0 Comments · Tuesday, April 29, 2014
A diminutive white-bearded man, Avtar Gill stood out in any crowd despite his humble stature. Always
wearing his oversized, hand-drawn, (typically) all caps messages which
he affixed to a baseball cap with usually no more than a few
strategically placed rubber bands, he documented everyday history in
mundane yet sometimes profound ways.
by Anthony Skeens
Posted In: News
at 04:00 PM | Permalink
Options for tracking government spending rank higher than only four states in the U.S.
Ohio scored fifth-worst in a nationwide government
transparency survey conducted by a national consumer group focused on
investigating and advocating for American citizens against powerful
The group gave Ohio a “D-” ranking after its government
spending transparency website earned 51 points out of 100 in U.S. Public Interest Research Group's
fifth annual “Following the Money” report.
“Ohio’s been kind of sinking through the ratings year by
year,” says Phineas Baxendall, a U.S. PIRG senior policy analyst and
co-author of the report released on Tuesday. “It used to do much better,
which doesn’t mean they’re dismantling their transparency systems. It
just means our standards get tougher each year and they’re more staying
in place while other states are improving.”
Ohio’s the only state in the nation that doesn’t offer
certain customizable search options including bid award recipients,
keywords, agency and bulk download searches. Ohio’s poor score follows
three years of ranking in the bottom half of the study.
Researchers look for transparency websites to be comprehensive, one-stop and offer simple search formats.
The nation as a whole is moving toward a more transparent
approach to documenting government spending. Since PIRG began the study,
all six categories it uses to compile rankings have shown an increase
in states performing specific duties. The largest leaps in the past five
years involve showing how a project benefits from taxpayer subsidies,
which has seen an increase from two to 33 states, and how tax money is
spent with an increase from eight to 44 states. All states now have
ledger listings for transactions of any government spending on a
website, compared to only 32 five years ago.
Ohio’s score doesn’t reflect Cincinnati’s efforts to be
transparent. In a 2013 study in transparency of the 30 largest cities in
America, Cincinnati scored a “B+” for providing ledger listings for
spending information, allowing Cincinnatians to view where money is
spent, specific recipients of tax subsidies and the existence of a
service request center allowing residents to notify officials about
quality of life issues.
Suggestions for improvement included making
checkbook-level spending information searchable by the vendor who
received the money and developing a comprehensive transparency website.
“We feel strongly that this isn’t a partisan issue, and
the fact that states that do best in our rankings show no political
pattern, with Texas and Massachusetts standing side-by-side, sort of
speaks that this is one of those issues that should not be politicized,”
Baxendall says. “We look forward to advancement in transparency in Ohio
regardless of who is in office.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Cincinnati was recently named to a
shortlist of potential 2016 Republican National Convention host cities,
and a coalition of local politicians and business leaders held a press
conference on City Hall’s front steps on April 2 to praise the city’s
recent progress and its potential to host such an influential — and
economically impactful — event.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Enroll America, a nonprofit designed to
help citizens who are uninsured wade through the insurance process,
stopped by Cincinnati on March 17 during a four-city Ohio tour meant to
educate citizens on their health insurance options ahead of a March 31
deadline to sign up for coverage.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 26, 2014
There is increasing unease and reports of
rioting in the streets of Kharkiv, a Ukrainian city that is tied to
Cincinnati by a 25-year-old sister city partnership. Kharkiv has 1.4
million residents and is nestled near Ukraine’s eastern border with
Russia. Two people recently died in pro-Russian protests amid calls for a
vote that would make Kharkiv independent from Ukraine’s central
government in Kiev.
Cincinnati's newest bike plan sees small victories but is still behind schedule
6 Comments · Wednesday, March 19, 2014
The sun’s morning gaze provided clear
visibility as Wes Crout navigated his bicycle across the Clay Wade
Bailey Bridge on March 6, a route he often takes to work in Covington.
St. Patrick's Day Parade boots pro-gay anti-bullying organization for the second year straight
2 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
after being booted out of Cincinnati’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade over
its pro-gay platform, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network
(GLSEN) has been banned again this year — along with all politicians.
by Jac Kern
Posted In: Humor
at 04:04 PM | Permalink
City ranks in another pointless list
in time for Valentine’s Day shopping, Amazon.com released a list of the 20 “most
romantic” cities, based on sales data of romance novels,
sex and relationship books, romantic comedy DVDs, Barry White CDs (seriously) and sexual
wellness products (per capita) since Jan. 1, 2010. As your aunt, boss and childhood neighbor probably already shared on Facebook,
Cincinnati made the list — we’re the 15th most romantic city, guys.
like these are generally an attempt to quickly grab a mass audience with some
kind of marketing motive. Positive or negative, when a city is mentioned on a national
list, there’s a built-in readership that will talk about and share the story on
social media. Do they spark “debate?” Sure. Are these useful, proactive
conversations? Rarely. But hey, we’re No. 1 (or, in this case, 15)!
The Queen City landing on some arbitrary sales-based list is nothing new. For some reason, a
2010 Daily Beast list that dubs Cincy the "craziest" city is making its rounds again as of late.
The criteria used to create this list include “psychiatrists per capita,
stress, eccentricity and drinking levels,” all quantitative data, no doubt.
Here are a
few other examples of how Cincinnati stacks up on recent national countdowns:
2011: Most Social via Mashable
2011: Most Bed Bugs via Orkin
2012: (One of the) Most Racist via Deadspin, whose love for Cincinnati knows no bounds.
2013: (10th) Most Polluted via Time
2013: Trendiest (on Twitter) via Washington Post
2013: (72nd) Most Livable City (but
the only Ohio city on the list) via Livability.com
we miss any? Which pointless Cincinnati list is your favorite — or least fave?
by Kelsey Kennedy
Posted In: Commentary
at 03:12 PM | Permalink
you move to Cincinnati and put on a pair of goggles — the longer you stay, the harder
it is to take them off. And why would you want to? I’ve lived here for five
years and still manage to fall deeper in love with this city every day. For all
you newcomers, here are some necessary guidelines for your initiation into the
greatest city in the Midwest.
a chili, not a side. The East side/West side rivalry is deeply rooted in
competitive turf wars and stubborn rationalizations. When brought up in
conversation, it’s usually best to remain indifferent and let your eyes glaze
over until the fighting stops.
Become a regular at (at least) one bar in Over-the-Rhine. Find your favorite
bartender at Neon’s and dance to the ‘8os music at Japp’s on a Saturday night.
Discover new music at MOTR or wind down with some jazz at 1215 Wine Bar.
Understand that high schools — and the culture surrounding them — are really
important here. “Are you from around here?” is almost always followed by, “So
what high school did you go to?” Cincinnatians stick to their alma maters like
glitter on glue, and everyone has a reputation.
4. See The
Cincy Brass play at Mr. Pitiful’s before you die (or move). Request the song “Let
Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool. Gyrate on everyone.
to know Kentucky. Bounce around the Levee and Mainstrasse. End your night with
a cheesy goetta omelet at the Anchor Grill. Trust me on this one.
Cincinnati has the second largest Oktoberfest in the world (The WORLD!) second
only to Munich. Dress like a German, drink like a German, eat like a German.
Develop a severe case of road rage while driving on I-75. Perfect the ability
to stare someone down after cutting you off.
Get involved with this city’s politics. Picket City Hall or write a letter to an
editor. Cincinnati had a record-breaking low voter turnout in the 2013 mayoral
election — make your voice heard.
back to your neighborhood. Volunteer at the Freestore Foodbank or tutor kids at
Wordplay Cincy. Teach an art class or buy someone an umbrella on a rainy day. Start
a collaborative effort to make this city the best it can be.
Master the Metro and make friends with the drivers. Sit up front and strike up
a conversation with a stranger. Try not to fall when the metro slides down one
of Cincinnati’s many 90-degree angles.
Cincinnati sports. Tailgate at a Bengal’s game, cheer on the Cyclones and pledge
your allegiance to Brandon Phillips’ smile.
ALL THE GOETTA. And LaRosa’s. And Graeter’s. Now start training for the Flying
your favorite city park with your favorite view of the skyline against Kentucky.
Feel safe tucked away in the hills. Ponder about the meaning of life.
your windows down and go 10 miles over the speed limit on the Roebling Bridge. Listen
to the whirring sound. Just do it.
a deep love for all things Cincinnati and defend your city when people talk
shit. Recognize that you are a part of something larger than yourself — that
Cincinnati isn’t just the Queen City — it’s a community and a network and a
lineage of diverse Midwesterners who all contribute to making this place a
force to be reckoned with.