Statewide group asks Ohio voters to legalize medical marijuana and industrial hemp
2 Comments · Wednesday, May 15, 2013
While two states have successfully
legalized marijuana, Ohio is beginning to move forward with ballot
initiatives that could legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes and to
produce industrial hemp.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I have always taken for granted simple
things like balance, mobility, independence and 10 toes and, as a raging
diabetic, I am particularly obsessed with my feet.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 15, 2014
In the third month of open enrollment,
Obamacare failed to meet crucial demographic goals for young adults in
Ohio and across the nation.
by German Lopez
Early voting tomorrow, Obamacare enrollment to open, pension amendment cuts benefits
Have any questions for City Council candidates? Submit them here and CityBeat may ask your questions at this Saturday’s candidate forum.
Early voting for the 2013
City Council and mayoral elections begins tomorrow. Find your voting
location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
Tomorrow is also the first day of open enrollment at Obamacare’s online marketplaces, which can be found at www.healthcare.gov.
At the marketplaces, an Ohio individual will be able to buy a
middle-of-the-pack health insurance plan for as low as $145 a month
after tax credits, while a family of four making $50,000 will be able to
pay $282 a month for a similar plan, according to Congressional Budget Office numbers.
Starting in 2014, most Americans — with exemptions for religious and
economic reasons, the imprisoned and those living outside the country —
will be required to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
Organizations from around the state and country will be working over
the next six months to help insure as many Ohioans and Americans as
possible, but some of those efforts have been obstructed by Republican
legislators who oppose the president’s signature health care law, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Meanwhile, the federal government is nearing a shutdown because of Republican opposition to Obamacare, including local Reps. Steve Chabot and Brad Wenstrup.
A report from the conservative Buckeye Institute echoes claims made by both sides in Cincinnati’s pension debate:
A tea party-backed amendment, if approved by voters, would
reduce retirement benefits for new city employees by one-third. At the
same time, the city’s unfunded pension liability might be $2.57 billion,
or three times what officials currently estimate. The amendment would
semi-privatize Cincinnati’s pension system by forcing future city
employees to contribute to and manage their own individual retirement
accounts, which would imitate private 401k plans commonly seen in the
private sector. Under the current system, the city pools pension funds
and manages the public system through an independent board. The pension
amendment is backed by tea party groups, some of who may reside outside Cincinnati and Ohio, and will appear on the ballot as Issue 4.
To celebrate early voting, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who’s running for mayor against ex-Councilman John Cranley,
will name her vice mayor today. Qualls is expected to select
Councilman Wendell Young. Cranley and Qualls are both Democrats, but
they’re heavily divided on the streetcar project and parking plan, both
of which Qualls supports and Cranley opposes. The mayoral candidates mostly focused on the two issues in their first post-primary mayoral debate,
which CityBeat covered here.
Jeffrey Blackwell, Cincinnati’s new police chief, starts on the job today.
He’s replacing former Police Chief James Craig, who left in June to
take the top police job in his hometown of Detroit. The city has praised
Blackwell for his 26 years at the Columbus Division of Police, where he
reached out to youth and immigrants, advanced the use of technology,
worked closely with community members and helped reduce operating costs.
Cincinnati Councilwoman Pam Thomas today announced that
she’s introducing a motion to hire a 40-member police recruit class. The
motion addresses a drop in the amount of Cincinnati police officers in
recent years: Staffing levels since the last recruit class have dropped
by 15.2 percent, according to Thomas’ office. “Our police staffing
levels are dangerously low,” Thomas said in a statement. “We cannot
afford to sacrifice our public’s safety by not hiring this recruit
class.” In this year’s budget, the city managed to prevent cutting
public safety jobs by slashing other city services, including city
parks. But Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan argues that Cincinnati’s public
safety forces, which are proportionally larger than most comparable
cities, need to be “rightsized” and reduced over time.
The amount of local children and teens going to the hospital with a concussion massively increased
between 2002 and 2011, and the number is expected to increase further
because state law now requires medical clearance to continue playing
sports after a concussion.
Ohio gas prices are back below the national average.
AdvancePierre Foods, Cincinnati's largest private company, got a new CEO.
Earth may have stolen its moon from Venus.
by German Lopez
Obamacare misses target, state to investigate CPS staff, chemical spill forces local measures
In the third month of open enrollment, Obamacare failed to
hit key demographic targets for young adults in Ohio and across the
nation. White House officials say about about 39 percent of those who
sign up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state-run
marketplaces must be young adults. The idea is to get enough young,
healthy enrollees to hold down costs as an older, sicker population
signs up for health insurance made more easily available through
Obamacare’s systems and regulations. But in December, only 19 percent of
signups in Ohio and 24 percent of signups nationwide were young adults.
The Ohio Department of Education will recalculate report
card data and investigate whether to punish staff after Cincinnati
Public Schools (CPS) and six other Ohio school districts that scrubbed
student attendance data. By manipulating the data, schools can appear to
be performing better, but the actions obviously jeopardize the
authenticity of Ohio’s school accountability system. CPS says its
internal investigations found no evidence of deliberate manipulation and
the data errors shouldn’t be enough to alter the school’s standing in
state report cards. For CPS and the six other school districts, the
issues began after the state auditor in 2012 launched an investigation
into school data scrubbing.To avoid contamination from a W. Va. chemical spill,
Cincinnati Water Works will shut down its water intake system along the
Ohio River and instead rely on the water intake system at the
groundwater treatment facility in Fairfield. Mayor John Cranley said the
shutdown will last two days, or more than twice the roughly 20 hours
required for the chemical slick to pass by. Consumers shouldn’t notice a
difference, according to Water Works officials.
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard will decide
whether to allow fracking wastewater to travel along
the Ohio River and other federal waterways and how strictly regulated
the shipments should be. Fracking is a drilling technique in which
millions of gallons of water are pumped underground to unlock oil and
gas reserves, but the process produces a lot of wastewater as a result. CityBeat previously covered fracking and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.
With legislation repealing Ohio’s energy rules now
stalled, Champaign County residents are challenging the
constitutionality of Ohio’s in-state renewable energy requirements in
court. Supporters of the law claim the rules help foster a green energy
sector in the state, while opponents argue the rules increase costs for
businesses and consumers. CityBeat previously covered State Sen. Bill Seitz’s legislative attempts to repeal the rules here.Another tea party-backed candidate might challenge Gov.
John Kasich in the Republican primary. The reveal comes just days after a
tea party leader abruptly dropped his challenge against the incumbent
governor.If state legislators approve, Gov. Kasich will hold his state of the state address this year at Medina, Ohio, on Feb. 24.Three judges will cover for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter while she fights felony charges in court.
State Rep. Pete Beck of Mason, who was indicted on 16 felony counts for alleged fraud and theft, is facing a primary challenger.Cincinnati repaved 130 lane miles of road in 2013, according to city officials.Duke Energy cut a check for the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority today to help redevelop Bond Hill and Queensgate.A blind student is suing Miami University for alleged discrimination that prevented her from completing coursework.One vote made the difference in 43 of Ohio’s 2013 elections, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.Ky. developers are still pursuing the Noah’s Ark theme park, despite troubles raising funds for the project.Today is the last day to vote for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.An infection can turn swarming locusts into solitary grasshoppers, a study found.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by Maija Zummo
Posted In: Wellness
at 01:45 PM | Permalink
Tips for avoiding the flu from the Northern Kentucky Health Department
The Northern Kentucky Health Department just received report of the area's first seasonal flu death this flu season. A middle-aged Kenton County man, with a history of chronic health problems, died from complications of the flu.“The loss of someone to the flu is a tragedy, and our thoughts go out to the individual’s family,” Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, district director of health, writes in a press release. “We tend to forget just how serious influenza can be, particularly for those with other health problems. Flu can lead to serious complications and even death, as it did in this case.”While the CDC doesn't track adult flu deaths, they estimate 6.5 percent of all adult deaths nationwide were attributable to the flu or complications from the flu for the week ending Dec. 28. And Kentucky is reporting widespread flu activity, particularly a strain (H1N1) that disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults, according to Saddler.The CDC recommends the following precautions to avoid getting the flu:1. Get a flu vaccine. If you're over 65, also get a pneumonia vaccination.2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (and then throw it away).3. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleanser after you cough or sneeze.4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.5. Avoid sick people.While the flu is commonly treated at home, these symptoms require immediate medical attention.For children:Fast breathing or trouble breathingBluish skin colorNot drinking enough fluidsNot waking up or not interactingBeing so irritable that the child does not want to be heldFlu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse coughFever with a rashFor adults:Difficulty breathing or shortness of breathPain or pressure in the chest or abdomenSudden dizziness or confusionSevere or persistent vomitingFor more information on flu, visit nkyhealth.org/Seasonal-Flu.aspx.
