by German Lopez
Officials seek local funding, parking plan delayed again, poor schools may get more funding
During Gov. John Kasich’s term as governor, local
government funding has fallen by nearly half — from nearly $3 billion to
about $1.6 billion — and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is leading an effort to get that funding back.
With the support of Democratic officials from around the state,
Sittenfeld is launching a website called ProtectMyOhio.com, which is
gathering petition signatures that will eventually be sent to Kasich and
members of the Ohio General Assembly.
Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler extended the temporary restraining order
on the city’s parking plan yesterday, potentially delaying any ruling
on the city's plan to lease its parking assets to the Port of Greater
Cincinnati Development Authority for another two weeks. In response, the city said
it’s approaching a “pressure point” for budget cuts for fiscal year
2014, which must be executed by July 1.
Ohio House Republicans are looking to bolster education funding to poor districts in response to criticisms of Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget proposal. A previous CityBeat analysis found Kasich’s budget proposal disproportionately benefits the wealthy in a few ways, including education funding.
City Council did not vote on funding
for a feasibility study for Westwood Square Wednesday, but the vote
could happen as early as next week. The delay came after the Westwood
Civic Association said in a letter that the plan needs more discussion.
The controversial election bill moved through
the Ohio House yesterday despite calls for more time for debate. The
bill, which will now head to Kasich to be signed into law, limits the
referendum process by giving referendum and ballot initiative
petitioners 10 days to get more signatures if the initial batch is found
to be inadequate. Under current law, petitioners can continually search
for more signatures while the secretary of state and ballot board sort
through signatures. Republicans argue the change makes the petition
process fair and uniform, but Democrats say it goes too far in weakening ballot initiative
and referendum powers.
The state’s $7.6 billion transportation budget, which
includes plan to fund transportation projects around the state with Ohio
Turnpike funds, breezed through the Ohio Senate Wednesday. It will reach the House for a scheduled vote today.
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced new efforts to help sexual assault victims around Ohio by ensuring each county has
adequate services. The efforts are in response to a survey that found
59 percent of counties don’t have comprehensive services and eight
counties have very few or no services. “It is our goal to ensure that a
quick and compassionate emergency response is available to any victim of
sexual assault at any time of the day, any day of the week and in any
area of the state,” DeWine said in a statement.
The federal government released data that shows
serious safety violations in hospitals that occurred since Jan. 1, 2011,
and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Christ Hospital are
both on the list.
Hamilton County ranked No. 65 out of Ohio’s 88 counties
for health in a new survey from Patrick Remington at the University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine. The study found suburban counties fare much better
than urban counties, and premature death is at a 20-year low.
Accusations of inappropriate teacher behavior in Ohio are on the rise.
Voyager 1 is or may soon become the first object humanity has ever sent out of the sun’s reach.
Officials from around Ohio want their local government funding back from Gov. John Kasich
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 20, 2013
With the support of Democratic officials
from around the state, Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is
launching a website called ProtectMyOhio.com to organize efforts to restore local government funding cut during Republican Gov. John Kasich’s time in office.
by German Lopez
Report found state has cut local government funding by nearly 50 percent since 2010
With the support of local officials from around the state, Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is launching a website called ProtectMyOhio.com to organize efforts to restore local government funding cut during Gov. John Kasich’s time in office.
Speaking during a phone conference today, Sittenfeld, Dayton
Commissioner and mayoral candidate Nan Whaley, Columbus Councilman Zach
Klein and Toledo Councilman and mayoral candidate Joe McNamara described
how state funding cuts have forced cities and counties to cut services.
“What we’re really trying to do today is speak up and
sound the alarm about the governor’s ongoing raid on the Local
Government Fund,” Sittenfeld said. “Over the last four years, the
governor has taken away $3 billion in local government funding. This
year alone, municipalities across Ohio are going to receive nearly $1
billion less than they previously would have.”
He added, “This is the exact same money that cities,
villages and townships used to keep cops in the street, staff our fire
departments, fix the potholes and some of the other basic services that
citizens rightly expect and the local governments are the ones
responsible for delivering.”
In the past, the Kasich administration has argued the cuts
were necessary. When previously asked about cuts to education and other
state funding, Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, told CityBeat, “The reality is we walked into an $8 billion budget deficit. … We had to fix that.”
But the 2014-2015 budget is not under the fiscal pressures Kasich experienced when he took office, and the governor is pursuing $1.4 billion in tax cuts over the next three years,
which he argues will help spur small businesses around the
state. During the phone conference, local officials said the revenue going to tax cuts
would be better used to return funds to local governments.
Sittenfeld says the cuts have left Cincinnati with $12
million less per year. “That is the difference between us having our
first police recruit class in nearly six years versus not having it,” he
said. “It’s the difference between enduring dangerous fire engine
brownouts versus not having to do so.”
Klein, who represented Columbus in the call,
said the cuts have amounted to nearly $30 million for his city, which he
said is enough money to help renovate nearly all the city’s recreation
centers, parks and pools.
“No one is spared,” Klein said. “Everyone is getting cut
across the state, and every neighborhood — no matter if you’re in a
small village or in a large city like Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo or
Dayton — (is) at some level feeling the effects of the cuts, whether
it’s actual cuts in services or what could be investments in
Klein said the cuts, which have been carried out by a
Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature, contradict
values espoused by national Republicans. At the federal level,
Republicans typically argue that states should be given more say in
running programs like Medicaid, but Ohio Republicans don’t seem to share
an interest in passing money down to more local governments, according
Some state officials have previously argued that it’s not
the state’s responsibility to take care of local governments, but
Sittenfeld says it’s unfair to not give money back to the cities:
“Cincinnati is a major economic engine for the entire state. We’re
sending a lot of money to Columbus, so I think it’s fair to say we would
like some of that money back. John Kasich doesn’t have to fill the
potholes, and John Kasich doesn’t have to put a cop on the street.”
Whaley, who represented Dayton in the call, said, “There’s
a county perspective on this as well. The counties would certainly say
that the unfunded mandates that the state legislature brings down daily
are covered by those local government funds. While (state officials)
keep on making rules for the counties to administer services and make
those efforts, it’s pretty disingenuous to say that (county officials)
don’t get a share of the income.”
A Policy Matters Ohio report found the state has cut $1.4 billion from local government funding
— nearly half of total funding — during Kasich’s time as governor. The report pinned much of that drop on the estate tax,
which was phased out at the beginning of 2013 and would have provided
$625.3 million to local governments in the 2014-2015 budget. The estate tax was
repealed in 2011 by the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature and
Cincinnati had structural deficit problems before Kasich
took office, but local officials argue the state’s cut have made matters
worse. When presenting his 2013 budget proposal, City Manager Milton
Dohoney Jr. said the state funding reductions cost Cincinnati $22.2
million in revenues for the year.
Kasich’s office did not return CityBeat’s phone calls for this story.
Kasich’s latest budget proposal has also been criticized by Republicans and Democrats
for tax cuts and education funding plans that benefit the wealthy and
expanding Medicaid (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
by German Lopez
State of the State today, Ohio's next superintendent, fire safety legislation underway
Gov. John Kasich will give his State of the State address today in Lima, where he is expected to cover his
budget plan, jobs and tax reform. It will air live at The Ohio Channel at 6:30 p.m. During his last State of the State speech, the
governor lacked focus, imitated a Parkinson’s patient and called Californians
“wackadoodles,” leading outlets like The Hill to call the speech “bizarre.”
The next state superintendent of public instruction could be
Richard Ross, Gov. John Kasich’s education policy adviser, or acting
superintendent Michael Sawyers, according to StateImpact Ohio. Ross
apparently has Kasich’s support, making him a favorite. Stan Heffner,
the previous state superintendent, was forced to resign after misusing state resources.
