by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.Issue 2 is getting outraised quite badly. Protect Your Vote
Ohio, the group opposing Issue 2, has raised $6.9 million, while Voters
First Ohio, the group supporting Issue 2, has raised $3.6 million since July. If
Issue 2 is approved by voters, it will put an independent citizens
commission in charge of the redistricting process. Currently, the
process is handled by elected officials, who have used the process in
politically advantageous ways. Republicans redrew the First
Congressional District, Cincinnati's district, to include Warren
County. The move put more emphasis on rural and suburban voters, which
tend to side with Republicans, and less on urbanites, which tend to side
Not only will Ohio play a pivotal role in the presidential
election, but RealClearPolitics, a website that aggregates polling,
says Hamilton County is among two Ohio counties that will play the
biggest role. In light of that, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be in town
this week. Obama will visit Oct. 31, and Romney will be here Nov. 2.
Currently, Obama leads in Ohio by 2.1 points, while Romney leads nationally by 0.9 points.
A partnership between the University of Cincinnati and
U.S. State Department is going to Iraq. For the third year, UC will be
working with Salahaddin University in Iraq to help
redesign the Iraqi school’s curriculum and establish a career center.
The Ohio Board of Regents and Ohio Department of Education (ODE) may merge soon, says Board of Regent Chancellor Jim Petro. The Board of Regents is already moving to ODE's building later this year. Petro said
the building move will allow the Board of Regents, which focuses on higher
education, to cooperate more with ODE, which
focuses on elementary, middle and high school.
The Ohio legislature could be getting a big ethics
overhaul in the coming weeks. Specifics weren’t offered, but Senate
President Tom Niehaus said disclosure and transparency will be
Cincinnati’s United Way beat its fundraising goal of $61 million in 2012. The goal was originally seen as “a stretch.”
The nationwide meningitis outbreak is forcing some Ohio
officials to take a look at the state’s compounding pharmacies.
Compounding is when pharmacists make custom preparations for patients
under special circumstances. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy has
already taken action against the New England Compounding Center, whose
compound was connected with starting the meningitis outbreak.
The FBI will join an investigation into fraudulent
attendance data reporting in Ohio schools. Previously, state Auditor
Dave Yost found five school districts were scrubbing data in his first
interim report, but a second interim report cleared every other district
checked so far, including Cincinnati Public Schools.
Romney is getting a bit of attention for offensive
remarks about the LGBT community he made when he was governor. On gay parents, Romney said: "Some
gays are actually having children born to them. ... It's not right on paper.
It's not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
In case you missed it, CityBeat is hosting a party
for the final presidential debate at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. There
will be live tweeting, and Councilman Chris Seelbach will be on-hand to discuss this year's key issues. Even if you can’t come, make sure to live tweet during the
presidential debate using the hashtag #cbdebate. More info can be found
at the event’s Facebook page.
A new study found redistricting makes
government even more partisan. The Fair Vote study says redistricting
divides government into clear partisan boundaries by eliminating
competitive districts. In Ohio, redistricting is handled by elected
officials, and they typically use the process for political advantage by
redrawing district boundaries to ensure the right demographics for
re-election. Issue 2 attempts to combat this problem. If voters approve
Issue 2, redistricting will be taken out of the hands of elected
officials and placed into the hands of an independent citizens
commission. The Republican-controlled process redrew the First
Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, by adding Warren
County to the district. Since Warren County typically votes Republican,
this gives an advantage to Republicans in the First Congressional
District. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting reform effort here.
Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican
challenger Josh Mandel will face off in another debate for Ohio’s seat
in the U.S. Senate today. The two candidates met Monday in a feisty
exchange in which the men argued over their records and policies. Brown and
Mandel will face off at 8 p.m. The debate will be streamed live on
10TV.com and Dispatch.com. Currently, the race is heavily in Brown’s
favor; he is up 5.2 points in aggregate polling.
Cincinnati is moving forward with its bike sharing
program. A new study found the program will attract 105,000 trips in its
first year, and it will eventually expand to 305,000 trips a year. With
the data in hand, Michael Moore, director of the Department of
Transportation and Engineering, justified the program to The Business Courier:
“We want Cincinnatians to be able to incorporate cycling into their
daily routine, and a bike share program will help with that. Bike share
helps introduce citizens to active transportation, it reduces the number
of short auto trips in the urban core, and it promotes sustainable
Cincinnati’s school-based health centers are showing promise. Two more are scheduled to open next year.Echoing earlier comments by Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted, Ohio Senate Republicans are now talking about using the lame
duck session to take up a bill that would set standard early voting
hours and tighten voting requirements. Republicans are promising broad
consensus, but Democrats worry the move could be another Republican ploy
at voter suppression. Republicans defend the law by saying it would
combat voter fraud, but in-person voter fraud isn’t a real issue. A recent study
by the Government Accountability Office found zero examples of in-person
voter fraud in the last 10 years. Another investigation by News21 had
similar results. Republicans have also justified making voting tougher
and shorter by citing racial politics and costs.
A Hamilton County judge’s directive is causing trouble. Judge Tracie Hunter sent out a directive to
hire a second court administrator because she believes the current
county administrator is only working for the other juvenile judge. The
county government is trying to figure out if Hunter has the authority to hire a new
This year’s school report card data held up a long-term
trend: Public schools did better than charter schools. In Ohio, the
average charter school meets slightly more than 30 percent of the
state’s indicators, while the average traditional public school meets 78
percent of the state’s indicators, according to findings from the
education policy fellow at left-leaning Innovation Ohio. The data for
all Ohio schools can be found here.
Some in the fracking industry are already feeling a bit of
a bust. The gas drilling business is seeing demand rapidly drop, and
that means $1 billion lost in profits. CityBeat wrote in-depth about the potential fracking bust here.
Ohio student loan debt is piling up. A report by Project
on Student Debt says Ohio has the seventh-highest student loan debt in
the nation with an average of $28,683 in 2011. That number is a 3.5
percent increase from 2010.
What if Abraham Lincoln ran for president today?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could soon be reality. Scientists are developing a drug that removes bad memories during sleep.
by German Lopez
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
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
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
Despite tensions between former Obama chief of staff and
now-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama can still count on Ohio teachers for
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
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:
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.”
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
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
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
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.