0 Comments · Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed
FitzGerald on May 31 called on Republican Gov. John Kasich to veto a
bill that would prevent State Auditor Dave Yost from fully auditing
by German Lopez
Kasich to block full JobsOhio audit, Senate to vote on budget, Democrats endorse no mayor
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald called on
Republican Gov. John Kasich, who’s running for re-election in 2014, to veto a bill that will prevent a full audit on JobsOhio, but Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols says the governor will sign the bill.
The bill will define JobsOhio’s liquor profits, which the agency gets
from a lease deal with the state government, as private funds, closing
the profits to an audit. The bill will also prevent State Auditor Dave
Yost, a Republican who’s been pursuing an audit of JobsOhio, from
looking into private funds in publicly funded agencies. The new limits
on state audits could have repercussions beyond JobsOhio, making it more
difficult to hold publicly funded agencies accountable. JobsOhio is a
private nonprofit entity established by Kasich and Republican
legislators in 2011 to replace the Ohio Department of Development.
The Ohio Senate will vote on a budget bill
Thursday that continues to push conservative stances on social
issues and aims to cut taxes for small businesses. The bill will
potentially allow Ohio’s health director to shut down abortion clinics,
effectively defund Planned Parenthood, fund anti-abortion crisis
pregnancy centers and forgo the Medicaid expansion. The bill does not
cut taxes for most Ohioans, unlike the Ohio House budget bill that cut
income taxes for all Ohioans by 7 percent.
Local Democrats are unlikely to endorse a candidate
in this year’s mayoral race, which will likely be against Democrats
Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley. Even though both candidates are
Democrats, they have two major policy differences: Qualls supports the streetcar project, while Cranley opposes it. Qualls also supports the city’s plan to semi-privatize its parking assets, which Cranley opposes. CityBeat previously did Q&As with Cranley and Qualls.
The parties’ slates of City Council candidates are mostly set.
This year, Democrats are running 10 candidates — more than the nine
seats available in City Council. Meanwhile, Republicans are running four
candidates and the Charter Committee is looking at three potential
Cincinnati already has some of the cleanest water in the nation, but Water Works is making improvements to its treatments. One new treatment will use an ultraviolet process to kill 99.9 percent of germs.
It’s National Internet Safety Month, and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is asking Ohioans to be safe out there.
A 131-year-old historic building in the West End collapsed after a car crashed into it. The driver’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
Ohio State’s president, who’s a Mormon, is in trouble for making fun of Catholics.
Mason and Sophia are Ohio’s most popular baby names.
Dogs are currently the best bomb detectors, but scientists are aiming to do better.
by German Lopez
FitzGerald calls on Kasich to veto bill
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald is calling on Republican Gov. John Kasich to veto a bill that would prevent State Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican, from fully auditing JobsOhio, following months of controversy surrounding the private nonprofit entity."I further encourage the Governor to return to
negotiations with Auditor Yost, with the explicit goal of establishing
an open and transparent process by which the people of Ohio can be sure
JobsOhio is spending our tax dollars efficiently, and that the program
is doing what it is supposed to be doing: creating Ohio jobs,"
FitzGerald said in a statement. "The people’s money is the people’s
business, and this bill, which slams shut the door on accountability, is
simply unacceptable."Yost claims he can audit JobsOhio's liquor profits, which add up to $100 million a year, and private funds, such as donations.But the bill effectively defines JobsOhio's liquor profits as private funds that can't be audited by the state
auditor. Under the proposal, Yost could only audit liquor profits and excise taxes that JobsOhio owes to the state, with all other funds effectively deemed private.
