More bad news for Secretary of State Jon Husted. The Ohio Supreme Court told Husted his approved ballot language for Issue 2 contains “factual inaccuracies” and must be rewritten by the Ballot Board. Voters First previously contested the language as misleading to voters. If approved by voters, Issue 2 will put an independent citizens commission in charge of redistricting. Under the current system, state officials redraw borders, sometimes using the process for political advantage. In Cincinnati’s district, the Republican-controlled process redrew the district to include Warren County, giving the district more rural voters that tend to side with Republicans instead of urban voters that tend to side with Democrats. Voters First mocked the process with a graph showing how redistricting decisions can sometimes be made in 13 minutes with no questions asked. CityBeat covered the redistricting process here when Issue 2 was still in the petition process.
Ohio’s median income dropped last year, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. But rates of poverty and uninsured rates remained the same. Nationwide, uninsured rates dropped from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011, meaning 1.4 million people gained health coverage. Some of that is attributable to health-care reform passed by President Barack Obama.Former University of Cincinnati President Greg Williams is getting a pretty nice going-away present. The Board of Trustees approved a package for Williams that adds up to more than $1.2 million. It includes a bonus, retirement benefits, consulting fees, a year’s salary and a contract buyout. Williams abruptly left UC on Aug. 21, citing personal reasons.
Homeless shelters will cost more than expected, says 3CDC. The nonprofit group said it will cost about $40 million to build three homeless shelters and help finance others.
With the support of Democrats and Republicans, the Ohio legislature approved pension reforms yesterday. The reforms lower benefits, raise contributions requirements, increase the retirement eligibility age, establish new cost-of-living guidelines and set a new formula to calculate benefits, all for future retirees. For the most part, current retirees are not affected. Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican, said, “We know the changes are not popular, but they are necessary.” Before the changes, the system was losing $1 million a day, according to a statement from Rep. Robert Hagan, a Democrat.Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is pushing against banks that take advantage of college students. In a letter to Higher One, Brown told the bank to rework its contracts with universities. Brown wrote in the letter, “Federal student aid programs should help students prepare for the future, not extract fee income from them.” He went on to ask the bank to redo its contracts so they are “consumer-friendly and consistent with reforms that Congress enacted for the credit card market.”
Ohio’s inspector general found ODJFS wrongly reimbursed organizations in central Ohio with federal stimulus funds when the organizations did not follow rules.
Vice President Joe Biden was in Dayton yesterday. During his speech, he spoke about the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya, which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Biden vowed justice will be served.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney unleashed a big foreign policy gaffe yesterday when he politicized the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya. The attack was revealed to cause the death of Stevens after Romney made his comments.
Math shows homeopathy, a trend in medicine, is implausible.
DAYTON – Vice President Joe Biden took time at the beginning of his Wednesday campaign stop in Dayton to condemn an overnight attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, while praising the work and courage of American diplomats and promising to bring to justice those who carried out the attack.
“(This) brave — and it’s not hyperbole to say brave –— ambassador was in Benghazi while the war was going on. Our ambassador risked his life repeatedly while the war in Libya to get rid of that dictator was going on,” Biden said.
“These men are as brave and as courageous as any of our warriors.”
The Tuesday attack took place during a protest against an amateur short film made in the United States that protesters say insulted the Prophet Muhammad. U.S Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his staff members were killed.
“Let me be clear — we are resolved to bring to justice their killers,” Biden said.
The vice president made no mention of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s response from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which he characterized as “akin to an apology” and a “severe miscalculation,” but the vice president quickly segued into politics, alluding to Romney’s relative lack of experience in foreign policy.
“The task of a president is not only to defend our interests and causes and the cause of freedom abroad, it is also to build a nation here at home, to which the entire world can look and aspire to be like,” Biden said. “Whether we do that and how we do that, that is literally the essence of the choice we face in this presidential election. It really is that basic, and foreign policy is not some sideline to all of this.”
The Romney campaign in Ohio was quick to respond, calling Biden’s remarks “hypocritical” in an emailed statement.
