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.
by German Lopez
With voter approval, Washington state embraces new freedoms
This morning, social conservatives around the world dug
themselves into Armageddon-resistant bunkers, preparing for what they
knew was coming. Today, marijuana and same-sex marriage were
being legalized in Washington state.
But the bunkers may have been a waste of time and money,
considering the end of the world didn’t occur. In fact, it seems like a lot
of people are happy with the legal changes, which voters approved on
From the perspective of this CityBeat writer, same-sex marriage would be great. It’s something I wrote about extensively before (“The Evolution of Equality,”
Nov. 28 issue). As a refresher, not only does same-sex marriage bring a
host of benefits to same-sex couples, but it also produces economic
benefits for everyone. A recent study from Bill
LaFayette, founder of Regionomics LLC, found that legalizing gay
marriage would grow Ohio’s gross domestic product, which measures
economic worth, by $100-$126 million within three years.
Marijuana has similar benefits. Not only does it give
people the freedom to put a relatively harmless plant into their bodies,
but it also provides a big boon to state budgets. For Washington, it’s
estimated the marijuana tax will bring in as much as $500 million a
Legalization also creates jobs and economic growth as
businesses pop up to sell the product and customers buy the plant to
toke up. Washington State’s Office of Financial Management estimates the
marijuana market will be worth about $1 billion in the state.
Considering the state is about 2 percent of the U.S. population, that
could be extrapolated to indicate a potential $50 billion nationwide
Still, public use of marijuana and driving while
intoxicated remain illegal. In a press conference Wednesday, Seattle
City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “If you're smoking in plain public view, you're
subject to a ticket. … Initiative 502 uses the alcohol model. If
drinking in public is disallowed, so is smoking marijuana in public.”
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) seems a bit
friendlier. In an email today, SPD told officers to only give verbal
warnings until further notice. The warnings should essentially tell
people to take their marijuana inside, or, as SPD spokesperson Jonah
Spangenthal-Lee put it on the SPD Blotter,
“The police department believes that, under state law, you may
responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a ‘Lord of the Rings’
marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to.”
The Washington law also faces possible federal resistance.
Even though the state legalized pot, the drug is still illegal under
federal law. That means the feds can still shut down marijuana
businesses and arrest buyers, just like they have with legal medical marijuana
dispensaries in the past.
In fact, maybe the limitations are what’s keeping the
apocalypse at bay. Maybe social conservatives will get to make use of
those bunkers if the rest of the country catches on to Washington’s
by German Lopez
Environment Ohio touts renewable energy’s health, job benefits
A Dec. 5 report is encouraging Cincinnati to become the solar
energy capital of Ohio and the broader region. The report, titled
“Building a Solar Cincinnati,” was put together by Environment Ohio to
show the benefits and potential of Cincinnati regarding solar power.
Christian Adams, who wrote the report along with Julian
Boggs, says Cincinnati is especially poised to take charge in this
renewable energy front, in contrast to the rest of the state, which gets
82 percent of its electricity from coal. Adams points to
the sustainability-minded city officials and public, a “budding solar business
sector” and the great business environment as the city as reasons why
Cincinnati could become a pivotal leader.
With 21 public solar installations to date, the city has
already seen some of the benefits of solar power. The most
obvious benefit is cleaner air, which leads to better overall health and
helps combat global warming. But the report points out that local solar
initiatives mean local jobs. “You can’t export these jobs,” Adams says.
“It’s a great opportunity for economic revitalization.”
With solar energy comes an array of job opportunities for
solar installers, solar designers, engineers, construction workers,
project managers, sales associates and marketing consultants. That’s
enough to create brisk job creation. The report points out
“energy-related segments of the clean economy added jobs at a torrid
pace over the last few years, bucking trends of the Great Recession.”
Still, there are hurdles.
Although solar energy saves money in the long term, installing solar
panels has a high upfront cost. The cost can make the short term too bleak for many potential customers.
To help overcome the short-term problem, the report suggests
third-party financing. In these financing agreements, customers agree to
give up roof space to have a solar power company install solar panels,
and then customers agree to buy their power needs from the company. It’s
a win for the solar power company because the panels eventually pay for
themselves through new customers, and it’s a win for the customer because
he sees more stable, lower energy costs and cleaner air. Adams points
out that a few businesses and individuals in the area have already taken part in such agreements with great success.
There are also some incentives already in place to
encourage solar energy. Ohio’s Clean Energy Law, which was passed in
2008, pushes utility companies into the renewable energy market with
Solar Renewable Energy Credits. These are credits utility companies must
earn to meet annual benchmarks by installing solar panels or purchasing
them from third parties. Duke Energy has followed the law’s
requirements by establishing its own renewable energy credit program.
Ohioans also have access to some tax breaks — the Energy
Conversion Facilities Sales Tax Exemption, Air-Quality Improvement Tax
Incentives and Qualified Energy Property Tax Exemptions — and loan
programs — the Energy Loan Fund and Advanced Energy Fund — that
encourage solar and other renewable energy sources.
Falkin, director of the city’s Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ),
says the report didn’t have much new information, but he’s glad
it can be used to push solar energy to the broader public. He touted the
benefits of job creation and reducing reliance on foreign energy
sources by moving toward energy independence.
For now, the city is mostly taking the approach of leading
by example. Falkin says the city is acting like a “model” for solar
energy. Cincinnati added solar installations to two city facilities this
year, and another will be added by the end of the month. Falkin’s
office is also working together with different organizations to keep any
Adams and Falkin both attended a Dec. 5 roundtable discussion
that engaged regional officials, including solar businesses,
environmental and sustainability groups, education leaders and the
Cincinnati Zoo. They both said the roundtable went well.
“I think all the right people are coming together and doing the right things to try to move us forward,” Falkin says.
by German Lopez
Redistricting deal in works, pro-Obama group fights locally, commissioners raise taxes
Redistricting reform may have died in front of voters, but
will the state legislature pick up the pieces? Ohio Sen. Keith Faber, a
Republican, and Ohio Sen. Nina Turner, a Democrat, say a deal is close.
The senators say the task force in charge of finding a way to reform
the state’s redistricting system could release a report later this week,
and a public hearing is scheduled for next week. The congressional
redistricting process has scrutiny for decades as
politicians have redrawn districts for political gain. The First
Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, was redrawn during
the Republican-controlled process to include Republican-leaning Warren
County. The change was enough to dilute Cincinnati’s Democratic-leaning
urban core, shifting the district from politically mixed to safely
A group in favor of President Barack Obama is taking the federal fight over taxes to a local level.
Ohio Action Now is planning a Friday rally in front of U.S. Rep. Steve
Chabot’s office demanding that he accept tax hikes on individuals making
more than $250,000. Chabot, who represents Cincinnati’s congressional
district, and other Republicans oppose the plan because it taxes what
they like to call “job creators.” However, research has shown taxing the
wealthy is economically better than taxing the lower and middle classes. The International Monetary Fund also found in an extensive study
that spending cuts hurt economies a lot, but tax hikes barely make a negative
impact. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, is also criticizing Republicans for not accepting Obama’s tax proposal.
Hamilton County commissioners did not agree to raise the sales tax; instead, they will reduce the property tax rollback.
For residential property owners, the tax hike adds $35 per $100,000 of a
home’s valuation. Commissioners say either a reduction in the rollback
or a sales tax hike is necessary to balance the county stadium fund,
which has undergone problems ever since the county made a bad deal with the
Reds and Bengals. None of the current commissioners were in office when
the original stadium deal was made.
The city of Cincinnati and a city union have reached a deal
on privatizing parking services. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
(AFSCME) agreed not to oppose the plan after the city promised
not to lay off union employees. As part of parking privatization, 25
union members will lose their current jobs, but they’ll be transitioned
into other city jobs. City Manager Milton Dohoney insists parking
privatization is necessary in his budget plan if the city wants to avoid
The public will be able to weigh in on the budget proposal today at 6
p.m. at City Hall and Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at Corryville Recreation
Cincinnati City Council approved a resolution asking the state government for local control of fracking operations.
But the resolution has no legal weight, so the state will
retain control. Fracking has been criticized by environmentalists who
see it as a possible cause of air pollution and water contamination.
Critics also want to know what’s in the chemicals used during the fracking process, but,
under state law, companies are not forced to fully disclose such
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear will meet Dec. 12 in Covington to discuss a study funding the Brent Spence Bridge overhaul.
Some, including Greater Cincinnati’s Port Authority, have pushed for
tolls to help fund the bridge project, but northern Kentucky lawmakers
are strongly against the idea. The bridge, which links downtown
Cincinnati and Covington, has been under heavy scrutiny due to
deteriorating conditions and over-capacity.
The city of Cincinnati and web-based SoMoLend are partnering
to provide crowd funding to the city’s small businesses and startups.
The partnership, which was approved by the Small Business Advisory
Committee, is meant to encourage job and economic growth.
The Ohio Senate will rework
a bill that revamps the school report card system. The bill seeks to
enforce tougher standards on schools to put more pressure on
improvement, but some Democrats have voiced concerns the new standards
are too tough as the state replaces old standardized tests. A very early simulation from May showed Cincinnati Public Schools dropping
from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current system to a
D-, with 23 schools flunking and Walnut Hills High School retaining its
top mark with an A.
The Ohio House passed
a bill banning Internet sweepstakes cafes, but it’s unsure whether the
Ohio Senate will follow suit. State officials say the cafes are ripe for
More Ohioans are seeking help for gambling problems.
A bill seeking to curb duplicate lawsuits over on-the-job asbestos exposure has cleared
the Ohio Senate. Proponents say the bill stops double-dipping from
victims, but opponents say it will make legitimate claims all the more
The Ohio Supreme Court declared the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to be in contempt
for not following a court order requiring the state agency to
compensate 87 landowners in Mercer County for flood damage. As a result,
ODNR must complete appraisals within 90 days and file all appropriation
cases within 120 days.
We’re all going to die... eventually. Someday, the Milky Way will collide with the Andromeda Galaxy, and scientists want help in finding out more about the galaxy.
Off the Streets graduation marks renowned purpose, hope for prostituted women
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The OTS program, created in 2006, is
spearheaded by Cincinnati Union Bethel and focuses on six areas of
need: emergency needs, housing, medical care, mental health, substance
abuse, education and employment.
by German Lopez
Cincinnati to work with SoMoLend in lending plan
The city of Cincinnati will be pairing up with a web-based
lending platform to help out small businesses and startups. With the approval of the
Small Business Advisory Committee, the city and SoMoLend will give up
to $400,000 in loans to stimulate economic
growth and job creation.
The partnership will aid small businesses and startups
through crowd funding, which connects multiple potential lenders so no
single investor, including the city government, is carrying the a bulk
of the burden. Since crowd funding gets more investors involved, it can
also raise more money for promising startups and small businesses.
Businesses will be picked through SoMoLend’s typical
application process, which emphasizes startups and small businesses.
Successful applicants usually have 15 or fewer employees, meet a few
standards regarding business and personal finances and prove they
actually need a commercial loan. In the past, businesses have raised as
much as $1 million in loans with SoMoLend.
Applicants will also have to go through the city’s
application process. The city government will look at how many jobs are
created, what’s the capital investment involved, how much the city will
give relative to private lenders and other similar metrics.
Even as the economy recovers, small businesses and
startups are having a tough time getting loans in comparison to bigger businesses. So the focus on small
businesses and startups is in part to bring beneficial fairness to the
system, says Meg Olberding, city spokesperson. “Access to capital at all
levels has to happen. And the city government feels like small
businesses are key to growth in our local economy.”
The partnership’s focus on startups is economically sound. Governments and politicians love to herald small businesses as the drivers of economic
growth, but studies suggest startups are more deserving of the praise. A paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that young small businesses, or startups, are the key drivers to economic and job growth.
As for why SoMoLend was picked over other platforms,
Olberding says location and history played a role: “It’s a local small
business, so it’s … demonstrating what we’re talking about. It’s also a
demonstrated success in terms of bringing viable businesses to the
The partnership is part of an ongoing effort to spur small
businesses and startups in Cincinnati. SBAC was created in 2012 to pave
a clearer, better path that encourages such businesses in the city.
SBAC reviewed, gave feedback and approved the new partnership earlier
today.Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, head of SBAC, praised the
partnership in a statement: “I am excited that the SBAC approved the city’s new partnership with SoMoLend today. By making city lending more
efficient and expanding the network of small businesses receiving city
assistance, this new partnership fits well into the SBAC’s goal of
making Cincinnati a better place for small business.”
Fact-checking Western & Southern's Enquirer editorial
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Representatives for Western & Southern
and the Anna Louise Inn will be in court Oct. 30 arguing in front of
the First District Court of Appeals, which could overturn a May 4 ruling
and allow the Inn to move forward with a planned $13 million
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Cincinnati City Council members focused a
lot of attention on a contentious plan to lease city parking assets
during a Dec. 3 committee presentation on the 2013 budget. The proposed budget would cover the first half of 2013 until
a switchover to a fiscal year starting in July.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
In his 2013 budget proposal, City Manager
Milton Dohoney suggested eliminating $300,000 in support to Media
Bridges, an organization that provides public access TV and radio
stations in Cincinnati.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Butch Jones sat in a room Dec. 4 with
University of Cincinnati president Santa Ono and a representative of the
Belk Bowl and told the media — which was most certainly not there to
discuss the Dec. 27 game against Duke — he had every intention of
coaching the Bearcats in that game and beyond.