by German Lopez
D.C. shooting leaves 13 dead, disparity study advances, Commons at Alaska project on hold
Yesterday’s shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., left 13 dead, including the suspected shooter. The suspect was identified as Aaron Alexis,
34, by the FBI. He died after a gun battle with police. Alexis was
discharged from the Navy Reserve in 2011, the same year he was arrested
for accidentally firing a bullet into his neighbor’s apartment. The
Associated Press also reported that Alexis had been suffering from severe mental health issues and hearing voices. The Washington Post will continue live blogging about the events here.
City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee yesterday unanimously approved a proposal
that will allow the city administration to study whether city contracts
should favorably target minority- and women-owned businesses and report
back with the results in February 2015. City officials support the
measures because reported city contract participation rates have
plummeted for minority-owned businesses and remained relatively flat for
women-owned businesses since Cincinnati dismantled its previous
minority- and women-owned business program in 1999. The study, which the
city now estimates will cost $450,000 to $1 million,
is necessary because of a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires
governments to empirically prove there is a racial or gender-based
disparity before enacting policies that favorably target such groups.
City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee also put a two-week hold
on the controversial supportive housing project in Avondale while an independent mediator, who will be paid $5,000 by the city administration, goes in to take community feedback. The Commons at Alaska project has been criticized by community
members who fear it will bring more deterioration to an already-blighted
neighborhood, but supporters argue that a spread of misinformation has led to
the current tensions. The proposed 99-unit facility would provide residence to
the homeless, particularly those with severe mental health issues,
physical disabilities and drug abuse histories. CityBeat covered the controversy in further detail here.
Gov. John Kasich yesterday reversed a decision
from the Ohio Development Services Agency that prevented the public
from seeing tax credit estimates that state agencies like JobsOhio
use to gauge whether giving a business a tax break is worthwhile. Kasich
agreed to the reversal after being questioned by reporters about
whether keeping the estimates secret only further perpetuates the
narrative that JobsOhio, the privatized development agency, is
unaccountable. JobsOhio has been mired in multiple scandals in the past
couple months after media reports revealed the agency suggested tax
credits for companies with direct financial ties to the governor and
JobsOhio board members. Republicans argue JobsOhio’s privatized,
secretive nature helps it more quickly establish job-creating
development deals, but Democrats say it allows the agency to waste
taxpayer money without public scrutiny.
Kasich also hinted that his administration might pursue the Medicaid expansion without legislation,
but he also clarified that the expansion will require agreement from
legislators at some level. Under Obamacare, the federal government is
asking states to expand Medicaid to include anyone at or below 138
percent of the federal poverty level; if states accept, the federal
government will pay for the entire expansion through 2016 then phase its
payments down to an indefinite 90 percent. Kasich has been a strong
proponent of the expansion, but Republican legislators have so far
rejected his support.A national organization could target Ohio’s LGBT population
as part of a nationwide campaign that will raise awareness about
Obamacare’s benefits. Kellan Baker, founder of Out 2 Enroll, says the
efforts are needed in Ohio and the rest of the country because gay,
lesbian, bisexual and especially transgendered people are often
uninsured at greater levels than the rest of the country as a result of
outright discrimination and poor outreach efforts. But three major
changes in Obamacare could help fix the trend: tax subsidies, online
marketplaces that will allow participants to compare insurance plans and
new regulations that protect LGBT groups from discrimination in the
health care and insurance industries.
A downtown office building at 906 Main St. is being converted to apartments.
Piracy apparently plays a major role in Netflix’s show purchases.
Wait But Why helps put time in perspective.
Small animals see the world in slow motion.