“Vice President Biden’s appearance in Dayton only served further damage to his credibility as he reprised hypocritical and widely debunked attacks against Mitt Romney. Not only did the Vice President mislead Ohioans, but he attacked Mitt Romney for supporting the same tax policy the Obama Administration supported just last year,” Romney Ohio spokesman Christopher Maloney wrote.
“With today’s Census report showing nearly 1 in 6 Americans living in poverty and incomes continuing to decline, it appears that misleading attacks are all the Obama campaign has left to offer 400,000 Ohioans looking for work.”
Maloney’s email also fact-checked a claim made by Biden during his speech. Biden said that he opposed the so-called “territorial tax,” which he said would allow American companies that invested abroad to avoid paying taxes in the United States.
The email included links to an Associated Press fact checking article that concludes that Romney’s proposal was aimed at encouraging investment in the U.S. rather than overseas.
Biden spoke to a packed house at Wright State University in Dayton, with overflow crowds estimated in the hundreds viewing in separate rooms in the Student Union.
The vice president reiterated many of his usual stump speech points — the Romney tax plan’s negative effects on the middle class, the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration’s commitment to manufacturing — but much of Biden’s speech focused on education. He said a president Romney would cut funding for Pell Grants, meaning many students in the audience would have to leave school. He also lauded President Barack Obama’s administration’s enactment of a tax break of $2,500 for every family that sends a child to college.
The usually bombastic Biden wasn’t without his gaffes. Twice he referred to Wright State as “Wayne State,” which is in Detroit, despite a large Wright State University banner displayed in the conference room where he gave his speech.
The crowd was quick to correct him after the second time he misspoke.
“Wright State, which also includes Wayne State,” Biden said after he was corrected, eliciting laughs from the audience.
Ohio’s inspector general released a report today criticizing the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) for improperly reimbursing federal stimulus funds to hired organizations that did not follow rules.
In a statement, Inspector General Randall Meyer’s office said ODJFS “failed to adequately oversee federal grant funds applied to the Constructing Futures jobs training initiative for Central Ohio.”
The report released by Meyer’s office today, which focused on stimulus programs in central Ohio, outlined a few instances of ODJFS failing to oversee proper standards. In total, the department, which was put in charge of carrying out job training funds in Ohio from the stimulus package President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009, wrongly reimbursed companies it hired for $51,700.81.
In central Ohio, ODJFS hired two organizations to carry out the job training program, or Workforce Investment Act: Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) and Construction Trades Networks (CTN). At ABC, the inspector general found limited problems with faulty reimbursements involving a newspaper subscription, travel and mileage totaling less than $100. The money was not accounted for as a questionable cost since it was so small.
However, at CTN, the faulty reimbursements piled up. The organization was reimbursed $560.61 for phone calls made prior to being hired as part of the federal grant. It was also reimbursed $1,613.62 for its invoices, even though documentation was not provided to link phone calls as necessary to the grant program.
Under the federal stimulus rules, CTN was required to provide 25 percent of its own funds for the program. CTN planned on using $91,800 of in-kind funds — payment that isn’t cash — by paying for trainee wages. The organization paid $60,927.70 by the end of the grant period, and the organization was reimbursed for $49,526.64 by ODJFS, even though the charges were supposed to be carried by CTN. The inspector general requested CTN give the money back to ODJFS.
When the inspector general contacted the organization to explain the findings, CTN attributed the requests for faulty reimbursements to confusion caused by multiple administrative changes at ODJFS.
“In addition, monitoring visits by ODJFS were not conducted until after the grant period expired, even though the partnerships were told the visits would occur as grant activities were underway,” the report said.
Meyer’s office concluded ODJFS should review the questioned costs, work to keep consistent guidelines through administrative changes and monitor grant funds during the grant period.
The full inspector general report can be found here.
A report was released for northwestern Ohio was released on May 10, and it also found wrongdoing. It can be found here. A report for stimulus programs in southwestern Ohio will be released later.ODJFS could not be immediately provide comment on the report. This story will be updated if comments become available.
UPDATE (3:28 P.M.): Benjamin Johnson, spokesperson for ODJFS, provided a comment shortly after this story was published.
“As the report mentions, these were expenditures by local entities, not by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services,” he says. “We appreciate the inspector general bringing this to our attention, and we'll work to resolve the matter.”
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.
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.
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.
Vice President Joe Biden was in town over the weekend. During the stop, he outlined “fundamental differences” between President Barack Obama’s campaign and Mitt Romney’s campaign. Specifically, he criticized the Romney-Ryan plan of turning Medicare into a voucher system. The visit also unveiled a new fake, pointless controversy in the media when a female biker almost sat on Biden’s lap.
Secretary of State Jon Husted backed down on telling county boards of elections to not begin implementing in-person early voting for the weekend and Monday before Election Day. On Aug. 31, a federal judge ruled Husted must enact in-person early voting for the extra days. Following the case, Husted sent out Directive 2012-40 ordering county boards of elections to not enact in-person early voting rules until the court case granting extra hours was appealed and re-ruled on. The judge responded to the directive by asking Husted to explain himself in court. But Husted backed down by sending out Directive 2012-42, which rescinds Directive 2012-40. Republicans have consistently attempted to block more voting hours in the past few months, citing racial politics and costs.
A CityBeat analysis found cuts in the public sector are partly to blame for the unemployment rate.The identity of the man behind a super PAC supporting senatorial candidate Josh Mandel, lying extraordinaire, has been revealed. The group is Government Integrity Fund, and it is headed by Columbus lobbyist Tom Norris. The group also employs former Mandel aide Joe Ritter.
Criminals might face stiffer penalties for gun-related violations due to a new Butler County policy. Critics say the policy will cost the taxpayer more money.The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreclosure sale notices cannot be distributed via websites. The court said institutions have to notify customers more directly.
The Enquirer shined some light into its paywall model in an editorial by CEO Margaret Buchanan yesterday. In the editorial, Buchanan acknowledges the newspaper’s duty to “watchdog journalism” to keep organizations and people in check.Cincinnati web designers were quite busy in 2011.
The Ohio Board of Education is meeting today and tomorrow. The agenda seems pretty packed, but it’s possible the board could release more details about the search for state superintendent at the meeting. The board will consider how to transition into the third grade reading guarantee recently passed into law by the Ohio legislature and Gov. John Kasich.
An ammonia leak caused an evacuation at a food processing plant yesterday.
A pizza owner in Florida really loves Obama. Florida is considered a major swing state in the presidential election. However, the race may not be as close as the media’s fairness machine seeks to make it seem. Recent aggregate polling at FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics is moving heavily in Obama’s direction in swing states and the national level. That could be attributed to volatility caused by political conventions, but the trend favoring Obama has been consistent for some time now.
The Romney campaign flip-flopped on Obamacare only to flip-flop back in a matter of hours. The campaign has been repeatedly criticized for lacking substance — much to the apathy of both Romney and Ryan — and this does not help.
Popular Science scientifically analyzed why former President Bill Clinton is so good at giving speeches.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics today released a disappointing job report. Unemployment fell to 8.1 percent in August, and 96,000 jobs were added nationwide. But economists were expecting about 150,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell largely due to people giving up on the job hunt, which means they are no longer counted in the labor pool.
One of the reasons for disappointment is the drop in public jobs. People are quick to look at the private sector when these kind of numbers come up, but the public sector employs people, too. And the public sector lost 10,000 jobs at state and local levels, according to today’s jobs report.
That follows the trend of the past few years. The public sector has been doing poorly since the Great Recession started, according to this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
The chart shows state and local payrolls since the beginning of the recession. It proves quite clearly that governments have been making cuts to public jobs.
Ohio has not avoided government job cuts. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported July’s unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, which was unchanged from June’s unemployment rate. The biggest loss in jobs for the month came from government, which lost 5,300 jobs statewide. In comparison to July 2011, July 2012 had 4,400 fewer government jobs.
Instinctively, it makes some sense. As the recession kicks in and families and businesses are forced to budget for lower expectations, it might seem natural to expect the government to do the same.
However, many economists argue it should be the opposite. They say the government should be used to balance out the private sector. In other words, when the private sector is performing poorly — recession — the government should step in to make up for the drop. When the private sector is performing well — boom — the government can relax and run budget surpluses.
