by German Lopez
Bill restricts abortions, locals to combat infant deaths, Reece criticizes voter investigations
Got questions for CityBeat about, well, anything? Submit them here, and we’ll try to get back to you in our first Answers Issue. CityBeat is also looking to talk to anyone who’s been incarcerated for a drug-related offense in Ohio. If you know someone or are someone interested in talking to us, email firstname.lastname@example.org. An Ohio House bill introduced June 11 would impose harsher restrictions on legal abortions, and some of the requirements may coerce doctors into giving medically inaccurate information. Among other requirements, the bill would force doctors to explain fetal development and supposed risks to inducing an abortion, while pregnant patients would be forced to undergo an ultrasound 48 hours before the procedure. But research has found that, barring rare complications, the medical risks listed in the bill are not linked to abortion.Local leaders are beginning a collaborative effort to combat Cincinnati's alarmingly high rate of infant mortality. The effort is bringing together local politicians from both sides of the aisle, nonprofit groups and local hospitals. Infant mortality rates are measured by the number of deaths of babies less than one year old per 1,000 live births. In Cincinnati, infant mortality rates are at 13.6, while the national average is six. In previous comments, Mayor Mark Mallory explained his moral justification for increased efforts against infant mortality: "In Cincinnati, we have had more infant deaths in recent
years than victims of homicide. Our community, justifiably, invests
millions of dollars, immense political capital and large amounts of
media attention in reducing our homicide rate. It's time to start doing
the same for our infant mortality rate."State Rep. Alicia Reece, who heads the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted yesterday criticizing recent efforts to investigate 39 voter fraud cases in Hamilton County. "It is unfortunate that during the past few years, the focus has been on voter suppression instead of voter access and education," Reece said in a statement. "Many of these voters come from African-American and low-income neighborhoods, and they would benefit from a comprehensive voter education program." CityBeat previously covered the 39 "double voter" cases, which mostly involved voters sending an absentee ballot prior to Election Day then voting through a provisional ballot on Election Day, here.Mayoral candidates Roxanne Qualls, John Cranley, Jim Berns and Stacy Smith squared off at a mayoral forum yesterday. Democrats Qualls and Cranley, who are widely seen as the top contenders, debated the parking plan and streetcar project — both of which Qualls supports and Cranley opposes. CityBeat previously covered the streetcar project and how it could relate to the mayor's race here.An audit of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) found Ohio's Medicaid program could save $30 million by avoiding fraudulent billing. State officials responded to the audit by highlighting changes in budget plans that supposedly take steps to reduce Medicaid fraud, including Gov. John Kasich's proposal to add five full-time Medicaid auditors to perform additional on-site monitoring in an effort to reduce overpayments.Ohio lawmakers seem unlikely to approve a federally funded Medicaid expansion, but bipartisan bills introduced in the Ohio House and Senate make sweeping changes to the Medicaid program that aim to lower costs and make the government health care program more efficient. Legislators claim the goal is to bring down costs without reducing services, all while providing avenues for Medicaid participants to move out of poverty. Hearings for the bill will begin next week.After giving a speech celebrating the resurfacing of a high-speed test track, Gov. Kasich rode a car at 130 miles per hour in a more literal "victory lap."Scientists are apparently making advancements in helping people regrow limbs.
1 Comment · Wednesday, June 12, 2013
As county and state officials move to
investigate and potentially prosecute voter fraud cases, local groups
are pushing back, warning that the investigations could cause a chilling
effect among voters.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Voting
at 10:27 AM | Permalink
Critics warn of potential chilling effect
As county and state officials move to investigate and
potentially prosecute voter fraud cases, local groups are pushing back,
warning that the investigations could cause a chilling effect among
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls became the latest to speak out
in a letter to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Ohio Secretary
of State Jon Husted.
“The current legal investigations perpetuate the idea that
voter fraud is widespread, when it’s not true,” she wrote. “We need to
work together to give citizens the confidence that the election process
is fair and accessible to those who have followed the law and
pre-determined process. When citizens are confused about the process of
voting they are intimidated from exercising their full rights to vote,
which erodes confidence in and the integrity of our democracy.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) and
League of Women Voters of Ohio sent similar letters to Husted in the
past few weeks, echoing fears that the investigations will intimidate
voters into staying out of future elections.
The controversy surrounds 39 “double voter” cases recently sent to the county prosecutor by the Hamilton County Board of
Elections. In most of the cases, the voters in question sent in an
absentee ballot prior to Election Day then voted on Election Day through a provisional
ballot, which are given to voters when there’s questions about
eligibility. Even though the voters technically voted
twice, their votes were only counted once.
The letters from Qualls and the League of Women Voters claim
the cases were sent to the county prosecutor based on a narrow
interpretation of state law and other sections of election law back the voters’ actions.
The letters reference Ohio Revised Code Section 3509.09(B)(2),
which says, “If a registered elector appears to vote in that precinct
and that elector has requested an absent voter's ballot for that
election and the director has received a sealed identification envelope
purporting to contain that elector's voted absent voter's ballots for
that election, the elector shall be permitted to cast a provisional
ballot under section 3505.181 of the Revised Code in that precinct on the day of that election.” The law goes on to clarify only one of the votes should be counted.
Husted broke a tie vote in the Hamilton County Board of
Elections on May 31, siding with the Republicans on the board who wanted
to send the case to the county prosecutor.
Alex Triantafilou, an elections board member and chairman
of the Hamilton County Republican Party, says Republicans just want an investigation.
“I think anytime a person casts two ballots we ought to
ask why,” Triantafilou says. “This is not to prejudge any of these cases
as criminal charges. That’s not been our intention. What we want is a
qualified investigator to ask the question and then answer it.”
Tim Burke, chairman of the local elections board and the
Hamilton County Democratic Party, disagrees: “This is a damn shame.
What’s happening to those voters is absolutely wrong.”
Burke claims the law was followed and no further investigation is necessary. He alleges
Republicans are trying to suppress voters.
“I fear that what’s going on is that elements of the
Republican Party want to create the impression that there is massive
voter fraud going on, and they want to scare the hell out of people to
intimidate them and discourage them from voting in the future,” Burke
says. “I think part of what’s going on here is an effort to identify
voter fraud in order to justify more restrictions on voting rights.”
Triantafilou argues Democrats, including Burke, are
playing politics: “It’s a continuation of the kind of fear that
Democrats try to instill in the electorate, and it’s a political weapon.
We’re not trying to do that. They alleged voter suppression in the last
election cycle. That was nonsensical. The problem really is fraud.”
by German Lopez
Medical marijuana advances, commissioners threaten streetcar, voter fraud report released
If you have any questions about Cincinnati, CityBeat’s staff will do its very best to answer if you submit them here.
The Ohio Ballot Board certified an amendment
that would legalize medical marijuana and industrial hemp in Ohio.
Petitioners will now have to gather 385,253 signatures to get the issue
on the ballot — most likely this year or 2014. CityBeat previously covered Ohio’s medical marijuana movement in greater detail here.
Republican county commissioners are asking the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Regional Council of Governments to pull $4 million in streetcar funding,
but the city says OKI can’t legally do it. Commissioners Greg Hartmann
and Chris Monzel, who are also members of the OKI board, made the
request in a letter. City spokesperson Meg Olberding says OKI was simply
an agency that passed the money along as it worked through the Federal
Transit Administration (FTA) to OKI to the Southwest Ohio Regional
Transportation Authority (SORTA), and the agreement doesn’t allow OKI to
interfere any further. This morning, the city’s Twitter account
tweeted, “City has confirmed with Feds that OKI cannot pull streetcar $
bc funds are already obligated to this federal project.”
Ohio released its first ever statewide report on voter fraud yesterday, called the “Post-2012 General Election Voter Fraud Report.”
Secretary of State Jon Husted said the report shows voter fraud exists,
but it’s “not an epidemic.” That coincides with previous findings from
researchers: An extensive study of the nation’s databases by News21, a
Carnegie-Knight journalism initiative, found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Ohio Democrats are proposing more accountability rules
for JobsOhio, including adherence to public record laws, open meeting
laws, state ethics laws for employees and full state audits. JobsOhio is
a privatized nonprofit agency established by Gov. John Kasich and
Republican legislators to eventually replace the Ohio Department of
Development. They claim the privatized nature of the agency allows it to
respond to economic problems more quickly, but Democrats say the agency
redirects public funds with minimal oversight.
Cincinnati will host a march against genetically modified organisms
Saturday as part of the international March Against Monsanto. The
movement’s organizers are calling on participants that explain the facts
of genetically modified organisms, encouraging “no slandering, no
opinions or paper — just facts.” The protest is scheduled for 1 p.m. at
A.G. Lafley is reclaiming the top spot at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble. The company says the change is not part of a deeper issue.
The 35th annual Taste of Cincinnati begins tomorrow.
Win or lose, the University of Cincinnati baseball team has a lot of fun.
An adorable Labrador Retriever puppy had her heart cured after a minimally invasive heart procedure — the first ever in the Tri-State.
Salamanders have some lessons for humans when it comes to regrowing limbs.
by German Lopez
Secretary of state race underway, bridge may need private funding, sewer policy dismissed
Is the race for Ohio secretary of state already underway? Ohio
Sen. Nina Turner, who is considering a run against Secretary of State
Jon Husted in 2014, says she will introduce legislation to protect voters against Republican efforts to limit ballot access. She also criticized Husted for how he handled the 2012 election, which CityBeat covered here. Husted responded by asking Turner to “dial down political rhetoric.”
Build Our New Bridge Now, an organization dedicated to building the Brent Spence Bridge, says the best approach is private financing.
The organization claims a public-private partnership is the only way to
get the bridge built by 2018, rather than 2022. But critics are worried
the partnership and private financing would lead to tolls.
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners threw out
a Metropolitan Sewer District competitive bidding policy yesterday. The
policy, which was originally passed by City Council, was called unfair
and illegal by county commissioners due to apprenticeship requirements and rules that favor contractors within city limits. Councilman Chris Seelbach is now pushing for compromise for the rules.
Believe it or not, Cincinnati’s economy will continue outpacing the national economy this year, says Julie Heath, director of the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center.
Three Cincinnati-area hospitals are among the best in the nation,
according to new rankings from Healthgrades. The winners: Christ
Hospital, Bethesda North Hospital and St. Elizabeth Healthcare-Edgewood.
Democrat David Mann, former Cincinnati mayor and congressman, may re-enter politics with an attempt at City Council.
In its 2013 State of Tobacco report, the American Lung Association gave Ohio an F for anti-smoking policies.
The organization said the state is doing a poor job by relying
exclusively on federal money for its $3.3 million anti-tobacco program.
The Centers for Disease Control says Ohio should be spending $145
The Air Force is gearing up for massive spending cuts currently set to kick in March. The cuts will likely affect Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Dennis Kucinich, who used to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, will soon appear on Fox News as a regular contributor.
For anyone who’s ever been worried about getting attacked by a drone, there’s now a hoodie and scarf for that.
by German Lopez
Husted moves to middle, Republicans love early voting, loos coming to Cincinnati
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is pushing local election officials
to begin investigating legitimate cases of voter fraud or suppression.
He also vowed to continue pushing for uniform voting hours and
redistricting. During election season, Husted developed a bad reputation
around the nation for suppressive tactics, which CityBeat covered here, but it seems he’s now taking a more moderate tone.
It looks like in-person early voting didn’t rev up the
“African-American … voter turnout machine,” as Franklin County GOP
Chairman Doug Preisse claimed, after all. New numbers show in-person
early voting was a lot more popular in heavily Republican counties.
The loos are coming. A majority of City Council is on-board
with Councilman Chris Seelbach’s plan to install outdoor bathrooms,
much like the ones found in Portland, Ore. Seelbach promises the loos
will not cost $130,000, a potential price tag critics brought up to criticize the plan.
Hamilton County commissioners are not happy
with a city-approved Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) policy. The MSD
“responsible bidder” policy has been criticized by businesses for making
it impossible to win a contract. Joe Prus of Prus Construction is one
such critic: “We were listed as number one in the nation for our safety
program. Oddly enough, we are not responsible enough under the current
regulations that MSD have in their contracts.”
Cincinnati Public Schools are satisfied with their security, but they’re developing a new lockdown plan.
It started with a flier condoning rape, and now it’s
looking to end with some abuse in the justice system. The Miami rape
flier case just keeps getting more controversial. The case was
originally sealed, sparking some controversy; now, it’s been dropped altogether despite a guilty plea.
A new report found charter schools are evading state closure laws.
The Cincinnati Speech and Reading Intervention Center (CSR), formerly
W.E.B. Dubois Academy, was among the eight suspicious schools looked at
by Policy Matters Ohio.
Cincinnati’s central riverfront plan is winning an award
from the American Planning Association. The National Planning
Excellence Award for Implementation is for Cincinnati’s “success in
converting 195 acres of vast wasteland — between the Ohio River and
Cincinnati’s Central Business District — into an economically successful
and vital, mixed-use development with a dramatic new park,” according
to a press release.
An apartment developer may replace part of an Over-the-Rhine park with parking spaces. The move has sparked some pushback from locals.
Rumpke is building a new recycling facility. It will replace a former facility in St. Bernard that was destroyed by a fire.Audi is showing off its self-driving car. But what will humans do if the cars become self-aware?
by German Lopez
Planned Parenthood could lose funds, Husted loses again, puppy mills regulations
Abortion-rights supporters pushed against
a bill that will kill some funds for Planned Parenthood in Ohio yesterday. The bill would shift $2 million
in federal funds, which legally can’t be used for abortions, from
Planned Parenthood to other family services. An Ohio House committee will hold hearings and
possibly vote on the bill later today. Planned Parenthood has been
a target for anti-abortion activists all around the nation in recent
years, even though abortions only make up 3 percent of its services.
The election is over for us, but it’s not quite over for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. A court ruled yesterday that Husted was in the wrong
when he directed a last-minute change to Ohio's provisional ballot rules. U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley wrote that the rules,
which shifted the burden of identification for provisional ballots from
poll workers to voters, were “a flagrant violation of a state elections
law.” Husted will appeal the ruling. For many voter activists, the
ruling comes as no surprise. Husted and Republicans have
been heavily criticized for how they handled the lead-up to the election.
The Ohio House will vote on legislation
to regulate puppy mills. Ohio is currently known as one of the worst
states for puppy mills and regulations surrounding them. The Humane
Society of the United States supports extra limits on Ohio’s puppy
mills. CityBeat previously covered the issue and how it enables Ohio dog auctions.
John Cranley is running for mayor.
Cranley, who served on City Council between 2001 and 2007, promises to
bring “bring fresh energy and new ideas to the mayor's office.” One of
those ideas could be opposition to the streetcar, which Cranley has been
against in the past. Former mayor Charlie Luken will be the honorary
chairman of Cranley’s campaign, which will officially launch at an event in January.
The Ohio Department of Development and Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority will meet on Dec. 14 to discuss how to finance the Brent Spence Bridge. The Port Authority suggested tolls
to help pay for the bridge project, which has been labeled the region’s
top transportation priority; but critics say an unelected agency should
not directly impose costs on the public without some recourse.
The city of Cincinnati might buy Tower Place Mall and its neighboring garage.
An emergency ordinance was submitted to buy the mall and garage, which
are currently in foreclosure, for $8.6 million using the surplus from
the Parking Facilities Fund 102.
The third RootScore report for Cincinnati’s cell phone market found Verizon to be far and away the best. AT&T, T-Mobile and Cricket followed. Sprint did the worst.
Ohio will let the federal government run the state’s health care exchange.
Under the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — states must
decide by Friday to self-manage or let the federal government manage
exchanges, which are subsidized markets that pits different insurance
plans in direct competition within a state. The move comes as no
surprise from Gov. John Kasich and his administration, which have
opposed Obamacare since it passed in 2010. But support for repealing Obamacare is plummeting, a new poll found.
A state legislator introduced a long-expected plan to reform Ohio’s school report card system.
The bill will shift school grading from the current
system, which grades schools with labels ranging from “excellent with
distinction” to “academic emergency,” to a stricter A-to-F system. A simulation of the new system back in May showed Cincinnati Public School dropping in grades and 23 of its schools flunking.
