by German Lopez
53 days ago
Advocates say tactic focuses on the wrong problem
Homeless advocates gathered in front of the Hamilton
County Courthouse on Wednesday to speak out against the county sheriff’s attempts to evict homeless people
sleeping at the courthouse and Hamilton County Justice Center with the threat of jail time.
The press conference came on the same day that four local homeless filed a lawsuit
in federal court claiming Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil’s new
policy is cruel and unusual because it punishes people for being
Charmaine McGuffey, head of the Hamilton County Justice Department, says the policy is necessary to address a public health issue. She explains that every morning county officials are forced to clean up urine and feces left by the homeless the night before, and often the county doesn’t have the resources to completely disinfect the areas.
Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati
Homeless Coalition, says county officials should stop using taxpayer
money to address public defecation and focus on the
state of the economy. He’s asking locals to tell county officials, “I want my government to invest in
jobs and housing, not in pushing people to the margins.”
If the policy remains, Spring says the county could at
least compromise and hold enforcement until the winter shelter opens,
which would provide another housing opportunity for many of the homeless
people who currently rely on county buildings for a safe spot to sleep.McGuffey says the current timeline for the winter shelter opening — two months — is too much time to wait for what she describes as a public health issue. She says it’s also unclear whether local organizations, which are still gathering funds for the shelter, will have enough money to open it.
At the press conference, Spring was joined by several
homeless people who shared their experiences. All the speakers echoed a
similar theme: They’re not homeless by choice, and they only sleep on
county property because it’s much safer than the alternatives, such as
alleys and abandoned buildings.McGuffey insists no one is trying to demonize homeless people. She says officers try to link homeless people with local human services when possible. Some of that outreach is already underway through trained officers and neighborhood liaisons, and starting next week the county will bring in a trained mental health professional to act as an advocate and outreach coordinator.But if help can’t be found, McGuffey says officers have to threaten arrest to invoke a “sense of immediacy” or homeless people might never leave the properties and the public health issue would go unaddressed.So far, the sheriff’s office sees the program as successful. Over the past four weeks, it’s brought down the amount of homeless people camping out at the Hamilton County Courthouse and Justice Center each night from 40 to 12, according to McGuffey. She says the reductions exemplify people who were redirected to human services, but there’s no hard evidence showing those people actually got help or whether the reduction is temporary.Spring says there aren’t enough human services to get all of the city’s homeless help. That, he claims, is the real problem that needs local officials’ attention.Over the past decade, City Council fell far short of its funding goal for human services,
which aid homeless and low-income Cincinnatians. Several council
candidates, including Chris Seelbach, Greg Landsman and Mike Moroski,
say increasing human services funding to 1 percent of the operating budget will be a
priority for them over the next few years. The increase would represent an
improvement, but it would still fall short of the city’s 1.5 percent goal.
Meanwhile, Strategies to End Homelessness aims to reduce homelessness in Hamilton County from more than 7,000 to roughly 3,500 over the next five years through an initiative backed by the city and county.
As part of Homelessness Awareness Month, Spring and other
advocates will march in support of homeless causes later this month. The
march will begin at 3 p.m. on Oct. 26 at 1300 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine. The lawsuit:
by Hannah McCartney
59 days ago
Anywhere but here.
That's the common response when city residents are asked where group
homes for men and women experiencing homelessness and/or recovering from
drug or alcohol addiction should be operated.
While most citizens seem to agree that the group recovery facilities
like halfway homes and supportive housing are generally a good thing,
there's one point everyone seems to disagree on: where to put them.
Most recently, a 100-unit supportive housing development
that would house chronically homeless and disabled, low-income
individuals became the subject of much ire
when residents near the proposed site in Avondale complained the facility would
threaten the safety and revival efforts in an area already oversaturated
with low-income housing.
Now, a Ludlow, Ky., branch of a local entity operating
transitional housing facilities for recovering addicts across the
Greater Cincinnati area is facing scrutiny from the Ludlow Historic
Society, a small advocacy group that works to promote and preserve the
neighborhood's historic buildings.
In an email to society members obtained by CityBeat, Ludlow Historic Society President Ruth Bamberger wrote:While we believe that ex-addicts need housing, the
city has serious concerns with its ability under current law to control
or limit housing to this population. The Ludlow Historic Society is
likewise concerned because we are striving to maintain and improve our
housing stock in Ludlow, and especially make the city a desirable place
for young people to own their homes and raise their families.
Bamberger specifically cited concerns about the program’s
legitimacy, its proximity to schools and its affect on the Ludlow
New Foundations Transitional Living
(NFTL), a for-profit, private transitional housing operator founded in
2010, runs seven sober houses across the Greater Cincinnati area for men
and women who have successfully completed a detox or rehab program and
have been discharged from the court system.
NFTL also works with treatment centers and probation
officers to monitor residents entering the program. The program supports
itself completely from rental fees paid by patients in the program;
residents are charged $322 per month for housing, amenities and some
therapeutic and rehabilitation services.
Transitional living facilities for drug and alcohol
rehabilitation generally provide low-cost housing to people recovering
from addiction interested in getting their lives back on track, while
"halfway houses" usually cater to people recently released from
incarceration that need more rehabilitation to assimilate back into
Jason Lee Overbey, director for New Foundations
Transitional Living, thinks that Bamberger’s contempt is berthed from
misinformation and stereotyping. “New
Foundations is not low-income housing,” he says. “We are not a shelter.
We are an organization providing residents a safe place to reside —
with structure, observation and assignments — to begin and maintain
their journey in recovery."
Overbey says that all applicants go through an extensive
screening prior to being accepted. NFTL doesn't accept sex offenders,
arsonists or anyone with an open felony or misdemeanor warrant, and
prospective residents also have to commit to stay drug- or alcohol-free and maintain employment.
“The people that live in our facilities dress nice, they
smell nice, they’re educated,” he says. “A lot of our residents are
professionals themselves. They pay taxes, shop, go to church, give back
to the community in Ludlow. Who should we be more worried about, them or
someone anonymous in the neighborhood who could be violent or actively
The Ludlow, Ky., location, Elm Men's House, currently
houses 13 patients who have either willingly checked themselves into
the program and were accepted following a comprehensive application
process or ordered to live in one of the facilities by a court, although those mandated comprise less than half of NFTL's
The Historical Society held a private meeting on Tuesday,
Oct. 8 in Ludlow's City Council chambers with City Administrator Brian
Richmond. Overbey says the Historical Society has not responded to New Foundations' meeting requests. Neither of the two buildings encompassing the Ludlow facility are actually designated as "historic." There’s not much information on the
community ripple effects of transitional housing, although one 2010 study found residents were achieving
significant improvement or total abstinence, ultimately concluding:The
promising outcomes for SLH residents suggest that sober living houses
might play more substantive roles for persons: 1) completing residential
treatment, 2) attending outpatient treatment, 3) seeking non-treatment
alternatives for recovery, and 4) entering the community after criminal
The Ludlow Historic Society could not be reached for comment.
by German Lopez
80 days ago
State GOP restricts Obamacare, group fights homelessness, school grades linked to poverty
As the Oct. 1 opening date approaches for the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”) online marketplaces, outreach campaigns are beginning to take root and aim at states with the largest uninsured populations,
including Ohio and its more than 1.25 million uninsured. But the
campaigns have run into a series of problems in the past few months,
with many of the issues driven by regulatory changes and opposition from
Republican legislators at the state and federal level. So far, none of
the state’s “navigators” — the federally financed organizations that
will participate in outreach campaigns and help enroll people into
marketplaces — have been certified by the Ohio Department of Insurance
as they await completion of 20-hour federal training courses. Meanwhile,
some organizations have been shut out of the process entirely,
including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, because of
regulations enacted by state Republicans.
Strategies to End Homelessness yesterday released its first annual progress report
detailing how the organization intends to reduce homelessness in
Hamilton County by half from 2012 to 2017. The main strategies,
according to the report: prevention, rapid rehousing that lasts six to
12 months, transitional housing for up to 24 months and permanent
supportive housing that targets the chronically homeless and disabled.
The goal is to reduce homelessness by using supportive services to get
to the root of the issue, whether it’s joblessness, mental health
problems or other causes, and ensure shelter services aren’t necessary
in the first place.
