by German Lopez
ProgressOhio loses case against privatized development agency
The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously dismissed a request to compel JobsOhio to disclose various documents. The court argued the Republican-controlled General Assembly largely
exempted JobsOhio from public records law and therefore allowed the agency to keep most of its inner workings secret.The decision was a major loss
for advocacy group ProgressOhio, which claims the documents should be on the
The Republican-controlled legislature, with the support of
Republican Gov. John Kasich, in 2011 established JobsOhio, a privatized
development agency, to replace the Ohio Department of
Development. The JobsOhio Board of Directors is chaired by wealthy Ohio businessmen.
Republicans argue JobsOhio’s secretive, privatized nature
is necessary to quickly foster economic development deals across the
state. Democrats say the anti-transparency measures make it far too difficult to hold
JobsOhio accountable as it recommends how to spend taxpayer dollars.An Oct. 23 report criticized JobsOhio and other privatized development agencies around the country for consistently displaying conflicts of interest and other scandalous behavior. The report came from Good Jobs First, a
research center founded in 1998 that scrutinizes deals between
businesses and governments.
Kasich previously touted JobsOhio as one of the reasons
Ohio’s economy quickly recovered following the Great Recession, but
recent indicators show the state’s economy is now slowing down. Ohio is one of five states whose economy worsened in the past three months,
according to an index from the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia that
combines four economic indicators to gauge states’ economic health.
Others have more directly questioned the Kasich administration’s claims to success. An Oct. 29 investigation from The Toledo Blade found
jobs numbers from the Ohio Development Services Agency are vastly inflated,
indicating that the state government isn’t producing nearly as many
jobs as it claims.
by German Lopez
Drop Inn Center to move, sewer and water rates set to rise, CVG's losses cost region
The Drop Inn Center and 3CDC (Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation) on Friday announced a deal
to move the region’s largest homeless shelter from its current location
in Over-the-Rhine to Queensgate. The Drop Inn Center says the new
location represents “most of the things on our wish list, which is
fantastic.” And 3CDC has been pushing the shelter to move since it began
its efforts to revitalize the Over-the-Rhine and downtown area, which
some label gentrification. Josh Spring, executive director of the
Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, said in a statement that
government officials and developers should be helping maintain
affordable housing in all parts of the city instead of moving poor
people to other neighborhoods.
Local sewer rates could rise by 6 percent
and local water rates will skyrocket by 22.6 percent following proposed
price hikes from the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD). The higher
sewer rates are needed to help pay for a federally mandated sewer upgrade
that will cost $3.2 billion over 15 years, according to MSD officials.
MSD says the spike in water bills is necessary because water use is
declining and treatment costs are increasing.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) has lost more flights and seats since 2005
than any other major airport across the country, which effectively cost
the Cincinnati area 33,000 jobs and nearly $1 billion in annual
economic activity in the same time span, according to an analysis from The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The 78-percent drop in flights — far higher than the national average
of 19 percent — comes even as CVG’s average fares increased by 26 percent,
which were also above the national average of 4 percent.
Commentary from The Business Courier: “(Mayor-elect John) Cranley doubles down on streetcar cancellation.”
Supporters of Cincinnati’s $133 million streetcar project
will meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Cincinnati Hyatt Regency Ballroom
to discuss their options to prevent Cranley from stopping the streetcar
project. Supporters were recently reinvigorated by the current city
administration’s projections that canceling the streetcar project could cost nearly as much as completing it.
As Ohio’s Republican legislators move to adopt a stand-your-ground law, the research shows the controversial self-defense laws might increase homicides and racial disparities in the U.S. justice system.
Economists generally agree that state officials don’t play
a big role in changing the economy in the short term, but political
scientists say the economy will still play a major role in deciding Ohio’s 2014 gubernatorial elections.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald argues Republican Gov.
