WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 12.14.2012
 
 
city hall

Council Passes Budget Reliant on Parking Lease

Council also approves 2014 property tax increase

Cincinnati City Council on Friday approved a budget that relies on parking privatization as a means to plug a $34 million budget deficit while also raising property taxes in 2014. Mayor Mark Mallory opened up the council meeting with a moment of silent prayer for the 27 students and adults killed at an elementary school in Connecticut. “I want us all to take a moment and put into perspective what we’re doing today,” he said. Council voted to increase the property tax by about 24 percent, from 4.6 mills (a mill is equal to one-tenth of a cent) to 5.71 mills. That means Cincinnatians would pay an additional $34 for every $100,000 of their home’s value. The vote reverses a move made last year by conservatives on council, who reduced property taxes. Council also passed a budget that relies on $21 million from a proposed lease of the city’s parking facilities — a deal that is expected to be voted on in March. Of the proposals submitted to the city so far, Cincinnati stands to gain $100 million to $150 million in an upfront payment and a share of the profits over the 30-year lease. “My concern about balancing this budget with a onetime revenue source by selling our parking system seems to be ill advised,” said Independent Councilman Chris Smitherman. “We don’t know how council will vote in March … but we have tied not only the budget to this one time revenue source, but we have also tied reciprocity.” Council nixed a plan to eliminate tax reciprocity for people who lived in Cincinnati but worked elsewhere and paid income tax in both cities.  Though the budget doesn’t mention parking privatization, council hasn’t mentioned other options to close the budget deficit. If opponents of parking privatization want to keep facilities under city control, they would have to come up with $21 million in revenue elsewhere or make $21 million in cuts.  Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld suggested using casino revenue, cutting travel expenses, downsizing the ratio of managers to workers, sharing services with nearby jurisdictions and downsizing the city’s fleet as ways to cut down the budget. Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, long an advocate of downsizing the police and fire departments, voted against the property tax increase in protest of what she said was bloated spending on departments that were outpacing population growth. The budget also requires Cincinnati to accept police and fire recruit classes in 2014, regardless of whether the city gets a federal grant to fund the classes.  The budget also restores the Cincinnati Police Department’s mounted patrol, which patrols downtown on horseback. The city will use $105,000 from off-duty detail fees from businesses that hire off-duty officers. Council also voted to start charging those businesses an extra $1.64 on top of the off-duty pay. Council also voted to shift $50,000 for repairs and upgrades to the Contemporary Arts Center to pay for maintenance and beautification at Washington Park, which is operated by 3CDC.
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 12.07.2012
Posted In: Privatization, Budget, Community at 03:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
annman_clifton_jf95

Clifton: Private Parking Bad for Business

Head of community group sends letter opposing parking privatization

One of Cincinnati’s largest neighborhoods and business districts is adamantly against a proposed plan to lease the city’s parking systems. A Dec. 7 letter to the mayor from Clifton Town Meeting President Peter Schneider calls the plan “baffling,” “short sighted” and “counter-intuitive.” The city administration wants to lease all Cincinnati parking meters, garages and surface lots for 30 years in exchange for an upfront payment of at least $40 million and a share of the profits. The city wants to use $21 million of the upfront payment to help close a $34 million hole in the upcoming budget. Schneider writes that the proposal is bad for business, making it harder for customers to find cheap or free parking near retail areas like Clifton’s Ludlow Avenue corridor. He also worried that a private operator would ratchet up the price for parking, making the facilities “unidirectional ATM’s (sic) benefiting a third party that provides minimal or no value to the citizens.” Schneider also complains that Cincinnatians have not been given details of the deal or the opportunity to weigh in on it. “It is unconscionable that the City administration would allow a similar plan (to the citizen-defeated red-light cameras) affecting parking meters and services be railroaded through City Hall without the appropriate sunshine and input of the populace,” he wrote. He also compares the proposal to Hamilton County’s mishandling of the stadium deals, claiming that a similar long-term lease is unwise. Schneider ends the letter by admitting that there are some aspects of outsourcing that could be beneficial, such as private management of surface lots or garages or maintenance, but the idea of privatizing everything goes too far.
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 12.07.2012
 
 
milton dohoney

City, Union Reach Deal Over Parking Privatization

City workers would get raises, protection from layoffs if City Council approves parking plan

