by Andy Brownfield
Project would still open in 2015
Cincinnati City Council plans to move $29 million in funds to avoid further delays for the streetcar
project, but the city is still looking at a 2015 opening date. City officials announced Wednesday that a council
committee will vote Monday on three pieces of legislation to keep the
$110 million project in line with the recently announced delayed opening.One measure would front $15 million to help Duke Energy
move underground utility lines from the path of the proposed streetcar
route. That money comes from the recent $37 million sale of land near
the former Blue Ash Airport.
The city thinks it will get this money back once a dispute with Duke is resolved. The city contends that Duke is responsible for moving the
lines, which the utility estimates will cost $18.7 million. Duke
counters that the lines only have to be moved because of the streetcar
construction, so the city should foot the bill.
“We’re fronting money for the Duke work until we can work
out who pays for it with Duke,” city spokeswoman Meg Oldberding said.
“It’s to keep the project on time and on budget. Delays would escalate
Another ordinance would change the municipal code to
“confirm the city’s existing rights” and clarify that utilities pay for
the cost of relocating facilities unless otherwise negotiated, according
to a news release.
Oldberding said Cincinnati has always maintained that it is the
utility’s responsibility to relocate their facilities, so it is not a
change in the city’s position.
The final ordinance would change the funding source that
is repaying $25 million in bonds sold as part of the original plan to
fund the streetcar.
Those bonds were originally being repaid with money coming into city coffers from southern downtown and the riverfront area.
That area wasn’t bringing in as much cash as expected, so
the ordinance would have $14 million of the bonds repaid from a 1995
fund set up to collect service payments from the Westin/Star, Hyatt and
Oldberding said once the downtown district rebounds — it includes the Banks and the casino — it would repay the other fund.
The ordinances would not add to the project’s cost. Construction is scheduled to begin early next year.
by German Lopez
Cincinnati plans to avoid a streetcar delay. Despite what the city told CityBeat Monday, it seems the delay was due to the ongoing conflict with Duke
Energy, and the city wants to put an end to it. City officials
are seeking to set aside $15 million from the recent sale of the Blue
Ash Airport to ensure the streetcar stays on track by initially paying
for moving utility lines and pipes to accommodate for the streetcar. The
money is expected to be recovered once issues with Duke Energy are
settled. Expect more details on this story from CityBeat this afternoon. CityBeat previously covered the connections between the Blue Ash Airport sale and streetcar here.
Cincinnati’s economic recovery is coming along. In August,
Greater Cincinnati home sales hit a five-year high. The 2,438 homes
sold were a nearly 16 percent increase from August 2011.Voters First is suing the Ohio Republican Party for what the organization says are false claims over Issue 2. The complaint, filed to the Ohio
Elections Commission Tuesday, points out three allegedly false
accusations about the redistricting amendment. A hearing on the complaint is today. Also, it seems Ronald Reagan, who modern Republicans claim to greatly admire, would have supported Issue 2:
Natalie Portman was in Cincinnati yesterday. She talked
about her support for President Barack Obama’s reelection and women’s
issues. She did not mention the awful Star Wars prequels that ruined childhoods. Other speakers attended as well, and they all echoed the message
of Obama being better for women voters.Kroger recalled bags of fresh spinach in 15 states,
including Ohio, yesterday. The spinach, which was supplied by NewStar
Fresh Foods LLC, may hold listeria monocytogenes, which could make a
pregnant woman or anyone with a weakened immune system very sick. The
specific product was a Kroger Fresh Selections Tender Spinach 10-ounce
bag that had a “best if used by” date of Sept. 16 and the UPC code
0001111091649.More than 450 apartments are being planned for downtown West Chester. The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) is
looking for advice. Every four years, the department hosts the Child
Support Guidelines Advisory Council, which revises the state child
support program, and gets citizen feedback on how the program can
improve. The public meeting will be at 10 a.m. on Oct. 19 at the former
Lazarus Building at 50 W. Town Street in Columbus. The council will
report its findings and conclusions to the Ohio General Assembly in
March 2013.An underused plane at the could save the Ohio Department of Transportation $3 million, a new state audit found.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is reaching out to
victims of fracking. With a new program, it will provide legal and other
protections for individuals, communities and governments affected by
Despite tensions between former Obama chief of staff and
now-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama can still count on Ohio teachers for
Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin are
planning an Ohio bus tour next week. The state is considered a must-win
for Romney, but recent aggregate polling puts him in a fairly grim
position with less than two months to Election Day.How do nuclear explosions affect beer? The U.S. government apparently found out.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The $110 million streetcar project’s opening is being delayed by more than a full year — from spring 2014 to summer 2015.
Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, attributes the delay to “a number of scheduling issues.”
by German Lopez
City says a number of issues contributed to more than yearlong postponement
The $110 million streetcar project's opening is being delayed by more than a full year — from spring 2014 to summer 2015.
Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, attributes the delay to “a number of scheduling issues.”
“There’s so many moving pieces,” she says. “There are
issues with utility and we have to order the cars. We
have to get a contractor on-board for the work. So we still have a
couple of things that are taking longer than we thought.”The delay, which was announced Sept. 10, is
the latest in a history of plan and schedule changes for the Cincinnati
streetcar, which saw $52 million pulled by Gov. John Kasich last year and forced
the city to abandon its Uptown connector lines. Kasich, who has been against other rail projects in the state, claimed the move was necessary to balance the 2012-2013 budget.Today, a feud between
the city and Duke Energy is causing more trouble. The city and utility company disagree over
who should pay for moving utility lines to accommodate the
streetcar. On Aug. 29, the city said it was considering a lawsuit to
resolve the issue. Olberding says the conflict played a role in the delay.“We need to resolve that quickly because, obviously, the
longer we can’t get utility work done, it’ll cause delays and cost
overruns,” she says. “So we want to get that done as soon as possible.”
Before the current spat, the city and Duke could not agree
on whether manhole covers and utility lines should be eight feet from
streetcar tracks or three to four feet. The city claimed the smaller
number was fine, but Duke disagreed, citing fears for its workers. In a
previous look at the issue, CityBeat found the city’s standard
was supported by experiences in other cities (“The Great Eight Debate,”
issue of March 6). The city eventually won out, and manholes will only be required to be three to four feet from streetcar tracks.The streetcar has faced consistent opposition from other Republicans besides Kasich. U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati successfully amended the 2013 transportation bill to ban federal funding from going to the streetcar and other light rail projects. Councilman Charlie Winburn, the lone Republican on Cincinnati City Council, said the city should stop its threat of lawsuit against Duke Energy.
by German Lopez
President Barack Obama is in town today. Expect some coverage from CityBeat this afternoon. Last time Obama was in Cincinnati, he discussed gay rights, small
business support and girl scout cookies. Ohio is typically considered a
must-win for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but he is currently
losing in aggregate polls.Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich of Cincinnati criticized the
University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees for former UC President Greg
Williams’ severance package. She told The Enquirer, “It’s
really disappointing that the trustees would make such a decision while
so many students and families are struggling with rising tuition costs.
As the trustees vote to needlessly spend over a million dollars, the
University is trying to decide how to fund $10 million for the
Cintrifuse project and students are taking out more loans to pay a
tuition that was increased by 3.5 percent this year.” Williams got a
package totaling $1.3 million after abruptly leaving the university,
citing personal reasons. Despite the allegedly rocky past between the
Board and Williams, the Board of Trustees insists it did not force him
out.Local governments setting 2013 budgets are feeling big cuts from the state government’s Local Government Fund. Eligible residents could save $163 a year with natural gas thanks to a new aggregation program in Cincinnati.
The city announced Friday it's working on the new plan with Duke
Energy, and customers should get details about the deal soon. The city
says the deal will reach about 64,000 residents and small businesses.Voter fraud is still not a widespread problem. A Butler
County Tea Party group found zero complaints with sufficient proof to
remove anyone from the voter rolls.As part of its expansion at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, DHL is adding 300 jobs.In case you missed it, the streetcar has been delayed to 2015. The city is now looking
for consultants to help manage the project with CAF USA, the city’s
preferred car manufacturer. The first phase of the streetcar will span
the Banks and Findlay Market. The city is also trying to study a
connection to the University of Cincinnati, Uptown’s hospitals and the
Cincinnati Zoo.U.S. senatorial candidate Josh Mandel of Ohio claims he
has seen a recent surge in the polls, closing a 13-point gap. But a new
poll from Rasmussen Reports, which typically has a Republican-leaning
in-house effect, says Mandel is still very far from Sen. Sherrod Brown
in the polls with an eight-point gap. Aggregate polls show Brown leads
Mandel by 7.2 points.There is a lot of criticism being hurled at public charter
schools. While some charter schools are successful, some have serious
financial and educational problems. Critics say the schools need tougher
standards.Romney is facing criticism for saying middle income is
$200,000 to $250,000 and less. However, Obama made a similar distinction
in the past when he said income up to $250,000 is middle class. The
reason for this strange distinction from both sides — most Americans
would find $250,000 to be beyond middle class — is to protect small
businesses. Typically, politicians try to bundle up small businesses
with middle class protections, and taxing income between $200,000 and
$250,000 as if it’s not middle class could potentially hurt small
businesses.Dissatisfied with the lack of innovation in the iPhone 5? Apparently, you might be alone.Scientists can now levitate fluids with ultrasonic sound.
by German Lopez
Duke Energy told city officials to OK an operating deal
for the streetcar before trying to talk costs. The fighting words are in the
middle of an ongoing feud between city officials and Duke Energy about
who will move utility lines and pipes to accommodate the streetcar.
The operating details will help Duke know what “unbreakable rules” about
maintenance and emergency repairs exist and where the streetcar will go,
according to the company’s spokesperson. CityBeat previously covered the streetcar issue and all the pettiness from Duke here.
A suspended frat is suing Miami University. The frat was
suspended after a fireworks battle led to the discovery of illegal
substances in the frat. The frat claims the university improperly
suspended it, damaged its business and property, and made libelous
allegations out of “malice, hatred and ill will.” The frat says it
shouldn’t have been suspended without a written complaint, but Miami's spokesperson said the university is allowed to suspend
students without a written complaint if there is a pending
investigation.Ohio will soon begin tying college funding to graduation rates. If only that was done with e-schools.Equality Ohio announced Columbus, Ohio made a step forward
in LGBT rights yesterday. It is now among the few cities in Ohio to
have a domestic partner registry, which allows same-sex couples to
legally declare their relationships without marriage or civil unions.
Toledo, Cleveland, Athens and Dayton also have registries.Secretary of State Jon Husted wrote a “guest column” on his own website defending early voting rules in Ohio. Republicans are facing criticism over bringing racial politics and poor arguments into the early voting debate.Ohio’s unemployed will soon get a little less help from the
federal government, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Ohio’s rapidly falling unemployment rate has triggered a second
reduction in the amount of aid the unemployed can get. Before April
2012, unemployed Ohioans were eligible for 99 weeks of benefits. The eligible weeks dropped to 73 weeks in April
and will drop to 63 weeks starting in September. However, the benefits are set to expire in December if the federal government doesn't act, and that would push the eligible weeks down to 26 weeks. Ohio's unemployment rate is currently 7.2 percent, down from 10.6 percent at the height of the recession.
The University of Cincinnati’s new interim president just got a nice raise.The state texting-while-driving ban goes into effect tomorrow.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio made his speech at the Republican
national convention yesterday. In the speech, he criticized President
Barack Obama for the current state of the economy. In return, Democrats criticized
Portman for his budget work for former President George W. Bush,
whose administration is widely blamed for the current economic crisis.It seems like Paul Ryan spent a lot of time lying in his
speech at the Republican national convention yesterday. The vice
presidential candidate blamed Obama for an auto plant closing
that closed before Obama was president. It seems Ryan is getting
on-board with the Romney-Mandel plan of running on dishonesty.
Cincinnati is the top hot dog city, according to a new
survey. The survey says 7.3 percent of Cincinnati restaurant menus have hot dog options, making it the city with the most accessible hot dogs.Space sugars have been found around a young star.
by German Lopez
The City of Cincinnati and Duke Energy are still fighting
over the streetcar. The city and company are both disputing who is
required to relocate utility lines and pipes in order to accommodate for
the streetcar. Cincinnati officials say Duke Energy is required to do
it under state law, but the company disagrees. The city is considering
legal action, so the feud might soon be heading to court.A recent campaign event might have been mandatory for
workers at a mine in Beallsville, Ohio. The miners were allegedly pulled
from work, refused pay and required to attend the event with
presidential candidate Mitt Romney and senatorial candidate Josh Mandel.
Romney, Mandel and the mine owner have all been criticized for the
move.Cincinnati Bell and StarTek plan on bringing back 200 outsourced jobs to Cincinnati. StarTek will also hire another 136 workers.President Barack Obama’s administration finalized new
regulations yesterday requiring the average gas mileage of new cars to
be at 54.5 mpg by 2025. The new standard is double today’s standard.
Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator, said on Twitter the new standards will
reduce national oil consumption by two million barrels a day. The United
States currently uses about 20 million barrels a day. That reduction in
consumption could help combat climate change, which is partly blamed
for Arctic Sea ice hitting record lows this summer.A federal judge ruled Ohio boards of elections must count
defective provisional ballots if the ballots were counted defective due
to errors from poll workers. The ruling protects voters from mistakes by
poll workers. Secretary of State Jon Husted is expected to appeal the
ruling because he says it disagrees with state law.Husted ended up firing the two Democrats on the Montgomery
Board of Elections that voted for extending in-person early voting to
include weekends. Democrats say not allowing weekend voting is voter
suppression, but Republicans cite racial politics and costs as
New rules for juries stop the use of Twitter and Facebook during cases.The Republican national convention is underway in Tampa,
Fla. Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio will be there. For
coverage, check out Twitter’s Republican convention page, which tracks
all mentions of the convention.Romney apparently
agrees with Mandel that fact checkers
don’t matter. This is despite Romney’s claim that President Barack Obama
should stop running ads after fact checkers find them to be false or
misleading. Mandel previously said he will continue saying wrong
statements even after they’re declared false or misleading by fact
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland criticized Romney on his
plans for Medicare. The former governor said the Romney-Ryan budget plan
would “destroy Medicare as we know it.”
Republicans like to say that Obamacare will get employers
to drop health insurance, but a new survey has found zero out of 512
employers plan on dropping health insurance.The U.S. economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter. The growth isn’t great, but it slightly beat expectations.Apparently computer grading programs are judging student essays better than teachers.And some scientists want to use HIV to fight cancer.
by German Lopez
Plan Cincinnati seeks to make city friendlier to bikes and environment
The City of Cincinnati today released the final draft for its
plan to “re-establish (Cincinnati) as a model of a thriving urban
city.” Plan Cincinnati, which will be taken up in a public hearing on
Aug. 30 at 6 p.m., is the first master plan for Cincinnati since 1980.
The primary goal behind the plan is to transition the city
away from a model that emphasizes suburban living back to a more urban
model. The plan’s report justifies the shift by attributing it to a new
“Dissatisfied, American society is now beginning to
reverse the trend (of suburban living) with the hope of returning to an
environment that is more economically and environmentally sustainable,
less dependent on the automobile, closer in scale to human form, and
ultimately, truly more livable,” the report says.
The plan will make this transition with six guiding
principles: Provide more transportation choices, promote equitable,
affordable housing, enhance economic competitiveness, support existing
communities, coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment,
and value communities and neighborhoods.
The vague principles are outlined in greater detail in the 228-page report, which can be read in full here.
One of the key parts of the plan is its expansion of
options for non-automotive travel. The plan promises to focus more work
on bicycle paths, support a Bicycle and Pedestrian Program and build
links between bicycle systems to allow more cycling through the city.
The city will also “design and construct the Ohio River Bike Trail
through Cincinnati” and make the city safer for cyclists by making roads
smoother and cleaner.
The plan also encourages other transportation programs.
Establishing better coordination with Metro buses, building intercity
rail systems and integrating the new streetcar into a greater
transportation model are a few of the many suggestions in the plan. With
these systems, the plan hopes to “facilitate economic development
Beyond transportation, the plan also seeks to establish
environmentally friendly programs. Some of the suggestions are
developing a green construction incentive program, implementing smart
grid networks and reforming the LEED tax abatement program to include
additional energy efficient rating systems.
However, the plan is missing one important detail: cost.
The report says Plan Cincinnati will be reviewed every year using the
new Priority-Driven Budgeting process, but no estimates for cost are
currently available. Katherine Keough-Jurs, senior city
planner, explained why in an email: “That is not something that we provide. We have
found over the years that providing cost estimates in long-range plans
is problematic and the estimates can be misleading. Also, some of the
Action Steps listed are not necessarily things that would have a
monetary cost associated.”
by German Lopez
New details regarding the Blue Ash Airport deal have found that
Blue Ash will gain $2.25 million from the deal. The new details
means both Blue Ash and Cincinnati benefit from the deal by having
extra funds, potentially benefiting budgets without having to make cuts
or running to taxpayers for more money. The number also puts a damper on
COAST’s campaign to stop the new deal, which is spurred by their
extreme disapproval of all things streetcar.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted yesterday directed county
boards of election to set uniform in-person early voting hours. Before the decision, Democrats were accusing state
Republicans of extending early voting hours in predominantly Republican
districts and keeping early voting hours shorter in predominantly
Democratic districts. However, Democrats are still not pleased by the
new directive because they claim it’s limiting voting hours.Supporters of redistricting reform now have a ballot issue to get
behind: Issue 2. Issue 2 is the redistricting amendment supported by
Voters First. If voters accept Issue 2, the redistricting process will
be placed in the hands of an independent citizens commission that will
be void of lobbyists and politicians. If voters reject Issue 2, the
process will continue being placed in the hands of politicians, who have
abused the system in a process known as “gerrymandering” to redraw
districts in politically beneficial ways. In the latest redistricting
process, the Republican-controlled committee redrew Cincinnati’s
district to include Warren County, giving Republicans more voters in the
district. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting issue at length here.Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) are adjusting to new,
tougher academic standards. CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan says schools
will have to develop new methods of teaching and learning to comply with
the academic standards. Democrats and Republicans clashed in court yesterday as
they argued over Ohio’s early voting rules. The debate focused on the
Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day. Under current law, only
military personnel and their families are allowed to vote on those
days. The Democrats and President Barack Obama want everyone to be
allowed to vote on those days, and Republicans do not. The judge said he
will hold off on a decision.Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick, was at
Miami University yesterday. During his speech, Ryan did not shy away
from bringing up the Medicare issue, and he claimed Obamacare will cut
$716 billion. However, Ryan included the same cuts in his own budget plan,
and they’re actually savings, not cuts. The architect of Obamacare also
said recently that repealing Obamacare, which Romney and Ryan advocate,
would cut benefits to seniors.Two Hamilton County commissioners are running unopposed in
what some suspect was part of a deal between Republicans and Democrats. Hamilton County Democratic Chairman Tim Burke says there was no deal.U.S. House Republicans are freaking out over the Ryan pick. Apparently, they’re worried Democrats will bring
up the fact Ryan’s budget plan tried to end Medicare as most
Americans know it. House Speaker John Boehner tried to calm Republicans.Scientists have discovered a galaxy that gives birth to more stars in a day than our galaxy does in a year.
1 Comment · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The Coalition Opposed to Additional
Spending and Taxes (COAST) has long been known locally for its
unwavering opposition to the streetcar project, but the organization
crossed the line into dishonesty on Aug. 6 with its calls to action
about the sale of the Blue Ash Airport.