by German Lopez
Streetcar budget fixes detailed, Senate kills 'right to work,' county fights infant mortality
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. gave his suggestions for fixing the streetcar budget gap Tuesday, and CityBeat analyzed the details here. The suggestion, which include temporarily using front-loaded Music Hall funds and pulling money from other capital projects, are capital budget items that can't be used to balance the city's $35 million operating budget deficit because of limits in state law, so if City Council approved the suggestions, the streetcar would not be saved at the expense of cops, firefighters and other city employees being laid off to balance the operating budget.Ohio Senate Republicans seem unlikely to take up so-called "right to work" (RTW) legislation after it was proposed in the Ohio House. RTW legislation prevents unions and employers from making collective bargaining agreements that require union membership to be hired for a job, significantly weakening a union's leverage in negotiations by reducing membership. Since states began adopting the anti-union laws, union membership has dropped dramatically around the nation. Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, were quick to condemn the RTW bills and compare them to S.B. 5, a 2011 bill backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Republicans that would have limited collective bargaining powers for public employees and significantly reduced public sector unions' political power.Hamilton County commissioners approved a county-wide collaborative between health and government agencies to help reduce the county's infant mortality rate, which has exceeded the national average for more than a decade. Funding for the program will come in part from the sale of Drake Hospital to UC Health.With a 7-2 vote yesterday, City Council updated its "responsible bidder" ordinance, which requires job training from contractors working with the Metropolitan Sewer District, to close loopholes and include Greater Cincinnati Water Works projects. Councilman Chris Seelbach led the charge on the changes, which were opposed by council members Chris Smitherman and Charlie Winburn.Ohio Senate Democrats are still pushing the Medicaid expansion, which the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found would insure 456,000 Ohioans and save the state money in the next decade. Ohio House Republicans effectively rejected the expansion with their budget bill, which the Ohio Senate is now reviewing. CityBeat covered the Ohio House budget bill in further detail here.The state's Public Utilities Commissions of Ohio approved a 2.9 percent rate hike for Duke Energy, which will cost customers an average of $3.72 every month.Concealed carry permits issued in Ohio nearly doubled in the first three months of the year, following a wave of mass shootings in the past year and talks of federal gun control legislation.Real headline from The Cincinnati Enquirer: "How much skin is too much skin for teens at prom?"A Pennsylvania woman who had been missing for 11 years turned herself in to authorities in Florida.New research shows early American settlers at Jamestown, Va., ate each other.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:21 AM | Permalink
'Right to work' returns; memo details streetcar funding; more money, less mowing
Two Ohio House Republicans are preparing to introduce so-called "right to work" (RTW) legislation, a deceptively named type of law that would ban collective bargaining agreements between unions and employers that require union membership to be hired at a job. Since states began adopting the anti-union laws, union membership has dropped dramatically. Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, were quick to condemn the bills, invoking 2011's voter rejection of S.B. 5, a bill backed by Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Republicans that would have limited collective bargaining rights for public employees and hindered public sector unions' political power.The city released a memo yesterday outlining how the streetcar project's $17.4 million budget gap will be funded. The memo emphasizes that the capital funds being used for the streetcar project can't be used to balance the city's $35 million operating budget deficit because of state law, so the streetcar project is not being saved at the expense of cops, firefighters and other public employees being laid off to balance the operating budget. CityBeat will have a more thorough analysis of the memo shortly after this article is published.The state auditor released an audit yesterday that shows the Ohio Department of Transportation could save $7.4 million in taxpayer money by mowing the lawn less often. "We need to cut back by
mowing less," State Auditor Dave Yost said in a statement. "Sometimes, it’s the simplest
solutions that have the greatest impact."A Policy Matters Ohio survey confirmed Ohio schools are making cuts as a result of Kasich's education funding cuts. In total, 70 percent of schools slashed budgets for the 2012-2013 school year.The mayor and city manager held a roundtable with the press yesterday explaining the merits of the city's plan to lease its parking assets to the Port Authority. The city officials made the same arguments heard before about how it would help balance the budget and bring economic development to the city, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.If estimates are correct, this year's Flying Pig Marathon will bring $9.5 million into Greater Cincinnati's economy.In light of grim drug addiction and overdose statistics recently released, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says it's time to call the "war on drugs" something else. The most recent data found one Ohioan died of a drug overdose every five hours on average in 2011.Next Tuesday is primary election day in Ohio, but there isn't much to vote on in southwest Ohio.Steve Smith, who admitted to raping and killing a six-month-old in Mansfield, Ohio, will be executed by the state today, but his relatives insist he didn't do it.Gladys, the unfortunately named gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, recently got a look at her new home.Antimatter is the opposite of matter, but it's unclear whether it falls up or down.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The budget bill currently working through
the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature would cut taxes in a way
that favors the wealthy, according to a new analysis.
by German Lopez
Republicans amend bill to prevent discussion, distribution of contraceptives in schools
With Republican support and Democratic opposition, the
Ohio House Finance Committee approved a budget bill today that would ban
comprehensive sex education, defund Planned Parenthood and fund crisis
pregnancy centers that pro-choice groups call “anti-choice.”