In order to win the support of the largest city employees union for the leasing of Cincinnati’s parking facilities, the city administration has agreed to pay raises and no layoffs for three years. There’s a catch — municipal employees only get the raises and job security if the city’s parking meters, garages and surface lots are leased to a private company for 30 years. City Manager Milton Dohoney wants to lease the facilities for at least $40 million upfront and a share of parking profits for the next 30 years. He’d use $21 million of the upfront payment to patch a $34 million deficit in the city’s budget. During recent budget hearings before City Council, Dohoney said extra revenue was needed to avoid the layoff of 344 city employees. In a memo to the mayor and city council members, Dohoney outlined the agreement between the city and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Any municipal employees who will lose their jobs because of the deal would be placed in other city jobs with no loss of wages. No city employees covered by the union would be laid off between 2013 and 2016. City employees will receive a 1.5 percent cost of living raise for the 2013-2014 contract year and another 1 percent raise for the next contract year. AFSCME members will continue city vehicle maintenance work from 2013-2016.  However, if City Council doesn’t approve of the plan to privatize parking, city employees get nothing.  Public employees in Cincinnati have not been given raises in almost four years. Meanwhile, council voted last month to give Dohoney a 10 percent raise and a $35,000 bonus. Dohoney had not received a merit raise since 2007, but had collected cost of living adjustments and bonuses over the years.
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 12.05.2012
 
 
quinlivan

Council Approves Resolution Asking for Fracking Control

Cincinnati asks state to overturn law preventing cities from regulating oil and gas drilling

Cincinnati City Council continued its effort to prevent a controversial method of drilling for oil and gas by passing a resolution on Wednesday asking the state to allow the city to make its own regulatory laws. The resolution expresses council’s dissatisfaction with the Ohio Legislature for granting “special privileges to the oil and natural gas industry” and asks it to repeal any laws that pre-empt local control over drilling. The resolution targets the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which uses chemically-laced water to free up natural gas trapped in shale formations underneath Ohio. Fracking opponents worry that the chemicals used in the fluid — which companies aren’t required to disclose — can be toxic to people and animals. Prior to the council vote, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan held a news conference on the steps of City Hall. “I believe local officials should have a say on all matters related to potentially hazardous activities such as fracking,” Quinlivan said in an emailed statement. “I urge my colleagues to send a strong message to the Ohio Governor, the Ohio Legislature, and Cincinnati residents by passing this resolution.”  A 2004 state law puts regulation of oil and gas drilling under the state’s purview, preventing municipalities from regulating drilling on their land. Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. John Kasich and members of the Ohio General Assembly elected from the Cincinnati area. The resolution comes after Ohio recently lifted a moratorium on new injection wells, which shoot wastewater deep underground for storage.  There had been a temporary ban on new wells almost a year ago after seismologists said an injection was to blame for 11 earthquakes around the Youngstown area. City council in August passed an ordinance to band injection wells within city limits. Because the injection well ban doesn’t mention drilling, council hoped it wouldn’t clash with the state law preventing local regulation of oil and gas drilling.
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 12.04.2012
 
