0 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
In line with the country’s increasing energy usage trends,
statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Agency found that China now
uses 47 percent of the world’s coal; its usage grew by 325 million tons
in 2011. WORLD -1
Pendleton residents lament developer’s plan to replace former SCPA building’s greenspace with a parking lot
6 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The three acres
of greenspace she sees every day from her front window surrounding the
old School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) building, is facing
serious threats of extinction.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
More than 18 years later, Hamilton
County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center is in the news again. A
new study found a correlation between higher rates of cancer mortality
and hourly workers, with some evidence of radiation causing intestinal
by German Lopez
Researchers tracked more than 6,000 workers through 2004; salaried workers fared better
More than 18 years later, Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed
Materials Production Center is in the news again. This time, a study
found a correlation between higher rates of cancer mortality and hourly
workers, with some evidence of radiation causing intestinal cancer.
The study from the National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH) found salaried workers fared much better than
hourly workers, and all-cause mortality was below expectations for them
despite increased malignancies in blood, bone marrow, spleen, lymph
nodes and thymus cells.
Hourly workers weren’t so lucky, according to the study. They had above-average cancer mortality rates in comparison to
the rest of the U.S. population, but tests only provided evidence for a
connection between hourly workers and intestinal cancer.
Previous studies also found a link between non-malignant
respiratory disease and exposure to radiation, but the NIOSH study found
no such connection. The discrepancy could be due to “improved exposure
assessment, different outcome groupings and extended follow-up” in the
NIOSH study, according to the study’s abstract.
The NIOSH study followed 6,409 workers who were employed
at Fernald for at least 30 days between 1951 and 1985, following them
Fernald was initially surrounded by controversy in 1984
when it was revealed that it was releasing millions of pounds of uranium dust
into the atmosphere, causing radioactive contamination in surrounding
areas. The controversy was elevated when Dave Bocks, an employee at the
factory, mysteriously disappeared and was later found dead at a uranium
processing furnace. Some suspected Bocks was murdered for allegedly
being a whistleblower, but no evidence of foul play was ever officially
by German Lopez
Kasich lacks re-election support, budget faces scrutiny, city increasing green incentives
For the first time since inauguration,
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has a positive approval rating, but a plurality
of registered voters say Kasich doesn’t deserve a second term. The
Quinnipac University poll attributed the increase in Kasich’s approval
rating to “high levels of satisfaction among Ohio voters with life in
the Buckeye State.” About 42 percent of respondents approved of Kasich,
while 35 percent disapproved. About 42 percent said Kasich doesn’t
deserve a second term, while 36 percent said he does. The poll surveyed
1,165 registered voters with a margin of error of 2.9 percent.
Last night, Cincinnati held its final public hearing
on City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposed budget. About 40 people spoke
during the meeting, with many voicing concern about Media Bridges
funding, which CityBeat recently covered here. The budget has also come under scrutiny due to its privatization of parking services, but Dohoney says the choice is privatization or 344 layoffs.
Cincinnati plans to bolster its green building incentives.
City officials are trying to amend the city’s Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) standards to encourage higher levels of
investment in green projects. Since LEED standards were first approved
in 2009, they have been criticized for only offering strong incentives
for lower levels of certification. The amendment seeks to make the
higher levels of certification more appealing.
University Hospital is being renamed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
An “anti-immigrant bill” proposed by Cincinnati’s Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz is not being received well by Innovation Ohio.
S.B. 323 seeks to limit workers’ compensation to illegal immigrants,
but the Ohio policy research group is not sure that’s a legitimate
problem. The organization is also worried the bill will impose a
regulatory burden on the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and Ohio’s
workers without providing extra funds and training to carry out the
Ohio is improving in its battle against human trafficking.
The state earned a “C” and it was labeled “most improved” in a new
report from the Polaris Project. But one state legislator wants to go
further by placing tougher standards on “johns” participating in the sex
trade. CityBeat previously wrote about the human trafficking problem in Ohio here.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved enough credits to help create about 500 jobs in Greater Cincinnati.
Michigan may have recently passed its anti-union “right-to-work” law, but Gov. Kasich does not share a similar interest.
