by German Lopez
Pension language mostly upheld, Cranley rejects COAST, Ky. group criticizes housing facility
The Ohio Supreme Court upheld most of the controversial ballot language
for Issue 4 — the tea party-backed city charter amendment that would
semi-privatize Cincinnati’s pension system — but the court also
concluded that the Hamilton County Board of Elections must add language
about how much the city can contribute to the new retirement accounts.
The amendment would require future city employees to contribute to and
manage individual 401k-style retirement accounts, instead of placing
them under the current pension system in which the city pools pension
funds and manages the investments through an independent board. Voters
will make the final decision on the amendment on Nov. 5, although some
already voted early on ballots that included the full controversial
language. CityBeat analyzed the amendment — and how it could reduce benefits for city employees and raise costs for the city — in further detail here.
Mayoral candidate John Cranley says he would reject and doesn’t want
an endorsement from the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and
Taxes (COAST), a conservative group formed in 1999 with a history of
anti-LGBT causes. The response came just two days after COAST on Oct. 8
tweeted that it supported — but not endorsed — Cranley and council
candidates Amy Murray, Chris Smitherman and Charlie Winburn for a
“change of direction.” In response, Councilman Chris Seelbach,
Cincinnati’s first openly gay council member, called on all candidates
to reject COAST’s support because the conservative group’s most public
members previously opposed LGBT rights and backed efforts to make it
illegal for the city to deem gays and lesbians a protected class in
anti-discrimination statutes.A historic preservation society in Ludlow, Ky., is attempting to block
a transitional housing facility that provides low-cost housing for
recovering addicts as they get their lives back in order. Even though
the facility’s two buildings aren’t designated as “historic,” the Ludlow
Historic Society wrote in an email that it’s “concerned because we are
striving to maintain and improve our housing stock in Ludlow, and
especially make the city a desirable place for young people to own their
homes and raise their families.” There’s not much information on the
ripple effect transitional housing has on communities, but a 2010 study found residents of transitional housing were achieving significant improvement or total abstinence.Ohio officials are considering rules
that would allow oil and gas drillers to store fracking wastewater in
lagoons the size of football fields then recycle the wastewater for further use.
Fracking is a drilling technique in which millions of gallons of water,
chemicals and sand are pumped underground to unlock oil and gas
reserves, but the technique produces potentially toxic wastewater that
has to be deposited or recycled somewhere. CityBeat covered fracking and the environmental controversy surrounding it in further detail here.
A state senator proposed a bill
that attempts to keep the monthly per-member growth of Medicaid costs at
3 percent or lower, down from the current projections of 4.6 percent. But the bill doesn’t specify how it would reach the savings required and
instead calls on the legislature and state administration to find a
solution. The bill also doesn’t take up the federally funded Medicaid
expansion, which the Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found
would generate $1.8 billion for the state and insure nearly half a
million Ohioans in the next decade.
A national reporting project will track the accessibility of Plan B, or the “morning-after pill,” now that emergency contraception is a court-upheld right for all women of childbearing age.
The death of Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man convicted of holding three women captive and raping them for a decade, may have been caused by autoerotic asphyxiation, not suicide.
Angelina Jolie’s announcement that she got a double mastectomy may have inspired more Cincinnati women to seek a cancer screening.
Scientists discovered an exoplanet whose mass is 26 percent water. In comparison, Earth is only 0.023 percent water, by mass, according to Popular Science.
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
by German Lopez
Conservative group has history of anti-LGBT causes
Mayoral candidate John Cranley says he would reject an endorsement from the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes
(COAST), a conservative group formed in 1999 with a history of anti-LGBT causes.“I don’t want it. I’m not a member of COAST,” Cranley says.
The response comes just two days after COAST on Oct. 8 tweeted that it supported Cranley and council candidates Amy Murray, Chris Smitherman and Charlie
Winburn for a “change of direction.” The group later claimed the tweets weren’t endorsements, but not before
progressives called on candidates to reject COAST’s support.Councilman Chris Seelbach responded to COAST’s apparent interest in influencing the mayoral and City Council races on his Facebook page: “Regardless of the politics involved, anyone who wants my
support should make it clear: COAST is a hate-driven, fringe
organization that should not be apart (sic) of any conversation on how
to make Cincinnati a better place.”CityBeat couldn’t immediately reach
Murray, Smitherman or Winburn for comment on whether they would accept
COAST's support for their campaigns. But Smitherman, who is president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) when he’s not campaigning, often teams up with COAST on local issues.
