by German Lopez
Tea party lands school board seats, death penalty scrutinized, AG campaigns spar over role
Fiscal conservatives and tea party activists won more
seats on local school boards last year, putting them in the awkward
position of supposedly looking out for the school’s best interests while
rejecting property tax levies that could boost schools’ resources and outcomes. As one example, a member of the Coalition
Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) now sits on the board for Kings Schools in Warren County that she once sued for public records.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio on Sunday
called on Gov. John Kasich to immediately halt the death penalty across
the state, following the botched, 26-minute execution of convicted
killer Dennis McGuire. The execution, the longest since Ohio restarted using
capital punishment again in 1999, utilized a new cocktail of drugs that had
never been tried before in the United States. It’s unclear whether
state officials will use the same drugs for the five other executions
planned for the year.David Pepper, the Democratic candidate for attorney
general, says Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine should stop
defending court-rejected, unconstitutional voting and ballot restrictions. DeWine argues that it’s the attorney general’s job to
defend Ohio and its laws, regardless of his opinion on constitutionality. But
DeWine actually stepped aside and assigned a separate attorney to a case
involving restrictions on “false statements” in political campaigns
because, according to him, the law’s constitutionality is questionable.Martin Luther King Jr. and modern Republicans would likely
stand in opposition on numerous issues, including voting rights, the
death penalty and reproductive rights.A top policy aide for Gov. Kasich says local
governments should share more services. But some municipal officials argue the Kasich
administration is just trying to deflect criticisms regarding local government
funding cuts carried out by his Republican administration and the
Republican-controlled legislature over the past few years.The Justice Department is investigating a former chief
judge of Cincinnati’s federal appeals court for nearly $140,000 in
travel expenses he took during his four and a half years on the bench.Fewer Ohio students need remedial college classes following high school graduation.U.S. House Speaker John Boehner called a fellow Republican an asshole, according to Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.Seven out of 10 people will live in cities by 2050, according to Popular Science.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
More than 40 "Promise Ambassadors" trained so far; goal is 100 by Feb. 17
As the campaign to provide universal preschool in
Cincinnati kicks into gear, organizations involved in the Preschool
Promise are seeking more volunteers to train as “Promise Ambassadors” who will help raise awareness and gather feedback for the proposal.Although there’s no major resistance to universal
preschool at a local level, the big question is how the city will fund
it. Will it take a hike in property or income taxes? Will city and
school funds be involved? Will it rely on philanthropic channels? What
about a mix of all the options?
As an ambassador, volunteers will gather feedback on the big questions facing the campaign and raise awareness on the study-backed benefits of preschool.
“As an ambassador you can engage however you feel
comfortable: hosting house parties, speaking at meetings and events,
organizing community forums or simply helping generate awareness about
the importance of quality preschool for every child in our city,” the
campaign said in a release.
Greg Landsman, executive director of the education-focused
Strive Partnership, said on Facebook that more than 40 ambassadors have
been trained so far. The goal is to train 100 by President’s Day, Feb.
The policy would mirror a program in Denver that provides
tuition credits to families on an income-based sliding scale, so
low-income parents would get the most help while the wealthiest would get the least.
Among other benefits, a study from consulting firm Augenblick, Palaich and Associates found the Denver program
gives low- and middle-income families more opportunities to climb the
Landsman previously told CityBeat the measure should end up on the November ballot.
The campaign is offering several training sessions, which can be attended with an RVSP to BooneS@strivepartnership.org:• Jan. 22, 6–7:30 p.m. at 4C for Children, 1924 Dana Ave., Cincinnati.• Jan. 28, 2:30–4 p.m. at 4C for Children, 1924 Dana Ave, Cincinnati.