A new study found Ohio school performance is strongly tied to student poverty. Damon Asbury of the Ohio School Boards Association says the results shouldn’t make
excuse for low-performing schools, but he claims there are other
factors the state government should consider when grading schools,
including whether low-performing schools actually need more, not less,
funding to make up for a lack of resources. Greg Lawson of the
conservative Buckeye Institute seems to agree, but he says his
organization, which supports school choice and vouchers, will soon
release a study showing no correlation between state and local funding
and student performance.
CityBeat commentaries:• “Republican Prudes Hold Down Ohio’s Economy.”• “Poor Jenny, Poor Cincinnati.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer yesterday held its endorsement interviews with mayoral candidates Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley, with some of the highlights posted here. Also, check out CityBeat’s previous Q&A’s with the candidates: Qualls and Cranley.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the state’s Identity Theft Unit has received 600 complaints and helped adjust $250,000 in disputed charges since its creation last year.
Libertarian Charlie Earl yesterday announced he’ll run in the 2014 gubernatorial race. Earl served in the Ohio House from 1981 to 1984 and ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2010.
Cincinnati State is getting a $2.75 million federal grant to expand the school’s manufacturing program in the region.
Cincinnati Children’s is testing a new bird flu vaccine.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County received the Auditor of State Award with Distinction for a clean audit report.
A new study suggests people act more selfishly when interacting with wide-faced men.
by German Lopez
81 days ago
First progress report outlines strategy, initial outcomes
Strategies to End Homelessness on Wednesday released its first annual progress report
detailing how the organization intends to reduce homelessness
in Hamilton County by half from 2012 to 2017. That means reducing the
county’s homeless population of more than 7,000 to roughly 3,500 in five
The plan doesn’t focus on providing shelter services to the
needy; instead, Strategies to End Homelessness is advocating tactics
that prevent homelessness entirely and attempt to permanently address
The main strategies, according to the report: prevention,
rapid rehousing that lasts six to 12 months, transitional housing for up
to 24 months and permanent supportive housing that targets the
chronically homeless and disabled.
For the organization, the goal is to reduce
homelessness by using supportive services to get to the root of the issue, whether it’s joblessness, mental health problems or other causes, and ensure shelter services
aren’t necessary in the first place.
“Of the various types of programs within our homeless
services system, households served in prevention were least likely to
become homeless within the next 24 months,” the report reads. “Among
supportive housing programs, Rapid Rehousing programs cost less, serve
households for significantly shorter periods of time, and have increased
long-term success compared to other supportive housing program types.”
The cost savings get to the major argument repeatedly
raised by homeless advocates: If society helps transition its homeless
population to jobs and permanent housing, governments will see savings and new
revenue as less money is put toward social services and the homeless
become productive economic actors who pay taxes.
Prevention in particular had particularly strong financial
results, according to the Strategies to End Homelessness report: “In
2012, the estimated average cost per person served in homelessness
prevention was $787, which is 60 (percent) less than the estimated cost
of $1,322 per person served in an emergency shelter.”
Meanwhile, permanent supportive housing topped the list of costs, coming in at an average of $6,049 per person.
Despite the ambitious goals and promising results, the
group’s prevention program has run into some problems. The federal
government never renewed temporary federal stimulus funding that was
financing a bulk of the prevention program, which cut off a major source
of money starting in July 2012. Strategies to End Homelessness managed
to pick up funding later in the year through the federal Emergency
Solutions Grant, but the financial support is much more modest,
according to the report.
Still, Strategies to End Homelessness appears undeterred.
The report claims 78 percent of shelter residents transitioned to
housing in 2012. The organization intends to continue prioritizing its
resources to achieve similar sustainable outcomes in the next few years.
Strategies to End Homelessness is a collaborative that
pools local homeless agencies, including the Drop Inn Center, Lighthouse
Youth Services and the Talbert House, to tackle homelessness with a
less redundant, more unified strategy.
In 2009, City Council and Hamilton County commissioners
approved the organization’s Homeless to Homes Plan to “ensure that
homeless people receive high-quality emergency shelter with
comprehensive services to assist them out of homelessness.”
But the plan has run into some recent problems. The
permanent supportive housing facility proposed for Alaska Avenue in
Avondale has been met with community resistance, which convinced City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday to place a two-week hold on the project while an independent mediator helps the two sides reach a compromise.
