by German Lopez 01.24.2014
Posted In: News, Voting, Economy, 2014 election, Governor, Mayor at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Officials push to keep early voting downtown, Portune flounders, Ohio joblessness rate falls

Mayor John Cranley yesterday offered free space to the Hamilton County Board of Elections at the city-owned Shillito’s building to keep the board’s offices and early voting downtown. The idea comes in the middle of a debate between Democrats and Republicans on the Board of Elections over whether they should move their offices — and early voting — to a Mount Airy facility, where only one bus line runs, to consolidate county services and avoid the cost of rent. Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann said there won’t be enough occupancy at the Mount Airy location if the Board of Elections decides not to move there. For the county, a certain amount of occupancy must be filled at Mount Airy to financially justify the move and the renovations it would require. Without the move, the county will need to find another location or means to build a new county crime lab.Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune yesterday refused to announce whether he will actually run against gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald in a Democratic primary, even though he told The Cincinnati Enquirer the day before that he already made a decision. At this point, Portune’s lack of organization and name recognition means his chances of beating FitzGerald are slim to none.Ohio’s December unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent from 7.4 percent the month before. The amount of employed and unemployed both increased compared to the previous year. The state of the economy could decide this year’s statewide elections, even if state officials aren’t to credit or blame for economic conditions, as CityBeat covered here.It is perfectly legal to forgive back taxes in Hamilton County. Supporters argue the practice removes a tax burden that likely wasn’t going to get paid anyway, but opponents worry it could be misused and take away revenue from schools and other public services that rely on property taxes.A Hamilton County court ruled against the legality of automated traffic cameras in Elmwood Place. Officials plan to appeal the ruling.More than 10,000 Ohioans lost food stamps this month after Gov. John Kasich declined to request a federal waiver for work requirements. Hamilton County officials estimate Kasich’s decision could affect 18,000 food stamp recipients across the county.A new Ohio House bill delays the transition from the Ohio Graduation Test to new end-of-course exams. The delay aims to provide more time to vet the tests and allow schools to better prepare for the changes.Local home sales improved by nearly 21 percent during 2013, according to the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport reported 3 percent more passengers and 9 percent more cargo traffic in 2013.Ohioans spent 5.8 percent more on liquor in 2013 compared to the year before, reaching a new record in yearly purchases of liquor across the state.The Cincinnati Entertainment Awards return this Sunday.Telling people they slept better than they did improves their performance on math and word association tests.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez 01.23.2014
Posted In: News, Voting, Mayor, County commissioners at 02:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
john cranley

Cranley Proposes Alternative to Keep Early Voting Downtown

Board of Elections considering move to Mount Airy facility

Mayor John Cranley on Thursday offered the Hamilton County Board of Elections free space at the city-owned Shillito’s building to keep their offices and early voting downtown. The offer comes in the middle of a contentious debate between Democrats and Republicans on the Board of Elections over whether the county should move the board to a former hospital at Mount Airy, where only one bus line runs.The Board of Elections currently rents its offices from a private landlord. Moving to the Mount Airy facility would place the board on county-owned property and allow the county to avoid paying rent. Along with the Board of Elections move, the county wants to establish a new crime lab at the Mount Airy location. Consolidating the crime lab and Board of Elections at the Mount Airy facility would provide the critical mass necessary to financially justify the move and the renovations it would require, according to county officials. To solve the critical mass issue if the board moves to the former Shillito’s building instead, Cranley, a Democrat, said he’s willing to look into moving some city police services, including SWAT operations, to the Mount Airy facility.But Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Republican, told CityBeat the offer probably won’t satisfy the county’s needs. “Without the Board of Elections coming with the crime lab, that’s not enough occupancy,” he said. “There would be some good potential co-location opportunities with the city (at the Mount Airy facility), but not enough to take up 400,000 square feet.”Hartmann said it’s now up to the Board of Elections to accept or reject the Mount Airy facility. If the board declines to move to Mount Airy, Hartmann explained the county would likely drop the Mount Airy plan and the county coroner would go without a new crime lab. For the city, Cranley’s offer raises questions about what other potential uses exist for the Shillito’s building, given the high property demand downtown. But Cranley said there’s currently no credible attempt at marketing the facility for other uses. “The building is vacant, and we spend over $100,000 a year just to maintain a vacant building,” Cranley said. “I believe that getting someone in there that takes a significant amount of space is going to open up the rest of the building, which would be over 200,000 square feet, to make it more marketable. I think long-term it would be better for the city financially.” He added, “In the short-term I think there are some things more important than money. And I think the symbolism of keeping the Board of Elections and voting downtown is just worth it.”City Council appears to agree with the mayor. Shortly after Cranley announced his offer, council passed a symbolic resolution opposing the Mount Airy move. From an electoral perspective, part of the issue is which voting location would favor Democrats or Republicans. Democrats tend to dominate in urban areas like downtown, while Republicans could benefit from a facility in Mount Airy that’s closer to suburban voters. State Rep. Alicia Reece, who joined Cranley for the announcement, tried to defuse concerns that she, Cranley and other Democrats are trying to keep voting downtown for electoral gains. “The reality is the Board of Elections at its current location has declared both Democrat and Republican winners of elections,” Reece said. “I think the focus is to just make sure that we have a facility that everyone can have access to, whether you’re driving or whether you’re on the bus.”
by German Lopez 01.23.2014
Posted In: News, Governor, Democrats at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Portune Flounders on Campaign Announcement