by German Lopez
Federal funds tied to streetcar project, Mann named vice mayor, local life expectancy varies
For the third time, a representative from the federal government yesterday reiterated to Cincinnati officials that if the $132.8 million streetcar project is canceled, the city would lose $40.9 million in federal funds and another $4 million would be left to the discretion of the state government, which could allocate the money anywhere in Ohio. The repeated reminders are necessary as Mayor-elect John Cranley and the incoming City Council prepare to delay or potentially terminate the project once they take office in December. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Chief Counsel Dorval Carter said even a mere delay could lead to the federal government restricting or outright terminating the federal grant deals. But Cranley, a long-time opponent of the streetcar project, appeared unfazed by the news at a press conference following Carter's thorough explanation. "If we have to, we’ll give the money back," he said.Cranley yesterday announced his intent to appoint Councilman-elect David Mann as his vice mayor. Cranley said Mann passed the "bus test," an unfortunate hypothetical scenario in which the mayor dies after being hit by a bus. Cranley also cited Mann's numerous accomplishments, ranging from achievements at Harvard University to previous stints as mayor when top vote-getter in the City Council race automatically assumed the position. Mann promised to work with Cranley to make his administration a success and respectfully disagree but move on when the two men differ.A Cincinnati Health Department report found life expectancy can vary by 20 years from one part of Cincinnati to another. Black men in particular can expect to live nearly 10 years less than white men. The Health Department said in a press release that it wants to find out why there's such a disparity.A Quinnipiac University poll shows Republican Gov. John Kasich still ahead of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald in a 44 to 37 percent match-up, but FitzGerald is gaining ground. About 71 percent of Ohioans in the poll said they don't know enough about FitzGerald to form an opinion about him, so FitzGerald still has time to build positive name recognition while Kasich has an opportunity to paint his opponent in a negative light before the November 2014 election.Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters might be investigated by the Hamilton County Board of Elections for improperly voting.Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan asked the Hamilton County Board of Elections to cancel an automatic recount of the Nov. 5 vote, which Quinlivan was entitled to after she placed 10th place in the City Council race by only 859 votes.The grand jury for the Steubenville, Ohio, rape investigation indicted four people, including a school superintendent.Four Ohio corrections officers were fired over the escape of an inmate serving a life sentence for rape, officials announced Monday.The University of Cincinnati is aiming for an attendance record when it hosts Louisville for a Dec. 5 game at Nippert Stadium.The deadline to select Medicare coverage is Dec. 7 at midnight.Scientists could be on the verge of learning how to erase and rewrite memories.Morning News and Stuff will most likely be out of service until Monday, Dec. 2 as CityBeat staff celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Motion cites infant mortality, unemployment and economic worth as major issues
Councilman Wendell Young and five other council members on Oct. 30 signed a motion that asks the city administration to budget $2 million to address racial disparities in Cincinnati.
The motion cites three statistical disparities: Infant
mortality rates for black babies are three times the rate for white
babies; the unemployment rate for black residents is two to three times
the rate for white residents; and the black population only makes up 1
percent of the Cincinnati area’s economic worth despite making up nearly
half of the city’s population.
