WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by German Lopez 03.28.2013
Posted In: Budget, Parking, News at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
downtown grocery

Judge Orders Permanent Injunction on Parking Plan

City may have to make cuts to balance 2014 budget

In a ruling today, Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler said the city will have to allow for a referendum on the parking plan and imposed a permanent injunction pending the outcome of a referendum. The ruling means the city may be unable to rely on the parking plan to balance fiscal year 2014’s budget, and the city may be forced to find cuts elsewhere by July 1, when the new budget will kick in.The ruling may be appealed, but City Solicitor John Curp says he is not aware of any filing yet. He says Mayor Mark Mallory and the city administration plan to hold a press conference later this afternoon to discuss the ruling in further detail.For opponents of the parking plan, the ruling comes as a big victory that will allow them to put the parking plan on the ballot if they gather enough eligible petition signatures by April 5. For the city, the ruling potentially leaves a $25.8 million hole in the 2014 budget. When the restraining order was extended for two weeks on March 20, city spokesperson Meg Olberding told CityBeat the delays were causing the city to approach a “pressure point”: “We respect the court's right to do that (the extension), and know that every day that we cannot make the parking deal happen is a day that we are closer to having to lay people off.”In the past, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said the plan will force the city to lay off 344 employees, including 80 firefighter and 189 police positions. But opponents argue there are ways to solve the budget without laying people off. As an alternative to the parking plan, Councilman Chris Seelbach proposed Plan S, which would redirect $7.5 million in casino revenue to help balance the deficit, cut $5 million based on the results of the city's priority-driven budgeting process and put two charter amendments on the ballot that, if approved, would include up to a $10-per-month trash fee and increase the city's admissions tax by 2 percent. City Council approved the parking plan on March 6 to lease the city’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to help balance the budget for the next two fiscal years and fund more than $100 million in development projects, including the creation of a downtown grocery store and more than 300 luxury apartments ("Parking Stimulus," issue of Feb. 27). Opponents of the parking plan say they’re concerned the city will cede too much control over its parking assets and cause parking rates to skyrocket. The city says rate increases are initially capped at 3 percent or inflation — whichever is higher. But the rates can change with a unanimous vote from a special committee, approval from the city manager and a final nod from the Port Authority. The special committee would comprise of four people appointed by the Port Authority and one appointed by the city manager. The ruling comes after the city and opponents of the parking plan met in court on March 15 to discuss whether the plan is subject to referendum. Curt Hartmann, an attorney who represents the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) and opponents of the parking plan, said the city charter is vague on its definition of emergency clauses, and legal precedent supports siding with voters’ right to referendum when there is ambiguity. The city cited state law to argue emergency clauses, which remove a 30-day waiting period on legislation, eliminate the possibility of referendum. Terry Nestor, who represented the city, said legal precedent requires the city to defer to state law as long as state law is not contradicted in the city charter. With his decision, Winkler sided with opponents of the parking plan. He wrote in the ruling, “If the people of Cincinnati had intended to exempt emergency legislation from their referendum powers, they could have done so when adopting Article II, Section 3 of the City Charter.” The parking plan is one of the few issues dividing Democratic mayoral candidates John Cranley and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. Cranley opposes the plan, while Qualls supports it.
 
 

W&S: Renovated Anna Louise Inn Would Discriminate Against Men

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Financial giant Western & Southern last week accused city officials and other Anna Louise Inn advocates of repeatedly deceiving the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to obtain federal funds for the Inn’s long-awaited, $13 million renovation.    

Cincinnati vs. The World 03.27.2013

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
More than 16,000 pig carcasses retrieved from Shanghai’s Huangpu River — likely dumped by farmers unwilling to make the investments to safely dispose of the bodies — have Chinese officials concerned about the safety of Shanghai’s tap water. WORLD -2    
by German Lopez 03.14.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, Budget, Governor at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
p.g. sittenfeld.nar

Sittenfeld to Kasich: Restore Local Government Funding

Report found state has cut local government funding by nearly 50 percent since 2010

With the support of local officials from around the state, Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is launching a website called ProtectMyOhio.com to organize efforts to restore local government funding cut during Gov. John Kasich’s time in office. Speaking during a phone conference today, Sittenfeld, Dayton Commissioner and mayoral candidate Nan Whaley, Columbus Councilman Zach Klein and Toledo Councilman and mayoral candidate Joe McNamara described how state funding cuts have forced cities and counties to cut services. “What we’re really trying to do today is speak up and sound the alarm about the governor’s ongoing raid on the Local Government Fund,” Sittenfeld said. “Over the last four years, the governor has taken away $3 billion in local government funding. This year alone, municipalities across Ohio are going to receive nearly $1 billion less than they previously would have.” He added, “This is the exact same money that cities, villages and townships used to keep cops in the street, staff our fire departments, fix the potholes and some of the other basic services that citizens rightly expect and the local governments are the ones responsible for delivering.” In the past, the Kasich administration has argued the cuts were necessary. When previously asked about cuts to education and other state funding, Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, told CityBeat, “The reality is we walked into an $8 billion budget deficit. … We had to fix that.” But the 2014-2015 budget is not under the fiscal pressures Kasich experienced when he took office, and the governor is pursuing $1.4 billion in tax cuts over the next three years, which he argues will help spur small businesses around the state. During the phone conference, local officials said the revenue going to tax cuts would be better used to return funds to local governments.  Sittenfeld says the cuts have left Cincinnati with $12 million less per year. “That is the difference between us having our first police recruit class in nearly six years versus not having it,” he said. “It’s the difference between enduring dangerous fire engine brownouts versus not having to do so.” Klein, who represented Columbus in the call, said the cuts have amounted to nearly $30 million for his city, which he said is enough money to help renovate nearly all the city’s recreation centers, parks and pools. “No one is spared,” Klein said. “Everyone is getting cut across the state, and every neighborhood — no matter if you’re in a small village or in a large city like Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo or Dayton — (is) at some level feeling the effects of the cuts, whether it’s actual cuts in services or what could be investments in neighborhoods.” Klein said the cuts, which have been carried out by a Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature, contradict values espoused by national Republicans. At the federal level, Republicans typically argue that states should be given more say in running programs like Medicaid, but Ohio Republicans don’t seem to share an interest in passing money down to more local governments, according to Klein. Some state officials have previously argued that it’s not the state’s responsibility to take care of local governments, but Sittenfeld says it’s unfair to not give money back to the cities: “Cincinnati is a major economic engine for the entire state. We’re sending a lot of money to Columbus, so I think it’s fair to say we would like some of that money back. John Kasich doesn’t have to fill the potholes, and John Kasich doesn’t have to put a cop on the street.” Whaley, who represented Dayton in the call, said, “There’s a county perspective on this as well. The counties would certainly say that the unfunded mandates that the state legislature brings down daily are covered by those local government funds. While (state officials) keep on making rules for the counties to administer services and make those efforts, it’s pretty disingenuous to say that (county officials) don’t get a share of the income.”  A Policy Matters Ohio report found the state has cut $1.4 billion from local government funding — nearly half of total funding — during Kasich’s time as governor. The report pinned much of that drop on the estate tax, which was phased out at the beginning of 2013 and would have provided $625.3 million to local governments in the 2014-2015 budget. The estate tax was repealed in 2011 by the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature and Kasich. Cincinnati had structural deficit problems before Kasich took office, but local officials argue the state’s cut have made matters worse. When presenting his 2013 budget proposal, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said the state funding reductions cost Cincinnati $22.2 million in revenues for the year. Kasich’s office did not return CityBeat’s phone calls for this story. Kasich’s latest budget proposal has also been criticized by Republicans and Democrats for tax cuts and education funding plans that benefit the wealthy and expanding Medicaid (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
 
 

One-Horse Town

Deconstructing the food, games, booze and decor behind the Horseshoe, Cincinnati's first and only urban casino

1 Comment · Wednesday, March 13, 2013
 We’ve already covered the social, political and economic angles of the development of the Horseshoe in previous CityBeat issues, but for this issue, with no real agenda, we decided to just wander a few blocks over to the Horseshoe after work to check out the behemoth and see what all the fuss was about.  

From Dice to Dinner

Dining options inside and outside the casino

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Outside the balmy perimeter of Margaritaville, conveniently nestled within the confines of the Horseshoe Casino’s walls, sits steakhouse Jack Binion’s, Café Italia and all-you-can-eat Spread Buffet. And each of these kitchens (plus the banquet and event center catering) are overseen by Horseshoe Casino Executive Chef Pete Ghione.     

Going Home: Urban Movie Houses

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Cincinnati is home to my body and my head. After almost 13 years, I’m grounded here thanks to a strong network of friends and family. But, my heart, well, let’s just say it’s holding out. Home, for my heart, is all about those extra-special intangibles, which in part come down to movie memories.   

Cincinnati vs. The World 03.06.2013

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 6, 2013
In what feels like an effort to make life even more glum for the baby gorilla already rejected by its mother at the Texas zoo where it was born, Cincinnati Zoo has dubbed the recently adopted infant “Gladys.” Gladys. CINCINNATI -2   
by Hannah McCartney 02.27.2013
Posted In: Environment, Development at 04:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Over-the-Rhine Eco Garden Could Be Forced to Relocate

Main Street spot is being eyed for CitiRama 2014

Leaders of a quiet Over-the-Rhine civic garden that harvests produce like peaches, tomatoes, garlic and blackberries to sell at Findlay Market are worried they could be forced to relocate after calling the same spot home since 1998. CitiRama, a partnership between the Cincinnati Homebuilders Association and the city of Cincinnati that holds annual or biannual home shows on chosen urban plots of land, has proposed that the lot at 1718 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine, which currently houses the Eco Garden project (run by local nonprofit Permaganic), be amended to instead house the site for its next event, which would force the garden to relocate. The Livable Communities Committee yesterday was presented a memo submitted by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr., recommending that the Eco Garden lot, which is currently subletted to Permaganics for its Eco Garden program by the Civic Garden Association (CGA), be relocated to a larger area so the site can be procured for CitiRama. The parcel of land is actually owned by the city of Cincinnati, but the city leases a number of parcels to the CGA for their use. According to the memo, the lease between the city and the CGA expires in 2015, but grants the city the power to terminate the lease at any time if another use for the land arises. The area containing the Eco Garden has been targeted as the next CitiRama site by the city’s Department of Community Development (DCD), the main controller of the property. According to Dohoney’s memo, should the Eco Garden be forced to move elsewhere, the DCD would fund the garden's startup and relocation costs. For Angela Ebner, executive director with Permaganic, that’s not a sufficient compromise, but she’s hopeful the parties can reach an agreement by demonstrating that the Garden's OTR existence is actually of value to CitiRama, which is seeking out forward-thinking potential homeowners invested in fostering positive urban cultural experiences. “We think they’re (CitiRama) interested in working with us because we think they’re interested in working with that demographic of eco-friendly people. I’m pretty certain they’ll be accepting of the fact that we do a really good job of reflecting the needs and values of people in the community,” she says. CitiRama's events are designed to attract potential homeowners and developers to pinpointed plots of land in hopes of  reviving urban areas with new housing opportunities, but there's also a heavy focus on sustainability. The most recent CitiRama event, which opened at Virginia Place in Northside (located at the intersection of Virginia and Chase avenues), took place in Sept. 2012. The Eco Garden exists to “create experiential learning opportunities for inner-city youth to cultivate self-reliance, job skills and an entrepreneurial aptitude by cultivating a market garden to grow fresh, healthy vegetables and herbs for direct sales at Findlay Market," according to a Permaganic Facebook post. They recruit local at-risk teens for a unique job readiness program, which allows the teens to work in the garden in exchange for a stipend. Supporters of Permaganic and the Eco Garden are concerned that moving the garden would cause disrupt not just to the crops that have grown for the past several years, but also the fabric of the neighborhood, particularly the at-risk neighborhood youth who see the space as a "home away from home." Ebner and supporters are currently waiting for word from the city in hopes of moving forward on a compromise. “We want a green, peaceful, healthy world for everyone’s children,” says Ebner. “That’s the bottom line.”
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 02.28.2013
Posted In: Cinfolk , Culture, Fun, Interviews at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
silhouettes of people

Cinfolk: Sara Bornick

In “Cinfolk,” I ask interesting Cincinnati people doing interesting Cincinnati things questions I’d never get to ask for a traditional news story; the more interviews I do as a writer, the more I find myself daydreaming about what makes these people tick, aside from what I'd usually get to share in a traditional news story. For the inaugural Cinfolk blog featuring German Lopez, click here.  If you don't have cabin fever by this time of the year, you probably moved here from Siberia, the Arctic Tundra or  Wisconsin, in which case you're used to mind- and body-numbing misery and cold weather year-round. We're glad you escaped. For the rest of us, it's getting really old coming into work with frozen strands of hair, never having a good reason to drink a margarita, wear a sundress, roll down the windows or eat a popsicle. That's about all I'm thinking about these days, in fact, which is why I got in touch with Sara Bornick, founder and owner of streetpops, freelance graphic designer and proud owner of her very own EasyBake oven.  Anyone who's ever been lucky enough to have their teeth stained or a shirt dribbled on by one of Sara Bornick's gourmet, quirky and preservative-free ice pops understands that the transition from winter to spring just can't be complete until every Cincinnatian has the chance to buy the daintily packaged treats from her modest, funky little retro streetpops storefront in Over-the-Rhine.According to Bornick, who’s been busy preparing for a new streetpops season, she and her cart-toting team will be selling pops again on Final Friday, March 29. Look out for new pop flavors (like cookies and cream, butter pecan and maybe a chocolate olive oil pop crafted from imported Italian olive oil). Hannah McCartney: What was your favorite toy when you were a little kid? Sara Bornick: For years I asked for an Easy-Bake oven, but never actually got one ... until I was about 25, as a joke. I was really into LEGOs as a kid, and anything outdoors.HM: Dog person or cat person? Why? SB: Dog! Especially my Boston Terrier, Parker (aka Parker Pantalones).HM: Did you have a nickname when you were a kid/in college/now? What was its significance? SB: When I was a kid I was nicknamed "Bugs" because I had to have a lot of teeth pulled before I had braces on, so for a good year or so I only had my two front teeth.HM: Have you ever met a celebrity? If not, who would you want to meet? SB: I met chef-celebrity Richard Blais when he was in town on the Top Chef tour. It was right before we launched streetpops in 2011. We talked about a pop place in Atlanta that he loves and using liquid nitrogen to make pops. HM: Tell me one guilty pleasure artist on your music player. SB: Eighties hair bands/rock ballads — Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses.
 
 

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