New legislation will be introduced by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld to City Council today to require all rental properties to be equipped with photoelectric smoke detectors.
The photoelectric detectors have better protection against smoldering,
smoky fires, which cause more fatalities than the flaming, fast-moving
fires picked up by ionization form of detectors, according to the vice
mayor’s office. Qualls and Sittenfeld are introducing the legislation
after hearing stories from Dean Dennis and Doug Turnbull of Fathers for
Fire Safety, who both lost children to house fires.
The Horseshoe Casino’s parking plan was revealed
yesterday, reports WVXU. Parking will be free for guests on opening day
from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It will also remain free on weekends. Weekday
parking will be free for guests who play slots or table games for 30
minutes, play an hour of poker or spend at least $25 in a restaurant or
gift shop. Otherwise, parking will cost $1 for the first hour, up to a
daily maximum of $14.
Restaurants around the country are discovering that fewer calories brings better health and business, according to Dayton Daily News.
Ohio gas prices are continuing their movement up, according to the Associated Press.
Glass was found in Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries cereal, prompting a recall, reports WCPO.
Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked yesterday, which
raises all-important questions: How did anyone notice? Why are people
following fast food chains on Twitter?
Popular Science has an in-depth report on how neuroscience will allow scientists to rewire the brain to
battle seizures, dementia, blindness, paralysis and deafness.
by German Lopez
Council members want photoelectric detectors in every rental property
New legislation will be introduced by Vice Mayor Roxanne
Qualls and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld on Feb. 19 to require all rental
properties to be equipped with photoelectric smoke detectors.
Photoelectric detectors are supported by fire safety
advocates because they better detect smoldering, smoky fires.
According to the vice mayor’s office, these kinds of fires have been
linked to more fatalities than the flaming, fast-moving fires picked up
by the more traditional ionization smoke detectors.
The ionization detectors also pose another risk: They are
often set off by cooking fumes, leading many homeowners and tenants to
simply pull out the batteries to turn the detectors off. In some cases,
people forget to put the batteries back in, putting them at greater risk
of a fatal fire.
Ionization detectors are more common in homes because they
are typically cheaper. Their ability to pick up fast-moving fires also
makes them better suited for catching fires that can spread more
Qualls and Sittenfeld are introducing the legislation
after hearing stories from Dean Dennis and Doug Turnbull of Fathers for
Fire Safety, who both lost children to house fires. “After meeting with
Dean and Doug, hearing their story and learning more about photoelectric
alarms, we knew we had to do something locally to better protect
citizens,” Qualls and Sittenfeld said in a joint statement.
The legislation has been endorsed by the Cincinnati Real
Estate Investors Association and the Greater Cincinnati Northern
Kentucky Apartment Association. Representatives from both organizations
will join Qualls, Sittenfeld, Dennis, Turnbull and Fire Chief Richard
Braun in a press release unveiling the legislation at 10 a.m. on Feb.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends the use of both
kinds of detectors. Hybrid detectors with both photoelectric and
ionization technologies can be purchased, but they are more
expensive than their individual counterparts.
by German Lopez
Petition against privatization, Kasich sales tax hurts many, USquare development criticized
Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld is circulating a small
business petition to stop Cincinnati from privatizing parking services.
Sittenfeld threw his support behind the petition in a statement:
“Individual citizens have made clear that they are overwhelmingly
against outsourcing our parking system. Now we're going to show that
small businesses feel the same way. I hope that when council sees that
the small businesses that are the engine of our city are strongly
against outsourcing our parking, we can then nix the proposal
immediately.” The petition asks city officials “to find a smart,
resourceful, sustainable alternative to address the budget situation.”
City Manager Milton Dohoney says parking privatization is necessary to avoid laying off 344 city workers.
Gov. John Kasich’s expanded sales tax is going to hurt a lot of people.
The tax is being expanded to apply to many items included in households’ monthly budgets, such as cable television, laundry services and
haircuts. The revenue from the sales tax expansion will be used to cut
the state income tax by 20 percent across the board, lower the sales tax
from 5.5 percent to 5 percent and slightly boost county coffers.
City Council and local residents are not impressed
with the USquare development. At a City Council meeting Tuesday, Vice
Mayor Roxanne Qualls described the development: “I have to say that it
is underwhelming. And that’s about the kindest thing I can say about it.
And also really repeats, on many different levels, virtually all of
the mistakes that have ever been made in the city and in neighborhoods
when it comes to creating public spaces.” But architect Graham Kalbli
said he’s excited about the plan: “Because we’ve taken a vacant strip of
land and really made kind of a living room for the Clifton Heights
community. We wanted to do that, that was one of our overriding goals.”
The Hamilton County Board of Elections is subpoenaing
19 voters who are suspected of voting twice in the November election.
Most of the voters being investigated filed provisional ballots then
showed up to vote on Election Day.
David Mann is officially running for City Council. The Democrat has served as a council member, mayor and congressman in the past.
Traffic congestion isn’t just bad for drivers; it’s also
bad for the environment and economy. The Annual Urban Mobility Report
from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found
traffic congestion cost Cincinnati $947 million in 2011 and produced
an an extra 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide nationwide.
Leslie Ghiz is taking the judge’s seat a little early.
The former city council member was elected to the Hamilton County
Common Pleas Court in November, but she was appointed to the seat early by Gov. John Kasich to replace Dennis Helmick, who
retired at the end of 2012.
The magic of capitalism: Delta is already matching a low-cost carrier’s fares to Denver at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
The U.S. Postal Service is ending Saturday mail delivery
starting Aug. 1. The Postal Service has been dealing with financial
problems ever since a 2006 mandate from U.S. Congress forced the mail
delivery agency to pre-fund health care benefits for future retirees.
Riddled with gridlock, Congress has done nothing to help since the
mandate was put in place. This will be the first time the Postal Service
doesn’t deliver mail on Saturdays since 1863.
It’s unlikely zombies could be cured by love, but it’s possible they could be cured by science.
The next Michael Jordan has been discovered:
by Andy Brownfield
City Manager says without lease, 344 city workers would lose jobs
Cincinnati City Council members today focused a lot of attention
on a contentious plan to lease city parking assets during a Monday
committee presentation on the 2013 budget.
It was the first opportunity council members had to
publicly question the budget’s architects. The proposed budget would
cover the first half of 2013. The city is switching over to a fiscal
year starting in July.
Many council members expressed concern over the plan
to use $21 million from a proposed 30-year lease of the city’s parking
meters, garages and lots to help close a $34 million budget deficit.
“It seems like … the city budget wins, but the citizens are losing,” said Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.
City Manager Milton Dohoney said the parking facilities
net Cincinnati about $7 million a year. That would equal out to about
$210 million over 30 years.
Sittenfeld called into question the wisdom of leasing the
facilities for an estimated $50 million and taking half of the profit,
for an earnings of about $150 million over 30 years.
Other council members expressed concern that whoever
leased the parking would hike rates, something Councilman Cecil Thomas
“The market would dictate the rates that are charged,” he said.
Dohoney said a combination of cuts, savings, revenue,
projected growth and one-time funding sources helped eliminate the $34
million deficit. He said a budget containing only cuts would result in the layoff of 344 city workers.
A slide show provided by the city showed that 802 positions had been cut since 2000.Dohoney advocated eliminating the property tax rollback promised as part of the deal to build two new sports stadiums in 1996. He said it would bring in about $9 million a year. However council has had little appetite to allow any increase in taxes as the city recovers from the Great Recession. Property taxes make up about 6 percent of the budget fund used to pay most of the city's operating expenses.
