by German Lopez
Terhar compares Obama to Hitler, Cincinnati unemployment drops, Portman's deficit plan
Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar posted an image
of Adolf Hitler on Facebook that said, “Never forget what this tyrant
said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.”
But the Cincinnati Republican, who was referencing President Barack
Obama’s gun control proposals, now insists she was not comparing Obama
to Hitler. It’s pretty obvious she was, though.
Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate
dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.9 percent in November.
The drop is largely attributed to a decrease in the civilian labor force,
which could imply less people are looking for work or seasonal changes
are having an impact. Whatever the case, the amount of people who are
employed and unemployed both dropped. Hamilton County’s seasonally
unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in December, down
from 6.4 percent in November, but that drop was also attributed to a declining labor
force or seasonal factors. Greater Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted
unemployment rate was unchanged from 6.4 percent, despite 2,600 less
people working. In comparison, Ohio’s seasonally unadjusted
rate was 6.6 percent in December, up from 6.5 percent in November, and
the U.S. rate was 7.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, suggested the Dollar-for-Dollar
Deficit Reduction Act. The plan requires debt ceiling increases to be
matched by an equal amount of spending cuts. Increasing the debt ceiling
is essentially Congress agreeing to pay its bills. During the budget
process and while passing other legislation, Congress agrees to a
certain amount of spending. Increasing the debt ceiling just makes it
possible for the president to pay those bills, even if it means
surpassing a set debt level. If the debt ceiling isn't raised by May 18,
the United States will default on its debts, plunging the country into
depression. But the threat of destroying the U.S. economy has not
stopped Republicans from using the debt ceiling as a negotiation tool to
get the spending cuts they so badly want.
Public employees are avoiding changes to Ohio’s public pension system
by retiring before the changes kick in. The changes make it so any teacher who
retires before July 1 will get a 2 percent cost of living increase to
their pensions in 2015. Anyone who retires after July 1 will not get the
increase until 2018. After that, retirees will get a pension increase
every five years. Experts are also expecting a rush of retirees in 2015,
when age and years-of-service requirements for full benefits are set to
A new report found Ohio’s graduation rate is still improving.
The U.S. Department of Education report found the state’s graduation
rate was 81.4 percent in the 2009-10 school year, higher than the
nation’s rate of 78.2 percent, and an increase from 78.7 percent rate in
the 2006-2007 school year.
A study found a link between hourly workers at Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center and intestinal cancer.
As Ohio cuts back its solar program, Canada is shutting down the rest of its coal-fired power plants by the end of 2013.
The Cincinnati Reds may get to host the 2015 All-Stars Game.
Scientists are rushing to build robots that save lives in disaster zones. Will John Connor please stand up?
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.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
One week after the major Democratic
victories of Election Day, Ohio’s Republican legislators Nov. 14 pushed
HB 298, a bill that will keep federal funds from Planned Parenthood,
through committee and into the Ohio House of Representatives floor.
by German Lopez
Committee hearing filled with protesters, chants
One week after the major Democratic victories of Election
Day, Ohio’s Republican legislators are pushing HB 298, a bill that will keep federal funds from Planned Parenthood. In a Health and Aging
Committee hearing at today, Ohio Republicans voted to push the bill
through committee and into the Ohio House of Representatives floor.
If the bill passes the Republican-controlled General
Assembly and is signed by Gov. John Kasich, it will block $2 million in
federal funding from Planned Parenthood and prioritize other family
services. In the past few years, Planned Parenthood has become a popular
target for Republicans because the organization provides abortion
services. But that’s not all Planned Parenthood offers; a chart released
by the organization in February demonstrated abortions only make up 3
percent of its services.
Another criticism leveled by Planned Parenthood supporters
is the federal funding is legally barred from being used for abortions.
Instead, the funding would go to other health services within Planned
Parenthood, which provides general women’s health services to poor and
Some Democratic lawmakers say the bill shows an out-of-touch Republican Party.
“For the life of me, I cannot understand why Republicans
are so intent on taking away from women the right to make their own
choices about their bodies,” said Ohio Sen. Nina Turner in a statement.
“Voters soundly rejected the foolishness of the radical right on
Election Day in favor of the dignity of American women, but some
lawmakers must not have heard.”
She added, “While Republicans rail against women making
their own choices, they are cutting funding for education and critical
social services that children need after they are born. They want small
government, all right — small enough to fit into a woman’s womb.”
The strong words showcase what was a loud, feisty exchange
between Planned Parenthood supporters and Republican lawmakers. At the
committee hearings, supporters and opponents of HB 298 testified. Some
opponents cited their personal experience, including an emotional account from one
woman regarding her own rape at age 13. She said she was glad young women like her can turn to
Planned Parenthood for help. Ohio Rep. John Carney, a Columbus Democrat,
pointed out that throughout the hearings, no health care provider
testified in favor of HB 298. One doctor testified against the bill. Carney also pointed out that no tax dollars that go to Planned Parenthood pay for abortions.
The bill isn’t the only action Republicans have recently taken against women’s health rights. Ohio Senate President Tom
Niehaus told The Cincinnati Enquirer about the possibility of a
renewed heartbeat bill on Nov. 8. In October, Kasich appointed two anti-abortion
advocates to government positions. In this week’s news commentary (“Ohio
Republicans Continue Anti-Abortion Agenda,” issue of Nov. 14), CityBeat covered the ensuing Republican campaign against abortion rights.
1 Comment · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
By the time this article is published,
the month of early voting and
Election Day will have come to a close, and voters will have made their
choices. But when it’s all said and done, voters will
be making those choices not thanks to Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted, but despite him.
by German Lopez
Claim True the Vote is unnecessarily intimidating voters
Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of
State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them
to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to
combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily
In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter
fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note
recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4
Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case
of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight
investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged
in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a
year.Tim Burke, chairman of both the Hamilton County Board of
Elections and the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the faulty
voter registration forms, which groups like TTV typically cite as
examples of in-person voter fraud, never amount to real voter fraud.
“Those nonexistent voters never show up to vote,” he says.
“(The forms) were put together by people working on voter registration drives.
Frankly, the intent wasn’t to defraud the board of elections; the
intent was to defraud their employer into making them think they’re
doing more work.”In other words, people aren't submitting faulty voter registration forms to skew elections; registration drive employees are submitting the forms to try to keep their jobs.
To combat the seemingly nonexistent problem of voter
impersonation fraud, TTV is planning on recruiting one million poll
watchers — people that will stand by polling places to ensure the voting
process is legitimate. The Democrats insist some of the tactics
promoted by the group are illegal. The letter claims it’s illegal for
anyone but election officials to inhibit the voting process in any way.
Most notably, Ohio law prohibits “loiter[ing] in or
about a registration or polling place during registration or the casting
and counting of ballots so as to hinder, delay, or interfere with the
conduct of the registration or election,” according to the letter.
Burke says state law allows both Democrats and Republicans
to hire observers at polling booths. However, the observers can only
watch, and they can’t challenge voters. Even if the appointed observers see suspicious
activity, they have to leave the voting area and report the activity
through other means.
The tactics adopted by TTV have an ugly history in the U.S.
Utilizing poll watchers was one way Southern officials pushed away
minority voters during the segregation era. By asking questions and
being as obstructive as possible, the poll watchers of the segregation
era intimidated black voters into not voting. In the post-segregation
era, the tactics have continued targeting minority and low-income
The Senate Democrats make note of the ugly history in their
letter: “It has traditionally focused on the voter registration lists in
minority and low-income precincts, utilizing ‘caging’ techniques to
question registrations. It has included encouraging poll watchers to
‘raise a challenge’ when certain voters tried to vote by brandishing
cameras at polling sites, asking humiliating questions of voters, and
slowing down precinct lines with unnecessary challenges and intimidating
tactics. These acts of intimidation undermine protection of the right
to vote of all citizens.”
TTV has already faced some failures in Hamilton County.
Earlier this year, the group teamed up with the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (VIP),
another Tea Party group, to file 380 challenges to the Hamilton County
Board of Elections. Of the 380 challenges, only 35 remain. The vast
majority were thrown out.
“For the most part, they tried to get a bunch of UC
students challenged because they didn’t have their dormitory rooms on
their voter registration rolls,” Burke says. “All of those were
rejected. We did nothing with those.”
But he said the group did bring up one legitimate
challenge. Some voters were still registered in a now-defunct trailer
park in Harrison, Ohio. Since the trailer park no longer exists,
Burke says no one should be voting from there. The board didn’t purge
those voters from the roll, but the board unanimously agreed to ensure those voters are challenged and sent to the correct polling place if they show up to vote.
Still, TTV insists on hunting down all the phantom
impersonators and fraudulent voters. In partnership with VIP, TTV is continuing its mission to stop all the voter impersonation that isn't actually happening.
VIP is brandishing the effort with a program of its own. That organization is now hosting special
training programs for poll workers. The organization insists
its programs are nonpartisan, but Democrats aren’t buying it.
Burke says it’s normal for Democrats and Republicans to
hire poll workers, but if the Voter Integrity Project program puts the
organization’s anti-fraud politics into the training, it could go too
“The job of the poll worker is to assist voters in getting
their ballots cast correctly,” Burke says. “It’s to be helpful. It’s
not to be belligerent. It’s not to be making voters feel like they’re
doing something evil.”
He added, “If poll workers are
coming in and deciding that they’re going to be aggressive police
officers making everybody feel like they’re engaged in voter fraud and
therefore trying to intimidate voters, that’s absolutely wrong.”
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in
September — the lowest jobless rate in nearly four years. The country
added 114,000 jobs during the month, and labor participation actually
rose with 418,000 people joining the labor force. Jobs numbers for July
and August were also revised upward, indicating that the summer’s
economy was not as weak as previously estimated. Unlike previous reports
that were mired with dropping labor participation rates and job
additions below expectations, this report paints a generally rosy
picture of a recovering economy.A new report found Ohio-based Murray Energy might be
coercing employees into making campaign contributions to Republicans. It
seems Bob Murray, Murray Energy’s CEO, directly encourages employees to
make donations through memos and strong language. As a result, the
company has an unusually high amount of donations to Republican
candidates, including senatorial candidate Josh Mandel, presidential
candidate Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner. The company’s PAC and
staffers are the sixth biggest source of funding for Mandel.By their own admission, Republicans misrepresented Issue
2. The good news is they have agreed to stop using some of the
misleading language. If Issue 2 is approved by voters, it will give
redistricting powers to an independent citizens commission. Currently,
elected officials redraw the district boundaries, and they use the
system in politically advantageous ways. The Republican majority redrew
the First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati to include
Warren County, which places less emphasis on urban voters that typically
vote Democrat and more emphasis on rural voters that typically vote
Republican. CityBeat previously covered redistricting and Voters First’s
The state auditor gave a mixed review to Ohio’s schools
and education department yesterday. In an interim report, the auditor
criticized a handful of school districts for scrubbing attendance
reports and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for having poor
oversight. ODE promised “additional safeguards” in response to the
report.Gov. John Kasich is continuing his privatization campaign.
The governor is finally close to leasing the Ohio Turnpike, and he says
that could raise more than $1 billion.
It turns out Kasich’s number about Ohio’s auto industry
losing 500 jobs might be correct, but only because of the time frame and
terms Kasich used. In general, the auto industry in Ohio has
improved since 2009.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is leading the
charge, but it’s only the beginning. A few movies are taking advantage
of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, which is meant to bring film
production to Ohio. Seven films will be filmed in Ohio: Underdogs, Crooked Tree, Blood of Redemption, The Tribunal, A Dog Named
Suki, In Other Words and The Do Over. Since the tax credit began,
the Ohio Film Office has helped employ more than 19,000 Ohioans and
added nearly $205 million to Ohio’s economy.
Some in the aerospace business want southwest Ohio to take
bigger advantage of the area’s strong aerospace industry and make it
A survey found Ohio is among the 25 best states for
entrepreneurs. The state moved up 18 spots — from No. 40 to No. 22 — in
the past year.
Update on Ohio Supreme Court candidate William O’Neill’s
demands for Justice Robert Cupp to “recuse or refuse” due to campaign
donations: Mark Weaver, Cupp’s spokesperson, responded, saying, “Mr.
O'Neill previously raised this argument with disciplinary authorities by
filing a complaint. It was reviewed by disciplinary authorities, and
they unanimously dismissed it as having no merit.”An Eden Park microbrewery got approval from City Council.
A study found students enrolled in parents’ health care
plans are 5.7 percent more likely to attend college full time. The
finding is good news for Obamacare, which forces insurance
companies to allow sons and daughters to stay on family insurance plans
until they turn 26.Robot sea turtles might soon carry cargo in their shells.
DNC executive director discusses Ohio’s importance in 2012 and beyond
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, sat down with CityBeat for an exclusive interview during which he
previewed his remarks to Ohio steelworkers and talked about Hamilton County’s importance
to the presidential race.
by Andy Brownfield
First lady urges Ohioans to vote early; Romney campaign launches Ohio early voting bus tour
While the presidential candidates prepared for Wednesday’s
debate, Michelle Obama urged Cincinnatians on Tuesday to take advantage
of the first day of early voting, before leading a group to the board
of elections to cast their ballots.
“I’ve got news for you: Here in Ohio it’s already
Election Day. Early voting starts today,” Obama told a crowd of 6,800 inside
the Duke Energy Convention Center. She urged everyone to reach out and
encourage their friends to vote after they had cast their own ballots.
“Twitter them. Tweet them. What do you do? It’s tweeting, right? Tweet them,” she joked to the crowd.
Earlier in the morning, the campaign of Republican
presidential candidate Mitt Romney kicked off its “Commit to Mitt Early
Vote Express” statewide bus tour in downtown Cincinnati.
The tour started in Hamilton County before moving through Butler County and is scheduled to end the day in Preble County.
The bus is scheduled to make its way through every region
of Ohio during the early voting period and will serve as a mobile
campaign headquarters, dispensing voter contact materials and featuring
Romney campaign surrogates, according to a news release.
At the convention center, Michelle Obama avoided some of
the direct attacks employed by her husband or the Romney campaign, but
used her 30-minute speech to counter some of the criticisms from the GOP
nominee, recapping some of her convention speech.
“Our families weren’t asking for much,” Michelle said of
her own and Barack’s families. “They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s
success, you know, they didn’t mind if others had much more than they
did, in fact they admired it. That’s why they pushed us to succeed.”
Her comment seemed to come in response to an attack that
the Romney campaign levied against Barack Obama after his infamous “you
didn’t build that” comment, where the GOP candidate argues that Obama
and Democrats are fostering enmity among the middle class by stoking
jealousy of rich, successful Americans like Mitt Romney.
believed also that when you work hard and have done well and finally
walk through that doorway of opportunity, you don’t slam it shut behind
you,” Michelle Obama continued.
“No, you reach back and you give other folks the same
chances that helped you succeed. You see, that’s how Barack and I and so
many of you were raised. … We learned that the truth matters – you
don’t take shortcuts, you don’t game the system, you don’t play by your
own set of rules.”
She went on to say that Americans are part of something
bigger than themselves and obligated to give back to others, counter to
the Republicans’ narrative of the individual pulled up by his or her own
Danielle Henderson, 40, a teacher’s assistant from
Cincinnati, said she was a fan of the first lady’s and joked that she
wanted to know if Michelle was running for president in 2016.
“Behind every good man is a good woman,” Henderson said. “Honestly, a woman is a backbone of the family.”
She said she thought the first family was a good model for the rest of the country.
Henderson’s mother-in-law Barbara joked that she was excited to see what the first lady was going to wear.
“I see trends she sets trickle down to other politicians’ wives,” she joked.
by German Lopez
GOP mailer allegedly misrepresents redistricting amendment
Voters First Ohio is not letting Republicans get away with
any dishonesty on Issue 2. In a complaint filed to the Ohio Elections
Commission yesterday, the pro-redistricting reform group claimed a
recent mailer from Republicans contained three incorrect statements.
“In an effort to affect the outcome of the election and
defeat State Issue 2, Republicans have knowingly, or with reckless
disregard of the truth, made false statements in printed campaign
material disseminated to registered voters,” the complaint said.
If approved by voters in November, Issue 2 will place the
responsibility of redistricting in the hands of an independent citizens
commission. Currently, politicians handle the process, which they use to
redraw district boundaries in politically advantageous ways in a
process known as “gerrymandering.” Ohio’s First Congressional District,
which includes Cincinnati, was redrawn by the Republican-controlled
process to include Warren County, which contains more rural voters that
tend to vote Republican, and less of Cincinnati, which contains more
urban voters that tend to vote Democrat.
The Voters First complaint outlines three allegedly false statements
made by the Republican mailer. The first claim is “Some of the members
will be chosen in secret.” As the complaint points out, this is false.
The redistricting amendment on the November ballot will require nine of
twelve members to be chosen in public, and then those nine members will
pick the three final members. All of this has to be done in the public
eye, according to the amendment: “All meetings of the Commission shall
be open to the public.”
The second disputed claim is that
the amendment will provide a “blank check to spend our money” for the
commission. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled against that claim on Sept. 12
when it ruled against Secretary of State Jon Husted’s proposed ballot
language for Issue 2: “The actual text of the proposed amendment does
not state that the redistricting amendment would have — as the ballot
board’s language indicates — a blank check for all funds as determined
by the commission.”
The mailer also claims that, in the redistricting
amendment, “There’s no process for removing these bureaucrats, even if
they commit a felony.” But the amendment says commissioners must be
electors, and when an elector is convicted of a felony, that status is
lost. The complaint says commissioners can also be removed “by a judge
under a petition process that applies to public officials generally for
exercising power not authorized by law, refusing or neglecting to
perform a duty imposed by law, gross neglect of duty, gross immorality,
drunkenness, misfeasance, nonfeasance, or malfeasance.”
The Ohio Elections Commission will take up the complaint Thursday morning. The full complaint can be read here.
Matthew Henderson, spokesperson for the Ohio Republican
Party, called the complaint a "distraction”: “It’s a cheap shot. It’s up
to the Ohio Elections Commission, and they’ll likely throw it out. It’s
essentially a distraction from the real issues. The bottom line is that
Issue 2 is going to create a panel of unelected, unaccountable
bureaucrats, and they’ll have influence over our elections.”
He added, “Ohio voters will be able to decide for themselves this fall whether they want to pay for these commissioners or not.”
When pressed about whether or not the Ohio Republican
Party is sticking to the claims found in the mailer, he said that’s up to the
Ohio Elections Commission to decide.
It is true the independent citizens commission created by
Voters First is unelected, but that’s the entire point. The current
problem with the system, as argued by Voters First, is elected officials
are too vested in reelection to place the district boundary needs of the
public above electoral needs. That’s why districts like Ohio’s First
Congressional District are redrawn in a way that includes Cincinnati and
Warren County — two regions that are vastly different.
CityBeat previously covered the redistricting issue
when Husted’s ballot language lost in court and when We Are Ohio threw
its support behind Voters First.While current Republicans oppose redistricting reform in Ohio, some Republicans of the past advocated for it. Ronald Reagan was one such advocate: