by German Lopez
Ohio Republican supermajority hangs on 14 votes, city unveils budget, county passes budget
In the Ohio House of Representatives, the difference between a Republican supermajority and a normal majority is now 14 votes.
That’s how many votes are splitting Republican Rep. Al Landis and
Democratic challenger Josh O'Farrell. The small difference has already
triggered an automatic recount and likely a series of lawsuits from
Democrats over counting provisional ballots. The supermajority would
allow Ohio House Republicans to pass legislation without worry of a
governor’s veto and place any measure on the ballot — including
personhood initiatives — without bipartisan approval.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. unveiled his 2013 budget proposal at a press conference yesterday.
The proposal will pursue privatizing the city’s parking services to
help close a $34 million deficit. The privatization plan has already
faced some early criticism from Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld. The budget
will also make minor cuts elsewhere. In addition to the 2013 budget, the
Tentative Tax Budget proposal, which Dohoney passed to City Council and
the mayor yesterday, also raises property tax rates.
Meanwhile, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners approved the 2013 budget in a 2-1 vote.
Democrat Todd Portune was outvoted by Republicans Chris Monzel and
Board President Greg Hartmann. The final budget was basically Hartmann’s “austerity” proposal, barring some minor tweaks. The cuts could cost 150 or more Hamilton County jobs.
Councilman Chris Smitherman is facing a challenge
for his spot as president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP. The
councilman’s opponent is Bob Richardson, a former officer of Laborers
Local 265 and former president of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council.
Richardson’s son told WVXU, “I think we have seen the NAACP veer off its
core principles and turn into a tool for Smitherman and his
In a promising sign for the local economy, Greater Cincinnati banks are taking in more money from deposits.
The 21c Museum Hotel opened yesterday.
But the hotel has critics, including Josh Spring from the Greater
Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. Drawing a comparison to the situation between
Western & Southern and the Anna Louise Inn, Spring said the hotel
ended up displacing far too many people.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is taking up research into how autism develops.
A new report found expanding Medicaid in Ohio could cost the state $3.1 billion. The money would be enough to insure 457,000 uninsured Ohioans. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid faced less health problems.
One concern with the state's “fracking” boom: water supply.
Some are worried that the amount of water needed to fuel hydraulic
fracturing, a drilling technique for oil and gas, will drain Ohio’s
wells and reservoirs.
After some sentencing reform, Ohio’s inmate population is not decreasing as fast as some state officials would like.
As the state deals with prison overpopulation and more expensive
prisons, Gov. John Kasich’s administration has turned to privatization. CityBeat looked at issues surrounding private prisons and the connections between the state government and private prison companies here.
Ohio women are having fewer abortions in the state.
The drop seems largely attributable to increased access to birth
control. Better access to health care and improved health education are
also factors.Ever forget to take some medication? No longer. There is now a pill that can inform others when it's taken.
by German Lopez
Committee hearing filled with protesters, chants
One week after the major Democratic victories of Election
Day, Ohio’s Republican legislators are pushing HB 298, a bill that will keep federal funds from Planned Parenthood. In a Health and Aging
Committee hearing at today, Ohio Republicans voted to push the bill
through committee and into the Ohio House of Representatives floor.
If the bill passes the Republican-controlled General
Assembly and is signed by Gov. John Kasich, it will block $2 million in
federal funding from Planned Parenthood and prioritize other family
services. In the past few years, Planned Parenthood has become a popular
target for Republicans because the organization provides abortion
services. But that’s not all Planned Parenthood offers; a chart released
by the organization in February demonstrated abortions only make up 3
percent of its services.
Another criticism leveled by Planned Parenthood supporters
is the federal funding is legally barred from being used for abortions.
Instead, the funding would go to other health services within Planned
Parenthood, which provides general women’s health services to poor and
Some Democratic lawmakers say the bill shows an out-of-touch Republican Party.
“For the life of me, I cannot understand why Republicans
are so intent on taking away from women the right to make their own
choices about their bodies,” said Ohio Sen. Nina Turner in a statement.
