by German Lopez
14 days ago
City manager proposes budget plan, budget hearings set, redistricting reform in 2014
The city manager unveiled his budget plan
to solve the city’s $35 million operating budget deficit yesterday. The plan includes less layoffs than expected — particularly to cops and
firefighters — but it proposes an increase to
property taxes. The plan also includes a series of other cuts, including
to all arts funding and subsidies that go to parades, and new fees. The
release for the budget plan says many of the cuts could have been
avoided if the city obtained revenue from the proposed parking plan, which is currently being held up by a referendum effort and court challenges.
The operating budget is separate from the streetcar budget, which uses
capital funds that can’t be used to balance the operating budget because
of limits established in state law.
The budget plan still has to be approved by Mayor Mark
Mallory and City Council to become law, and City Council will hear the
public’s opinion before a vote at three public hearings: May 16 at the
Duke Convention Center, May 20 at College Hill Recreation Center and May
22 at Madisonville Recreation Center. All the hearings will begin at
Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder says he hopes the Constitutional Modernization Commission will produce a ballot initiative for redistricting reform in 2014. Politicized redistricting — also known as “gerrymandering” —
has been traditionally used by politicians in power to redraw
congressional district borders in a way that favors the political party
in charge, but reform could change that. Gerrymandering was used
by national and state Republicans to blunt losses in the 2012 election,
as CityBeat detailed here.
As Ohio struggles to expand Medicaid, our more conservative neighbor to the south is moving forward. CityBeat
covered the Medicaid expansion in Ohio, which the Health Policy
Institute of Ohio says would insure nearly half a million people and
save millions of dollars by 2022, here.
While some Democrats want to attach party labels to Ohio Supreme Court elections, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wants to do away with party primaries for judicial elections.
Former University of Cincinnati President Joseph Steger, the second longest-serving president at UC, died at 76 yesterday.
New York City could soon become the first major city to let non-citizens vote in local elections.
The legislation would allow non-citizens to vote if they are lawfully
present in the United States, have lived in New York City for six months
or more on the date of a given election and meet other requirements
necessary to vote in New York state.
When one simple question makes a huge difference: “When Did You Choose to Be Straight?”
Blood may be the key to seeing how long brain tumor patients have to live and whether their treatment is working.
A new study found oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill sickened fish for at least a year.
Here is a compilation of adorable animals trying to stay awake.
by German Lopez
126 days ago
State unemployment drops, GOP embraces redistricting, Cincinnati climate-friendly
Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.8 percent in November, according to new numbers
from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In comparison, the
U.S. unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent in December. The amount of
unemployed dropped from 391,000 to 388,000. Unfortunately, the amount of
employed also dropped, indicating that some people are leaving the
The Republican State Leadership Committee admitted the only reason Republicans kept a House majority was politicized redistricting.
The admission from a memo titled “How a Strategy of Targeting State
Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in
2013.” The report even singled out Ohio as a state that benefited
Republicans due to redistricting. CityBeat previously covered the issue in-depth here.
Cincinnati is among three finalists in the World Wildlife
Fund’s (WWF) Earth Hour City Challenge. The contest judges efforts to
combat global warming. Cincinnati, Chicago and San Francisco were chosen
by WWF and global management consultancy Accenture for
preparing their cities for a “climate-friendly future,” according to a
statement from WWF.
At this point, it’s looking like Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposals will take months for legislators to sort through. The proposals include major changes to taxes, the Ohio Turnpike, education and Medicaid.
Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky signed a landmark water agreement to leverage Greater Cincinnati’s water technologies. The agreement seeks to spur legislation, according to the Business Courier.
The Cincinnati Zoo may need a levy to stay afloat.
Ohio hospitals spent $3.1 billion in free health care in 2010, up from $2.9 billion in 2009, according to an Ohio Hospital Association report.
On the bright side, overall crime is down in Cincinnati.
Bad news, everyone. Chipotle is likely to raise prices this year.
To avoid Obamacare’s health care requirements for businesses, some businesses may begin cutting jobs.
Some in the scientific community want to establish national parks on Mars.
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: