It’s refreshing to hear Cincinnati City Councilpersons discuss forward-thinking concepts — remember when they figured out a way to get the garbage picked up for free so no one had to pay for it? Buncha geniuses.
Here are some important numbers that everyone who lives or works in Cincinnati should remember: 69, 84 and five. The first number, 69, represents 69 percent. That’s how much of the city’s General Fund budget is allocated to the Police and Fire departments. A mere 31 percent — less than one-third of the total — is allocated for non-public safety purposes.
For at least the fourth year in a row, the possibility of closing many of the city-owned swimming pools for all or part of the summer has been averted. To help avoid a deficit, City Council approved a budget in January that would’ve left 19 pools closed this summer. In April, a jump in tax collections prompted council to allocate $600,000 to open the pools if matching private funds could be raised.
People who closely follow the budget troubles plaguing City Hall for the past couple of years know that Cincinnati City Council had to make numerous cuts to services last winter to avoid a $54.7 million deficit. Those cuts originally included eliminating residential yard waste collection, ending funding for nurses in public schools and keeping most of the city-owned swimming pools closed this summer.
It’s typically not a big deal to hop on a city bus in the morning, ask the bus driver if it’s going in the direction you think you left your car the night before and then enjoy the air-conditioned ride back to wherever you got wasted (Metro bus driver: “I ain’t mad at ya.”). Such understanding is apparently not always to be expected by professional drivers in Austin, Tex., one of whom recently determined on his own that two women shouldn’t be escorted in the direction of a Planned Parenthood clinic for fear that they might get abortions.
Most Americans don’t spend a lot of time thinking about places outside of our country, so it would be normal for many to respond to news of Copenhagen, Denmark’s ranking as the happiest city in the world with something along the lines of “Who cares? Fuck Denmark.”
In an effort to fortify Cincinnati’s ailing retirement system for municipal workers, City Council narrowly approved a package of reforms March 16 aimed at reversing the system’s current course toward a projected $1 billion shortfall. In a 5-4 vote, City Council approved reforms that stiffen eligibility requirements, reduce some benefits and increase the retirement age for current workers.
If everything goes as planned, Cincinnati’s streetcar system connecting the University of Cincinnati to Over-the-Rhine and the downtown riverfront will carry its first passengers on Reds Opening Day in 2013 — about 25 months from now. That’s the unofficial target date for the system’s opening, according to City Hall sources. But readers can safely bet that between now and then there will be plenty of overheated and inaccurate rhetoric designed to confuse citizens and block the project.
As it awaits the outcome of a multifaceted legal battle that will likely decide its fate, Westwood’s historic James Norris Gamble House is enduring a harsh winter. The uncertain future of the Gamble House has stirred contentious debates between the property’s owners, city government and preservationists across Greater Cincinnati and beyond.
How can you tell when an idea is really, really bad? When it brings together people to oppose it who otherwise are typically political foes, that's how. Mayor Mark Mallory, police union President Kathy Harrell and local NAACP President Christopher Smitherman all are united against City Council's proposal to consider letting the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office take control of policing in the city.