• Jan. 29, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati.• Feb. 5, 6–7:30 p.m. at 4C for Children, 1924 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati.• Feb. 6, 2:30–4 p.m. at United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati.• Feb. 7, 9-10:30 a.m. at United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati.• Feb. 10, 10:30 a.m.-noon at United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati.• Feb. 11, 2:30-4 p.m. at United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati.CityBeat covered the Preschool Promise in greater detail here.
by German Lopez
Obamacare misses target, state to investigate CPS staff, chemical spill forces local measures
In the third month of open enrollment, Obamacare failed to
hit key demographic targets for young adults in Ohio and across the
nation. White House officials say about about 39 percent of those who
sign up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state-run
marketplaces must be young adults. The idea is to get enough young,
healthy enrollees to hold down costs as an older, sicker population
signs up for health insurance made more easily available through
Obamacare’s systems and regulations. But in December, only 19 percent of
signups in Ohio and 24 percent of signups nationwide were young adults.
The Ohio Department of Education will recalculate report
card data and investigate whether to punish staff after Cincinnati
Public Schools (CPS) and six other Ohio school districts that scrubbed
student attendance data. By manipulating the data, schools can appear to
be performing better, but the actions obviously jeopardize the
authenticity of Ohio’s school accountability system. CPS says its
internal investigations found no evidence of deliberate manipulation and
the data errors shouldn’t be enough to alter the school’s standing in
state report cards. For CPS and the six other school districts, the
issues began after the state auditor in 2012 launched an investigation
into school data scrubbing.To avoid contamination from a W. Va. chemical spill,
Cincinnati Water Works will shut down its water intake system along the
Ohio River and instead rely on the water intake system at the
groundwater treatment facility in Fairfield. Mayor John Cranley said the
shutdown will last two days, or more than twice the roughly 20 hours
required for the chemical slick to pass by. Consumers shouldn’t notice a
difference, according to Water Works officials.
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard will decide
whether to allow fracking wastewater to travel along
the Ohio River and other federal waterways and how strictly regulated
the shipments should be. Fracking is a drilling technique in which
millions of gallons of water are pumped underground to unlock oil and
gas reserves, but the process produces a lot of wastewater as a result. CityBeat previously covered fracking and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.
With legislation repealing Ohio’s energy rules now
stalled, Champaign County residents are challenging the
constitutionality of Ohio’s in-state renewable energy requirements in
court. Supporters of the law claim the rules help foster a green energy
sector in the state, while opponents argue the rules increase costs for
businesses and consumers. CityBeat previously covered State Sen. Bill Seitz’s legislative attempts to repeal the rules here.Another tea party-backed candidate might challenge Gov.
John Kasich in the Republican primary. The reveal comes just days after a
tea party leader abruptly dropped his challenge against the incumbent
governor.If state legislators approve, Gov. Kasich will hold his state of the state address this year at Medina, Ohio, on Feb. 24.Three judges will cover for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter while she fights felony charges in court.
State Rep. Pete Beck of Mason, who was indicted on 16 felony counts for alleged fraud and theft, is facing a primary challenger.Cincinnati repaved 130 lane miles of road in 2013, according to city officials.Duke Energy cut a check for the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority today to help redevelop Bond Hill and Queensgate.A blind student is suing Miami University for alleged discrimination that prevented her from completing coursework.One vote made the difference in 43 of Ohio’s 2013 elections, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.Ky. developers are still pursuing the Noah’s Ark theme park, despite troubles raising funds for the project.Today is the last day to vote for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.An infection can turn swarming locusts into solitary grasshoppers, a study found.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 8, 2014
A new pilot program in New York City will use organic food
waste to heat more than 5,000 homes as part of the city’s goal to
reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2017. WORLD +2
0 Comments · Thursday, December 26, 2013
Why 2013 was a lot of the same bullshit.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:07 PM | Permalink
Three Ohio cities make Children Defense Fund’s top five
Cincinnati ranked No. 2 for highest child poverty out of 76 major U.S.
cities in 2012, the Children’s
Defense Fund (CDF) of Ohio said Friday.
The numbers provide a grim reminder that more than half of
Cincinnati’s children lived in poverty in 2012, even as the city’s urban core began a nationally recognized revitalization period.