Kasich will announce
his changes to the Ohio Turnpike Thursday and Friday. The governor says
his proposed changes will unlock “greater wealth,” but critics are
worried Kasich is about to sell off a major public asset.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is still defending his decisions during the lead-up the election. Husted has now become infamous nationwide due to his pre-election record, which CityBeat wrote about here.Even Jesus would be jealous. Science can now turn human urine into brain cells.
by German Lopez
Environment Ohio touts renewable energy’s health, job benefits
A Dec. 5 report is encouraging Cincinnati to become the solar
energy capital of Ohio and the broader region. The report, titled
“Building a Solar Cincinnati,” was put together by Environment Ohio to
show the benefits and potential of Cincinnati regarding solar power.
Christian Adams, who wrote the report along with Julian
Boggs, says Cincinnati is especially poised to take charge in this
renewable energy front, in contrast to the rest of the state, which gets
82 percent of its electricity from coal. Adams points to
the sustainability-minded city officials and public, a “budding solar business
sector” and the great business environment as the city as reasons why
Cincinnati could become a pivotal leader.
With 21 public solar installations to date, the city has
already seen some of the benefits of solar power. The most
obvious benefit is cleaner air, which leads to better overall health and
helps combat global warming. But the report points out that local solar
initiatives mean local jobs. “You can’t export these jobs,” Adams says.
“It’s a great opportunity for economic revitalization.”
With solar energy comes an array of job opportunities for
solar installers, solar designers, engineers, construction workers,
project managers, sales associates and marketing consultants. That’s
enough to create brisk job creation. The report points out
“energy-related segments of the clean economy added jobs at a torrid
pace over the last few years, bucking trends of the Great Recession.”
Still, there are hurdles.
Although solar energy saves money in the long term, installing solar
panels has a high upfront cost. The cost can make the short term too bleak for many potential customers.
To help overcome the short-term problem, the report suggests
third-party financing. In these financing agreements, customers agree to
give up roof space to have a solar power company install solar panels,
and then customers agree to buy their power needs from the company. It’s
a win for the solar power company because the panels eventually pay for
themselves through new customers, and it’s a win for the customer because
he sees more stable, lower energy costs and cleaner air. Adams points
out that a few businesses and individuals in the area have already taken part in such agreements with great success.
There are also some incentives already in place to
encourage solar energy. Ohio’s Clean Energy Law, which was passed in
2008, pushes utility companies into the renewable energy market with
Solar Renewable Energy Credits. These are credits utility companies must
earn to meet annual benchmarks by installing solar panels or purchasing
them from third parties. Duke Energy has followed the law’s
requirements by establishing its own renewable energy credit program.
Ohioans also have access to some tax breaks — the Energy
Conversion Facilities Sales Tax Exemption, Air-Quality Improvement Tax
Incentives and Qualified Energy Property Tax Exemptions — and loan
programs — the Energy Loan Fund and Advanced Energy Fund — that
encourage solar and other renewable energy sources.
Falkin, director of the city’s Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ),
says the report didn’t have much new information, but he’s glad
it can be used to push solar energy to the broader public. He touted the
benefits of job creation and reducing reliance on foreign energy
sources by moving toward energy independence.
For now, the city is mostly taking the approach of leading
by example. Falkin says the city is acting like a “model” for solar
energy. Cincinnati added solar installations to two city facilities this
year, and another will be added by the end of the month. Falkin’s
office is also working together with different organizations to keep any
Adams and Falkin both attended a Dec. 5 roundtable discussion
that engaged regional officials, including solar businesses,
environmental and sustainability groups, education leaders and the
Cincinnati Zoo. They both said the roundtable went well.
“I think all the right people are coming together and doing the right things to try to move us forward,” Falkin says.
by German Lopez
Qualls to run for mayor, city budget proposal raises taxes, local fracking control demanded
It will soon be official. Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls will announce her mayoral campaign on Thursday at 10 a.m. Qualls has already announced her candidacy and platform on her website.
