by German Lopez
Today is the last day to register to vote, and in-person
early voting is underway. Register to vote and vote at your nearest
board of election, which can be located here.Hamilton County commissioners agree on not raising the
sales tax. That effectively rules out two of three plans laid out by the
county administrator. The one plan left would not cut public safety, but it would make cuts to the courts, criminal justice system, administrative departments, commissioner departments and the board of elections.It seems other news outlets are now scrutinizing online
schools. A Reuters report pointed out state officials — including some
in Ohio — are not happy with results from e-schools. Even Barbara
Dreyer, CEO of the e-school company Connections Academy, told Reuters
she’s disappointed with performance at e-schools. A CityBeat look into e-schools in August found similarly disappointing results.
Ohio Democrats are asking federal and state officials for
an investigation into Murray Energy, the Ohio-based coal company that
has been accused of coercing employees into contributing to Republican
political campaigns. In the statement calling for action, Ohio
Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said, “Thanks to this report,
now we know why coal workers and miners have lent themselves to the
rallies, ads, and political contributions. They’ve been afraid.”
Councilman Chris Seelbach is following up on information
obtained during public safety meetings. The most consistent concerns
Seelbach heard were worries about loitering and young people breaking
The state auditor says the Ohio Department of Education
(ODE) could save $430,000 a year if it moved its student information
database in-house. Current law prohibits ODE from having access to the
data for privacy reasons, but State Auditor Dave Yost says it’s
unnecessary and “wastes time and money.”It seems Duke Energy is quickly integrating into its recent merger with Progress Energy. The company's information technology, nuclear and energy-supply departments are fully staffed and functional.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is renovating and restoring the Art Academy on the building’s west side.
It might not feel like it sometimes, but parking in Cincinnati is still pretty cheap.
Scientific research is increasingly pointing to lead as an explanation for people’s crazy grandparents. Research indicates even small programs cleaning up lead contamination can have massive economic and education returns.
Kings Island is selling off pieces of the Son of Beast.
The troubled roller coaster was torn down after years of being shut
The “Jeopardy!” Ohio Online Test is today. If you’re ever on the show, give a shout-out to CityBeat.
by Andy Brownfield
Letters allege Murray Energy coercing employees to donate to Republican candidates
The Ohio Democratic Party is asking both state and federal
prosecutors to look into allegations that a major coal company is
coercing its employees to donate to political causes against their will.
The ODP on Monday sent letters to U.S. Attorney for the
Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach and Acting Cuyahoga County
Prosecutor Timothy McGinty asking them to launch a criminal
investigation into Ohio-based Murray Energy Corporation.
The letters allege that Murray Energy “may have engaged in
a pattern of illegal activity, extorting millions in financial
contributions from employees and vendors for Republican candidates
running for public office.”
Murray Energy fired back in a Monday statement, saying the
allegations “are simply an attempt to silence Murray Energy and its
owners from supporting their coal mining employees and families by
speaking out against President Barack Obama’s well known and documented
War on Coal.”
The allegations stem from an Oct. 4 investigation by left-leaning magazine The New Republic.
The article is based on the accounts of two anonymous
former Murray managers and a review of letters and memos to Murray
employees. It suggests that employees are pressured into making
donations to Republican candidates and contributing to the company’s
Political Action Committee.
“There’s a lot of coercion,” one of the sources told the
magazine. “I just want to work, but you feel this constant pressure
that, if you don’t contribute, your job’s at stake.”
ODP Chairman Chris Redfern told reporters during a conference
call that party research found that Ohio political candidates —
including all current statewide officeholders — had received almost
$750,000 from Murray Energy, its subsidiaries and employees.
Neither Dettelbach or McGinty returned CityBeat calls for comment on any pending investigations.
Murray Energy in its statement called The New Republic
biased and radically liberal. The company’s characterization in the
article is incorrect and untruthful, according to the statement.
Murray had previously come under fire when Republican
presidential candidate Mitt Romney held a campaign event at one of its
mines. Some workers claim they were pulled out of the mine early when it
closed for the event and forced to attend without pay.
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.
by German Lopez
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.
by Andy Brownfield
CREDO Action petitioning Labor Department to investigate Murray Energy
The activist branch of a liberal telecommunications company
has filed a petition asking the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate
allegations that Murray Energy forced miners in Beallsville, Ohio to
attend a rally for Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.
CREDO Action Campaign Manager Josh Nelson told CityBeat that the group emailed the petition with 4,021 signatures to the Department of Labor Wednesday morning.
The petition reads: "Requiring employees to attend a Mitt
Romney political rally without pay is totally unacceptable. I urge you
to conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether Murray Energy
violated any federal laws on August 14th, and to hold it fully
accountable if it did."
Romney appeared at the event to attack what he called
President Barack Obama’s “war on coal.” He was flanked on stage by
hundreds of miners with soot-stained faces.
Dozens of those miners told WWVA-AM West Virginia talk
show host David Blomquist that they were pulled from the mine before
their shift was over and not paid for the full day of work. The miners,
who Blomquist did not identify, said they were told that attendance at
the rally was mandatory.
Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore told
Blomquist on his radio show that managers “communicated to our workforce
that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was
forced to attend.”
He said that people who did not show up to the event,
which organizers say drew 1,500 miners and family members, were not
penalized for their absence.
“Forcing Ohio workers to participate in a political rally
is unacceptable, so we're joining our friends at SEIU in calling on the
U.S. Department of Labor to conduct an investigation to determine
whether or not any federal laws were broken,” Nelson wrote in an email
to CREDO Action’s Ohio activists on Sept. 1.
A spokeswoman for the Labor Department was not immediately
able to confirm whether the department had received the petition or
planned to launch an investigation.
This post will be updated with comment from the Labor Department when it becomes available.