WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 11.21.2012
 
 
city hall

Council Approves Plan Cincinnati

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 development. 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 years. 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 11.21.2012
Posted In: News, Education, Economy, Health care at 10:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
odjfs

Morning News and Stuff

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 11.20.2012
Posted In: Education, News at 04:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ohio statehouse

State Replaces Standardized Tests

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 establish tougher 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 government. 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 Education Committee. 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 11.20.2012
Posted In: Economy, News at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

Cincinnati Unemployment Ticks Down to 6.8 Percent

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 all grew.  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 are not.
 
 
by German Lopez 11.20.2012
Posted In: Budget, Development, Economy, News, Energy, Environment at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
feature_banks_lede

Morning News and Stuff

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 exchange. 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.
 
 

Low Prices, Low Wages

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.   

Free Market Threatens Hostess

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.   

County Commissioners Delay Budget Vote

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 financial stability.   

Planned Parenthood Defunding Bill Moves Forward

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.   

Metro Plan Brings Big Changes

1 Comment · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Metro is nearing completion of its first comprehensive plan since the late 1990s and early 2000s. Throughout the year, the nonprofit, tax-funded transit company has worked on Way to Go, a plan with short-term and long-term goals meant to revamp lines for faster, wider-ranging travel.   

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