Qualls will be joined by term-limited Mayor Mark Mallory, which could
indicate support from the popular mayor. Right now, Qualls’ only known
opponent is former Democratic city councilman John Cranley, who has
spoken out against the streetcar project Qualls supports.
As part of City Manager Milton Dohoney’s budget proposal, anyone who lives in Cincinnati but works elsewhere could lose a tax credit. The budget proposal also eliminates the property tax rollback and moves to privatize the city’s parking services, which Dohoney says is necessary if the city wants to avoid 344 layoffs.
The mayor and City Council must approve Dohoney’s budget before it
becomes law. City Council is set to vote on the budget on Dec. 14.
Public hearings for the budget proposal will be held in City Hall
Thursday at 6 p.m. and in the Corryville Recreation Center Dec. 10 at 6
Vice Mayor Qualls and Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan are
pushing a resolution that demands local control over hydraulic
fracturing, or “fracking,” activity. But the resolution will have no
legal weight, so the state will retain full control over fracking
operations even if the resolution is passed. Qualls and Quinlivan will
also hold a press conference today at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall to discuss
problems with fracking, which has come under fire by environmentalist
groups due to concerns about air pollution and water contamination
caused during the drilling-and-disposal process.
Greater Cincinnati hospitals had mixed results in a new round of scores from Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog Group.
In an effort to comply with cost cutting, the Hamilton County recorder is eliminating Friday office hours.
The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments is looking for feedback for the Tristate’s transportation and economic plans.
This year’s drought is coming to an end in a lot of places, but not southwest Ohio.
The Ohio Senate passed a concussion bill that forces student athletes to be taken off the field as soon as symptoms of a concussion are detected.
As the state government pushes regulations or even an outright ban on Internet cafes, one state legislator is suggesting putting the issue on the ballot.
State officials argue unregulated Internet cafes are “ripe for
organized crime” and money laundering. An Ohio House committee is set to vote on the issue today. If passed, the bill will likely put Internet cafes that use sweepstakes machines out of business.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich could be preparing for a 2016 campaign. Kasich was caught privately courting Sheldon Adelson,
the casino mogul who spent millions on Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney’s
failed campaigns for the presidency. The early meetup shows how valued
super PAC funders are to modern political campaigns. State Democrats
criticized the meeting, saying it was Kasich “actively positioning to be
the next Ohio darling of the special interests.”
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman had a bit of trouble
giving a speech on the federal debt yesterday. Hecklers repeatedly
interrupted Portman, a Republican, as he tried to speak. The final
protesters were escorted out of the room as they chanted, “We’re going
to grow, not slow, the economy.” Portman says his plan is to promote
growth. But both Democrats and Republicans will raise taxes on the lower
and middle classes, according to a calculator from The Washington Post. Tax hikes and spending cuts are typically bad ideas during a slow economy.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is facing the wrath of his tea party comrades.
The far right wing of the Republican Party is apparently furious
Boehner purged rebellious conservative legislators out of House
committees and proposed $800 billion in new revenue in his “fiscal
cliff” plan to President Barack Obama.To help combat fatigue at space stations, NASA is changing a few light bulbs.
Does this dog really love or really hate baths? You decide:
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 14, 2012
An Oklahoma cop thought it fit to ticket the mother of
Dillan, a 3-year-old in the process of potty-training, for $2,500 after
he had an urge to go and peed in his family’s own front yard. WORLD -1
by German Lopez
State budget cuts hit counties, food deserts in Cincinnati, area's nuclear weapons legacy
A new report
from left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio shows the impact of state budget
cuts on individual counties. Statewide, more than $1 billion in tax
reimbursements and the Local Government Fund was cut between the
2010-2011 budget, which was passed by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland,
and the 2012-2013 budget, which was passed by Republican Gov. John
Kasich. Additionally, Ohio’s estate tax — a tax that affected only 8
percent of Ohioans, largely those at top income levels — was eliminated,
killing off a crucial source of funding. Hamilton County, its
jurisdiction, schools, services and levies lost $222.1 million.
Health and human services lost $23.2 million. Children’s services lost
$4.6 million, and the county children’s agency services “was sent into
financial crisis.” In total, more than 5,000 local government jobs were lost in the
The Center for Closing the Health Gap is launching a campaign to raise awareness about food deserts in Cincinnati.