“Voters soundly rejected the foolishness of the radical right on
Election Day in favor of the dignity of American women, but some
lawmakers must not have heard.”
She added, “While Republicans rail against women making
their own choices, they are cutting funding for education and critical
social services that children need after they are born. They want small
government, all right — small enough to fit into a woman’s womb.”
The strong words showcase what was a loud, feisty exchange
between Planned Parenthood supporters and Republican lawmakers. At the
committee hearings, supporters and opponents of HB 298 testified. Some
opponents cited their personal experience, including an emotional account from one
woman regarding her own rape at age 13. She said she was glad young women like her can turn to
Planned Parenthood for help. Ohio Rep. John Carney, a Columbus Democrat,
pointed out that throughout the hearings, no health care provider
testified in favor of HB 298. One doctor testified against the bill. Carney also pointed out that no tax dollars that go to Planned Parenthood pay for abortions.
The bill isn’t the only action Republicans have recently taken against women’s health rights. Ohio Senate President Tom
Niehaus told The Cincinnati Enquirer about the possibility of a
renewed heartbeat bill on Nov. 8. In October, Kasich appointed two anti-abortion
advocates to government positions. In this week’s news commentary (“Ohio
Republicans Continue Anti-Abortion Agenda,” issue of Nov. 14), CityBeat covered the ensuing Republican campaign against abortion rights.
by German Lopez
Claim True the Vote is unnecessarily intimidating voters
Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of
State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them
to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to
combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily
In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter
fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note
recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4
Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case
of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight
investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged
in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a
year.Tim Burke, chairman of both the Hamilton County Board of
Elections and the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the faulty
voter registration forms, which groups like TTV typically cite as
examples of in-person voter fraud, never amount to real voter fraud.
“Those nonexistent voters never show up to vote,” he says.
“(The forms) were put together by people working on voter registration drives.
Frankly, the intent wasn’t to defraud the board of elections; the
intent was to defraud their employer into making them think they’re
doing more work.”In other words, people aren't submitting faulty voter registration forms to skew elections; registration drive employees are submitting the forms to try to keep their jobs.
To combat the seemingly nonexistent problem of voter
impersonation fraud, TTV is planning on recruiting one million poll
watchers — people that will stand by polling places to ensure the voting
process is legitimate. The Democrats insist some of the tactics
promoted by the group are illegal. The letter claims it’s illegal for
anyone but election officials to inhibit the voting process in any way.
Most notably, Ohio law prohibits “loiter[ing] in or
about a registration or polling place during registration or the casting
and counting of ballots so as to hinder, delay, or interfere with the
conduct of the registration or election,” according to the letter.
Burke says state law allows both Democrats and Republicans
to hire observers at polling booths. However, the observers can only
watch, and they can’t challenge voters. Even if the appointed observers see suspicious
activity, they have to leave the voting area and report the activity
through other means.
The tactics adopted by TTV have an ugly history in the U.S.
Utilizing poll watchers was one way Southern officials pushed away
minority voters during the segregation era. By asking questions and
being as obstructive as possible, the poll watchers of the segregation
era intimidated black voters into not voting. In the post-segregation
era, the tactics have continued targeting minority and low-income
The Senate Democrats make note of the ugly history in their
letter: “It has traditionally focused on the voter registration lists in
minority and low-income precincts, utilizing ‘caging’ techniques to
question registrations. It has included encouraging poll watchers to
‘raise a challenge’ when certain voters tried to vote by brandishing
cameras at polling sites, asking humiliating questions of voters, and
slowing down precinct lines with unnecessary challenges and intimidating
tactics. These acts of intimidation undermine protection of the right
to vote of all citizens.”
TTV has already faced some failures in Hamilton County.
Earlier this year, the group teamed up with the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (VIP),
another Tea Party group, to file 380 challenges to the Hamilton County
Board of Elections. Of the 380 challenges, only 35 remain. The vast
majority were thrown out.
“For the most part, they tried to get a bunch of UC
students challenged because they didn’t have their dormitory rooms on
their voter registration rolls,” Burke says. “All of those were
rejected. We did nothing with those.”
But he said the group did bring up one legitimate
challenge. Some voters were still registered in a now-defunct trailer
park in Harrison, Ohio. Since the trailer park no longer exists,
Burke says no one should be voting from there. The board didn’t purge
those voters from the roll, but the board unanimously agreed to ensure those voters are challenged and sent to the correct polling place if they show up to vote.
Still, TTV insists on hunting down all the phantom
impersonators and fraudulent voters. In partnership with VIP, TTV is continuing its mission to stop all the voter impersonation that isn't actually happening.
VIP is brandishing the effort with a program of its own. That organization is now hosting special
training programs for poll workers. The organization insists
its programs are nonpartisan, but Democrats aren’t buying it.
Burke says it’s normal for Democrats and Republicans to
hire poll workers, but if the Voter Integrity Project program puts the
organization’s anti-fraud politics into the training, it could go too
“The job of the poll worker is to assist voters in getting
their ballots cast correctly,” Burke says. “It’s to be helpful. It’s
not to be belligerent. It’s not to be making voters feel like they’re
doing something evil.”
He added, “If poll workers are
coming in and deciding that they’re going to be aggressive police
officers making everybody feel like they’re engaged in voter fraud and
therefore trying to intimidate voters, that’s absolutely wrong.”
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 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.
DNC executive director discusses Ohio’s importance in 2012 and beyond
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, sat down with CityBeat for an exclusive interview during which he
previewed his remarks to Ohio steelworkers and talked about Hamilton County’s importance
to the presidential race.
by Andy Brownfield
First lady urges Ohioans to vote early; Romney campaign launches Ohio early voting bus tour
While the presidential candidates prepared for Wednesday’s
debate, Michelle Obama urged Cincinnatians on Tuesday to take advantage
of the first day of early voting, before leading a group to the board
of elections to cast their ballots.
“I’ve got news for you: Here in Ohio it’s already
Election Day. Early voting starts today,” Obama told a crowd of 6,800 inside
the Duke Energy Convention Center. She urged everyone to reach out and
encourage their friends to vote after they had cast their own ballots.
“Twitter them. Tweet them. What do you do? It’s tweeting, right? Tweet them,” she joked to the crowd.
Earlier in the morning, the campaign of Republican
presidential candidate Mitt Romney kicked off its “Commit to Mitt Early
Vote Express” statewide bus tour in downtown Cincinnati.
The tour started in Hamilton County before moving through Butler County and is scheduled to end the day in Preble County.
The bus is scheduled to make its way through every region
of Ohio during the early voting period and will serve as a mobile
campaign headquarters, dispensing voter contact materials and featuring
Romney campaign surrogates, according to a news release.
At the convention center, Michelle Obama avoided some of
the direct attacks employed by her husband or the Romney campaign, but
used her 30-minute speech to counter some of the criticisms from the GOP
nominee, recapping some of her convention speech.
“Our families weren’t asking for much,” Michelle said of
her own and Barack’s families. “They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s
success, you know, they didn’t mind if others had much more than they
did, in fact they admired it. That’s why they pushed us to succeed.”
Her comment seemed to come in response to an attack that
the Romney campaign levied against Barack Obama after his infamous “you
didn’t build that” comment, where the GOP candidate argues that Obama
and Democrats are fostering enmity among the middle class by stoking
jealousy of rich, successful Americans like Mitt Romney.
believed also that when you work hard and have done well and finally
walk through that doorway of opportunity, you don’t slam it shut behind
you,” Michelle Obama continued.
“No, you reach back and you give other folks the same
chances that helped you succeed. You see, that’s how Barack and I and so
many of you were raised. … We learned that the truth matters – you
don’t take shortcuts, you don’t game the system, you don’t play by your
own set of rules.”
She went on to say that Americans are part of something
bigger than themselves and obligated to give back to others, counter to
the Republicans’ narrative of the individual pulled up by his or her own
Danielle Henderson, 40, a teacher’s assistant from
Cincinnati, said she was a fan of the first lady’s and joked that she
wanted to know if Michelle was running for president in 2016.
“Behind every good man is a good woman,” Henderson said. “Honestly, a woman is a backbone of the family.”
She said she thought the first family was a good model for the rest of the country.
Henderson’s mother-in-law Barbara joked that she was excited to see what the first lady was going to wear.
“I see trends she sets trickle down to other politicians’ wives,” she joked.
2 Comments · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Last week, packets of anti-Democrat
political literature tucked into plastic sandwich bags were tossed into
East Side driveways. It’s apparently a broadside from some bag ladies bent on kicking
President Barack Obama out of office, along with anybody who might
possibly share his views. But they might be cheating.
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
We’ve all been there. You’re just minding your own
business, killing time on the Internet, when you see “4 friends like
this” beneath Mitt Romney’s shining visage. First comes the feeling of
anger. Before you shed a single tear and click “Hide all updates from this
user” or — gasp! — “Unfriend,” stop what you’re doing.
by German Lopez
As other states come under fire, Ohio hints at voter ID law
It seems Ohio may soon get a controversial voter ID law.
While speaking at a Tea Party event in Cincinnati on Monday, Secretary of State
Jon Husted said the General Assembly is likely to take up a voter ID law
after the November election.
“I was listening to a show one night where they talked
about these onerous rules, these onerous photo ID rules and the onerous
rules in Ohio on photo ID,” he said. “Well, the photo ID law in Ohio is
not onerous. As a matter of fact, I suspect the General Assembly will
take up a more strict version of what we have after what we’ve been
through with this election process.”
Later on, an audience member commented on the issue by
pointing out Ohioans can currently identify themselves with 12 different
types of ID. In response, Husted clarified his position: “We need to
streamline that because it’s really hard for a poll worker to know
exactly what they’re supposed to be checking. And I’m quite confident
the legislature is going to take that issue up.”
Under current Ohio law, voters can go to the polls with
state ID cards, driver’s licenses, military IDs, utility bills,
paychecks, bank statements and other forms of ID. Republicans have sometimes
criticized the many options, particularly for not being state-issued and not requiring a photo.
Other states have taken up voter ID laws. Pennsylvania’s
controversial law requires voters to have state-issued photo
ID. A Pennsylvania court recently upheld the law, but the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court vacated the decision today and asked the lower court to
reconsider. The ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gives lower
courts room to strike down the law.
Democrats criticize ID laws for suppressing voters. A study from researchers
at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis
found nearly 700,000 young, minority voters will be unable to
cast a ballot due to voter ID laws. Both young and minority voters tend
to side with Democrats.
Republicans say the laws are necessary to protect elections from
voter fraud. However, studies suggest in-person voter fraud is not a
serious, widespread issue. A News21 report, a Carnegie-Knight
investigative reporting project that looked at national public records,
found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter fraud since 2000. That’s less
than one case a year nationwide.
The audio clips from the event, which was provided by the Ohio Democratic Party, can be heard here and here.
Husted’s office could not be immediately reached for comment. This story will be updated if a comment becomes available.UPDATE (4:25 P.M.): Matt McClellan, spokesperson for Husted, called CityBeat after this story was published."The Tea Party has generally been critical of the secretary's position on voter ID," he said, referring to Husted's past opposition of strict voter ID laws. "The comments he made at the event last night were environmental in general about what the secretary thought had been happening at the statehouse. His position, in general, is unchanged."When pressed about what Husted meant when he advocated for "streamlining" laws, McClellan said Husted supported "simplification" of the current system. McClellan could not offer more details on what that means, and he said specifics would be up to the legislature to decide.
Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party chairman, responded to Husted’s suggestions in a statement: “As
if Secretary of State Husted has not done enough to undermine access to
Ohio’s polls, now he’s planning a secret post-Election Day assault on
what forms of identification voters can present to cast a ballot. It’s
no surprise that after slashing voting access across the state, using
his office for partisan advantage, and lying about Issue 2, now Husted
is making plans to create obstacles for African Americans and seniors to