“As the City of Cincinnati invests in infrastructure to
support economic development and job growth, in developments that
attract new businesses, and in job retention and growth, it is of
critical importance that all members of the Cincinnati community
participate in our progress and prosperity,” Young’s motion states.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and council members Pam Thomas,
Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson joined Young in
signing the motion.
The motion asks the city administration to budget $500,000 to each of four organizations in fiscal year
2015: the Urban League of
Greater Cincinnati, the Hamilton County Community Action Agency, the
African American Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Closing the
Health Gap. The money will “support minority business startups and
entrepreneurship, job training and workforce development, and access to
healthy foods and health care,” according to the motion.
The proposal comes as the city administration begins putting together a disparity study
to gauge whether the administration can and should favorably target
minority- and women-owned businesses through Cincinnati’s business
contracts. The results for that study will come back in February 2015.
It’s unclear how much weight the motion will carry in the
upcoming weeks. On Nov. 5, voters will elect a new mayor and City
Council. The next city administration and council could have a
completely different approach — or no approach at all — to addressing
racial disparity issues.
For more information on the upcoming election, check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements here.
by German Lopez
Bill could reduce voting, panel wants facial recognition limits, governors debate Obamacare
A Republican-proposed bill in the Ohio legislature is drawing criticism from voting rights advocates
because they say it would unnecessarily limit absentee voting. The bill
would permit the secretary of state to send out absentee-ballot
applications on even years, when gubernatorial and presidential
elections are held, only if the legislature funds the mailings, and it
would prevent county election boards from mailing out additional ballot
applications beyond what the state sends out. Previously, some counties
mailed unsolicited ballot applications to all voters to potentially
reduce lines on Election Day. Voting rights advocates say the bill will
dampen and reduce voter participation, but State Sen. Bill Coley, the bill’s sponsor, argues
it’s necessary to bring uniformity to county-by-county absentee voting.
A nine-member panel of criminal justice officials on Friday recommended limiting access and improving oversight
of Ohio’s controversial facial recognition program, following a
two-month review of the system and public criticisms over the program’s
secrecy and alleged lack of oversight. The facial recognition program,
which is part of a state database of criminal justice records known as
the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG), was live for more than two
months and 2,677 searches before Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
formally announced its existence in August. The program allows police
officers and civilian employees to use a photo to search databases for
names and contact information; previously, law enforcement officials
needed a name or address to search such databases.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear debated Obamacare on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Beshear pointed to his state’s successful rollout of Kynect,
a Kentucky-operated online marketplace for state-based health insurance
plans. The Kentucky marketplace has already enrolled 26,000
Kentuckians, although 21,000 are Medicaid enrollees. Meanwhile, Kasich
criticized the rocky launch of the federal portal HealthCare.gov, which only applies to states, like Ohio, that declined to run their own online marketplaces. The federal portal has been practically unworkable
for a huge majority of Americans since it launched on Oct. 1. Kasich
also claimed Obamacare will increase health insurance costs in Ohio — a
claim that goes against
findings in a national premium model developed by Avik Roy, a
conservative health care expert who is typically critical of Obamacare. CityBeat covered Obamacare’s Ohio rollout in further detail here.
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson is questioning why WCPO used a man named Jim Kiefer as a source
after he posted racist insults aimed at her on social media. WCPO
quoted Kiefer in a story as a John Cranley supporter, but the Cranley
campaign quickly distanced itself from Kiefer upon learning of his
history of bigoted posts on his Facebook wall, which was public at the
time but is now private. Kiefer told CityBeat the posts were supposed to be jokes.
The ongoing mayoral race looks like the most expensive since Cincinnati began directly electing its mayors in 2001.
City Council could move forward with a plan next month to reduce the noise freight trains make overnight.
Emma and William were the most popular names in Cincinnati in 2012.
Ohio gas prices dipped this week after two straight weeks of increases.