Paul Krugman, a Nobel-winning economist, has advocated for this approach time and time again. In his New York Times column and blog, Krugman has pushed for more stimulus efforts from the federal government, and he called for a much larger stimulus package than the $787 billion package President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009.
The data seems to support economists calling for more action. Last month, the Brookings Institute conducted a study that found June’s national unemployment rate would be at 7.1 percent if governments hadn’t made cuts.
What this means is if governments truly want to fix the economic crisis, they might want to kick the debt can down the road. But considering many cities and states have constitutional amendments requiring balanced budgets, that might be hard to pull off.
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.
Scientists made a monkey control a robot hand with his mind.
A federal judge is ordering Secretary of State Jon Husted to appear in court to explain why Husted is ignoring a recent ruling. The judge ruled Friday that Husted must enact in-person early voting for all voters on the weekend and Monday before Election Day. Husted told county boards of elections to ignore the ruling until after an appeal process. Republicans have consistently blocked the expansion of early voting, citing racial politics and costs.After a merger with Progress Energy, Duke Energy will rebrand itself. The details are sparse, but CEO Jim Rogers promised in a letter last week that the company will be going some big changes. Even a name change was hinted at in the letter, which promised the commission “a rollout of the new logo and name-change occurring at the end of the first quarter of 2013 and beginning of the second quarter.”
An activist group is demanding the U.S. Department of Labor investigate allegations that Murray Energy forced its miners in Bealsville, Ohio to attend a campaign rally for presidential candidate Mitt Romney. CREDO Action, the group filing the petition, wants the Department of Labor to see if any laws were broken in the process. Murray Energy’s CEO says workers were told the campaign rally “was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” But that explanation makes no sense.
Cincinnati hospitals and medical centers saw higher expenses and revenues in the past few fiscal years. Urban hospitals and centers in particular were more likely to see higher costs and income, while rural hospitals and centers sometimes saw decreases.Voters First is mocking the redistricting system with a new graph. The graph shows a real email exchange between politicians carving out districts for personal gain. The exchange only lasts 13 minutes and has no questions asked before Republican redistricting officials agree to redraw a district to benefit Rep. Jim Renacci, a Republican. Voters First also held a 13-minute press conference to mock the exchange further and explain the redistricting process.
I-75 will be undergoing a massive widening project starting in 2021. The project is estimated to cost $467 million.Three downtown buildings have been sold to 3CDC for $10. The company currently has no plans for the buildings.
Ohio is hosting an international venture capital conference. The National Association of Seed and Venture Funds conference is in Cleveland between Oct. 15 and 17. The nonprofit organization has 200 members, and 22 of them are in Ohio. Venture capital has come under fire during the current campaign season due to Romney’s campaign and Romney’s work as CEO of Bain Capital.The Miami University frat that was suspended is dropping its $10 million lawsuit. The frat was suspended after a fireworks battle led to police finding illegal substances inside the frat.
Ohio farmers from all counties are now seeking disaster aid after severe storms and drought hurt crops this summer.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland got “God” and “Jerusalem” put back in the Democratic Party’s official platform. There was some booing after the pandering addition was made.Former President Bill Clinton made a speech defending President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. In the speech, Clinton points out that Republicans were in power when the recession began, and Obama inherited a horrible situation from them. But Clinton passed the largest deregulatory law in history when in 1999 he repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, and the severe lack of regulation is often blamed for the financial crisis that helped spur the Great Recession.
A scientist is linking global warming to the amount of exploding stars in the sky.
A federal judge ruled that in-person early voting in Ohio must be extended to include the weekend and Monday before Election Day for all voters. The ruling is a result of President Barack Obama’s campaign team and the Democrats filing a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted to extend early voting. Attorney General Mike DeWine has vowed to appeal the ruling. Republicans have consistently blocked all attempts to expand early voting in Ohio, citing costs and racial politics.
Cincinnati manufacturing is on a big rebound, according to a new survey. The Cincinnati Purchasing Management Index, which is used to measure manufacturing in the area, showed some decline in July, but it is now bouncing back. The news could indicate a wider economic recovery.Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in town Saturday. During his speech, Romney pointed fingers to “cheaters” like China, which Romney believes is unfairly manipulating its currency. (China has not been manipulating its currency for some time now.) Romney also rolled out his plan to restore America’s economy by emphasizing small businesses and cutting government spending. But the Brookings Institute says the unemployment rate would be at 7.1 percent if it wasn’t for government cuts passed by state and federal governments in the past few years. Romney also wants to cut back on the Environmental Protection Agency, which he says is hurting local jobs with too many regulations.
Some Democrats are calling for Husted to resign. Dennis
Lieberman and Tom Ritchie, both who were fired for attempting to expand
in-person early voting to include weekends despite Husted’s uniform
rules demanding no weekend hours, said in a press release Husted should resign for missing a
critical deadline. The deadline was to establish the ballot language and
argument against Issue 2, a ballot initiative supported by Ohio Voters
First that would place redistricting in the hands of an independent
citizens committee. If Issue 2 is not passed, politicians will continue
drawing district boundaries, which typically leads to a process known as
“gerrymandering” that politicians use to redraw districts in
politically beneficial ways. In Cincinnati, gerrymandering has been used
to de-emphasize the urban vote — or African-American vote, according to
Doug Preisse, adviser to Gov. John Kasich — by redrawing district
boundaries to include Warren County. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting issue here.
The Obama campaign will open its offices in Cincinnati tomorrow. The Obama team promises to use the offices for a large ground game.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland might run again to knock Gov. John Kasich out of the spot. Strickland is expected to speak at the Democratic National Convention today.Rep. John Boehner of Ohio seems to have his geography confused. At a speech, he said he wants senatorial candidate Josh Mandel of Ohio to win to "run Harry Reid back to Nevada.” Reid is a U.S. senator for Nevada.
U.S. home prices rose in July by the most in six years. The news could indicate a recovery in the housing market. The housing crash is generally attributed as the primary cause of the Great Recession.The Democratic National Convention is heading into day two today. The convention is touting the new Democratic platform, which now includes support for same-sex marriage. At the Ohio delegation in the convention, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is often cited as a potential presidential candidate for the 2016 election, criticized Kasich.
A cure for baldness could be in stores as soon as five years from now.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is coming to Cincinnati tomorrow. He will be speaking at Union Terminal at 10 a.m., with doors opening for the event at 8 a.m. Romney is expected to need Ohio to win the presidential election, but he is currently behind Obama in aggregate polling by 1.4 points. Romney gave his speech at the Republican National Convention last night with a focus on jobs and the economy. The speech has been generally well-received by political pundits. However, there has been some news recently that when he was in Bain Capital, Romney looted a dying company for executive bonuses when the company owed the government millions of dollars. The story puts a damper on Romney’s “We Built That” mantra, which claims entrepreneurs create businesses without any government assistance.Ohio’s texting-while-driving ban goes into effect today.
Strategies to End Homelessness is losing federal funding, but it will still continue efforts to combat homelessness in Cincinnati. The organization coordinates efforts between anti-homelessness groups in the area to prevent homelessness and assist people who have already fallen into homelessness.California-based iHerb could bring 600 jobs to Northern Kentucky in the near future. The company, which has been in business for 16 years, is a seller for food supplements.
In 2010, the University of Cincinnati spent $11.1 million on its football program, but it came out with about $13.3 million in revenue. In comparison, Ohio State spent $34.3 million, but it took in $61 million.A $10.4 million affordable housing program broke ground in Florence, Ky.
The Ohio House is getting ready to pass public pension reform. The reform will raise premiums, lower benefits and make eligibility more difficult. Republicans say the plan will keep pension funds solvent at a time when budgets are tight.Republican Speakers at the Republican National Convention have avoided two words: Tea Party.
Gina Rinehart, the world’s richest woman, says people are only poor because they’re lazy drunks. She says people should stop being lazy and work to become millionaires, although Rinehart inherited her wealth.Clint Eastwood talked to an empty chair during his speech at the Republican National Convention last night.