by German Lopez
City and county budgets moving forward, Cincinnati master plan approved, few voted twice
Screw Cyber Monday; it’s budget day! The Hamilton County
Board of Commissioners is set to vote on its 2013 budget today. The
initial vote was delayed when commissioners couldn’t all agree on the full details. In City Council, a memo revealed the budget should be unveiled today. One part of the Cincinnati proposal has already been hinted at by a previous memo from the city manager: privatized parking.
On Wednesday, City Council approved Plan Cincinnati.
The master plan, which is the first the city has undertaken in 32
years, creates short-, medium- and long-term goals. Built largely on
public feedback, the plan emphasizes Cincinnati’s urban core with new
transportation programs, community health initiatives, new housing
options and more. CityBeat previously covered the plan in-depth here.
In Hamilton County, 81 people voted twice.
The votes, which involved provisional ballots, only reflects about 0.2
percent of the county’s vote, but it shows some of the confusion and
inefficiencies of modern elections. One particular problem is some
elderly voters cast absentee ballots before the election and then filed
provisional ballots on Election Day.
A California firm is using Alaskan pension dollars to buy hundreds of homes in Greater Cincinnati. The real estate will be used to provide corporate rentals.
Some education advocates are worried state education agencies won't have the proper time and resources to implement HB 555.
A few provisions will have to be ready by mid-2013, which some
advocates see as too little time; but the president of the Ohio Board of
Education remains confident. HB 555 will radically reform the state’s
school report card system, which evaluates and grades schools. Some state
officials are worried the new standards, which will be measured in part
by new standardized tests, will be too tough. An early simulation of the new report cards
in 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.
State Medicaid costs are rising, but more slowly.
The slowdown may be partially attributed to Gov. John Kasich’s reforms
of the program, which is one of the most prominent costs in state
budgets around the country.
Gas prices in Ohio have gone up
in the last week. The prices were higher than they were in 2011, and
some experts say instability in the Middle East is to blame.
Ohio is looking good for a revival of the pharmaceutical industry.
That’s good news since the industry could be on the cusp of a “golden
era of renewed productivity and prosperity,” according to
Unfortunately for the pharmaceutical industry, the next generation of water pollution could be flushed drugs.
Here is the pope made out of condoms.
Science has been hard at work in 2012. Here
is a list of the seven greatest engineering innovations of the year.
The list includes the world’s largest semi-submersible vessel, which can
be used as an offshore dock, and a carbon-neutral office building,
which is arguably the most sustainable workplace ever.
The greatest public service announcement ever made:
by Andy Brownfield
Comprehensive plan sets short-, long-term goals for development
Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved the first
comprehensive plan in the last 32 years to direct future city growth and
All eight present members of council voted in favor of the
plan, after a 10-minute “love-fest,” as Councilwoman Yvette Simpson put
it, praising one another and the team that created the plan. The
nine-member team worked on the comprehensive plan for the last three
Councilman Chris Smitherman was not present for the vote.
“I can’t use the term that Joe
Biden, our vice president used, but this is a big deal,” said Mayor Mark
Mallory, referencing an infamous gaffe where Biden uttered an expletive
into a hot microphone.
The 228-page plan emphasizes urban development over suburban, citing population movement back into city centers.
The plan focuses on key areas and offers proposals for the near-, middle- and long-terms.
These include proposals to stabilize residential and
business areas, improve quality of life, improve housing choices and
affordability and offer alternative means of transportation to
automobiles, including the controversial streetcar.
CityBeat previously covered the plan in depth.
by German Lopez
Cincinnati unemployment drops, Ohio standardized test to be replaced, gas prices rise
Public service announcement: There will be no Morning News
and Stuff Thursday and Friday due to Thanksgiving break. Happy
Thanksgiving, and CityBeat will see you again on Monday!
With gains in the civilian labor force, Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent.
The city’s unadjusted unemployment rate is below the nation’s rate of
7.5 percent, but it’s above Hamilton County’s 6.2 percent rate and
Ohio’s 6.3 percent rate.The Ohio Graduation Tests will soon be no more. As part of
broader reform, state education leaders have agreed to establish new
standardized tests with a focus on college and career readiness.
But the reform faces some concerns from Democrats, who worry the new
standards, particularly the school report cards that evaluate schools and
districts, may be unreasonably tough. An early simulation of the new
school report cards in May showed Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS)
dropping from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current
system to a D- under the new system, with 23 CPS schools flunking.
Gas prices in southwest Ohio appear to be on the rise. Since Monday, they have moved up 10 to 20 cents.
The Horseshoe Casino is hiring again.
This time, the casino is looking for people experienced in restaurant
management, hosting, banquet, finance, marketing and guest services.
One problem Ohio must consider in its decision to expand Medicaid or not: a doctor shortage. Still, one study
found states that expanded Medicaid had notable health gains. Contrary
to the fiscal reasons normally cited by Republican Gov. John Kasich’s
office, another report from the Arkansas Department of Human Services
found expanding Medicaid would actually save the state money by lowering
the amount of uncompensated care.
Thirteen people are going for the Ohio Supreme Court.
The vacant slot needs to be filled after Justice Evelyn Stratton
announced she was stepping down earlier in the year. Her replacement,
who will be picked by Gov. Kasich, will finish the two years of her
six-year term. Some of the candidates are from the Cincinnati area,
including Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine, the newly elected First District
appellate judge. Surprisingly, Republican Justice Robert Cupp did not
submit an application despite recently losing re-election.
A ban on internet sweepstakes cafes is on its way. The cafes are allegedly susceptible to illegal activities such as money laundering, racketeering and sex trafficking.
Marc Dann, the Democrat formerly in charge of the Ohio attorney general’s office, lost his law license for six months. Dann resigned from the role of attorney general in 2008 after 17 months of scandal-ridden service.
Three staffers at Gov. Kasich’s office were cleared by the Ohio inspector general’s office of engaging in political activity during work hours.
The mediation between Hostess and a striking union failed. The company is blaming the union for shutting down, but the free market is a likelier culprit.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, here is some science on weight gain.
A new way to give drugs to patients: injectable sponges that expand inside the body.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Education
at 04:29 PM | Permalink
Tougher tests seek to prepare students for college, careers
The Ohio Graduation Tests will soon be no more. The
Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Board of Regents have agreed to
tests with a focus on preparing students for college and beyond.
Michael Sawyers, acting superintendent for ODE, praised
the agreement in a statement: “This is a major step forward in our
reform efforts to ensure all Ohio students have the knowledge and skills
necessary to leave school remediation-free and ready for their
post-secondary experience in higher education or workforce training.”
Private companies will soon be able to
compete for a contract to design and help implement the new
standardized tests. The tests are expected to kick in during the
2014-2015 school year, but state officials acknowledge they could be implemented in time for the 2013-2014 school year if competitive bidding goes well and funding is sufficient. Once the tests are active, high school sophomores will take end-of-year tests to gauge
college and career readiness. The tests will cover English, algebra,
geometry, biology, physical science, American history and American
The reform is part of a bigger effort that reworks Ohio’s education system with higher standards for schools and
students. As part of the broader changes, Ohio adopted the Common Core State Standards,
which are a commitment to raise the bar on English and math standards
for grades K-12.
The overall idea behind the reform has relatively bipartisan support, says Kelsey Bergfeld, a
legislative service commission fellow for Ohio Sen. Tom Sawyer.
Sawyer, a Democrat, is the ranking minority member in the Ohio Senate’s
The problem is in the details — specifically, the details
in a new school report card system established by HB 555, which will be voted on in the Ohio House
next week. Bergfeld says the current proposal by Ohio Republicans is
too harsh, which could make schools look worse than they are in reality.
That problem could be exacerbated by the new tests, she says: If the new tests are too tough, they could make schools and students look bad “because grades
are going to drop.”
An early simulation of tougher report card standards in May
found Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) would fall under the new system.
The simulation showed CPS would drop from the second-best rating of
“Effective” under the current system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking
but Walnut Hills High School retaining its top mark with an A.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Economy
at 10:49 AM | Permalink
City remains ahead of nation, behind state, county
The City of Cincinnati’s unemployment rate moved down a
notch between September and October, from 6.9 percent to 6.8 percent,
according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Greater Cincinnati and Hamilton County followed suit; Greater
Cincinnati dropped from 6.4 to 6.3 percent, and the county dropped from
6.4 to 6.2 percent.
The numbers, which were unadjusted for seasonal factors,
seemed positive overall. Unlike last month, the unemployment rate did
not move down due to people leaving the civilian labor force, which measures the amount of people looking for work in addition to the amount of people who have jobs. Instead, labor forces in Cincinnati, Hamilton County and Greater Cincinnati
The city is now better across the board than it was in
October 2011. The civilian labor force and amount of employed are
larger, and the amount of unemployed is lower. The city’s current 6.8
percent unemployment rate is also a vast improvement from the 9.1
percent unemployment rate in October 2011.
Greater Cincinnati and Hamilton County made similar
improvements in all numbers. Back in October 2011, Greater Cincinnati
was at 8.1 percent unemployment, and Hamilton County was at 8.3 percent.
However, Cincinnati remains below the state’s seasonally
unadjusted unemployment rate of 6.3 percent. It does beat the nation’s
seasonally unadjusted 7.5 percent rate, however.
Part of the recovery is likely fueled by improvements in the housing market. Cincinnati’s housing numbers from October showed a
16.5 percent year-over-year improvement, according to the Cincinnati
Area Board of Realtors.
Unemployment numbers are calculated through a household
survey. The unemployment rate gauges the amount of unemployed people
looking for work in contrast to the total civilian labor force. Since
the numbers are derived from surveys, they are often revised in later
months. State and federal numbers are typically adjusted to fit seasonal
employment patterns to give a more consistent rate, while local numbers
by German Lopez
Plan Cincinnati set for approval, Hamilton County's budget delayed, waste wells return
Plan Cincinnati is expected to be approved by City Council
Wednesday, according to Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. The plan was
unanimously approved by the Livable Communities committee last night. Plan Cincinnati,
which is Cincinnati’s first comprehensive plan in 30 years, emphasizes the city’s urban center through new infrastructure, transportation
options and goals to make downtown residents stay in the area. CityBeat
previously covered the plan in greater detail here.
At the request of the sole Democrat on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, a vote on the 2013 budget is being delayed by one week.
Commissioner Todd Portune asked Commission President Greg Hartmann, a
Republican, for the vote delay to address funding to juvenile courts and
plans for future financial stability. Hartmann agreed to the delay,
noting consensus is important for budget issues. The budget won’t raise
taxes, but it could put 150 Hamilton County employees out of jobs.
Wastewater injection wells, which are used to dispose of fluids used during the fracking process, will soon be popping up around Ohio again.
The wells are the first to get state approval since earthquakes around
Youngstown in December were blamed on nearby wastewater injection wells.
It’s clear little — not even earthquakes — will stop Ohio’s fracking
boom, but at what cost? It is generally accepted switching from coal to
natural gas would bring down pollution that causes global warming, but some findings from Australia suggest problems still lay ahead. One study
found an abnormal amount of greenhouse gases around an Australian
fracking site. Methane leakage in particular is a problem at natural gas
sites because over 100 years methane is 25 times more effective at
trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change.
Cincinnati home sales shot up in October,
according to the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. The report paints a
great picture for the city’s housing economy. Housing was one of the biggest sectors hit by the financial
crisis of 2007-2008, so a recovery in housing is a sign the economic downturn
could soon be a thing of the past.
University of Cincinnati researchers want to know if testing emergency-room patients for HIV makes sense.
ER doctors worry about longer wait times, disrupted operations and
possible interference with emergency services, but the health benefits
could outweigh the negatives.
FirstGroup America is looking into moving from its Cincinnati headquarters. The company originally got a million-dollar tax incentive from the city for moving to downtown.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich hopes his rejection of Obamacare’s health exchanges will ignite some re-election fundraising.
Kasich is up for re-election in 2014. Exchanges are subsidized, heavily
regulated insurance markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of
Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more
transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace.
With Kasich’s rejection, the federal government will manage Ohio’s
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted finally had a good day
in court on Saturday. In a reversal from the lower court’s ruling, the
Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said ballots without proper
identification should not be counted. It’s estimated that, at most, the ruling will affect about 2,000 votes.
A Dayton man allegedly robbed the same bank twice.
Behold, the greatest thing the internet has ever created: The Spice Kittens livestream.With a nose cell transplant, paralyzed dogs are walking again.
National organization leads employee protests and strikes against Walmart
1 Comment · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
If you’re planning on buying a flat-screen
at Walmart this Black Friday, you might just witness a flash mob by
fed-up Walmart employees who are calling for higher wages and greater
respect for the 1.3 million associates that work in the U.S.
2 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
For a week, it was looking like Hostess,
maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, would shut down
at the age of 82. The company was only saved by a judge’s demand for
Hostess to mediate with striking workers.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
A vote on the 2013 Hamilton County budget
is being delayed a week after Commissioner Todd Portune asked Board
President Greg Hartmann at a Nov. 19 staff meeting to push back the vote
to address funding to juvenile courts and the county’s plan for future
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
One week after the major Democratic
victories of Election Day, Ohio’s Republican legislators Nov. 14 pushed
HB 298, a bill that will keep federal funds from Planned Parenthood,
through committee and into the Ohio House of Representatives floor.