by German Lopez
50 days ago
Council seeks budget options, city funds come with rules, parking petitions due today
City Council will hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. today
to discuss alternatives to laying off cops and firefighters to balance
the budget, which CityBeat covered in detail here.
Council members Chris Seelbach and P.G. Sittenfeld are pushing to use
casino revenue and cuts elsewhere in the budget to avoid cutting public
safety services. A spokesperson for Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, a
Democrat running for mayor, told CityBeat that Qualls will also
consider every option available. John Cranley, another Democratic
candidate for mayor, has long called the threat of layoffs “the boy
City Council unanimously passed a motion
yesterday that will require all parades receiving financial support
from the city to adhere to the city’s anti-discrimination policies. Council members cautioned that the measure won’t
require event hosts to invite fringe groups, but it will ensure
LGBT individuals, people of color and women are allowed to participate
in future events. The measure was inspired by a recent controversy surrounding
the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which barred an LGBT group from participating.
An appeals court will hear arguments
over the Cincinnati parking plan and the city’s use of emergency
clauses on May 6, even though the city had asked for a final decision by
May 1. Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler’s original ruling decided
emergency clauses do not remove the possibility of a referendum.
Emergency clauses are regularly used by City Council to remove a 30-day
waiting period on passed legislation, but the city says that power is
weakened by Winkler’s ruling since the city will now have to wait for
referendum efforts to safely begin implementation.
Meanwhile, referendum organizers against the parking plan are expected to drop off petitions at City Hall later today. Organizers previously
said they have more than 10,000 unverified signatures, but they’ll need 8,522
verified signatures to get the issue on the ballot. The parking plan, which CityBeat explained in further detail here,
would lease Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port of Greater
Development Authority to raise funds that would be used to help balance
the deficit for the next two fiscal years and launch development
projects, including a downtown grocery store.
This week’s CityBeat commentary: “Poor Messaging Holds Back Parking Plan.”
JobsOhio agreed to let State Auditor Dave Yost check their books — private funds and all — last month, but Yost says he’s still in talks
with the agency about future audits. JobsOhio is a publicly funded,
nonprofit corporation established by Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio
legislature to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development.
Kasich’s advice for opponents of the Medicaid expansion: “Kick them in the shins.”
As part of a broader budget proposal, the governor is seeking to take
advantage of Obamacare to expand Medicaid with financial support from
the federal government, but some Republican legislators fear the money
won’t be there in a few years. Independent analysts say the Medicaid
expansion will save Ohio money, which CityBeat covered alongside Kasich’s budget in further detail here.
The cost of Reds games has gone down since last season, according to one study.
Ohio’s improving economy is leading to less problem loans in the statewide mortgage market.
Headline: “Nobody Wants a Facebook Phone.”
A new laser zaps away cocaine addiction from rats.
by German Lopez
56 days ago
City officials warn of budget cuts, budget woes pinned on Kasich, fracking causes earthquake
Yesterday, Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler gave a ruling that effectively opened the parking plan to referendum, but city officials said the decision poses major fiscal and legal challenges to the city.
Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said the lack of
a parking plan will force the city to lay off 344 employees,
including 80 firefighter and 189 police positions, to balance fiscal
year 2014’s budget in time for July 1, and City Solicitor John Curp said
the ruling, which concludes emergency clauses do not eliminate the
possibility of a referendum, greatly hinder the city’s ability to
expedite the implementation of laws. The parking plan, which was
previously approved by City Council, would lease the city’s parking assets to the
Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to help balance the
budget for the next two years and fund economic development projects,
but the court ruling means the plan must be put on hold at least until a
referendum effort is complete.
Ohio Democrats say Gov. John Kasich’s local government funding cuts are to blame for Cincinnati’s budget woes. In a statement, Chris Redfern,
chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said, “Make no mistake, the only
reason Cincinnati has been forced to debate firing hundreds of police
and firefighters is because Gov. Kasich cut tens of millions of dollars
to the city in his last state budget. As communities like Cincinnati
struggle to deal with the last round of cuts, Kasich’s at it again,
proposing to steal another $200 million from local communities to help
pay for tax giveaways to the rich. If Kasich gets his way and passes his
proposed handout to his friends, more communities across the state will
see layoffs, skyrocketing local tax levies, and deep cuts to schools.”
Kasich’s local government funding cuts have caused Cincinnati to lose
$40.7 million in state funding over two years, according to Policy Matters Ohio. CityBeat covered Kasich’s local government funding cuts here and his budget proposal here.
A study found a wastewater injection well used for fracking caused Oklahoma’s largest-ever earthquake.
The findings echo fears from Youngstown residents, who experienced an
earthquake early in 2012 that was pinned on nearby wastewater injection
wells, which are used to dispose of waste produced during the fracking process. CityBeat
covered fracking, the relatively new drilling technique that injects water
underground to open up oil and gas reserves, in further detail here.
