Leah Stewart’s love of the written word goes way back
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 13, 2013
It’s a frigid weekday afternoon in early February, less
than three weeks after the publication of Leah Stewart’s fourth novel, The History of Us,
a Cincinnati-set coming-of-age tale marked by psychological insight, a
sneakily addictive narrative thrust and a deft use of dialogue.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 13, 2013
I have lived in Cincinnati for close to
13 years and I’ve never been on a Metro bus. For the last few months
I’ve been thinking about this fact, and it bothers me because I’m not
sure where the problem lies. Is it Cincinnati or me?
1 Comment · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
This Valentine’s Day we’re not going to try to
define love. But CityBeat’s 2013 Love
List will introduce you, in a strictly platonic way, to nine “hot”
locals in various service, creative and philanthropic industries who
have turned their passions into successful careers.
2 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
“From as early as I can remember I wanted
to be a hairstylist,” says Jessie Hoffman, owner/stylist at Parlour
salon. “I always had my hands on hair — cutting my dolls’ hair very
early on and foiling and hacking at brave friends’ locks in high
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
WEDNESDAY JAN. 9
As a sign of growing maturity and responsibility, WWE! is
going to refrain from making some sort of poop joke about the proposal
to install new public toilets downtown.
4 Comments · Thursday, January 3, 2013
I’ve been living in downtown Covington, Ky., since the
middle of July 2011. Having lived in Cincinnati for most of my adult
life and with a lot of that time working and/or living downtown,
Covington has been an adjustment for me. In my view, Downtown Covington
isn’t anything like the city across the river.
by Andy Brownfield
Council also approves 2014 property tax increase
Cincinnati City Council on Friday approved a budget that
relies on parking privatization as a means to plug a $34 million budget
deficit while also raising property taxes in 2014.
Mayor Mark Mallory opened up the council meeting with a
moment of silent prayer for the 27 students and adults killed at an
elementary school in Connecticut.
“I want us all to take a moment and put into perspective what we’re doing today,” he said.
Council voted to increase the property tax by about 24
percent, from 4.6 mills (a mill is equal to one-tenth of a cent) to 5.71
mills. That means Cincinnatians would pay an additional $34 for every
$100,000 of their home’s value.
The vote reverses a move made last year by conservatives on council, who reduced property taxes.
Council also passed a budget that relies on $21 million
from a proposed lease of the city’s parking facilities — a deal that is
expected to be voted on in March. Of the proposals submitted to the city
so far, Cincinnati stands to gain $100 million to $150 million in an
upfront payment and a share of the profits over the 30-year lease.
“My concern about balancing this budget with a onetime
revenue source by selling our parking system seems to be ill advised,”
said Independent Councilman Chris Smitherman. “We don’t know how council
will vote in March … but we have tied not only the budget to this one
time revenue source, but we have also tied reciprocity.”
Council nixed a plan to eliminate tax reciprocity for
people who lived in Cincinnati but worked elsewhere and paid income tax
in both cities.
Though the budget doesn’t mention parking privatization, council hasn’t mentioned other options to close the budget deficit.
If opponents of parking privatization want to keep
facilities under city control, they would have to come up with $21
million in revenue elsewhere or make $21 million in cuts.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld suggested using casino revenue,
cutting travel expenses, downsizing the ratio of managers to workers,
sharing services with nearby jurisdictions and downsizing the city’s
fleet as ways to cut down the budget.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, long an advocate of
downsizing the police and fire departments, voted against the property tax increase
in protest of what she said was bloated spending on departments that
were outpacing population growth.
The budget also requires Cincinnati to accept police and
fire recruit classes in 2014, regardless of whether the city gets a
federal grant to fund the classes.
The budget also restores the Cincinnati Police
Department’s mounted patrol, which patrols downtown on horseback. The
city will use $105,000 from off-duty detail fees from businesses that
hire off-duty officers. Council also voted to start charging those
businesses an extra $1.64 on top of the off-duty pay.
Council also voted to shift $50,000 for repairs and
upgrades to the Contemporary Arts Center to pay for maintenance and
beautification at Washington Park, which is operated by 3CDC.
by Andy Brownfield
Head of community group sends letter opposing parking privatization
One of Cincinnati’s largest neighborhoods and business
districts is adamantly against a proposed plan to lease the city’s
A Dec. 7 letter to the mayor from Clifton Town Meeting
President Peter Schneider calls the plan “baffling,” “short sighted” and
The city administration wants to lease all Cincinnati
parking meters, garages and surface lots for 30 years in exchange for an
upfront payment of at least $40 million and a share of the profits.
The city wants to use $21 million of the upfront payment to help close a $34 million hole in the upcoming budget.
Schneider writes that the proposal is bad for business,
making it harder for customers to find cheap or free parking near retail
areas like Clifton’s Ludlow Avenue corridor.
He also worried that a private operator would ratchet up
the price for parking, making the facilities “unidirectional ATM’s (sic) benefiting a third party that provides minimal or no value to the
Schneider also complains that Cincinnatians have not been given details of the deal or the opportunity to weigh in on it.
“It is unconscionable that the City administration would
allow a similar plan (to the citizen-defeated red-light cameras)
affecting parking meters and services be railroaded through City Hall
without the appropriate sunshine and input of the populace,” he wrote.
He also compares the proposal to Hamilton County’s
mishandling of the stadium deals, claiming that a similar long-term
lease is unwise.
Schneider ends the letter by admitting that there are some
aspects of outsourcing that could be beneficial, such as private
management of surface lots or garages or maintenance, but the idea of
privatizing everything goes too far.
by Andy Brownfield
City workers would get raises, protection from layoffs if City Council approves parking plan
In order to win the support of the largest city employees
union for the leasing of Cincinnati’s parking facilities, the city
administration has agreed to pay raises and no layoffs for three years.
There’s a catch — municipal employees only get the raises
and job security if the city’s parking meters, garages and surface lots
are leased to a private company for 30 years.
City Manager Milton Dohoney wants to lease the facilities
for at least $40 million upfront and a share of parking profits for the
next 30 years. He’d use $21 million of the upfront payment to patch a
$34 million deficit in the city’s budget.
During recent budget hearings before City Council, Dohoney
said extra revenue was needed to avoid the layoff of 344 city
In a memo to the mayor and city council members, Dohoney outlined the agreement between the city and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Any municipal employees who will lose their jobs because of the deal would be placed in other city jobs with no loss of wages. No city employees covered by the union would be laid off between 2013 and 2016. City employees will receive a 1.5 percent cost of living
raise for the 2013-2014 contract year and another 1 percent raise for
the next contract year. AFSCME members will continue city vehicle maintenance work from 2013-2016.
However, if City Council doesn’t approve of the plan to privatize parking, city employees get nothing.
Public employees in Cincinnati have not been given raises
in almost four years. Meanwhile, council voted last month to give Dohoney a 10
percent raise and a $35,000 bonus. Dohoney had not received a merit raise since 2007, but had collected cost of living adjustments and bonuses over the years.
by Andy Brownfield
Cincinnati asks state to overturn law preventing cities from regulating oil and gas drilling
Cincinnati City Council continued its effort to prevent a
controversial method of drilling for oil and gas by passing a resolution
on Wednesday asking the state to allow the city to make its own
The resolution expresses council’s dissatisfaction with
the Ohio Legislature for granting “special privileges to the oil and
natural gas industry” and asks it to repeal any laws that pre-empt local
control over drilling.
The resolution targets the controversial practice of
hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which uses chemically-laced water to
free up natural gas trapped in shale formations underneath Ohio.
Fracking opponents worry that the chemicals used in the
fluid — which companies aren’t required to disclose — can be toxic to
people and animals.
Prior to the council vote, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan held a news conference on the steps of City
“I believe local officials should have a say on all
matters related to potentially hazardous activities such as fracking,”
Quinlivan said in an emailed statement. “I urge my colleagues to send a strong message to the Ohio
Governor, the Ohio Legislature, and Cincinnati residents by passing
A 2004 state law puts regulation of oil and gas drilling
under the state’s purview, preventing municipalities from regulating
drilling on their land.
Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. John Kasich
and members of the Ohio General Assembly elected from the Cincinnati
area. The resolution comes after Ohio recently lifted a
moratorium on new injection wells, which shoot wastewater deep
underground for storage.
There had been a temporary ban on new wells almost a year
ago after seismologists said an injection was to blame for 11
earthquakes around the Youngstown area.
City council in August passed an ordinance to band
injection wells within city limits. Because the injection well ban
doesn’t mention drilling, council hoped it wouldn’t clash with the state
law preventing local regulation of oil and gas drilling.