0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners held a public meeting Dec. 3 to discuss options for balancing the stadium fund.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) has officially
come out against Gov. John Kasich’s plan to tax oil and gas production.
The move from the Republican-leaning agricultural group is yet another
blow to Kasich’s tax plan, which raises the severance tax on the
oil-and-gas industry to pay for a cut to Ohio’s income tax.
by German Lopez
Qualls to run for mayor, city budget proposal raises taxes, local fracking control demanded
It will soon be official. Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls will announce her mayoral campaign on Thursday at 10 a.m. Qualls has already announced her candidacy and platform on her website.
Qualls will be joined by term-limited Mayor Mark Mallory, which could
indicate support from the popular mayor. Right now, Qualls’ only known
opponent is former Democratic city councilman John Cranley, who has
spoken out against the streetcar project Qualls supports.
As part of City Manager Milton Dohoney’s budget proposal, anyone who lives in Cincinnati but works elsewhere could lose a tax credit. The budget proposal also eliminates the property tax rollback and moves to privatize the city’s parking services, which Dohoney says is necessary if the city wants to avoid 344 layoffs.
The mayor and City Council must approve Dohoney’s budget before it
becomes law. City Council is set to vote on the budget on Dec. 14.
Public hearings for the budget proposal will be held in City Hall
Thursday at 6 p.m. and in the Corryville Recreation Center Dec. 10 at 6
Vice Mayor Qualls and Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan are
pushing a resolution that demands local control over hydraulic
fracturing, or “fracking,” activity. But the resolution will have no
legal weight, so the state will retain full control over fracking
operations even if the resolution is passed. Qualls and Quinlivan will
also hold a press conference today at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall to discuss
problems with fracking, which has come under fire by environmentalist
groups due to concerns about air pollution and water contamination
caused during the drilling-and-disposal process.
Greater Cincinnati hospitals had mixed results in a new round of scores from Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog Group.
In an effort to comply with cost cutting, the Hamilton County recorder is eliminating Friday office hours.
The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments is looking for feedback for the Tristate’s transportation and economic plans.
This year’s drought is coming to an end in a lot of places, but not southwest Ohio.
The Ohio Senate passed a concussion bill that forces student athletes to be taken off the field as soon as symptoms of a concussion are detected.
As the state government pushes regulations or even an outright ban on Internet cafes, one state legislator is suggesting putting the issue on the ballot.
State officials argue unregulated Internet cafes are “ripe for
organized crime” and money laundering. An Ohio House committee is set to vote on the issue today. If passed, the bill will likely put Internet cafes that use sweepstakes machines out of business.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich could be preparing for a 2016 campaign. Kasich was caught privately courting Sheldon Adelson,
the casino mogul who spent millions on Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney’s
failed campaigns for the presidency. The early meetup shows how valued
super PAC funders are to modern political campaigns. State Democrats
criticized the meeting, saying it was Kasich “actively positioning to be
the next Ohio darling of the special interests.”
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman had a bit of trouble
giving a speech on the federal debt yesterday. Hecklers repeatedly
interrupted Portman, a Republican, as he tried to speak. The final
protesters were escorted out of the room as they chanted, “We’re going
to grow, not slow, the economy.” Portman says his plan is to promote
growth. But both Democrats and Republicans will raise taxes on the lower
and middle classes, according to a calculator from The Washington Post. Tax hikes and spending cuts are typically bad ideas during a slow economy.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is facing the wrath of his tea party comrades.
The far right wing of the Republican Party is apparently furious
Boehner purged rebellious conservative legislators out of House
committees and proposed $800 billion in new revenue in his “fiscal
cliff” plan to President Barack Obama.To help combat fatigue at space stations, NASA is changing a few light bulbs.
Does this dog really love or really hate baths? You decide:
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
A Bangladesh woman was forced to remarry the man who
mutilated her by dousing her face with acid after she divorced him for
cheating on her. WORLD -2
1 Comment · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Even Christopher Smitherman and
Christopher Finney must roll over in the middle of the night in the
strange bed they share and look at one another and wonder: How the
hell’d this happen
by German Lopez
Mandel hires political workers, county will raise taxes, city faces privatization or layoffs
Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is hiring political workers and friends at his job again.
