WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by German Lopez 11.20.2012
Posted In: Budget, Development, Economy, News, Energy, Environment at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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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.
 
 

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.   

Cincinnati vs. The World 11.21.2012

1 Comment · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Oil giant BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion in for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill — the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history. WORLD -2    
by Andy Brownfield 11.19.2012
Posted In: Budget, County Commission, Government, News, Taxes at 03:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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County Commissioners Delay Budget Vote

Proposed 'austere' budget would cut $14.4M from 2012 levels

A vote on the 2013 Hamilton County budget is being delayed a week at the request of the sole Democrat on the Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Todd Portune asked Board President Greg Hartmann at a Monday staff meeting to push back the vote a week to address funding to juvenile courts and the county’s plan for future financial stability. Hartmann, who earlier denied Portune’s request to issue securities to raise millions to balance the budget, agreed. He said it was important that all three commissioners agree on the budget. Portune told reporters he wanted to see more funding for juvenile courts. The proposed budget would cut about $3 million from the juvenile court’s 2012 appropriation.  He said he also wants to see specific plans on how and where the county will invest in economic development. He and Hartmann disagree about whether that kind of planning belongs in a budget. Hartmann had the proposal developed after commissioners rejected three plans from County Administrator Christian Sigman, two of which would have raised taxes. The $192 million budget under consideration cuts about $14 million from the 2012 appropriation levels without raising taxes. The proposed budget makes a number of what Hartman calls “modest cuts” in almost every county department. All three commissioners have stated that public safety funding is a priority. The Sheriff’s Department would see a small reduction of $27,033, bringing its budget to almost $57.5 million. However, the department would also face an additional $4.3 million in expenses next year, giving incoming Sheriff Jim Neil an effectively reduced budget. The Emergency Management Agency would get a nearly 40 percent increase in the proposed budget, up to $400,000. The Board of Elections would see its budget slashed 36.2 percent to $6.9 million. However, its expenses would also be lower in 2013 because there is no presidential election as there was in 2012. The proposed budget would bring the Department of Job and Family Services’ appropriation to $832,900 — a reduction of $10,360. However, that funding level is dictated by the State of Ohio and not the county. The Hamilton County Prosecutor would also see a small increase of $37,597 intended to hold level its funding from 2012, as the department went over-budget. The prosecutor has the ability to sue the county over its budget appropriation, so the department typically maintains level funding.
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 11.05.2012
 
 
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County Commission President Lays Out Budget Plan

"Austerity budget" rejects tax increases

The Republican head of Hamilton County’s governing board outlined his own alternative for a 2013 budget on Monday, proposing an austere path forward after rejecting other budgets that would raise some taxes. Board of County Commissioners President Greg Hartmann said his proposed budget would reduce the size of county government by 30 percent, compared to five years ago. He said he wants the board to approve a budget before the Thanksgiving holiday. “It is a budget of austerity and investment in growth,” Hartmann said.  He added, “It is a structurally-balanced budget,” that doesn’t use one-time sources of cash to make up for shortfalls. Hartmann’s proposed budget would cut the Sheriff’s Department by about $57,000  or 0.01 percent from 2012 levels; reduce the coroner’s appropriation by 3 percent or $99,000; cut economic development by 5 percent; cut 5 percent from adult criminal courts; and reduce subsidies to the Communications Center and Sheriff’s Department. Hartmann stressed that it is important to fund public safety as fully as allowable in these tough economic times, as economic development is not possible without it. Hartmann’s budget comes after commissioners rejected three proposals from County Administrator Christian Sigman. Sigman proposed $18.7 million in cuts, which Hartmann’s budget maintained in addition to his own reductions. Two of Sigman’s proposals involved increasing the sales tax to balance the budget. Fellow Republican Commissioner Chris Monzel said he supports Hartmann’s efforts at austerity, but is working on his own budget proposal as well. “An austerity budget is the way we’re going to go, and it’s going to be hard,” he said. The board’s sole Democrat, Todd Portune, said he too is working on his own proposal that he had hoped to have prepared for the Nov. 5 meeting, but was still making tweaks and hoped to present it by the following week. He hinted that the results of Election Day might impact how he crafts his budget proposal. “Tomorrow’s results may have an impact as well on the budget that I present as it relates as well to those who are running for county seats,” Portune said. “We have in some cases two very different visions in terms of solutions.”  Both he and Hartmann are up for re-election. Portune is running against Libertarian Bob Frey. Neither candidate has a major party challenger. Hartmann, who has actively campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had a joke in response to Portune’s waiting for the election results. “I thought you were predicting Romney’s win would make the economy go on the right track,” Hartmann cracked. “I was thinking that’s what you were going to go with.”
 
