0 Comments · Wednesday, March 13, 2013
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. gave a
presentation to City Council March 6 explaining how Cincinnati could
work to reduce its structural budget deficits.
by German Lopez
74 days ago
Parking plan on hold, mall renovations to go ahead, Kasich's sales tax plan under fire
Cincinnati’s plan to lease parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority remains on hold
as a lawsuit arguing the law should be subject to referendum works
through the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. The legal dispute is
focused on City Council’s use of the emergency clause, which eliminates a
30-day waiting period on implementing laws and takes away the
possibility of a referendum. Emergency clauses are routinely deployed in
City Council, but opponents of the parking plan say that doesn’t make
Whether the parking deal does go through or not, the Tower Place Mall renovations will be carried out. The city originally included the renovations as part of the plan, but Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, told The Cincinnati Enquirer
that the city is planning on selling the the property to a subsidiary
of JDL Warm Construction for an undisclosed sum, and the company will
then pay an estimated $5 million for the redevelopment.
Gov. John Kasich’s plan to expand the sales tax to fund tax cuts is being heavily criticized by some members of the business community, but Rep.
Ron Amstutz, chairman of the Ohio House Finance & Appropriations
Committee, says he is looking into ways to save the proposal. Kasich’s plan would expand the
application of the sales tax to include more services, including cable
TV and admission to sport events, but it would lower the sales tax rate
from 5.5 percent to 5 percent and carry out 20-percent across-the-board
income tax cuts. CityBeat wrote about Kasich’s budget proposal in further detail here.
As part of Kasich’s education plans, the state’s school voucher program is expanding
to help students meet a Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which requires third-graders pass a test in reading proficiency before they
can move onto fourth grade. Supporters argue the voucher program provides more choice
and control for parents, but opponents say the state should not be
paying for private educations. A previous Policy Matters Ohio report
found expanded school choice through more vouchers can have negative effects on education, including worse results for students and teachers.
State Auditor Dave Yost is pushing for a full audit of
JobsOhio, the publicly funded private, nonprofit agency, but Republican
state legislators are joining Kasich
in opposition. The opposing Republicans say the state auditor can track
any public funds used for JobsOhio, but they say the agency is allowed to
keep its private funds under wraps. Kasich says he plans to replace the
Ohio Department of Development, which can be fully audited by the state auditor at any time,
The Ohio Department of Education apparently knew or should have known of ongoing data scrubbing in schools as early as 2008, according to The Toledo Blade. Emails acquired by The Blade
show officials analyzed and discussed data reports that year after
media reports detailed how urban districts excluded thousands of test
scores on state report cards.
Supporters of the Anna Louise Inn gathered Friday
in celebration of International Women’s Day and to stand against
Western & Southern’s repeated efforts to run the Inn out of the
The U.S. Census Bureau says Cincinnati commutes are much shorter than the national average,
with only 2.9 percent of Cincinnatians spending more than 60 minutes
one-way during their commute, as compared to the 8.1 percent national
The Cincinnati Enquirer unveiled its new tabloid format today. Ben Kaufman says it looks nice and arrived on time.
The Killers are coming to the Horseshoe Casino.
A new study says results from fMRI scans are unintentionally distorted and inaccurate — to the point that some studies on the human brain that use fMRI results may be seriously questionable.
by German Lopez
77 days ago
Federal unemployment down, state joblessness up, Tower Place Mall renovations detailed
In February, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent,
from 7.9 percent in January, and the nation added 236,000 jobs. Many of
the new jobs — about 48,000 — came from construction, while government
employment saw a drop even before sequestration, a series of
across-the-board federal spending cuts, began on March 1. Economists seem quite positive
about the report.
In January, Ohio’s unemployment rate rose to 7 percent,
from 6.7 percent in December, with the number of unemployed in
the state rising to 399,000, from 385,000 the month before.