by Hannah McCartney
Council vote unanimous; Dayton, Canton and Toledo expected to follow suit
A unanimous City Council vote on Wednesday to pass a resolution officially representing Cincinnati's opposition to the proposed H.B. 203, Ohio's own version of controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, is part of a statewide advocacy effort to oppose loosening restrictions on the use of deadly force.The vote puts Cincinnati in the middle of a national dialogue that's been ongoing since the death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., in 2012. The bill, introduced by House Republicans on June 11, contains several revisions to the state's gun laws, the most controversial of which is the proposal to expand the circumstances in which a person has no duty to retreat from a threatening situation before using force in self-defense. Those in opposition to the bill worry that change will encourage vigilante justice and give gun owners a false sense of entitlement in using their firearms in otherwise non-violent situations. The bill's language also loosens restrictions on concealed carry permits and would make it easier for individuals subject to protection orders to obtain handguns. State Rep. Alicia Reece spoke at a Wednesday press conference at City Hall to support Cincinnati's formal opposition to the bill. Reece, also president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, is part of its statewide campaign to garner enough opposition to H.B. 203 to present to Gov. John Kasich and other legislative leaders. She says OLBC has already collected about 5,000 petitions and hopes to obtain more than 10,000 by the time the Ohio House of Representatives resumes regular sessions on Oct. 2. Reece and Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who sponsored the resolution, insist that Ohio's self-defense laws are already strong enough to protect those who face physical threats from others. In 2008, then-Gov. Ted Strickland signed Ohio's "Castle Doctrine" into law, which stripped homeowners of the duty to try to retreat in threatening situations and gives them the "benefit of the doubt" when they injure or kill a person who enters their residence or vehicle. "While many states around the country which have Stand Your Ground laws are looking at ways in which they can repeal those laws, or change those laws, unfortunately Ohio is moving backwards by trying to implement Stand Your Ground laws, which has become one of the most polarizing issues not only in the state of Ohio, but in the country," said Reece at Wednesday's press conference. The efficacy of stand-your-ground laws to reduce violence is widely debated; several researches insist that the laws actually cause an increase in homicides. Mark Hoekstra, an economist with Texas A&M University, published a study that found homicides increase 7 to 9 percent in states that pass stand your ground laws, compared to states that didn't pass laws over the same period. His study found no evidence the laws had an effect on deterring crime during the time period. Those statistics are difficult to gauge, however, because some homicides are legitimately considered "justifiable" while others may just be the result of the "escalation of violence in an otherwise non-violent situation," he told NPR in January.H.B. 203 is currently waiting to be heard in front of the Policy and Legislative Oversight committee. See an analysis of the bill below:Analysis of H.B. 203
How legal barriers are putting domestic violence victims in more danger
11 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Andrea Metil had never heard of Columbus
resident Shasta Pickens before this July, and she certainly had no idea
an Ohio Supreme Court case in which Pickens was involved would change
3 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The first time I remember meeting Jeremy
Ramundo was at Walnut Hills High School during the late ’90s.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The gun violence prevention group founded
by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced on July 27
the launch of an Ohio chapter.
by Danny Cross
Ohioans for Responsible Solutions launches chapters in Columbus and Cleveland
The gun violence prevention group founded by former
Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on July 27 announced the launch of
Ohioans for Responsible Solutions, which will continue the
organization’s efforts to support officials who back responsible gun
The new chapters, in Cleveland and Columbus, are part of
Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), which Giffords and her
husband, retired Navy Captain and astronaut Mark Kelly, launched in January.
“People in the Buckeye State know the terrible toll gun
violence takes on communities,” ARS Executive Director Pia Carusone said
in a statement. “We’re excited about what the 18,000-plus Ohioans for
Responsible Solutions will accomplish because they represent a rich
cross-section of the community: gun owners and non-gun owners alike, law
enforcement officials, victims of gun violence, faith leaders, moms
and voters of all political stripes from every part of the state.”
Giffords’ organization says it is not anti-gun — Giffords
and Kelly are both gun owners — instead arguing that the gun lobby’s
influence has kept legislators from passing common-sense legislation
that most Americans support.
A Gallup poll conducted April 22-25 found 65 percent of
Americans believed the U.S. Senate should have passed a measure to
expand background checks for gun purchases and ban some semi-automatic
weapons, which the Senate failed to pass April 17 because of procedural
steps requiring 60 votes to pass. The final vote was 54 in favor and 46
against. Twenty-nine percent
of Americans agreed with the Senate’s failure to pass the measure, and 6
percent had no opinion. The poll had a margin of error of +/-4
In January — just a month after the shooting massacre in
Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults — Gallup found 91
percent of Americans support required background checks for all gun
sales. The poll asked respondents about each of nine key proposals
included in President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce gun violence. The
two least-supported proposals still had majority support, but these
issues turned out to be at the center of the legislation that failed to pass
the Senate four months later: reinstating a ban on assault weapons (60-percent support),
and limiting the sale of ammunition magazines to those with 10 rounds
or less (54-percent support).
Giffords has become one of the nation’s highest-profile
gun violence prevention activists since a shooting in 2011 that left her
partially paralyzed. Giffords survived the assassination attempt on Jan.
8, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz., when a mentally ill man shot her in the head
at a political event outside a grocery store. The man then fired on
other people, killing six and wounding 12 total.
