by German Lopez
Pension amendment to appear on ballot, city cuts ties with SoMoLend, heartbeat bill returns
A tea party-backed pension amendment yesterday cleared the hurdle of 7,443 petition signatures required to appear on the November ballot. Cincinnati
for Pension Reform, the group behind the amendment, had previously paid
nearly $70,000 to petitioners to gather signatures. The amendment
would privatize pension plans so the city and city employees hired after
January 2014 would contribute to individual retirement accounts that
the employee would then manage by independently selecting investments.
That’s a shift from the current system in which the city pools pension
funds and manages the investments through an independent board. But
unlike private-sector employees, city workers might not qualify for
Social Security, which means they’ll lack the safety net that typically
comes with risky 401k-style plans. If workers do qualify for Social
Security, the city would have to pay into the federal entitlement
program, which would cost the city more money, according to an Aug. 5
report from the city administration.
Cincinnati is cutting ties with SoMoLend,
the local startup that had previously partnered with the city to
connect small businesses and startups with $400,000 in loans. SoMoLend
has been accused of fraud by the Ohio Division of Securities, which says
the local company exaggerated its performance and financial figures
and lacked the proper licenses to operate as a peer-to-peer lending
business. The Division of Securities won’t issue a final order until
after a hearing in October. SoMoLend’s specialty is using crowdfunding
tactics to connect small businesses and startups with lenders.
Ohio Republicans are considering bringing back the “heartbeat bill,”
the controversial anti-abortion bill that would ban induced abortions
after a heartbeat is detected, which could happen as early as six weeks
into a pregnancy. The bill could be reintroduced next week. That would
come just a couple months after Republican legislators and Gov. John
Kasich approved a slew of anti-abortion measures through the two-year state budget.
The Ohio Senate will today hear testimony
from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio about projections that show
the state could save money if it takes up the Medicaid expansion. As
part of Obamacare, states are asked to expand their Medicaid programs to
include anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In
return, the federal government will pay for the expansion for the first
three years and wind down to paying 90 percent of the costs after that.
The Health Policy Institute previously estimated the expansion would
save Ohio roughly $1.8 billion and insure nearly half a million Ohioans in the
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan is touting Cincinnati Safe Student Housing,
a website that allows university students to pick from housing options
that passed a free fire inspection. The website was unanimously approved
by City Council following several university students’ deaths to fires,
which council members argue could have been prevented with stronger
The new owner of the former Terrace Plaza Hotel says he will reopen the building as a hotel.
Alan Friedberg, managing principal of the company that bought the
building earlier this year, says the process of bringing back the
building will take a lot of time and work, considering it’s now been
vacant for three years.
Four Greater Cincinnati hospitals have been recognized for protecting the LGBT rights of patients and employees by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation: Bethesda North
Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Cincinnati
Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana in Ohio. DeWine claims the summary for the ballot initiative is untruthful and leaves out various important details.
Mason, a Cincinnati suburb, was ranked one of the top 10 places to live by CNNMoney. Maybe CNN really likes Kings Island.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown was in Cincinnati yesterday to
call on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to expedite processing
on benefit claims. The VA currently has a backlog of 500,000 veterans,
according to a press release from Brown’s office.
Introducing Elon Musk’s Hyperloop,
a proposal for a railway system that would use high-pressure tubes to
shoot passengers around the country. It’s estimated traveling from Los
Angeles to San Francisco, which normally takes about five and a half
hours, would only take 30 minutes in the tubes.
by German Lopez
Private prison mired in problems, Kentucky libraries threatened, council to pass budget
Since Ohio sold the Lake Erie Correctional Institution to
the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), prisoner accounts and
independent audits have found deteriorating conditions at the minimum- and medium-security facility. In the past few months, prisoners detailed unsanitary conditions and
rising violence at the prison, which were later confirmed by
official incident reports and a surprise inspection from the
Correctional Institution Inspection Committee. Now, the American Civil
Liberties Union of Ohio is calling on the state to do more to hold CCA
accountable. To read the full story, click here.
A Northern Kentucky lawsuit backed by the tea party is threatening library funding across the state.
The problems get into the specifics of Kentucky’s tax code,
potentially unraveling the entire library system by forcing the state’s
libraries to get voter approval before increasing or decreasing taxes.
If the courts rule against the libraries, the libraries could have to
set their tax rates back to levels from decades ago, leading to
considerably less funding for the public institutions.
City Council is set to approve a budget plan today that will avoid laying off cops and firefighters,
but it will make considerable cuts to many other city programs,
increase fees for various services and raise property taxes. The public
safety layoffs were averted despite months of threats from city
officials that such layoffs couldn’t be avoided without the city’s plan
to semi-privatize parking assets. But the parking plan is being held up in court, and City Council managed to avoid the public safety layoffs anyway.
Commentary: “Commissioners’ Proposed Streetcar Cut Ignores the Basics.”
A budget bill from the Ohio Senate would keep social issues at the forefront
and refocus tax reforms on small businesses instead of all Ohioans. The
bill would potentially allow Ohio's health director to shut down
abortion clinics, effectively defund Planned Parenthood, fund
anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and forgo the Medicaid expansion,
while cutting taxes by 50 percent for business owners instead of going
through with a 7-percent across-the-board tax cut for all Ohioans.
The Ohio legislature is moving to take away
the state auditor’s powers to audit private funds that JobsOhio and other taxpayer-funded private entities take in. State Auditor
Dave Yost is looking to do a full audit of JobsOhio that includes
private funds, but other Republicans, led by Gov. John Kasich, have
pushed back, claiming Yost can only check on public funds. JobsOhio is a
privatized development agency that Kasich and Republican legislators
established to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development.
A teacher who was fired from a Catholic school when she
got pregnant through artificial insemination when she was single is
taking the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati to court, with hearings now underway. The Church’s critics argue that the Vatican’s stance on single pregnant women is
discriminatory, since it makes it much easier to enforce anti-premarital
sex rules against women than men.
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) is facing $14.8 million in deficits
in its next budget — a sign that years of cuts are continuing at the
school district. CPS says the shortfall is driven by state cuts, which CityBeat previously covered in greater detail and how they relate to CPS here.
Hamilton County commissioners are asking Cincinnati to merge its 911 call centers with the county. The change would likely save money for both Cincinnati and Hamilton County, but it remains uncertain how it would affect the effectiveness of 911 services.Scientists are using yogurt to study how food interacts with the brain.
CityBeat is doing a quick survey on texting while driving. Participate here.
To get your questions answered in CityBeat’s Answers Issue, submit your questions here.
Northern Kentucky tea party-backed lawsuit threatens library funding across the state
1 Comment · Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Today, a tea party-backed lawsuit based
on the wording of a 1979 law has Kentuckians wondering what life would
be like with a weakened public library system — or, worse, with no
library at all.
by German Lopez
Parking hearing today, police chief may go, tea party planning against GOP
The First District County Court of Appeals heard arguments over the city’s parking plan and emergency clause powers today, with both sides making similar arguments as before
— except this time the city acknowledged it will probably have to move
forward with layoffs because the city only has a few weeks remaining
before it has to balance the budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins
July 1. The city claims it can use emergency clauses to expedite
legislation, such as the parking plan, by eliminating a 30-day waiting
period and the possibility of a referendum, but opponents argue the
wording in the City Charter doesn’t justify terminating referendum
efforts. If courts side with opponents, the city’s plan to lease its
parking assets to the Port Authority, which CityBeat covered here, will likely appear on the ballot in November, forcing the city to lay off cops, firefighters and other city employees instead of using the parking plan to help balance the budget.
It’s looking more and more likely that Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig will take the top police job in Detroit,
despite Cincinnati officials asking Craig to reconsider. Previously,
Councilman Charlie Winburn, the lone Republican on City Council, pushed
city officials to do more to encourage Craig to stay, but City Manager
Milton Dohoney Jr. said Craig’s motivations may be personal because
his family resides in Detroit, a city that is in desperate need of a
Ohio’s tea party groups are preparing to either split from
the Republican Party or punish Republican leaders for recent actions,
according to The Columbus Dispatch. Tea party groups have been particularly upset with Gov. John Kasich’s endorsement of the Medicaid expansion, which CityBeat covered in further detail here and here,
and Ohio Republicans’ election of Matt Borges, who once lobbied for a
gay rights group, as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. Since the
2010 elections, tea party groups have kept political footholds in some
areas, but they have consistently lost favor with voters.
In case you missed it, here was CityBeat’s news coverage for the current week’s issue, which went online late because of Internet issues:News: “Think of the Children: Local leaders pledge to support efforts to put more low- and middle-income kids in preschools.”City Desk: “City Manager Defends Streetcar in Light of Budget Gap.”Commentary: “The Many Merits of Cycling Infrastructure.”
A portion of the Ohio House budget bill would make it more difficult
for out-of-state students to vote in Ohio by forcing public universities to
decide between extra tuition money and providing documents that students need to vote. Republicans say the rule is meant to lower tuition and prevent
out-of-state students from voting on local issues they may know little
about, but Democrats, backed by university officials, say the rule
suppresses college-going voters, who tend to support Democrats over
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber said there is no substantial Republican support
in the Ohio House, Ohio Senate or governor’s mansion for so-called
“right to work” legislation. The lack of support for the anti-union
laws, which prevent unions and employers from making collective
bargaining agreements that require union membership, may be
linked to 2011’s voter rejection of Senate Bill 5, which would have
limited public unions’ collective bargaining and political powers. S.B. 5
was one reason unions, including the Republican-leaning Fraternal Order
of Police, supported Democrats in 2012.
Despite security concerns in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon, Sunday’s Flying Pig Marathon had a record 34,000 participants.
Ohio gas prices are trending up this week.
Now on Kickstarter: Genetically modified plants that glow.
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 Danny Cross
We didn’t mean to help re-elect a socialist
During the past year CityBeat has spent a lot of
energy reporting on countless Republican screw-ups, from typical
shortsighted policies to legislation that is straight-up offensive to women,
minorities, gay people and the poor and working class. But we didn’t
realize that by pointing out how offensive and irrelevant the country’s
GOP leaders were acting, that we were inadvertently killing America.
That's why we would like to formally apologize to the Lebanon tea party in Warren County. The email you sent to The Enquirer today hit us
pretty hard — the fact that you’re literally wearing black and mourning
America because “socialists, welfare and unions took over this country”
is super sad. In our haste to ask questions of elected leaders, fact
check their statements and put their beliefs and policies into perspective over the
past few months, we forgot how badly people in Warren County wish America
could be like the 1950s again, when women knew their place and black
people had to operate the elevators and never say anything whites didn’t
want to hear. Mad Men is a great show.
We didn’t mean to be tricked by President Obama’s stimulus
bill — we (stupidly) believed the economists who said it staved off a
depression caused by under-regulation of the housing and financial
industries (we tried to believe Mitt Romney’s concept of further
reducing regulations so the job-creators can stimulate the economy in
the private sector thus giving our wealth back to us, but it was maybe
too complicated for us to understand?).
Some people we know kept their jobs when the president
didn’t allow the American car companies to go broke even though they’re
the ones that decided to max out profits on SUVs with truck beds on the
back. Other people we know spent time last year without health care, and
this country’s health care costs are somewhere around twice as much as
any other country’s so we were like, “Yea, reforming that system sounds
about right.” But we admit that we don’t know what it’s going to be like
for the 15 percent of this country living in poverty to all of the
sudden have access to preventative care. Someone in Cincinnati died of a
tooth problem last year, and we don’t even know if that’s covered.
We realize that it wasn’t Mitt Romney who used the term
“legitimate rape,” but it made us want to throw up, which slowed down
productivity that might have allowed us to figure out that Don’t Ask
Don’t Tell was the only thing keeping our country’s military from
turning Afghanistan into a European-style gay disco.
We thought it was kind of gross when the president killed
Osama bin Laden, but everyone was really happy about it so we focused
our attention on the results of the president’s home buying and
refinancing programs that helped stimulate the economy and saved
people’s houses, even though we’re all a bunch of renters who don’t even
know how to use a level.
So we’re clearly at fault for your expectation of the
downfall of this country, and we realize that you’re upset and probably
right about America becoming a socialist nation within months. We messed
up bad this time, but we want you to know that we’re not blind to it —
your press release has put our actions into a perspective that we wish
we had yesterday or, even better, several years ago before we learned
how to do our jobs the right way.
At least you have the local daily newspaper to publish
your emotional reactions to historical election results and to continue
endorsing GOP candidates no matter how ill qualified and misguided they are.
Please don’t mourn long — there’s still hope for the type of social
regression you’re looking for, especially in Warren County.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
MONDAY SEPT. 24: That loud sound you heard late Monday night was a gigantic moan from
fans of the Green Bay Packers, whose team (literally — they own it) was
robbed on a last-second, desperation heave from the Seattle Seahawks
which resulted in the game-winning touchdown.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 18, 2012
More than 600 people today were expected
to attend an anti-tax rally on Fountain Square, the city’s most
recognizable public space which happens to be beautifully maintained by
tax money. Attendees planned on complaining about poor people being offered health
care and how the American dream now sucks.
by Kevin Osborne
It took awhile, but it's finally out. Firefighters battled a huge blaze at Rumpke's recycling plant in St. Bernard for 26 hours, finally clearing the scene around 8 p.m. Wednesday. In all, 150 firefighters from 10 departments responded to the fire at the massive Vine Street facility. Officials think a truckload of recyclables contained something hot that ignited the surrounding trash, although the exact cause remains under investigation.Judge Robin Piper has recused himself from ruling on Ryan Widmer's murder conviction appeal that will be argued next week. Piper was assigned to hear the case in the 12th District Court of Appeals but decided to step aside because he is a former Butler County prosecutor. Widmer is serving 15 years to life in prison for drowning his wife in their bathtub after he was found guilty in his third trial. Defense attorneys have filed an appeal for a fourth trial, stating that errors were made that violated Widmer's constitutional rights.Three students were caught vandalizing an anti-abortion display at Northern Kentucky University, and a fourth student later turned himself in. The students allegedly cut a display, erected by National Right to Life, that consisted of baby clothes on a line with a red "x" through every fourth one. Campus police have charged the students with criminal mischief, and college officials will hold a separate hearing to determine whether further discipline is needed.Ohio's largest gay rights group isn't supporting a ballot initiative that would overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriages. A representative for Equality Ohio said he's concerned there might be problems with the language proposed by the amendment's backers and that more analysis is needed. The ballot issue would ask voters to repeal a 2004 amendment that says Ohio recognizes only a marriage between a man and a woman. Supporters must collect about 385,000 valid voter signatures for the issue to appear on the ballot. Some critics believe the amendment is designed to increase voter turnout among conservatives in a presidential election year.A Butler County man who was convicted in the 2010 beating death of a baby alpaca is in trouble with the law again. Marcus T. Miller, 19, has been charged with receiving stolen property in Middletown Municipal Court. Miller was sentenced to 14 months in prison in January 2011 for his part in the theft and beating death of a baby alpaca from a Browns Run Road farm in January 2010.In news elsewhere, media is abuzz about the second-degree murder charge against George Zimmerman that was announced Wednesday evening. Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. Although Zimmerman alleges he acted in self-defense, special prosecutor Angela Corey said facts in the case prove otherwise. Zimmerman is in a Seminole County jail cell, and will appear today at a 1:30 p.m. court hearing.A Republican congressman from Florida told a town hall meeting audience that "he's heard" up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn't name names. U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Plantation), who made the remarks, is a Tea Party candidate first elected in 2010 and is being pushed by Sarah Palin as a potential vice presidential running mate for Mitt Romney.In a significant setback for so-called “ex-gay” programs, Dr. Robert Spitzer is repudiating his much-criticized 2001 study that claimed some “highly motivated” homosexuals could convert from gay to straight. His retraction occurred in an American Prospect magazine article published this week. Spitzer’s rejection of his own research, which originally was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, is a devastating blow to “pray the gay away” organizations because it eliminates their claim that homosexuality can be reversed through therapy and prayer.Meanwhile, a new study has found a link between conservative ideology and "low-effort" thinking. The study's lead author, University of Arkansas psychologist Dr. Scott Eidelman, cautioned that the findings don't necessarily mean conservatives are lazy thinkers. "Our research shows that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism, not that political conservatives use low-effort thinking,” he said.A baby that was born prematurely in Argentina was declared dead and spent nearly 12 hours in a coffin at a morgue before the parents, opening the coffin to say their last goodbyes, discovered the girl was alive. A health ministry official said five medical professionals involved have been suspended pending an investigation.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 4, 2012
We at CityBeat try hard to
maintain high journalistic standards, as evidenced by last week’s
internal editing debate over whether a freelancer who used the word
“shit” was literally referencing “feces” or “stuff” (turns out it was