The furthest confirmed galaxy shows off light from just 700 million years after the Big Bang.
Early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended. Check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements for the 2013 election here.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Medicaid expansion challenged, jails go uninspected, local senator's energy bill criticized
Republican legislators filed a lawsuit against Ohio’s two-year, federally funded Medicaid expansion
after Republican Gov. John Kasich went through the Controlling Board,
an obscure seven-member legislative panel, instead of the
Republican-controlled Ohio House and Senate to get approval for the
expansion. The lawsuit, filed to the Ohio Supreme Court, claims, “Each
representative is disenfranchised in his legislative capacity through
the Controlling Board’s exercise of legislative authority.” Kasich put his request to the Controlling Board
to bypass the legislature after months of unsuccessfully wrangling
legislators in his own party to approve the expansion. The Health Policy
Institute of Ohio previously found
the expansion would insure between 300,000 and 400,000 Ohioans through
fiscal year 2015; if legislators approve the expansion beyond that, the
institute says it would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly
half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
Meanwhile, some state senators plan to use the savings from the Medicaid expansion to cut taxes. For Ohioans making up to $50,000 a year, the 4-percent income tax cut would mean annual savings of less than $50.
State officials haven’t inspected southwest Ohio jails for five years,
which means the jails could be breaking minimum standards set by the
state without anyone knowing. The inspections were supposed to occur each
year, but a lack of resources, which left only one inspector in the
department, forced the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
(ODRC) to stop the practice and instead ask jails to inspect themselves —
with limited checks on jails fabricating claims. The inspections are
starting back up now that ODRC has a second jail inspector on its staff,
but the inspections are announced beforehand, meaning jails can plan
for them, and the punishment for failing to meet standards is
State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, says he will introduce two amendments
to walk back controversial provisions of an even more controversial
bill that weakens Ohio’s renewable energy and efficiency standards.
Critics say the bill would water down and effectively eliminate Ohio’s
cost-saving energy standards, but Seitz, who has ties to a national conservative group that opposes energy standards,
argues the rules impose too many costs on utility companies. A previous
study from Ohio State University and Ohio Advanced Energy Economy found
repealing the standards would increase Ohioans’ electricity bills by
$3.65 billion over the next 12 years. CityBeat covered Seitz’s proposal and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.
City Solicitor John Curp and Ohio Ethics Commission Executive Director Paul Nick said in an Oct. 22 email exchange
that it was ethically OK for Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls to retain her
job as a realtor and vote in support of the streetcar project, even
though the project could indirectly benefit Qualls by increasing
property values — and therefore her compensation as a realtor — along
the route. The exchange was provided to CityBeat and various
media outlets after mayoral candidate John Cranley criticized Qualls,
who is also running for mayor, for the alleged ethical violation at an
Oct. 22 press conference. But Curp and Nick, who cited two previous
opinions from the Ohio Ethics Commission, agreed that Qualls’ financial
connection to property values was too indirect and speculative because
she only picks up a flat fee for the “arms-length transactions between
private parties.” Curp also noted that Qualls had asked about the
potential ethical conflict two times before.
A state prison in Toledo is no longer accepting new inmates
after reports of increasing violence. The goal is to cut down on the
amount of prisoners sharing a cell, ODRC spokeswoman JoEllen Smith told
The Associated Press. Smith said the change was already in the works
before a recent bout of killings. The facility holds roughly 1,300 prisoners, which
is close to capacity.
Former Ohio State University President Gordon Gee is heading a state committee created by Gov. Kasich that’s trying to figure out how to curb college costs while improving quality.
Gallup says a majority of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. CityBeat previously covered legalization and how it could affect Ohio in further detail here.
Women’s breasts apparently age more quickly than the rest of their bodies, according to a new study.
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended.
On Oct. 29, local residents will be able to give feedback
to Cincinnati officials about the city budget — and also nab some free
pizza. The open budgeting event is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29
at 1115 Bates Ave., Cincinnati.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez