by German Lopez
Posted In: Budget
at 03:45 PM | Permalink
Massive cuts endanger local public access media
Mitt Romney was criticized for wanting to “kill Big Bird”
due to his proposed cuts to publicly funded media, and now City Manager
Milton Dohoney Jr. could face similar criticism. In his 2013 budget proposal,
Dohoney suggested eliminating $300,000 in support to Media Bridges, an
organization that provides public access TV and radio stations in
executive director of Media Bridges, called the cuts a “meteor” to
his organization’s budget. He described dire circumstances in which Ohio
originally cut funding to Media Bridges in June 2011, leaving the organization with
$198,000 from remaining money in the state fund and $300,000 from Cincinnati’s general fund. The state fund was provided by Time
Warner Cable, and lobbying from the cable company is what eventually led
to the fund’s elimination. The end of the Time Warner fund cut Media
Bridges’ budget by one-third, forcing the organization to change
facilities to make ends meet with less space.
With the city manager proposing to cut the city’s $300,000 in funding, Media
Bridges is essentially losing $498,000 in 2013. Bishop says that’s about
85 percent of the organization’s budget — a financial gap that would be
practically impossible to overcome. “If it’s a complete cut, we’re
looking at liquidation,” says Bishop.
When it was notified of the changes a few months ago, Media Bridges gave an
alternative plan to the mayor’s office that keeps $300,000 in funding
every year after a six-month transition period. But even that plan isn’t
ideal, according to Bishop. It would force Media Bridges to cut four
staff members, become more dependent on automation and charge
$200 a year for memberships with a sliding scale for low-income members.
Media Bridges will be reaching out to the public, mayor and
council members in the coming weeks to draw support in fighting the cuts.
At the government meetings, Bishop will make the plea
that public access outlets are important for low-income families. He
says it’s true that the Internet and cable television have expanded media
options for the public, but, according to the 2010 Greater Cincinnati
Survey, more than 40 percent of people in Cincinnati don’t have access
to broadband. That’s a large amount of the population that will be left
without a way to easily speak out in media if Media Bridges funding is
In a world of saturated media, Bishop rhetorically asked
why four TV channels that do a public service would need to be targeted:
“Does it seem so ridiculous that the people should have a tiny bit of
that bandwidth so that they can communicate with the community, share
cultural events, share what’s going on in the community and participate
He added the organization also provides educational access, which allows institutions like the University of Cincinnati,
Cincinnati Public Schools and various private schools to reach out to
Media Bridges also sees the cuts as a bit unfair relative
to other budget items. Bishop acknowledges “fiscal times are hard,” but
he pointed out CitiCable, which broadcasts City Council meetings and other educational services, is getting more than $750,000 in the proposed budget
to run one TV channel, while Media Bridges isn't getting $300,000 to run
four TV channels and a radio station. He praised CitiCable — “Those guys do a great job over
there; they provide a great service” — but he also says the disproportionate
cuts are “just not right.”
The cuts to Media Bridges are some of many adjustments in
the budget proposal by Dohoney. To balance Cincinnati’s estimated $34 million
deficit, Dohoney suggested pursuing privatizing parking services and
other cuts, including the elimination of the Cincinnati Police
Department’s mounted patrol unit and a $610,770 reduction to human services
funding.Update (Nov. 30, 3:45 p.m.): Meg Olberding, spokesperson for the city manager's office, called back CityBeat after this story was published. She explained Media Bridges was a target for cuts for two reasons: The program was ranked low in importance in public feedback gathered during the priority-driven budget process, and Media Bridges isn't seen as a core city service.Olberding also said that while some funding does flow through the city to CitiCable, that money has always come from franchise fees from Cincinnati Bell and Time Warner. In the case of Media Bridges, the city was not funding the program until it picked up the tab in 2011. Until that point, Media Bridges was funded through the now-gone Time Warner fund. Only after funding was lost did the city government provide a “one-year reprieve” in the general fund to keep Media Bridges afloat, according to Olberding.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 28, 2012
It’s been a big week for government
budgets. The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners approved the
county’s 2013 budget, and City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. unveiled his
budget proposal, which now the mayor and City Council must approve.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 28, 2012
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. on Nov.