In private budget news, a survey by Card Hub found Cincinnati residents have some of the nation’s worst budgeting habits.
In the 30-city survey, Cincinnati ranked No. 28 for budgeting habits,
ahead of only Tampa, Fla., and Orlando, Fla. Boston was ranked No. 1 in
The Port Authority is carrying out a demolition in Jordan Crossing that will pave the way
for $75 million in redevelopment. Mayor Mark Mallory described his
experience with the development, “This has been a source of frustration,
but also a source of hope. … This area is prime for job creation and
State legislators are once again trying to get student members of schools’ board of trustees the ability to vote
— a move that would empower students in public universities. The bill
was introduced last year, but it died a slow death after facing
opposition from administrators at Ohio University and Bowling Green
State University. Gov. John Kasich and Ohio State officials reportedly
support the idea.
A Sunday school teacher at a local church near Dayton was fired after declaring her support for same-sex marriage.
Cincinnati Financial Corp. and Meridian Bioscience Inc. were named among the country’s most trustworthy firms.
Headline: Man accused of using fake penis for drug test.
New national science education guidelines say climate change should be in classrooms.
Caffeine-addicted bacteria die if they get decaf. Scientists say they want to use the bacteria to clean caffeine-polluted waterways.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler
announced March 20 that he will extend the restraining order on the
city’s parking plan until April 3, potentially delaying any ruling on
the city’s plan to lease its parking assets to the Port of Greater
Cincinnati Development Authority for another two weeks.
by German Lopez
65 days ago
Posted In: Parking
at 02:01 PM | Permalink
City says it's reaching "pressure point" for budget cuts
Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler announced today that he will be extending the restraining order on the city's parking plan until April 3, potentially delaying any ruling on the city's plan to lease its parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority for another two weeks.Winkler's office told CityBeat
that the judge has been focusing on a murder case, and the delay will
give him more time to review the details of the parking plan's case
before giving a ruling. The delay does not necessarily mean a ruling is
delayed until April 3, and it's possible Winkler could rule within the
next two weeks, according to his office.Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, says the city is approaching a "pressure point" with the latest delay."We respect the court's right to do that (the extension), and know that every day that we cannot make the parking deal happen is a day that we are closer to having to lay people off," she says.Olberding says the city is so far unsure what the exact effect of the delay will be. The city has repeatedly warned that extending the legal conflict for too long will force the city to make cuts to balance the budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1.City Council passed the parking plan in a 5-4 vote on March 6, but the plan was almost immediately held up by a temporary restraining order from Winkler after he received a lawsuit from Curt
Hartman, an attorney who represents the Coalition Opposed to Additional
Spending and Taxes (COAST), on behalf of local activists who oppose the
plan and argue it should be subject to referendum.The legal dispute is centered around City Council's use of emergency clauses, which remove a 30-day waiting period on approved legislation, and the city claims they also remove the possibility of referendum.In a hearing presided by Winkler on March 15, Hartman argued
the city charter's definition of emergency clauses is ambiguous, and
legal precedent supports siding with voters' right to referendum when
there is ambiguity.
Terry Nestor, who represented the city, said legal
precedent requires the city to defer to state law as long as state law
is not contradicted in the city charter.Cincinnati's city charter does not specify whether
emergency legislation is subject to referendum, but state law explicitly
says it's not.Opponents of the parking plan say they’re concerned the
plan will give up too much control over the city's parking meters, which
they say could lead to skyrocketing parking rates.
The city says rates are set at 3 percent or inflation, but the rates can
change with a unanimous vote from a special committee, approval
from the city manager and a final nod from the Port Authority. The
special committee would comprise of four people appointed by the Port Authority
and one appointed by the city manager.
The city is pursuing the parking plan to help balance the
city's deficit for the next two fiscal years and enable economic
development projects, including the construction of a downtown grocery store ("Parking Stimulus," issue of Feb. 27).
by German Lopez
64 days ago
Officials seek local funding, parking plan delayed again, poor schools may get more funding
During Gov. John Kasich’s term as governor, local
government funding has fallen by nearly half — from nearly $3 billion to
about $1.6 billion — and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is leading an effort to get that funding back.
With the support of Democratic officials from around the state,
Sittenfeld is launching a website called ProtectMyOhio.com, which is
gathering petition signatures that will eventually be sent to Kasich and
members of the Ohio General Assembly.
Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler extended the temporary restraining order
on the city’s parking plan yesterday, potentially delaying any ruling
on the city's plan to lease its parking assets to the Port of Greater
Cincinnati Development Authority for another two weeks. In response, the city said
it’s approaching a “pressure point” for budget cuts for fiscal year
2014, which must be executed by July 1.
