by German Lopez
Western & Southern set to appeal for third time
The Anna Louise Inn today won another case in front of the
Cincinnati Zoning Board of Appeals. The ruling upheld a Historic Conservation Board
decision that gave Cincinnati Union Bethel, which owns the inn, a
conditional use permit that will allow the social service agency to carry on with a planned
$13 million renovation. Western & Southern in a statement given to reporters following the decision vowed to appeal the ruling.
At the hearing, Western & Southern attorney Francis Barrett, who is
the brother of Western & Southern CEO John Barrett, continued his
argument that the Anna Louise Inn is a “high-crime area.” The accusation
is meant to disqualify the Inn for the conditional use permit, which
requires that the building’s use will not be detrimental to public
health and safety or negatively affect property values in the
neighborhood. During an Aug. 27 hearing, the Historic Conservation Board found no direct evidence connecting residents of the Anna Louise Inn to
criminal activity in the neighborhood.
Barrett also emphasized Western & Southern’s stance that continuing
on the current path set by the Historic Conservation Board is a
waste of taxpayer money because the Inn is receiving public funds.
Barrett labeled the funds “excessive expenditures.” However, that
argument has little bearing on whether the Inn deserves a conditional
use permit, because it’s not relevant to zoning laws and rules.
Tim Burke, Cincinnati Union Bethel’s attorney, began his defense of the Anna
Louise Inn by calling the ongoing case one of the most “frustrating” of
his career. He suggested Western & Southern is just continuing its attempts to
delay the Inn’s renovations as much as possible.
Regarding the charge that the Anna Louise Inn has adverse effects on
public health and safety, Burke told the Zoning Board of Appeals that
the only adverse effect is on Western & Southern because “they want the property
and can’t get it.” He claimed there is no proof that the Anna Louise Inn
perpetuates crime in the area, and testimony and evidence presented in
the case has proven as much.
The case is only one of many in the ongoing conflict between Cincinnati Union Bethel and Western & Southern, which CityBeat previously covered in-depth (“Surrounded by Skyscrapers,”
issue of Aug. 15). Cincinnati Union Bethel wants to renovate the Anna Louise Inn in part
with $10 million in tax credit financing from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and
a $2.6 million loan funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development that was awarded by the city. Western & Southern says it wants to use
the Lytle Park area, where the Inn is located, for private economic
The series of cases began when Judge Norbert Nadel ruled on
May 27 that the Anna Louise Inn classifies as a “special assistance
shelter,” which requires a different kind of zoning permit than the
previous classification of “transitional housing.” That ruling was
appealed by Cincinnati Union Bethel to the Ohio First District Court of Appeals, which held hearings on Oct. 30 and is expected to give a ruling soon.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is asking for an
emergency stay on a recent court order on voting. The order lets voters
vote in any polling place as long as they’re in the correct county. In
his 22-page motion, Husted expressed concerns the “unwarranted,
last-minute litigation” could cause “ongoing harm and confusion.” He
also stated concerns that if the ruling stands, Ohioans will soon be
able to vote from anywhere in the state, regardless of assigned polling
places and counties.
The Anna Louise Inn and Western & Southern
met in court for what could be the final time yesterday. In front of the
Ohio First District Court of Appeals, both sides reiterated their past
arguments. The Anna Louise Inn said it should be classified as
“transitional housing,” not a “special assistance shelter”; and W&S
argued to the contrary. A final decision is expected in 30 to 45 days.President Barack Obama canceled today’s visit to
Cincinnati to monitor Hurricane Sandy storm relief. Both Mitt Romney and Obama have been
heavily campaigning in Ohio, which could play a pivotal role in the
presidential election. Obama will return to the campaign trail Friday.
Meanwhile, a new Romney ad running in Ohio was given a “Pants on Fire”
rating from Politifact. The ad claimed Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians
who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs,
which PolitiFact said is throwing “reality in reverse.” In aggregate
polling, Obama leads Romney in Ohio by 2.4 points. Romney is up 0.8 points nationally. FiveThirtyEight, the New York Times' election forecast model, now gives Obama a 77.6 percent chance of winning Ohio and a 77.4 percent chance of winning the election.
Supporters of Issue 4 held a press event yesterday. If
Issue 4 passes, City Council will have four-year terms, up from two. The
reform seeks to allow City Council to focus less on campaigning and
more on long-term policy. Opponents say it will make council members
An anti-Obama memo circulated by the CEO of
Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp. is getting some criticism from Democrats.
The memo took issue with Obamacare, possible tax hikes and “over-regulation,” but it does
not specifically endorse any candidate. Caleb Faux, executive director
of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the memo is coercive: “I
think that it’s disgraceful that any employer would use the power
implicit in the employer-employee relationship to coerce people while
they are making their voting decisions.”
Build Our New Bridge Now has already raised $2 million.
The coalition will market and lobby to get a new Brent Spence Bridge
built between Cincinnati and Kentucky.
A University of Cincinnati study found green roofs may
require some special plants. The news could shift some ideas in the
green movement, which is currently pushing green roofs as a way to
improve urban water infrastructure. Cincinnati’s City Council and
Metropolitan Sewer District have some plans for utilizing green
infrastructure. Xavier reversed its decision to not pay for birth control
in its employee health plans. The decision comes largely due to Obamacare's requirement most employers pay for contraception
without a copay. Rev. Michael Graham, Xavier's president,
criticized Obamacare’s requirement in an email to Business Courier: “Religious institutions have never been asked to violate their consciences in this profound a manner.”The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will be holding a
public hearing on Nov. 13 to accept comments on a draft hazardous waste
permit renewal for Spring Grove Resource Recovery, a Cincinnati-based
company.Josh Mandel is touting his alternative to Obamacare. His plan pushes tax benefits, transparency, tort reform,
health savings accounts and allowing health insurance to be purchased across
state lines. However, one study by Georgetown University found insurance
companies may not want to sell across state lines, and a
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study found tort reform would only
bring down total national health care spending by about 0.5 percent. The
CBO also found repealing Obamacare would actually increase the federal
deficit by $109 billion. In aggregate polling, Mandel is currently
losing to Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown by 5.3 points.
State Republicans introduced a bill reforming Ohio’s municipal income tax code. The bill got praise from business interests, but a statewide group representing local communities doesn’t seem too happy.
Ohio school leaders are asking the state to not regulate the use
of seclusion rooms. The rooms are small rooms that are typically
intended to restrain violent or out-of-control students, but an
investigation by StateImpact Ohio and The Columbus Dispatch found the rooms were often used to punish students and for the convenience of school staff.
The Ohio Department of Education announced a $13 million
Early Literacy and Reading Readiness competitive grant. The program
seeks to help students boost reading skills before the end of the third
Ohio victims of Hurricane Sandy could be eligible for reduced interest rates through the state’s Renew and Rebuild programs.
If you have a disturbing lack of faith in humanity, wait until you read this next sentence: Star Wars 7, 8 and 9 announced.How to protect Earth from asteroids: paintballs.
by German Lopez
Court likely to rule in 30-45 days
The Anna Louise Inn, the city of Cincinnati and Western
& Southern (W&S) met for what could be the final time in court
today. For the most part, both sides took their time at the Ohio First
District Court of Appeals to restate past arguments.The three-judge panel heard 15-minute arguments by both sides. It is expected to give a final decision in 30 to 45 days. During the hearing, W&S lawyer Francis Barrett insisted that the
Anna Louise Inn meets the definition of a “special assistance shelter,”rather than “transitional housing” as it was originally classified, due to the
Off the Streets program, which helps women involved in prostitution turn
their lives around. The difference in labels could have substantial
implications for the Anna Louise Inn and whether it can go ahead with
its planned $13 million renovation. However, the inn has already
obtained a conditional use permit for its renovations in light of the original court decision classifying it as a special assistance shelter.
Tim Burke, lawyer for the Anna Louise Inn, rebutted by
asserting that the record shows the Anna Louise Inn has never acted as a
special assistance shelter. In one example, Judge Sylvia Hendon asked
Burke if the Anna Louise Inn would take in a woman in the middle of the
night since it is not a special assistance shelter. Burke responded by
saying the Inn would turn the woman away, as required under zoning code:
“She will be directed to one of the traditional homeless shelters. She
is not admitted to the Anna Louise Inn. The program does not operate
that way, and it never has. And the record is absolutely clear about
that.”The ongoing feud was triggered
by Cincinnati Union Bethel’s (CUB) refusal to sell the Anna Louise Inn
property to W&S. The company originally offered $1.8 million to buy
the Anna Louise Inn in 2009. CUB declined, and it eventually obtained
$12.6 million in state- and city-distributed federal funding for long-needed renovations.
From that point forward, relations between CUB and W&S
deteriorated, as CityBeat previously covered in detail (“Surrounded by Skyscrapers,” issue of Aug. 15)When asked how the hearings went, Burke replied, “You never know … until
you hear the decision.”
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.
by Stefanie Kremer
Posted In: Homelessness
at 10:12 AM | Permalink
Annual Hunger and Homeless Unity March to benefit Anna Louise Inn
This year, the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition's annual Hunger and Homeless Unity March will focus on an abundance of issues regarding the poor and homeless in our city. Marching a route that highlights the path of homelessness, the walk will move through the southern portion of Over-the-Rhine, through the Central Business District and end in Lytle Park beside the Anna Louise Inn. The Anna Louise Inn has been involved with a series of legal disputes with Western & Southern Financial Group as the corporation is on a mission to buy the Inn's property to expand their business. (CityBeat covered the issue in-depth in a Aug. 17 cover story, "Surrounded by Skyscrapers.")For more than 100 years, the Anna Louise Inn has been serving local women in need. Located in Lytle Park, it is the only single-room occupancy residence for women in the city and acts as a safe harbor for women who have nowhere else to go. Former Anna Louise Inn resident Pam Franklin will speak about the importance of affordable housing at the event. Not only will the march show support for social service agencies such as the Anna Louise Inn, it will be educational. Participants will learn about local residents being affected by gentrification, businesses suffering from displacement and the affects of foreclosure. Attendees will learn that in order for "new life" to enter, "existing life" does not have to leave. "This will be a time to protest and to become more informed about the current injustices," says Josh Spring, the Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. Everyone is invited to participate in the march and learn about the affects of gentrification and displacement this Saturday."This really is an event for everyone — people that already are against gentrification, people that might be against gentrification, people that are for it, and people who don't know what gentrification is," Spring says. "Everyone will gain some truth from this experience." Beginning at Buddy's Place at 1300 Vine Street, the march is from 12:45-3 p.m.
Western & Southern continues strategic public relations campaign against Anna Louise Inn
2 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Western & Southern might have
completely flubbed an opportunity to purchase the Anna Louise Inn back
in 2009, but it’s hard to describe the Fortune 500 company as anything
but proactive since that time.
4 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Western & Southern continued its
bullying of the Anna Louise Inn last week as the company threw more
legal pestering at the nonprofit that houses low-income women. That’s how every newspaper’s lead
paragraph would read if the media were truly fair.
by German Lopez
Conservative groups are pushing Ohio to purge its voter
rolls. The move is largely seen by Democrats as an attempt to
disenfranchise and suppress voters. The groups in support of the purge, which include Judicial Watch and True the Vote, typically cite
voter-related errors and voter fraud as the main reason for their efforts, but
there have been 10 cases of in-person voter fraud since 2000, according to a
News21 study. Florida Gov. Rick Scott also pushed for a voter purge in his state, but Democrats vowed to fight the purge at every step.The Historic Conservation Board ruled in favor of the Anna
Louise Inn yesterday. The ruling means the inn can now move ahead with
its multi-million renovation project. The board’s ruling was despite
Western & Southern, which has tried to block the renovation as part
of a broader attempt to shut down the inn and buy up the property. CityBeat extensively covered W&S’s attempts here.Cincinnati is No. 7 in the country for job growth, a study
from Arizona State University found. Cincinnati beat out Riverside,
Calif., but it lost to San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle
and San Diego.Secretary of State Jon Husted was advised to fire the
Democrats on the Montgomery Board of Elections by Jon Allison, who
overheard the hearing on the firings on Aug. 20. Allison is also the
former chief of staff to Republican Gov. Bob Taft. The Democrats on the
board attempted to expand in-person early voting to weekends despite
Husted’s call to uniform voting hours that include no weekend voting.
Ohio Democratic Party Chris Redfern said the recommendation was “no
surprise” and the Republican Party should be expected to support
voter suppression by now.
Josh Mandel, excessive liar, Ohio treasurer and senatorial
candidate for Ohio, described Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio as
“un-American” for his vote supporting the auto bailout, which
helped protect 850,000 jobs in Ohio’s auto industry. But Mandel still
refuses to give specifics on what he would have done differently to protect
the auto industry. The federal government has given the go-ahead for fracking in Wayne
National Forest in Ohio. The go-ahead will open up more than 3,300 acres for auction. Environmental critics say fracking is unsafe and
should be banned, but Gov. John Kasich insists the process can be made
safe with proper regulations. Previous analyses have found natural gas,
which is produced from fracking, could help combat climate change. CityBeat previously covered the uncertainty behind fracking here.Kentucky is getting another creationist attraction. Apparently
not content with the false claims asserted at the Creation
Museum and Ark Encounter, a new group wants to build a brick-and-mortar
for the Founders of Creation Science Hall of Fame.Republicans almost went a day without saying something
offensive about women. Tom Smith, Republican candidate for
Pennsylvania’s senate seat, compared pregnancy from rape to pregnancy
out of wedlock. Last week, Paul Ryan, Republican vice presidential candidate, described rape as a "method of conception."Most people might not remember it since it’s rarely
mentioned in the news anymore, but America is still at war in
Afghanistan. Yesterday, the Taliban beheaded 17 civilians for having a
party, two U.S. soldiers were killed by an Afghan soldier and 10 Afghan
soldiers died to insurgents.A private funeral service is planned in Cincinnati for
Neil Armstrong, who died last Saturday. A public funeral will be held at
Wapakoneta. Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. His first
steps inspired curiosity and innovation around the world when he said,
“One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Politicians will
talk up Armstrong’s accomplishment in the following days, but Democrats and Republicans both supported cuts to NASA’s budget in
recent years that Armstrong opposed.
by Danny Cross
Inn could get go-ahead for renovation Monday, but Western & Southern expected to appeal
The Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board will receive a
recommendation on Monday to approve a conditional use permit for the
Anna Louise Inn, which would allow the Inn to move forward with a
multimillion-dollar renovation of its building.
The Conservation Board staff reviewed the standards required
for conditional use and the Anna Louise Inn’s application, concluding
that the facility should be allowed to operate as a “special assistance
The Board is expected to rule on the permit Aug. 27 after
receiving the recommendation and hearing testimony from the Inn’s
administrators and supporters. Representatives from Western &
Southern Financial Group, which sued the Anna Louise Inn over zoning
violations in 2011, will also have an opportunity to testify.
CityBeat last week reported the details of Western
& Southern’s failure to purchase the Anna Louise Inn when it had the
chance and the company’s subsequent attempts to force the Inn out of
the neighborhood (“Surrounded by Skyscrapers", issue of Aug. 15).
Tim Burke, lawyer for the Anna Louise Inn, is pleased with
the staff’s determination that the renovation met all qualifications
for conditional use.
“I was certainly optimistic that we would get a positive
recommendation,” Burke says. “This is obviously an extremely positive
recommendation and we agree with it.”
The staff recommendation states that the Anna Louise Inn
“creates, maintains and enhances areas for residential developments that
complement and support the downtown core” and that “no evidence has
been presented of any negative public health, safety, welfare or
property injury due to the current use.” It also notes that “the Anna
Louise Inn is a point of reference from which all other new and
renovated buildings must be designed in order to be compatible with the
The Anna Louise Inn only applied for the conditional use
permit because Judge Norbert Nadel ruled in Western & Southern’s
favor on May 4, determining that the Inn is a “special assistance
shelter” rather than “transitional housing,” which froze $12.6 million
in city- and state-distributed loans for the Inn’s planned renovation.
The Anna Louise Inn appealed that decision but also applied for the
conditional use permit from the Conservation Board under the judge’s
definition, because special assistance shelters qualify for conditional
use permits under the city’s zoning code.
Francis Barrett, lawyer for Western & Southern, appears
to have taken exception to the Anna Louise Inn’s application. He sent a
letter to the Conservation Board Aug. 20 stating that “the description
of the proposed uses set forth in the application for conditional use
approval … is not the same as nor consistent with the Court’s decision.”Barrett didn't return a message left by CityBeat with the receptionist at his law firm after a Western & Southern media relations representative directed CityBeat to contact him there. Francis Barrett is the brother of Western & Southern CEO John F. Barrett. UPDATE: Francis Barrett returned CityBeat’s call after this story was published. His comments are at the end. Burke doesn’t know what Barrett meant by suggesting that
the proposed uses in the Anna Louise Inn’s application for conditional use don’t follow
Nadel’s May 4 ruling.
“We’re doing what they argued in court,” Burke says.
“Judge Nadel’s decision doesn’t ever exactly say ‘you’re a special
assistance shelter.’ It certainly refers to the Off the Streets program
that way and it certainly refers to (the Anna Louise Inn) as a single
unified use. It says ‘go back to the appropriate administrators and seek
conditional use approval.’ That’s what we’re doing.”
Stephen MacConnell, president and CEO of Cincinnati Union Bethel, which owns the Anna Louise Inn, says the hearing will involve testimony from himself and Mary
Carol Melton, CUB executive vice president, along with supporters of
the Anna Louise Inn.
“We’ll bring a few witnesses just to basically lay out the
situation,” MacConnell says. “The board will already have the staff
recommendation, so the witnesses that we’ll bring will briefly testify
about how we meet the required standards.”
Western & Southern will have a chance to appeal if the
Historic Conservation Board grants the conditional use permit. Burke
expects that to happen.
“What I’m pissed about is Western & Southern, they
don’t give a damn,” Burke says. “We can do exactly what Judge Nadel told
us to do and get it approved as a conditional use. They will appeal it
to the zoning board of appeals. We can win it there and they will
appeal it and get it back in front of Judge Nadel and then I don’t know
what will happen.”
The hearing is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27 at Centennial Plaza Two, 805 Central Ave., Seventh Floor.UPDATE 5:36 P.M.: Regarding the letter Francis Barrett sent the
Conservation Board Aug. 20 stating that “the description of the proposed
uses set forth in the application for conditional use approval … is not
the same as nor consistent with the Court’s decision,” Barrett said
Friday evening: “I just felt that the description in the submission was
different from the description in the decision. I would say it was
just not complete.”
When asked for specifics, Barrett said: “I’d have to get
the decision out and look at it carefully. I don’t have it in front of
me I just thought in general.”
Barrett said Western & Southern will give a
presentation to the Historic Conservation Board on Monday but declined
to elaborate because it wasn’t finalized.
When asked if Western & Southern will appeal a ruling
in favor of the Anna Louise Inn, Barrett said: “It all depends what the
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Spectators at the Western & Southern Open’s finals on
Aug. 19 also saw a plane flying overhead pulling a banner protesting
the tournament’s corporate sponsor. The banner read: “W&S Stop
Bullying Anna Lou Inn stpws.com.”