JobsOhio was established by Kasich and Republican legislators in 2011 to replace the Ohio Department of Development. The agency's liquor profits come from a lease deal with the
state to run Ohio's liquor operations. Yost argues the liquor profits are
intrinsically public money because the money would be in public hands if JobsOhio wasn't handling
operations.But other Republicans, led by Kasich, say
opening JobsOhio to full audits would slow down the agency, hindering its
ability to quickly react to economic changes and tides. Kasich has often said the private nature of JobsOhio allows it to move at the "speed of business," which he claims fosters stronger economic development in Ohio.Democrats have pushed back against the notion, saying JobsOhio's private nature only makes it more difficult to hold the state government accountable. With the latest bill, Democrats, who have now taken to dubbing the agency "RobsOhio," say their concerns are being vindicated.But the bill could have far-reaching effects beyond JobsOhio that would effectively disallow the state auditor to audit privately funded accounts in any institution that receives public funding.Despite Yost's pleas to involve him in the process, the auditing bill was passed through the Ohio House and Senate in just two days without his input.Democrats were quick to criticize the bill, asking what JobsOhio has to hide.Kasich is expected to sign the bill to make it law.JobsOhio isn't the only privatization scheme pushed by Kasich. He also sold the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, a northeastern Ohio prison, to the Corrections Corporation of America. So far, inmate reports and inspections have largely found deplorable conditions at the Lake Erie facility ("From the Inside," issue of May 29).
by German Lopez
State could block JobsOhio audit, council approves budget, streetcar budget fixes in June
The Ohio Senate sent a bill to Gov. John Kasich that prevents the state auditor from auditing private funds
at JobsOhio and other publicly funded private entities. State Auditor
Dave Yost has been pursuing a full audit of JobsOhio in the past few
months, but state Republicans, led by Kasich, have opposed the audit.
Ohio Democrats were quick to respond to the bill by asking what JobsOhio
and Republicans have to hide. JobsOhio is a privatized development
agency established by Kasich and Republican legislators meant to eventually
replace the Ohio Department of Development.
City Council passed an operating budget
yesterday that slashes several city services but prevents laying off
cops and firefighters. Human services funding, which goes to programs
that aid the homeless and poor, is getting some of the largest cuts,
continuing what Josh Spring of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition
says is a decade-long trend that has brought down human services
funding from 1.5 percent of the budget to 0.3 percent. The budget also
makes cuts to other programs and raises property taxes and several fees.
City Council will likely vote in June on how to fix the
streetcar budget gap. So far, the only known plan is the city manager’s
proposal, which would pull funding from various capital funding sources.
The streetcar budget is part of the capital budget, which can’t be used
to balance the operating budget because of limits established in state
The Ohio Senate budget bill increases education funding
over the Ohio House bill. The Senate bill raises the limit on how much a
school district can see its state funding increase, potentially putting
fast-growing suburban schools at an advantage. The House and Senate
bills use a model that gives schools base funding for each pupil — a
model entirely different from Kasich’s proposal, which critics labeled wrongheaded and regressive.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted broke a tie vote in the Hamilton County Board of Elections that will send 39 more “double voters” to the prosecutor.
In most cases, the “double voter” filed an absentee ballot and voted
in-person with a provision ballot on Election Day. The provisional
ballots always ended up being tossed out, but Republicans say they want
to find out if there were any bad intentions. Board of Elections
Chairman Tim Burke, who’s also head of the Hamilton County Democratic
Party, called Husted’s decision a “travesty,” labeling the investigation a
“witch hunt, aimed at scaring the hell out of voters.” Husted, a
Republican, said the cases at least deserve an investigation, even if
they don’t lead to an indictment.
Mayor Mark Mallory and local business leaders are calling
on Congress to take up immigration reform, which they argue will come as
a boost to the economy. “In order to continue to have the strongest
economy in the world, we need to have the most innovative and creative
ideas being developed right here in Cincinnati and across the country,”
Mallory said in a statement. “That requires the best and brightest
talent from around the globe being welcomed to our country through a
fair and sound system of immigration.”
WVXU says the list of local bike friendly destinations keeps growing.