 
by German Lopez 10.31.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, Voting, News at 04:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Officials Might Have Mistakenly Rejected Ballots

State data glitch causes late delivery of 33,000 updated registration records

An error in how voters update their address online caused updated registration records to be delivered late to Ohio’s election officials. With about a week left in Ohio’s voting process, the late delivery might have caused the Hamilton County Board of Elections to mistakenly reject some eligible voters because officials did not have the voters’ current addresses. Amy Searcy, director of elections at the board, says it’s unclear how many registered voters were affected, but 2,129 updated registration records were sent from Ohio Secretary of State John Husted’s office. She says the number could end up varying since some of the records are duplicates. Across the state, an unknown number of ballots were mistakenly rejected as 33,000 registration records were sent late on Monday and Tuesday. Cleveland's The Plain Dealer reported 71 voters were mistakenly rejected in Cuyahoga County. Matt McClellan, Husted’s spokesperson, said Husted’s offices were previously unaware of the data, which is why it wasn’t requested before the glitch was detected by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).  The glitch caused the BMV to not properly send online address changes to Husted’s office, says Joe Andrews, communications director at the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which oversees the BMV. He added, “As soon as we discovered it, we fixed it. And I think that, in cooperation with the secretary of state’s office, the problem has been remedied.” In a directive detailing the delay, Husted touted the benefits of the catch. “While the timing is unfortunate, we are extremely pleased that the data from this new system can be sent electronically and will require minimal data entry,” he wrote. “Additionally, the new system has the potential to help reduce provisional ballots significantly.” Outdated registration records are one of the major reasons voters cast provisional ballots, which are ballots given to voters whose eligibility is unclear. In 2008, nearly 205,000 provisional ballots were cast and about 40,000 — about 20 percent — were rejected for varying reasons. Recently, a federal judge blocked an Ohio law that led to 14,000 of those rejections. Husted followed up that ruling with an appeal and a request for an emergency stay.Tim Burke, chairman of the county Board of Elections and county Democratic Party, expressed mixed feelings about the caught error.“Obviously, you hate like hell to have the secretary of state’s office, which had promised to have a very efficient election, popping something like that on us seven days out,” he says. “Having said that, I’m glad at least once they recognized that these names are out there they moved to get them to us so that we can do our best to ensure that these folks are not disenfranchised because of some administrative glitch.”He says the board will contact any mistakenly rejected voters.
 
 

Probation Department Accused of Sex Discrimination

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
A 20-year veteran of Hamilton County’s probation department says she was denied a promotion after advising another woman to file a sexual-harassment claim against a boss on the county’s payroll at the time.   

CityBeat: Democrats for Hamilton County Offices

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
This year, there is a surprising amount of choice in the Hamilton County offices. In the past, a lot of the seats have been uncontested, typically held by powerful Republican incumbents. This year is different. In addition to offering a differint perspective than the extremist Republican status quo, each of these candidates offers credibility and new ideas.    

CityBeat: No Endorsements for Hamilton County Commissioners

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
We like how Democratic Commissioner Todd Portune tried to keep funding for mental health and elderly services the same with a very minor tax hike that would have made up for property values dropping. We like his support for the streetcar. We like how he can rein in the two Republicans on the Board of Commissioners.   

Checks and Balances

County leaders say electronic voting machines are appropriately monitored, despite connections to Romney-supporters

1 Comment · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
In the late hours of this upcoming Presidential Election night, one Democrat commissioner and one Republican commissioner from the Hamilton County Board of Elections will tally the final vote to see whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the county.    

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