by German Lopez
110 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:08 AM | Permalink
Poverty skews school funding, "stand your ground" advances, tax-free weekend proposed
Urban schools spend less on basic education for a typical student
than previously assumed after accounting for the cost of poverty,
according to a Nov. 19 report from three school advocacy groups. After
weighing the extra cost of educating an impoverished student, the report
finds major urban school districts lose more than 39 percent in
per-pupil education spending and poor rural school districts lose nearly
24 percent, while wealthy suburban schools lose slightly more than 14
percent. In the report, Cincinnati Public Schools drop from a
pre-weighted rank of No. 17 most per-pupil education funding out of 605
school districts in the state to No. 55, while Indian Hills Schools
actually rise from No. 11 to No. 4.
An Ohio House committee approved sweeping gun legislation
that would enact “stand your ground” in the state and automatically
recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states. The “stand your
ground” portion of the bill would remove a duty to retreat before using
deadly force in self-defense in all areas in which a person is lawfully
allowed; current Ohio law only removes the duty to retreat in a person’s
home or vehicle. The proposal is particularly controversial following
Trayvon Martin’s death to George Zimmerman in Florida, where a “stand
your ground” law exists but supposedly played a minor role in the trial
that let Zimmerman go free. To become law, the proposal still needs to
make it through the full House, Senate and governor.A state senator is proposing a sales-tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping
to encourage a shot of spending in a stagnant economy and lure shoppers
from outside the state. Eighteen states have similar policies, but none
border Ohio, according to University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center.
Michael Jones of UC’s Economics Center says the idea is to use tax-free school supplies to lure out-of-state shoppers, who are then more likely to buy other items that aren’t tax exempt while they visit Ohio.
An Ohio Senate committee approved new limits on the Controlling Board,
a seven-member legislative panel that has grown controversial following its approval of the federally funded Medicaid expansion
despite disapproval from the Ohio legislature. Gov. John Kasich went through the Controlling Board
after he failed to persuade his fellow Republicans in the legislature
to back the expansion for much of the year. The proposal now must make
it through the full Senate, House and governor to become law.
Cincinnati’s Metro bus service plans to adopt more routes similar to bus rapid transit (BRT)
following the success of a new route established this year. Traditional
BRT lines involve bus-only lanes, but Metro’s downsized version only
makes less stops in a more straightforward route. CityBeat covered the lite BRT route in further detail here.
Cincinnati obtained a 90 out of 100 in the 2013 Municipal Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, giving the city a 13-point bump compared to 2012’s mixed score.
A bill approved by U.S. Congress last week could direct millions in federal research dollars to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
A UC study found a higher minimum wage doesn’t lead to less crime.
Gov. Kasich will deliver UC’s commencement address this year.
The new owner of the Ingalls Building in downtown Cincinnati plans to convert some of the office space to condominiums.
Here are some images of the Cincinnati that never was.
Someone invented a hand-cranked GIF player.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
City Council joined statewide efforts to avoid loosening restrictions on the use of deadly force when it unanimously passed on Sept. 11 a resolution that opposes Ohio’s version of controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws.
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
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 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 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.
by German Lopez
Streetcar project misrepresented, gun control battle continues, Media Bridges closing down
Ever since the Cincinnati streetcar has been envisioned,
the mass transit project has been mired in misrepresentations driven
largely by opponents and politicians. CityBeat has a breakdown of the misrepresentations here, showing some of the silliest and biggest falsehoods claimed by opponents and supporters.
The national battle over gun control came to Cincinnati on July 4 when former Rep. Gabby Giffords stopped at the Northside parade to call for new restrictions on firearms.
Giffords is part of a slew of national leaders calling for stronger
regulations and enforcement for background checks — a policy more than nine in 10 Americans support. Still, the call seems to be politically unheard so far: Federal legislation is stalled in Congress, and Ohio legislators are working to loosen gun restrictions.
Facing city budget cuts, public access media organization Media Bridges is shutting down by the end of the year.
The city picked up Media Bridges’ funding after the organization lost
state funding that had been provided through an agreement with Time
Warner Cable. But city officials claim the local funding was supposed to
act as a one-year reprieve and nothing more — a claim Media Bridges was
apparently never made aware of until it was too late. To justify the
cut, the city cites public
surveys that ranked budget programs in terms of importance, but a look
at the citizen surveys shows the demographics were skewed against
low-income people who make the most use out of programs like Media
Check out CityBeat’s editorial content for this week’s issue:• German Lopez: “Meet Daniela,” the hypothetical victim of Republican policies at the state and national level.• Ben Kaufman: “‘Enquirer’ Takes Questionable Approach to Covering Meyers Ordination,” which analyzes the questionable apathy to a supposedly “illegal” ordination of a woman Catholic priest.• Kathy Wilson: “Until It’s Time for You to Go,”
a look at the life story of South African leader Nelson Mandela and the
hurdles he faced as he helped end discriminatory apartheid policies.
If you’re headed to Fountain Square today, expect to see
some images of bloodied fetuses and fetal limbs. An anti-abortion group
is showing a video with the gruesome visuals
as part of a protest against what it sees as “the greatest human rights
injustice of our time.” The group defends its tactics by citing its
First Amendment rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has so far refused to
rule one way or the other on the issue, but, barring some restrictions
for airwave broadcasts, the court typically protects all kinds of
political speech as long as it’s not pornographic.
The Cincinnati Police Department is changing how it responds to calls
to focus on what it sees as the most important issues, such as impacting violent crime,
youth intervention efforts, long-term problem solving projects, traffic
safety and neighborhood quality-of-life issues. The biggest change will come with how the department reacts to minor traffic accidents: It will still
respond, but it may not file a report.
The so-far-unnamed Greater Cincinnati coalition working to reduce the local infant mortality rate set a goal
yesterday: zero. It’s a dramatic vision for a region that, at 13.6, has
an infant mortality rate more than twice the national average of six,
as CityBeat covered here.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced in a statement
yesterday that he will be gathering local leaders and health officials
to encourage the state to expand Medicaid. The expansion, which CityBeat covered in further detail here,
would save Ohio money and insure half a million Ohioans in the
next decade, according to an analysis by the Health Policy Institute of
Fish oils may increase the risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study.
A measure that would disallow employers from discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals made it through a U.S. Senate committee yesterday.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise could have the features to making self-driving cars viable.
A device trains blind people to see by listening.