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.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 03:27 PM | Permalink
Spanish company hired by city to design, build cars
The Cincinnati streetcar took another step forward on Monday when car builder CAF USA unveiled renderings for the $133 million project.
The city has hired CAF to supply five cars. The latest details
show the cars will have four doors on each side and be capable of
moving in both directions on a track. The cars are also completely
low-floor, which should make boarding, disembarking and moving around
the streetcar easier.
CAF, which is based in Spain, has supplied cars for a few
other U.S. cities, including Pittsburgh, Houston and Sacramento, Calif.
John Deatrick, the streetcar project’s executive director, told CityBeat on Thursday that he’s been in regular contact with CAF USA since he joined the project in August.
Unlike most other streetcars around the world, the
Cincinnati cars are particularly tuned to handle sharp turns, according
to Deatrick. That’s because the city didn’t want to expand roads and
knock down buildings just to accommodate the transit network.
Deatrick says the true test for the cars will come once
they’re shipped and tested on a completed Over-the-Rhine loop in June
2015. The streetcar is set to open for use on Sept. 15, 2016.
Check out the renderings here.
by German Lopez
Conflicts of interest at JobsOhio, transportation projects approved, Ohio women fare poorly
CityBeat is participating in a City Council candidate forum on Oct. 5. Have any questions you would like to ask candidates? Submit them here.
State Auditor Dave Yost says he will investigate
the potential conflicts of interest found by the Ohio Ethics Commission
for nine of 22 top JobsOhio officials, including six of nine board
members. For critics, the conflicts of interest add more concerns about JobsOhio, the
privatized development agency that proposes tax breaks for businesses
and has been mired in controversy ever since it was set up by Gov. John
Kasich and Republicans to replace the Ohio Department of Development.
Because the agency is privatized and deals with private businesses, many
of its dealings are kept from the public under state law. Republicans
argue the secrecy is necessary to allow JobsOhio to more quickly
establish job-creating development deals, but Democrats say the secrecy
makes it too difficult to hold JobsOhio accountable.A state board approved nearly $3 billion in transportation projects
proposed by Kasich, including work on the MLK/I-75
Interchange in Cincinnati that city and state officials say will create
thousands of jobs in the region. The projects will require additional
state and local money to be fully funded over the next few years.
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). The 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. CAP, a 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.Commentary: “Ohio legislator worried a same-sex marriage case will turn the country socialist, make him cry.”
Mayoral candidate John Cranley, who’s running against fellow Democrat and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, says he doesn’t know if he can stop the parking plan if he’s elected.
Cranley explained it will only be possible if the Greater Cincinnati
Port Authority doesn’t set up contracts and sell bonds for the deal
before the election. Under the parking plan, the city is leasing its
parking meters, lots and garages to the Port Authority, which will then
hire various private operators to manage the assets. Qualls supports the
plan because it will raise money and resources to fund development
projects and modernize the city’s parking services, but Cranley argues
it cedes too much control over the city’s parking assets.
It turns out Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye won’t be removed
from Ohio’s education guidelines. State Board of Education
President Debe Terhar, a Cincinnati Republican, initially called the
book “pornographic” and demanded its removal from the state guidelines,
which led the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio to criticize Terhar and ask her to reconsider her comments.
With the latest delay, small businesses won’t be able to enroll online for Obamacare’s marketplaces until November. Until then, small businesses will
only be able to sign up by mail, fax or phone. The delay is the latest of a
few setbacks for Obamacare, but the rest of the federally run online marketplaces will still launch on Oct. 1 as planned. CityBeat covered statewide efforts to promote and obstruct the marketplaces in further detail here.Gov. Kasich is donating to charity more than $22,000 that he received in campaign contributions from an indicted man.
The city has begun work on a retail corridor that will start on Fourth Street and run north through Race Street. The corridor will take years to complete, but city officials say it will be different than previous failed plans.
The number of passengers whose trips originate at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has increased for six straight months, according to airport officials.
Data-analysis company Dunnhumby is looking to invest in Cincinnati startups.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center landed federal money to test vaccines. The contract could prove the largest the hospital has ever obtained, according to The Business Courier.
Police in the Netherlands use trained rats to catch criminals.