Seelbach, who has been a favorite target of COAST, tells CityBeat there’s no doubt the group’s vitriolic opposition is at least partly based on hate.
“Without question, I believe COAST targets me because I’m
gay,” Seelbach says. “In some ways, I’m a symbol of everything that they
hate, which is LGBT progress.”Cranley agrees the group is hateful. He points out that some COAST members have criticized him over the years for supporting LGBT causes, including hate crime legislation in 2003.
In the 1990s, Chris Finney, chief legal crusader for
COAST, authored Article XII, the city charter amendment approved by
voters in 1993 that barred the city from deeming gays a protected class
in anti-discrimination statutes.
In a June 1994 Cincinnati Post article,
Finney said landlords should not be legally required to rent to gay or
lesbian tenants. Finney explained, “Because there may be some who don’t
want their family dining next to a homosexual couple whose actions they
find offensive.” To critics, the remarks seemed fairly similar to
arguments leveled in support of racial segregation in the 1960s.COAST chairman Tom Brinkman and member Mark Miller were also part of Equal Rights Not Special Rights, which defended Article XII in court in 1997.
When City Council passed hate crime legislation protecting
gays and lesbians in 2003, Brinkman criticized the Catholic members of City Council at the time — including Cranley, who sponsored the legislation — for sending “the message that you openly approve of homosexuality.”Back then, Cranley responded, “We have a little something in this
country called the separation of church and state. Mr. Brinkman asked
me to read the Catechism. I ask him to read the U.S. Constitution.”
Around the same time, Seelbach prepared and then helped lead the 2004
campaign that did away with Article XII. For Cincinnati, the repeal of
the city charter amendment, just 11 years after voters approved it,
exemplified the more tolerant, open direction the country was moving in regards to the LGBT community.
But while the country has embraced greater equality for
LGBT individuals, Seelbach says COAST hasn’t done the same. Even though
Seelbach voted against the parking plan that COAST also opposes, the
conservative organization has regularly targeted Seelbach in blog posts
and emails criticizing the plan, which leases the city’s parking meters,
lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority.
In March, COAST sent out a doctored image that compared
Seelbach to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ in the Christian
religion, for approving an emergency clause on the parking plan that
effectively exempted the plan from a voter referendum. Seelbach voted
against the parking plan itself when it came to a vote.
“I don’t believe in running our city by referendums,”
Seelbach says. “What we currently have is a representative democracy. We
elect people that we hold accountable by either re-electing them or
not, and we trust the people that we elect to research the policies and
make informed decisions. I think that’s the best system.”
Most recently, COAST went after Seelbach for his trip to
Washington, D.C., where he received the Harvey Milk Champion of Change
award for his efforts to protect and promote Cincinnati’s LGBT
community. The city paid more than $1,200 for the trip, which COAST
called into question with legal threats. Even though City Solicitor John
Curp, the city’s top lawyer, deemed the allegations frivolous, Seelbach
agreed to reimburse the funds to stave off a lawsuit that could have
cost the city more than $30,000.
At the same time, media outlets, including WCPO and The Cincinnati Enquirer,
have closely covered COAST’s allegations and commonly turned to the
group to get the conservative side of different issues, ranging from the
streetcar project to the pension system. Both media outlets have
characterized COAST as a “government watchdog group,” ignoring the organization’s history of conservative activism and crafting legislation.
The favorable attention might be turning around. The Enquirer recently scrutinized COAST’s lawsuits against the city, which revealed the group, which frames itself as an
anti-tax, anti-spending watchdog, could cost the city more than $500,000
in legal fees. The city solicitor also estimated his office puts the
equivalent of one full-time employee on COAST’s cases, with the typical
city civil attorney making about $65,000 a year, according to The Enquirer.
Seelbach acknowledges the vast differences between the
black and LGBT civil rights movements, but he says a group with a
similarly discriminatory past wouldn’t get the kind of media coverage and
attention COAST does, at least without the proper context.