After a strange bout of Ohio Supreme Court races that
continued a trend of candidates with Irish-sounding names winning, some
policymakers are considering reforming campaigning rules for the Ohio Supreme Court. The proposed reforms would allow candidates to speak more freely and show political party affiliation on the ballot.
A true American hero: A Hamilton man took personal injuries from a car accident to avoid hitting a cat.
Ever wish political pundits were held accountable for their completely inane, incorrect predictions? A new Tumblr account does just that.
Canadian doctors claim they managed to communicate with a man in a vegetative state to see if he’s in pain. Thankfully, he’s not.
by German Lopez
OTR more popular, E.W. Scripps' record revenues and tax break, GOP against abortion
People are feeling better about downtown and Over-the-Rhine, according to a new survey. Out of respondents who said they visited downtown, about 83 percent said their opinion of Over-the-Rhine was more favorable now than it was in the last year. Bars and parks topped activities, while dining and events on Fountain Square topped attractions.The E.W. Scripps Company posted its best TV revenues ever
thanks to the presidential election. The company’s consolidated
revenues rose 31 percent to $220 million. The company recently netted a $750,000 tax break from Cincinnati City Council to hire for 125 new local jobs and retain 184 current employees.
The University of Cincinnati’s Women's Health Center will open a branch in West Chester in spring 2013. The new offices will have 47 exam rooms, large and small conference rooms, a retail store and a café.Ohio Republicans are renewing their anti-abortion agenda.
Much to the dismay of pro-choice groups, Gov. John Kasich appointed two
people from Ohio Right to Life to important positions, and the Ohio
Senate is now looking into a new version of the heartbeat bill. Starting
with a hearing Wednesday, Ohio Republicans will also move to defund Planned Parenthood.
In his post-election presser, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted suggested basing Ohio’s electoral vote on congressional districts.
Due to how Republicans redrew district boundaries, that would have
given Mitt Romney most of Ohio’s electoral votes even though Romney lost
the popular vote. Districts were redrawn by the Republican-controlled
process to give Republicans an advantage in congressional races. The
First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, was redrawn to
include Republican-leaning Warren County, which shifted the district in
favor of Republicans and diluted Cincinnati’s Democratic-leaning
urbanites. The proposal seems like another attempt at voter suppression
from a secretary of state that has been heavily criticized for how he and his party handled the run-up to the election.
Redistricting also helped Ohio Republicans take Congress.
Last-minute negotiations may push Ohio’s puppy mills bill to the finish line.
The state currently has a reputation as one of the worst for abusive
puppy mills, and the bill would try to place some additional regulations on the
mills. CityBeat previously covered the puppy mill and dog auction problem in Ohio.
A new study found Ohio may be one of the worst states to retire in.
The state did poorly in terms of property crime and life expectancy of
seniors, but it was found to have good economic conditions, a
relatively low tax burden and lower-than-average cost of living.
Ohioans’ food stamp benefits will drop by $50 a month next year. The change is coming due to a shift in how the federal government calculates utility expenditures for food stamp recipients.
Ohio’s Third Grade Guarantee, which requires holding back
third-graders who do not meet state reading standards, now has some research
supporting it. A new study
found girls who struggle to read early on are more likely to become
teen mothers. However, other research shows holding kids back hurts more
than helps. After reviewing decades of research, the National
Association of School Psychologists found grade retention has “deleterious long-term effects,” both academically and socially.
In response to President Barack Obama’s re-election, the
infamous boss of Ohio-based Murray Energy fired more than 150 workers
around the country. One of those workers decided to leak a letter from the boss. The letter blames the firings on Obama’s supposed “war on coal,” but it’s likely the coal industry would be facing trouble even if Obama wasn’t in office.
Climate change just got a lot worse. It might make some coffee beans go extinct.
Two gay penguins became dads at the Odense Zoo in Denmark.Ever wanted a microscopic glimpse at a Pop Tart? Well, you're getting it anyway.
1 Comment · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
By the time this article is published,
the month of early voting and
Election Day will have come to a close, and voters will have made their
choices. But when it’s all said and done, voters will
be making those choices not thanks to Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted, but despite him.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Despite Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s best efforts
to deter early voting across the state this election cycle, state
election officials estimate that Ohio has seen a record turnout of early
voters this year. CINCINNATI +2