Goods-producing and service-providing industries and local government
saw a rise in employment, while jobs were lost in trade, transportation,
utilities, financial activities, professional and business services,
leisure and hospitality, state government and federal government. In
January, U.S. unemployment rose to 7.9 percent, from 7.8 percent in
A new report outlined renovations for the city-owned Tower Place Mall, which is getting a makeover as part of Cincinnati’s parking plan.
A lot of the retail space in the mall will be replaced to make room for
parking that will be accessed through what is currently Pogue’s Garage,
but two rings of retail space will remain, according to the report. The
parking plan was approved by City Council Wednesday, but it was temporarily halted by a Hamilton County judge. The legal contest has now moved to federal court, and it’s set to get a hearing today.
Meet the mayoral candidates through CityBeat’s two extensive Q&As: Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley.
Qualls spoke mostly about her support for immigration, the parking plan
and streetcar, while Cranley discussed his opposition to the parking
plan and streetcar and some of his ideas for Cincinnati.
A Hamilton County court ruled against
the controversial traffic cameras in Elmwood Place, and the Ohio
legislature is considering a statewide ban on the cameras. In his
ruling, Judge Robert Ruehlman pointed out there were no signs making motorists
aware of the cameras and the cameras are calibrated once a year by a
for-profit operator. The judge added, “Elmwood Place is engaged in
nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-card Monty. … It is a scam that
motorists can’t win.” Bipartisan legislation was recently introduced to
prohibit traffic cameras in Ohio.
JobsOhio, the state-funded nonprofit corporation, quietly got $5.3 million in state grants,
even though the state legislature only appropriated $1 million for
startup costs. JobsOhio says it needed the extra funds because
legal challenges have held up liquor profits that were
originally supposed to provide funding. In the past few days, State
Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican, has been pushing
Republican Gov. John Kasich and JobsOhio to release more details about
the nonprofit corporation’s finances, but Kasich and JobsOhio have been
Advocates for Ohio’s charter schools say Kasich’s budget amounts to a per-pupil cut,
with funding dropping from $5,704 per pupil to $5,000 plus some
targeted assistance that ranges from hundreds of dollars to nothing
depending on the school. A previous CityBeat report on online schools
found traditional public schools get about $3,193 per student — much
less than the funding that apparently goes to charter schools.
Fountain Square will be getting a new television
from Cincinnati-based LSI Industries with the help of Fifth-Third Bank
and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). The new
video board will have better image quality and viewing angles, but it
will also come with more screen space for sponsors.
Ohio’s casino revenues rose in January. That could be a good sign for Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino, which opened Monday.
In light of recent discussion, Popular Science posted a Q&A on drones.
by German Lopez
79 days ago
Injunction puts agreement to lease parking assets on hold
a 5-4 vote today, City Council approved a plan to lease Cincinnati’s
parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority
to help balance deficits for the next two fiscal years and fund
development projects in Downtown, but the plan is now being held up by a Hamilton County
judge's temporary restraining order (TRO).The
plan was approved with an emergency clause, which means it is not
subject to referendum, according to City Solicitor John Curp. Councilman
Chris Seelbach joined the parking plan’s five supporters in approving
the emergency clause, which is meant to expedite the plan’s implementation by
removing a 30-day waiting period.Shortly
after the parking plan was approved by City Council, Judge Robert
Winkler signed a TRO that will halt its implementation for at least one
week. The judge’s action 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.Mayor
Mark Mallory says the emergency clause was passed to speed up the
plan’s implementation in time for the budget that will begin July 1, not
to suppress voters: “I don't think that any member of council has ever
voted for an emergency clause in an effort to keep voters from being
able to reverse the decision that the council is making, so I take
exception with that characterization.”The parking plan got its required fifth vote, up from a 4-3 vote in the Budget and Finance Committee Monday,
from Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, who abstained from voting in the
committee meeting because she said she was concerned about the city’s
long-term fiscal outlook. She says her concerns were eased after she
read the leasing agreement and listened to a presentation from City
Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. that gave City Council a few options for fixing the city’s structural deficits.The
parking plan’s other supporters were council members Roxanne Qualls,
Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young. Council members
Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Smitherman and Charlie Winburn voted
against the plan.The plan, which CityBeat previously covered (“Parking Stimulus,”
issue of Feb. 27), 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. The
deal will produce a $92 million upfront payment, and the city projects
that additional annual installments will generate more than $263 million
throughout the lease’s duration.Opponents
say they are concerned the plan will give up too much control of the
city’s parking meters and garages, which they say could lead to spikes
in parking rates.Under
the initial plan, downtown rates will remain at $2 an hour and
neighborhood rates will be hiked to 75 cents. Afterward, parking meter
rates will be set to increase annually by 3 percent or the rate of
inflation on a compounded basis, with actual increases coming in at
25-cents-an-hour increments. That should translate to 25-cent increases
every three years for downtown and every six years for neighborhoods,
according to Meg Olberding, city spokesperson.The
city will be able to bypass the so-called “cap” on parking meter rate
increases through a unanimous vote from a five-person advisory
committee, approval from the city manager and a final nod from the Port
Authority. The process, which begins with an advisory committee that
will include four members appointed by the Port Authority and one
selected by the city manager, will allow the city to raise and lower
rates to adjust for changing economic needs, says Olberding.Opponents
also say the money from the parking plan is being used too quickly,
which does little to alleviate the city’s structural deficits.Dohoney
previously argued the plan will help reduce the deficit by generating
recurring revenues through long-term economic growth and development.“The
situation that we’re in requires that we accelerate growth right now,
not later,” he said Monday. “If we do not do that, then we’re going to
have further negative ramifications to deal with.”With
the lease agreement approved, it is now up to the Port Authority to
develop and publicize the bond documents that will further detail the
framework of the parking plan.Earlier
in the same meeting, City Council unanimously passed a resolution
asking the federal government to take up comprehensive immigration
reform.Update: This story was updated to reflect Judge Robert Winkler's actions.
by German Lopez
78 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.
by German Lopez
79 days ago
Long-term plan could swing City Council’s parking vote
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. gave a presentation to City Council today that explained how Cincinnati could work to reduce its structural budget deficits. The presentation was presumably in response to
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, who said Monday that she wanted to see a
long-term deficit reduction plan before she could approve the city
manager’s proposal to lease parking assets to the Port of Greater
Cincinnati Development Authority.
Even with the parking plan’s one-time infusion of money (“Parking Stimulus,”
issue of Feb. 27), Cincinnati will need to make further changes to
balance budgets for the next three fiscal years. To help tame these
deficits, Dohoney says the city could reduce or eliminate lower-ranked
programs in the city’s Priority-Driven Budgeting Process, reduce
subsidies to health clinics that are getting more money from Obamacare,
semi-automate solid waste collection or introduce new or increased fees
for certain programs, among other changes.
But some council members said they were more concerned
about how the city will manage once it loses the parking plan’s one-time injection of funding after the 2016 fiscal year.
“I think this is a bit muddled,” Quinlivan said. “It doesn’t get to the systemic problem we have.”
Quinlivan, who has long argued for “rightsizing”
police and fire departments, says the city should draw down its public
safety spending to “sustainable” levels, but she says she would prefer
attritioning public safety forces over abrupt, short-term cuts. Dohoney
acknowledges attrition would help balance budgets, but he cautions
that even attrition “would have to be married” with a plan that reduces the public’s expectations for public safety services —
particularly if the city decides to not answer every 911 call by
dispatching officers, which is currently required.
Dohoney says City Council needs to be clearer with
its long-term budget policy. “If we’re going to make adjustments, I need
clear policy direction, and I do not feel that I have it,” he says.
“Give me a clear direction on where you want the police department to
be, and I can get it there.”
The city manager says the city will have to approve a tax
hike or cuts to government spending, which poses the possibility of
layoffs, if it’s serious about eliminating structural deficit problems.
For every 1,000 residents, Cincinnati has less cops than
only two comparable cities: Cleveland and St. Louis. The fire department
has higher numbers, with Cincinnati equal to Pittsburgh and above
other comparable cities. The high levels of cops and firefighters per
capita comes despite downsizing in the police and fire departments in the past five years.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls says the city may have
drawn down its police force between 2000 and 2012, but the local police
department has also been reorganized in a way that actually puts more
cops out on patrol. Lea Eriksen, the city’s budget director, says street
strength has moved from 832 police officers out of 1,034 officers
available in 2002 to 864 out of 981 in 2012.
Between 2000 and 2012, the fire department was the only
city agency to see an increase in employment, while the city had slight
employment reductions overall. In the same time span, the General Fund increased by more than $30 million, and Cincinnati’s population fell by about 10 percent.
by German Lopez
80 days ago
Senators push immigrant policy, JobsOhio gets funding, parking plan passes committee
Two Ohio senators, including Senate Minority Leader Eric
Kearney of Cincinnati, are pushing a bill that will require the state’s
Bureau of Motor Vehicles to grant driver’s licenses
to the children of illegal immigrants. The senators claim state BMV
offices are inconsistently applying President Barack Obama’s Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows the children of
illegal immigrants to remain in the country without fear of prosecution, but the Ohio Department of Public Safety says the issue is still under
review. CityBeat originally broke the story after hearing of Ever Portillo’s experiences at a Columbus BMV office here, and a follow-up story covered the internal conflict at the BMV over the issue here.
Ohio officials have said the state has only put $1 million toward JobsOhio, but records recently acquired by The Columbus Dispatch show $5.3 million in funding has been directed to the program
so far, and the public investment could be as high as $9 million. State
officials said the funding is necessary because constitutional
challenges, which the Ohio Supreme Court recently agreed to take up,
have held up the program’s original source of funding — state liquor
profits. JobsOhio is a nonprofit company established with the support of
Gov. John Kasich that’s meant to attract investment and bring jobs to
the state. Kasich says he wants to replace the Ohio Department of Development with the nonprofit company in the future.
City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee approved a plan
to lease Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati
Development Authority in a 4-3 vote yesterday, but the plan will require
five votes to become law in a final City Council vote tomorrow. The
plan, which CityBeat previously covered,
would 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. The deal would produce a $92 million upfront
payment, and the city projects that additional annual installments would
generate more than $263 million throughout the lease’s duration.
Critics are worried the city will give up too much control of its
parking assets as part of the deal, and concerns about the city’s long-term
deficits remain. The alternatives — plans B, C and S — would fix
structural deficit problems, while the budget only helps balance the deficit for the next
two fiscal years.
The company that will operate Cincinnati’s parking meters if the parking deal is approved by City Council had problems in the past,
according to a tip received by multiple news outlets from Tabitha
Woodruff, an advocate at Ohio Public Interest Research Group. The issues
surfaced years before Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) was bought by
Xerox in 2010, and Xerox now denies any wrongdoing. One of the issues is
a 2007 audit, which found ACS mismanaged parking meters in Washington,
D.C. Kevin Lightfoot, a spokesperson at Xerox, says the audit was based
on “faulty information,” and a lot of the problems found were because
the auditor improperly read parking meter screen displays.
An approved commitment by the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District (HCTID) may ensure a rail service is ready for Cincinnati
in time for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Hamilton
County Commissioner Todd Portune is pushing for local and state
governments to break down any barriers for Oasis Rail Transit, which
will carry passengers from Downtown to Milford.
The Ohio Board of Education will decide
between two candidates for state superintendent next week: acting
Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Sawyers or Dick Ross, Gov.
John Kasich’s top education adviser.
After years of development and anticipation, Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino opened yesterday. The casino comes with the promise of jobs and economic development, but it also poses the risk of crime, bankruptcy and even suicide.
State and local legislators are also looking forward to extra
government revenue from the casino, even though casino revenue around
the state has fallen short of projections.
For Over-the-Rhine residents, the grand opening, which culminated in a
fireworks display, was sort of like being in the middle of a
Livability.com named Cincinnati the No. 10 spring break destination
because of the Cincinnati Zoo, Botanical Garden, IKEA, Cincinnati Art
Museum, the 21c Museum Hotel, Newport Aquarium and the Clifton Cultural
Arts Center, among other places and family-friendly activities.
Science doesn’t want pregnant women to be capable of anything.
Here are two pictures of Venus from Saturn’s view.
by German Lopez
81 days ago
Council may vote on parking today, GOP criticizes Kasich's budget, casino's grand opening
City Council may vote today on the controversial plan to lease the city’s parking assets to fund economic development and temporarily balance the deficit. On Friday, Councilman Chris Seelbach put forward Plan S,
which would redirect $7.5 million in casino revenues, cut $5 million
based on the results of the city's priority-driven budgeting and allow
voters to choose between a $10-per-month trash fee or increase the
city's admissions tax by 2 percent. Previously, City Manager Milton
Dohoney unveiled Plan B
to the parking plan, which would lay off 344 employees, eliminate Human Services Funding and close pools and recreation centers, among other changes. In response, mayoral candidate John Cranley proposed his own
plan, which would use casino revenue, parking meter revenue and cuts to
“non-essential programs” to tame the deficit. Plan B, Plan S and Cranley’s plan all fix the structural deficit in the city’s budget, while the parking plan only fixes the deficit for two years. The parking plan was
unanimously approved by the Cincinnati Planning Commission Friday, and it appears five council members are ready to give the plan the go-ahead.
Members of Gov. John Kasich’s own party are beginning to show skepticism
toward the governor’s budget proposal, which would expand the sales tax
to apply to more services, increase the oil and gas severance tax and
make more Ohioans eligible for Medicaid — mostly at the cost of the
federal government. Republicans are likely to propose alternatives
before a mid-April vote. In a Quinnipiac University poll, a majority of
Ohioans approved of the Medicaid expansion but not Kasich’s tax plan. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget plan in detail here.
Police are taking measures to prevent traffic problems at the Horseshoe Casino’s grand opening tonight. Meanwhile, Indiana casinos are preparing for downturns as the Horseshoe Casino promises a major alternative to tri-state
gamblers. During the soft opening last week, Ohio’s casino regulator found
the Horseshoe Casino would have to fix its security and surveillance before the grand opening. Previous studies found casinos bring job growth at the cost of crime, bankruptcy and even suicide, and a Dayton Daily News report also found the state’s casinos are falling short of job projections.
On Friday, the sequester, a series of across-the-board federal budget cuts, kicked in, and it could mean big funding reductions for Ohio’s schools. The blunt cuts are largely because Republicans refuse to negotiate with President Barack Obama and Democrats — to the point that Republicans don’t even know what the president is proposing.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio is asking the state’s Department of Education to expand its seclusion room rules to apply to charter schools.
Previous reports found seclusion rooms, which were originally intended
to hold out-of-control kids until they calm down, have been largely used
for convenience by educators, leading to stricter policies from the
Ohio Department of Education. But the regulations currently apply only
to traditional public schools, not charter schools.
Reminder: On top of putting everyone around you in danger, texting while driving will now result in a fine up to $150.
The Cincinnati Zoo has confirmed it has terrible taste in names with its choice for the new four-week-old gorilla: Gladys Stones. Still, the zoo does have that whole environmentally friendly thing going on. Maybe the pros outweigh the cons.
U.S. researchers are claiming they have “functionally cured” an HIV-infected infant
after extensive treatments left the virus’s presence in blood at such
low levels that it can no longer be detected by standard clinical tests.