Ohio House Republicans are looking to bolster education funding to poor districts in response to criticisms of Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget proposal. A previous CityBeat analysis found Kasich’s budget proposal disproportionately benefits the wealthy in a few ways, including education funding.
City Council did not vote on funding
for a feasibility study for Westwood Square Wednesday, but the vote
could happen as early as next week. The delay came after the Westwood
Civic Association said in a letter that the plan needs more discussion.
The controversial election bill moved through
the Ohio House yesterday despite calls for more time for debate. The
bill, which will now head to Kasich to be signed into law, limits the
referendum process by giving referendum and ballot initiative
petitioners 10 days to get more signatures if the initial batch is found
to be inadequate. Under current law, petitioners can continually search
for more signatures while the secretary of state and ballot board sort
through signatures. Republicans argue the change makes the petition
process fair and uniform, but Democrats say it goes too far in weakening ballot initiative
and referendum powers.
The state’s $7.6 billion transportation budget, which
includes plan to fund transportation projects around the state with Ohio
Turnpike funds, breezed through the Ohio Senate Wednesday. It will reach the House for a scheduled vote today.
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced new efforts to help sexual assault victims around Ohio by ensuring each county has
adequate services. The efforts are in response to a survey that found
59 percent of counties don’t have comprehensive services and eight
counties have very few or no services. “It is our goal to ensure that a
quick and compassionate emergency response is available to any victim of
sexual assault at any time of the day, any day of the week and in any
area of the state,” DeWine said in a statement.
The federal government released data that shows
serious safety violations in hospitals that occurred since Jan. 1, 2011,
and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Christ Hospital are
both on the list.
Hamilton County ranked No. 65 out of Ohio’s 88 counties
for health in a new survey from Patrick Remington at the University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine. The study found suburban counties fare much better
than urban counties, and premature death is at a 20-year low.
Accusations of inappropriate teacher behavior in Ohio are on the rise.
Voyager 1 is or may soon become the first object humanity has ever sent out of the sun’s reach.
by German Lopez
67 days ago
Parade blocks LGBT group, parking plan awaits ruling, Boehner still against gay marriage
Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade drew a lot of criticism
Friday for excluding the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, a
group within K-12 schools that works to prevent bullying by striving for
equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and
expression. Councilman Chris Seelbach led the criticisms and a boycott
on the parade — an effort that gained national attention.
Chris Schulte, who was on the board that organized the parade,
apparently told Seelbach that the board did not want to be affiliated
with gays and lesbians due to the parade’s Catholic roots, but Schulte
said in a follow-up press release that the parade does not allow any
political or social movement, no matter the cause.
Cincinnati’s plan to lease its parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority remains in legal limbo,
even after a court hearing on Friday. Judge Robert Winkler, who
presided over the hearings, did not hand down a ruling after hearing
extensive legal arguments from the city and opponents of the parking
plan. Opponents argued the city charter’s definition of emergency
clauses is ambiguous, and legal precedent supports siding with voters’
right to referendum when there is ambiguity. The city said legal
precedent requires the city to defer to state law as long as state law
is not contradicted in the city charter. Cincinnati’s city charter does
not specify whether emergency legislation is subject to referendum, but
state law explicitly says emergency laws are not subject to referendum.
Despite the reversal of his friend and Republican colleague Sen. Rob Portman, House Speaker John Boehner says he doesn’t see himself ever supporting same-sex marriage. Portman gained national recognition Friday for reversing his position two years after finding out his son is gay.
Mayor Mark Mallory will announce details about the City’s
Summer Youth Jobs Program tomorrow, and he’s also seeking as many
employers as possible to participate in his eighth Annual Youth Job Fair.
Employers can sign up for free booths at www.mayormallory.com.
Due to a policy that encourages doctors to work overtime, psychiatrists are among the state’s top paid employees.
State officials say the policy saves money because overtime rates are
lower than psychiatrists’ normal hourly wages. On average, the doctors
end up working 80 hours a week, but state officials say there are
precautions in place to ensure the highest levels of care.
The Steubenville rape case came to a close over the weekend, with two teenagers being found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl.
While most people were appalled by the teenagers’ audacity on Twitter
and other social media regarding the rape, CNN decided to report the
story with sympathy for the convicted rapists:
A University of Cincinnati study found a cholesterol drug could prevent colorectal cancer recurrence.
Sometimes science can do gross things, like resurrecting a frog that gives birth from its mouth.
Popular Science has been covering 3-D printer plans for houses, and the latest one actually looks like a house.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Sometimes the system works. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Winkler rejected a request filed by Cincinnati Tea Party leader Mike Wilson, who barely lost to State Rep. Connie Pillich, to question the validity of 589 provisional ballots from Lincoln Heights, Forest Park and Woodlawn — all in predominantly black neighborhoods.