by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast last night. At
least 16 people are believed to have died from the storm, and as many
as 7.5 million were left without power. Areas of New York and New Jersey
also faced major flooding. It took until 4:30 a.m. for Sandy to go from
hurricane to tropical storm.
The Anna Louise Inn will be in court at 9 a.m. today arguing in front of the First District Court of Appeals, which could overturn a May ruling and allow the Inn to move forward with its renovation. CityBeat will have online coverage for the hearing later today.
Hamilton County’s probation department is facing
sexual harassment charges. The charges are coming from a county worker
who said her promotion was denied due to her actions “for opposing
discrimination and encouraging others to exercise their right to be free
from acts of discrimination.”
The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes
filed a lawsuit Friday in an attempt to reverse the August reworking of
the Blue Ash airport deal. For COAST, the lawsuit is mostly to stall or
stop the financing for the $110 million Cincinnati streetcar.
City Council will vote next week to decide whether
the city should borrow $37 million to fund development projects and a
portion of the Homeless to Homes program. But Homeless to Homes is
generating some concern due to its requirement to move three shelters.
Three Cincinnati charity groups are coming together to
help veterans with disabling injuries. The organizations will pool
available resources to hopefully find jobs for veterans.
Mitt Romney is running a new ad against President Barack
Obama in Ohio that says Chrysler is moving Jeep production to China. The
ad, which Chrysler says is false, warranted a snarky response from the
car company: “Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given
birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans
to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore
idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce. It is a leap that would be
difficult even for professional circus acrobats.” The Obama team also
responded with its own ad. It is somewhat understandable Romney would be
getting a bit desperate at this point in the race. Ohio is widely
considered the most important swing state, but aggregate polling has
Romney down 1.9 points in the state. Romney is up 0.9 points nationally.
State Republicans are refusing to pull an ad that accuses
William O’Neill, Democratic candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court, of
expressing “sympathy for rapists.” This is despite the fact that Justice
Robert Cupp, O’Neill’s Republican opponent, has distanced himself from
the ad. At this point, even the most nonpartisan, objectives watchers
have to wonder why the Republican Party can’t keep rape out of its
messaging. In comments aired first on Aug. 19, U.S. Senate candidate
Todd Akin of Missouri said on pregnancy after rape, “If it's a
legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole
thing down.” On Oct. 23, Richard Mourdock, the Senate candidate for
Indiana, said, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came
to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life
begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that
God intended to happen.”
Ohio is getting closer to the health exchange deadline
with no plan in sight. Obamacare asks states to take up health exchanges
that act as competitive markets for different health insurance plans.
States are allowed to either accept, let the federal government run the
exchanges or take a hybrid approach. As part of the health exchanges,
the federal government will also sponsor a heavily regulated nonprofit
plan that sounds fairly similar to the public option liberals originally
wanted in Obamacare.
Meanwhile, Ohio and other states still haven’t decided
whether they will be expanding their Medicaid programs. In the past,
state officials have cited costs as a big hurdle, but one study from
Arkansas found Medicaid expansions actually saved money by reducing the
amount of uncompensated care. Some states that expanded Medicaid also
found health improvements afterward.
An inspector at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) was
caught not doing her job. The inspector was supposed to do 128 site
visits for in-person safety inspections, but she apparently never showed
up to some of the schools and filed fraudulent reports.
Peter Cremer North America could add 50 jobs in Cincinnati over three years in an expansion.
A San Francisco firm bought a major stake in Cincinnati Bell.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
State officials in Columbus are getting
squeezed by the Obama administration because Ohio failed to move enough
people off public assistance programs into real jobs. The feds contend
the state has mismanaged welfare reform since 2007.
by Bill Sloat
Penalty threatened because too few recipients shifted to paying jobs
For the past month, Romney-Ryan and crew have been busy
accusing President Obama of eliminating welfare-to-work requirements.
You can hardly miss the campaign commercials that claim Obama has taken
the “work” out of welfare reform. But what we haven’t heard is that
state officials in Columbus are getting squeezed by the Obama
Administration because Ohio failed to move enough people off public
assistance programs into real jobs. The feds contend the state has
mismanaged welfare reform since 2007.
It is former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration getting blame for not being aggressive with the work component. Now Ohio is desperately trying to dodge $136.2 million in penalties for failing to shift welfare recipients into the workforce. Next
week, Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration plans to spend
nearly $500,000 on a consultant to help clean up Ohio’s mess. Public
Consulting Group Inc. of Boston is in line to get the $499,642 contract.
That company says the welfare to work reforms suggested by the Obama
Administration in July — the waivers denounced by Romney-Ryan — could
actually help get more people off assistance and into jobs.
Here’s language straight from the Kasich Administration’s request to hire the Boston consulting firm:
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
Administration for Children and Families (ACF), notified Ohio of its
failure to meet the performance threshold of fifty percent (all
families) and ninety percent (two parent families) for TANF work
participation for FFY’s 2007, 2008, and 2009. These
notifications carried potential penalties of $32,758,572 for FFY 2007,
$45,050,074 for FFY 2008 and $58,517,487 for FFY 2009. Ohio’s current
corrective compliance will require Ohio to completely correct the
violation by meeting the work participation threshold during the current
FFY 2012. Failure to do so will result in a reduction of Ohio’s State
Family Assistance Grant (i.e. TANF) of $32,758,872 …”
State officials said the consultant would do analysis to
increase work participation rates “in accordance with federal
requirements.” Nobody is suggesting that work participation requirements be ended.
The consulting firm says it knows how to help a state win a
waiver, which is an alternative way to assist TANF recipients into the
workforce. The waivers are what Romney and Ryan have denounced as
killing welfare reform. (So far, Ohio hasn’t asked the consultant
directly to develop a waiver plan.) But the consultant Ohio is hiring is
clear that waivers don’t end work requirements and they could actually
help achieve better employment outcomes.
“The Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
recently issued a challenge for states to develop and test new and
innovative strategies that will improve employment outcomes in the
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program,” the consulting
firm says. It sees the change as opening up “thoughtful and innovative
approaches that connect TANF participants to jobs in a more effective
and less administratively burdensome way.”
Again, the consultant being hired by the Republicans at
the Statehouse in Columbus doesn’t say Obama is gutting welfare reform.
The consultant says, “The waiver authority specifically allows states to
test new ways of helping achieve better employment outcomes within the
TANF program by offering flexibility on how work requirements and work
participation are defined, administered and measured.”
by German Lopez
President Barack Obama will visit Cincinnati Monday. No
details were given for the event. Last time Obama was in
Cincinnati, he held a town hall meeting to tout his support for small
businesses and the LGBT community. Ohio is considered a vital swing
state for the presidential election, and it’s widely considered a
must-win for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. However, after the
Democratic National Convention, aggregate polling at FiveThirtyEight and
RealClearPolitics hugely favors Obama, establishing many paths for the
Democrat to clinch the presidency. Obama could lose Ohio, Virginia and
Florida and still win the election, which shows how many options he has to victory.A new index lists Cincinnati’s economy as one of the
strongest in the nation. The On Numbers Economic Index ranked Cincinnati
No. 15 out of 102 metro areas with a score of 67.65. Oklahoma City was
No. 1 with a score of 91.04. Cincinnati also touts a lower unemployment
rate than the U.S. and state average. The area’s seasonally unadjusted
unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in July in comparison to the state’s
7.4 percent unadjusted rate and the country’s 8.6 percent unadjusted
rate.The 2013 Hamilton County budget process is “challenging,”
says Commissioner Greg Hartmann. He says the county is dealing
with a $200 million budget instead of the $300 million budget of six
years ago, which is presenting new problems. Hamilton County Sheriff Si
Leis said budget cuts could lead to up to 500 jail bed cuts. CityBeat
previously covered the county commissioners’ inability to tackle
challenging budget issues — sometimes at the cost of the taxpayer.
State Auditor Dave Yost says his investigation into
attendance fraud at Ohio schools could last well into the year. The
investigation, which began after Lockland Schools in Hamilton County
were found of attendance fraud, is slowed down by the state’s
data-reporting system, according to Yost. Schools may falsely alter
their attendance reports to improve grades in the state report
card.Secretary of State Jon Husted has been sued again. This
time he’s being sued by the Democratic Montgomery County election
officials he fired. The officials tried to expand in-person early voting
hours in Montgomery County to include weekend voting, but the move
violated Husted’s call for uniform hours across the state.The Ohio EPA will host a workshop in Cincinnati on
Sept. 25. The workshop will focus on the Ohio Clean Fund and other tools
and incentives to help individuals and groups embrace clean energy.For the first time since December, Ohio's tax collections were lower than expected. The state was $43 million below estimates in August.Eighteen percent of Ohio mortgages are underwater, according to a new survey.A study found wind power could meet the world’s energy
needs. Wind currently supplies 4.1 percent of the United States’ energy
needs. Obama greatly boosted the production of wind
energy with tax credits. Romney vowed to
repeal the tax credits in a brief moment of substance.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
When the stimulus package passed in 2009,
the federal government sent out funds that worked to prevent
homelessness. Local organization Strategies to End Homelessness used
some of this funding to help thousands of at-risk people and those who
are already homeless. But that funding will soon come to an end because
the stimulus package was only meant to be a temporary jolt to deal with
the Great Recession.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
In a statement on Aug. 22, Secretary of
State Jon Husted said of early voting, “The rules are set and are not
going to change.” Husted made the comment in an attempt to end
discussion over in-person early voting hours.
