by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: LGBT Issues
at 12:32 PM | Permalink
Measure would allow same-sex couples to register for benefits purposes
Cincinnati is one step closer to joining nine other Ohio cities that have established domestic partner registries, which would open up more possibilities for equal employee benefits for same-sex couples.A measure introduced by City Councilman Chris Seelbach to have the city set up the registry passed unanimously through the council’s Human Services Committee today. Mayor John Cranley and a majority of council have expressed support for the measure, and it seems likely to come up for a vote and pass during Wednesday's council meeting.The registry, which would be run through the City Clerk’s office, would verify financial relationships between non-married domestic partners. The list would take a burden off employers, who currently have to independently verify financial relationships if they wish to provide equal benefits for partners of employees.Couples would be required to show strong financial interdependency to qualify. Applicants to the registry would be eligible if they own joint property, have granted each other power of attorney, are named in each others’ will and meet other requirements. Many large companies, as well as the city, already offer some form of domestic partner benefits. However, requirements can vary, and it’s expensive and time-consuming to set up criteria and then screen employees’ eligibility, especially for smaller employers.The registry proposed for Cincinnati is based on one adopted by Columbus in 2012. It requires a $45 fee to register, which Seelbach says will pay for the program. If passed, Seelbach said the plan could be up and running in a few weeks.Metro on May 29 announced plans to provide health and dental benefits to
domestic partners of its employees,
the first employer to say it will utilize the registry once it passes.
by Rachel Podnar
Organization could become first to utilize city’s proposed domestic partner registry
Lahman was doing cartwheels in her mind for Metro this morning.
organization’s Ridership and Development Director celebrated Metro’s
announcement on Thursday that it will provide health and dental benefits to
domestic partners of its employees.
said she has used same-sex partner benefits in the past, when she went back to
partner and I] know first-hand what it means to have the flexibility and
equality as others do in the workplace,” Lahman said at a press conference at
Metro’s office. “This is just a fantastic day and I’m so proud that Metro is
able to do the right thing.”
is the first employer to say it will use Cincinnati’s domestic partner registry
if the initiative passes next week in City Council. Should it pass, Cincinnati
will be the 10th city in Ohio to have a domestic partner registry.
John Cranley and City Councilman Chris Seelbach attended the press conference
and spoke in support of the move.
called it “symbolically and substantively right” and during the
announcement shared a memory in honor of Maya Angelou, her poem “On the Pulse
of Morning” at former President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.
ended it with ‘Good morning,’” Cranley said. “I think this is a good morning
for Cincinnati, a new day.”
of Cincinnati’s major employers, including Procter & Gamble, Kroger and
Macy’s offer same-sex and domestic partner benefits.
said while those companies already have systems to evaluate domestic
partnerships, the registry will give other companies like Metro an easy way to
provide those benefits.
are now leaders in the nation and the region to make sure everyone is welcome
in our city, regardless of who they love,” Seelbach said. “Everyone should
bring their full self to their workplace and be able to do that with health
benefits for their partners.”
said while Metro is the first to say it will use the registry, other companies
like Cincinnati Bell have expressed interest.
is a nonprofit tax-funded public service of the Southwestern Ohio Regional
Transit Authority (SORTA) with around 850 employees.
of SORTA’s executive statements says the organization is committed to a work
environment that “promotes dignity and respect for all.”
Chair Jason Dunn said SORTA’s commitment to inclusion is a great business
shows that we value our employees,” Dunn said. “It shows that not only is Metro
on the cutting edge of transportation but also making sure we are open to
talent and we are open to retaining great talent in our system.”
partners with a valid marriage license, same-sex partners registered by a
government entity and same-sex partners with a sworn affidavit will be
recognized by Metro for domestic partner benefits, which will take effect
January 1, 2015.
Vice Mayor Mann set to propose altered bike project to save on-street parking
4 Comments · Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The city’s cost of a long-planned piece of
cycling infrastructure could more than double if City Council approves a
motion Vice Mayor David Mann planned to introduce on April 23.
by Anthony Skeens
Posted In: Mayor
at 04:43 PM | Permalink
Vice Mayor Mann set to introduce motion to save parking spaces
The city’s cost of a long-planned piece of
cycling infrastructure could more than double if City Council approves a
motion Vice Mayor David Mann planned to introduce on April 23.
Mayor John Cranley successfully paused
the Central Parkway Bikeway Project for public discourse in response to a
handful of business owners and residents taking exception to it, and a
spokesman for Mann shared his suggested compromise with CityBeat today.
In response to an April 21 special
Neighborhoods Committee meeting, Mann seeks to alter the bike route to
appease people who don’t want to see parking spaces removed, but the
updated plan will cost an additional $110,00 on top of the $82,600 the
city would pay under the original plan, which would create the beginning
of a cycling corridor running from Elm Street downtown to Ludlow Avenue
in Clifton. The project was supposed to break ground next month and
could lose $330,400 in federal money if the contract isn’t awarded by
“We routinely spend hundreds of thousands
of dollars as a city to create new jobs in our community,” Mann said in
a statement. “We should not approve a new project that places 60 newly
created jobs in jeopardy when such a sensible accommodation is
The planned bikeway is an innovative
piece of cycling infrastructure meant to better protect cyclists along a
critical thoroughfare that would connect a number of inner-city
neighborhoods and business districts. The lane will be protected,
meaning cyclists will have their own lane with a buffer separating them
from traffic; in some areas plastic bollards will separate the bike and
automobile lanes. The street will not be widened, so traffic lanes will
be impacted through restriping, and parking will be restricted during
peak traffic hours in the morning and evening.
Opponents of the project are concerned
about losing public, on-street parking for parts of the day as well as
potentially encountering traffic issues from shaving lanes from Brighton
Place to Liberty Street. They also worry the bollards will become a
blight issue and emergency vehicles will be impeded during one-lane
Mann’s motion supports an alternative
plan for a section running from Ravine Street to Brighton Place that
would preserve 23 parking spaces full-time, alter 4,300 square feet of
greenspace and remove 15 trees at an estimated cost of $110,000. The
parking spaces would benefit a building owner and his tenants at 2145
City Councilman Chris Seelbach and others
demonstrated frustration with the administration’s interest in stepping
in at the 11th hour.
“I think we have reached a new era in
Cincinnati: two steps forward, pause, lots of long meetings, two steps
forward, and I’m convinced after the pause and lots of long meetings, we
will continue to go two steps forward today,” Seelbach said at the
April 21 meeting.
Mayor Cranley requested City Manager
Scott Stiles delay awarding a contract after meeting with local business
owner Tim Haines, who purchased a vacant building located at 2145
Central Parkway in 2012 for $230,000. His building now houses 65
employees from 12 different businesses including his own, Relocation
Strategies. Haines has become a mouthpiece for the opposition to the
bikeway — though he adamantly states he is not against the lane; he is
just against the project’s current incarnation as it affects Central
Parkway near his business, which utilizes 500 feet of on-street,
unmetered parking, which translates to 30 parking spaces.
“If parking wasn’t an issue, I would open
up my arms and welcome the bike path,” Haines says. “Parking for my 65
tenants is in jeopardy. As a business owner I have to fight for my
tenants. … Could they park and walk a quarter of a mile? They could, but
that’s not what they signed up for when they moved in.”
Haines has a 16-space parking lot
adjacent to his building that some of his tenants use and also owns a
parking lot across the street that is in disrepair. Haines says he
already cleared it of underbrush to cut down criminal activity and
disposed of dozens of tires and beer bottles. He says it would cost up
to $300,000 to upgrade the lot.
During the April 21 presentation,
Department of Transportation and Engineering (DOTE) Director Michael
Moore presented the committee with an alternative recently developed
with Cranley’s office that he said would appease Haines and his tenants
but would cost more money. Moore pushed the notion that the alternative
creates a more balanced bikeway plan.
The original plan, passed by council last
year, restricts parking in front of Haines’ building from 7 a.m. to 9
a.m. Moore’s alternative, which Mann is on board with, is to ramp the
bike lane over the curb adjacent to a sidewalk where there is currently a
tree-lined area in front of Haines’ building and another business in
order to preserve public parking full-time.
At the meeting, council member Young took exception to the suggestion of changing the project at this point.
“For the life of me, I don’t see where
the reasonableness and the balance is with people who come so far after
the fact that want us to make these changes and the dollar amount it’s
going to cost the taxpayers to get it done,” Young said. “I am appalled
that people can come after the fact and tie up all these people down
here to simply want accommodations for them.”
Mann shared another perspective.
“There’s a gentleman who has brought 60
jobs to the city, including some folks who have Parkinson’s and use the
building, and the proposal that’s being made seems to me to represent
balance,” Mann said. “We spend millions of dollars, typically, to
support development, to support jobs, and you’re saying that the
proposal that was originally approved by this council without a hearing
like this is so pristine that it cant be adjusted in any way, and if
it’s adjusted that is a statement of imbalance? I just don’t follow
For the past year and a half, DOTE
conducted surveys, sought public input and developed plans for the
bikeway. After a strong consensus, the department chose the protected
bikeway plan. The bikeway is estimated to add just three seconds of
motorist commute time by 2030, though some naysayers suggest that
delivery trucks will clog the lanes and the turn left from Ravine Street
will create an even longer lag.
Community outreach for the design began
in March of last year with eight community council meetings. Letters
were mailed to residents, businesses and property owners, but Haines and
several other business owners stated they didn’t receive any and
weren’t aware of the project until late last year.
A website designed for public feedback
also garnered about 600 messages mainly supporting the bikeway project.
DOTE held an open house last September and the Over-The-Rhine and
Northside community councils, Findlay Market and Northside Business
Association endorsed the project.
Simpson expressed frustration with halting progress for a last-minute meeting.
“I don’t think that’s an appropriate
process,” she said. “Really, technically you can go over everything over
the past two years. The reality is we need to look forward. If we want
to be less auto-focused and more focused on other types of transit,
we’re going to have to ruffle a couple of feathers.”
Supporters — some who biked to the April
21 meeting and utilized a bike valet setup in front of City Hall —
represented various groups of the community from health and community
councils to business owners and cyclists. Their number doubled opponents
— mainly business owners along Central Parkway in the West End and the
West End Community Council, though some West End residents and business
owners supported the original bikeway plan.
0 Comments · Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Bullies can be such a predictable bunch, always going after nerdy kids and people who are quiet or can’t run very fast (although,
word to the wise — some dorks know karate).
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
P&G is the Mitt Romney of
corporations, a baby-eating psychopath that no amount of coaxing or
media manipulation can transform into something you’d want at your
by German Lopez
Early voting agreement sought, downtown project scrutinized, drug abuse reportedly drops
Mayor John Cranley is trying to find a compromise
over whether early voting will move out of downtown after the 2016
general election, as some Republicans in the county government
have suggested. Cranley called for a meeting with Hamilton County Board
of Elections Chairman and Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim
Burke, Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou,
Cincinnati NAACP President Ishton Morton and Hamilton County Board of
Commissioners President Chris Monzel. The meeting will aim to “discuss
alternatives the City of Cincinnati can offer to accommodate early
voting downtown after the 2016 elections. (Cranley) believes that such a
discussion is consistent with the recommendation of the secretary of
state that there be an effort to find a nonpartisan solution to the
existing disagreement.”With a $12 million price tag in mind, Cranley remains worried
Cincinnati is paying too much for a downtown grocery and apartment tower
project. But the project is truly one of a kind, claims The Business Courier:
The tower would boast nearly twice the number of luxury apartments of
any other project underway in Over-the-Rhine or downtown. And it would
replace a decrepit garage and establish the first full-scale grocery
store downtown in decades.A study found Ohio teens’ painkiller abuse dropped by 40
percent between 2011 and 2013. State officials quickly took credit for
the drop, claiming their drug prevention strategies are working. But
because the Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey only has two sets of data on
painkillers to work with — one in 2011 and another in 2013 — it’s
possible the current drop is more statistical noise than a genuine
downturn, so the 2015 and 2017 studies will be under extra scrutiny to
verify the trend.Similarly, fewer Ohio teens say they’re drinking and smoking. But 46 percent say they text while driving.Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in
January, down from 7.3 percent the year before. The numbers reflect both
rising employment and dropping unemployment in the previous year.To prove his conservative bona fides, Ky. Sen. Mitch
McConnell touted a rifle when he walked on stage of the Conservative Political Action
Conference.The other Kentucky senator, Rand Paul, will headline a Hamilton County Republican Party dinner.Researchers studied a woman who claims she can will herself out of her body.Personal note: This is my last “Morning News and Stuff” and blog for CityBeat.
After today, I will be leaving to Washington, D.C., for a new
journalistic venture started by bloggers and reporters from The Washington Post and Slate. (CityBeat
Editor Danny Cross wrote a lot of nice things about the move here, and
my last commentary touched on it here.) Thank you to everyone who read
my blogs during my nearly two years at CityBeat, and I hope I helped you understand the city’s complicated, exciting political and economic climate a little better, even if you sometimes disagreed with what I wrote.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by German Lopez
Downtown project gets path forward, feds to pay for firefighters, health board defies mayor
Flaherty & Collins, the developer that wants to tear
down a garage as part of its downtown grocery and apartment tower
project, offered to pay for a tenant’s move to keep the deal moving
forward. The tenant, Paragon Salon, recently announced its intent to sue
the city after Mayor John Cranley’s refusal to pay for the salon
business’s move left the development project and Paragon in a limbo of
uncertainty. With Flaherty & Collins’ offer, the development deal
should be able to advance without extra costs to the city.But Cranley says he still wants 3CDC to review the downtown development project to set the best path forward.Federal money will help Cincinnati keep and hire more
firefighters. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response
(SAFER) grant provides nearly $8.1 million — about 2 percent of the
city’s $370 million operating budget — to pay the salaries and benefits
of 50 firefighters for two years. Afterward, the city will need to pick
up the costs, which could worsen an operating budget gap that currently
sits at $22 million for fiscal 2015. The move would increase the
Cincinnati Fire Department’s staffing levels from 841 to 879 and help prevent brownouts, according to the firefighting agency.The Cincinnati Board of Health defied Mayor Cranley by
unilaterally pursuing a $1.3 million grant that will provide
preventative and primary care services to underserved populations. Rocky
Merz, spokesperson for the board, says the grant application complies
with guidance from the city’s top lawyer. Cranley opposes the grant because the extra services it enables could push up costs for the city down the line.Hamilton County officials will look for outside legal help in
their fight against the city’s job training rules for Metropolitan Sewer
District projects. CityBeat covered the rules, known as “responsible bidder,” in further detail here.Smale Riverfront Park will receive $4.5 million in federal
funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to control erosion and
prevent flooding.Crime around Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino never
materialized, despite warnings from critics prior to casinos’
legalization in Ohio.Ohio’s prison re-entry rate declined and sits
well below the national average, according to a study from the Ohio
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The study found 27.1
percent of inmates released in 2010 ended up back up in prison, down
from 28.7 percent of individuals released in 2009. In comparison, the
national average is 44 percent.Hundreds of Ohio school districts plan to test out the
state’s new online assessments for math, language arts, social studies
and science.The cold winter is pushing up natural gas prices, according to Ohio’s largest natural gas utility.A second baby might have been cured of HIV, the sexually
transmitted disease that causes AIDS. Even with the potential successes,
doctors caution it’s still very much unclear whether the treatment
provides a definitive cure for the deadly disease.Meanwhile, a first-of-its-kind intravaginal ring could prevent pregnancy and HIV.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to email@example.com.
3 Comments · Wednesday, March 5, 2014
This is my last article as a staff writer at CityBeat.
At the end of the week, I will be leaving Cincinnati for Washington,
D.C., to join a new journalistic venture.