John Kasich deserves the blame for Ohio’s economy, given that Kasich
initially credited his policies for Ohio’s brief economic turnaround
early on in his term. But now that the economy is beginning to stagnate,
Kasich refuses to take the blame and points to congressional gridlock at the federal level
as the reason for Ohio’s slowdown.
Ohio paid nearly $1.2 million
for a string of charter schools that closed weeks after they opened.
The schools, which all operated under the name Olympus High School, are
now facing an audit and have been ordered to pay back some of the money.
A state job program for disabled Ohioans could lose millions in federal funds
after the U.S. Department of Education warned the state it is
improperly spending the money on case management and other
administrative activities. But the head of Opportunities for Ohioans
with Disabilities insists the state program is under compliance.
Ohio’s number of uninsured children is below the national average, according to a Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is fast tracking business permits to outpace neighboring states.
With Thanksgiving looming, Ohio gas prices rose in the past week.
Migraine sufferers who also deal with allergies and hay fever might suffer from more severe headaches, according to a study from three medical centers that include the University of Cincinnati.Would you ride the world’s tallest water slide?Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
11 Comments · Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The streetcar project has empirical evidence to back it up. Mayor-elect John Cranley's trackless trolley idea doesn't.
by German Lopez
JobsOhio benefits Columbus, property tax return could grow, museum levy gets conditions
JobsOhio, the state-funded privatized development agency, grants more tax credits around Columbus, the state capital, than anywhere else in the state. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer,
the discrepancy might be driven by Columbus’ high growth rate and the
city’s proximity to the state government, which could make Columbus officials more aware of tax-credit opportunities. But
Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann also blames local governments
in southwest Ohio for failing to act in unison with a concerted
economic plan to bring in more tax credits and jobs.
Hartmann today plans to introduce a partial restoration of the property tax return
that voters were promised when they approved a half-cent sales tax hike
to build Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium. The return
was reduced when there wasn’t enough money in the sales tax fund to pay
for the stadiums last year, but there might be enough money now to give
property taxpayers more of their money back. It was unclear as of Sunday
how much money someone with a $100,000 home would get back under Hartmann’s plan.
Hamilton County’s Tax Levy Review Committee will recommend a tax levy for the Cincinnati Museum Center only if a few conditions are met,
including transfer of ownership of the Union Terminal from the city to a
new, to-be-formed entity and allocation of public and private funds to
renovate and upkeep the terminal in a sustainable fashion.City Council last week asked the city administration
to find and allocate $30,000 for the winter shelter, which would put
the shelter closer to the $75,000 it needs to remain open between
mid-to-late December and February. The shelter currently estimates it’s
at approximately $32,000, according to Josh Spring, executive director
of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. The city administration
now needs to locate the money and turn the transaction into an
ordinance that needs City Council approval and would make the allocation of funds official. To
contribute to the winter shelter, go to tinyurl.com/WinterShelterCincinnati and type in “winter shelter” in the text box below “Designation (Optional)” before making a donation.
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced Thursday that it plans to cut about 500 jobs
in Akron, Ohio. State officials were apparently aware of the plan
in October but underestimated how quickly Lockheed Martin would carry
out the cuts. Ohio Democrats jumped on the opportunity to mock JobsOhio
for failing to move at the “speed of business,” as Republicans claim
only the privatized development agency can, to develop an incentive
package that could have kept Lockheed Martin in Akron. But state
officials say they were led to believe Lockheed Martin’s move would take
Intense storms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest over the weekend, killing at least six.
Ohio has issued a record-breaking amount of concealed-weapons licenses
this year. The state issued 82,000 licenses in the first nine months of
2013, more than the 64,000 in 2012 that set the previous record. About
426,000 permits have been issued since the state began the program in
This week, Ohio gas prices jumped back up but remained lower than the national average.