“If there was a group that had a history of fighting for
segregation, … there is absolutely no way anyone, much less media, would
quote or accept support in any form,” Seelbach says.This story was updated at 5:09 p.m. with more context.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
, Health care
at 11:46 AM | Permalink
Out 2 Enroll considers Ohio a critical enrollment area
A national organization is looking at Ohio’s LGBT
community as a potential target for a nationwide campaign that will
raise awareness about the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”)
enacted changes and benefits.
Kellan Baker, founder of Out 2 Enroll and associate
director of LGBT Health Policy at the Center for American Progress,
explains the campaign is crucial for Ohio and other parts of the country
because gay, lesbian, bisexual and particularly transgendered groups
are often uninsured at greater levels than the rest of the population —
both because of poorly targeted outreach efforts and outright
“We’re hoping to provide the tools that these systems need
to see where LGBT people are and include them in these efforts so LGBT
community members can get the benefits that they need,” Baker says.
To accomplish that, Baker’s team is using data collected
through focus groups and other research to establish messages that will
resonate with LGBT communities and land in hotspots in which the groups
Some of the messaging is as simple as putting pictures of
gay couples on brochures. Other times, it will involve reaching deep
into specific LGBT circles and social media — perhaps even Grindr, the
popular phone application that gay men use to arrange dates and other
In its messaging, Out 2 Enroll will tout the potential
benefits of Obamacare: tax subsidies, online marketplaces that will
allow participants to compare insurance plans and new regulations that
protect LGBT groups from discrimination in the health care and insurance
Baker says the efforts could be particularly critical for
transgendered individuals. According to focus groups conducted by
PerryUndem Research & Communication, the transgendered population
has generally felt misunderstood and discriminated against when trying
to obtain health insurance. Complaints about intrusive, inappropriate
questions and being misgendered were fairly common.
In some cases, the discrimination wasn’t subtle. Until new
regulations were enacted through Obamacare, insurance companies were
able to withhold some medical services and refuse coverage
altogether by treating gender identity issues as a pre-existing
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals have faced their own
discrimination as well: The focus groups found one in three respondents
in a same-sex relationship tried to get partner coverage through an
employer plan; of those, 50 percent had trouble getting partner coverage and 72 percent felt discriminated against during the process.
Baker explains that helping with many of these cases could
be as simple as raising awareness about Obamacare’s LGBT benefits.
Although 64 percent of respondents in the focus groups knew about Obamacare’s mandate to
obtain health insurance, 71 percent had not heard about new coverage
options made available through the federal law.
To reverse the statistical trend and ensure Obamacare’s
success, Baker says Out 2 Enroll and other groups partnering with Enroll
America will have to target critical enrollment areas with large
uninsured populations, including Ohio.
A recent analysis from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati put Ohio’s population of uninsured working-age Ohioans at 1.25 million.
The outreach campaign will mostly play out in the next six
months, as online marketplaces open for enrollment on Oct. 1 and
remain open until April.
by German Lopez
Advocates pursue LGBT protections, Ohio among worst polluters, local business could move
It’s legal in most of Ohio for an employer to fire someone
over his or her sexual orientation, but a new bipartisan bill being
pushed by Equality Ohio could make the practice and anti-LGBT discrimination for housing illegal.
Critics of the Equal Housing and Employment Act argue it could lead to a
flood of lawsuits against companies, but Equality Ohio argues that just
hasn’t happened in other states that passed nondiscrimination statutes.
The bill’s Democratic and Republican sponsors argue that it would
actually grow the economy by making Ohio more inclusive, which would
make it easier to keep “the best and the brightest” employees. The bill
was introduced in May and its sponsors expect it to be taken up after
the General Assembly reconvenes in October.
In the United States, Ohio’s power plants pollute more than all but Texas’ power plants,
making Ohio one of the nation’s leading contributors to global warming,
according to a Sept. 10 report from advocacy group Environment Ohio.
The report calls for all levels of government to create and enforce
stronger standards and regulations to curtail pollution and encourage
cleaner forms of energy. National conservative groups oppose the
stricter rules; they flat-out deny human-caused global warming despite the nearly unanimous scientific consensus that it’s at least partly caused by human actions. Some companies also argue efficiency standards impose too many costs on businesses and customers.
