The people, budgets and controversies CityBeat covered while writing about the streetcar all year
0 Comments · Thursday, December 26, 2013
Just like it was a big year for Cincinnati and Ohio, it was a big year for the CityBeat news team.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:07 PM | Permalink
Three Ohio cities make Children Defense Fund’s top five
Cincinnati ranked No. 2 for highest child poverty out of 76 major U.S.
cities in 2012, the Children’s
Defense Fund (CDF) of Ohio said Friday.
The numbers provide a grim reminder that more than half of
Cincinnati’s children lived in poverty in 2012, even as the city’s urban core began a nationally recognized revitalization period.
With 53.1 percent of children in poverty, Cincinnati
performed better in CDF’s ranking than Detroit (59.4 percent) but worse
than Cleveland (52.6 percent), Miami (48 percent) and Toledo (46
percent), which rounded out the top five.
The data, adopted from the U.S. Census Bureau, also shows
Ohio’s child poverty rate of 23.6 percent exceeded the national rate of
22.6 percent in 2012, despite slight gains over the previous year.
“When three of the top five American cities with the
highest rates of child poverty are in Ohio, it is clear that children
are not a priority here,” said Renuka Mayadev, executive director of CDF
of Ohio. “Significant numbers of our children do not meet state
academic standards because their basic needs are not being met.”
With the contentious streetcar debate over for now, some local leaders are already turning their attention to Cincinnati’s disturbing levels of poverty.
Mayor John Cranley on Thursday told reporters that he intends to unveil an anti-poverty initiative next year. A majority of council members also told CityBeat
that they will increase human services funding, which goes to agencies
that address issues like poverty and homelessness, even as they work to
structurally balance the city’s operating budget.
Outside City Hall, the Strive Partnership and other education-focused organizations are working to guarantee a quality preschool education
to all of Cincinnati’s 3- and 4-year-olds. The issue, which will most
likely involve a tax hike of some kind, could appear on the 2014 ballot.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Cincinnati’s winter shelter for the
homeless might not be able to open until mid-January if it doesn’t get
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:21 AM | Permalink
Report finds state lacks leadership opportunities for women
In comparison to men, Ohio women have lower incomes, hold fewer
leadership roles and disproportionately suffer from the state’s high
infant mortality rate. The issues placed Ohio at No. 30 out of 50 states
for women’s issues in a Sept. 25 report from the Center for American
Progress (CAP) titled, “The State of Women in America.”
Out of three major categories, Ohio performed worst on leadership roles available to
women, ranking No. 37 in the category with a “D”
grade. CAP found only 16.7 percent of Ohio’s state-elected executive
offices and 37.2 percent of managerial positions are held by women, even
though women make up 52 percent of the state’s population.
The state performed slightly better in health outcomes for
women and obtained a “C-” in the category. The report particularly
criticized Ohio for its infant mortality rate of 7.7 deaths for every
1,000 infants — the fourth highest in the nation — and regulations and defunding measures in the recently passed state budget that make reproductive health services less accessible to women.
On economic issues, Ohio was relatively on par with the
U.S. median and ranked No. 27 with a “C” grade. For every $1 a man
makes, an Ohio woman makes 77 cents, which matches the national average.
But the results are even worse for minorities: Black women make 66 cents
for each dollar a man makes and Hispanic women make 64 cents.
Still, with 17.7 percent of Ohio women living in poverty,
the state has the No. 19 highest poverty rate for women in the country.
The statistics were again worse for minorities: About 36.4 percent of
black women and 32.6 percent of Hispanic women in Ohio live in poverty.
The CAP report analyzed 36 indicators for women in the
categories of economic security, leadership and health. It then graded
the states and ranked them based on the grades.
Vermont topped the rankings with an “A,” and Oklahoma was at the very bottom with an “F.”
CAP, which is an admittedly left-leaning organization, is
touting the report to support progressive policies that could help lift
women out of such disparities, including the federally funded Medicaid
expansion and an increase to minimum wages.
“While women have come a long way over the past few
decades, much remains to be done to ensure that all women can have a
fair shot at success,” said Anna Chu, one of the report’s authors,
in a statement. “Today’s report shows that in many states, it is still
difficult for women and their families to get ahead, instead of just
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
More than half of Cincinnati’s children live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey released Sept. 19.
by German Lopez
Food stamp rules to hit locals, city defends allowances, charterites oppose pension initiative
Gov. John Kasich’s refusal to seek another waiver for
federal regulations on food stamps will force 18,000 current recipients
in Hamilton County to meet work requirements
if they want the benefits to continue. That means "able-bodied"
childless adults will have to work or attend work training sessions for 20 hours a week starting in October to continue getting food assistance. The renewed rules are coming just one month before federal stimulus funds for the food stamp program are set to expire, which will push down the $200-a-month food benefits
to $189 a month, or slightly more than $2 a meal, in November. In light of the new requirements, the Hamilton County
Department of Job and
Family Services will help link people with jobs through local partnerships and
Hamilton County's SuperJobs Center,
but that might be difficult for food stamp recipients who have past
convictions, mental health problems and other barriers to employment.The city administration defended its proposal to restore $26,640 in car allowances
for the mayor, city manager and other director-level positions in the
city government, just a few months after the city narrowly avoided
laying off cops, firefighters and other city employees by making cuts in
various areas, including city parks. City spokesperson Meg Olberding
says car allowances are part of traditional compensation packages in
other cities Cincinnati competes with for recruitment, and she says that
the compensation was promised to city directors when they were first
hired for the jobs. But Councilman Chris Seelbach says the proposal is
out of touch and that he's more concerned about lower-paid city employees,
such as garbage collectors, who haven't gotten a raise in years, much
less a $5,000 car allowance. The Charter Committee, Cincinnati's unofficial third political party, came out against the tea party-backed pension ballot initiative. The committee recognizes Cincinnati needs pension reform soon, but it says the tea party proposal isn't the right solution. The tea party-backed amendment would privatize Cincinnati's pension system so future city employees — excluding cops and firefighters, who are under a different system — would have to contribute to and manage 401k-style retirement accounts. Under the current system, the city pools and manages pension funds through an independent board. Supporters argue the amendment is necessary to deal with the city's growing pension liability, but opponents, including all council members, argue it would actually cost the city more and decrease employees' benefits. CityBeat covered the amendment and the groups behind it in further detail here.State Rep. John Becker of Clermont County wants U.S. Judge Timothy Black impeached because the judge ruled Ohio must recognize a Cincinnati same-sex couple's marriage in a death certificate. The judge gave the special order for locals James Obergefell and John Arthur, who is close to death because of a neurodegenerative disease with no known cure called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman says if the city were to synchronize its mayoral primary elections with other state and county elections, it could save money by spreading the share of the costs. The Sept. 10 primary cost Cincinnati $437,000. The change would require altering the city charter, which needs voter approval.The Ohio Department of Education will soon release revised report card grades for Cincinnati Public Schools and other school districts following an investigation that found the school districts were scrubbing data in a way that could have benefited their state evaluations.An Ohio bill would ban drivers younger than 21 from driving with non-family members in the car and bump the driving curfew from midnight to 10 p.m., with some exceptions for work and school.A University of Cincinnati football player is dead and three others are injured following a single-car crash.Ohio gas prices rose as the national average dipped.Here is a map of air pollution deaths around the world.
