WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 

Cover This

Recaps of six cover stories people talked about in 2012

1 Comment · Thursday, December 27, 2012
CityBeat covered a variety of topics in 2012. Here are the stories that really stuck through, from the former pit bull ban to the Anna Louise Inn to private prisons.  
by German Lopez 12.26.2012
Posted In: News, Courts, Education, Budget, Spending at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kasich_2

Morning News and Stuff

CPS helps rework school funding, cuts mean less teachers, judges against double-dipping

Cincinnati Public Schools seems to be playing a big role in reforming Ohio’s school funding formula. Superintendent Mary Ronan got a call from Gov. John Kasich’s office about the per-pupil funding formula CPS uses to distribute funds to its schools. It seems the state might adopt a similar method, but Ronan is cautious: “I do think it's one of the ways you could do it, a per-pupil funding, but I have to say, we were always tweaking every year ... because sometimes those formulas can be a bit off and any time we saw one school getting a lot more than another ... we tried to refine it every year over probably the 15 years we have used it.” She also notes schools are getting “bare minimum” funding right now. CityBeat covered budget problems at CPS here. In general, state budget cuts have led to fewer teachers in Ohio schools. Gov. Kasich previously urged schools to focus on classroom instruction, but it seems the words aren't being followed up with proper funding. Southwestern Ohio judges are clashing over double-dipping. The practice involves government workers retiring and getting rehired so they can collect pensions and a paycheck at the same time. At a meeting, Hamilton County Judge Melba Marsh said she wants to allow Magistrate Michael Bachman to retire and then be rehired so he doesn't lose a 3-percent increase to his retirement, which is otherwise being eliminated by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System after 2012. But the move has been met with resistance from other judges. For Cincinnati hospitals, Medicare changes mean some loss and some gain. The online campaign urging Macy’s to dump Donald Trump circled a “Dump Trump” billboard around Macy’s headquarters. The anti-Trump movement has gained about 680,000 signatures since it started. On Christmas Eve, some spent time with family, while Butler County Deputy David Runnells helped deliver a baby in the back of a car during an emergency call. Ohio will use $20 million out of $200 million in casino funds to train incumbent workers. Gov. Kasich says the program could help avoid layoffs. It seems Mitt Romney's presidential campaign really thought they were going to win. In campaign memos leading up to the election, campaign staff said the race was “unmistakably moving in Mitt Romney’s direction,” and the campaign ridiculed the possibility of losing Ohio due to the Romney campaign’s “better ground game.” But President Barack Obama had a much larger ground game for one-on-one interaction, which is one of the factors former Romney staff now say led to their demise. But whatever. Romney didn't want to be president, anyway, says son Tagg Romney: “He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to ... run.” Fiscal cliff talks aren’t going well. President Obama cut his vacation early to work out negotiations. If Republicans and Democrats can’t work out their problems, a series of spending cuts and tax hikes dubbed the “fiscal cliff” will kick in throughout 2013. But it’s looking more and more likely the nation will head off the cliff, considering U.S. Speaker John Boehner can’t even pass tax hikes on people making more than $1 million a year. Ever wonder what dinosaur meat would taste like? Well, Popular Science has that covered.
 
 
by German Lopez 12.21.2012
Posted In: Barack Obama, Budget, Economy, News, Government at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
apocalypse