24 unveiled his 2013 budget plan. The proposal, which must be approved
by City Council and the mayor, seeks to close a $34 million deficit
while avoiding major cuts and layoffs. The proposed budget will only set
the city’s course until mid-June, when the city will transition into
establishing budgets based on fiscal years.
by German Lopez
Ohio Republican supermajority hangs on 14 votes, city unveils budget, county passes budget
In the Ohio House of Representatives, the difference between a Republican supermajority and a normal majority is now 14 votes.
That’s how many votes are splitting Republican Rep. Al Landis and
Democratic challenger Josh O'Farrell. The small difference has already
triggered an automatic recount and likely a series of lawsuits from
Democrats over counting provisional ballots. The supermajority would
allow Ohio House Republicans to pass legislation without worry of a
governor’s veto and place any measure on the ballot — including
personhood initiatives — without bipartisan approval.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. unveiled his 2013 budget proposal at a press conference yesterday.
The proposal will pursue privatizing the city’s parking services to
help close a $34 million deficit. The privatization plan has already
faced some early criticism from Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld. The budget
will also make minor cuts elsewhere. In addition to the 2013 budget, the
Tentative Tax Budget proposal, which Dohoney passed to City Council and
the mayor yesterday, also raises property tax rates.
Meanwhile, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners approved the 2013 budget in a 2-1 vote.
Democrat Todd Portune was outvoted by Republicans Chris Monzel and
Board President Greg Hartmann. The final budget was basically Hartmann’s “austerity” proposal, barring some minor tweaks. The cuts could cost 150 or more Hamilton County jobs.
Councilman Chris Smitherman is facing a challenge
for his spot as president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP. The
councilman’s opponent is Bob Richardson, a former officer of Laborers
Local 265 and former president of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council.
Richardson’s son told WVXU, “I think we have seen the NAACP veer off its
core principles and turn into a tool for Smitherman and his
In a promising sign for the local economy, Greater Cincinnati banks are taking in more money from deposits.
The 21c Museum Hotel opened yesterday.
But the hotel has critics, including Josh Spring from the Greater
Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. Drawing a comparison to the situation between
Western & Southern and the Anna Louise Inn, Spring said the hotel
ended up displacing far too many people.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is taking up research into how autism develops.
A new report found expanding Medicaid in Ohio could cost the state $3.1 billion. The money would be enough to insure 457,000 uninsured Ohioans. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid faced less health problems.
One concern with the state's “fracking” boom: water supply.
Some are worried that the amount of water needed to fuel hydraulic
fracturing, a drilling technique for oil and gas, will drain Ohio’s
wells and reservoirs.
After some sentencing reform, Ohio’s inmate population is not decreasing as fast as some state officials would like.
As the state deals with prison overpopulation and more expensive
prisons, Gov. John Kasich’s administration has turned to privatization. CityBeat looked at issues surrounding private prisons and the connections between the state government and private prison companies here.
Ohio women are having fewer abortions in the state.
The drop seems largely attributable to increased access to birth
control. Better access to health care and improved health education are
also factors.Ever forget to take some medication? No longer. There is now a pill that can inform others when it's taken.
by German Lopez
City Manager's 2013 budget proposal must be approved by council, mayor
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. unveiled his 2013 budget plan at a press conference today. The proposal, which must be approved by City Council and
the mayor, seeks to close a $34 million deficit while avoiding major cuts
and layoffs. The proposed budget will only set the city’s course until
mid-June, when the city will transition into establishing budgets based
on fiscal years.
The biggest deficit plug will come from privatizing parking
services, which the city manager’s office says will bring in $40 million
in one-time revenue and additional revenue over 30 years as part of a
long-term contract. About $21 million of the initial lump-sum payment will be
used to close the 2013 budget deficit.