With 53.1 percent of children in poverty, Cincinnati
performed better in CDF’s ranking than Detroit (59.4 percent) but worse
than Cleveland (52.6 percent), Miami (48 percent) and Toledo (46
percent), which rounded out the top five.
The data, adopted from the U.S. Census Bureau, also shows
Ohio’s child poverty rate of 23.6 percent exceeded the national rate of
22.6 percent in 2012, despite slight gains over the previous year.
“When three of the top five American cities with the
highest rates of child poverty are in Ohio, it is clear that children
are not a priority here,” said Renuka Mayadev, executive director of CDF
of Ohio. “Significant numbers of our children do not meet state
academic standards because their basic needs are not being met.”
With the contentious streetcar debate over for now, some local leaders are already turning their attention to Cincinnati’s disturbing levels of poverty.
Mayor John Cranley on Thursday told reporters that he intends to unveil an anti-poverty initiative next year. A majority of council members also told CityBeat
that they will increase human services funding, which goes to agencies
that address issues like poverty and homelessness, even as they work to
structurally balance the city’s operating budget.
Outside City Hall, the Strive Partnership and other education-focused organizations are working to guarantee a quality preschool education
to all of Cincinnati’s 3- and 4-year-olds. The issue, which will most
likely involve a tax hike of some kind, could appear on the 2014 ballot.
by German Lopez
Streetcar decision today, Preschool Promise coming together, uptown interchange advances
The city would save just $7.8-$52.6 million in capital costs if it takes on tens of millions in additional expenditures to cancel the $132.8 million streetcar project, an independent audit revealed yesterday. The news appeared to throw another potential lifeline for the streetcar, which can now claim a five-member majority of supporters on City Council. But with Mayor John Cranley's veto threat, council will likely need six votes to continue the project. Council expects to make a decision today, prior to a Friday deadline for federal grants funding roughly one-third of the project.Some city leaders are trying to ensure all of Cincinnati's 3- and 4-year-olds attend quality preschool programs through Cincinnati’s Preschool Promise. Citing swaths of studies and data, Greg Landsman, executive director of the education-focused Strive Partnership, says the policy could reach all corners of the city and hugely benefit the city’s economy in the long term. But supporters of the proposal first must find a means to fund it, which Landsman says will likely require some sort of voter-approved tax hike in 2014. Before the Preschool Promise campaign gets there, Landsman vows supporters will heavily engage the community to gather feedback and determine the scope of the proposal.City Council yesterday unanimously approved $20 million in capital funding for the $106 million uptown interchange project, which will allow the project to move forward with the state and Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments filling the rest of the funding gap. The capital allocation means property taxes will remain higher than they would without the project, as revealed at Monday's Budget and Finance Committee. Mayor Cranley and council members argue the cost is worth it because, as a study from the University of Cincinnati's Economics Center previously found, the project will generate thousands of jobs and other economic gains in the uptown area.Commentary: "Anti-Streetcar Logic Should Stop Uptown Interchange Project."The Democratic majority on City Council yesterday dismissed legislation that would have repealed controversial bidding requirements for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) projects. Council's decision could put Cincinnati and Hamilton County on a collision course over rules governing a federally mandated revamp of the city's inadequate sewer system. A majority of council members support the bidding requirements as a way to foster local jobs and local job training, while opposing county officials say the rules favor unions and impose a huge burden on MSD contractors. Councilman Chris Seelbach says he's working with Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann to get both parties in mediation talks and end a county-enforced hold on sewer projects before the federal government begins enforcing its mandate.The city of Cincinnati is allowing residents to put out extra trash bags next to approved trash containers between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3 in a "trash amnesty."Gov. John Kasich's 2014 wish list: More infrastructure funding, measures that curb health care costs, new anti-drug and anti-poverty initiatives, and another tax cut.Ohio's May ballot could include a measure that would tap into existing revenues to boost funding for infrastructure projects around the state.Seventeen non-U.S. citizens allegedly cast illegal ballots in Ohio's 2012 general election, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.Two Democrats in the Ohio Senate proposed legislation that would allow same-sex couples to file joint tax returns. But Republicans control both chambers of the Ohio legislature, so it's unlikely the bill will pass.Four Ohio libraries, including the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, are collaborating to preserve historical documents, photographs and more.Those who want health care coverage on Jan. 1 and don't get insurance through an employer have five days to sign up for Obamacare at HealthCare.gov.Congress passed a bipartisan budget deal that will avoid a federal government shutdown and ease previously planned across-the-board spending cuts.A new study found the Milky Way has four arms, not two as previously believed.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:08 AM | Permalink
Poverty skews school funding, "stand your ground" advances, tax-free weekend proposed
Urban schools spend less on basic education for a typical student
than previously assumed after accounting for the cost of poverty,
according to a Nov. 19 report from three school advocacy groups. After
weighing the extra cost of educating an impoverished student, the report
finds major urban school districts lose more than 39 percent in
per-pupil education spending and poor rural school districts lose nearly
24 percent, while wealthy suburban schools lose slightly more than 14
percent. In the report, Cincinnati Public Schools drop from a
pre-weighted rank of No. 17 most per-pupil education funding out of 605
school districts in the state to No. 55, while Indian Hills Schools
actually rise from No. 11 to No. 4.
