WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by German Lopez 10.04.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here. The first presidential debate took place last night. Most of the “liberal media” says Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama, but the impact of the relatively dull debate is probably being overstated as the media tries to sensationalize some sort of comeback narrative for Romney. Although the debates are important for capturing a candidate’s policies and speaking ability, they don’t matter much in political terms. Policy-wise, it seems Romney ran to the center last night.  If last night’s debate wasn’t enough debate for you, here are the three most awkward presidential debate moments in history. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus held a conference call with Ohio reporters yesterday in response to Vice President Joe Biden’s comments that the middle class has been “buried” in the past four years. Priebus claimed the Republican ground game in Ohio will “crush” Democrats. But that’s going to require a lot of work. As it stands, Obama and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown are beating their respective Republican opponents pretty badly in aggregate polling.  PolitiFact says Republican claims that Issue 2 will create a redistricting commission that will “have a blank check to spend our money” are false. While there is no cap on spending designated in Issue 2, that does not mean the redistricting commission will get infinite funding. If Issue 2 is approved by voters, redistricting will be handled by an independent citizens commission. If Issue 2 is rejected by voters, redistricting will continue being handled by politicians that commonly use the system in politically advantageous ways. A Republican majority redistricted the First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, to also include Warren County. The new boundaries give Republicans an advantage by putting more emphasis on rural voters, which typically vote Republican, instead of urban voters, which typically vote Democrat. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting process and Issue 2 here. An analysis by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management found Issue 2 would cost the state about $11-$15.2 million over eight years. That’s about $1.4-$1.9 million a year, or about 0.005-0.007 percent of Ohio’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year. To put the cost of Issue 2 in further context, state tax revenues were $39 million above estimates in September. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) have settled out of court in a case involving health care in prisons. OJPC brought the case forward with a lawsuit in 2003, arguing that inmates were not receiving adequate health care as required by the Ohio Constitution. Courts agreed in 2005, and they created an oversight committee to ensure medical standards rose. Today, health care in prisons is much better. With the settlement, OJPC and ODRC will continue watching over medical policies and procedures for the next two years, but courts no longer have an oversight mandate. City Council unanimously approved six projects for historic tax credits yesterday.Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank reclaimed its top spot for local bank deposits this year, although data released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) shows it might never have lost the top spot to U.S. Bank.U.S. service firms, which employ 90 percent of Americans, grew at their fastest rate in six months. The boost was brought about due to rising consumer demand.  Ever curious about why politicians use similar body language in all their public appearances? The New York Times has an explanation.A new, strange dinosaur was recently identified.
 
 
by German Lopez 09.20.2012
 
 
streetcar

Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati plans to avoid a streetcar delay. Despite what the city told CityBeat Monday, it seems the delay was due to the ongoing conflict with Duke Energy, and the city wants to put an end to it. City officials are seeking to set aside $15 million from the recent sale of the Blue Ash Airport to ensure the streetcar stays on track by initially paying for moving utility lines and pipes to accommodate for the streetcar. The money is expected to be recovered once issues with Duke Energy are settled. Expect more details on this story from CityBeat this afternoon. CityBeat previously covered the connections between the Blue Ash Airport sale and streetcar here. Cincinnati’s economic recovery is coming along. In August, Greater Cincinnati home sales hit a five-year high. The 2,438 homes sold were a nearly 16 percent increase from August 2011.Voters First is suing the Ohio Republican Party for what the organization says are false claims over Issue 2. The complaint, filed to the Ohio Elections Commission Tuesday, points out three allegedly false accusations about the redistricting amendment. A hearing on the complaint is today. Also, it seems Ronald Reagan, who modern Republicans claim to greatly admire, would have supported Issue 2: Natalie Portman was in Cincinnati yesterday. She talked about her support for President Barack Obama’s reelection and women’s issues. She did not mention the awful Star Wars prequels that ruined childhoods. Other speakers attended as well, and they all echoed the message of Obama being better for women voters.Kroger recalled bags of fresh spinach in 15 states, including Ohio, yesterday. The spinach, which was supplied by NewStar Fresh Foods LLC, may hold listeria monocytogenes, which could make a pregnant woman or anyone with a weakened immune system very sick. The specific product was a Kroger Fresh Selections Tender Spinach 10-ounce bag that had a “best if used by” date of Sept. 16 and the UPC code 0001111091649.More than 450 apartments are being planned for downtown West Chester. The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) is looking for advice. Every four years, the department hosts the Child Support Guidelines Advisory Council, which revises the state child support program, and gets citizen feedback on how the program can improve. The public meeting will be at 10 a.m. on Oct. 19 at the former Lazarus Building at 50 W. Town Street in Columbus. The council will report its findings and conclusions to the Ohio General Assembly in March 2013.An underused plane at the could save the Ohio Department of Transportation $3 million, a new state audit found. The Natural Resources Defense Council is reaching out to victims of fracking. With a new program, it will provide legal and other protections for individuals, communities and governments affected by fracking. Despite tensions between former Obama chief of staff and now-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama can still count on Ohio teachers for support. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin are planning an Ohio bus tour next week. The state is considered a must-win for Romney, but recent aggregate polling puts him in a fairly grim position with less than two months to Election Day.How do nuclear explosions affect beer? The U.S. government apparently found out.
 
 
by German Lopez 09.19.2012
Posted In: News, Redistricting, Reagan, Government, Republicans at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
yesonissue2

Voters First Sues Over Republican Claims

GOP mailer allegedly misrepresents redistricting amendment

Voters First Ohio is not letting Republicans get away with any dishonesty on Issue 2. In a complaint filed to the Ohio Elections Commission yesterday, the pro-redistricting reform group claimed a recent mailer from Republicans contained three incorrect statements. “In an effort to affect the outcome of the election and defeat State Issue 2, Republicans have knowingly, or with reckless disregard of the truth, made false statements in printed campaign material disseminated to registered voters,” the complaint said. If approved by voters in November, Issue 2 will place the responsibility of redistricting in the hands of an independent citizens commission. Currently, politicians handle the process, which they use to redraw district boundaries in politically advantageous ways in a process known as “gerrymandering.” Ohio’s First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, was redrawn by the Republican-controlled process to include Warren County, which contains more rural voters that tend to vote Republican, and less of Cincinnati, which contains more urban voters that tend to vote Democrat. The Voters First complaint outlines three allegedly false statements made by the Republican mailer. The first claim is “Some of the members will be chosen in secret.” As the complaint points out, this is false. The redistricting amendment on the November ballot will require nine of twelve members to be chosen in public, and then those nine members will pick the three final members. All of this has to be done in the public eye, according to the amendment: “All meetings of the Commission shall be open to the public.” The second disputed claim is that the amendment will provide a “blank check to spend our money” for the commission. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled against that claim on Sept. 12 when it ruled against Secretary of State Jon Husted’s proposed ballot language for Issue 2: “The actual text of the proposed amendment does not state that the redistricting amendment would have — as the ballot board’s language indicates — a blank check for all funds as determined by the commission.” The mailer also claims that, in the redistricting amendment, “There’s no process for removing these bureaucrats, even if they commit a felony.” But the amendment says commissioners must be electors, and when an elector is convicted of a felony, that status is lost. The complaint says commissioners can also be removed “by a judge under a petition process that applies to public officials generally for exercising power not authorized by law, refusing or neglecting to perform a duty imposed by law, gross neglect of duty, gross immorality, drunkenness, misfeasance, nonfeasance, or malfeasance.” The Ohio Elections Commission will take up the complaint Thursday morning. The full complaint can be read here. Matthew Henderson, spokesperson for the Ohio Republican Party, called the complaint a "distraction”: “It’s a cheap shot. It’s up to the Ohio Elections Commission, and they’ll likely throw it out. It’s essentially a distraction from the real issues. The bottom line is that Issue 2 is going to create a panel of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, and they’ll have influence over our elections.” He added, “Ohio voters will be able to decide for themselves this fall whether they want to pay for these commissioners or not.” When pressed about whether or not the Ohio Republican Party is sticking to the claims found in the mailer, he said that’s up to the Ohio Elections Commission to decide. It is true the independent citizens commission created by Voters First is unelected, but that’s the entire point. The current problem with the system, as argued by Voters First, is elected officials are too vested in reelection to place the district boundary needs of the public above electoral needs. That’s why districts like Ohio’s First Congressional District are redrawn in a way that includes Cincinnati and Warren County — two regions that are vastly different. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting issue when Husted’s ballot language lost in court and when We Are Ohio threw its support behind Voters First.While current Republicans oppose redistricting reform in Ohio, some Republicans of the past advocated for it. Ronald Reagan was one such advocate:
 
 

Redistricting Reform Wins, Republicans Lose in Court

1 Comment · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Ohioans will choose whether or not to pass redistricting amendment Issue 2 in November, and the Ohio Supreme Court says Secretary of State Jon Husted needs to make the ballot language more clear for voters. In a bit of a surprise, the Ohio Supreme Court on Sept. 12 ruled against Husted’s ballot language, stating that it contained “material omissions and factual inaccuracies.”   

Boehner Staffer Got Redistricting Request Filed in 13 Minutes

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 12, 2012
The Ohio Voters First campaign for Issue 2 has shined some light into how Ohio’s district boundaries are redrawn. In a new graph, the campaign revealed that getting a business added to a district is sometimes as simple as asking for a favor.  
by German Lopez 09.12.2012
Posted In: News, Education, Government, 2012 Election at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
yesonissue2

Morning News and Stuff

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber released its positions on this November’s ballot issues. The chamber supports the Cincinnati Public Schools tax levy and Hamilton County mental health and services levy, but it does not support extending City Council’s terms to four years. The chamber also opposes Issue 2, which would place the redistricting process in the hands of an independent citizens commission instead of a commission run by politicians. The chamber said it opposes Issue 2 partially because it excludes “some Ohioans” from the redistricting process. The excluded Ohioans are lobbyists and politicians, who have a vested interest in redrawing district boundaries in politically advantageous ways in a process known as “gerrymandering.” In Cincinnati’s district, the district was redrawn by the Republican-controlled commission to include Warren County, which puts more emphasis on the rural vote that tends to vote Republican instead of the urban vote that tends to vote Democrat. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting issue here and here.Related to Issue 2, the controversial ballot language that was approved by the state seems to be weighing down the amendment. Public Policy Polling said voters are confused by the ballot initiative.Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost found Value Learning and Teaching (VLT) Academy, a charter school in downtown Cincinnati, to be wasteful and unethical. According to a state audit, the school had multiple instances in the 2010-2011 school year in which it made excessive payments in possible conflicts of interest.In another audit, Yost also criticized his own political party. Yost found the Ohio Republican Party accepted prohibited contributions and improperly spent money.A recent police chase that resulted in a crash and the the injury of minors is coming under scrutiny. The cop involved was found to be in violation of department procedure.Even though he resigned abruptly, the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees is considering separation payments for former UC President Greg Williams. Board Chairman Fran Barrett says the payments will tie up “loose ends” and buyout Williams’ tenure.Gov. John Kasich is asking public colleges to collaborate on a funding formula. He says the schools should have a better idea than the state government of what they need. The schools previously collaborated on a construction wishlist, which apparently impressed Kasich.A proposed state policy will force schools to keep better track of who is kept in seclusion rooms and for how long, but the details will be closed to the public.The fired Democrats suing Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will be getting their day in court. Yesterday, a federal judge agreed to a hearing on Sept. 21. The fired Democrats are suing Husted after he dismissed them for attempting to extend in-person early voting, which broke Husted’s uniform rules on voting hours. Even Republicans are now demanding more substance from presidential candidate Mitt Romney.A North Dakota college football player says he got kicked off his team for kissing his boyfriend.Scientists planted false short-term memories in the brains of rats.
 
 
by German Lopez 09.05.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, Republicans, News, Government at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
voters first ad

Voters First Mocks Redistricting Process

Boehner staffer got request filled in 13 minutes, no questions asked

The Ohio Voters First campaign for Issue 2 has shined some light into how Ohio’s district boundaries are redrawn. In a new graph, the campaign revealed that getting a business added to a district is sometimes as simple as asking for a favor. Just a day before the approval of Ohio’s new district maps, Tom Whatman, a Boehner staffer, sent an email to Adam Kincaid, a staffer for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and others in charge of redistricting. In the back-and-forth, Whatman asks for a “small carve out” to include a manufacturing business in the congressional district for Rep. Jim Renacci, a Republican who has received support from the business in the past. Before 13 minutes had passed, Kincaid replied to Whatman, securing the change with no questions asked. “Thanks guys,” Whatman replied. “Very important to someone important to us all.” The Voters First graph, which mocks the 13-minute exchange with the title “Jim Renacci: The 13 Minute Man,” can be found here. The full emails, which were released by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting in a Dec. 2011 report, can be seen online here.Jim Slagle, who served as manager for the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, says the emails are indicative of a redistricting process that is controlled entirely by “political insiders.” Slagle says the interests of the people come second to politics under the current system. If Issue 2 is approved by voters this November, the redistricting process will be placed in the hands of an independent citizens commission. Under the current system, the state government is tasked with redrawing district boundaries every 10 years. Republicans have controlled the process four out of six times since 1967, which is when the process was first enacted into law. The political party in charge typically redraws districts in a politically favorable manner in a process known as “gerrymandering.”On Saturday, Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents Cincinnati in the U.S. House of Representatives, told supporters to vote against Issue 2. Chabot is enormously benefiting off the current redistricting process. Cincinnati’s district was redrawn to include Warren County, which has more rural voters that typically vote Republican, and less of Cincinnati, which has more urban voters that typically vote Democrat. The shift to less urban voters is emphasized in this graph by MapGrapher:  
 
 
by German Lopez 08.24.2012
Posted In: News, Government, 2012 Election, LGBT Issues at 08:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
yesonissue2

Morning News and Stuff

Voters First is suing to get the original language restored on its redistricting amendment, which will appear on the November ballot as Issue 2. The organization succeeded in gathering enough signatures for its ballot initiative by July 28, but the Republican-led Ballot Board, which is chaired by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, changed the language in a way that makes the amendment less specific and more confusing, according to Voters First. If the amendment is approved by voters, the amendment will make it so the redrawing of district borders is handled by an independent citizens commission, instead of the committee of politicians that handle the issue every 10 years under the current system. CityBeat previously covered the issue here. In Cincinnati, redistricting placed Warren County in the city’s district, leading to less emphasis on urban votes, according to MapGrapher: The Cincinnati Enquirer has some speculation as to why University of Cincinnati President Greg Williams recently resigned. Apparently, Williams did not get along with the Board of Trustees.A state grant is helping out LGBT homeless youth in Cincinnati. The grant, a total of $275,000, will go to Lighthouse Youth Services. The organization will put the money in its Lighthouse on Highland facility in Clifton, which provides street outreach, indoor and overnight services. The federal government will provide aid to 75 Southwest Ohio medical practices. The program could bring $10 million in Medicare funds every year to the area. With the extra money, medical practices are expected to provide additional services.Miami University suspended two fraternities after a fireworks battle led to the discovery of a large cache of illegal drugs. That sounds about right for a top 10 party school.Ohio courts are conflicted on whether or not they can divorce same-sex couples. Under current law, same-sex marriage has no legal force in Ohio, but some judges think there’s enough room to allow divorcing same-sex couples who got married outside the state.A new poll indicates Mitt Romney had no bounce in Ohio due to his pick of Paul Ryan as vice president, and President Barack Obama continues to lead by six points. Meanwhile, the senate race has slightly tightened, although Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, still leads challenger Josh Mandel, a Republican, by seven points. Aggregate polling has both the presidential race and senate race a bit closer, however.The Ohio Republican Party is sending quite a few members to the Republican Party’s national convention. National conventions are when political parties announce presidential candidates and platforms.Mother Jones debunked six myths about the U.S. education system. In short, the system has improved in the past few decades, especially in elementary and middle school, but high school education needs some help.New research shows that race does alter court sentences, but incarceration rates vary from judge to judge. On average, black defendants face an incarceration rate of 51 percent, while white defendants face an incarceration rate of 38 percent. That’s a 13-point gap, which researchers said is “substantial.”Soon, people will be able to 3-D print guns at home.
 
 

Redistricting Amendment Gets 750,000 Signatures

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Ohio Voters First turned in 300,000 more signatures for its redistricting amendment July 28, bringing the grand total of signatures turned in to 750,000.   
by German Lopez 07.30.2012
Posted In: News, Government, Governor at 08:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
voters first

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Voters First turned in a total of 750,000 signatures for its redistricting amendment to the Secretary of State by the end of Saturday. If 385,000 of those signatures are approved, the amendment will be put on the November ballot. On July 3, the organization turned in 450,000 signatures, but the office of Secretary of State Jon Husted said not enough signatures were valid, and the organization would have to turn in 130,000 more. In May, CityBeat covered the amendment in-depth when We Are Ohio joined forces with Voters First.Gov. John Kasich announced the Ohio Medicaid program is being made into its own agency by July 1, 2014. Currently, it is part of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services as the Office of Ohio Health Plans. The change is meant to improve the performance of the $18.8 billion Medicaid program. The 2014-2015 budget will include more information and changes to finalize the agency’s creation.U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will visit Cincinnati tomorrow. Donovan and Mayor Mark Mallory will speak with homeowners about how President Barack Obama’s refinancing plan could benefit them.The first 2012 case of West Nile Virus was reported in Clermont County Friday. According to Ohio Department of Health officials, this year has an extraordinary amount of mosquitoes carrying the disease due to drought conditions.A former Chick-Fil-A employee is suing the notoriously anti-gay restaurant chain for sexual discrimination. The lawsuit claims Brenda Honeycutt was fired by manager Jeff Howard so Honeycutt could become a “stay home mother.”President Barack Obama is coming to Ohio again. On Wednesday, he’ll be making stops at Akron and Mansfield.The U.S. economy slowed down in the first quarter of 2012 with a measly 1.5 percent growth rate.Epidemiologists now have a crystal ball of sorts. A new algorithm scans tweets to predict when Twitter users will get the flu.
 
 

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