by German Lopez
138 days ago
Qualls wants streetcar sooner, new school funding plan, council urges Medicaid expansion
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls is asking the city
administration to complete construction of the streetcar in time for the
2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be hosted in
Cincinnati. A letter from Qualls to City Manager Milton Dohoney and
Mayor Mark Mallory explains her reasoning: “This may present a
challenge, but it is one I am sure the administration is capable of
meeting. The streetcar will serve a critical role in efficiently and
effectively moving visitors to and from Great American Ballpark and
allowing them to conveniently visit other venues such as Fountain
Square, Horseshoe Casino, Over-the-Rhine, Washington Park, etc.” CityBeat covered the streetcar’s delays and how the project relates to the 2013 mayor’s race here.
Gov. John Kasich will reveal
his plan for funding Ohio schools today. The plan is expected to include a $300
million “innovation fund” to support school initiatives that improve
teaching and learning. In a previous interview, Rob Nichols, Kasich’s
spokesperson, explained the troubles of establishing a plan: “Many governors have tried before. Many states have been sued over
their formulas. It’s something we have to take our time with and get it
City Council passed a resolution urging Kasich
to expand Medicaid. Qualls explained the need for the
resolution: “Expanding Medicaid will create a net savings to the state
over time, allow the City’s health department to improve access to
health services at lower costs, and most importantly, provide health
care coverage for thousands of Cincinnati residents who need it most.” A
study from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found a Medicaid expansion would save the state money for the first few years. Previous studies also found
correlations between improved health results in states and a Medicaid
expansion, and a study from the Arkansas Department of Human Services claimed Arkansas would save $378 million by 2025 with the Medicaid
A new report found poverty is increasing in Ohio. About one in six Ohioans are below the federal poverty line, according to the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies report.
About $100 million in development downtown is kicking off
today. City officials and business leaders are gathering for the
groundbreaking this morning of a lot at Fifth and Race streets that has
idled for nearly 30 years. The lot will host the new four-story
headquarters for DunnhumbyUSA.
Kasich says Ohio will continue taking Ky. jobs in the future. The rough words are Kasich's interesting approach to encouraging Ky. legislators to support the Brent Spence Bridge project.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a scam alert telling businesses to be wary of emails claiming to be from the Federal Trade Commission or FTC.
Miami University broke its application record.
A Wright State professor saved
Cincinnati-based Kroger more than $170 million with his work on more
accurate pharmaceutical predictions. The professor, Xinhui Zhang, is now
one of the six finalists worldwide for the Franz Edelman Award.Ohioans now have a phone number to report cases of child
abuse or neglect: 855-O-H-CHILD, or 855-642-4453. Reports can be
anonymous.Humanity is one step closer to the inevitable robot apocalypse. GE's hospital robot can sort scalpels, sterilize tools and prepare operating rooms for surgery.
by German Lopez
Seelbach tired of streetcar delays, Pentagon to lift combat ban for women, JobsOhio in court
Council Member Chris Seelbach says he’s getting impatient
with streetcar delays. During a series of complaints aired on Twitter, Seelbach wrote the deadline for streetcar operation should be the Major
League Baseball All-Star Game in 2015. This week’s CityBeat cover story explains some of the delays and how the streetcar relates to the 2013 mayor’s race.
The Pentagon is planning to lift the ban
on women in combat situations. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said
the decision came after a recommendation from his Joint Chiefs of
Staff. Between the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and this decision,
President Barack Obama’s administration has been one of the most
inclusive when it comes to the military.
The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear
a case questioning the constitutionality of JobsOhio. Policy group ProgressOhio says it might be illegal to use state liquor profits to
fund JobsOhio, a private nonprofit organization Gov. John Kasich set up
to drive economic growth in the state.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game could bring
$60-$80 million to Cincinnati, according to Julie Heath,
director of the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center. It was
recently announced Cincinnati will host the game in 2015.
Gov. Kasich said he won’t oust
State Board of Education President Debe Terhar after she made a
Facebook post comparing Obama to Adolf Hitler. Kasich is happy she
admitted it was a mistake, and he said he will leave it at that.
Democrats called for her ousting Tuesday.
American Military Partner Association, a national
organization that supports LGBT veterans, endorsed FreedomOhio’s
same-sex marriage amendment. If voters approve the amendment this
November, gay marriage will be legalized in Ohio. CityBeat wrote more about FreedomOhio’s ballot initiative here.
Cincinnati Public Schools is piloting an after-school program focusing on the arts. The high-energy sessions are apparently proving to be a hit among students so far.
U.S. Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from West Chester, says President Barack Obama is out to annihilate the Republican Party. I’m not seeing the problem here.
Moody’s doesn’t have confidence in U.S. nonprofit hospitals.
New science makes it possible to detect brain damage in football players that previously couldn’t be seen until a victim was dead. CityBeat covered how head trauma relates to former Bengals players' workers' comp claims here.
Popular Science explains how to make the perfect snowball.
Why the streetcar will be at the center of the 2013 mayoral race despite its progress
13 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
delays and political controversy, the streetcar is once again in the
news — and, for better or worse, this year’s mayoral campaign will keep
it there for much of the coming year.
by German Lopez
More laws to curb human trafficking, feds stop fracking waste, Mallory tours with feds
Gov. John Kasich is ready to support further action on human trafficking.
Members of the Ohio legislature have already committed to further action.
The next few measures will address the statute of limitations for
trafficking, parents who traffic their children and laws affecting
children services and child welfare. Last session, the legislature
passed a “safe harbor” law that changed the classification of children
caught in prostitution from criminals to victims. A 2010 bill also
increased penalties for human trafficking and related crimes.A Texas-based company wants to ship
thousands of barrels of fracking waste through river barges to Ohio. But the
U.S. Coast Guard is halting the plan while it investigates whether the
waste can be transported through water routes and the plan’s potential
environmental impact. Critics are worried Ohio is becoming a dumping ground for fracking waste.Mayor Mark Mallory took a tour
with federal officials to show off developments going on in the city
and the potential route for the streetcar. The tour was meant to show
off projects that have gotten help from the federal government. After
the bus tour, Mallory acknowledged the city has “a lot of work to do,”
but he added, “There really is a buzz about Cincinnati around this
country. It is true.”
A Cincinnati Children’s Hospital survey found one-third of teen girls report meeting with someone they’ve met online.
Psychologist Jennie Noll says abused or neglected girls are more likely
to present themselves in sexually provocative ways on the Internet and
meet more people in real life. Noll warned the meetings can be dangerous for young girls. Apparently, the meetings seem to
happen regardless of Internet filtering software, but high-quality
parenting and monitoring can help.
Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority is planning housing development for Mount Healthy. The development is coming after a study found the need for more housing in the area.
A controversial luxury apartment complex has been approved in Blue Ash. The approval came despite neighbors complaining that the complex will be an eyesore for the community.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Cincinnati will hire 200 positions.
A recent rise in smuggling led a Conneaut, Ohio, councilman to send a letter to Gov. John Kasich asking for the state to intervene at Corrections Corporation of America’s Lake Erie Correctional Institution.
But Col. John Born, superintendent at the Ohio State Highway Patrol,
wrote in a response that criminal incidents have gone down at the CCA
facility, even though drug smuggling has gone up. He also writes the
state has deployed more cruisers, but he claims local law enforcement
have better means and legal authority to deal with cases at the prison.
In other prison news, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Gary Mohr wants to keep misbehaving inmates in prison longer. In the last legislative session, Mohr helped push laws that reduced sentences for low-crime offenders.
Looks like State Treasurer Josh Mandel is firing 10 percent of his staff. The press release
for the announcement has great wording for the bad news: “Treasurer
Mandel announces further payroll reductions and personnel
Ohio gas prices ticked up in response to hopes of a larger economic recovery.
The Cincinnati Zoo has another adorable animal: the Brazilian ocelot kitten.
Science says global warming won’t suck for everyone.
Canadian killer whales tend to make gains, for example. Should humanity
really risk making killer whales even stronger? They can already take down animals that are on solid surface.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 9, 2013
With 2012 in the past, it’s time to start
preparing for a brand new year of politics and policy. From what’s been
hinted at so far, progressives could have another big year in 2013, but
only if they work for it.
by German Lopez
Streetcar delayed to 2016, unemployment steady, Boehner re-elected speaker
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Cincinnati streetcar is being delayed until 2016.
The streetcar has been delayed time and time again, much to the cheer of opponents. Some opponents have taken
the delay as yet another chance to take shots at the streetcar, but the
city says a lot of the delays have been due to factors out of the city’s
control, including ballot initiatives, the state pulling out a massive
$52 million in funding and a dispute with Duke Energy.The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent in December,
with November’s rate being revised upward to 7.8 percent as well.
Employers reported adding about 155,000 jobs last month, but about
192,000 entered the labor force, meaning the amount of people joining
the labor force outmatched the newly employed. The unemployment rate
looks at the amount of unemployed people in the civilian labor force,
which includes anyone working or looking for work.
U.S. Speaker John Boehner was re-elected U.S. House speaker.
Just moments after securing the top House seat, Boehner said he will
make the U.S. debt a top priority. But continuing to make the debt and
deficit top issues could hurt the economy, as the fiscal cliff and
recent developments in Europe have shown.
Uncle Sam is helping out Cincinnati firefighters. The Cincinnati Fire Department will be getting $6 million in federal grant money to hire 40 additional firefighters. The money will be enough to fund salaries for two years.
Cincinnati’s biggest cable provider dropped Current TV
after it was sold to Qatar-based Al Jazeera. The Pan-Arab news network
has had a difficult time establishing a foothold in American markets,
largely because of the perception that it’s anti-American. But Al
Jazeera has put out some great news stories, and some of the stories won
awards in 2012.
If anyone is planning a trip through New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, Dayton International Airport now has that covered.A small town in Ohio is being accused of covering up an alleged gang rape to protect a local football team.
But KnightSec, a hacking group affiliated with the organization Anonymous, is
fighting back by releasing evidence related to the case.
Despite a solved fiscal cliff deal extending emergency unemployment benefits, Ohio’s unemployed will soon be getting less aid. The decrease was automatically triggered by the state’s declining unemployment rate.
Ohio’s universities are adopting more uniform standards for remedial classes.
The newest Congress is a little more diverse.
In what might be the worst news of the century, the Blue Wisp Jazz Club could close down. The club, which has the greatest spinach-and-artichoke dip in the universe, is facing financial problems.
People who recently obtained gift cards for Rave Motion Pictures may want to get a move on. The theater is being sold to AMC Theatres.
A new theory suggest Earth should have been a snowball in its early days, but it wasn’t due to greenhouse gases.
by German Lopez
DeWine calls for school staff training, Music Hall to be leased, bus money not for streetcar
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is proposing
training school staff and teachers to be first responders in the case
of an attack. The news comes in the wake of the massacre in Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which caused the deaths of 20
children and six adults. CityBeat proposed its own solution in this week’s commentary: Make this time different by focusing on mental health services and gun control.
Cincinnati will lease Music Hall for 75 years to the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC). The lease
is part of a plan to renovate the iconic building to include more
comfortable seating, extra restroom capacity, heating, air conditioning,
improved plumbing and new escalator models. During the renovations,
Music Hall will be closed for 17 months.
City Council passed
a resolution promising not to use Metro bus money for the streetcar.
The supposed conflict between the city of Cincinnati and the Southwest
Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is being drummed up by the
media, but it’s really much ado about nothing.
Metropolitan Sewer District rates will go up by 5 percent in early 2013.
The Cincinnati Health Department is pushing
recommendations from a lead hazard study. The recommendations would
prohibit lead-based paint hazards and require all properties to be free
of lead-based paint, dust and soil. City Council is asking the health
department to carry out the regulations, and it expects from a plan and
timetable from regulators within 60 days. One study found getting rid of lead would do wonders for school performance
A Brookings Institute ranking placed Greater Cincinnati among the worst areas in the country due to falling home prices.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank agreed
to a $16 million settlement in a securities fraud case. The
four-year-old lawsuit was brought in the onset of 2008’s financial
crisis, when the bank’s stock plummeted as it took several large
Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino still needs to fill 450 positions in food and beverage, marketing, finance, security and more. A Washington Post analysis found casinos tend to bring jobs, but they also bring crime, bankruptcy and even suicide.
As expected, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is helping
Ohio’s economy. The state has 39,000 jobs attached to oil and gas this
year, and the number is expected to triple by the end of the decade. To
take advantage of the boom, Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he will push his oil-and-gas severance tax in 2013. But the plan faces opposition from liberals and conservatives.
If Ohio Republicans tried to push “right-to-work” legislation, it would lead to a very nasty public fight, The Plain Dealer reports. Kasich and Republican lawmakers didn’t rule out
using ballot initiatives to push conservative ideas like right-to-work
in a press conference yesterday, but he did say he’s like a horse with
blinders on, focusing on job creation.
The animal and robot takeover have been merged in the BigDog robot. It can now obey voice commands, follow and roll over.
by Andy Brownfield
Resolution promises no bus funds used on streetcar
In hopes of quashing rumors, City Council on Wednesday
passed a resolution promising not to use Metro bus money on the
The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit authority had voted
Tuesday on an agreement with the city that contained a provision saying
money from the $42 million transit fund that pays for bus operation
can’t be used on the streetcar.
The agreement needs to be signed by the city as well in
order to release millions of dollars in federal grants to help fund the
streetcar. The city has pledged to match those grants with local funds.
SORTA wants to make sure the transit fund isn’t used for that purpose,
but the city wants to have the freedom to use that money on any
At least one council member questioned the necessity of passing the resolution.
Chris Seelbach said that nobody on council or in the city
administration had proposed or would propose using transit money on the
“I don’t understand why we would need a provision in any
contract that would make us not be able to, when nobody’s proposing that
we do it,” he said.
The resolution has no legal standing preventing council
from later coming back and using transit funds for the streetcar, but
Qualls said she hoped it put citizens’ minds at rest regarding their
Mayor Mark Mallory on Monday published an editorial in The
Enquirer promising that the transit money wouldn’t be used for the
He went further on Wednesday and said during council’s
meeting that he as mayor would never approve the use of transit money
for the operation of the streetcar.
Council also passed a one-month budget for SORTA, requiring that they come back next month to pass another one.
Councilman Chris Smitherman accused Mallory of trying to
flex political muscle in the budget to strong-arm SORTA into taking out
the provision disallowing the use of transit funds for the streetcar. He
questioned the timing of passing a SORTA budget the day after the
transit authority voted to prevent transit funds being used for the
Councilman Charlie Winburn — council's sole Republican — walked out of a Budget Committee meeting in advance of the vote.
However Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said it made sense to
pass the one-month budget because it forbid SORTA from using taxpayer
money to sue the city.
City Solicitor John Curp said it was SORTA’s position in
the lawsuit that it should be the one deciding how transit funds are
used, not the city.
by German Lopez
SORTA wants to limit transit fund, Mallory refuses
In the past few days, local media outlets have reported
heavily on a supposed conflict between Southwest Ohio Regional Transit
Authority (SORTA) and the city of Cincinnati. Essentially, SORTA wants
the transit fund limited, while the city government says it doesn’t want
to “undermine the city charter” with limitations.
At its heart, the argument is a political back-and-forth
with little consequence. It’s two government agencies at a small divide
over legalese in an intergovernmental agreement about how the streetcar
will operate and how it will be funded.
The specific issue is SORTA, which runs the Metro bus
system and will operate the streetcar, wants to include phrasing in its
agreement with the city that makes it so the transit fund can’t be used
for the streetcar. In a 7-6 vote Tuesday, SORTA's board pushed its preferred wording along with an application for an $11 million federal grant that will help fund the streetcar.But the city government claims the limitation would go
against the spirit of the city charter, which says the transit fund can
be used for “public transit purposes generally and without limitation.”UPDATE: City Council on Wednesday
passed a resolution promising not to use Metro bus money on the
streetcar, although it has no legal standing preventing council
from later coming back and using transit funds for the streetcar.
Still, Mayor Mark Mallory’s office has insisted time and
time again that funding for the streetcar’s construction and operation is already
allocated, so taking any money from the transit fund will be
unnecessary. Specifically, the city will tap into casino revenue to
operate the streetcar, on top of the $11 million federal grant.
In an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer Monday, Mallory said
the real issue goes back to an ongoing lawsuit between SORTA and the
city. In 2010, the city diverted money from the transit fund to
pay for street lights. That prompted a lawsuit from SORTA, asking the courts to
define the limits of the transit fund.
The mayor’s office sees the wording from SORTA as an attempt from the transit agency to score a minor victory in the legal battle. If the city government accepted the wording, it
would be agreeing to a limited transit fund, which is essentially what
SORTA’s wording also makes it so all transit fund money
will continue going to the Metro bus system, which is the agency’s sole
But even SORTA says the disagreement is getting blown out of proportion by media outlets and public
officials. Sallie Hilvers, spokesperson for SORTA, says the wording in the approved agreement was the board’s attempt to ensure the transit fund
isn’t used for the streetcar, but, for the most part, it’s “really just
Hilvers insisted the disagreement over wording has plenty
of time to be worked out, and it will not hinder collaboration between
the city of Cincinnati and SORTA. The agreement will need to be worked out before summer 2013 for the streetcar to stay on track.
by German Lopez
Strickland calls for gun control, Kasich to loosen gun rules, Mallory rebuts streetcar claims
Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who rose to the governorship with the help of the National Rifle Association, says
gun rights and gun control can co-exist. The claim is in light of the
massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed
20 children and six adults. Many have called for stricter gun control
in light of the past year’s bouts of gun violence, but Republicans are
typically opposed to such proposals. A recent poll from The Washington Post and ABC News found 59 percent of Americans support
banning high-capacity ammunition clips, much like the ones used in the
Newtown shooting. Another 52 percent back the ban of semi-automatic
Still, Gov. John Kasich isn’t changing his mind on the Second Amendment. He says he will sign
a bill that allows guns in the Ohio Statehouse parking garage. The bill
will also change the definition of an unloaded gun, allowing gun owners
to carry loaded clips in their vehicles as long as they are in a
separate compartment from the gun, and make concealed carry permits from
other states easier to validate in Ohio.
Despite denials from city officials, mayoral candidate John Cranley and Councilman Chris Smitherman insist city government is trying to use the transit fund to fund the streetcar. But Mayor Mark Mallory in an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer said it will not happen.
Mallory said the dispute dates back to a lawsuit filed by Southwest
Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which runs the Metro bus
system. The lawsuit demands transit funds be solely dedicated to SORTA.
Cincinnati’s U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot has vowed to continue trying to kill
the streetcar. Even though voters have approved of the streetcar twice,
Chabot, who also represents Warren County in district boundaries that
were redrawn by Republicans, says he would rather focus federal funding
on other projects, like the Brent Spence Bridge.
A conservative northern Kentucky lawmaker is supporting
a bill that expands prisoners’ rights to DNA testing. The bill would
allow a Cincinnati man to push for DNA testing that he claims will
exonerate him of a 1987 rape and murder in Newport. Ky. Sen. John
Schickel argued, “If DNA testing is good enough to send you to prison it
should be good enough to get you out of prison.”
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank bought
another $100 million in stock from Credit Suisse International. The
deal is part of a larger program to buy back 100 million shares.
Cincinnati State is in line to obtain $123,000 from the state government. The funding could create 51 new or expanded co-op jobs.
The United Way of Greater Cincinnati announced
$50.7 million in investments for 2013, a slight increase from 2012. The increase will help boost funding to
prepare children for kindergarten by 5 percent. It will also fund 288
programs at 146 agencies, with seven becoming new United Way agency
The Prince Hall Shriners, which describes itself as “the world’s oldest African-American fraternal organization,” is returning to Cincinnati in 2015. The convention was in Cincinnati in 2011.
Duke Energy’s local management is being shaken up. Jim Henning will take over as president for Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.
Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro is retiring.
Did you know our solar system is sort of like a phoenix? It apparently rose from the cumulative ashes of countless stars, not one supernova.