Cincinnati officials apparently expected Pure Romance to get tax credits from Ohio.
But the state ultimately refused to grant the credits, which are
regularly given to firms for job creation. Now the company, along with
its $100 million in annual revenues, is considering moving across the
river to Covington, Ky. Ohio officials won’t clarify why Pure Romance’s
request was refused, but the company suspects it’s because its product
lineup includes sex toys, which could have been politically embarrassing
for Gov. John Kasich’s administration.
Following the Sept. 10 mayoral primary’s historically low
voter turnout, the Charter Committee, Cincinnati’s unofficial third
political party, is supporting efforts to reform how the city elects its mayors.
“It is absurd that taxpayers paid $400,000 for a primary yesterday that
few people voted in, and that decided very little,” said Mike Goldman,
convener of the Charter Committee, in a statement. Voter turnout for the
Sept. 10 mayoral primary was a dismal 5.68 percent, much lower than the
15 percent that turned out for the primary held on Sept. 11, 2001 — the
day of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon —
and the 21 percent of voters that participated in the 2005 primary.A City Council motion could strip council members’ support
for a controversial permanent supportive housing facility in Avondale.
The proposed facility, Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit housing
facility with residency and supportive services for the homeless,
particularly those with mental health issues, physical disabilities and
histories of substance abuse. Several Avondale residents are concerned
the facility would further deteriorate an already-blighted community. CityBeat covered the dispute in further detail here.
Cincinnati Public Schools is asking the state to force the Emery Center, home of the embattled Emery Theatre, to pay taxes.
The property taxes could produce $130,000 a year for CPS, which the
school district says it needs because local property taxes make up more
of its funding than the typical urban district in Ohio. The Emery Center
was originally tax exempt under a plan that used the ground floor for
education purposes and a renovated Emery Theatre for community events.
But neither happened; the ground floor is currently used by the Coffee
Emporium, and the theater currently isn’t being renovated or used.
A judge ordered Duke Energy to destroy or return a memo
that was apparently embarrassing for Cincinnati officials because the
memo, which was sent by the city’s Law Department to the city manager,
was supposed to remain private under attorney-client privilege. Duke
wanted to use the memo in its current case against the city. The city
and Duke are in court as part of an agreement between the two entities
to legally settle who has to pay for moving utility lines to accommodate
for the streetcar project.
The Ohio Department of Insurance hasn’t received any applications or certified individuals for Obamacare’s formal outreach effort.
The “navigators,” as officials call them, are a crucial part of Obamacare because they’re
supposed to promote the law’s benefits to ensure the federal government
meets its health insurance enrollment goals to keep costs down. Health
care advocates claim the lag is driven by federal training requirements
and a state law enacted in July. The state law made it so some groups,
including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, can no longer
participate in the navigator program, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Debe Terhar, the president of Ohio Board of Education, wants Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye removed from the state’s Common Core education standards
because the book contains a rape scene. Terhar called the book
“pornographic” at a Sept. 10 Board of Education meeting. But Terhar
clarified that she doesn’t want to ban the book, and she would still
allow different school districts keep it in their curriculums.
State Auditor Dave Yost says Ohio’s cities and counties need to do a better job complying with public record requests.
A sampling of 20 cities and counties found eight, or 40 percent, had
weaknesses in compliance. The most common problem was inadequate
measures to track public record requests.
The Cincinnati area’s largest mall is up for sale for $45 million.
The struggling mall has gone through several names over the years:
Forest Fair Village, Cincinnati Mall, Cincinnati Mills and Forest Fair
Mall.Orangutans apparently announce their travel plans a day in advance.
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 11, 2013
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and
legislators came together in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus on Sept.
9 to announce Why Marriage Matters Ohio, a new statewide effort to
educate and persuade Ohioans to support legalizing same-sex marriage.