by German Lopez
State unemployment rises, local poverty trending up, Qualls unveils platforms
Ohio added 32,500 jobs between August 2012 and August
2013, but a larger amount of unemployed workers helped push the
unemployment rate to 7.3 percent in August this year, up from 7.2
percent the month and year before, according to data released today by
the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The amount of unemployed workers climbed by 9,000 to 419,000 over the
year and 3,000 throughout the previous month, while month-over-month
employment decreased by 8,200. The biggest losses for the month were in
educational and health services and leisure and hospitality, which were
too high for month-over-month gains in trade, transportation, and
utilities, professional and business services and government employment
More than half of Cincinnati’s children live in poverty,
according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey
released yesterday. The 2012 rate represents a roughly 10-percent
increase in the city’s child poverty rate in the past two years. In
2010, 48 percent of Cincinnatians younger than 18 were considered
impoverished; in 2012, the rate was 53.1 percent. Overall poverty
similarly increased in Cincinnati from 30.6 percent in 2010 to 34.1
percent in 2012. The increases hit black residents and perhaps Hispanics
harder than white Cincinnatians, although a large margin of error makes
it hard to tell if the results are accurate for the city’s Hispanic
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls yesterday unveiled
“The Qualls Plan to Grow Cincinnati,” an outline of her platforms and
what she would do during her first 100 days as mayor if she’s selected
by voters on Nov. 5. The plan proposes three major changes that Qualls
would pursue within 100 days of taking office: She would reinstitute the
Shared Services Commission to see which city services can be managed in
conjunction with Hamilton County or other political jurisdictions; she
would propose a job tax credit for businesses that create jobs that pay a
living wage and provide benefits; and she would “renew business
districts” by making unused city property available at a “nominal fee”
to local startups and small businesses. The plan also outlines various
platforms that focus on providing new opportunities to businesses,
leveraging partnerships and making the city more inclusive and
Four-fifths of companies approved for Ohio tax credits
this year said they’d create jobs paying less than the $65,000 a year
promised by Pure Romance, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Pure Romance was originally planning on moving from Loveland to
downtown Cincinnati with state and local support, but the company might
instead move to Kentucky following the state’s decision to not grant tax
credits. State officials say they rejected Pure Romance because the
company isn’t part of industries the state usually invests in, but
companies like Kroger don’t meet the traditional standards and still get
tax credits. Democrats say the Republican-controlled state government
is afraid to financially support a company that includes sex toys in its
Two Hamilton County agencies were reprimanded
in a state audit released yesterday. But Hamilton County Department of
Job and Family Services (HCDJFS) spokesperson Brian Gregg says the
findings relied on two-year-old data and were largely managerial
problems that the agency will fix. Meanwhile, a $2,400 overcharge at the
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office led to an investigation and criminal
charges against the property officer supervisor as well as new policies
to protect payment systems in the future.
The ballot initiative that would pursue the Medicaid expansion yesterday got the green light to start collecting signatures
from the Ohio Ballot Board. Under Obamacare, states are asked to expand
their Medicaid programs to 138 percent of the federal poverty level; if
they accept, the federal government will pay for the entire expansion
through 2016 then phase down its payments to an indefinite 90 percent.
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio found the expansion would insure
nearly half a million Ohioans and generate $1.8 billion for the state
over the next decade. But Republican legislators have so far resisted
calls from Republican Gov. John Kasich and Democrats to take up the
expansion, which has forced advocates to pursue the issue for the 2014
ballot. CityBeat covered Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion in greater detail here.
Although Attorney General Mike DeWine said the threat of
felony charges is enough to deter someone from misusing the state’s
expansive law enforcement database, the state failed to bring charges
to the system’s lead attorney when he resigned in 2009 after misusing
the database. Still, the abuse happened before DeWine was in office and
the controversial facial recognition program was in place. Gov. Kasich previously said he was concerned about the facial recognition program, which allows law enforcement to use a simple photo to search for someone’s address and contact information.
From the Associated Press:
“The Ohio attorney general’s multi-state case against a man accused of
fraud after collecting as much as $100 million in the name of Navy
veterans doesn’t address the man's donations to a who’s who of mostly
Republican politicians, including the attorney general himself.”
On the same day a Libertarian announced he’s running for governor in 2014, State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) proposed new state restrictions
for minor parties. The standards are less stringent than state rules
that were struck down by a federal court in 2006, but the Libertarian
Party of Ohio denounced the bill as an attempt to protect Gov. Kasich’s
re-election bid in 2014.
Cincinnati home sales were up 24 percent in August — another sign that the local economy is recovering.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble was rated No. 1 in the world for leadership by global management consulting Hay Group.
