Newly renovated Washington Park hearkens Cincinnati's urban heyday
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 3, 2013
A couple of years ago, Washington Park wouldn’t have been much of a spot to have a picnic. In a few months, though, the fountains in
the water park will be turned back on after a long winter and children
will clamp their feet over the pop-up jets and watch the clear blue
water trickle between their toes.
Nostalgically seeking the faded, painted advertising signs of decades past
4 Comments · Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Signs alluding to a now-defunct echo of the city’s past — known as “ghost signs” — are slowly being worn
away by years of corrosion all around Cincinnati.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Budget
at 10:43 AM | Permalink
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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