 
qualls

Qualls to Announce 2013 Mayoral Run

Mayor Mallory to join Qualls in official campaign kickoff

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls will be formally announcing her run for the top spot in Cincinnati on Thursday. Qualls’ campaign site has been up for some time already, and the vice mayor’s team had a meeting with political writers and bloggers on Nov. 26. The vice mayor will be joined by current term-limited Mayor Mark Mallory, implying his support for her mayoral run. The event is taking place at 10 a.m. at Core Clay, Inc., a small women-owned business in Walnut Hills. Qualls, who is endorsed by both the Democratic Party and Charter Committee, previously served as mayor from 1993-1999 after serving in Cincinnati City Council from 1991-1993. She returned to council in 2007. Former city councilman John Cranley, also a Democrat, is also running for mayor. Cranley served on council between 2001 and 2007. His campaign will officially launch in January and former mayor Charlie Luken will serve as the honorary chair. Republican Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners President Greg Hartmann is also considering a run for mayor, but hasn’t made a formal announcement. Cincinnati has an open mayoral primary, which means that the top two vote-getters will run against each other in the general election, regardless of party affiliation.
 
 

Merry Christmas from Thelma and Roy

0 Comments · Thursday, November 29, 2012
Since Thelma and her new husband Bill didn’t really exist, they couldn’t attend my grandmother’s funeral.  

A Wintry Mix

2012 holiday listings

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Performance art, family-friendly events, music and more yuletide celebrations to make your season bright.   

Holiday Issue 2012

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
When we enter the grown-up world, there are quite a few aspects of life that lose a great bit of childlike mystique: visits to the dentist, overalls, Hostess products and, perhaps most glaringly, the holiday season.   
by Rick Pender 11.20.2012
Posted In: Arts community at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
mia

CCM Grad's 'Stanley Steemer Variations' Video Goes Viral

Mia Gentile's voiceover demo gets love from company, Huffpo

If you grew up in the Midwest you’ve probably heard the catchy jingle for “Stanley Steemer, the Carpet Cleaner.” But I bet you’ve never heard it sung operatically, or with some bebop or thrash. Now you can do that — all in one three-minute video featuring University of Cincinnati musical theater grad Mia Gentile, a 2011 grad of the College-Conservatory of Music. Local audiences know her for several amusing turns in incarnations of The Marvelous Wonderettes at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and the sold-out (and revived) production of next to normal, but trust me, this girl is bound for glory. People who’ve never heard of her or the carpet cleaning company are tuning in now by the thousands, thanks to a YouTube video, cleverly titled “The Stanley Steemer Variations (by Mia).” Gentile generated with local musician and producer Roger Klug. Julie Spangler, a professional pianist and musical theater instructor at CCM, introduced Klug and Gentile, who wanted to produce a voiceover demo of the various musical styles she could reproduce (which appears to be limitless). Klug convinced her to translate her vocal performances into a video, which they shot in one day over the summer. “It was a total collaboration,” Klug tells me. “We talked about what each character would look like, she did the makeup and hair, I shot and edited the thing. We completely did it for no other reason than ‘just for the fun of it.’” It was shot at the local studio Mental Giant with Klug using a Sony Handycam. Well, that it was — it’s apparent from watching. But everyone is getting in on the fun, and the video has taken off virally on YouTube. When Klug contacted me on Monday morning, it had had 40,000 hits in just a few days. By midnight the piece had exploded, exceeding 100,000 hits. He and Gentile have created a blog site to support it: http://miavideo.wordpress.com. Even better, the Stanley Steemer people have picked it up, hyping it on their Facebook page, which has led to a suspicion that the whole thing is a clever marketing ploy. “Another faction thinks Stanley Steemer owes us a big check,” Klug jokes, “which I'm inclined to agree with!” It’s spread to an international audience now, dare I say “picking up steam” with a mention and a link in the U.K. edition of The Huffington Post. Before this winds up, Gentile will need her own 1-800 number!
 
 

Floyd Johnson Against the World

DJ-turned-designer puts Ohio on the map

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 14, 2012
It’s a timeworn story: creative type grows up in a small town and feels compelled to leave for the big city. But instead of the usual ending for local designer/businessman Floyd Johnson has instead created his own avenues for creative success right in his hometown.     

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