Here is a list of 11 terrifying childcare inventions from the early 20th century.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:11 PM | Permalink
Census shows poverty on the rise in Cincinnati
More than half of Cincinnati’s children live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey released Thursday.
The 2012 rate represents a roughly
10-percent increase in the city’s child poverty rate in the past two years. In 2010, 48
percent of Cincinnatians younger than 18 were considered impoverished;
in 2012, the rate was 53.1 percent.If the number was reduced back down to 2010 levels, approximately 4,500 Cincinnati children would be pulled out of poverty.
Overall poverty similarly increased in Cincinnati from 30.6 percent in 2010 to 34.1 percent in 2012.
Black residents were hit hardest with 46.4 percent classified as in poverty in 2012, up from 40.8 percent in 2010. Meanwhile,
the poverty rate among white residents went from 19.8 percent in 2010 to
22.9 percent in 2012.
Hispanics of any race were placed at a poverty rate of 51
percent in 2012, but that number had an extraordinary margin of error of
15.5 percent, which means the actual poverty rate for Hispanics could
be up to 15.5 percent higher or lower than the survey’s estimate. In
2010, 42 percent of Hispanics were classified as impoverished, but that
number had an even larger margin of error of 17.9 percent.
The other local numbers had margins of error ranging from 2.2 percent to 4.9 percent.
The child poverty rates for Cincinnati were more than double Ohio’s numbers. Nearly one in four Ohio
children are in poverty, putting the state at No. 33 worst among 50 states for child
poverty, according to the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio.
In 2012, the U.S. government put the federal poverty level for a family of four at an annual income of $23,050.
Some groups are using the numbers to make the case for new policies.
“Too many Ohioans are getting stuck at the lowest rung of
the income ladder and kids are paying the price,” said Hannah Halbert,
workforce researcher for left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio, in
a statement. “Policymakers — at both the state and federal levels — are
making a clear choice to not invest in workers, families or kids. This
approach is not moving our families forward.”
The federal government temporarily increased aid to
low-income Americans through the federal stimulus package in 2009, but
some of that extra funding already expired or is set to expire later in
the year. The food stamp program’s cuts in particular could hit 1.8 million Ohioans, according to an Aug. 2 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
At a local level, City Council has consistently failed to uphold its commitment to human services in the past decade, which human services agencies say is making the fight against poverty and homelessness more difficult.
by German Lopez
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 Hannah McCartney
Winburn, Thomas cite "community outrage" in asking council to oppose project
The controversial permanent supportive housing facility proposed for a residential area of Avondale that caused outrage amongst Avondale community members took a small blow today when Cincinnati City Council members Pam Thomas and Charlie Winburn introduced a motion at a City Council meeting to rescind council's original support for the facility. The proposed facility, Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit housing facility providing residency and supportive services to the area homeless population, particularly those with severe mental health issues, physical disabilities and histories of alcohol and substance abuse. CityBeat covered extensively the Avondale community's concerns about the location of the facility and how the project's developers felt the facility was misunderstood ("Home Invasion," issue of Sept. 4). On Feb. 13, City Council offered its official support for the Commons at Alaska project in a resolution, a decision members of Avondale 29, the group formed to oppose the project, say was made without proper community outreach and neglect for proper considerations of the facility's effects on the already-blighted surrounding neighborhood. At that time, Christopher Smitherman and Cecil Thomas (before he resigned his position) were the only two members of council who did not vote to pass the resolution. The motion reads: "When the resolution was heard by City Council, a small minority of the 18,000 members of the Avondale Community expressed their support for the development. Further, the North Avondale Community Council has voiced their opposition to the development. With this resolution, the majority of the community who are opposed to the development are being heard." The developer, National Church Residences, is a well-respected developer and manager of housing facilities for the homeless nationwide. In June, the project received more than $1 million in tax credit financing from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which would allow NCR to move forward with building plans and eventually begin construction in summer 2014. City Council's official support was originally cited in NCR's application to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which may have factored in to OHFA's decision to award the tax credits. The motion will be voted on in council's Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.