerity during a weak
economic recovery is a bad idea.
The Cincinnati Fire Department says it doesn’t have enough personnel to man fire trucks. The problem is only getting worse as retirements increase, according to Fire Chief Richard Braun.
The University of Cincinnati’s campus was ranked among the most dangerous in the country.
Ohio has some of the lowest graduation rates in the Midwest. Low-income, black and Hispanic students are all much less likely to graduate than their wealthier and white peers.
Gov. John Kasich met with college and university leaders today
to discuss higher education. After the meeting, Kasich and the leaders
suggested attaching state funding to graduation rates, among other
It looks like Ohio’s financial institutions tax bill will make it through the Ohio Senate without major changes. The bill was already passed by the Ohio House. A memo from nonprofit research organization Policy Matters Ohio
recommended making changes so the bill cuts tax loopholes
without cutting rates on big banks. Zach Schiller, research director
from Policy Matters, said in the memo, “Big banks aren’t better banks,
as their role in the recent financial crisis made clear. It is
questionable policy for the state to favor them with lower rates.”
It’s official: Cincinnati is “cougar capital of Ohio.”
Heart-lifting story of the day: A New York City cop helped a homeless person by buying him a pair of boots.
Has the modern art world lost touch with its audience?NASA confirmed the presence of ice water on Mercury.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The Ohio Graduation Tests will soon be no
more. The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Board of Regents have
agreed to establish tougher tests with a focus on preparing students for
college and beyond.
by German Lopez
Cincinnati unemployment drops, Ohio standardized test to be replaced, gas prices rise
Public service announcement: There will be no Morning News
and Stuff Thursday and Friday due to Thanksgiving break. Happy
Thanksgiving, and CityBeat will see you again on Monday!
With gains in the civilian labor force, Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent.
The city’s unadjusted unemployment rate is below the nation’s rate of
7.5 percent, but it’s above Hamilton County’s 6.2 percent rate and
Ohio’s 6.3 percent rate.The Ohio Graduation Tests will soon be no more. As part of
broader reform, state education leaders have agreed to establish new
standardized tests with a focus on college and career readiness.
But the reform faces some concerns from Democrats, who worry the new
standards, particularly the school report cards that evaluate schools and
districts, may be unreasonably tough. An early simulation of the new
school report cards in May showed Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS)
dropping from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current
system to a D- under the new system, with 23 CPS schools flunking.
Gas prices in southwest Ohio appear to be on the rise. Since Monday, they have moved up 10 to 20 cents.
The Horseshoe Casino is hiring again.
This time, the casino is looking for people experienced in restaurant
management, hosting, banquet, finance, marketing and guest services.
One problem Ohio must consider in its decision to expand Medicaid or not: a doctor shortage. Still, one study
found states that expanded Medicaid had notable health gains. Contrary
to the fiscal reasons normally cited by Republican Gov. John Kasich’s
office, another report from the Arkansas Department of Human Services
found expanding Medicaid would actually save the state money by lowering
the amount of uncompensated care.
Thirteen people are going for the Ohio Supreme Court.
The vacant slot needs to be filled after Justice Evelyn Stratton
announced she was stepping down earlier in the year. Her replacement,
who will be picked by Gov. Kasich, will finish the two years of her
six-year term. Some of the candidates are from the Cincinnati area,
including Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine, the newly elected First District
appellate judge. Surprisingly, Republican Justice Robert Cupp did not
submit an application despite recently losing re-election.
A ban on internet sweepstakes cafes is on its way. The cafes are allegedly susceptible to illegal activities such as money laundering, racketeering and sex trafficking.
Marc Dann, the Democrat formerly in charge of the Ohio attorney general’s office, lost his law license for six months. Dann resigned from the role of attorney general in 2008 after 17 months of scandal-ridden service.
Three staffers at Gov. Kasich’s office were cleared by the Ohio inspector general’s office of engaging in political activity during work hours.
The mediation between Hostess and a striking union failed. The company is blaming the union for shutting down, but the free market is a likelier culprit.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, here is some science on weight gain.
A new way to give drugs to patients: injectable sponges that expand inside the body.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Education
at 04:29 PM | Permalink
Tougher tests seek to prepare students for college, careers
The Ohio Graduation Tests will soon be no more. The
Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Board of Regents have agreed to
tests with a focus on preparing students for college and beyond.
Michael Sawyers, acting superintendent for ODE, praised
the agreement in a statement: “This is a major step forward in our
reform efforts to ensure all Ohio students have the knowledge and skills
necessary to leave school remediation-free and ready for their
post-secondary experience in higher education or workforce training.”
Private companies will soon be able to
compete for a contract to design and help implement the new
standardized tests. The tests are expected to kick in during the
2014-2015 school year, but state officials acknowledge they could be implemented in time for the 2013-2014 school year if competitive bidding goes well and funding is sufficient. Once the tests are active, high school sophomores will take end-of-year tests to gauge
college and career readiness. The tests will cover English, algebra,
geometry, biology, physical science, American history and American
The reform is part of a bigger effort that reworks Ohio’s education system with higher standards for schools and
students. As part of the broader changes, Ohio adopted the Common Core State Standards,
which are a commitment to raise the bar on English and math standards
for grades K-12.
The overall idea behind the reform has relatively bipartisan support, says Kelsey Bergfeld, a
legislative service commission fellow for Ohio Sen. Tom Sawyer.
Sawyer, a Democrat, is the ranking minority member in the Ohio Senate’s
The problem is in the details — specifically, the details
in a new school report card system established by HB 555, which will be voted on in the Ohio House
next week. Bergfeld says the current proposal by Ohio Republicans is
too harsh, which could make schools look worse than they are in reality.
That problem could be exacerbated by the new tests, she says: If the new tests are too tough, they could make schools and students look bad “because grades
are going to drop.”
An early simulation of tougher report card standards in May
found Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) would fall under the new system.
The simulation showed CPS would drop from the second-best rating of
“Effective” under the current system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking
but Walnut Hills High School retaining its top mark with an A.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.Issue 2 is getting outraised quite badly. Protect Your Vote
Ohio, the group opposing Issue 2, has raised $6.9 million, while Voters
First Ohio, the group supporting Issue 2, has raised $3.6 million since July. If
Issue 2 is approved by voters, it will put an independent citizens
commission in charge of the redistricting process. Currently, the
process is handled by elected officials, who have used the process in
politically advantageous ways. Republicans redrew the First
Congressional District, Cincinnati's district, to include Warren
County. The move put more emphasis on rural and suburban voters, which
tend to side with Republicans, and less on urbanites, which tend to side
Not only will Ohio play a pivotal role in the presidential
election, but RealClearPolitics, a website that aggregates polling,
says Hamilton County is among two Ohio counties that will play the
biggest role. In light of that, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be in town
this week. Obama will visit Oct. 31, and Romney will be here Nov. 2.
Currently, Obama leads in Ohio by 2.1 points, while Romney leads nationally by 0.9 points.
A partnership between the University of Cincinnati and
U.S. State Department is going to Iraq. For the third year, UC will be
working with Salahaddin University in Iraq to help
redesign the Iraqi school’s curriculum and establish a career center.
The Ohio Board of Regents and Ohio Department of Education (ODE) may merge soon, says Board of Regent Chancellor Jim Petro. The Board of Regents is already moving to ODE's building later this year. Petro said
the building move will allow the Board of Regents, which focuses on higher
education, to cooperate more with ODE, which
focuses on elementary, middle and high school.
The Ohio legislature could be getting a big ethics
overhaul in the coming weeks. Specifics weren’t offered, but Senate
President Tom Niehaus said disclosure and transparency will be
Cincinnati’s United Way beat its fundraising goal of $61 million in 2012. The goal was originally seen as “a stretch.”
The nationwide meningitis outbreak is forcing some Ohio
officials to take a look at the state’s compounding pharmacies.
Compounding is when pharmacists make custom preparations for patients
under special circumstances. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy has
already taken action against the New England Compounding Center, whose
compound was connected with starting the meningitis outbreak.
The FBI will join an investigation into fraudulent
attendance data reporting in Ohio schools. Previously, state Auditor
Dave Yost found five school districts were scrubbing data in his first
interim report, but a second interim report cleared every other district
checked so far, including Cincinnati Public Schools.
Romney is getting a bit of attention for offensive
remarks about the LGBT community he made when he was governor. On gay parents, Romney said: "Some
gays are actually having children born to them. ... It's not right on paper.
It's not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
The last debate for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat took place last
night. The debate between Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and
Republican challenger Josh Mandel mostly covered old ground, but the
candidates did draw contrasting details on keeping Social Security
solvent. Mandel favored raising the eligibility age on younger generations, while Brown favored
raising the payroll tax cap. Currently, Brown leads
Mandel in aggregate polling by 5.2 points.
Mitt Romney was in town yesterday. In his speech, he
criticized the president’s policies and campaign rhetoric and touted
support for small businesses. The Cincinnati visit was the first stop of
a two-day tour of Ohio, which is the most important swing state in the
presidential race. But senior Republican officials are apparently
worried Romney has leveled off in the state, which could cost Romney the
Electoral College and election. President Barack Obama is
expected to visit Cincinnati on Halloween. In aggregate polling, Obama
is ahead in Ohio by 2.1 points, and Romney is up nationally by 0.9
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio says the
use of seclusion rooms in Ohio schools should be phased out
by 2016. The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Board of Education
are currently taking feedback on a new policy draft that says schools
can only use seclusion rooms in cases of “immediate threat of physical
harm,” but the policy only affects traditional public schools, not
charter schools, private schools or educational service centers.
Seclusion rooms are intended to restrain children who become violent,
but recent investigations found the rooms are used to punish children or
as a convenience for staff. Currently, Ohio has no state laws
overseeing seclusion rooms, and the Department of Education and Board of
Education provide little guidance and oversight regarding seclusion
The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and a
City Council task force have a plan to make Cincinnati’s water
infrastructure a little greener.
A study found Cincinnati hospitals are good with heart
patients but not-so-good with knee surgery. The names of the hospitals
that were looked at were not revealed in the study, however.
An economist at PNC Financial Services Group says 10,000 jobs will be added in Cincinnati in 2013.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble has new details
about its effort to reduce costs and make operations more productive.
The company announced a “productivity council” that will look at “the
next round of productivity improvements.” The company also said it will
reach 4,200 out of 5,700 job cuts by the end of October as part of a $10
billion restructuring program announced in February.
The world just got a little sadder. Chemicals in couches could be making people fatter.On the bright side, we now know how to properly butcher and eat a triceratops.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
A City Council committee approved $13.5 million that will
be going to Over-the-Rhine development. Of that money, $6 million will
go to the second phase of the Mercer Commons project, which is being
developed by Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). The
rest will help 3CDC redevelop 18 different buildings that are mostly
around Washington Park. City Council will vote on the funding
Cincinnati’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent, but
the drop was mostly attributed to people leaving the labor force.
Between September 2011 and September 2012, Cincinnati’s labor force has
actually shrunk. Still, more people were employed in September 2012 than
were employed in September 2011.
The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority is
asking Cincinnati for $8.5 million to secure a Jordan Crossing shopping
center project at Bond Hill. The funds would pay for the demolition,
site preparation, marketing and redevelopment of the project.
In the second wave of interim results from an ongoing
investigation into Ohio schools’ attendance data reporting, State
Auditor Dave Yost found no evidence of attendance scrubbing in schools
with levies on the 2012 ballot. The investigation included Cincinnati
Public Schools, which means CPS was found to be clean. In a statement,
Yost said, “I’m surprised and pleased. To have zero incidents of
‘scrubbing’ is encouraging news.” The full findings for both interim
reports can be found here.
Clifton is set to get a neighborhood grocery store soon.
The neighborhood has been without one since January 2011. City Council’s
Budget and Finance Committee helped spur the new project with a tax
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners held a budget
hearing yesterday, but not much new information came out. Board
President Greg Hartmann insists public safety is a priority, but he says
the sheriff’s office will have to deal with some across-the-board cuts.
The cuts won’t include closing the jail, decreasing courtroom security
or eliminating contracts with townships for patrols. The board has two more public meetings on Oct. 29 and 30.
The controversial billboards accused of attempting to
suppress voters are being taken down by Norton Outdoor Advertising, the
Cincinnati company that hosted the billboards. Meanwhile, P.G.
Sittenfeld and Lamar Advertising Company, a different billboard company,
are putting up 10 billboards that read, “Hey Cincinnati, voting is a
right not a crime!” The new billboards are supposed to encourage voting.
The University of Cincinnati has a new president: Santa
Ono. The official promotion was unanimously approved by the UC Board of
Trustees. Ono has been serving as interim president since Aug. 21, when
former President Greg Williams suddenly resigned due to “personal
The Cincinnati Enquirer is being accused of age
discrimination in a recently amended lawsuit. In the lawsuit, eight
former employees claim they were fired and replaced with younger, less
A new rumor is going around that says it’s possible to
tamper with voting results, but fact checkers and election officials are
saying it’s not possible. The rumors started due to the Romneys’
investments in an electronic voting company.The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is celebrating
its 40th anniversary. Here is a list of some of the department’s
accomplishments: The amount of rivers meeting aquatic life standards
went from 21 to 89 percent between the 1980s and today, carbon monoxide
in the air is down 80 percent since the 1970s, sulfur dioxide is down 71 percent, lead
is down 95 percent and 99 percent of community public water systems now
meet health standards, up from 85 percent in 1993.
Miami University says it will discipline two students
responsible for putting up an offensive flyer about getting away with
rape in a coed dorm bathroom.
Metro revealed its plans for an Uptown Transit District.
The district, which will cost Metro $6.9 million, is meant to better
suit the needs and growth of Uptown.
Two Democratic state lawmakers are planning legislation to
slow down the privatization of the Ohio Turnpike. Gov. John Kasich’s
administration is currently paying $3.4 million to KPMG, a private
consulting and accounting firm, to study whether leasing the turnpike to
the highest private bidder would benefit the state. Kasich says he
could use the money saved for transportation projects all around the
state. But northern Ohio residents do not seem happy with giving up a
valuable asset they helped invest in, especially if the revenue from the
Ohio Turnpike goes to regions outside of northern Ohio.There's more evidence sushi sucks. Popular Science has an article and graph showing how raw food kept primates stupid.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Ann Coulter says the darndest things. The Republican
pundit tweeted this gem to her more than 200,000 Twitter followers,
referencing President Obama: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to
be kind and gentle to the retard.” WORLD -2
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
The final presidential debate between President Barack
Obama and Mitt Romney was last night. The general consensus from media
pundits is Obama won by a substantial margin. But political scientists
say debates typically have negligible electoral impact. In aggregate
polling, Obama is up in Ohio by 1.9 points and Romney is up nationally
by 0.6 points. Ohio is looking like a must-win state for both campaigns,
so Obama’s advantage there is a very bad sign for Romney.
FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ election forecast blog, has an explanation of how and why the current electoral landscape favors Obama.
In a follow-up to the debate, Romney will be visiting Greater Cincinnati Thursday.
A new motion by City Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan could
encourage more people and businesses to make use of the city’s LEED
program. The program uses special tax exemptions to encourage buildings
to be cleaner and greener.
Cincinnati’s City Planning Commission approved Plan
Cincinnati Friday. With the approval, the plan’s only hurdle is City
Council. If passed, the plan will reform city policies to put a new
emphasis on the city’s urban core. That means a cleaner, greener city
with more transportation options, ranging from walking and biking to the
streetcar and rail. CityBeat wrote about Plan Cincinnati here. The full plan can be found here.
Three Republicans in the state legislature, including
Cincinnati’s Sen. Bill Seitz and Rep. Louis Tehrar, introduced a
bill that would require health insurance providers to cover autism. Critics
say the move could cost small businesses too much during an economic
downturn, but supporters say it’s necessary to Ohio’s mental health
coverage requirement, which was passed in 2007. Seitz says the bill
could also save money by bringing down special education costs.
In a sign of Ohio's education funding problems, one report found two of three Ohio school levies are asking for
additional funding. But Cincinnati Public Schools’ (CPS) levy will only
not ask for extra funding or higher taxes; instead, it asks for funding
and taxes to remain the same. CityBeat covered Issue 42, the CPS levy, in-depth here.
A new report found Ohio students graduate with more debt
than most of the nation. The report named the state a “high debt state”
with an average of $28,683 in student loans — above the national average
Despite what a recent conflict between Commissioner Greg
Hartmann and Mayor Mark Mallory implies, Cincinnati and Hamilton County
are working together. The city and county are cooperating on the Banks
project, funding the Port Authority and operating the Metropolitan Sewer
Cincinnati is working harder to enforce a chronic nuisance
disorder. A property is classified as a chronic nuisance when it
surpasses a certain amount of crimes and violations. The law is meant to
hold property owners accountable for what happens in their buildings.
There are more signs that Ohio’s fracking boom may not be
sustainable. Natural gas producers are not seeing the profits they
expected from the boom. For many, the boom is quickly turning into a
bust. Still, natural gas prices have massively dropped, and an analysis
at The Washington Post suggests natural gas could play an important role in reducing carbon emissions. CityBeat wrote in-depth about the fracking boom in Ohio and the faulty regulations on the industry here.
The Ohio Board of Regents is using a grant to award 1,300 associate degrees to transfer students over two years.
Fourteen recreational trails in Ohio will get $1.6 million
in federal funding, according to the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources. However, none of the trails are in Hamilton County.The key to humanity: cooked food.