His latest hires are Joe Aquilino, former campaign political director
to Mandel’s U.S. Senate campaign, and Jared Borg, former campaign
political coordinator. During the 2010 campaign for the state
treasurer’s office, Mandel said, “Unlike the current officeholder, I
will ensure that my staff is comprised of qualified financial
professionals — rather than political cronies and friends — and that
investment decisions are based on what is best for Ohioans.” Mandel’s
spokesperson defended the hires by touting the treasurer’s
accomplishments in office.
With a vote set for tomorrow, it’s still unsure how the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners will solve the stadium fund deficit, but it seems like both options require tax increases.
Commissioner Todd Portune, the lone Democrat on the board, proposed
increasing the sales tax by 0.25 percent. Board President Greg Hartmann,
a Republican, presented an alternative plan that reduces the property
tax rollback by 50 percent for two years, but he also said he’s not sure
how he’ll vote. Commissioner Chris Monzel, a Republican, says he
wants to find a plan that doesn’t raise taxes.
Either parking services are privatized or 344 city employees are laid off. That’s how City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. framed budget talks to City Council yesterday.
The city has already made drastic cuts since 2000, laying off 802
employees. Dohoney also pushed for repealing the property tax rollback
promised as part of the stadium deal in 1996, but City Council does not
want to raise taxes in the middle of a slow economy. The fact is any form of austerity will be painful,
so City Council should be as cautious of spending cuts as tax hikes. A
public hearing on the budget will be held Thursday at 6 p.m.
The city of Cincinnati’s plan to buy Tower Place Mall and the adjacent Pogue’s Garage in downtown is moving forward.
The city offered to buy the mall and garage for $8.5 million in order
to spur economic development in the area. The parking garage and
half-empty mall are currently in foreclosure.
Cincinnati State is looking to expand.
The Horseshoe Casino has begun its final round of hiring. The casino is set to open in spring 2013. A Washington Post analysis found casinos bring jobs, but also crime, bankruptcy and suicide.
One year later, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources hasn’t followed up on a court order to compensate flooded landowners.
The State Controlling Board approved three programs
that will provide transitional housing and other services to the
homeless. As part of the initiative, Habitat for Humanity of Ohio will
receive $200,000, the Homeless Crisis Response Program will receive
$12,680,700 and the Supportive Housing Program will receive $9,807,600
from the Ohio Housing Trust Fund.Great numbers from November from auto companies could mean more hires.
The U.S. Supreme Court is delaying action on same-sex marriage. CityBeat covered gay marriage in Ohio and whether Ohioans are ready to embrace it in a Nov. 28 cover story.
A dissolving nanofabric could soon replace condoms for protecting against pregnancy and HIV.
by Andy Brownfield
City Manager says without lease, 344 city workers would lose jobs
Cincinnati City Council members today focused a lot of attention
on a contentious plan to lease city parking assets during a Monday
committee presentation on the 2013 budget.
It was the first opportunity council members had to
publicly question the budget’s architects. The proposed budget would
cover the first half of 2013. The city is switching over to a fiscal
year starting in July.
Many council members expressed concern over the plan
to use $21 million from a proposed 30-year lease of the city’s parking
meters, garages and lots to help close a $34 million budget deficit.
“It seems like … the city budget wins, but the citizens are losing,” said Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.
City Manager Milton Dohoney said the parking facilities
net Cincinnati about $7 million a year. That would equal out to about
$210 million over 30 years.
Sittenfeld called into question the wisdom of leasing the
facilities for an estimated $50 million and taking half of the profit,
for an earnings of about $150 million over 30 years.
Other council members expressed concern that whoever
leased the parking would hike rates, something Councilman Cecil Thomas
“The market would dictate the rates that are charged,” he said.
Dohoney said a combination of cuts, savings, revenue,
projected growth and one-time funding sources helped eliminate the $34
million deficit. He said a budget containing only cuts would result in the layoff of 344 city workers.