In Cincinnati, homelessness-reduction efforts have also obtained less local support in the past decade as City Council consistently fails to uphold its human services funding goal.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
City Council placed a two-week hold on a controversial supportive housing project in Avondale as mediators work out community concerns.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
If you have ever been past these places
at twilight, just as the exterior lights are coming up, the dichotomies
of our shadowy citizens “living” near a casino in proximity to two
entertainment districts are illuminated as the houses of justice become
the beds and toilets for the indigent.
by Hannah McCartney
83 days ago
Independent mediator will work with supporters and opposition
The controversial proposed supportive housing facility
for Alaska Avenue in Avondale was the main subject of a heated session
of City Council's Budget and Finance Committee today, which resulted in the committee's decision to put the project on hold for two weeks. The committee also announced its intent to allocate $5,000 for an independent mediator, which the city administration will be responsible for finding. A slew of Avondale community members spoke out in opposition of
the project, while representatives from National Church Residences (NCR), Josh Spring of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and Kevin Finn of Strategies to End Homelessness were some of those who publicly expressed support for the project. Many in opposition articulated concern that predominantly poor black neighborhoods such as Avondale are "targeted" for low-income housing projects like these, while supporters insist a spread of misinformation is largely responsible for the tension and that the complex is a necessary step in moving forward with the city's 2008 Homeless to Homes Plan, which explicitly cited NCR as the well-regarded nonprofit developer and manager of supportive housing facilities commissioned to bring a permanent supportive housing facility to the city. The proposed project, coined Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit facility providing residency and supportive services to the area homeless population, particularly those with with severe mental health issues, physical disabilities and histories of alcohol and substance abuse. The project, which gained City Council's official support in February, has recently come under scrutiny from community group Avondale 29, Alaska Avenue residents and other community stakeholders who are fervently expressing public distaste for the facility, which they worry will threaten the safety and revitalization efforts in the neighborhood. CityBeat covered the controversy here. Councilman Smitherman, who originally voted against Council's support for the project in February, vocally expressed his opposition, and later, Councilman Winburn rescinded his support for the project. "It appears that maximum citizen participation did not happen... you are having hundreds of people who are not ready yet for this project. So something went wrong somewhere," he said. Winburn was also the one to announce the motion that asked council to suspend the project for two weeks. Both sides are expected to once again go in front of the Budget & Finance Committee on a Sept. 30 meeting.
by German Lopez
82 days ago
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 German Lopez
87 days ago
Advocates pursue LGBT protections, Ohio among worst polluters, local business could move
It’s legal in most of Ohio for an employer to fire someone
over his or her sexual orientation, but a new bipartisan bill being
pushed by Equality Ohio could make the practice and anti-LGBT discrimination for housing illegal.
Critics of the Equal Housing and Employment Act argue it could lead to a
flood of lawsuits against companies, but Equality Ohio argues that just
hasn’t happened in other states that passed nondiscrimination statutes.
The bill’s Democratic and Republican sponsors argue that it would
actually grow the economy by making Ohio more inclusive, which would
make it easier to keep “the best and the brightest” employees. The bill
was introduced in May and its sponsors expect it to be taken up after
the General Assembly reconvenes in October.
In the United States, Ohio’s power plants pollute more than all but Texas’ power plants,
making Ohio one of the nation’s leading contributors to global warming,
according to a Sept. 10 report from advocacy group Environment Ohio.
The report calls for all levels of government to create and enforce
stronger standards and regulations to curtail pollution and encourage
cleaner forms of energy. National conservative groups oppose the
stricter rules; they flat-out deny human-caused global warming despite the nearly unanimous scientific consensus that it’s at least partly caused by human actions. Some companies also argue efficiency standards impose too many costs on businesses and customers.
Cincinnati officials apparently expected Pure Romance to get tax credits from Ohio.
But the state ultimately refused to grant the credits, which are
regularly given to firms for job creation. Now the company, along with
its $100 million in annual revenues, is considering moving across the
river to Covington, Ky. Ohio officials won’t clarify why Pure Romance’s
request was refused, but the company suspects it’s because its product
lineup includes sex toys, which could have been politically embarrassing
for Gov. John Kasich’s administration.
Following the Sept. 10 mayoral primary’s historically low
voter turnout, the Charter Committee, Cincinnati’s unofficial third
political party, is supporting efforts to reform how the city elects its mayors.
“It is absurd that taxpayers paid $400,000 for a primary yesterday that
few people voted in, and that decided very little,” said Mike Goldman,
convener of the Charter Committee, in a statement. Voter turnout for the
Sept. 10 mayoral primary was a dismal 5.68 percent, much lower than the
15 percent that turned out for the primary held on Sept. 11, 2001 — the
day of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon —
and the 21 percent of voters that participated in the 2005 primary.A City Council motion could strip council members’ support
for a controversial permanent supportive housing facility in Avondale.
The proposed facility, Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit housing
facility with residency and supportive services for the homeless,
particularly those with mental health issues, physical disabilities and
histories of substance abuse. Several Avondale residents are concerned
the facility would further deteriorate an already-blighted community. CityBeat covered the dispute in further detail here.
Cincinnati Public Schools is asking the state to force the Emery Center, home of the embattled Emery Theatre, to pay taxes.
The property taxes could produce $130,000 a year for CPS, which the
school district says it needs because local property taxes make up more
of its funding than the typical urban district in Ohio. The Emery Center
was originally tax exempt under a plan that used the ground floor for
education purposes and a renovated Emery Theatre for community events.
But neither happened; the ground floor is currently used by the Coffee
Emporium, and the theater currently isn’t being renovated or used.
A judge ordered Duke Energy to destroy or return a memo
that was apparently embarrassing for Cincinnati officials because the
memo, which was sent by the city’s Law Department to the city manager,
was supposed to remain private under attorney-client privilege. Duke
wanted to use the memo in its current case against the city. The city
and Duke are in court as part of an agreement between the two entities
to legally settle who has to pay for moving utility lines to accommodate
for the streetcar project.
The Ohio Department of Insurance hasn’t received any applications or certified individuals for Obamacare’s formal outreach effort.
The “navigators,” as officials call them, are a crucial part of Obamacare because they’re
supposed to promote the law’s benefits to ensure the federal government
meets its health insurance enrollment goals to keep costs down. Health
care advocates claim the lag is driven by federal training requirements
and a state law enacted in July. The state law made it so some groups,
including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, can no longer
participate in the navigator program, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Debe Terhar, the president of Ohio Board of Education, wants Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye removed from the state’s Common Core education standards
because the book contains a rape scene. Terhar called the book
“pornographic” at a Sept. 10 Board of Education meeting. But Terhar
clarified that she doesn’t want to ban the book, and she would still
allow different school districts keep it in their curriculums.
State Auditor Dave Yost says Ohio’s cities and counties need to do a better job complying with public record requests.
A sampling of 20 cities and counties found eight, or 40 percent, had
weaknesses in compliance. The most common problem was inadequate
measures to track public record requests.
The Cincinnati area’s largest mall is up for sale for $45 million.
The struggling mall has gone through several names over the years:
Forest Fair Village, Cincinnati Mall, Cincinnati Mills and Forest Fair
Mall.Orangutans apparently announce their travel plans a day in advance.
by German Lopez
94 days ago
War on drugs fails goals, housing complex raises concerns, courts deny parking challenges
With the war on drugs widely considered a failure after more than four decades, experts are suggesting legalization and decriminalization as viable alternatives.
One concern: Despite recent attempts at sentencing reform, Ohio’s
prison population is set to grow further and breach a capacity barrier
previously set by the U.S. Supreme Court in a ruling against California.
With costs rising and drug use rates seemingly unaffected by harsher
enforcement, groups of academics, former law enforcement officials and civil
libertarians say it’s time to look at states and countries that have
abandoned criminalization and harsh enforcement with great success. To read the full story, click here.
A planned supportive housing facility in Avondale is raising concerns for residents
who claim the complex could hurt a neighborhood already plagued by
poverty, crime, obesity, unemployment and homelessness. Particularly
worrying for Avondale 29, the group opposing the plans, is that the
facility is near a daycare and elementary school, which the group says
could have a negative impact on neighborhood children. Supporters of the
facility say the opposition is based on widespread misinformation. They
point to a similar similar supportive housing facility in Columbus,
which, according to the Columbus Police Department’s Gary Scott, had
a positive impact on the community surrounding it.