The cuts proposed in the 2013 budget include eliminating
support for public access company Media Bridges, the Downtown and
Neighborhood Gateways Program, Juvenile Firesetter Program and Arts
It would also eliminate the Cincinnati Police Department’s Mounted Patrol, which covers downtown on horseback. Dohoney said that would allow Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig to redeploy those nine officers elsewhere. Dohoney said Craig had asked for a new recruit class of
50, but Dohoney requested 30. He said the additional nine from the horse
patrol would bring that closer to 40.
Dohoney said he was also allowing 10 additional recruits
to cover patrols of University Hospital, which is no longer going to use
University of Cincinnati police starting Jan. 1.
He said the police department would also look for ways to
save money by increasing the involvement of civilian members who could
do things like take reports of non-injury car accidents.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan asked if the budgeteers had
considered restructuring the police force to save money. She has long
been a proponent of “right-sizing” the police and fire forces, saying
staffing levels remain at a high while the city’s population is
The proposed budget also includes investments in business
groups that promote economic development, like the Port Authority,
Greater Cincinnati Partnership, Film Commission and African American
Chamber of Commerce.
Councilman Chris Seelbach praised Dohoney and his budget
team, saying he saw Cincinnati as being better off than it had been six
years ago. But he also said he’d like to see the administration focus on
people who are barely getting by instead of businesses and developers.
“There is a focus on helping people make more money that
are already making a lot of money,” Seelbach said. “Helping people that
aren’t paying a lot of taxes still pay very little.”Cincinnatians can weigh in on the budget in a public hearing Thursday evening at 6 p.m.
by Andy Brownfield
Outcry, national attention spurred removal of voter fraud displays
A Cincinnati outdoor advertising company announced Tuesday
that it will take down controversial billboards that opponents claim
are aimed at intimidating voters.
Norton Outdoor Advertising had been contracted to put up
about 30 billboards that read “Voter Fraud is a Felony!” The billboards
also listed the maximum penalty for voter fraud — up to 3 and a half years and a
Opponents of the billboards claim they were strategically
placed in predominantly low-income and black neighborhoods in Cincinnati
as a means to discourage those largely Democratic voters from going to
The billboards were funded by an anonymous “private family foundation.”
In a statement posted online, Norton Executive Vice
President Mike Norton said the displays would be taken down as soon as
possible. He wrote that the
foundation and Norton agreed after hearing criticism that the sentiment
surrounding the displays was contrary to their intended purpose.
The family foundation didn’t intend to make a political
statement, but rather make the public aware of voting regulations, he
“We look forward to helping to heal the divisiveness that has been an unfortunate result of this election year,” Norton wrote.
Norton had previously told CityBeat that the billboards were not targeted but distributed randomly throughout the city.
Several Cincinnati officials wrote to the company requesting the billboards be taken down.
ClearChannel Outdoor Advertising announced on Monday that it was removing similar billboards in Cleveland and Columbus.
The billboards throughout Ohio had garnered national criticism and media attention.
A rival outdoor advertising company is putting up 10 new billboards to rebut the voter fraud ones.
The new red, white and blue billboards will read “Hey Cincinnati, voting is a right not a crime!”
Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said in an
emailed news release that he reached out to Lamar Advertising
Company to ask if they would donate the billboards throughout
“We should be encouraging folks to participate in our
democratic process, not trying to scare them,” Sittenfeld wrote. “I
salute Lamar’s generosity and their support in encouraging citizens to
raise their voice and not be scared away.”
by Bill Sloat
Cranley’s ex-campaign manager quietly registers CranleyForMayor domain names
A Democratic operative who once served as former Cincinnati Councilman
John Cranley’s campaign manager already is staking out cyber turf in
advance of Cranley’s rumored run for mayor of Cincinnati. Two Internet domains have been registered for CranleyForMayor on GoDaddy.com. The domains were created three months ago. As yet, no active websites are operating on CranleyForMayor.org or CranleyForMayor.info.
Both sites are held in the name of Jay Kincaid, a longtime Democratic operative in Cincinnati. This
year, Kincaid has been working on the campaigns of Denise Driehaus, who
is seeking reelection to the Ohio House, and Steve Black, who is
running for Common Pleas Judge. (Kincaid is engaged to Black’s daughter.) Kincaid
ran Cranley’s successful 2007 campaign for reelection to Cincinnati
City Council and was paid about $26,000 for the work. Obviously, he and Cranley go back a long way. It’s doubtful Kincaid would have staked out the Internet domains for another candidate to double-cross Cranley. There have been instances where people have grabbed domains to shut out opponents, or set up spoof and decoys as dirty tricks. By all accounts, Kincaid is described as a trusted adviser.
So far, there’s been no official announcement that Cranley is running for mayor. Yet there have been plenty of rumors. Cranley
recently positioned himself as an opponent of Mayor Mark Mallory’s
efforts to finance the streetcar project, a move that put him back in
the news. Registering Internet domains is likely to add to the speculation. All
candidates these days have websites, and the portals are central to
fundraising, getting out the word on issues and scheduling events.
might be running to succeed Mallory, who is term-limited out of office
next year? Among the D’s, names being mentioned include Vice Mayor
Roxanne Qualls, Democratic State Sen. Eric Kearney and Councilman P.G.
Sittenfeld. Kearney is the highest-ranking Democrat in the Ohio Senate, and can’t run for reelection due to term limits. He’s reportedly told people he wants to move into the mayor’s office, but he’s also said to have recently changed his mind. The word from Democratic insiders about Kearney: Stay tuned. Qualls, who served as mayor in the 1990s, is said to be a definite. Sittenfeld is called a complete question mark.On the GOP side, Charlie Winburn might run again. And Chris Smitherman is considered a possibility as either a Democrat, Republican, under a Third Party flag or an independent.
by Andy Brownfield
City Council approves ballot measure for non-staggered option
Cincinnati voters will decide in November whether to double
the length of their council members' terms.
City Council voted 6-3 on Wednesday to put the ballot
initiative before voters. The measure would have all nine members run at the
same time, instead of a competing ballot initiative that would have staggered
“We are the only major city in Ohio that still has two-year
terms for its leaders, and the cities that we compete with are also moving to
four-year terms, including Louisville and as far as St. Louis, Minneapolis,
Denver and Atlanta,” said Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, who spearheaded the
If approved by voters, the change wouldn’t affect
council members serving currently and would go into effect in 2013.
Not every council member was thrilled with the idea.
“I think accountability is paramount, and I don’t see going
from two-year terms to four-year terms as increasing the accountability
citizens want,” said Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who was one of three new
faces to join council in last year's election, which saw four Republican incumbents booted from
“I’m sure it’s not lost on my colleagues that last November
the electorate was craving change and wanted change, and if we had been in the
middle of a four-year cycle they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make that
change and a substantial portion of this council … wouldn’t be sitting up here
Sittenfeld equated an election to a job evaluation. He,
along with councilmembers Chris Smitherman and Charles Winburn, voted against the
Quinlivan has said her rationale for pushing four-year
terms would be to eliminate the cycle that currently has sitting council members
spending half of their terms campaigning.
Councilman Cecil Thomas said four-year terms would allow council members
to focus on longer-term projects as well.
“Four years gives us plenty of time to gel together, to work
together,” Thomas said.
Councilman Chris Seelbach attended all four public hearings
council held throughout the city and called the number of people who support
four-year terms “unbelievable.” Seelbach said he himself was “semi-conflicted”
over the proposed changes, but was not conflicted over whether voters should
have that choice: He voted in favor.
Mayor Mark Mallory was sure to remind councilmembers before
their vote that they are forbidden from using city resources to campaign for a