by German Lopez
In an ad accusing Josh Mandel, a Republican, of
lying, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign team may have lied,
according to PolitiFact. The U.S. senatorial campaign for Ohio’s senate
seat has been filled with dishonesty, but it usually comes from Mandel. The dishonesty seems to be hurting Mandel more than Brown; Mandel is currently down 7.5 points in aggregate polling numbers.
Mandel is being taken to court by liberal blog
Plunderbund. The blog claims Mandel has made it extra difficult to get
public records.Preliminary data for Ohio schools was released yesterday.
Some data is still being held back while an investigation into
fraudulent reporting from some schools is finished, but the data gives some insight into how
schools performed during the 2011-2012 school year. The data can be
found here. From a local angle, the data shows Cincinnati Public
Schools (CPS) did not meet “adequate yearly progress,” a federal standard that
measures progress in student subgroups, such as minority groups; but CPS
did meet standards for “value-added growth,” which measures the
expected progress in state testing for all students between the third
and eighth grades.
City Council approved the $29 million financing plan for
the streetcar yesterday. The plan will use $15 million from the Blue Ash
airport deal to move utility lines and pipes. The city claims the $15
million, which was originally promised to neighborhood projects, will
be reimbursed by Duke Energy once the city settles a conflict with the
energy company. Duke and the city are currently arguing over who has to
pay to move the utility lines and pipes.
An Ohio state representative is asking the federal
government to monitor the election more closely. Rep. Alicia Reece, a
Cincinnati Democrat, is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to send monitors
to the state to ensure no funny business goes on in voting booths on
Nov. 6. The request is partly in response to a recent court ruling
that forces Ohio to count provisional ballots if the ballots were
brought around by poll worker errors.
Ohio’s ability to stop political lies was upheld
yesterday. The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes
(COAST) tried to put an end to the government power, which COAST claimed
was censorship, by taking it to court, but a U.S. judge upheld the
ability. The judge, who is a former chairman of the Hamilton County
Republican Party, said COAST did not properly display that its speech was held
down by the law. Considering some of COAST’s tweets, the judge is
E.W. Scripps Co. will host a job fair in Cincinnati Oct. 10 to fill 100 digital jobs.
The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the rights of lesbian
ex-couples to set visitation times. The court said non-parents are
allowed to participate in visitations during child custody proceedings.
Ohio might expand Medicaid, but not to the extent asked
for by Obamacare. That’s what the state’s Medicaid director said
yesterday, anyway. A previous study found Medicaid expansions improved and might
have saved lives in other states, and other studies have found Medicaid
expansions may save the state money by cutting uncompensated costs.
Pundits really dug into Mitt Romney the past few days over his poor poll numbers in Ohio. The Business Courier asked if Romney has already lost Ohio. Politico said Romney’s biggest hurdle to the White House is Ohio. The New Republic ran an article with six theories as to what led to Romney’s losses in the state. The Cleveland Plain Dealer
pointed out both presidential candidates were stumping at a pivotal time in northern Ohio yesterday.
Aggregate polling paints a consistently bad picture for Romney in Ohio;
he is currently down four points.
But Romney probably isn’t helping matters. In an Ohio
rally Tuesday, he admitted President Barack Obama didn’t raise taxes in his
Gov. John Kasich signed a series of bills shoring up
Ohio’s public pension system yesterday. The laws will cut benefits
and raise eligibility requirements, but state officials insist the new
laws will mostly affect future retirees.
NASA wants samples from Mars, and it has a plan. The new plan may require a robot-to-human hand-off in space.
by German Lopez
City Council approved a $29 million plan that will shift $15 million
from the Blue Ash airport deal to
move utility lines and pipes in order to accommodate for streetcar
tracks. The money will be reimbursed if a conflict with Duke Energy is settled in the city’s favor. The city is currently trying to resolve the conflict over who has to pay for moving utility lines
and pipes. If the city wins out, Duke will have to pay up, and the money
from the Blue Ash airport deal will be put back
where it belongs. If Duke wins out, that money could be lost forever — a
worry Chris Smitherman voiced in the public City Council session.
Smitherman, Charlie Winburn and P.G. Sittenfeld voted against the plan,
and Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas,
Wendell Young and Chris Seelbach voted for it.CORRECTION: This blog originally said the entire $29 million plan will be reimbursed by
Duke. Only the $15 million from the Blue Ash airport deal will be
reimbursed if the city wins in the dispute.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted received a failing grade from Voters First Ohio and the Ohio Unity Coalition for the way he's handled the 2012 election. The left-leaning groups criticized Husted for taking away in-person early voting hours that were available in 2008 and issues regarding provisional ballots, wrongful terminations and misleading language on the November ballot.Stan Heffner, former state superintendent of public
instruction, won’t face criminal charges. Heffner stepped down after an
investigation found he improperly lobbied legislators in favor of
legislation that benefited a private company Heffner was employed under.