A slide show provided by the city showed that 802 positions had been cut since 2000.Dohoney advocated eliminating the property tax rollback promised as part of the deal to build two new sports stadiums in 1996. He said it would bring in about $9 million a year. However council has had little appetite to allow any increase in taxes as the city recovers from the Great Recession. Property taxes make up about 6 percent of the budget fund used to pay most of the city's operating expenses.
The cuts proposed in the 2013 budget include eliminating
support for public access company Media Bridges, the Downtown and
Neighborhood Gateways Program, Juvenile Firesetter Program and Arts
It would also eliminate the Cincinnati Police Department’s Mounted Patrol, which covers downtown on horseback. Dohoney said that would allow Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig to redeploy those nine officers elsewhere. Dohoney said Craig had asked for a new recruit class of
50, but Dohoney requested 30. He said the additional nine from the horse
patrol would bring that closer to 40.
Dohoney said he was also allowing 10 additional recruits
to cover patrols of University Hospital, which is no longer going to use
University of Cincinnati police starting Jan. 1.
He said the police department would also look for ways to
save money by increasing the involvement of civilian members who could
do things like take reports of non-injury car accidents.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan asked if the budgeteers had
considered restructuring the police force to save money. She has long
been a proponent of “right-sizing” the police and fire forces, saying
staffing levels remain at a high while the city’s population is
The proposed budget also includes investments in business
groups that promote economic development, like the Port Authority,
Greater Cincinnati Partnership, Film Commission and African American
Chamber of Commerce.
Councilman Chris Seelbach praised Dohoney and his budget
team, saying he saw Cincinnati as being better off than it had been six
years ago. But he also said he’d like to see the administration focus on
people who are barely getting by instead of businesses and developers.
“There is a focus on helping people make more money that
are already making a lot of money,” Seelbach said. “Helping people that
aren’t paying a lot of taxes still pay very little.”Cincinnatians can weigh in on the budget in a public hearing Thursday evening at 6 p.m.
by German Lopez
Board president still unsure of how he'll vote; Portune's sales tax increase still on the table
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners held a public
meeting today to discuss options for balancing the stadium fund. Commissioner
Todd Portune, the lone Democrat on the board, on Nov. 28 proposed a 0.25-percent sales tax hike. At the meeting, Board President Greg Hartmann, a Republican, suggested reducing the property tax rollback by 50 percent for two years, but he said he was unsure which way he would vote. Portune also gave ideas for possible adjustments to his sales tax proposal. He said commissioners could “sunset” the sales tax hike, essentially putting an expiration date on the tax increase. He also would like to see the sales tax hike reviewed on a regular basis to ensure taxpayers aren't being burdened longer than necessary. The idea behind possible time limits for both proposals is new revenues, perhaps from an improving economy or Cincinnati's new casino, could make changes unnecessary in the long term.If anything came from the meeting, it’s that none of the
commissioners like the position they’re in. Commissioner Chris Monzel, a Republican,
said he had been placed “between a rock and a hard place.” Hartmann
echoed Monzel, saying it was an “unenviable position.” Despite being the
one to propose the hike, Portune said, “We’re left with two
options that none of us like at all.”
repeated previous arguments during most of the meeting. Hartmann continued saying he was unsure how
he would vote, but he said the two options presented are the only
options left. He called Portune's plan “bold.”
Portune claimed the sales tax hike was more equitable
because it spreads out the tax burden to anyone who spends money in Hamilton
County, including visitors from around the Tristate area. In contrast,
eliminating or reducing the property tax rollback would place the burden
of the stadium fund exclusively on residential property owners in
Hamilton County.The property tax rebate and sales taxes are both regressive, meaning they favor the wealthy more than the
poor. In simple terms, as income goes down, spending on goods and
services take bigger bites out of a person’s income. A sales tax makes
that disproportionate burden even larger.
One analysis from The Cincinnati Enquirer found
the wealthy made more money from the property tax rebate than
they were taxed by the half-cent sales tax raise that was originally
meant to support the stadium fund. For a previous story covering the stadium fund, Neil DeMause, a journalist who
chronicled his 15-year investigation of stadium deals in his book Field of Schemes, told CityBeat
the stadium fund’s problems stem from the county government making a
“terrible deal” with the Reds and Bengals.
Monzel said he will continue to try to find alternatives to raising taxes. On Nov. 28, Monzel told CityBeat
he would rather keep the stadium fund balanced for one year with
short-term cuts, including a cut on further investments in The Banks
development, before raising taxes. In the long term, Monzel says
commissioners could see if revenue from the new Horseshoe Casino and a
possible deal involving the University of Cincinnati using Paul Brown
Stadium would be enough to sustain the stadium fund.
The commissioners will vote on the proposals on Dec. 5.
by German Lopez
Ohio's fracking boom disappoints, war on babies declared, Cincinnati's economic triumph
Ohio’s fracking boom might not be living up to the hype.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources originally estimated that 250
fracking wells would be built by the end of the year, but only 165 have been completed and 22 are currently being built.
The disappointing results are being blamed on low natural gas prices
and a backlog in work needed to connect wells to customers. Maybe the
state’s claim had as much basis as Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s claim that the state’s fracking boom would be worth $1 trillion.
By killing the heartbeat bill and a bill that defunds
Planned Parenthood, Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican,
apparently declared a war on babies,
according to anti-abortion groups. Niehaus is term-limited, so he will
not be in the Ohio Senate in the next session, which begins next year.
Incoming senate president Keith Faber already said the heartbeat bill
could come up to vote in the next Senate session. CityBeat previously wrote about Ohio Republicans’ renewed anti-abortion agenda.Between 2011 and 2012, Cincinnati had the 12th best economic performance
in the United States, according to a Brookings Institute study. Out of
the 76 metropolitan areas looked at, only Dallas; Knoxville, Tenn.; and
Pittsburgh have recovered from the recession, and 20 areas lost more
ground throughout the year.
Media Bridges, Cincinnati’s public access media outlet, is the latest victim
of the 2013 budget proposal from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. The
budget plan suggests slashing $300,000 from the organization’s funding.
When coupled with state funding cuts, Media Bridges is losing $498,000
in funding, or 85 percent of its budget. Tom Bishop, executive director
of Media Bridges, compared the cuts to a “meteor” hitting Media Bridges’
budget. The city says cuts were suggested in part due to public feedback.
The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition is pushing the
public to speak out against $610,770 in cuts to human services funding
in Dohoney’s proposed budget. Mayor Mark Mallory and City Council have
already agreed to continue 2013 funding at 2012 levels, but homeless
advocates want to make sure the funding, which largely helps the
homeless and low-income families, remains. The group is calling for
supporters to attend City Council meetings on Dec. 5 at 1:15 p.m. at
City Hall, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall and Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at
the Corryville Recreation Center.
It’s commonly said Cincinnati is Republican territory, but after the latest elections, that’s looking more and more false.
The University of Cincinnati is stepping up safety efforts around campus.
The university held a summit to gather public feedback on possible
improvements in light of recent incidents in and around campus.
Beginning in January, UC will increase patrols by 30 percent.
Crime around Columbus’ Hollywood Casino has ticked up. Could Cincinnati face a similar fate when the Horseshoe Casino is up and running? A Washington Post analysis found casinos bring in jobs, but also bankruptcy, crime and even suicide.
Results equal funding. That’s the approach Gov. Kasich is taking to funding higher education,
but Inside Higher Ed says the approach is part of “an emerging
Republican approach to higher education policy, built largely around
cost-cutting.” Kasich’s approach is meant to encourage better results by
providing higher funds to schools with higher graduation rates, but
schools with funding problems and lower graduation rates
could have their problems exacerbated.
Josh Mandel, state treasurer and former Republican
candidate for the U.S. Senate, insists his big loss in November does not
make him a political has-been.
Mandel will be pursuing a second term at the Ohio treasurer’s office in
2014. Mandel lost the Senate race despite getting massive amounts of funding from third
parties — Democrats estimate $40 million — to support his campaign.
The auto industry is still chugging along with impressive numbers from November.
Gas prices moved down in Ohio this week.
One geneticist says people are getting dumber, but he doesn’t seem to have much to back his claims up.