0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The sealing of a criminal court case
involving a former Miami University student who posted a “Top Ten Ways
to Get Away with Rape” flier in a freshman dormitory now has the
presiding judge defending his decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
An Ohio policy research group is
criticizing a local state senator’s “anti-immigrant bill.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Joey Votto finished his 2012 season with
singles in each of his final two plate appearances, but it was his
fifth-inning at-bat in Game 5 of the National League Division Series
that sticks with him.
by German Lopez
Turnpike could remain public, asbestos bill passes, $150 million bid for parking services
The Ohio Turnpike will remain a public asset, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Many Ohioans have been worried Gov. John Kasich would attempt to privatize the
Turnpike in order to pay for transportation projects; instead, the
governor will try to generate revenue for state infrastructure projects
elsewhere, perhaps by using the Turnpike’s tolls. Kasich will unveil his
full plans Thursday and Friday.
The asbestos lawsuit bill is heading to Kasich to be signed.
The bill attempts to curb duplicate lawsuits over on-the-job asbestos
exposure. Supporters of the bill say it will prevent double-dipping by
victims, but opponents say the bill will impede legitimate cases. Ohio has one
of the largest backlogs of on-the-job asbestos exposure cases.
City Manager Milton Dohoney has released some of the potential bids for the city’s parking services, and one bidder is offering $100 to $150 million. Dohoney says the budget can only be balanced if parking services are privatized or the city lays off 344 employees.
But Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is speaking out against the
privatization of the city’s parking services. In a statement, Sittenfeld
said, “Outsourcing our parking system robs the city of future revenue,
and also will mean higher parking rates, longer hours of enforcement,
and more parking tickets.”
LGBT rights are becoming “the new normal,” but not for Western & Southern or American Financial Group.
In the 2012 Corporate Equality Index, the Human Rights Campaign gave 252
companies a 100-percent score for LGBT rights.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble got a 90 percent, Macy’s got a 90
percent, Kroger got an 85 percent, Fifth Third Bank got an 85 percent, Omnicare got a 15 percent,
American Financial Group got a 0 percent and Western & Southern got a
0 percent. The rankings, dubbed a “Buyer’s Guide,” can be found here.
The Sierra Club says Cincinnati has some of the best and worst transportation projects.
In its annual report, the environmental group praised the Cincinnati
streetcar, claiming the transportation project will attract residents
and business owners. But the organization slammed the Eastern Corridor
Highway project because of its negative impact on the Little Miami River
and the small village of Newtown. The Sierra Club says the purpose of
the report is to shed light on the more than $200 billion spent on
transportation projects every year.
University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono is getting a 10-year contract.
The disease-carrying Walnut Twig Beetle has been discovered
in southwest Ohio. The beetle is known for carrying Thousand Cankers
Disease, which threatens the health of walnut trees. So far, no trees
have been determined to be infected.
Ohio Gov. Kasich, Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will meet today
to discuss funding for the Brent Spence Bridge project. If the bridge
project starts in 2014, northern Kentucky and Cincinnati could save $18
billion in fuel and congestion costs, according to the Build Our New
Bridge Now Coalition.
Following the defeat of Issue 2, the Ohio Senate is taking on redistricting reform,
but opponents in the House say there isn’t enough time to tackle the
issue. The current redistricting system is widely abused by politicians
on both sides of the aisle in a process called “gerrymandering,” which
involves politicians redrawing district lines in politically beneficial
ways. The First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, was
redrawn during the Republican-controlled process to include
Republican-leaning Warren County, heavily diluting the impact of
Cincinnati’s Democratic-leaning urban vote.
Ohio employers are more aware
of wellness than employers in other states, a new survey found.
Wellness programs are one way employers can bring down health-care
expenditures as cost shifting feels the pinch of diminishing returns.
However, Ohio ranked No. 35 in a nationwide health survey.
Ohio district didn't win federal Race to the Top education funds in the latest competition.
Internet cafe legislation is dead for the year.
Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus announced the legislation, which
essentially puts Internet cafes and sweepstakes parlors out of business.
State officials, including Attorney General Mike DeWine, have been
pushing for regulations or a ban on the businesses because they see them
as a breeding ground for criminal activity.
The final 2011-2012 school report cards will not be available until 2013. The report cards were originally delayed due to an investigation into fraudulent attendance reports.Michigan may have approved its anti-union right-to-work law, but Ohio is not eager to follow.
State Democrats are already preparing for a possible battle over the issue,
but even Republican Gov. John Kasich says he’s not currently interested in a
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is loosening
hazardous waste reporting requirements for companies. If the rules go
into effect, regulated facilities will report on hazardous waste once
every two years instead of once a year. The rule changes will get a
public hearing on Dec. 19 in Columbus.
In a question-and-answer session Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia asked,
“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it
against murder? Can we have it against other things?” (Hint: The answer
to both questions is yes.) The Supreme Court recently agreed to tackle the same-sex marriage issue. CityBeat wrote about same-sex marriage in Ohio here.Dogs are now capable of driving, and parrots now have vehicles too. But can our new animal overlords shoot magic foam into the body to stop major bleeding? Because we can.
by German Lopez
Western & Southern, American Financial Group lag behind national progress
LGBT rights are becoming “the new normal” in corporate
America, but American Financial Group and Western & Southern Financial Group are
apparently exceptions. Both Cincinnati-based Fortune 500 companies
received a 0 percent for LGBT policies in the 2012 Corporate Equality
Index (CEI) from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).The index uses LGBT-related corporate policies to determine scores: non-discrimination policies including sexual
orientation and gender identity, company-provided domestic partner
health insurance, equal health coverage for transgender individuals,
organizational LGBT cultural competency, engagement in actions that
undermine LGBT equality and other categories. The full rankings, dubbed a
“Buyer’s Guide,” can be found here.
In the Greater Cincinnati area, Cincinnati-based Omnicare,
Covington-based Ashland and Highland Heights-based General Cable fared
only slightly better than American Financial and Western & Southern. The three companies received 15 points for at
least including sexual orientation in non-discrimination policies.
Other Cincinnati-based Fortune 500 companies did much
better in HRC’s rankings. Procter & Gamble got a 90 percent, Macy’s
got a 90 percent, Kroger got an 85 percent and Fifth Third Bank got an
85 percent. The high scores show some companies are providing more to LGBT individuals than local, state and federal governments through equal access to health care and other benefits that aren't written into law.
On a national level, the five low-scoring Fortune 500 companies in Greater Cincinnati show a surprising level of backwardness. In general, the nationwide rankings were very positive
this year. In an emailed statement, HRC pointed out 252 companies got
100-percent scores in 2012, up from 13 companies in 1991. As HRC put it,
“For American companies, 100 percent is the new normal.”
CityBeat could not reach Western & Southern or
American Financial Group for immediate comment. This story will be
updated if comments become available.
by German Lopez
Kasich lacks re-election support, budget faces scrutiny, city increasing green incentives
For the first time since inauguration,
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has a positive approval rating, but a plurality
of registered voters say Kasich doesn’t deserve a second term. The
Quinnipac University poll attributed the increase in Kasich’s approval
rating to “high levels of satisfaction among Ohio voters with life in
the Buckeye State.” About 42 percent of respondents approved of Kasich,
while 35 percent disapproved. About 42 percent said Kasich doesn’t
deserve a second term, while 36 percent said he does. The poll surveyed
1,165 registered voters with a margin of error of 2.9 percent.
Last night, Cincinnati held its final public hearing
on City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposed budget. About 40 people spoke
during the meeting, with many voicing concern about Media Bridges
funding, which CityBeat recently covered here. The budget has also come under scrutiny due to its privatization of parking services, but Dohoney says the choice is privatization or 344 layoffs.
Cincinnati plans to bolster its green building incentives.
City officials are trying to amend the city’s Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) standards to encourage higher levels of
investment in green projects. Since LEED standards were first approved
in 2009, they have been criticized for only offering strong incentives
for lower levels of certification. The amendment seeks to make the
higher levels of certification more appealing.
University Hospital is being renamed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
An “anti-immigrant bill” proposed by Cincinnati’s Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz is not being received well by Innovation Ohio.
S.B. 323 seeks to limit workers’ compensation to illegal immigrants,
but the Ohio policy research group is not sure that’s a legitimate
problem. The organization is also worried the bill will impose a
regulatory burden on the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and Ohio’s
workers without providing extra funds and training to carry out the
Ohio is improving in its battle against human trafficking.
The state earned a “C” and it was labeled “most improved” in a new
report from the Polaris Project. But one state legislator wants to go
further by placing tougher standards on “johns” participating in the sex
trade. CityBeat previously wrote about the human trafficking problem in Ohio here.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved enough credits to help create about 500 jobs in Greater Cincinnati.
Michigan may have recently passed its anti-union “right-to-work” law, but Gov. Kasich does not share a similar interest.
Kasich will announce
his changes to the Ohio Turnpike Thursday and Friday. The governor says
his proposed changes will unlock “greater wealth,” but critics are
worried Kasich is about to sell off a major public asset.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is still defending his decisions during the lead-up the election. Husted has now become infamous nationwide due to his pre-election record, which CityBeat wrote about here.Even Jesus would be jealous. Science can now turn human urine into brain cells.
by German Lopez
Local state senator proposes bill to limit payments to illegal immigrants
An Ohio policy research group is taking offense to a local
state senator’s “anti-immigrant bill.” If passed, S.B. 323, proposed in
April by Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, would require workers to prove their
legal status to work before receiving workers’ compensation, but
Innovation Ohio says the bill reaches too far to solve a problem that
might not even exist.
The bill was the topic of discussion at a Senate
Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee hearing on Nov. 27. At the
hearing, supporters argued the bill would stop compensating illegal
workers who aren’t supposed to be in Ohio to begin with. But opponents
argue that the details in the bill add too many extra problems.
In fact, the bill might be going after a problem that
doesn’t even exist. At an earlier hearing, Seitz, a Republican, said the state does not
collect data on the immigration status of workers receiving
compensation. To Brian Hoffman of Innovation Ohio, this means there’s no
way to know if the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has ever
compensated a single undocumented worker. “It just seems curious that
this bill is being introduced and has gotten three hearings when there’s
no proof that it’s actually even an issue,” he says.
Hoffman is also worried that the bill is imposing a new
regulatory burden on BWC without providing additional funds. In his
view, the state agency is essentially being told to do more without
additional resources to prepare or train regulators. Considering how
complicated the immigration issue can get, this makes Hoffman doubt the
agency will be able to properly carry out the new regulations.
From a broader perspective, the bill imposes regulatory hurdles on all injured workers just so they can get compensation they're entitled to under state law. “Talk about kicking someone when they’re down,” Hoffman says.
But the burden could hit Hispanics even harder and lead to
more discrimination in the workplace. After all, when employers are
clearing legal statuses, who are they more likely to question, someone with a
name like “Dexter Morgan” or someone with a name like “Angel Batista”?
In Hoffman’s view, the state should leave immigration
issues to the federal government and worry about more pressing issues:
“Why is the state legislature even wasting its time on the issue? There
are plenty of really good ideas to bring jobs back to Ohio. Why aren’t
they focused on those?”
The bill is still in committee, but it’s been the subject
of multiple hearings. It’s unlikely the Ohio Senate will take it up in
what’s left of the lame-duck session, but it could come back in the next
CityBeat was unable to reach Seitz for comment
despite repeated attempts through phone and email, in addition to a scheduled
interview that was canceled. This story will be updated if comment becomes available.
by German Lopez
Parking privatization deal reached, rape flier case could be unsealed, casino revenue drops
The city of Cincinnati and its largest city employees union have reached a deal
regarding the privatization of the city’s parking assets. Under the
deal’s terms, the city will give raises and not lay off anyone for three
years, but only if the city’s parking assets are privatized. However,
the head of a Clifton community group is still not happy with the privatization plan. He says the plan is bad for business because it limits the amount of affordable parking in the area. But would laying off 344 city employees be better for business?
The identity of the Miami University student who put up
the infamous “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” flier may soon be revealed. The Ohio Supreme Court
will decide by Dec. 14 whether the case should be unsealed and open to public view. Robert Lyons, the Butler County part-time judge who sealed the case, has faced scrutiny in the past few months for conflicts of interest regarding drinking-and-driving cases.
Revenue from casinos in Toledo and Cleveland is dropping. The numbers paint a bad picture for Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials expecting budget problems to be solved by casino revenue.
A proposal mandating drug testing for welfare recipients in Ohio resurfaced last week. Republican legislators claim the requirement will save the state money, but a similar proposal in Florida added to budget woes as the state was forced to pay for drug tests.
Ohio’s ultra-wealthy population is growing.
About 1,330 Ohioans are worth $30 million or more, an increase of 2
percent since 2011, according to a report from Wealth-X. The news could
shape Gov. John Kasich’s plan to cut the income tax using revenue from a
higher oil-and-gas severance tax, perhaps encouraging state officials to make
the cut more progressive.
Gov. Kasich is ending the practice
of giving so many tax credits to keep businesses in Ohio. The move could
potentially cost the state jobs as businesses move to other areas with
bigger, better incentives, but state officials and the business community don’t seem too worried for now.
If the Ohio government agencies were forced to cut their budgets by 10 percent, the results would not be pretty. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
would have to close prisons, and the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources would have a tougher time enforcing new regulations on
Ohio’s exotic animal law is facing a challenge in federal court
today. Exotic animal owners claim the law violates their First
Amendment and property rights by forcing them to join private
associations and give up their animals without compensation. They also
do not like the provision that requires microchips be implanted into the
animals. The Humane Society of the United States is defending the law,
which was passed after a man released 56 exotic animals and killed himself in 2011.
An Ohio court said a business tax on fuel sales must be used on road projects.
Ohio gas prices are still dropping.
The cure for leukemia could be a modified version of the AIDS virus.
by James McNair
Ohio Supreme Court has until Dec. 14 to consider settlement over sealing of case
The sealing of a criminal court case involving a former
Miami University student who posted a “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with
Rape” flier in a freshman dormitory now has the presiding judge
defending his decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. And he’s doing it with
the help of the Butler County prosecutor who endorsed the secrecy.
Robert Lyons, whose part-time job as the judge for Butler
County Area I Court supplements his income as a practicing attorney,
took the student’s guilty plea to disorderly conduct on Nov. 8. At the
request of the young man’s lawyer, Dennis Deters, the judge ordered the
case file and all printed references to the defendant’s name sealed from
public view. The order extended to paperwork generated by the Miami
University Police Department. In effect, other than the press coverage
it received, all record that the crime was committed and the perpetrator
was brought to justice doesn’t exist.
Six days later, the Cincinnati Enquirer filed suit
against Lyons with the Ohio Supreme Court. It said Lyons erred by
issuing a “blanket” seal of the case. It said he failed to “find by
clear and convincing evidence that the presumption of public access is
outweighed by a higher interest” and further failed to conduct a hearing
where the Enquirer could argue for public access. The Enquirer didn't mention in its initial report on the plea deal an intent to sue over the sealing, and to date it hasn’t reported on its own lawsuit.
Lyons was given until Dec. 14 to file an answer. What’s
weird is that Lyons is represented by Butler County’s Prosecuting
Attorney, Mike Gmoser. In Ohio, the county prosecutor serves as legal
counsel for county government, county agencies and school districts —
and represents them in court — as standard practice. As a private
practitioner, though, Lyons specializes in defending people accused of
drunken driving. Guess who sits at the opposing counsel’s table in those
cases? Yes, Gmoser’s deputy prosecutors.
Lyons’ unusual role as defender and decider of DWI cases drew umbrage from Gmoser in March. According to the Hamilton Journal-News,
Lyons the judge was about to rule on a motion to disallow the results
of an Intoxilyzer 8000 blood-alcohol testing device in a DWI case. Lyons
the lawyer, meanwhile, had challenged the validity of the machine in
other cases, and his firm ran seminars about its failings. At Gmoser’s
request, a higher court judge in July ordered Lyons to step down from
hearing 10 pending DWI cases.
Last Thursday, in his initial response to the Enquirer’s
lawsuit to open the rape tipster’s court file, Lyons hinted at the
possibility of not fighting the suit. He asked to have until Dec. 14 to
file a full response “so as to give settlement discussions an
opportunity to come to fruition.”
by Bill Sloat
Ohio native was first American to orbit earth, flew 149 combat missions in WWII and Korea
Glenn is under construction in San Diego, where a keel-laying ceremony
signifying the initial step in construction was held earlier this week.
When it enters the fleet, which is expected in 2015, the vessel will be
837 feet long and displace 80,000 tons when loaded. Navy officials say
they can use it for both warfighting and humanitarian missions. The ship
was in the Pentagon budget before the current debate over the fiscal
cliff and defense spending cuts got under way. Meanwhile, NASA is no
longer able to put astronauts in orbit because funding for manned
flights ended when the space shuttles were grounded.
was a Marine pilot who became one of NASA’s seven original Mercury
astronauts. He was friendly with John F. Kennedy, who recruited him to
become a politician. During his years in the Senate, he was among Ohio’s
most popular elected officials. Glenn ran for president in 1984 but
didn’t make it out of the primaries. He was a flop as a national
Navy officials say they plan to build three ships similar to the USNS John Glenn, which
are designed as giant sea-going supply and troop platforms. They can
carry three hovercraft for amphibious operations. The Navy calls the
ships Mobile Landing Platforms and says the design is based on the huge
commercial supertankers that carry crude oil from Alaska.Glenn is in his nineties and attended the keel-laying ceremony. He is active and campaigned last fall for President Barack Obama’s reelection.