Unfortunately for Husted, a federal judge
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt
Romney on Sept. 1 laid out five steps that he said would have America
“roaring back” during a campaign stop at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal,
his first campaign stop since formally accepting the Republican
by German Lopez
Carbon dioxide emissions fell to a 20-year low this year,
largely thanks to natural gas that was made cheaper and more plentiful
due to the fracking boom in Ohio and other states. The news is a
surprising turnaround for climate change activists, but critics
worry that methane — a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — emitted from natural gas operations could still pose a significant climate
threat. Environmental groups are generally opposed to fracking,
but supporters, like Gov. John Kasich, insist it can be made safe with
enough regulations. CityBeat previously covered the concerns and questions behind fracking here.The Ohio Department of Education has had a rough year, and
in a few ways, it’s back to square one. On top of the search for a new
superintendent of public instruction, the Department of Education has
had to deal with budget cuts and layoffs, a new Board of Education
member with no college degree or known resume, and the department is now
being investigated by the state auditor. The White House has announced a $30 million manufacturing
hub for Ohio that will act as a model for the rest of the United States.
The hub will bring together universities and businesses in order to increase growth and collaboration and decrease risk.Ohio has seen an uptick of businesses requesting to work
in the state, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Estimates
show 6,137 new entities applied to work in the state during July, up
from 5,472 during July 2011. The state has also seen 52,728
new business requests so far in 2012, up from 49,460 during the same
January-to-July period in 2011. The news shows some signs of
strengthening economic growth in Ohio.But Ohio’s unemployment rate barely moved in July. The
unemployment rate remained at 7.2 percent, the same as June’s
unemployment rate, even though 2,000 jobs were added.The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. EPA,
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and energy companies met yesterday
to work out how Ohio will enforce new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
The new standards will greatly reduce toxic pollutants given off by
power plants, according to the National Resources Defense Council.Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor claims there’s a funding
shortage for courts. The shortage could make it difficult for some cases
and people to see their day in the courtroom.Environmental groups are asking for more rules for
wastewater injection wells, the wells used to dump wastewater produced
during fracking. But state regulators aren’t sure more rules are
necessary.Fifty-eight state Republican lawmakers have never broken from the very conservative Ohio Chamber of Commerce in a vote.Sen. Rob Portman will be speaking at the Republican
national convention. The convention will make Mitt Romney’s nomination
as the Republican presidential candidate official. Conventions are also a
time for political parties to show off their new party platforms.President Barack Obama is coming back to Ohio next Tuesday. The president will be staying in Columbus this time around.Tax Policy Center to conservative critics: No matter what you say, Romney’s tax plan is still mathematically impossible.Americans love computers, but they hate the oil and gas industry.It’s taking more than three days, but the famous Jesus statue is rising again.
Obama campaign targets LGBT voters in Ohio
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Barack Obama is the first sitting
American president to express his support for gay marriage, and he’s
hoping to cash in on that political capital come November.
by German Lopez
Hamilton County commissioners will vote on levies today. If commissioners do not increase the money levies generate, mental health services could be severely cut in Hamilton County. On Aug. 1, Thomas Gableman, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board Chairman, told the commissioners, “I cannot tell you we can do more with less. We cannot do the same with less. We will do less with less.”Republicans, including local state representative candidate Mike Wilson, have been pushing false information regarding a lawsuit filed by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party to restore early voting. After releasing a misleading press release, Wilson clarified his position to CityBeat. Politifact rated Mitt Romney’s accusations “False.”Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is calling for new regulations on internet cafes. Internet cafes have been taking advantage of legal loopholes to hold contests, according to a press release from DeWine’s offices.Ohio could finish the 2013 fiscal year with a $408 million surplus. The surplus could give more ground to Gov. John Kasich’s call for an income tax cut.The swine flu outbreak in Ohio is being watched carefully by CDC officials. The CDC is worried the virus could mutate, making it deadlier or more contagious.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has a big announcement about elections tomorrow. One reason for high health-care costs may be the fee-for-service model. The model encourages doctors to provide as many medical procedures as possible, even when they might not be necessary.Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra saw attendance and subscriptions rise in the 2011-2012 season.There are super PACs for everything. Even time travel.The public may be excited about NASA’s current mission, but future missions could be in jeopardy due to funding reductions.