Giffords and Kelly participated in the Northside Fourth
of July parade early this month as part of Americans for Responsible
Solutions’ “Rights and Responsibilities” cross-country tour promoting
the organization’s goal of advocating for candidates that support
responsible gun policies that protect both the public and the rights of
gun owners. CityBeat covered the event here.
“Stopping gun violence takes courage. The courage to do
right, the courage of new ideas,” Giffords told the Northside crowd
during a press event before the parade. “I’ve seen great courage when my
life was on the line. Now is the time to come together to be
responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must do something.
Fight, fight, fight.”
Americans for Responsible Solutions announced this week
that its super PAC has raised $6.5 million so far this year and more
than 500,000 members. At this point it has not announced any plans for a Cincinnati
by German Lopez
Streetcar gets executive, businesses call for inclusion, gun control group opens Ohio chapter
John Deatrick is taking over as project executive of the Cincinnati streetcar project, moving on from his previous work as project manager of The Banks. Deatrick’s hiring announcement happened in April, but it was delayed while City Council fixed the project’s budget gap. Deatrick and his team previously won an award
for their work at The Banks, and he says he will bring the same scrutiny
and success to the streetcar project. A new project manager for The
Banks is set to be hired in August. Since the streetcar project’s
inception, it has been mired in misrepresentations and political
controversy, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Local business leaders are calling on the city government to change its contracting policies to target minority- and women-owned businesses. Advocates argue the city’s inclusion rates have greatly dropped
since Cincinnati did away with its inclusion program in the 1990s, but
the city administration points out the rates are likely understated
because women- and minority-owned businesses are no longer required to report
themselves as minorities or women. The business leaders say the figures are too low regardless,
which could have big implications since minority-owned businesses are
more likely to hire minorities, who have twice the unemployment rate as
white residents. As a result of court rulings, Cincinnati needs to first
conduct a disparity study before it makes any changes that specifically target minorities or women.
Gabrielle Giffords’s anti-gun violence organization is opening an Ohio chapter
to promote legislation that intends to protect both the public
and the rights of gun owners. Giffords, a former U.S. representative
who survived an assassination attempt, has been touring around the
country — at one point coming to Cincinnati
— to speak out against gun violence. Gun control legislation
failed in the U.S. Senate in April after it fell short of getting 60 votes to overcome
procedural hurdles, even though polling shows a clear majority of
Americans favor such legislation.
Local government funding may be further reduced
as a result of recent tax cuts because the Local Government Fund traditionally gets a percent of state tax revenue. Specifically, critics are concerned
less state tax revenue will slow down “natural growth” in funding to
cities and counties. Last week, an analysis from Policy Matters Ohio
found the recently passed two-year state budget already reduces local government funding, following even steeper reductions in the previous budget. The cuts since Gov. John Kasich took office have cost Cincinnati more than $22 million.
A traffic camera ban would cost Ohio cities and counties millions of dollars in revenue.
Ohio gas prices are starting down this week.
Home-schooled and private-school students have a right to play on public school teams because of a provision in the recently passed state budget.
When Columbus’ parking meters were upgraded to accept credit cards, revenue jumped by 13.2 percent. Cincinnati’s meters will be upgraded as part of the parking privatization plan.Ohio air bases are undergoing review
this week as part of Congress’ attempts to gauge whether the nation’s
Air Force is prepared for current and future missions and homeland
Slow news day, Enquirer?
Florida researchers found “fat shaming” actually perpetuates obesity.
It would probably take 300 to 500 piranhas five minutes to strip the flesh off a 180-pound human.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:18 AM | Permalink
Meet Roger Ramundo, city budget cuts could be reduced, AG won't appeal marriage order
Meet Roger Jeremy Ramundo,
the man police shot and killed on July 24 after what’s now being called
a “life or death struggle.” Police say they first tried to subdue
Ramundo, who had a history of mental health problems. But when Ramundo
fired his gun once, an officer retaliated by firing two fatal shots into
Ramundo’s left back. For family members and colleagues, Ramundo’s death
came as a shock; none of them seemed to expect that he could turn
violent. Ramundo was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized
anxiety disorder, according to the health care worker who notified police that Ramundo left home with his licensed gun, but he had been refusing to take his medication for
either illness at the time of his death.
Budget cuts to human services, parks and other areas could be retroactively reduced or eliminated
with higher-than-projected revenues from the previous budget cycle,
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced yesterday. When City Council passed
the city’s operating budget in May, it had not yet received the full
revenue numbers for the fiscal year that ended on June 30. With the full
numbers expected to come in higher than originally projected, Council
will be able to evaluate options for what and how much can be restored.