Popular Science looks at how artificial meat could “save the world.”Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Streetcar supporters to meet today, Dohoney to resign, city continues with retail plans
Supporters of the streetcar project are rallying in a last-stand effort to save the streetcar
from an incoming city government that’s threatening to cancel the
project. Supporters plan to meet today in a town hall-style meeting at 7
p.m. at the Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St. #1100, downtown
Cincinnati. Some of the supporters of the movement are residents,
business owners and realtors in Over-the-Rhine who told CityBeat
that canceling the project will set the city’s economic momentum back.
Mayor-elect John Cranley disagrees, but the decision is ultimately up to
the newly elected City Council to cancel the project, and at least
three of nine newly elected council members previously seen as streetcar opponents —
P.G. Sittenfeld, David Mann and Kevin Flynn — told CityBeat
they’d like to evaluate the costs of canceling the project and the
potential return of investment versus the cost of completing
City Manager Milton Dohoney will resign on Dec. 1
and receive one year of severance pay, Cranley announced yesterday. To
political watchers, the news comes as very little surprise. Cranley and
Dohoney disagreed on two key issues — the streetcar project and parking plan,
both of which Cranley opposes and Dohoney supported and helped get off
the ground. Once the new mayor and City Council take over in December,
Cranley says he will appoint a yet-to-be-named interim city manager and
begin looking for a permanent replacement.
Despite Saks Fifth Avenue’s departure, the city intends to move forward
with its plans to build a retail corridor downtown, and others have
approached the city about taking Saks’ space, according to Kathleen
Norris, managing principal of Urban Fast Forward and the city’s retail
leasing consultant. Saks announced yesterday that it’s closing down its
downtown store and moving to Kenwood Collection. Although the move is a
blow to the city, a few city officials were quick to point to other
growth in downtown Cincinnati as an example of what will attract new
retail outlets in the future.
A deal is nearly set
to fund the $107 million interchange project at Interstate 71 and
Martin Luther King Drive. As part of the deal, the Ohio Department of
Transportation will pay for $52 million, and Cincinnati and the
Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) will take a
loan from the state infrastructure bank to pay for their share. OKI says
it will pay for its portion of the loan through $25 million in federal
funding, but it’s so far unclear how the city will pay for its share of
the project. The outgoing city administration intended to pay for the project through the
now-canceled parking plan, which would outsource the city’s parking
meters, lots and garages.
Cranley says the city can get out of the parking plan
without defaulting on the lease agreement with the Greater Cincinnati
Port Authority, but Cranley’s position is at odds with the stated
opinion of officials in the outgoing city administration and Port
Authority. Cranley announced on Tuesday that the parking plan will be called off
once he and the new council take office in December, but it’s unclear
how much it will cost to break out of the plan and its various
The Ohio House held a hearing
yesterday for two bills that would increase safeguards for victims of
domestic violence, including new housing and employment protections. CityBeat previously covered the story of Andrea Metil, a domestic violence victim who is calling for greater protections.
Only 1,150 Ohioans signed up for Obamacare through the troubled HealthCare.gov
portal, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced
yesterday. Both the Ohio-wide measure and nationwide number — 106,185 — fell far
short of the federal government’s expectations for the first month of
enrollment. But many of the troubles are caused by technical problems
that have made HealthCare.gov largely unworkable for most Americans. The
federal government is working to correct the errors by December, but The Washington Post reports that the website likely won’t be fully functional by then.
Meanwhile, Ohioans will be able to enroll in the now-expanded Medicaid program on Dec. 9. Republican Gov. John Kasich got the federally funded Medicaid expansion for two years through the Controlling Board, a seven-member legislative panel, despite the Republican-controlled legislature’s opposition.
The Ohio House yesterday approved a bill that reforms municipal taxes,
which businesses support but cities oppose. Supporters argue it will
simplify the tax code so businesses can more easily work around the
state and from county to county, but opponents claim it will reduce how
much revenue cities receive.
Kasich temporarily delayed convicted child killer Ronald Phillips’s execution so Phillips can donate his non-vital organs to his mother and possibly others.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble is shuffling some of its top positions.
Here is how Mars might have looked 4 billion years ago.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
Over-the-Rhine businesses and residents fight back as newly elected city government threatens to cancel streetcar project
1 Comment · Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Over-the-Rhine businesses and residents
are organizing with supporters of the $133 million streetcar project in a
last-stand effort to keep the project on track.
by German Lopez
Mayoral candidate represented company as it moved headquarters to Norwood
As an attorney and lobbyist at Keating, Muething &
Klekamp (KMK), mayoral candidate John Cranley helped payroll company
Paycor finalize plans to move its headquarters — and 450 to 500 jobs
with it — from Queensgate in Cincinnati to Norwood, Ohio.
Specifically, KMK helped Paycor and Norwood set up a tax credit deal to incentivize the company’s relocation. Throughout the
process, the law firm called on several of its employees, including
Cranley, to help with the negotiations.
For Paycor, the move comes after more than two decades in
Cincinnati. The company originally looked in Cincinnati for bigger
headquarters with better parking options, but ultimately couldn’t find a
location to its liking, according to a May 2012 memo
from the city manager. So when Paycor found a location outside city
limits and worked out a tax incentive package with Norwood and Ohio, it
decided to move.
Cities and states often deploy incentive packages, ranging
from property tax abatements to deductions on income taxes, to attract
and retain companies. Pure Romance, a $100-million-plus “relationship
enhancement” company, recently agreed to move from Loveland, Ohio, to
downtown Cincinnati after securing such a tax deal with the city.
Paycor broke ground on its new headquarters in December and
plans to move there next spring. The transition will pull 450 to 500
employees out of Cincinnati, and the company plans to add another 250
to 300 employees over time at its new facilities.
Cranley campaign manager Jay Kincaid says Cranley and KMK
won’t comment on the details of their work with Paycor or other clients
for ethical reasons. But Kincaid says Cranley was just doing his job
after Paycor went to KMK, not the other way around.
“In the legal profession you’re asked to represent
clients, and you do it to the best of your ability,” Kincaid says. “At
the time I don’t think (Cranley) was even running for office. The firm
came to him and said, ‘Hey, we have a job that we need you to work on.’
And he did the work, just like anyone else would at their job.”
Norwood City Council approved the deal with Paycor on Oct.
23, 2012. Cranley announced his mayoral campaign three weeks later, on
Cranley’s critics argue that a mayoral candidate shouldn’t be helping companies leave the city he wants to lead.
“It is disappointing that John (Cranley) helped Paycor
leave the city with its over 450 tax-paying jobs. His efforts undercut
the city’s efforts to retain jobs and businesses,” said Vice Mayor
Roxanne Qualls, who is running against Cranley, in an emailed statement.
The move comes despite Cincinnati’s various attempts to
hang on to Paycor, including previous tax deals. In 2001,
then-Councilman Cranley and the rest of City Council approved tax
incentives to keep the company in Cincinnati, retain its 142 jobs at the
time and create another 25. The city administration estimated the deal
would cost the city $225,750 and generate $546,000 in net tax revenue
over five years.In 2006, Cranley and seven council members approved another incentive package to further secure Paycor’s stay in Cincinnati.
But the deals also required Paycor to remain in Cincinnati
through 2015. Since Paycor’s move violates the agreement, the city
administration says it plans to claw back some of the tax benefits given
to the company.
In other words, Cranley in 2001 and 2006 approved tax deals with Paycor that the company, with his help, is now set to break.
City spokesperson Meg Olberding says the clawback process
will begin after Paycor moves to Norwood in 2014. So if Cranley is
elected by voters on Nov. 5, he would be mayor as the city is taking
back some of the money it gave away.
Although the city is taking a hit, Cranley’s relations
with the payroll company appear unscathed. Paycor CEO Bob Coughlin
contributed $1,100 to Cranley’s campaign on Aug. 20, according to
campaign finance reports.Updated with more details about the tax deals between Cincinnati and Paycor.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Privatization schemes in Cincinnati and Ohio just went through a bad month.
by German Lopez
State job numbers mislead, Cranley didn't repay $75,000 loan, county to vote on budget
Many jobs the state government claims it’s creating don’t actually exist, according to The Toledo Blade.
The Ohio Development Services Agency claims it improved its process for
tracking the effects of taxpayer-financed loans, grants and subsidies,
but The Blade found errors led to more than 11,000 claimed jobs
that likely don’t exist. Part of the problem is that the state relies on
companies to self-report job numbers; although the Ohio Development
Services Agency is supposed to authenticate the reports, officials
almost never visit businesses that get tax incentives. The discrepancy
between claimed job creation and reality raises more questions about the
efforts of JobsOhio, the privatized development agency established by Gov. John Kasich and Republican legislators that recommends
many of the tax subsidies going to Ohio businesses. CityBeat covered JobsOhio in further detail here.
Mayoral candidate John Cranley didn’t repay a $75,000 loan
for his Incline Village Project in East Price Hill that was meant to go
to a medical office and 77 apartments that never came to fruition. Kathy Schwab of Local Initiatives Support
Corporation (LISC), which loaned the money to Cranley’s former
development company, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that they
worked out terms to repay the loan after the news broke yesterday.
Supporters of Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls’ mayoral campaign say the news
casts doubt on whether Cranley is as fiscally responsible as he’s led on
while stumping on the campaign trail. As The Enquirer notes,
Cranley is very proud of the Incline Project and often touts it to show
off his experience building a successful project in the private sector.Hamilton County commissioners are expected to vote on a budget
on Nov. 6. This year’s budget is the first time in six years that the
county won’t need to make major cuts to close a gap. But the
commissioners also told WVXU that it’s unlikely they’ll take up the
county coroner’s plan for a new crime lab, which county officials say is a dire need.
A lawsuit filed on Oct. 23 asks the Hamilton County Court of Appeals to compel the Hamilton County Board of Elections to scrub UrbanCincy.com owner Randy Simes off the voter rolls,
less than two weeks after the board of elections ruled Simes is
eligible to vote in Cincinnati. The case has been mired in politics
since it was first filed to the board of elections. Simes’ supporters
claim the legal actions are meant to suppress Simes’ support for the
streetcar project and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls’ mayoral campaign.
Proponents of the lawsuit, who are backed by the attorney that regularly
supports the anti-streetcar, anti-Qualls Coalition Opposed to
Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), argue they’re just trying to
uphold the integrity of voting. The dispute hinges on whether Simes’
registered residence for voting — a condo owned by his friend and business
colleague, Travis Estell — is a place where he truly lived or just
visited throughout 2013. Currently, no hearing or judge is set for the
Pure Romance officially signed a lease for new headquarters in downtown Cincinnati,
which means the $100-million-plus company is now set to move from its
Loveland, Ohio, location starting in January 2014. Pure Romance
originally considered moving to Kentucky after Ohio reneged on a tax
deal, but council ultimately upped its offer to bring the company to
Cincinnati. As part of its deal with the city, Pure Romance will get $854,000 in tax breaks over the next 10 years,
but it will need to stay in Cincinnati for 20 years. The city
administration estimates the deal will generate $2.6 million in net tax
revenue over two decades and at least 126 high-paying jobs over three
One in six Ohioans lived in poverty in 2012, putting the state poverty rate above pre-recession levels, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Two Butler County students were arrested yesterday after they allegedly threatened to go on a shooting spree on Facebook.
Rachel Maddow accused Ky. Sen. Rand Paul of plagiarizing his speech off Wikipedia.
The Taste of Belgium’s next location: Rookwood Exchange.
Pollinating bees could deliver pesticides in the future.
Early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended. Check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements for the 2013 election here.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Audit slams former sheriff, part of The Banks sold, local abortion clinic could close
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended.On Oct. 29, local residents will be able to give feedback
to Cincinnati officials about the city budget — and also
nab some free pizza. The open budgeting event is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 at
1115 Bates Ave., Cincinnati.An audit of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) found
former Sheriff Simon Leis crippled technological developments, stacked
leadership positions with political cronies and still kept his staff
fiercely loyal during his 25 years in charge of HCSO. The Oct. 15 audit
claims the agency was “largely frozen in time” and didn’t meet the most
basic modern standards, including a failure to adopt computer
spreadsheets and other modern technologies instead of keeping
paper-based records that only one person can access at a time. The audit
claims a few possible consequences for Hamilton County: outdated
policing policies, exposure to possible litigation and an overworked,
under-trained staff. To fix the mistakes, the audit recommends various
investments and changes to policies that could prove costly to the
county — perhaps too costly to a county government that has been forced
to make budget cuts for the past six years. Read more about the audit here.
Developers sold the apartments and 96,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space
in the first phase of The Banks for $79.5 million. In a memo, City
Manager Milton Dohoney claimed the sale is a sign of the strong market
that’s being built in Cincinnati. Dohoney noted that the sale will
provide nearly $1.2 million for the city and county, which will likely
go to other projects in The Banks, and allow Carter and The Dawson
Company to repay the city and county’s nearly $4.7 million retail fit-up
loan three years in advance. The sale should also increase the
property’s assessed value, which Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes previously
put at $52 million, or $27.5 million less than it actually sold for,
and subsequently lead to higher property-based tax revenue, according to
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) could force
the Lebanon Road Surgery Center, a Cincinnati-area abortion clinic, to
close after a health examiner upheld ODH’s decision to revoke the
clinic’s license because it couldn’t establish a patient transfer
agreement with a nearby hospital. Abortion rights advocates touted the
closure as another example of how new regulations in the recently passed
state budget will limit access to legal abortions across the state. But
ODH handed down its original decision for the Cincinnati-area abortion
clinic in November 2012, more than half a year before Gov. John Kasich
in June signed the state budget
and its anti-abortion restrictions into law. Meanwhile, Ohio Right to
Life praised the state for closing down or threatening to close down
five abortion clinics this year.
Reminder: Officials project the streetcar will have a much greater economic impact in downtown than Over-the-Rhine, despite what some detractors may claim.The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office last night began threatening to arrest homeless people who refuse to leave the Hamilton County Courthouse and Justice Center and find another place to sleep, according to Josh Spring of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. The sheriff’s office says the steps are necessary to put an end to public urination and defecation on county property, but homeless advocates say the county should focus on creating jobs and affordable housing to solve the root of the problem. CityBeat covered the issue in greater detail here.
Former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson questioned her fellow Republicans’ legal threats
against Gov. John Kasich’s plan to bypass the legislature and get the
federally funded Medicaid expansion approved through the Controlling
Board, a seven-member legislative panel. Davidson says Kasich is on
“firm ground” legally because the state budget contained a provision
that allows the state’s Medicaid director to expand the program. The
Kasich administration on Oct. 11 announced its intention to call on the Controlling Board to take up the expansion, which will use federal Obamacare funds for two years to extend Medicaid eligibility to more low-income Ohioans. The Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found the expansion would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
Ohio Libertarians and Greens threatened to sue the state
if the legislature passes a bill that would limit ballot access for
minor political parties. The Ohio Senate already approved the
legislation, and an Ohio House committee is expected to vote on it at a
hearing on Oct. 29.
More charges have been filed
against a local spine doctor accused of carrying out unnecessary
surgeries in the Cincinnati area and Florence, Ky., and billing health
care programs millions of dollars, according to court documents released
A race car managed to swap fossil fuels for hydrogen power.