by Andy Brownfield
Council also approves 2014 property tax increase
Cincinnati City Council on Friday approved a budget that
relies on parking privatization as a means to plug a $34 million budget
deficit while also raising property taxes in 2014.
Mayor Mark Mallory opened up the council meeting with a
moment of silent prayer for the 27 students and adults killed at an
elementary school in Connecticut.
“I want us all to take a moment and put into perspective what we’re doing today,” he said.
Council voted to increase the property tax by about 24
percent, from 4.6 mills (a mill is equal to one-tenth of a cent) to 5.71
mills. That means Cincinnatians would pay an additional $34 for every
$100,000 of their home’s value.
The vote reverses a move made last year by conservatives on council, who reduced property taxes.
Council also passed a budget that relies on $21 million
from a proposed lease of the city’s parking facilities — a deal that is
expected to be voted on in March. Of the proposals submitted to the city
so far, Cincinnati stands to gain $100 million to $150 million in an
upfront payment and a share of the profits over the 30-year lease.
“My concern about balancing this budget with a onetime
revenue source by selling our parking system seems to be ill advised,”
said Independent Councilman Chris Smitherman. “We don’t know how council
will vote in March … but we have tied not only the budget to this one
time revenue source, but we have also tied reciprocity.”
Council nixed a plan to eliminate tax reciprocity for
people who lived in Cincinnati but worked elsewhere and paid income tax
in both cities.
Though the budget doesn’t mention parking privatization, council hasn’t mentioned other options to close the budget deficit.
If opponents of parking privatization want to keep
facilities under city control, they would have to come up with $21
million in revenue elsewhere or make $21 million in cuts.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld suggested using casino revenue,
cutting travel expenses, downsizing the ratio of managers to workers,
sharing services with nearby jurisdictions and downsizing the city’s
fleet as ways to cut down the budget.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, long an advocate of
downsizing the police and fire departments, voted against the property tax increase
in protest of what she said was bloated spending on departments that
were outpacing population growth.
The budget also requires Cincinnati to accept police and
fire recruit classes in 2014, regardless of whether the city gets a
federal grant to fund the classes.
The budget also restores the Cincinnati Police
Department’s mounted patrol, which patrols downtown on horseback. The
city will use $105,000 from off-duty detail fees from businesses that
hire off-duty officers. Council also voted to start charging those
businesses an extra $1.64 on top of the off-duty pay.
Council also voted to shift $50,000 for repairs and
upgrades to the Contemporary Arts Center to pay for maintenance and
beautification at Washington Park, which is operated by 3CDC.
by Andy Brownfield
Head of community group sends letter opposing parking privatization
One of Cincinnati’s largest neighborhoods and business
districts is adamantly against a proposed plan to lease the city’s
A Dec. 7 letter to the mayor from Clifton Town Meeting
President Peter Schneider calls the plan “baffling,” “short sighted” and
The city administration wants to lease all Cincinnati
parking meters, garages and surface lots for 30 years in exchange for an
upfront payment of at least $40 million and a share of the profits.
The city wants to use $21 million of the upfront payment to help close a $34 million hole in the upcoming budget.
Schneider writes that the proposal is bad for business,
making it harder for customers to find cheap or free parking near retail
areas like Clifton’s Ludlow Avenue corridor.
He also worried that a private operator would ratchet up
the price for parking, making the facilities “unidirectional ATM’s (sic) benefiting a third party that provides minimal or no value to the
Schneider also complains that Cincinnatians have not been given details of the deal or the opportunity to weigh in on it.
“It is unconscionable that the City administration would
allow a similar plan (to the citizen-defeated red-light cameras)
affecting parking meters and services be railroaded through City Hall
without the appropriate sunshine and input of the populace,” he wrote.
He also compares the proposal to Hamilton County’s
mishandling of the stadium deals, claiming that a similar long-term
lease is unwise.
Schneider ends the letter by admitting that there are some
aspects of outsourcing that could be beneficial, such as private
management of surface lots or garages or maintenance, but the idea of
privatizing everything goes too far.
by Andy Brownfield
City workers would get raises, protection from layoffs if City Council approves parking plan
In order to win the support of the largest city employees
union for the leasing of Cincinnati’s parking facilities, the city
administration has agreed to pay raises and no layoffs for three years.
There’s a catch — municipal employees only get the raises
and job security if the city’s parking meters, garages and surface lots
are leased to a private company for 30 years.
City Manager Milton Dohoney wants to lease the facilities
for at least $40 million upfront and a share of parking profits for the
next 30 years. He’d use $21 million of the upfront payment to patch a
$34 million deficit in the city’s budget.
During recent budget hearings before City Council, Dohoney
said extra revenue was needed to avoid the layoff of 344 city
In a memo to the mayor and city council members, Dohoney outlined the agreement between the city and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Any municipal employees who will lose their jobs because of the deal would be placed in other city jobs with no loss of wages. No city employees covered by the union would be laid off between 2013 and 2016. City employees will receive a 1.5 percent cost of living
raise for the 2013-2014 contract year and another 1 percent raise for
the next contract year. AFSCME members will continue city vehicle maintenance work from 2013-2016.
However, if City Council doesn’t approve of the plan to privatize parking, city employees get nothing.
Public employees in Cincinnati have not been given raises
in almost four years. Meanwhile, council voted last month to give Dohoney a 10
percent raise and a $35,000 bonus. Dohoney had not received a merit raise since 2007, but had collected cost of living adjustments and bonuses over the years.
by Andy Brownfield
Cincinnati asks state to overturn law preventing cities from regulating oil and gas drilling
Cincinnati City Council continued its effort to prevent a
controversial method of drilling for oil and gas by passing a resolution
on Wednesday asking the state to allow the city to make its own
The resolution expresses council’s dissatisfaction with
the Ohio Legislature for granting “special privileges to the oil and
natural gas industry” and asks it to repeal any laws that pre-empt local
control over drilling.
The resolution targets the controversial practice of
hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which uses chemically-laced water to
free up natural gas trapped in shale formations underneath Ohio.
Fracking opponents worry that the chemicals used in the
fluid — which companies aren’t required to disclose — can be toxic to
people and animals.
Prior to the council vote, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan held a news conference on the steps of City
“I believe local officials should have a say on all
matters related to potentially hazardous activities such as fracking,”
Quinlivan said in an emailed statement. “I urge my colleagues to send a strong message to the Ohio
Governor, the Ohio Legislature, and Cincinnati residents by passing
A 2004 state law puts regulation of oil and gas drilling
under the state’s purview, preventing municipalities from regulating
drilling on their land.
Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. John Kasich
and members of the Ohio General Assembly elected from the Cincinnati
area. The resolution comes after Ohio recently lifted a
moratorium on new injection wells, which shoot wastewater deep
underground for storage.
There had been a temporary ban on new wells almost a year
ago after seismologists said an injection was to blame for 11
earthquakes around the Youngstown area.
City council in August passed an ordinance to band
injection wells within city limits. Because the injection well ban
doesn’t mention drilling, council hoped it wouldn’t clash with the state
law preventing local regulation of oil and gas drilling.
by Andy Brownfield
Mayor Mallory to join Qualls in official campaign kickoff
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls will be formally announcing her run for the top spot in Cincinnati on Thursday.
Qualls’ campaign site has been up for some time already,
and the vice mayor’s team had a meeting with political writers and
bloggers on Nov. 26.
The vice mayor will be joined by current term-limited Mayor Mark Mallory, implying his support for her mayoral run. The event is taking place at 10 a.m. at Core Clay, Inc., a small women-owned business in Walnut Hills.
Qualls, who is endorsed by both the Democratic Party and
Charter Committee, previously served as mayor from 1993-1999 after
serving in Cincinnati City Council from 1991-1993. She returned to
council in 2007.
Former city councilman John Cranley, also a Democrat, is
also running for mayor. Cranley served on council between 2001 and 2007.
His campaign will officially launch in January and former mayor Charlie
Luken will serve as the honorary chair.
Republican Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners
President Greg Hartmann is also considering a run for mayor, but hasn’t
made a formal announcement.
Cincinnati has an open mayoral primary, which means that
the top two vote-getters will run against each other in the general
election, regardless of party affiliation.
0 Comments · Thursday, November 29, 2012
Since Thelma and her new husband Bill didn’t really exist,
they couldn’t attend my grandmother’s funeral.
2012 holiday listings
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Performance art, family-friendly events, music and more yuletide celebrations to make your season bright.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
When we enter the grown-up world, there are quite a few
aspects of life that lose a great bit of childlike mystique: visits to
the dentist, overalls, Hostess products and, perhaps most glaringly, the
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Arts community
at 12:25 PM | Permalink
Mia Gentile's voiceover demo gets love from company, Huffpo
If you grew up in the Midwest you’ve probably heard the
catchy jingle for “Stanley Steemer, the Carpet Cleaner.” But I bet
you’ve never heard it sung operatically, or with some bebop or thrash.
Now you can do that — all in one three-minute video featuring University
of Cincinnati musical theater grad Mia Gentile, a 2011 grad of the
College-Conservatory of Music. Local audiences know her for several
amusing turns in incarnations of The Marvelous Wonderettes at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and the sold-out (and revived) production of next to normal, but trust me, this girl is bound for glory.
People who’ve never heard of her or the carpet cleaning company are tuning in now by the thousands, thanks to a YouTube video,
cleverly titled “The Stanley Steemer Variations (by Mia).” Gentile
generated with local musician and producer Roger Klug. Julie Spangler, a
professional pianist and musical theater instructor at CCM, introduced
Klug and Gentile, who wanted to produce a voiceover demo of the various
musical styles she could reproduce (which appears to be limitless). Klug
convinced her to translate her vocal performances into a video, which
they shot in one day over the summer. “It was a total collaboration,”
Klug tells me. “We talked about what each character would look like, she
did the makeup and hair, I shot and edited the thing. We completely did
it for no other reason than ‘just for the fun of it.’” It was shot at
the local studio Mental Giant with Klug using a Sony Handycam.
Well, that it was — it’s apparent from watching. But
everyone is getting in on the fun, and the video has taken off virally
on YouTube. When Klug contacted me on Monday morning, it had had 40,000
hits in just a few days. By midnight the piece had exploded, exceeding
100,000 hits. He and Gentile have created a blog site to support it: http://miavideo.wordpress.com.
Even better, the Stanley Steemer people have picked it up,
hyping it on their Facebook page, which has led to a suspicion that the
whole thing is a clever marketing ploy. “Another faction thinks Stanley
Steemer owes us a big check,” Klug jokes, “which I'm inclined to agree
with!” It’s spread to an international audience now, dare I say “picking
up steam” with a mention and a link in the U.K. edition of The Huffington Post. Before this winds up, Gentile will need her own 1-800 number!
DJ-turned-designer puts Ohio on the map
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 14, 2012
It’s a timeworn story: creative type grows up in a small
town and feels compelled to leave for the big city. But instead of the usual ending
for local designer/businessman Floyd Johnson has instead created his own avenues
for creative success right in his hometown.