Supposed gubernatorial candidate continues leading on Ohioans

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune on Thursday declined to announce whether he will challenge gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald in a Democratic primary after all, despite previously telling The Cincinnati Enquirer he already made a decision. While CityBeat will certainly cover Portune’s announcement once it finally comes, it’s all with the acknowledgement that his chances of getting the Democratic nomination are slim to none. Portune has no credible organization, his name recognition is low outside southwest Ohio and he apparently can’t find a candidate for lieutenant governor, which all gubernatorial candidates must do prior to collecting and filing 1,000 signatures before a February deadline. The weak indicators surrounding Portune’s campaign help explain why, when asked by reporters, FitzGerald said he’s not worried about Portune. “I respect him. He’s an elected official. He’s been an elected official for a long time,” FitzGerald said. “I think he’s not being entirely realistic. It’s very difficult to run a legitimate statewide campaign.” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern put it more forcefully in his comments to media outlets. “Every two years, we get excited about the Cincinnati Bengals and Todd Portune talks about running for an office,” he told WVXU. Still, Portune continues clinging on to his gubernatorial ambitions. “To end it now would be inconsistent with the message I have given around the state, which is to not give in the diversity,” Portune told The Enquirer. “And while it may appear improbably today… I can’t say it’s impossible.”In the meantime, FitzGerald will keep running a serious statewide campaign to defeat Republican Gov. John Kasich this November.
by German Lopez 01.23.2014

Morning News and Stuff

Group protests gentrification, streetcar fares revealed, FitzGerald supports death penalty

An anti-gentrification organization says development in southern Over-the-Rhine and downtown is leaving out low- and middle-income residents. The People’s Coalition for Equality and Justice (TPCEJ) cautions it’s not against development, but it supports policies that would seek to help more people take advantage of the revitalization of Over-the-Rhine and downtown, such as more affordable housing, protections for renters’ rights, rent control and the formation of tenants’ unions. The agency behind much of the development in Over-the-Rhine and downtown, 3CDC (Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation), says “people tend to over-romanticize what this neighborhood was” and points to some examples of 3CDC-developed affordable housing as evidence the agency is trying to keep the neighborhood mixed-income.Related: Some studies found gentrification could benefit longtime residents.A two-hour streetcar pass could cost $1.75, and a 24-hour pass could cost $3.50, according to a new model unveiled yesterday by Paul Grether, Metro’s rail manager. The same model set streetcar operating hours at Sunday-Thursday 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 6 a.m.-midnight. Under the model, city officials expect 3,000 daily boardings, but Grether cautioned that’s a very conservative estimate and excludes special events, such as Reds and Bengals games.But the City Council-enforced streetcar delay could cost more than expected after the steel company originally contracted for the $132.8 million project took another job while council members decided the fate of the project. Streetcar Project Executive John Deatrick told council the company’s decision could push construction of a maintenance facility by two months if the city doesn’t hire a steel supplier from outside the region. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald yesterday clarified he supports the death penalty, which aligns him with his Republican opponent, incumbent John Kasich, on the issue. FitzGerald’s remark comes after the debate over the death penalty re-ignited in Ohio following the execution of convicted killer and rapist Dennis McGuire, who took 26 minutes to die after state officials used a new cocktail of drugs never tried before in the United States. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction told CityBeat it’s reviewing McGuire’s death, as it does following every execution.Commentary: “Death Penalty Brings More Costs than Benefits.”After receiving support from family planning services and abortion provider Planned Parenthood, Democrats running for Ohio’s executive offices re-emphasized their support for abortion rights.Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune will announce today whether he’ll challenge FitzGerald’s gubernatorial campaign in a Democratic primary. (Update: Despite previously telling The Cincinnati Enquirer he already made up his mind, Portune canceled his announcement and said he has no final decision yet, according to Carl Weiser, politics editor at The Enquirer.)Hamilton County commissioners showed openness to keeping some early voting downtown even if the county moves its Board of Elections to a Mount Airy facility. Moving the board along with the county’s crime lab would allow commissioners to consolidate government services.Cincinnati’s economy should grow faster than previously expected, one economist says.Plan Cincinnati, the city’s master comprehensive plan, won a national planning award. CityBeat previously covered the master plan in further detail here.Ten major projects worth more than $1.4 billion are in the planning stages or underway in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.Ohio meets voting standards set by President Barack Obama’s bipartisan election commission, with the one exception of online voter registration, according to Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted.Attorney General Mike DeWine yesterday announced the creation of a statewide taskforce to combat heroin abuse.Virtual reality could help people see what gender swaps would be like.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez

Redeveloping Issues

Anti-gentrification organization says OTR redevelopment is leaving low- and middle-income people out

8 Comments · Wednesday, January 22, 2014
A new coalition hopes to stop what it sees as gentrification in Over-the-Rhine and downtown, but some locals take issue with their claims.  
by German Lopez 01.22.2014
Posted In: City Council, News, Streetcar at 02:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two-Hour Streetcar Pass Could Cost $1.75

City officials project 3,000 daily boardings

Riding the streetcar will cost $1.75 for two hours and $3.50 for 24 hours, according to a model unveiled Wednesday by Paul Grether, Metro’s rail manager. The model also set streetcar operating hours at Sunday-Thursday 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 6 a.m.-midnight. Under the model, the streetcar should sustain 3,000 daily boardings, Grether said. But that estimate is very conservative and excludes special events, such as Reds and Bengals games, he cautioned. Grether presented the projections during a presentation at City Council’s Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation Committee. Streetcar Project Executive John Deatrick also released numbers that show the project remains on budget and time. But Deatrick warned council members of one potential hurdle: The originally contracted steel supplier took another job after City Council delayed the streetcar project for three weeks, which could force the city to delay construction of a maintenance facility for two months or hire a steel supplier outside the region. City officials also said they are looking at potential funding avenues for the next phase of the streetcar project, which would establish a rail line from Findlay Market up the Vine Street hill. The goal, they said, is to clear up any misconceptions about what the next phase of the project would cost. The latest federal budget allocated $600 million in TIGER grants and $2 billion in Federal Transit Administration New/Small Starts grants that could go to a future phase of the streetcar project. City Council would need to approve the next phase of the streetcar project before it could move forward.
by German Lopez 01.22.2014
Posted In: News, Death Penalty, Governor, 2014 election at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
ed fitzgerald

FitzGerald Supports Death Penalty

Democratic gubernatorial candidate responds to concerns about botched execution

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald on Wednesday told reporters he supports the death penalty — a position that aligns him with his Republican opponent, Gov. John Kasich. The debate over the death penalty recently re-ignited in Ohio after state officials took 26 minutes to kill Dennis McGuire, a convicted killer and rapist, with a cocktail of drugs never tried before in the United States. It remains unclear if the drugs prolonged McGuire’s death or if other factors are to blame. Asked whether the state should place a moratorium on the death penalty in response to the botched execution, FitzGerald said state officials should investigate McGuire’s execution. “I think they have to go through a very thorough and exhaustive review of how that unfolded and if it can be done in a way that meets the commonly accepted standards,” he responded. FitzGerald said he based his support for the death penalty on his experiences as a special agent for the FBI and assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor. “I understand there’s … legitimate moral concerns about it, and I respect people that have a different opinion on that,” he said. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio on Sunday called on Kasich to halt the death penalty following McGuire’s prolonged execution.McGuire’s family also announced on Friday it would file a lawsuit claiming McGuire’s death constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction plans to carry out five more executions in 2014. It remains unclear if the agency will use the same cocktail of drugs used to kill McGuire. FitzGerald’s comments, courtesy of Capital Blog:

Industrial Pollutants and the Ohio River

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The recent spill of the chemical MCHM in West Virginia recalled an era when our drinking water wasn’t so well protected from industrial pollutants.    

Cincinnati vs. The World 01.22.2014

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Tea party activists and fiscal conservatives are securing seats on local school boards across the Tristate and taking their anger over big government and Obama out on tax levies and Common Core standards. CINCINNATI -1  

Cranley Opposes Double Dipping

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Mayor says incoming assistant city manager is only eligible to receive a salary and pension benefits because of policy set by City Council.