Scientists are ostracizing what Popular Science calls the “world’s sexiest octopus.”
If you can watch BigDog, the four-legged robot, toss cinder blocks with ease and not fear the robot apocalypse, you’re not prepared.
by German Lopez
85 days ago
Parking plan's final public hearing, officials list Plan B, governor's approval hits highs
The tone was negative once again in the final public hearing
for the city manager’s plan to lease the city’s parking system. Of the
two dozen speakers, only four were positive. Tabitha Woodruff,
who is with the Ohio Public Interest Research Group, voiced mixed feelings about the plan: “As we feared it provides a short-term solution
to a long-term budget problem, raises hours and rates on citizens, and
has the potential to incur high transaction costs. … We’re encouraged,
however, by the selection of a public entity, the Port Authority and by
numerous proposed provisions of the lease intended to insure the city
maintains control of details like rates and hours.” CityBeat wrote about the plan in detail here.
If City Council does not agree to lease Cincinnati’s parking system, the city manager’s office says the city will be forced to lay off 344 employees,
including 80 firefighter and 189 police positions, and eliminate Human
Services Funding, but critics argue there are better alternatives.
Mayoral candidate John Cranley says casino and parking revenue and cuts
to non-essential programs could help clear the deficit without the plan.Gov. John Kasich’s job approval rating has risen above 50 percent for the first time,
and he’s beating all the potential Democratic gubernatorial
candidates in theoretical match-ups, according to a Quinnipiac University
poll. CityBeat covered the governor’s budget plan, which will set the state’s policy blueprint for the next two years, here.
The Ohio House will vote on Kasich’s Ohio Turnpike plan today, which leverages the Turnpike for a statewide infrastructure program.
With the approval of Metro’s operating budget, City Council and Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) have ended their dispute
over streetcar funding. Council members had been approving monthly
budgets as they worked things out with SORTA, which manages the region’s
bus system. SORTA filed a lawsuit disputing the limits of the transit fund, but it dropped the suit
after the city said it will not use the money for maintenance of streets, sidewalks
and streetlights. (Correction: This previously said the city will “only use the money for streets, sidewalks and streetlights” when the opposite is true.)The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) says the state’s schools are making improvement, but they still “have room to grow.”
In the latest state report cards, Ohio schools improved in 14 of 26
categories and met the state’s performance goal on 21 out of 26, with
particularly strong gains in math and science, but ODE says, “The
performance of Ohio’s economically disadvantaged students and minorities
remains unacceptably low.” The state auditor has a problem with how Ohio’s schools report data through what he calls a “just-trust-me” system.
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a 40-year agreement
with the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) that
will lease the county-owned Memorial Hall and provide renovations to the
105-year-old building. County officials have long said the building,
which is used to host concerts, shows and speaking events, is in dire
need of upgrades, particularly overhauls to its roof, windows, facade
work, floors, air conditioning and bathrooms — all of which will now be
financed by 3CDC with the help of tax credits.The commissioners also approved a two-year policy agenda, which generally outlines their plans for county finances and taxes, infrastructure and economic development.
The Over-the-Rhine Eco Garden could be forced to relocate
if the city approves CitiRama’s development proposal. The move would be
fully funded by the city’s Department of Community Development, with
startup and relocation costs paid for.
Ohio’s concealed weapon carry permits reached record highs in 2012 with more than 76,000 permits issued.
Fewer Ohioans are starting their own businesses, and the state’s level of self-employment is one of the lowest in the nation, according to a report from Dayton Daily News.
With Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino set to open March 4, gambling addiction could be one of the downsides to the casino’s glitz and job creation, but extra funds for the state’s treatment programs and special training for casino employees could help combat the problem.
A medical marijuana amendment could be on Ohio’s 2013 ballot, but anti-drug groups are already speaking out against it.
Think the 114-year-old Japanese woman has reached an impressive age? Guffaw. Popular Science lists six much older animals.