by German Lopez
New restrooms stalled, Medicaid expansion saves money, there is no “climate debate”
City Council wants to do more research
before it proceeds with freestanding public restrooms in downtown
and Over-the-Rhine. The vote has been delayed. Critics say
the restrooms are too expensive at $130,000, but supporters, particularly Councilman Chris Seelbach, insist the
restrooms will not be that expensive. A majority of City Council argues
the restrooms are necessary because increasing populations and growth in
downtown have made 24-hour facilities necessary.
A new report found Ohio’s budget would benefit from a Medicaid expansion.
The expansion would mostly save money by letting the federal government
pick up a much larger share of the cost for Ohio’s population, particularly prison
inmates. A previous study
found Medicaid expansions were correlated with better health results,
including decreased mortality rates, in some states. Another study from
the Arkansas Department of Human Services found the state would save
$378 million by 2025 with the Medicaid expansion. Most of the savings from the Arkansas study
would come from uncompensated care — costs that are placed on health
institutions and state and local governments when uninsured patients
that can’t and don’t pay use medical services.
The Dayton Daily News has a wonderful example of how not to do journalism. In an article on the supposed “climate debate,”
the newspaper ignored the near-unanimous scientific consensus on global warming and decided to give credence to people who deny all
scientific reasoning. To be clear, there is no climate debate. There’s the overwhelming majority of scientists, climatologists and data on one side, and there’s the
pro-oil, pro-coal lobby and stubborn, irrational conservatives who will
deny anything that hurts their interests on the other side.
The Ohio Board of Education approved policies for seclusion rooms.
The non-binding policy requires parents to be notified if their
children are placed in a seclusion room, and the Ohio Department of
Education can also request data, even though it won’t be made public. More
stringent policies may come in the spring. Seclusion rooms are supposed
to be used to hold out-of-control kids, but an investigation from The Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio found the rooms were being abused by teachers and school staff for their convenience.
If the city wants to buy Tower Place, the mall will have to be cleared out, according to City Manager Milton Dohoney.
Last week, the remaining businesses at Tower Place were evicted, and
Dohoney said the city did not sign off on the eviction orders. Apparently, the
city really didn’t agree to or enforce eviction orders, but the city’s buyout requires
evictions. Dohoney said the eviction notices should signify the
deal to buy Tower Place is moving forward.
Dohoney appointed Captain Paul Humphries to the assistant chief position
for the Cincinnati Police Department. Humphries has been on the force
for 26 years, and he currently serves as the chief of staff to Chief
Cincinnati’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) is targeting Mt. Airy and Carthage.
Starting March 1, police, businesses and civic groups will begin
putting together accelerated revitalization and reinvestment plans for
the communities. NEP emphasizes building code enforcement, crime,
neighborhood cleanup and beautification.
Good news, everyone. Cincinnati is no longer the bedbug capital.
Bob Castellini, owner of the Reds, was named the region’s master entrepreneur by Northern Kentucky University.
The Ohio Department of Transportation released a website that has real-time traffic information.
Some people really suck at political slogans.
Oh, science. Apparently, particle physics could improve Netflix’s suggestions.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
When an Ohio charter school consistently
fails to meet academic standards, the state automatically shuts it down. But a report from Policy
Matters Ohio found some charter schools might be evading the rule
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Private prison critics have been proven
right once again. Smuggling incidents are on the rise around Lake Erie
Correctional Institution, which Ohio sold to the Corrections Corporation
of America (CCA) in 2011.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
The case of a former Miami University
student who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for posting a “Top Ten
Ways to Get Away with Rape” flier in a dormitory bathroom just keeps
getting more controversial.
Once-stalled Banks Project wins development award; leaders look ahead to new phases
1 Comment · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
John Deatrick seems genuinely
excited and proud to be part of the riverfront project receiving the
American Planning Association’s (APA) 2013 National Planning Excellence
Award for Implementation, announced Jan. 9.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Colorado gun retailer Jax Mercantile has officially halted
sales of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines in the wake of
several mass shootings over the last several months: Company president
Jim Quinlan has “no regrets” about the change, even though it’s angered a
good chunk of customers and reduced profits. WORLD +1
by German Lopez
State budget will reform taxes, Monzel takes charge of county, freestanding restroom vote
Gov. John Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget plan is on the horizon, and it contains “sweeping tax reform,”
according to Tim Keen, budget director for Kasich. Keen said the new
plan will “result in a significant competitive improvement in our tax
structure,” but it’s not sure how large tax cuts would be paid for. Some
are already calling the plan the “re-election budget.” Expectations are Kasich’s administration will cut less than the previous budget, which greatly cut funding to local governments and education.
Chris Monzel is now in charge
of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. Monzel will serve as
president, while former president Greg Hartmann has stepped down to vice
president. Monzel says public safety will be his No. 1 concern.City Council may vote today on a plan to build the first freestanding public restroom, and it may be coming at a lower cost.
City Manager Milton Dohoney said last week that the restroom could cost
$130,000 with $90,000 going to the actual restroom facility, but
Councilman Seelbach says the city might be able to secure the facility
for about $40,000.
Tomorrow, county commissioners may vote on policy
regarding the Metropolitan Sewer District. Commissioners have been
looking into ending a responsible bidder policy, which they say is bad
for businesses. But Councilman Seelbach argues the policy ensures
job training is part of multi-billion dollar sewer programs. Board President Monzel and
Seelbach are working on a compromise the city and county can agree on.
The Hamilton County Board of Elections is prepared to refer five cases of potential voter fraud from the Nov. 6 election. The board is also investigating about two dozen more voters’ actions for potential criminal charges.
King’s Island is taking job applications for 4,000 full- and part-time positions.
Ohio may soon link teacher pay to quality.
Gov. John Kasich says his funding plan for schools will “empower,” not
require, schools to attach teacher compensation to student success. A previous study suggested the scheme, also known as “merit pay,” might be a good idea.
An economist says Ohio’s home sales will soon be soaring.
Debe Terhar will continue as the Board of Education president, with Tom Gunlock staying as vice president.
Equal rights for women everywhere could save the world,
say two Stanford biologists. Apparently, giving women more rights makes
it so they have less children, which biologists Paul R. and Anne
Ehrlich say will stop humanity from overpopulating the world.
Ever wanted to eat like a caveman? I’m sure someone out there does. Well, here is how.
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.
by German Lopez
Conneaut councilman asks state to intervene at CCA facility
Private prison critics have been proven right once again. Smuggling incidents are on the rise around Lake Erie Correctional
Institution, which Ohio sold to the Corrections Corporation of America
(CCA) in 2011.
In a letter to Gov. John Kasich’s northeast Ohio liaison,
Conneaut Councilman Neil LaRusch claimed a rise in contraband smuggling has forced local police to increase security around the CCA facility.
Since the end of 2012, four have been arrested and charged
with smuggling. Another four were arrested Monday and police suspect
they were in Conneaut for a smuggling job. According to the Star Beacon, the four suspects arrested Monday were only caught due to the increased police presence outside the Lake Erie prison.
LaRusch said Conneaut and its police department are
already running tight budgets, and they can’t afford to continue padding
prison security. He then asked the state and governor to help out with
The letter prompted a reaction from the American Civil
Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU), which has staunchly opposed prison
privatization in the state. In a statement, Mike Brickner, director of
communications and public policy for the ACLU, said, “Unfortunately,
this is a predictable pattern with private prisons. Promises of lower
costs quickly morph into higher crime, increased burdens on local law
enforcement, and in the end, a higher bill for taxpayers.”
He added, “This is not an anomaly. It is a predictable
pattern. The private prison model is built on profit above all else.
These facilities will cut corners and shift responsibility to taxpayers
wherever necessary to maximize profits.”
The governor’s office and Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) could not be immediately reached
for comment. This story will be updated if a response becomes available.Update (5:00 p.m.): Col. John Born, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, responded to the councilman's letter. In his own letter, Born doesn't contradict that there's a rise in drug smuggling, but he gives the issue more context. Born wrote criminal incidents at the Lake Erie prison have actually decreased. He acknowledges drug smuggling cases went up from four in 2011 to seven in 2012, but he says drug cases have gone down at the prison since 2010. He also claims seven other state prisons have seen a greater rise in drug smuggling. Born frames the issue in a national context: “Unfortunately,
despite best efforts, the national problem of illegal drug usage and
drug trafficking continues to plague our nation.”Regarding state assistance, Born wrote the Ohio State Highway Patrol does not have the authority to strengthen security in order to directly prevent drug smuggling: “It is important to point out the Ohio State Highway Patrol's legal authority and corresponding duties prior to the sale of the prison and after the sale remain largely unchanged. Ohio troopers did not have original jurisdiction on private property off institution grounds while under state operations nor do they today.”He adds the Ohio State Highway Patrol has already deployed more cruisers at the prison, but he believes local law enforcement are still the best option for responding to incidents.JoEllen Smith, spokesperson for ODRC, wrote in an email, “DRC will be in communication with the parties involved to ensure any remaining concerns are addressed.”
CityBeat previously covered private prisons in-depth (“Liberty for Sale,” issue of Sept. 19). Within a week of the story going to stands, ODRC Director Gary Mohr said the state would not privatize any more prisons. On the same day of his announcement, Mohr apparently received an audit that found the CCA facility was only meeting 66.7 percent of state standards (“Prison Privatization Blues,” issue of Oct. 10).
by German Lopez
State gets C in human trafficking, Kasich funds mental health, mall businesses evicted
An annual human trafficking report released by Attorney General Mike DeWine gave Ohio a C.
The grade, which comes from Shared Hope International, was a step up
from D's in the previous two years. But DeWine says it’s not enough, and
further action will be taken. Ohio has made some
strides on the human trafficking issue, including passage of a new “Safe Harbor” law for sex-trafficking victims, new details for minor
trafficking victims and the training of 24,000 law-enforcement officers to
better detect and help trafficking victims.
Gov. John Kasich is giving $5 million
to mental health services to help curb and prevent violence. The news
comes in the wake of school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary
School on Dec. 14 and a California high school yesterday. Mental health
services are important, but so is gun control, as CityBeat pointed out here. Vice President Joe Biden is currently heading an investigation to make suggestions on gun control to President Barack Obama.
The remaining businesses in Tower Place Mall were told to get out.
Cassidy Turley, the court-appointed receiver of the mall, apparently
filed eviction notices telling businesses to leave by March. The mall
has been struggling for some time now, and the city of Cincinnati is
currently in the process of trying to buy it. City Manager Milton
Dohoney says the city had no part in the evictions.
The city of Mason is apparently becoming a technology corridor.
Since 2011, the city has brought in $110 million in investments and
created 1,400 jobs. The new jobs are related to technology, robotics,
automation, innovation and health care.
Warren and Butler counties are apparently seeing a surge in sales tax revenue. The budgetary boost is being seen by some as a sign of further economic expansion.
Surrounded by dogs, Gov. Kasich signed legislation effectively banning puppy mills.
Previously, animal advocates claimed lax rules and regulations had made
Ohio a breeding ground for abusive practices. The lack of oversight
also helped enable Ohio’s dog auctions, which CityBeat covered here. The new law will go into effect within 30 days.
An Ohio school is apparently arming janitors. Previously, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters made a suggestion to arm school staff, but research shows it doesn’t help deter or stop acts of violence.
Natural gas is being slightly deregulated in Ohio.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is allowing two
companies — Columbia Gas of Ohio and Dominion East Ohio Gas — to
eliminate regulated pricing for businesses, with some conditions.
Supporters say the move will create more competition and lower prices,
but the deregulation gives a substantial advantage to two big energy
Congress is apparently less popular than head lice,
but it’s more popular than Lindsay Lohan. Damn. Does that mean people
prefer head lice to Lindsay Lohan? Even Nickelback and Ghengis Khan beat
Congress. Poor Lindsay.
Science has now found that animal grunts can act similarly to Morse code. Is this yet another warning of the impending animal takeover?