Opponents of Cincinnati’s parking lease were dealt two major blows in court yesterday: The Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear their first legal challenge and effectively upheld the city’s referendum-immune emergency powers, and the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court refused to place a temporary restraining order
on the lease despite claims that the city manager made “significant and
material” changes to the deal without City Council approval. Both the
challenges come from the conservative Coalition Opposed to Additional
Spending and Taxes (COAST), which claims parking rates and enforcement
hours will rise because the city is ceding too much power over its
services by leasing its parking meters, lots and garages to the Greater
Cincinnati Port Authority. Supporters of the parking lease argue the
plan is necessary to leverage the city’s parking assets to finance
development projects that will grow the city’s tax base.
Commentary: “Secrecy Plagues Potentially Good Programs.”
The city is fighting to have a document removed
from its legal battle over the streetcar with Duke Energy. City officials says the document is “nothing scandalous” and the city just
made a mistake by accidentally disclosing it, but a Duke attorney says
the document is a source of “embarrassment” for the city and important
to the case. As part of an agreement, Cincinnati and Duke are arguing in
court to settle who has to pay an estimated $15 million to move utility
lines to accommodate for the streetcar route.
Advocates of the federally funded Medicaid expansion yesterday filed petitions to the state attorney general’s office
to get the issue on the 2014 ballot. As part of Obamacare, states are
asked to expand their Medicaid programs to include anyone up to 138
percent of the federal poverty level. If they accept, the federal
government would pay for 100 percent of the expansion’s cost for three
years then indefinitely phase down to 90 percent. The Health Policy
Institute of Ohio found the expansion would save Ohio $1.8 billion and insure half a million Ohioans. Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, and state Democrats support the expansion, but Republican legislators are resisting it.
More than two-thirds of Ohioans support laws that protect gays and lesbians against job discrimination, but more than four in five mistakenly think such laws are already in place at the state and federal levels, according to the 2013 Ohio Values Survey from the Public Religion Research Institute.
The survey also found a slim majority of Ohioans oppose amending the
state constitution to allow same-sex marriage, which somewhat
contradicts earlier polls from The Washington Post and Quinnipiac University that found a plurality of Ohioans now support same-sex marriage.
State agencies are probing the second high-profile suicide in an Ohio prison
in the past month. Ariel Castro, a Cleveland man who was sentenced to
life for kidnapping three women and beating and raping them as he held
them for a decade, was found hanging on Tuesday after an apparent
suicide. His death was the seventh suicide in an Ohio prison this year
and the 35th since 2008. “As horrifying as Mr. Castro’s crimes may be,
the state has a responsibility to ensure his safety from himself and
others,” said Christine Link, executive director of the American Civil
Liberties Union of Ohio, in a statement. “Questions remain whether Mr.
Castro was properly screened for suicide risk and mental illness.”
The Ohio Development Services Agency is offering $30 million in loans and grants
to employers who train their workforce. “Building a strong economy is
about ensuring Ohio’s workforce has the tools it needs for success,”
said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, in
a statement. “We want our workforce to be ready for the competitive
jobs of tomorrow.”
Ohio legislators are asking the federal government to pursue a balanced-budget amendment.
Although the amendment might sound like a good idea in campaign
platitudes, many economists agree it’s a bad idea because it limits the
federal government’s flexibility in reacting to economic downturns that
typically cause deficits by lowering tax revenues and increasing the
amount of people on government services.
A Fairfield, Ohio, woman is being forced by the Fairfield Board of Zoning Appeals to get rid of five of her seven dogs.
The woman, who says she suffers from depression, Parkinson’s disease and
multiple sclerosis, says she needs the dogs to cope. The zoning board
said it had heard anonymous complaints from neighbors, which apparently
convinced the board to not provide an exemption for Fairfield’s two-pet limit.Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble is considering dropping some products and offering low-price alternatives for others in response to growing concerns about lacking performance.For the second time in a year, an Ohio judge is publicly shaming a convicted idiot.
A new implant allows doctors look into people’s brains.