Morning News and Stuff

End of world today, state unemployment dips, fiscal cliff plan abandoned

Today is the end of the world. Whatever. Life sucks anyway. Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.9 percent to 6.8 percent in November. Gains were concentrated in trade, transportation, and utilities, financial activities and educational and health services, with losses in construction, leisure and hospitality, government, professional and business services and information services. Overall, the state’s non-agricultural wage and salary employment increased by 1,600. But could the recovery last? U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is now ditching efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff, a series of spending cuts and tax hikes set to kick in at the end of the year. Boehner could not get Republicans to vote on a tax hike for people making more than $1 million a year, which isn’t even enough to make President Barack Obama’s demand of increased taxes on anyone making more than $400,000. If the United States goes over the fiscal cliff, the spending cuts and tax hikes will likely devastate the economy. CityBeat wrote about U.S. Congress’ inability to focus on jobs here. Ohio Gov. John Kasich finished the lame-duck session by signing 42 bills into law. The laws include loosened restrictions on gun control, an update to Ohio’s education rating system and $4.4 million in appropriations. The loosened gun control law in particular is getting criticized from Democrats in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre. The law allows guns in the Ohio Statehouse garage, loosens concealed carry rules and changes the definition of an unloaded gun so gun owners can have loaded clips in cars as long as they are stored separately from guns. CityBeat wrote about the need for more gun control in this week’s commentary. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters suggested arming teachers to avoid school shootings, but a considerable amount of research shows that doesn’t work. Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig says arming teachers is a bad idea: “Certainly we can look at other options, but when you talk about arming  school teachers or a school administrator without the appropriate training, and training is not just going to a target range and being able to hit center mass. How do you deal with a crisis? We're talking about a place with children.” Craig is now pushing crisis training as a major initiative. Meanwhile, Sen. Rob Portman says school shootings need a holistic approach. The Ohio Republican says he will consider further restrictions on guns and armed school officials. It seems a housing recovery is well underway. Cincinnati home sales are showing no signs of a slowdown. Cincinnati is getting six historic preservation tax credits from the state government. As part of the ninth round of the program, the Ohio Development Services Agency is giving the city credits for parts of Main Street, parts of East 12th Street, parts of East McMillan Street, Abington Flats, Eden Park Pump Station and Pendleton Apartments. The U.S. Department of Education is looking into whether Ohio charter schools discriminate against students with disabilities. Overall, charter schools in the state enroll as many students with disabilities as traditional public schools, but students with disabilities are concentrated in a few charter schools. A federal judge upheld Ohio’s exotic animal law, which restricts who can own the animals in the state. Judith French, a Republican, will replace retiring Justice Evelyn Stratton on the Ohio Supreme Court. Gov. Kasich’s appointment of French keeps the court’s makeup of six Republicans and one Democrat. Genetics is perfecting the Christmas tree. From the Twilight Zone archives comes Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Christmas special.
 
 
by German Lopez 12.20.2012
Posted In: News, Gun Violence at 12:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
joe deters

County Prosecutor Suggests Arming Teachers

Considerable research suggests it wouldn’t help

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters suggested to WCPO TV that teachers “trained to handle a weapon” should be armed. The idea isn’t surprising coming from the Republican county prosecutor. In the onset of tragedies like the one in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., conservatives tend to counter liberal cries for more gun control by saying the United States actually needs more guns. They argue an armed society deters and is more effective in stopping criminals. The problem is the idea contradicts broader scientific research. Following the attack at Tucson, Ariz., that nearly killed former U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords, economist Richard Florida looked state-by-state into what factors correlate with gun violence. He found no correlation between gun violence and mental illness, higher stress levels, neurotic personalities, higher unemployment or inequality. However, his research did find that the places with the most gun control tend to have less gun violence. Researchers at Harvard Injury Control Research Center found another correlation: Whether looking at countries or states, more guns means more homicides. More specifically, men and women in places with more firearms are at a larger risk for gun-related homicide. The University of Pennsylvania tackled the issue from a different angle in 2009: The researchers looked at gun assault cases to see if gun owners were more or less likely to be shot. They found people with guns were 4.46 times more likely to be shot and people who had a chance to resist were 5.45 times more likely to be shot. In 2009, ABC News ran a 20/20 special that used a simulation to gauge whether armed civilians can stop attacks. The simulation placed trained and armed students into a classroom, where they thought they would be getting additional firearms training. In the middle of the lecture, an armed gunman broke into the classroom and began shooting the teacher and students with fake rounds. In all the examples shown, none of the students were able to stop the gunman before taking shots that would have been deadly in a real scenario. Essentially, being trained in the use of a firearm was not enough to prepare someone for the high levels of distorting stress experienced in a real crisis. In their defense, conservatives typically point to a few stories, including one in which a gun-toting Florida senior stopped an armed robbery at an Internet cafe. But are a few feel-good stories enough to trump scientific research? After all, one of the main purposes of the social sciences is to sort through outliers and find real tends with strong evidence. Looking at the facts and research available, perhaps it’s better to focus on mental health services and gun control than it is to arm school teachers and staff, as suggested in CityBeat’s Dec. 19 news commentary. CityBeat could not immediately reach the prosecutor’s office for comments through phone or email. This story will be updated if comments become available.
 
 
by German Lopez 12.20.2012
 
 
mikedewine

Morning News and Stuff

DeWine calls for school staff training, Music Hall to be leased, bus money not for streetcar

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is proposing training school staff and teachers to be first responders in the case of an attack. The news comes in the wake of the massacre in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which caused the deaths of 20 children and six adults. CityBeat proposed its own solution in this week’s commentary: Make this time different by focusing on mental health services and gun control. Cincinnati will lease Music Hall for 75 years to the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC). The lease is part of a plan to renovate the iconic building to include more comfortable seating, extra restroom capacity, heating, air conditioning, improved plumbing and new escalator models. During the renovations, Music Hall will be closed for 17 months. City Council passed a resolution promising not to use Metro bus money for the streetcar. The supposed conflict between the city of Cincinnati and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is being drummed up by the media, but it’s really much ado about nothing.  Metropolitan Sewer District rates will go up by 5 percent in early 2013. The Cincinnati Health Department is pushing recommendations from a lead hazard study. The recommendations would prohibit lead-based paint hazards and require all properties to be free of lead-based paint, dust and soil. City Council is asking the health department to carry out the regulations, and it expects from a plan and timetable from regulators within 60 days. One study found getting rid of lead would do wonders for school performance A Brookings Institute ranking placed Greater Cincinnati among the worst areas in the country due to falling home prices. Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank agreed to a $16 million settlement in a securities fraud case. The four-year-old lawsuit was brought in the onset of 2008’s financial crisis, when the bank’s stock plummeted as it took several large writedowns. Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino still needs to fill 450 positions in food and beverage, marketing, finance, security and more. A Washington Post analysis found casinos tend to bring jobs, but they also bring crime, bankruptcy and even suicide. As expected, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is helping Ohio’s economy. The state has 39,000 jobs attached to oil and gas this year, and the number is expected to triple by the end of the decade. To take advantage of the boom, Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he will push his oil-and-gas severance tax in 2013. But the plan faces opposition from liberals and conservatives. If Ohio Republicans tried to push “right-to-work” legislation, it would lead to a very nasty public fight, The Plain Dealer reports. Kasich and Republican lawmakers didn’t rule out using ballot initiatives to push conservative ideas like right-to-work in a press conference yesterday, but he did say he’s like a horse with blinders on, focusing on job creation. The animal and robot takeover have been merged in the BigDog robot. It can now obey voice commands, follow and roll over.
 
 
by German Lopez 12.19.2012
Posted In: News, Development, Government, Privatization at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
music hall

Music Hall Renovations Coming

City will lease Music Hall to private company for 75 years

Cincinnati’s Music Hall will be getting renovations, but the project will be much smaller than anticipated. Instead of the previously estimated $165 million, the project, which involves the city leasing the iconic building to the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC) for 75 years, will only cover approximately $95 million. At a joint press conference Wednesday, Mayor Mark Mallory and Otto Budig, president of MHRC, officially announced the plan, which City Council will take up early next year. Not many details or a timeline were announced at the press conference, but some information did come to light. The renovations will include more comfortable seating, extra restroom capacity, heating, air conditioning, improved plumbing and new escalator models. During the renovations, Music Hall, home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet, will be closed for an estimated 17 months. “We will do this in a manner that carries with it the surety that the project will be complete,” Budig said. “The worst thing we could do is start this project without the natural resources and pledges available.” On top of the leasing agreement, the city will also help fund the project through tax credits.  The lease continues the trend of public-private partnerships city government has used to revitalize Over-the-Rhine and downtown Cincinnati in recent years. From the Banks to Washington Park, the city of Cincinnati has pushed to be seen as a more attractive, business-friendly environment. However, that has come with some push back. The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) and city have previously faced criticisms from homeless advocates for allegedly discriminatory rules at Washington Park, which were later voted down by the Cincinnati Park Board. Some public officials have also raised concerns about the city giving away too many of its public assets. The 2013 budget currently relies on a proposal that will privatize Cincinnati’s parking assets, a plan that has faced heavy criticism from Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and mayoral candidate John Cranley. City Manager Milton Dohoney argues the privatization plan is necessary to avoid 344 layoffs.
 
 
by German Lopez 12.19.2012
Posted In: Budget, News, Streetcar, Mayor, Development at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
streetcar

Supposed City-SORTA Conflict Much Ado About Nothing

SORTA wants to limit transit fund, Mallory refuses

In the past few days, local media outlets have reported heavily on a supposed conflict between Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) and the city of Cincinnati. Essentially, SORTA wants the transit fund limited, while the city government says it doesn’t want to “undermine the city charter” with limitations. At its heart, the argument is a political back-and-forth with little consequence. It’s two government agencies at a small divide over legalese in an intergovernmental agreement about how the streetcar will operate and how it will be funded. The specific issue is SORTA, which runs the Metro bus system and will operate the streetcar, wants to include phrasing in its agreement with the city that makes it so the transit fund can’t be used for the streetcar. In a 7-6 vote Tuesday, SORTA's board pushed its preferred wording along with an application for an $11 million federal grant that will help fund the streetcar.But the city government claims the limitation would go against the spirit of the city charter, which says the transit fund can be used for “public transit purposes generally and without limitation.”UPDATE: City Council on Wednesday passed a resolution promising not to use Metro bus money on the streetcar, although it has no legal standing preventing council from later coming back and using transit funds for the streetcar. Still, Mayor Mark Mallory’s office has insisted time and time again that funding for the streetcar’s construction and operation is already allocated, so taking any money from the transit fund will be unnecessary. Specifically, the city will tap into casino revenue to operate the streetcar, on top of the $11 million federal grant. In an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer Monday, Mallory said the real issue goes back to an ongoing lawsuit between SORTA and the city. In 2010, the city diverted money from the transit fund to pay for street lights. That prompted a lawsuit from SORTA, asking the courts to define the limits of the transit fund. The mayor’s office sees the wording from SORTA as an attempt from the transit agency to score a minor victory in the legal battle. If the city government accepted the wording, it would be agreeing to a limited transit fund, which is essentially what SORTA wants. SORTA’s wording also makes it so all transit fund money will continue going to the Metro bus system, which is the agency’s sole service today. But even SORTA says the disagreement is getting blown out of proportion by media outlets and public officials. Sallie Hilvers, spokesperson for SORTA, says the wording in the approved agreement was the board’s attempt to ensure the transit fund isn’t used for the streetcar, but, for the most part, it’s “really just procedures.”  Hilvers insisted the disagreement over wording has plenty of time to be worked out, and it will not hinder collaboration between the city of Cincinnati and SORTA. The agreement will need to be worked out before summer 2013 for the streetcar to stay on track.
 
 

Christmas Comes Early for Reds

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Walt Jocketty’s Christmas list wasn’t long, but it was still a tall order. Well, two weeks before Dec. 25, he checked off the final big-ticket item: a leadoff hitter.  

Solar Cincinnati

Push for solar energy could help revitalize Cincinnati’s economy

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Could Cincinnati become the solar capital of the region? A new report by a citizen-based environmental advocacy group says yes.   

Make This Time Different

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 19, 2012
On Dec. 14, the United States was hit by another mass shooting. This time, a gunman forced himself into an elementary school and killed 20 children and six adults.   

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