Traveling to Mars could get someone fried by radiation.
by German Lopez
Council to vote on budget, Senate reveals budget plan, FitzGerald supports LGBT rights
City Council will vote on a budget plan today that will include no public safety layoffs, but about 60 other public employees will likely be jobless as a result of the plan in a couple weeks. The budget proposal comes after months of city officials claiming public safety layoffs were unavoidable without the city's plan to lease its parking assets to the Port Authority. But the parking plan is now being held up in court, and the layoffs were avoided anyway.CityBeat commentary: "Good News Reveals Budget Deception."The Ohio Senate revealed a budget plan yesterday that made some major tax changes to the Ohio House proposal, but the budget will still effectively defund Planned Parenthood, fund anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and forgo the Medicaid expansion. The Ohio Senate plan passes on the Ohio House's 7-percent across-the-board income tax cut for all Ohioans and instead focuses on a 50-percent tax cut for small businesses. The bill also undid controversial language that forced public universities and colleges to decide between out-of-state tuition rates and providing out-of-state students with documents required for voting. CityBeat covered the conservative social policies in the Ohio House budget plan, which remain in the Ohio Senate bill, here.Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald came out in support of same-sex marriage in a May 17 interview with Outlook Columbus, putting him at odds with Republican opponent and incumbent Gov. John Kasich, who is running for re-election in 2014. Kasich previously implied support for same-sex civil unions in an interview with a local TV news station, but his spokesperson later walked back that support and reiterated the governor's opposition to same-sex civil unions and marriage. Same-sex marriage could be on the ballot in 2013 through FreedomOhio's efforts, which CityBeat covered in greater detail here.Twenty were arrested yesterday during the Hamilton County Sheriff Department's sex offender compliance sweep.A University of Cincinnati study found CPR training does little good, and most people do a lousy job at the life-saving technique. Some Cincinnati businesses are taking more steps to protect their intellectual property rights in light of high rates of intellectual property theft in Asia.The leader of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce is set to leave.A new study suggests humans began walking upright because of rock climbing.
by German Lopez
LGBT issue could become point of contention in 2014 race
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald told Outlook Columbus in a May 17 interview that he supports same-sex marriage, drawing a strong contrast to Republican opponent Gov. John Kasich, who is running for re-election in 2014.“I believe in full equality for all Ohioans, and that includes the LGBT community, and that includes issues not just related to marriage, but also employment and housing,” FitzGerald told the magazine, which focuses on LGBT issues.He added, “If it’s on the ballot, I’m going to vote for it. If something comes across my desk when I’m governor, I’m going to sign it.”FitzGerald's position puts him in opposition to Kasich, who previously reinforced his opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions after implying support for same-sex civil unions in an interview with a local TV news station"The governor’s position is unchanged," wrote Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols in a March 21 email to CityBeat. "He opposes gay marriage and opposes changing Ohio’s Constitution to allow for civil unions. He’s opposed to discrimination against any Ohioan and, while he may have used the term ‘civil union’ loosely in this instance, he recognizes the existing rights of Ohioans to enter into private contracts to manage their personal property and health care issues."Ohio and the rest of the nation have been moving toward supporting same-sex marriage in the past few years. A poll from The Washington Post in September 2012 found about 52 percent of Ohioans support same-sex marriage, and only 37 percent are against it, with a margin of error of 4.5 points.FreedomOhio, a group advocating for same-sex marriage, is currently gathering signatures and could place the issue on the Ohio ballot as early as 2013 ("The Evolution of Equality," issue of Nov. 28)."FreedomOhio thanks Mr. FitzGerald for his support of Marriage Equality and Ohio's Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment. FreedomOhio asks Governor Kasich to join Mr. FitzGerald and the majority of Ohioans who support the amendment that provides Strong Family Security while also Protecting the Religious Freedom of all houses of worship," wrote Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio, in an email to CityBeat. "We are pleased to count Mr. FitzGerald as a supporter of this important 46-word amendment."Update: This story was updated with a comment from Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio.
by German Lopez
Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati hosting event on May 29
A "phone-a-thon" is seeking to address one of the main issues public officials have faced when trying to provide health coverage to low-income Americans: awareness. The event could help reach some of the estimated 15,000 children in southwest Ohio who are uninsured but qualify for Medicaid.The event, which is being hosted by WCPO and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati on May 29, will reach out to families with uninsured children who qualify for Medicaid. It's part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign, a nationwide effort to enroll more children into free and low-cost health insurance programs."Medicaid provides eligible children the coverage they need to address
asthma and allergies, as well other benefits to keep children healthy," the event's release said.
"Children in a family of four earning up to $47,100 a year may qualify
for free or low-cost health insurance. Medicaid not only covers allergy and asthma treatment, but also regular check-ups, immunizations, doctor and dentist visits, hospital care, mental health services, prescriptions and more."For public officials, raising awareness has been one of the biggest hurdles to ensuring widespread health coverage. As the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") kicks in, the problem is becoming even more pronounced as state and federal governments attempt to inform Americans of new insurance options, including health exchanges and expanded Medicaid programs."There's a segment of the population that hasn't interacted with these programs in the past," says Trey Daly, senior attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. "Those folks don't typically know they're eligible."Daly says there's also a segment of the population that has used Medicaid services but stopped after "bad experiences." For those situations, the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati explains the benefits of Medicaid coverage, but it also files forms and applications for participants to help them avoid the bureaucracy and paperwork required for enrolling into Medicaid.The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati's efforts are funded by a federal grant. Since the program began in 2009, the seven counties in southwest Ohio covered by the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati — Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Clinton, Brown and Highland — have increased their Medicaid enrollment of children by 12 percent. The rest of the state has increased enrollment by 4 percent.At the legislative level, there is currently a bill in the Ohio House that would expand the state's Medicaid program with federal funds provided through Obamacare. Republican Gov. John Kasich originally proposed the expansion in his budget plan, but Republican legislators opposed the measure and took it out of their own budget bill.Still, Kasich has continued pushing the expansion, along with Democratic support. A March report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found the expansion would save the state money and insure half a million Ohioans in the next decade. To participate in the "phone-a-thon," call 513-749-9400. The event will be on Wednesday, May 29, between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
by German Lopez
Public safety layoffs reduced, state unemployment drops, county agency wins award
Council members Roxanne Qualls and Chris Seelbach proposed a motion
yesterday that would reduce the amount of police layoffs to 25 and
eliminate all firefighter layoffs previously proposed in budget plans
for fiscal year 2014. The huge layoff reduction comes despite months of
warning from the city administration that the city would have to carry
out big public safety layoffs without the parking plan, which is currently stalled in court.
But it’s come with large cuts and shifted priorities in other areas of
the budget, such as reduced funding to parks, health, human services, parades
and outside agencies. (For example, the Health Department warned that cuts to its
services could lead to more rats and bedbugs.) The motion from Qualls and Seelbach came just in time for last night’s public hearing, which mostly focused on the cuts to parks and public safety.
Ohio’s unemployment rate was 7.0 percent
in April, down from 7.1 percent the month before, thanks to increases
in the amount of people employed and decreases in the amount of people
unemployed. The gains coincided with decent job growth throughout the rest of
the nation in April, which dropped nationwide unemployment from 7.6 percent
to 7.5 percent. But the state gains were fairly
mixed, and the amount of construction, professional and business services and federal
and local government jobs actually dropped. The mixed, slow growth helps
explain why conservative and liberal think tanks seemingly disagree with Gov. John Kasich that Ohio is undergoing an “economic miracle.”
The Hamilton County Public Health’s (HCPH) food protection program is apparently the best in the United States and Canada.
The Conference for Food Protection awarded the program the 2013 Samuel
J. Crumbine Consumer Protection Award, which “recognizes unsurpassed
achievement in providing outstanding food protection services to
communities,” according to a statement from HCPH.
Homophobic Boy Scouts supporters are rallying nationwide today to support the continuation of the Boy Scouts’ homophobic rules.The Taste of Cincinnati and the the Cubs-Reds series may have helped downtown Cincinnati earn the No. 42 spot in Priceline.com’s top 50 Memorial Day destinations.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources confirmed
Ohio has been undergoing a boom in oil and gas production in the past
two years thanks to developments in a drilling process known as
fracking, which CityBeat previously covered in further detail here.Duke Energy hired a new contractor — Southern Cross Co. — to carry out gas and line inspections.
Cincinnati-based Kroger developed a new system that will convert food that can’t be sold or donated into clean energy to power one of its distribution centers.
Convergys is selling is downtown Cincinnati headquarters as the company goes through big changes. So far the buyer is unknown.
Jim Kingsbury, CEO of UC Health since 2010, is retiring.
Using an optical illusion to make white people look darker can diminish racial biases, according to a new study.
Earth’s super-dense core is weak.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:14 AM | Permalink
Measure may limit voting, city tops LEED certified buildings, Medicaid could be on ballot
Today is primary election day in Ohio, but there are no
ballot items in Cincinnati. Some Hamilton County precincts outside the
city have ballot issues, which are listed here. Polls will be open between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
An amendment snuck into the budget bill approved by the Republican-controlled Ohio House would force universities to decide
between providing the proper documentation for voting to out-of-state
students or getting extra money from out-of-state tuition rates,
prompting concerns from Democrats that Republicans are attempting to
limit voting opportunities once again. Republicans spent a bulk of the
lead-up to the 2012 election approving measures that limit voting,
including a later-repealed set of laws that greatly reduced early voting
About 82 percent of all Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings in Ohio are in
Cincinnati, and the reason is likely local tax incentives,
which allow Cincinnatians to eliminate property taxes for up to
15 years by retrofitting businesses and homes in an environmentally
friendly manner. CityBeat covered Cincinnati’s successes in solar energy here and FirstEnergy’s campaign to weaken Ohio’s energy efficiency standards here.
If legislators fail to take up the Medicaid expansion, the issue could appear on the ballot
on November 2014. Supporters of the expansion, including Gov. John
Kasich, say the expansion will help insure hundreds of thousands of
Ohioans and save the state money in the next decade, but Republican
legislators say they’re concerned the federal funds backing the
expansion will eventually dry up. CityBeat covered the Ohio House budget bill, which effectively rejected the expansion for the time being, here.
The Ohio Department of Transportation says 2,230 bridges in the state need repairs, but there’s not enough funding to make it happen.
Ohio banks are warning of possible cyberattacks
that could happen today. The Ohio Bankers League and the Ohio Credit
Union League said the attacks would impact online services but not the
security of customers’ bank accounts.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has the second highest airfares in the nation, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble was ranked No. 7 in a ranking for top 50 most diverse companies by DiverseInc.
Sometimes human brains make people do bad things, such as enjoying high-calorie foods even when the foods aren’t delicious.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:14 PM | Permalink
Budget bill forces universities to decide between out-of-state tuition, providing documents
An amendment snuck into the budget bill passed by the
Republican-controlled Ohio House on April 18 would force public
universities to decide between charging lucrative out-of-state tuition
rates or providing out-of-state students with documents required for
voting in Ohio, raising concerns from Democrats that Republicans are
attempting to limit voting opportunities in the state once again.
The measure would force public universities to classify
students living on campus as in-state if they receive utility bills or
official letters that can be used for identification when voting in
Out-of-state tuition rates are typically higher than
in-state tuition rates, which means universities would be giving up
potentially millions in revenue to provide out-of-state students with
the proper documents.
For universities, the measure adds a financial incentive
to hold on to the documents. For out-of-state students, that could mean a
more difficult time getting the documents to vote in Ohio
Students can vote in Ohio if they have lived in the state
for at least 30 days, but voting requires proper identification and proof of residency. Utility
bills and official letters qualify, but student identification cards do
Republicans have been quick to defend the measure, while
Democrats have been quick to oppose it. For both sides, there’s a clear
political motivation: In the 2012 elections, 63 percent of Ohio voters
aged 18 to 29 supported Democratic President Barack Obama, while only 35
percent supported Republican Mitt Romney, according to exit poll data.
Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder justified the measure to the Toledo Blade:
“The real issue for local areas in particular [is], what happens when
somebody from New York City registers to vote. How do they vote on a
school levy? How do they vote on a sheriff’s race? To me, there is a
significant question, particularly the levies, as to what having people
who don’t have to pay for them would do in terms of voting on those
The comments prompted a response from Ohio Democrats,
particularly attorney general candidate David Pepper, a Greater
“It’s startling to see one of Ohio’s leaders voicing such a
blatantly unconstitutional justification for this cynical law,” Pepper
said in a statement. “The Constitution guarantees an individual’s right
to vote, regardless of what views they espouse (‘how ... they vote’),
whether they own property, or where they hail from originally. The
Speaker’s comments would quickly become Exhibit A in a successful
Constitutional challenge of this scheme to keep Ohio’s college students
Pepper’s statement went on to cite three U.S. Supreme Court cases to support his argument: Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15 from 1969, Carrington v. Rash from 1965 and Dunn v. Blumstein from 1972.
In Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15, the
court argued any laws that discriminate against certain types of voters
must endure strict judicial scrutiny because “any unjustified
discrimination in determining who may participate in political affairs
or in the selection of public officials undermines the legitimacy of
representative government.” The ruling struck down a New York statute
that said those participating in school board elections must be property
owners, the spouses of property owners, lessors or a parent or guardian
of a child in the school district.
Pepper’s statement claims the ruling invalidates
Batchelder’s argument: “The Court rejected the state’s argument
(identical to the Speaker’s) that only those two groups had a primary
interest in such elections.”
In Carrington v. Rash, the Supreme Court ruled
states may not limit voting based on how someone may vote: “‘Fencing
out’ from the franchise a sector of the population because of the way
they may vote is constitutionally impermissible. ‘[T]he exercise of
rights so vital to the maintenance of democratic institutions’ ...
cannot constitutionally be obliterated because of a fear of the
political views of a particular group of bona fide residents.”
Similarly, Dunn v. Blumstein struck down
Tennessee’s one-year residency requirements for voting in a ruling that
said residents recently coming from other states can’t be barred from
voting: “[T]he fact that newly arrived [Tennesseeans] may have a more
national outlook than long-time residents, or even may retain a
viewpoint characteristic of the region from which they have come, is a
constitutionally impermissible reason for depriving them of their chance
to influence the electoral vote of their new home State.”
The Ohio House’s budget bill amendment is only one of many
attempts from Ohio Republicans to limit voting opportunities in the
state since 2011. In 2011, the Republican-controlled legislature and
Gov. John Kasich approved two laws that reduced early voting hours.
Democrats and third-party groups threatened to bring the legislation to
referendum, but the Republican-controlled legislature and Kasich
repealed most of the measures and restored expanded early voting in Ohio
before the referendum came to a vote. A federal court also
restored early voting for all Ohioans for the three days prior to Election Day, which the previous repeals had only brought back for military voters.
In 2012, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican,
invoked uniform early voting hours, effectively eliminating most
weekend voting, and made last-minute changes that placed the burden of
proper identification on voters instead of poll workers, which Democrats
argued made verifying provisional ballots more difficult.
When asked to justify some of the measures, Doug Preisse,
close adviser to Kasich and chairman of the Franklin County Republican
Party, wrote in an email to The Columbus Dispatch, “I guess I
really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to
accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”
The race-based reasoning prompted a harsh response from
Democrats, who claimed Republicans were trying to suppress minority
voters who tend to vote for Democrats.
Beyond voting rights, the Ohio House budget bill defunds Planned Parenthood and forgoes the Medicaid expansion (“The Chastity Bunch,” issue of April 24).The budget bill still has to be approved by the Ohio Senate and Kasich to become law.