Human services funding was cut by roughly one-third in the city budget,
putting it at 0.3 percent of overall spending — far below the city’s
historic goal of 1.5 percent.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine won’t appeal the temporary restraining order that forces the state to recognize a Cincinnati same-sex couple on their death certificate,
but DeWine says he’ll continue defending the state’s ban on gay marriage.
Lisa Hackley, DeWine’s spokesperson, noted that such restraining orders
are normally not susceptible to appeal. Hackley’s explanation contradicts an earlier report from The Cincinnati Enquirer that the order was going to be appealed. Meanwhile, FreedomOhio says it
will try to put an amendment legalizing marriage equality on the
November 2014 ballot, which CityBeat covered here when the group was still aiming for the 2013 ballot.
The I-71/MLK Interchange yesterday moved closer to its
$107.7 million funding goal when Ohio’s Transportation Review Advisory
Council gave preliminary approval to Gov. John Kasich’s transportation
plan, which will use $3 billion raised through Ohio Turnpike revenues to
fund infrastructure projects around the state.
The Ohio Supreme Court will review whether anti-gambling opponents of racinos have standing to sue.
Among other issues, critics argue that Kasich’s legalization of video
lottery terminals didn’t represent an actual extension of the Ohio
Lottery, which is why the state claims it was allowed to legalize the
gambling machines without voter approval. The state’s Supreme Court says
it will decide the issue after it rules on a similar case involving
privatized development agency JobsOhio.
Democrats are voicing uncertainty about whether Republicans will actually take up a Medicaid expansion bill in September. Republican legislators rejected the expansion in the state budget,
but they’ve said they will take up the issue in the fall. The Health
Policy Institute of Ohio found the expansion, which is funded mostly
through federal funds from Obamacare, would insure half a million
Ohioans and save the state money over the next decade.
Charter schools’ big challenge: finding space to house their facilities.
An Ohio gun group raised $12,000 to buy George Zimmerman a gun or security system.
Drivers, beware: Hackers could soon be crashing your cars.
Drinking coffee has been linked to a 50 percent lower risk of suicide.
by Hannah McCartney
Thirty-two-year-old shot by police in Clifton was mild-mannered, acquaintances say
Roger Ramundo?First of
all, those who knew him called him by his middle name, Jeremy. On Wednesday, July
24, Jeremy was shot and killed by a Cincinnati Police Officer in what the CPD
is describing as a violent, “life or death struggle,” with a mentally ill,
violent and heavily armed man. Those who knew Roger Jeremy Ramundo, however,
remember him very differently.Thirty-two-year-old
Jeremy lived in a Clifton gaslight home with his mother, Peggy, and he liked to
eat on the patio at neighborhood bar Arlin’s Bar and Grill, the same place
where he lost his life in a struggle with police just blocks away from his
acquaintance of the family, who asked to remain unnamed, described Ramundo as a
gentle, bright and mild-mannered young man with good social skills. Ramundo formerly
worked up the street at Bruegger’s Bagels, where current CityBeat arts & culture editor Jac Kern worked with him from
2007-2008. “I always knew him to be a kind, gentle person,” she says, recalling
his fondness for discussing politics and attentive listening skills. According
to Kern, Ramundo was in a car accident years before that left him with
debilitating vision and hearing problems. He had also been diagnosed with
bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, both of which he’d been
prescribed medications for.But nobody,
it seemed, suspected he’d be the type of person to be involved in a deadly
police shootout. The Cincinnati Police Department today held a press conference
on the incident, during which Cincinnati Police Interim Chief Paul Humphries described
the actions of the five officers involved in the shootout as by-the-book, even
accounts began as an argument between Ramundo his mother at their home on
Thrall Avenue, a few blocks from Arlin’s, which escalated shortly after Ramundo
refused to go to his doctor’s appointment, according to a 911 call made by a
health care representative from the medical facility where Ramundo’s
appointment was scheduled. According to the health care representative, Ramundo’s
mother called her looking for help, explaining he’d become belligerent
following her requests to go to his appointment. She said he had been willfully
not taking his psychiatric medications, although it’s unclear for how long.In the 911
call, the health care representative says Peggy told her Ramundo had begun
threatening her, saying that if she called the cops, there would be a
“bloodbath.” She saw him take off up Ludlow Avenue and said on the phone call
she believed he was carrying his registered gun, a Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol,
and guessed he might be on his way to his go-to hangout spot. Officers Jayne
Snelling and William Springer followed the mother’s tip and found him sitting on
the back patio at Arlin’s. An Arlin’s
bartender named Jocelyn was working that day and recalls Ramundo coming in
somewhat agitated. “He was asking about his glasses,” she says. “He seemed
frustrated about losing them, and he had me call another bartender to see if
they were here somewhere. After that, he asked for a glass of water, walked
outside and that was that."Jocelyn
continued: “I’m in total shock. He was just a sweet kid,” she said, although
she couldn’t remember seeing him in the bar for about three months prior. In total, five
CPD officers were dispatched to the scene, two of whom have had past positive
experiences with Ramundo, including Officer Snelling and Officer Bryan Gabel,
who later fired the shots that killed him.The
physical struggle began after peace-making efforts failed, Humphries says.
Officers reported they saw Ramundo reaching toward his waistband, where he held
his pistol.Gabel was the first to make physical contact with Ramundo, trying to “control
his arm,” according to Humphries. That led the other officers to become
involved in a scuffle that shortly thereafter prompted Officer Kelly Jackson to
deploy a five-second Taser sting to Ramundo’s back, which they say sent Ramundo
to the ground.Jackson
again deployed her Taser onto Ramundo’s back, which, according to Humphries,
had little to no effect after the initial five-second deploy. On a third
attempt, the Taser failed to work, according to Humphries, at which point
Jackson signaled another officer to deploy another Taser.Snelling
attempted to do so, but mistakenly Tased another officer in the struggle, who
was on top of Ramundo’s back. Gabel allegedly saw Ramundo raise his gun, when he fired his first and
shot. Officer Reginald Lane had taken the Tased officer's spot on top of
Ramundo, attempting to subdue him and retrieve his gun. That's when
Humphries says all five officers saw him trying to bring the gun up
again, this time aimed toward the officers.Gabel fired
two shots into Ramundo’s lower left back. He died in the hospital three hours later.
says Ramundo was also carrying two magazines, mace and a folding knife. His mother,
the acquaintance says, is an outspoken advocate on mental health issues,
particularly Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), on which she’s published a book.
Peggy “always spoke preciously” of Jeremy, the acquaintance notes.
disorder, when untreated, can cause those affected to experience “mood
episodes,” which, in severe cases, sometimes result in impulsive, violent
behavior. An estimated 2.3 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:27 AM | Permalink
Local Republican indicted, gay couple sues state, Ohio PAC buying Zimmerman a gun
The speaker of the Ohio House is asking a local state representative to resign after he was indicted on 16 counts of fraud.
State Rep. Peter Beck, a Mason Republican, already faces a maximum of 43 years in
prison if he’s convicted on all the counts, but Ohio Attorney General
Mike DeWine says the ongoing investigation might produce more charges. The
charges are a result of Beck’s alleged actions involving an Ohio
software company called Christopher Technologies, which investors claim
bilked them out of $200,000.
Claiming discrimination, a newlywed same-sex couple is suing the state of Ohio
for failing to recognize their marriage. Jim Obergefell and John Arthur
were married in Maryland, but the couple lives in Cincinnati, Ohio,
where same-sex marriage is banned by the state constitution. The
couple’s attorney claims the state should be forced to recognize the
marriage because of Fourteenth Amendment protections extended to gay
couples by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Arthur was diagnosed in 2011 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a
neurological disease that causes muscles to rapidly deteriorate, and
he’s currently bedridden as a result. Given Arthur’s health,
the couple will argue for an expedited ruling at a hearing at 1:30 p.m.
today in front of U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black.
The Buckeye Firearms Association is raising money to buy a gun for George Zimmerman,
who was acquitted of second-degree murder in the murder trial of black
17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s gun is currently being held by
the U.S. Department of Justice as it investigates further charges.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and 100 members of the
Children’s Defense Fund will meet at Washington Park at 1 p.m. today to rally
against gun violence in Cincinnati. The group plans to march to City
Hall, where they will listen to students’ suggestions for making the city a safer place to visit and reside.
A state representative introduced a bill
that would allow some public university students to forgo traditional
tuition and instead pay for their college education through a percent of
their income for 24 years after they graduate.
An Ohio health aide is being sent to prison for Medicaid fraud.
Ohio gas prices are down this week.
In a desperate bid to save the endangered Sumatran rhino, the Cincinnati Zoo is attempting to breed a brother and sister.
If you think the recent heat has been bad, Popular Science has a humbling list of the 10 worst places to live in the universe.