Food deserts are areas, particularly neighborhoods, where full-service
grocery stores aren’t readily available to residents. The campaign hopes
to raise awareness and funding to combat the food deserts in the
Cincinnati area. With a funding target of $15 million, the organization
plans to help build smaller stores with close ties to the local
A new study from
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital resurfaced Greater Cincinnati’s nuclear
weapons legacy. Between the 1950s and 1980s, residents of nearby farm
communities were unaware they were being exposed to radioactive
materials in the air, water and soil from a Cold War era nuclear weapons
plant, located 18 miles northwest of Cincinnati. Apparently, the
exposure has led to higher rates of systemic lupus in the area.
Greater Cincinnati’s economic recovery could be slowed or boosted by policy, but it will outpace the nation’s economic recovery,
according to local economists. Still, the economists caution that there
is a lot of uncertainty due to oil prices, the fiscal cliff — a series
of tax hikes and budget cuts scheduled to be made at the start of 2013
if U.S. Congress doesn’t act — and the fiscal crisis in Europe.Cincinnati’s small businesses are more upbeat about the economy.
Eleven percent of local family firms expect the economy to improve, but
whether that translates to business expansions remains to be seen.
CityLink Center is scheduled to open today.
The initial plans for the facility sought to help the homeless with
health services, overnight shelter, food, temporary housing and child
care. At one point, the center’s opening was threatened due to legal
challenges regarding zoning.
Hostess, maker of Twinkies, says it will close down three bakeries,
including one in Cincinnati, due to a national strike. According to
reports, union workers walked off the job after a new contract cut their
wages and benefits. Hostess insists the factory shutdowns will not
Top Cincinnati mortgage lenders saw double-digit increases between Sept. 1, 2011 and Aug. 30, 2012.
The rise is yet another positive sign for the housing market, which
collapsed during the latest financial crisis and recession.
The state agency in charge of higher education released a report
highlighting 20 recommendations to improve degree completion in Ohio.
Some of the recommendations from the Board of Regents: Adopt more
uniform statewide rules regarding college completion and career
readiness, push stronger collaboration and alignment in education from preschool through senior year in college, establish a new system
of high school assessment to improve readiness for college, and improve
flexibility. The board will attempt to turn the report into reality in
cooperation with university and state officials.
Too much school choice may be a bad thing. A new study
found Ohio’s varied education system, which offers vouchers for private
schools and charter schools as alternatives to a traditional public
school, may have passed “a point where choice actually becomes
detrimental to overall academic performance.”
The Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) issued an action alert
on Saturday telling members to oppose privatizing the Ohio Turnpike.
The Ohio state government, led by Kasich, is currently
studying possible plans to privatize the turnpike. In a video, an OFB
member argues the current turnpike management is fine.
There are still some undecided seats in the Ohio legislature from the Nov. 6 election.
Once again, a reminder not to drive on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus.
Former George W. Bush adviser Karen Hughes says she will “cut out” the tongue of Republican men making “Neanderthal comments” about rape.A new way to fight bacteria: coat it with a thin layer of mucus.
by German Lopez
Annual conference promotes sustainable urban water programs
Ohioans might not
give it much thought outside of paying the water bill, but better water
infrastructure can make cities more efficient, healthier and cleaner.
That’s why Green For All, a group that promotes clean energy
initiatives, is now focusing on cleaner, greener water infrastructure.
A little-known green conference took place in
Cincinnati Oct. 15-17. The Urban Water Sustainability Leadership Conference was in
town on those three days, and it brought together leaders from around
the U.S. to discuss sustainable water programs for cities. The
conference mostly focused on policy ideas, success stories and
challenges faced by modern water infrastructure.
For Green For All, attending the conference was about
establishing one key element that isn’t often associated with water and
sewer systems: jobs. Jeremy Hays, chief strategist for state and local
initiatives at Green For All, says this was the focus for his
Hays says it’s important for groups promoting better water
infrastructure to include the jobs aspect of the equation. To Hays,
while it’s certainly important for cities to establish cleaner and more
efficient initiatives, it’s also important to get people back to work.
He worries this side of water infrastructure policies are “often left
He points to a report released by Green For All during
last year’s conference. The report looked at how investing the $188.4
billion suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to manage
rainwater and preserve water quality in the U.S. would translate into
economic development and jobs: “We find that an investment of $188.4
billion spread equally over the next five years would generate $265.6
billion in economic activity and create close to 1.9 million jobs.”To accomplish that robust growth and job development, the
report claims infrastructure would have to mimic “natural solutions.” It
would focus on green roofs, which are rooftop areas with planted
vegetation; urban tree planting; rain gardens, which are areas that use
vegetation to reduce storm water runoff; bioswales, which are shallow,
vegetated depressions that catch rainwater and redirect it; constructed
wetlands; permeable pavements, which are special pavements that allow
water to pass through more easily; rainwater harvesting, which uses rain
barrels and other storage devices to collect and recycle rainwater; and
green alleys, which reduce paved or impervious surfaces with vegetation
that reduces storm water runoff.
The report says constructing and maintaining these sorts
of programs would produce massive growth, especially in comparison to
other programs already supported by presidential candidates and the
federal government: “Infrastructure investments create over 16 percent
more jobs dollar-for-dollar than a payroll tax holiday, nearly 40
percent more jobs than an across-the-board tax cut, and over five times
as many jobs as temporary business tax cuts.”
Hays says the jobs created also don’t have barriers that
keep them inaccessible to what he calls “disadvantaged workers”: “A lot
of these jobs that we’re focused on in infrastructure, especially green
infrastructure, are much more accessible. They require some training and
some skills, but not four years’ worth because it’s skills that you can
get at a community college or even on the job.”
Beyond jobs, Green For All supports greener infrastructure
due to its health benefits. Hays cited heat waves as one example. He
says the extra plants and vegetation planted to support green
infrastructure can help absorb heat that’s typically contained by
Hays’ example has a lot of science to stand on. The extra
heating effect in cities, known as the urban heat island effect, is
caused because cities have more buildings and pavements that absorb and
contain heat, more pollution that warms the air and fewer plants that
enable evaporation and transpiration through a process called
evapotranspiration. The EPA promotes green roofs in order to help combat
the urban heat island effect.Hays says green infrastructure also creates cleaner air
because trees capture carbon dioxide and break it down to oxygen. The
work of the extra trees can also help reduce global warming, although
Hays cautions that the ultimate effect is probably “relatively small.”
But those are only some of the advantages Hays sees in
green infrastructure. He says green infrastructure is more resilient
against volatile weather events caused by global warming. With green
infrastructure, storm water can be managed by systems that collect and
actually utilize rainwater to harvest clean water. Even in a world
without climate change, that storm water management also reduces water
contamination by reducing sewer overflow caused by storm water floods,
according to Hays.
However, green infrastructure is not without its problems.
Hays acknowledges there are some problems with infrastructure systems
that require more year-over-year maintenance: “The green and
conventional approach is more cost effective over time, but the way you
have to spend money is different. So we need to look at the way we
finance infrastructure, and make sure we keep up with innovative
Specifically, green infrastructure relies less on big
capital investments and more on ongoing maintenance costs. Hays insists
the green infrastructure saves money in the long term with efficiency
and by making more use out of natural resources, and the Green For All
report supports his claim. But it is more difficult to get a city or
state legislator to support long-term funding than it is to get them to
support big capital expenditures, Hays says.
Education is also a problem. To a lot of people, the green
infrastructure on rooftops and other city areas might seem like “pocket
parks,” says Hays. But these areas are nothing
like parks; they are meant to absorb and collect rainwater. If the
public isn’t educated properly, there could be some confusion as to why
the supposed “pocket parks” are flooded so often. Providing that
education is going to be another big challenge for public officials
adopting green infrastructure, according to Hays.
So what, if anything, is Cincinnati doing to adopt these
technologies? In the past, city legislators have looked into rainwater
harvesting systems, but not much information is out there. On Thursday, CityBeat will talk to city officials to see how Cincinnati is moving forward.