Citing the possibility of “gateway sexual activity,” the
bill would make it so teachers can be fined up to $5,000 if they
explain the use of condoms and other forms of birth control to high school
students. It would also prohibit individuals and groups from
distributing birth control on school grounds.
The bill pushes abstinence-only education to curtail any promotion, implicit or
explicit, of gateway sexual activity. To define such activity, the bill
cites Ohio’s criminal code definition for “sexual contact,” which is defined as “any
touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation
the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a
female, a breast.”
The bill would also redirect federal funding to defund Planned Parenthood and shift funds to crisis pregnancy centers, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.
“Today the Ohio House Finance Committee voted to send our
state back to the 1950s,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a statement. “The Ohio House is doing
everything they can to restrict access to reproductive health care and
medically accurate information that help Ohioans live healthy lives.
(Gov. John) Kasich can stop these dangerous attacks on women’s health
care. We need him to speak out against these budget provisions and to
line-item veto these dangerous measures when they reach his desk.”
Researchers have found abstinence-only programs to be generally ineffective. A 2007 study
published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found abstinence-only
programs have no impact on rates for teenage pregnancy or vaginal
intercourse, while comprehensive programs that include birth control
education reduce rates.
A 2011 study
from researchers at the University of Georgia that looked at data from
48 states concurred abstinence-only programs do not reduce the rate of
teenage pregnancy. The study indicated states with the lowest teenage
pregnancy rates tend to have the most comprehensive sex and HIV
When looking at three ways to prevent unintended pregnancies for a 2012 study,
the Brookings Center on Children and Families found the most
cost-effective policy was to increase funding for family planning
services through the Medicaid program. In other words, if governments increased spending on birth control programs, they would
eventually save money.
Still, a 2010 study
from a University of Pennsylvania researcher found abstinence-only
education programs may delay sexual activity. The study, which tracked
black middle school students over two years, found students in an
abstinence-only program had lower rates of sexual activity than students
in the comprehensive program.At hearings on April 12, anti-abortion groups praised abstinence-only education for promoting chastity.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:37 AM | Permalink
Governor, Democrats, mental health advocates criticize Ohio House Republicans’ budget
Ohio House Republicans are poised to reject the Medicaid
expansion and the $500 million per year in federal funding that would
come with it for the next two years — a move that has united Republican
Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Democrats, mental health advocates and other
health groups in opposition.
The Medicaid expansion is part of a measure in the
Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that encourages states to expand their
Medicaid programs to include anyone at or below 138 percent of the
federal poverty level with the use of federal funds. For the first three
years, the federal government would pick up the entire tab for the
expansion. After that, payments would be phased down over time so the federal
government would be paying 90 percent of costs.
Ohio House Republicans oppose the measure because they say
they’re worried federal funding will dry up in the future, even though
there is no historical precedent of the federal government failing to
pay its commitment to Medicaid.
Kasich’s proposal for the Medicaid expansion includes an
automatic trigger that would immediately stop and retract the expansion
if federal funding falls through, but Ohio Republicans previously voiced
concerns in hearings that the trigger would hurt Ohioans who have
become accustomed to government-provided health insurance without any
plan to make up for the lost coverage.
A report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found
the expansion would help insure 456,000 Ohioans by 2022 and save the state
money in the next decade by producing economic growth and shifting
health-care expenses from the state to the federal government.
For advocates of mental health and addiction treatments,
Ohio House Republicans’ rejection of the Medicaid expansion and other
budget items means mental health and addiction services will miss out on
$627 million per year, according to a report from the Office of Health Transformation.
Ohio House Republicans’ budget plan would include $50
million more annual funding for mental health and addiction services,
but that’s also not enough to make up for the $140 million in annual funds
cut around the state since 2002 and the $17 million being cut over two
years through the dissolution of the tangible personal property tax
Cheri Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio
Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA), says the Medicaid
expansion is a great opportunity to emphasize mental health services
around the state.
“On the mental health side, ... sometimes it can take two
or more years for someone to get a disability determination that makes
them Medicaid eligible,” she says. “In addition to making more people
Medicaid-eligible, it will speed up the process for many others.”
Walter says for addiction patients in particular, getting
access to health services can be difficult because alcoholism and other
forms of addiction are not technically disabilities. By including more
income levels in the Medicaid program, less people will fall through the
cracks, she says.OACBHA was one of the many groups that rallied at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday in support of the Medicaid expansion. The crowd, which received support from Ohio Democrats and Kasich, was estimated to reach 2,500.
Until the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, the
Medicaid expansion was required, but the court ruled that states must be
allowed to opt in and out.
The Medicaid expansion was one of the few parts of
Kasich’s budget plan that Democrats and progressives approved, while the
two other major proposals in Kasich’s plan — school funding and a tax cut
proposal — were criticized for disproportionately benefiting wealthy Ohioans (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Ohio Democrats say Gov. John Kasich’s local government funding cuts are to blame for Cincinnati’s budget woes.
by German Lopez
Youth Jobs Fair today, groups clash over energy law, GOP considering election reform
Cincinnati’s Youth Jobs Fair will be held today at the
Duke Energy Convention Center between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. The fair
provides an opportunity for young people, typically aged between 16 and
24, to look for work from a variety of participating employers. Mayor
Mark Mallory says attendees should “dress for success,” as if they were
going to their first day on the job.
State environmental groups and an Akron-based energy company are at odds over a 2008 law
that tasks the state and utility companies with meeting stringent
requirements for renewable energy and energy efficiency. State Sen. Bill
Seitz, the Cincinnati Republican who heads the Senate Public Utilities
Committee, has agreed to review Ohio’s Clean Energy Law, while
FirstEnergy, an Akron-based energy company, protests the requirements as
too expensive for the company and consumers around the state. But
Seitz’s decision has alarmed environmental groups who largely see the
law as effective three years later.
Republicans in the General Assembly are considering an incremental approach to elections reform
after their comprehensive efforts in 2011 and 2012 were received with widespread
accusations of voter suppression. The details aren’t worked out yet, but Seitz is planning on
introducing bills that he says will cut down on provisional ballot
voting and provide clearer rules for poll workers collecting provisional
ballots, and other Republicans are looking to set uniform statewide
early voting hours. Democratic State Sen. Nina Turner says she wants to
see a more comprehensive approach to elections reform, including a more
relaxed approach to provisional ballots.
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners are considering raises for county employees,
but they first have to find a way to pay for the increases. Board
President Chris Monzel, a Republican, says he would like to wait to see
how Gov. John Kasich’s budget turns out to institute a merit-based raise
system. Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, says he wants to
guarantee all employees a 1-percent increase.
City Council held a special meeting last night to discuss the city’s pension system,
which many are worried is costing the city too much in the long term.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. says the city needs to take more steps
to stabilize the system: “More money in, figuring out where that more
money will come from, looking at the current picture of the benefits
themselves, and some way of financing it short of putting lump sums of
The U.S. Supreme Court showed doubts
over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which
effectively banned same-sex marriage at a federal level, at hearings
President Barack Obama’s administration released a proposal that will help deal with the effects of global warming on wildlife, including arctic foxes.
Watch a nine-year-old discuss the meaning of life and the universe:
1 Comment · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I’d pay to see a lineup of all
the children and grandchildren of right-wingers — especially those
directly responsible for legally shoving their definitions of “family”
down all our throats — all come out publicly in a public square. I bet there are a shit-ton of ’em.
2 Comments · Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Washington, D.C., is once again on the
verge of another manufactured crisis. On March 1, the sequester, a
series of mandated spending cuts, is set to kick in, threatening the
country with another round of austerity measures that will cut jobs and
bring down an already-fragile economy.
by German Lopez
Terhar compared Obama's gun control proposals to Hitler quote
Democrats are calling for the resignation of Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar, who compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post. The Columbus Dispatch reported Terhar
posted an image of Adolf Hitler on her personal Facebook page that read, “Never forget
what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’
— Adolf Hitler.”
Terhar, a Cincinnati Republican, insists she
was not comparing Obama to Hitler. She told The Dispatch that people who know her understand she was describing the “need to step back and think about it and look at history.”When looking at history, there is no evidence Hitler actually said the quote in question. The Nazi leader referenced disarming the “subject races,” according to Hitler's Table Talk, but the direct quote Terhar posted is unverifiable.
“I’m not comparing the president to Adolf Hitler,” Terhar said. “It’s the
thought of disarming citizens, and this has happened throughout history.
What’s the true intention of the Second Amendment? It was to protect us
from a tyrannical government, God forbid.”
Terhar’s stance could have an impact on school policies. She told The Dispatch,
“Schools are gun-free zones. If you have someone who is bent on causing
harm, where are they going to go? To a place where there is little
chance of resistance.”
But when looking at different countries
and states, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found a
correlation between more guns and more homicides. More specifically, men
and women in places with more firearms are at a larger risk for
Terhar was elected Jan. 14 by the 19-member Ohio State Board of Education to serve as president.