In the past, Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld voiced concerns
about privatizing parking: “I’ll await more details, but
it seems penny-wise and pound-foolish to forgo a steady revenue stream
for a lump-sum payment. Cincinnati needs a structurally balanced budget
and can’t keep relying on one-time sources. Places like Chicago and
Indianapolis have seen their parking rates more than double following
privatization — that’s a bad deal for citizens, and something we don’t
need while we’re experiencing an urban renaissance.”
Another concern is whether the city’s current parking
employees will be laid off if parking services are sold. Dohoney said
the deal for privatization will require the winning bidder to interview
all American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
(AFSCME) workers. Full-time workers who do not join the winning bidder will be
hired in other parts of the city government. “No AFSCME employee will be
placed on the street if they are full-time as a result of this effort,”
The rest of the deficit plug will come in cuts, cost shifting, savings,
revenue, embedded growth and one-time sources. Among these, notable
items include the elimination of the Mounted Patrol for the Cincinnati Police
Department (CPD) and a $610,770 reduction in Human Services Funding. A few departments and programs, including the CPD, will face
further minor cuts.
The city manager’s office claims the changes in the budget
are necessary mostly due to changes at the state level. Specifically,
the state government cut the Local Government Fund by 50 percent and
eliminated the tangible personal property tax reimbursement and estate
tax; altogether, losing these sources of revenue cost Cincinnati $22.2
million in the 2013 budget.
Facing the large deficit, Dohoney said he wanted to avoid across-the-board cuts and
other major cuts to growth and investment programs: “You’re not competitive
if that’s your approach.”
The budget also includes some
spending increases. The Focus 52 Program will focus on redevelopment
projects in Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods. If it’s successful, the new
program will “grow the city’s revenue base, create new jobs and/or
increase the population of the city,” according to the city manager’s
In other budget news, the city manager will also send out
the Tentative Tax Budget proposal, which sets the millage rate for the
operating property tax. That proposal seeks to raise the millage rate
from 5.9 mills to 6.1 mills, which will provide an estimated $31 million
in revenue, up from $23.5 million. For a $100,000 residential property,
that means a tax hike of $46.
by German Lopez
City manager gets raise despite deficit, GE food regulations, Ohio unemployment drops
Cincinnati may have a deficit estimated to be between $34
million and $40 million, but that didn't stop City Council from voting 6-2 Thursday to approve a $23,000 raise and one-time $35,000 bonus for City Manager Milton Dohoney,
the highest-paid city employee. The raise brings his salary up from
$232,000 to $255,000. Council members Chris Seelbach and Chris
Smitherman voted against the raise. P.G. Sittenfeld also opposed the
raise and bonus, but he missed the vote because he was out of town for
personal reasons. If City Council balances the budget for the next year
and fires someone making $58,000 or less to help do so, the raise and
one-time bonus could have meant one person’s job.
City Council also voted 8-0 to encourage the U.S.
Department of Agriculture to enforce mandatory labeling of all
genetically engineered (GE) food. Alison Auciello, Ohio-based organizer
for Food & Water Watch, praised the move in a statement: “Genetically
engineered foods are potentially unsafe, and consumers should have the
right to decide for themselves if they want to eat GE foods. It took
regulation to get food processors to label ingredients and nutrition
facts on labels, and now we’re calling for federal lawmakers to require
the labeling of GE food.”
Ohio’s unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in October,
down from 7.1 percent in September, according to the Ohio Department of
Jobs and Family Services. The numbers were mostly positive with the
amount of unemployed dropping by 10,000 and the amount of employed
rising by 13,900. The civilian labor force also grew, although it was
still below Oct. 2011 levels. Most gains were seen in service-providing
industries, professional and business services and government. In
comparison, the federal unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent in
October, up from 7.8 percent in September.
The Anna Louise Inn won another zoning appeal yesterday.
The victory upheld a conditional use permit for the Inn, which will
allow Cincinnati Union Bethel, which owns the Inn, to carry on with $13
million renovations. Western & Southern has vowed to appeal the
Income inequality in Ohio is wide and growing.
A new study found the gap between the rich and poor is widening, with
the lower and middle classes actually losing real income since the
After Thanksgiving, the Cincinnati Zoo team will be studying penguins off the coast of Chile.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble is having no part in the good unemployment news. The company announced another round of job cuts as part of a large restructuring program. It’s unclear how the cuts will impact Cincinnati.
Hostess, maker of Twinkies, is going out of business.
The company blamed a workers’ strike for the move, but Hostess has been having
problems for a long time. The company has already filed for bankruptcy
twice this decade.
The Ohio Board of Regents launched OhioMeansSuccess.org, a website meant to place students on a path to college and a successful career.
Russia can get pretty hardcore. While herding sheep, one grandmother fended off and killed a wolf with an axe.
The U.S. Navy is retiring its mine-sweeping dolphins and replacing them with robots.
by Andy Brownfield
Opponents argue unwise with looming deficit; Dohoney's last raise in 2007
City Council took a contentious vote on Thursday to give the city manager a pay raise and a bonus.
Those in favor of the 10 percent raise and $35,000 bonus
for Milton Dohoney say he is underpaid, has done a great job for the city
and has gone five years without a merit raise. Those opposed say it’s bad timing and sends the wrong
message when many city workers have also gone years without a pay
Dohoney was hired in August 2006. He hasn’t received a
merit raise since 2007, but has collected bonuses and cost of living
adjustments over the years. He currently makes about $232,000 and the
raise would bump that up to $255,000. Dohoney made $185,000 when he started the job.
Council approved the raise on a 6-2 vote, with councilmen Christopher Smitherman and Chris Seelbach voting against it.
Before the vote, Mayor Mark Mallory lauded the manager,
saying he set high expectations and didn’t expect Dohoney to meet them,
but the manager exceeded all of them.
“To do anything other than that
(approve the raise) is a backhanded slap in the face and actually a
statement that we want the manager gone,” Mallory said. “We are going to
give him a raise. And from where I sit we’re not giving him a big
The raise came from a performance review conducted by
Democratic council members Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas and sole council
Republican Charlie Winburn.
Winburn said the city manager’s financial management
system is impeccable, Dohoney has pushed economic development, he has
expanded the tax base and made sacrifices by not receiving a raise for
the previous five years.
Other members of council pointed out that Dohoney isn’t the only city employee who has gone a while without a raise.
“For me, look, 4 years ago I turned down a job at Google
where I’d be making a hell of a lot more money,” Councilman P.G.
Sittenfeld told 700WLW radio host Scott Sloan. “This is public service.
This is already the city’s highest-paid employee.”
Sittenfeld missed the council meeting Thursday afternoon because he was out of town on a personal matter, according to an aide.
Sittenfeld and others have raised questions over whether
it is wise to give Dohoney a raise and bonus when the city faces an
estimated $34 million budget deficit. Councilman Wendell Young said the
raise would not hurt the budget.
Opponents also argued that it would look bad to give the
manager a raise when other city employees are dealing with wage freezes.
Police, for instance, agreed during contact negotiations this year to a
two-year wage freeze. Though they received a raise in 2009.
Smitherman said city employee unions may keep that in mind during upcoming negotiations.
"Unions are going to remember this council extended a $35,000 bonus to the city manager.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
SUNDAY OCT. 28: Many people who read today’s Enquirer
endorsement of Mitt Romney for president likely set the paper down,
said something like “I need to move out of this [expletive] city” and
then googled “Jobs where newspapers don’t endorse Sarah Palin.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
It’s nearly budget season in Cincinnati
again. In a bit of a head start, City Manager Milton Dohoney has
unveiled his plan to look into privatizing the city’s parking services.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 9, 2010
If you were to believe 1980s stereotypes, college fraternities and sororities would be a bunch of mean rich kids adored by administrators even though they're total dicks to everyone else (you might also believe that red cars are cool and black men are scary). To reinforce that view last week Miami University put a third sorority on probation.