by German Lopez
25 days ago
Budget pushes conservative policy, moms demand action on guns, mayor shrinking budget
For this week’s cover story, CityBeat analyzed the Ohio House budget bill that would defund
Planned Parenthood, fund anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and forgo the
Medicaid expansion in favor of broader reforms. The bill passed the Republican-controlled Ohio House last week, but it still needs to be approved by the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate and Republican Gov. John Kasich. Ohio Senate President Keith
Faber announced yesterday that the Ohio Senate will not move forward
with the Medicaid expansion — a sign the Ohio Senate is agreeing with the Ohio House on that issue.
Facing the recent wave of deadly gun attacks around the nation, some moms have banded together to demand action. Moms Demand Action is using its political clout to push gun control legislation at a federal level, but it’s also promoting grassroots campaigns in cities and states around the nation.
Contrary to The Cincinnati Enquirer’s “exclusive” story, the mayor’s office is actually shrinking its budget
by $33,000 between July 1 and Dec. 1 despite plans to give some
employees raises. The mayor’s office says the raises are necessary
because the employees will be taken a bigger workload to make up for
reduced staff levels, but the budgetary moves will save money overall.
Originally, The Enquirer reported the raises without noting the savings in the
rest of the budget plan, inspiring a wave of angry emails from readers
to the mayor’s office through The Enquirer’s “tell them what you think” tool.
This week’s commentary: “Streetcar’s No. 1 Problem: Obstructionism.”
At the NAACP meeting today, members will ask independent Councilman Chris Smitherman to step down from his leadership position. The disgruntled members told The Enquirer
that Smitherman, who is an opponent of the streetcar and often partners
up with the conservative Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and
Taxes (COAST), is using the NAACP for his “personal and political
agenda,” not civil rights. Smitherman told The Enquirer to focus
on the legitimate work of the NAACP instead of a potential coup that he
says isn’t newsworthy. Smitherman will not allow media into today’s
City Council unanimously passed a resolution
yesterday to oppose anti-union laws that are misleadingly called “right
to work” laws. The laws earned their name after a decades-long spin campaign from big businesses that oppose unions, but the laws’ real purpose is weakening unions
by banning collective bargaining agreements that require workers to join
unions and pay dues. The City Council resolution has no legal weight;
it simply tells higher levels of government to not pass the anti-union law.
Metro’s budget would need to increase by two-thirds
to implements the bus and public transportation agency’s long-range plan, which would add rapid
transit lines, other routes and sheltered transit centers with more
Two Cincinnati economic entities are getting federal funds:
The Cincinnati Development Fund will get $35 million to invest in
brownfield redevelopment, nutritional access and educational
improvements, and Kroger Community Development Entity will get $20
million to increase low-income access to fresh and nutritional foods and
fund redevelopment projects.
As expected, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald officially announced yesterday that he will run for governor against Kasich in 2014.
Kasich appointed former State Rep. John Carey to head the Ohio Board of Regents,
which manages the state’s public university system. Carey says his
biggest goal will be to better align higher education opportunities with
jobs that are available in Ohio.
Sen. Sherrod Brown is unveiling a bill that would effectively break up the big banks by imposing strict capital limits and other rules. CityBeat wrote about Brown’s efforts here.
In a blog post
yesterday, Rep. Steve Chabot, a Cincinnati Republican, criticized
President Barack Obama for not calling the Boston bombers “Islamic
jihadists.” Public officials typically do not publicly jump to
conclusions in the middle of an ongoing investigation.
A new app gives you an automatic nose job.
Researchers are developing a solar dish that produces electricity and fresh water at the same time.
Nationwide coalition of moms lobbying for common-sense gun law reform grows local roots
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 24, 2013
A group of mothers is trying to put a stop to gun violence after recent events have shocked the nation by demanding action.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Cincinnati Republican Bill Seitz in an interview with The Wall Street Journal compared Ohio’s energy efficiency laws to former Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan. CINCINNATI -1
by German Lopez
74 days ago
Judge halts council's parking plan, city's deficit options, gun records could be sealed
City Council approved a plan
to lease the city’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati
Development Authority, but the plan is now being held up by a judge’s
temporary restraining order (TRO). The plan was passed with an emergency
clause, which is meant to expedite the plan’s implementation, but it
also makes the law immune to referendum. The judge’s TRO, which will
delay implementation for at least one week, will provide enough time to
process a lawsuit filed by 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 parking plan will lease the city’s parking assets to
fund development projects, including a 30-story tower and a downtown
grocery store, and help balance the deficit for the next two fiscal
years. Opponents say they’re concerned about the plan leading to parking
rate hikes, and they say the plan will not fix the city’s structural
Before the final vote on the parking plan, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. gave a presentation
to City Council that showed options for reducing Cincinnati’s
structural deficit, including a reduction or elimination of
lower-ranked programs in the city’s Priority-Driven Budgeting Process, a
reduction in subsidies to health clinics that are getting more money
from Obamacare, the semi-automation of solid waste collection or the
introduction of new or increased fees for certain programs, among other
Ohio senators are pushing a law that would make records of people licensed to carry concealed firearms in Ohio off-limits to journalists.
The senators say they were inspired to push the law after a New York
newspaper published the names and addresses of permit holders in three
counties. Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper
Association, says the law will decrease government transparency and
limit rights: “I wish the pro-gun forces would be as respectful of the
First Amendment as they are of the second, and they should be fearful of
excessive government secrecy.”
The superintendent and treasurer of the Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy, a charter school, were indicted
after allegedly using school funds to go to “Girls weekends” in
Chicago, sightseeing tours through California and Europe and a trip to
Boston to see Oprah — allegedly costing taxpayers more than $148,000. Dave Yost, state auditor, said in a statement, “The
audacity of these school officials is appalling. The good work by our
auditors and investigators has built the strongest possible case to
ensure they can never use the public treasury as their personal travel
The Ohio Department of Transportation and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet are working together
to make the case that any delays in the Brent Spence Bridge project
will hurt Greater Cincinnati’s economy. Most people involved in the
issue agree the bridge needs rebuilding, but not everyone agrees on how
the project should be funded. Northern Kentucky politicians in
particular have strongly opposed instituting tolls — one of the leading
ideas for funding the project.
In public hearings yesterday, service industry officials
said Gov. John Kasich’s budget plan, which will expand the state’s sales
tax to apply to more service, would drive some service providers out of Ohio
and make the state less competitive. Among other complaints, Carter
Strang, president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, said
the plan could make it harder for Ohioans to access legal counsel by
increasing costs and reducing employment in the legal sector. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget proposal in detail here.
State Auditor Yost filed a subpoena
to get JobsOhio’s financial records after the agency failed to turn
them over. The subpoena puts Yost at odds with Kasich, a fellow
Republican who established JobsOhio, a nonprofit company, in an attempt
to bring more jobs to the state and replace the Ohio Department of
Hamilton County is launching the Hamilton County Community Re-entry Action Plan,
which will help integrate ex-convicts back into society. Commissioner
Todd Portune told WVXU the plan will help with overpopulation in jails
and prisons: “When you build (jail and prison) facilities, the
population in them always seems to rise to meet whatever the (capacity)
level is in the facility. You never seem to have enough space. The real
answer beyond facilities is that we've got to turn around the lives of
the individuals who are in our corrections system that have made bad
choices.”The University of Cincinnati says it won’t block an outdoor display of vagina pictures on campus.
Yesterday, Kentucky’s U.S. Sen. Rand Paul held a nearly 13-hour filibuster to protest any possible use of drone strikes on American soil. Paul was joined by
senators from both sides of the aisle in his opposition to using the
strikes, which were used in Yemen in 2011 to kill Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American
citizen accused of being a high-ranking al-Qaeda official.
The same Cleveland judge who made a woman hold an “idiot” sign for driving around a school bus is making a 58-year-old man hold another sign
for threatening officers in a 911 call. The sign will apologize to
officers and read, “I was being an idiot and it will never happen
again.” The man will also go to jail for 90 days.
There used to be camels in Arctic Canada,
but that shouldn’t be too surprising — camels currently reside in the
Gobi Desert, which can reach -40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Fast-food giant Burger King admitted that some of its beef
patties sold in the U.K. contained traces of horsemeat thanks to a
negligent supplier, although it insists those patties never made it to
restaurants. WORLD -2
by Bill Sloat
136 days ago
Massie's first bill would repeal federal safety buffer enacted in 1990
U.S. Rep. Tom Massie, the congressman who represents the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, used his first day in Congress to file a bill that would erase a 23-year-old federal ban that makes it a crime to carry guns near schools.At the moment, Massie does not have any co-sponsors signed up. Details are sparse because the government printing office says it does not yet have the full text of the measure to put online. The existing Gun-Free School Act of 1990, which was adopted when former president George H.W. Bush, a Republican, was in the White House is viewable here. The bill was amended in 1995. As late as 1999, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was testifying in support of the measure, a position it seems to have dropped after the Sandy Hook massacre.Under the existing law, so-called “school zones” include but are not
limited to parks, sidewalks, roads and highways within 1,000 feet of the
property line of a public or private elementary, middle or high school.
The law makes it practically impossible to travel in populated areas
without entering a "gun-free school zone." People with state-issued
licenses or permits to carry guns are exempted by the federal law, but
the exemption is only good in the state that issued the permit.The law doesn’t exempt out-of-state travelers who have permits, nor does
it allow off-duty police officers to pack a weapon in a school. And it
is a violation for anyone other than an on-duty police officer or a
school security guard to discharge a firearm in a school zone for any
reason. A state permit does not exempt a person from the discharge
is a copy of the bill that retired U.S. Rep. Ron Paul introduced while
the Texan was campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. He called
his repeal measure the Citizen Protection Act, and he got no support from
co-sponsors. Paul’s bill died when the new Congress was sworn in
yesterday, but Massie is now resurrecting it.Massie is a tea party adherent — elected last fall to
replace Geoff Davis — who largely shares the political philosophies of Paul and his son, Sen. Rand Paul, who is also from Kentucky. Massie voted
against John Boehner for speaker on the opening day of the 113th
Congress, an act of open defiance against the Republican House leadership.
by German Lopez
137 days ago
Fiscal cliff averted despite local politicians, defense cuts delayed, wind tax credit renewed
The fiscal cliff was averted, but some Greater Cincinnati politicians didn’t do much to help.
U.S. Speaker John Boehner voted for the final fiscal cliff deal, but
Republican U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot, Jean Schmidt and Mike Turner voted
against the deal. Ohio’s U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, a Republican, and
Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, voted in favor of the deal.
U.S. Congress may have averted the fiscal cliff, but the
spending cuts were only delayed for two months. For jobs at the
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, that means another congressional
showdown in March could decide the fate of thousands of jobs. On the other hand, no one is surprised Congress reacted to a crisis by kicking the can down the road.
As part of the fiscal cliff deal, Ohio’s wind industry should feel a little safer
thanks to the extension of wind energy tax credits. Still, advocates are frustrated funding for wind energy is part of a
“stop-and-start policy” that can suddenly continue or end depending on
last-minute congressional deals.
The Buckeye Firearms Association is training and arming 24 teachers through a pilot program in the spring. A previous CityBeat analysis
found no evidence that arming teachers would help stop gun violence; in
fact, armed people tend to be in greater danger of violence.
Ohio and Kentucky are still in the bottom half of Forbes’ ranking for businesses, but they’re showing improvement.
The Ohio Liberty Coalition, a tea party group, is not
happy with Gov. John Kasich. The group is upset Kasich supposedly
violated the state’s Health Care Freedom Amendment by signing
legislation that compels all Ohioans with health care insurance to buy autism coverage. If even conservatives are angry at Kasich, who’s happy with him?
Cincinnati-based Macy’s is closing six stores, but none of them are in the Cincinnati area.
Surprise! Research has linked being overweight (but not obese) with lower risk of mortality.
During her final days as commander, Sunita Williams of NASA recorded a tour of the International Space Station.
A new study found newborn babies know the difference between their native language and a foreign one.
by German Lopez
Strickland calls for gun control, Kasich to loosen gun rules, Mallory rebuts streetcar claims
Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who rose to the governorship with the help of the National Rifle Association, says
gun rights and gun control can co-exist. The claim is in light of the
massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed
20 children and six adults. Many have called for stricter gun control
in light of the past year’s bouts of gun violence, but Republicans are
typically opposed to such proposals. A recent poll from The Washington Post and ABC News found 59 percent of Americans support
banning high-capacity ammunition clips, much like the ones used in the
Newtown shooting. Another 52 percent back the ban of semi-automatic
Still, Gov. John Kasich isn’t changing his mind on the Second Amendment. He says he will sign
a bill that allows guns in the Ohio Statehouse parking garage. The bill
will also change the definition of an unloaded gun, allowing gun owners
to carry loaded clips in their vehicles as long as they are in a
separate compartment from the gun, and make concealed carry permits from
other states easier to validate in Ohio.
Despite denials from city officials, mayoral candidate John Cranley and Councilman Chris Smitherman insist city government is trying to use the transit fund to fund the streetcar. But Mayor Mark Mallory in an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer said it will not happen.
Mallory said the dispute dates back to a lawsuit filed by Southwest
Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which runs the Metro bus
system. The lawsuit demands transit funds be solely dedicated to SORTA.
Cincinnati’s U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot has vowed to continue trying to kill
the streetcar. Even though voters have approved of the streetcar twice,
Chabot, who also represents Warren County in district boundaries that
were redrawn by Republicans, says he would rather focus federal funding
on other projects, like the Brent Spence Bridge.
A conservative northern Kentucky lawmaker is supporting
a bill that expands prisoners’ rights to DNA testing. The bill would
allow a Cincinnati man to push for DNA testing that he claims will
exonerate him of a 1987 rape and murder in Newport. Ky. Sen. John
Schickel argued, “If DNA testing is good enough to send you to prison it
should be good enough to get you out of prison.”
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank bought
another $100 million in stock from Credit Suisse International. The
deal is part of a larger program to buy back 100 million shares.
Cincinnati State is in line to obtain $123,000 from the state government. The funding could create 51 new or expanded co-op jobs.
The United Way of Greater Cincinnati announced
$50.7 million in investments for 2013, a slight increase from 2012. The increase will help boost funding to
prepare children for kindergarten by 5 percent. It will also fund 288
programs at 146 agencies, with seven becoming new United Way agency
The Prince Hall Shriners, which describes itself as “the world’s oldest African-American fraternal organization,” is returning to Cincinnati in 2015. The convention was in Cincinnati in 2011.
Duke Energy’s local management is being shaken up. Jim Henning will take over as president for Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.
Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro is retiring.
Did you know our solar system is sort of like a phoenix? It apparently rose from the cumulative ashes of countless stars, not one supernova.
by Kevin Osborne
Shadowy ALEC group helps push for the laws
An analysis of U.S. crime data by a British newspaper has found there’s been a 25 percent increase in civilian justifiable homicides since the controversial “stand your ground” (SYG) laws started being introduced in 2005.London’s Guardian newspaper analyzed data from FBI and state sources. It concludes that the spike in civilian justifiable homicides is related not only to SYG laws, but also weak gun control laws in certain states.Florida was the first state to introduce an SYG law in 2005 and similar measures have now been adopted in some form by more than 20 states. Most were passed in 2006. Ohio doesn’t yet have such a law, but it’s believed that gun advocates might be planning a campaign for one here soon.Florida’s SYG law is expected to be part of the defense made for George Zimmerman, if he is charged with a crime. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. The incident has triggered widespread public outrage.The Guardian’s analysis shows that SYG laws alone cannot be statistically linked with the rise in justifiable homicides. But in states with both SYG laws and the weakest gun control laws — as defined by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence — it found a statistical correlation with an increase in justifiable homicides.Across the United States, such killings have risen sharply over the past five years, according to the data provided by the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. From 2001-05, there were 1,225 homicides classified as justifiable, compared to 1,528 in the period 2006-10. By contrast, violent crime overall has been falling."The police are shooting more people and citizens are shooting more people. We're evolving into an increasingly coarse society with no obligation to diffuse a situation and rapidly turn to force,” said Professor Dennis Kenney, of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and an ex-police sergeant in Florida. "People are literally getting away with murder."SYG laws allow a potential crime victim who is in fear of “grave harm” to use deadly force in public places, not just inside their own homes. They eliminate the legal requirement to retreat before a person may claim he or she acted in self-defense.SYG laws have been pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafts model legislation for state lawmakers to use.State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) is among ALEC's leaders, as CityBeat has previously reported here and here. The group, which held its annual meeting in Cincinnati last spring, has a membership of nearly 2,000 state legislators and around 300 private-sector members.Funded by the Koch brothers, the National Rifle Association, oil companies and others, ALEC’s model bills have served as the template for "voter ID" laws that swept the nation in 2011, for the voucher programs that privatize public education, for anti-immigrant legislation, and for the wave of anti-labor union legislation pushed during the past two years in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, New Hampshire and elsewhere.This week Coca-Cola and PepsiCo dropped their memberships in ALEC, amid the threat of boycotts.In 2010 National Public Radio reported that Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), a private-sector ALEC board member, participated in the drafting of Arizona Senate Bill No. 1070. The report documented the behind-the-scenes effort to draft and pass the law and how the CCA stood to benefit from people incarcerated under it.Marvin Meadors, a Huffington Post contributor, has described ALEC as “a bill-churning mill which uses corporate money to draft model legislation that advances the agenda of the Far Right and encourages crony capitalism.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 21, 2009
President-elect Barack Obama has already saved one American industry from recession: gun sellers. The Enquirer reported today that gun enthusiasts nationwide are so afraid that Obama will take away their freedom to own assault rifles and other war-style home defense tools that they're buying out local gun shops.