Prosecutors claim Heffner acted inappropriately, not criminally.The Controlling Board unanimously approved $4 million Monday to conduct a study to determine possible funding for the Brent Spence Bridge. The study will look at tolls and the viability of various public-private partnerships to see how the bridge will be paid for.Jungle Jim's is opening an Eastgate location today, and people are apparently really excited for it.The state launched a new website to connect Ohio job seekers and
opportunities in the energy industry. The website presents opportunities in
advanced energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency and gas and oil.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be in southwest Ohio today,
and Obama will be in other parts of the state. The state is typically
considered a must-win for Romney and Ryan, but aggregate polling has looked worse lately for the Republican duo.
Speaking of Romney, he indirectly admitted he’ll have to raise
taxes on what he considers middle income. Remember when Republicans ran
on tax cuts?Another problem with global warming: Hotter days make people less productive, which greatly hurts economic output.
A Cincinnati research team found NFL players die
often to Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig's disease. The two
diseases kill NFL players four times more often than the average U.S. population, and
other neurodegenerative diseases kill them twice as often as the norm.Having sex once a week instead of once a month is the
“happiness equivalent” of making an extra $50,000 a year. Do not try
that line at home.
by German Lopez
President Barack Obama announced trade action against
China while in Cincinnati yesterday. Obama said his team had filed a
lawsuit at the World Trade Organization on the claim China is
cheating in auto trade by offering “extensive subsidies” to its
automakers and auto-part producers. China fired back with its own
lawsuit for U.S. tariffs that raise the price on a variety of Chinese
products — from steels to tires. Anti-China rhetoric has fast become the
latest flavor of the month for the Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns, and
China is not happy with it.But the presidential race raced back to gaffes over trade policy when Mother Jones
posted amazingly candid footage of Romney speaking to millionaires at a
fundraiser. In the videos, Romney straightforwardly outlines campaign
strategy. In one video, Romney said he doesn’t care about getting the
vote of the 47 percent of Americans that don’t pay taxes because he
doesn’t believe he can convince them to “take personal responsibility
and care for their lives.” The Obama team retaliated in a statement:
“It's shocking that a candidate for president of the United States would
go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that
half the American people view themselves as ‘victims,’ entitled to
handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their
lives. It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve
disdainfully written off half the nation.”
Ohioans love their local schools, a new survey shows. The
survey also found Ohioans trust their local school boards of education
with education-related decisions, but they really don’t trust the state
superintendent, governor or legislature.
Hamilton County courts want to go paperless. The move would save money and space and make the system more efficient.County budget meetings are still chugging along. Different
department directors are still pleading for no cuts, but the
commissioners insist cuts have to be made somewhere.Cincinnati police announced a new Taser policy. The new policy
disallows the use of frontal shots except in situations involving
self-defense and the defense of others, reinforces the fact officers
need to make sure such force is necessary and points out people have
been injured due to Taser use. The new policy was brought about due to
findings Taser use can kill in rare situations.Cincinnati launched a national design competition for the
decks over Fort Washington Way that will connect the Banks and Central
Business District.A new Hamilton County initiative to improve neighborhoods will tear down 700 dilapidated homes.The streetcar’s yearlong delay got an explanation
yesterday. A few issues are to blame, including the city’s ongoing
conflict with Duke Energy over who has to pay for moving utility lines
to accommodate for the streetcar.The amount of people on Ohio’s death row is shrinking.
After Donald Palmer’s execution, Ohio will drop to its lowest death row
population since July 1995.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted launched a mailing
campaign to clean up voter rolls. Using data from U.S. Postal Service
National Change of Address Registry, Husted mailed 70,000 former Ohioans
encouraging them to cancel their voter registration. The action is a
lot tamer than Republican-led efforts to purge voter rolls in other
states, which states like Florida, Iowa and Colorado have backed out of —
at least for now.Duke Energy unveiled its new logo.A new meta-analysis found fish oil may not live up to its health hype.NASA is now saying faster-than-light travel may be
possible and feasible. The technology would allow spaceships to travel
to Mars in minutes. Still, the theory does have some problems.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Dave Yost released an audit today looking at Value
Learning and Teaching (VLT) Academy’s 2010-2011 school year, and the
findings are not pretty. The charter school, which is located in
Cincinnati, was found to be potentially overpaying in multiple
including potential conflicts of interest.
by German Lopez
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber released its positions
on this November’s ballot issues. The chamber supports the Cincinnati
Public Schools tax levy and Hamilton County mental health and services
levy, but it does not support extending City Council’s terms to four
years. The chamber also opposes Issue 2, which would place the
redistricting process in the hands of an independent citizens commission
instead of a commission run by politicians. The chamber said it opposes
Issue 2 partially because it excludes “some Ohioans” from the
redistricting process. The excluded Ohioans are lobbyists and
politicians, who have a vested interest in redrawing district boundaries
in politically advantageous ways in a process known as
“gerrymandering.” In Cincinnati’s district, the district was redrawn by
the Republican-controlled commission to include Warren County, which
puts more emphasis on the rural vote that tends to vote Republican
instead of the urban vote that tends to vote Democrat. CityBeat
previously covered the redistricting issue here and here.Related to Issue 2, the controversial ballot language that
was approved by the state seems to be weighing down the amendment. Public Policy Polling said voters are confused by the ballot initiative.Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost found Value Learning and
Teaching (VLT) Academy, a charter school in downtown Cincinnati, to be
wasteful and unethical. According to a state audit, the school had
multiple instances in the 2010-2011 school year in which it made
excessive payments in possible conflicts of interest.In another audit, Yost also criticized his own political
party. Yost found the Ohio Republican Party accepted prohibited
contributions and improperly spent money.A recent police chase that resulted in a crash and the the injury of minors is coming under scrutiny. The cop involved was found to be in violation of department procedure.Even though he resigned abruptly, the University of
Cincinnati Board of Trustees is considering separation payments for
former UC President Greg Williams. Board Chairman Fran Barrett says the
payments will tie up “loose ends” and buyout Williams’ tenure.Gov. John Kasich is asking public colleges to collaborate
on a funding formula. He says the schools should have a better idea than the state government of
what they need. The schools previously collaborated on a construction
wishlist, which apparently impressed Kasich.A proposed state policy will force schools to keep better
track of who is kept in seclusion rooms and for how long, but the
details will be closed to the public.The fired Democrats suing Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted will be getting their day in court. Yesterday, a federal judge
agreed to a hearing on Sept. 21. The fired Democrats are suing Husted
after he dismissed them for attempting to extend in-person early voting,
which broke Husted’s uniform rules on voting hours.
Even Republicans are now demanding more substance from presidential candidate Mitt Romney.A North Dakota college football player says he got kicked off his
team for kissing his boyfriend.Scientists planted false short-term memories in the brains of rats.
by German Lopez
Hamilton County school overpaid in potential conflict of interest
State Auditor Dave Yost released an audit today looking at Value
Learning and Teaching (VLT) Academy’s 2010-2011 school year, and the findings are not pretty. The charter school, which is located in downtown
Cincinnati, was found to be potentially overpaying in multiple instances —
including potential conflicts of interest.
“Those who are entrusted with taxpayer dollars must take
special care and spend them wisely,” Yost said in a statement. “This
school appears to have management issues that must be addressed
In a potential conflict of interest, the school paid
Echole Harris, daughter of the school’s superintendent, $82,000 during
the school year and $17,000 for a summer contract for the position of
EMIS coordinator, who helps provide data from VLT Academy to the state. Mysteriously, the school did not disclose the summer contract
in its financial statements. The school says the superintendent abstained from all decisions related to Harris and presented the summer contract to the school board. Still, Yost referred
the situation to the Ohio Ethics Commission.
The audit also criticized VLT Academy for approving a
$249,000 bid for janitorial services that were owned and provided by a
school employee. The bid was the most expensive among other offers
ranging between $82,000 and $135,600. According to the school’s own
minutes, “Each company states that they can deliver a work product that
will meet or exceed the standards provided in our checklist,” adding
little justification to the high payment and potential conflict of
interest. The school insists its pick was the best qualified because it offered additional services. The bid approval was also
referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission.
The school was found to be overpaying its IT director as
well. Keenan Cooke’s salary for the 2010-2011 school year was supposed to
be $55,000, but the school overpaid him by $3,333 with no record of
intent. The state asked for Cooke and Judy McConnell, VLT Academy’s
fiscal officer, to return the excess payment to the state. The school acknowledged McConnell's responsibility.
To make the potentially excess payments worse, VLT Academy had a net asset
deficiency of $412,754 as of June 30, 2011, according to the audit. The
school promised the auditor it will cut costs and find revenue
generators to make up for the loss.
by German Lopez
President Barack Obama will visit Cincinnati Monday. No
details were given for the event. Last time Obama was in
Cincinnati, he held a town hall meeting to tout his support for small
businesses and the LGBT community. Ohio is considered a vital swing
state for the presidential election, and it’s widely considered a
must-win for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. However, after the
Democratic National Convention, aggregate polling at FiveThirtyEight and
RealClearPolitics hugely favors Obama, establishing many paths for the
Democrat to clinch the presidency. Obama could lose Ohio, Virginia and
Florida and still win the election, which shows how many options he has to victory.A new index lists Cincinnati’s economy as one of the
strongest in the nation. The On Numbers Economic Index ranked Cincinnati
No. 15 out of 102 metro areas with a score of 67.65. Oklahoma City was
No. 1 with a score of 91.04. Cincinnati also touts a lower unemployment
rate than the U.S. and state average. The area’s seasonally unadjusted
unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in July in comparison to the state’s
7.4 percent unadjusted rate and the country’s 8.6 percent unadjusted
rate.The 2013 Hamilton County budget process is “challenging,”
says Commissioner Greg Hartmann. He says the county is dealing
with a $200 million budget instead of the $300 million budget of six
years ago, which is presenting new problems. Hamilton County Sheriff Si
Leis said budget cuts could lead to up to 500 jail bed cuts. CityBeat
previously covered the county commissioners’ inability to tackle
challenging budget issues — sometimes at the cost of the taxpayer.
State Auditor Dave Yost says his investigation into
attendance fraud at Ohio schools could last well into the year. The
investigation, which began after Lockland Schools in Hamilton County
were found of attendance fraud, is slowed down by the state’s
data-reporting system, according to Yost. Schools may falsely alter
their attendance reports to improve grades in the state report
card.Secretary of State Jon Husted has been sued again. This
time he’s being sued by the Democratic Montgomery County election
officials he fired. The officials tried to expand in-person early voting
hours in Montgomery County to include weekend voting, but the move
violated Husted’s call for uniform hours across the state.The Ohio EPA will host a workshop in Cincinnati on
Sept. 25. The workshop will focus on the Ohio Clean Fund and other tools
and incentives to help individuals and groups embrace clean energy.For the first time since December, Ohio's tax collections were lower than expected. The state was $43 million below estimates in August.Eighteen percent of Ohio mortgages are underwater, according to a new survey.A study found wind power could meet the world’s energy
needs. Wind currently supplies 4.1 percent of the United States’ energy
needs. Obama greatly boosted the production of wind
energy with tax credits. Romney vowed to
repeal the tax credits in a brief moment of substance.
by German Lopez
Vice President Joe Biden will make a stop at
Cincinnati this weekend. Cincinnati has quickly become a pivotal part of
the presidential election. Ohio is widely considered to be a must-win for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. However, polling in Ohio has consistently favored President Barack Obama and Biden in the past few months, although Romney did receive a decent bump in Ohio during and after the Republican National Convention. A similar bump could come for Obama and Biden after the Democratic National Convention, which ended last night. Last week, Romney was also in Cincinnati. CityBeat covered Romney's rally here.The national economy added 96,000 jobs in August, pushing
the unemployment rate down to 8.1 percent. The amount of jobs added is
less than economists expected, even though it does signify some good
news.Ohio may delay its new letter grading system for schools. The
system is a lot tougher on schools and school districts than the previous system. Using
data released by the Ohio Department of Education, CityBeat previously found the new system would flunk 23 schools at Cincinnati Public Schools. The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission ruled
Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig must take Ohio’s standard police
exam. Craig insists he shouldn’t have to take the exam due to his extensive experience.The Horseshoe Casino is coming along quickly. It is currently 75 percent complete and still expected to open spring 2013.Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble may be cutting more
than the originally planned 5,700 non-manufacturing jobs next February.
The company is also planning nine new product launches.On the bright side, Kohl’s is hiring 1,200 seasonal workers for its Monroe facility.The state auditor released a new audit detailing the use
of state airplanes. According to the report, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor used
several routes “for convenience” to get closer to an airport near her
home. Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder also used a plane to go to a
private event. Taylor and Batchelder both reimbursed the state.Obama gave his nomination acceptance
speech at the Democratic National Convention last night. The full
transcript can be found here. C-SPAN also posted Bill
Clinton’s full convention speech, which was great despite the former president’s bad deregulatory history.Scientists made a monkey control a robot hand with his mind.
by German Lopez
Williams out after three years, 'Enquirer' publisher/UC board member doesn't know why
University of Cincinnati President Greg
Williams stepped down yesterday. According to reports, Williams
walked into a UC Board of Trustees meeting, announced he was resigning effective
immediately and left.
Greg Hand, spokesperson for UC, said Williams resigned for “personal reasons.” No further explanation was provided by Williams.
Santa Ono, UC provost, is taking over temporarily as
interim president. In a tweet, he promised to give the university 150
Williams was at UC since 2009. A year after
arriving, he introduced his UC2019 plan. The plan seeks to make the
university into a top school by 2019. The plan also implied Williams had
long-term plans for UC, making his abrupt resignation even stranger.
The Board of Trustees seemed happy with Williams — at
least happy enough to give him a raise. On Sept. 20, 2011, the Board gave
Williams a $41,000 raise, bringing his salary up to $451,000. He also
got a $102,500 bonus.
The news took UC students by surprise. Lane Hart, student body president at UC, told the school's independent student newspaper, The News Record, he was “shocked” when he heard the news.
To give credit where credit is due, when The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the story, the newspaper mentioned that Margaret Buchanan, president and publisher at The Enquirer, is on the UC Board of Trustees. However, The Enquirer
did not mention asking Buchanan about the resignation — an omission
that raised questions for Jim Romenesko, a popular journalism blogger.
Since then, The Enquirer emailed Romenesko saying Buchanan did not know any extra information.
Buchanan's ties to local groups the newspaper frequently covers have failed to be disclosed in the past. Previously, CityBeat found in stories related to 3CDC, which Buchanan is also involved in as a member of the executive committee, The Enquirer
overwhelmingly failed to report the possible conflict of interest. The
newspaper only reported the connection one out of 32 times, although the
number could be inflated due to The Enquirer’s system of posting duplicate articles. In one particular story, The Enquirer praised 3CDC but failed to bring up Buchanan’s role overseeing publicity and marketing there.
by German Lopez
Carbon dioxide emissions fell to a 20-year low this year,
largely thanks to natural gas that was made cheaper and more plentiful
due to the fracking boom in Ohio and other states. The news is a
surprising turnaround for climate change activists, but critics
worry that methane — a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — emitted from natural gas operations could still pose a significant climate
threat. Environmental groups are generally opposed to fracking,
but supporters, like Gov. John Kasich, insist it can be made safe with
enough regulations. CityBeat previously covered the concerns and questions behind fracking here.The Ohio Department of Education has had a rough year, and
in a few ways, it’s back to square one. On top of the search for a new
superintendent of public instruction, the Department of Education has
had to deal with budget cuts and layoffs, a new Board of Education
member with no college degree or known resume, and the department is now
being investigated by the state auditor. The White House has announced a $30 million manufacturing
hub for Ohio that will act as a model for the rest of the United States.
The hub will bring together universities and businesses in order to increase growth and collaboration and decrease risk.Ohio has seen an uptick of businesses requesting to work
in the state, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Estimates
show 6,137 new entities applied to work in the state during July, up
from 5,472 during July 2011. The state has also seen 52,728
new business requests so far in 2012, up from 49,460 during the same
January-to-July period in 2011. The news shows some signs of
strengthening economic growth in Ohio.But Ohio’s unemployment rate barely moved in July. The
unemployment rate remained at 7.2 percent, the same as June’s
unemployment rate, even though 2,000 jobs were added.The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. EPA,
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and energy companies met yesterday
to work out how Ohio will enforce new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
The new standards will greatly reduce toxic pollutants given off by
power plants, according to the National Resources Defense Council.Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor claims there’s a funding
shortage for courts. The shortage could make it difficult for some cases
and people to see their day in the courtroom.Environmental groups are asking for more rules for
wastewater injection wells, the wells used to dump wastewater produced
during fracking. But state regulators aren’t sure more rules are
necessary.Fifty-eight state Republican lawmakers have never broken from the very conservative Ohio Chamber of Commerce in a vote.Sen. Rob Portman will be speaking at the Republican
national convention. The convention will make Mitt Romney’s nomination
as the Republican presidential candidate official. Conventions are also a
time for political parties to show off their new party platforms.President Barack Obama is coming back to Ohio next Tuesday. The president will be staying in Columbus this time around.Tax Policy Center to conservative critics: No matter what you say, Romney’s tax plan is still mathematically impossible.Americans love computers, but they hate the oil and gas industry.It’s taking more than three days, but the famous Jesus statue is rising again.