Employers in most of Ohio can currently fire workers for their sexual orientation and gender identity, but a new bill could stop it
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 11, 2013
It’s legal in most of Ohio for someone to be fired over his or her sexual orientation and gender identity, but a new bill could ban the practice.
by German Lopez
Mayoral primary today, groups to push same-sex marriage, JobsOhio likely to remain
Today is the mayoral primary election between Democrat Roxanne Qualls, Democrat John Cranley, Libertarian Jim Berns and Independent Sandra “Queen” Noble. Qualls and Cranley are widely seen as the frontrunners. The big difference between the two candidates: Qualls supports and Cranley opposes the streetcar project and parking lease. Polls will be open
until 7:30 p.m. tonight. To find out more information and where to vote,
visit the Hamilton County Board of Elections website here.
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and legislators came together in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus
yesterday to announce Why Marriage Matters Ohio, a new statewide effort
to educate and persuade Ohioans to support legalizing same-sex
marriage. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, Equality Ohio,
Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign are all involved. The
efforts have also been endorsed by faith and business community leaders,
according to the groups. The groups say the campaign is partly in
response to public polling. The 2013 Ohio Values Survey from the Public Religion Research Institute
found Ohioans evenly divided on same-sex marriage: 47 percent supported
it and 47 opposed it. But the survey went against earlier polls from The Washington Post and Quinnipiac University, which found a plurality of Ohioans now support same-sex marriage.
If he’s elected governor, Democrat Ed FitzGerald says he would make changes to JobsOhio
to make it more transparent and open to a public audit, but he says he wouldn’t dismantle the privatized development agency altogether.
FitzGerald acknowledges he would prefer a public agency to land the
state’s development deals, but he says it’s unrealistic to expect the
Republican-controlled General Assembly to repeal JobsOhio. The agency
was established by Gov. John Kasich and fellow Republicans in 2011 to
replace the Ohio Department of Development. Democrats have criticized
JobsOhio for a lack of transparency that has mired it in several
scandals and potential conflicts of interest lately, while Republicans
insist the agency’s privatized, secretive nature help it establish
job-creating development deals more quickly.
In a letter to the city manager, Councilman P.G.
Sittenfeld is calling on the city to host town hall meetings with the four final candidates for Cincinnati Police chief. Sittenfeld says the meetings would help assess how the next police chief responds to
the community and takes feedback. City Manager Milton Dohoney announced
on Sept. 5 that city officials had narrowed down its pool of candidates to four:
acting Chief Paul Humphries; Jeffrey Blackwell, deputy chief of the
Columbus, Ohio, Police Department; Michael Dvorak, deputy chief of the
Mesa, Ariz., Police Department; and Jerry Speziale, deputy
superintendent of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police.
Hamilton County commissioners are likely to keep property taxes higher
to pay for the stadium fund, which is running in the positive for the
next five years after years of shortfalls. Last year, commissioners agreed to reduce the property tax rollback
by half, effectively raising property taxes by $35 for every $100,000
in a home’s value. With yesterday’s news, it’s looking like the property
tax hike will remain permanent. Even without the full rollback in
place, the stadium fund is expected to start producing shortfalls again
in 2019. The rollback disproportionately benefits the wealthy, who end
up getting much more money back than low- and middle-income residents.
Meanwhile, county commissioners might take up an insurance policy with PNC Bank to meet debt obligations on the stadium fund
for the next three years. Commissioner Greg Hartmann says the plan
would give the county enough time to refinance, which could help reduce
the fund’s problems.
City Council committees moved forward with two major pieces of legislation yesterday:
• Qualls’ plan would enforce stricter regulations on the city’s lobbyists and expand disclosure requirements for city officials to make the political process more transparent.• Councilman Chris Seelbach’s proposal would help address cellphone theft by making it more difficult to sell the stolen devices.
As it stands, the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund needs more money to stay solvent. Still, officials say the fund needs time for newly implemented changes to start making an impact.
Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino now stands as the top earner among Ohio casinos, according to the latest state data.
New hybrid engines could lead to a new era of more affordable spaceplanes.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:00 AM | Permalink
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and legislators involved in “big marriage push”
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and legislators are coming
together in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus today to announce Why
Marriage Matters Ohio, a new statewide effort to educate and persuade
Ohioans to support legalizing same-sex marriage.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry,
explained the campaign’s purpose in a statement: “Why Marriage Matters
Ohio aims to encourage neighbor-to-neighbor conversations across the
state, inviting people to talk about their own individual journeys
toward support of the freedom to marry and their values of respect for
commitment and treating others as we’d all want to be treated. Personal
stories are the best conversation starter — and conversation is the best
way to help people understand that all loving and committed couples in
Ohio, gay and non-gay alike, should be able to share in the freedom to
marry and the security and meaning marriage brings.”
The campaign involves the American Civil Liberties Union
of Ohio, Equality Ohio, Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign. The efforts have been endorsed by faith and business
community leaders, according to the groups.
“Marriage is the ultimate recognition of loving
relationships,” State Rep. Denise Driehaus, a Cincinnati Democrat, said
in a statement. “It's time for Ohio to get down to business and start
respecting all marriages.”
In Cincinnati, Driehaus is announcing the campaign with Jim Obergefell, a
Cincinnati resident who’s having his marriage recognized on his spouse’s
death certificate as a result of a court order in favor of marriage
equality. When issuing that court order, U.S. District Judge Timothy
Black cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier in the year that deemed
the federal government’s anti-gay marriage laws unconstitutional.
Public officials and supporters are lining up in two other Ohio
cities to support the campaign: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is speaking in
Cleveland, and Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, is making the announcement in Columbus.
According to a statement issued by the campaign, the effort is partly in response to recent public polling.
The 2013 Ohio Values Survey from the Public Religion Research Institute
found Ohioans evenly divided on same-sex marriage: 47 percent supported
it and 47 opposed it. But 51 percent said they oppose amending the
state constitution to legalize marriage equality.
Still, the survey findings went against previous polls from The Washington Post and Quinnipiac University, which found a plurality of Ohioans now support allowing same-sex marriages in the state.
Beyond allowing gay couples to share in the same rights as straight couples, same-sex marriages could also boost Ohio’s economic and job growth.
A previous study from Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics, LLC,
found that Ohio’s gross domestic product, which measures economic
worth, would go up by $100-$126 million within three years of same-sex
marriage legalization and sustain 740 to 930 jobs within the first year
of legalization, 250 to 310 jobs within the second year and 170 to 210
jobs within the third year.
The education push comes in time for a broader effort to legalize same-sex marriage. FreedomOhio originally planned to get the issue on the ballot this year, but it delayed the initiative for the 2014 ballot.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:18 AM | Permalink
Most Ohioans mistakenly think laws already exist to protect employment equality
Ohio voters overwhelmingly support laws that would protect
gays and lesbians from job discrimination, but even more Ohioans
mistakenly think such laws are already in place, according to the 2013 Ohio Values Survey from the Public Religion Research Institute.
The poll found 68 percent of Ohio voters favor laws that
protect gays and lesbians in the workplace. Only 25 percent of
respondents voiced opposition.
But about 84 percent incorrectly think legal protections
already exist at the state level and 80 percent mistakenly assumed such
laws exist at the federal level. Similarly, around four in five people
wrongly think it’s already illegal to refuse to rent a home
or do business with someone because of sexual orientation and gender
While employment discrimination isn’t tolerated, the poll
found Ohioans are evenly divided on whether same-sex marriage should be
legal (47 percent to 47 percent) and a slim majority said the state
constitution shouldn’t be amended to allow gays and lesbians to marry
(51 percent to 45 percent).
The poll was conducted through telephone interviews
between Aug. 8 and Aug. 15, sampling 883 registered voters in Ohio with a
margin of error of 3.9 percent.
The results provide some context for why Ohio’s LGBT
groups are currently at odds over whether they should pursue marriage
equality. FreedomOhio is aiming to put the issue on the ballot in 2014, but Equality Ohio says employment protections are more politically realistic and should take precedence.
Still, there has been some momentum in favor of marriage
equality in the past couple years. A Quinnipiac University poll released
on April 19 found 48 percent of Ohio voters support gay marriage and 44 percent oppose it, with a 2.9 percent margin of
error. That was a switch from a Dec. 12 poll, which found 47 percent
of Ohio voters were against same-sex marriage and 45 percent favored
FreedomOhio is currently gathering petition signatures to
put same-sex marriage on the ballot. The group was originally aiming to put the issue to a vote in 2013, but it ultimately delayed its
efforts by one year.
by German Lopez
Gay marriages recognized, facial recognition panel appointed, drug testing for welfare fails
The federal government announced yesterday that same-sex
marriages will be recognized for federal tax and Medicare purposes even
if the marriage is considered illegal in the state where the couple
resides. That means gay Ohioans could get married in a state
where it’s legal, such as Massachusetts or California, and have their
marriages recognized by the federal government even if the couple
lives in Ohio. The change does not apply to Social Security,
which will continue basing benefits on where couples live, not where
they got married. The changes also won’t apply to taxes at the local and
state level until those governments legalize same-sex marriage for
themselves. Freedom Ohio is currently working to get same-sex marriage
on Ohio’s ballot in 2014, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Attorney General Mike DeWine on Thursday appointed the panel
that will review the state’s facial recognition program. It includes
Democrats, Republicans, judges, law enforcement and prosecutors, but not
civil liberties groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union,
that asked to be involved. Shortly after the program was formally
unveiled on Monday, the ACLU asked DeWine to shut it down
until proper protocols are put in place to protect Ohioans’ rights to
privacy. The program allows police officers and civilian employees to
use a photo to search databases for names and contact information.
Previously, law enforcement officials needed a name or address to search
A Republican state senator is introducing legislation that
would attach drug testing to welfare benefits in Ohio, but similar
measures have failed in other states.
Under the proposal, welfare recipients in three counties would be
required to take a drug test if they admit in a questionnaire to using
drugs in the past six months. In Utah, the state government spent more
than $30,000 screening welfare applicants, but only 12 people tested
positive, according to Deseret News.
The policy has also faced legal troubles, particularly in Florida, but
since the Ohio proposal only requires drug testing after information is
solicited through a questionnaire, it’s unclear whether privacy concerns
will hold up in court.
Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Republican, is speaking out against a $300 million light rail project
that would run from downtown Cincinnati to Milford, Ohio. Hartmann says
he’s concerned ridership numbers will be low and costs will be too
high. County commissioners are involved with the project through the
Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District.
Ex-Councilman John Cranley continues to outraise and outspend Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls in the mayoral race. But money rarely matters in political campaigns, according to research and Cincinnati’s mayoral history.
The conservative Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) is asking the city solicitor
to force Councilman Chris Seelbach to repay the city for his trip to
Washington, D.C., where Seelbach, Cincinnati’s first openly gay council
member, received the White House’s Champion of Change Award. Seelbach
says the trip served a public purpose; mainly, the trip allowed him and
his staff to spend time with other award recipients to learn how to
better deal with LGBT issues.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble announced it backs legislation that would prevent employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Ohio currently has no such law.
Ohio’s prison population is growing again,
which has spurred further calls from state officials to continue
pursuing sentencing reform. The state government in 2012 passed some
reform that weakened sentences and made it easier for convicts to have their records expunged, but Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director
Gary Mohr says more needs to be done.
Ohio gun owners are gathering in Columbus today to call on
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to support comprehensive background checks
for firearms, according to a press release from Mayors Against Illegal
Guns. Polling data released by the group found 83 percent of Ohioans
support comprehensive background checks.
A Democratic state representative is asking Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, to explain why he’s accused of forcing the Ohio EPA’s top water watchdog to resign,
but Kasich’s people don’t seem to be taking the concern too seriously.
Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols responded to the demands by telling The Columbus Dispatch,
“If she had her way, we’d all be living on a collective farm cooking
organic quinoa over a dung fire. So I think we’ll take her views in
context.” George Elmaraghy, chief of the Ohio EPA’s surface-water
division, was allegedly asked to step down by Kasich after Elmaraghy
claimed Ohio coal companies want water-pollution permits “that may have a
negative impact on Ohio’s streams and wetlands and violate state and
federal laws.” Republican lawmakers are notoriously friendly with oil,
gas and coal companies.
Two more are being investigated by the Hamilton County Board of Elections for illegally voting in Ohio while living in other states.
Gas prices are rising in time for Labor Day weekend, but they should be cheaper than last year.
The famous “47 percent” is now down to 43 percent.
The Tax Policy Center says the change is driven by the recovering
economy, rising incomes and cuts to federal assistance programs.
Antarctica appears to be bleeding in a phenomenon that shows life can exist without sunlight or oxygen.
Popular Science has an explainer for cruise missiles, the weapon that soon may be deployed against Syria.