An Ohio House committee approved sweeping gun legislation
that would enact “stand your ground” in the state and automatically
recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states. The “stand your
ground” portion of the bill would remove a duty to retreat before using
deadly force in self-defense in all areas in which a person is lawfully
allowed; current Ohio law only removes the duty to retreat in a person’s
home or vehicle. The proposal is particularly controversial following
Trayvon Martin’s death to George Zimmerman in Florida, where a “stand
your ground” law exists but supposedly played a minor role in the trial
that let Zimmerman go free. To become law, the proposal still needs to
make it through the full House, Senate and governor.A state senator is proposing a sales-tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping
to encourage a shot of spending in a stagnant economy and lure shoppers
from outside the state. Eighteen states have similar policies, but none
border Ohio, according to University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center.
Michael Jones of UC’s Economics Center says the idea is to use tax-free school supplies to lure out-of-state shoppers, who are then more likely to buy other items that aren’t tax exempt while they visit Ohio.
An Ohio Senate committee approved new limits on the Controlling Board,
a seven-member legislative panel that has grown controversial following its approval of the federally funded Medicaid expansion
despite disapproval from the Ohio legislature. Gov. John Kasich went through the Controlling Board
after he failed to persuade his fellow Republicans in the legislature
to back the expansion for much of the year. The proposal now must make
it through the full Senate, House and governor to become law.
Cincinnati’s Metro bus service plans to adopt more routes similar to bus rapid transit (BRT)
following the success of a new route established this year. Traditional
BRT lines involve bus-only lanes, but Metro’s downsized version only
makes less stops in a more straightforward route. CityBeat covered the lite BRT route in further detail here.
Cincinnati obtained a 90 out of 100 in the 2013 Municipal Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, giving the city a 13-point bump compared to 2012’s mixed score.
A bill approved by U.S. Congress last week could direct millions in federal research dollars to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
A UC study found a higher minimum wage doesn’t lead to less crime.
Gov. Kasich will deliver UC’s commencement address this year.
The new owner of the Ingalls Building in downtown Cincinnati plans to convert some of the office space to condominiums.
Here are some images of the Cincinnati that never was.
Someone invented a hand-cranked GIF player.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:56 PM | Permalink
Study filters spending on poverty and other special needs to allow better comparisons
Urban schools spend considerably less on basic education for a typical student
than previously assumed after accounting for miscellaneous expenditures related to poverty, according to a Nov. 19 report from three school advocacy
If it’s accepted by state officials and taxpayers, the
report could give way to a reorientation of how school funds are
allocated in Ohio — perhaps with a more favorable approach to urban
and rural school districts.The report’s formula acknowledges that some students, particularly those in poverty, take more resources to educate, typically to make up for external factors that depress academic performance. After those higher costs are taken into account, the report calculates how much money schools have left over for a typical student.“If under-funded, districts with concentrations of poverty
will not have the resources left over for the educational opportunities
we want to see for all students,” said Howard Fleeter, the report’s
author, in a statement.
The report finds urban school districts like Cincinnati
Public Schools (CPS) and Lockland Schools spend considerably less on basic education for a typical student than wealthy suburban school districts like
Indian Hill Schools and Sycamore Community Schools.
After weighing spending on poverty and other miscellaneous programs, major urban school
districts lose more than 39 percent in per-pupil education
spending and poor rural school districts lose nearly 24 percent, while
wealthy suburban schools lose slightly more than 14 percent.
Following the deductions, CPS drops from a pre-weighted rank of
No. 17 most per-pupil funding out of 605 school districts in the state
to No. 55. Lockland Schools falls from No. 64 to No. 234.
The report similarly drops New Miami Schools, a poor rural district in Butler County, from No. 327 to No. 588.
Indian Hill actually gains in overall state rankings,
going from No. 11 to No. 4. Sycamore Community Schools also rise from
No. 22 to No. 14.
The Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye
Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School
Business Officials commissioned the report through the Education Tax
Policy Institute, an Ohio-based group of researchers and analysts.
by German Lopez
Police investigate cruiser crash, council holds last finance meeting, achievement gap widens
The Cincinnati police officer who struck a pedestrian with his cruiser on Saturday was apparently driving 50 mph in a 25 mph zone, which violates the Cincinnati Police Department's guidelines that limit officers from driving more than 20 mph above the posted limit. Officer Orlando Smith was responding to a call to help an officer when he struck Natalie Cole of Dayton, Ky. She remains in critical condition at University Hospital Medical Center following the incident. CPD is conducting an investigation that is expected to be completed within two weeks. But Smith's cruiser camera mysteriously failed to record for three minutes as the events unfolded; the latest recording available prior to the incident shows Smith leaving a grocery store parking lot with his lights and sirens on, as required by department policy when responding to help an officer. Witnesses told WCPO that Smith was actually driving in excess of 60 mph without his siren on and the victim flung 40 feet after she was struck. Smith is on paid administrative leave as the investigation finishes, which is routine police procedure.City Council's Budget and Finance Committee will hold its final scheduled meeting today, less than three weeks before the new mayor and council are sworn in on Dec. 1. The committee's agenda is fairly packed after council canceled so many meetings throughout September and October for election season, but most of the items are uncontroversial incentive packages that aim to bring jobs and develop more housing opportunities in the city.The achievement gap between white and black students in Ohio grew in the past two years, according to the results from a series of tests known as "the Nation's Report Card" from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Chad Aldis, the vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Fordham Institute, told StateImpact Ohio the results are disappointing because the achievement gap between black and white students in Ohio was already way too big and above the national average in math and English, the two categories in which the gap widened. Overall, Ohio's students ranked slightly above the national average in all areas but showed no significant improvement since 2011. Aldis says Ohio's adoption of Common Core standards, a set of stricter expectations for students embraced by 45 states, should help challenge students and lead to improvement.Here is an interactive map of marijuana seizures in Ohio this year, which were down from a record high in 2010. Some experts say marijuana and other drugs should be legalized following the failure of the decades-long
war on drugs to seriously curtail supply and demand, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.Mayor-elect John Cranley on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. will answer questions from readers and the editorial board at The Cincinnati Enquirer.The two chairmen of the Hamilton County Democratic Party and Republican Party will on Nov. 21 switch roles and argue the other side's position on alleged voter fraud as part of the "Beyond Civility" debate series. The initiative seeks to bring public officials together in a less partisan environment.The Cincinnati area's most prominent white-collar crime case will start hearings in December after a jury is picked by the end of the month in the trial of Matt Daniels, the former Kenwood Towne Place developer who's accused of various charges of fraud. Daniels' attorney talked to the Business Courier here.Ohio homeschoolers can now join public schools' sports teams.President Barack Obama will stop in Ohio on Thursday to discuss U.S. manufacturing.Boy choirs are having a more difficult time filling roles as boys hit puberty earlier.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez