by German Lopez
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber released its positions
on this November’s ballot issues. The chamber supports the Cincinnati
Public Schools tax levy and Hamilton County mental health and services
levy, but it does not support extending City Council’s terms to four
years. The chamber also opposes Issue 2, which would place the
redistricting process in the hands of an independent citizens commission
instead of a commission run by politicians. The chamber said it opposes
Issue 2 partially because it excludes “some Ohioans” from the
redistricting process. The excluded Ohioans are lobbyists and
politicians, who have a vested interest in redrawing district boundaries
in politically advantageous ways in a process known as
“gerrymandering.” In Cincinnati’s district, the district was redrawn by
the Republican-controlled commission to include Warren County, which
puts more emphasis on the rural vote that tends to vote Republican
instead of the urban vote that tends to vote Democrat. CityBeat
previously covered the redistricting issue here and here.Related to Issue 2, the controversial ballot language that
was approved by the state seems to be weighing down the amendment. Public Policy Polling said voters are confused by the ballot initiative.Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost found Value Learning and
Teaching (VLT) Academy, a charter school in downtown Cincinnati, to be
wasteful and unethical. According to a state audit, the school had
multiple instances in the 2010-2011 school year in which it made
excessive payments in possible conflicts of interest.In another audit, Yost also criticized his own political
party. Yost found the Ohio Republican Party accepted prohibited
contributions and improperly spent money.A recent police chase that resulted in a crash and the the injury of minors is coming under scrutiny. The cop involved was found to be in violation of department procedure.Even though he resigned abruptly, the University of
Cincinnati Board of Trustees is considering separation payments for
former UC President Greg Williams. Board Chairman Fran Barrett says the
payments will tie up “loose ends” and buyout Williams’ tenure.Gov. John Kasich is asking public colleges to collaborate
on a funding formula. He says the schools should have a better idea than the state government of
what they need. The schools previously collaborated on a construction
wishlist, which apparently impressed Kasich.A proposed state policy will force schools to keep better
track of who is kept in seclusion rooms and for how long, but the
details will be closed to the public.The fired Democrats suing Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted will be getting their day in court. Yesterday, a federal judge
agreed to a hearing on Sept. 21. The fired Democrats are suing Husted
after he dismissed them for attempting to extend in-person early voting,
which broke Husted’s uniform rules on voting hours.
Even Republicans are now demanding more substance from presidential candidate Mitt Romney.A North Dakota college football player says he got kicked off his
team for kissing his boyfriend.Scientists planted false short-term memories in the brains of rats.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
In a statement on Aug. 22, Secretary of
State Jon Husted said of early voting, “The rules are set and are not
going to change.” Husted made the comment in an attempt to end
discussion over in-person early voting hours.
Unfortunately for Husted, a federal judge
3 Comments · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Like any political convention, the
Republican National Convention was filled with little substance and
mostly vague platitudes. But one piece of policy was made very clear in
the Republican Party’s political platform, which was officially unveiled
at the convention: The war on women is still marching along.
by Andy Brownfield
Local Democrats say GOP nominee's plans would hurt middle class, Hamilton County
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Saturday laid out
five steps that he said would have America “roaring back” during his first campaign stop since formally accepting the
Republican nomination.At Cincinnati's Union Terminal, Romney was joined on stage by his wife Anne, who spoke briefly, echoing her convention speech meant to humanize her husband.
He said his plan involved encouraging development in oil
and coal, implementing a trade policy that favored American companies
and not “cheaters” like China, making sure workers and students had
skills to succeed in the coming century, reducing the deficit and
encouraging small business growth.
“America is going to come roaring back,” Romney told the crowd of thousands packed inside Union Terminal.
Not everyone was so impressed with the GOP nominee’s promises.
About an hour after the Romney campaign event, Cincinnati
Democratic leaders held a news conference to rebut the Republican’s
“Much of his (Romney’s) speech was like his speech in
Tampa, which is where Romney gave Cincinnatians nothing more than vague
platitudes, false and misleading attacks without one single tangible
idea on how to move forward,” said Democratic/Charterite Cincinnati City
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson.
Simpson, along with Democratic Councilman Cecil Thomas and
Bishop Bobby Hilton, attacked the tax plan put forward by Romney and
his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. They said it would cut taxes
for the richest Americans while raising taxes on the middle class by
about $2,000 per household, citing an analysis from the nonpartisan Tax
“Mitt Romney’s plan would take Ohio and Cincinnati backwards, and we don’t have time to go backwards,” Hilton said.
Hilton credited Cincinnati’s revitalization and urban development in part on federal money obtained from Obama’s stimulus plan.
“We deserve better than this. We deserve better than Romney/Ryan,” he said.
Romney would have disagreed with Hilton’s assessment of
Cincinnati’s growth. During his speech he praised Ohio Gov. John Kasich,
crediting him with bringing jobs and businesses to the state.
Romney also took time to attack President Barack Obama’s
record in office. The GOP nominee said in preparation for his convention
speech he read many past convention speeches — including Obama’s.
“He was not one of the ones that I wanted to draw from,
except I could not resist a couple of things he said, because he made a
lot of promises,” Romney said. “And I noted that he didn't keep a lot of
Romney also criticized what he called the bitterness and
divisiveness of Obama’s campaign, saying as president he would bring the
country together. He mentioned the “patriotism and courage” of the late
Neil Armstrong, who was honored in a private service in Cincinnati on
“I will do everything in my power to bring us together,
because, united, America built the strongest economy in the history of
the earth. United, we put Neil Armstrong on the moon. United, we faced
down unspeakable darkness,” Romney said.
“United, our men and women in uniform continue to defend
freedom today. I love those people who serve our great nation. This is a
time for us to come together as a nation.”
The candidate’s remarks ignited the crowd of thousands,
many of whom wore shirts with slogans like “Mr. President, I did build
my business,” in response to a remark made by Obama about businesses being helped to grow by government contracts and
infrastructure, and “Mitt 2012: At least he never ate dog meat,” referring to a passage in Obama’s 2008 memoir during which he recalls being
fed dog meat as a boy in Indonesia.
Steve Heckman, a 62-year-old environmental consultant from
Springfield, Ohio, said he voted for Obama in 2008 but will likely
vote for Romney in this election.
He said he’d written “some pretty ugly stuff” about Romney
in the past but felt jobs was the No. 1 issue and thought the Obama
administration’s policies were sending them out of the country.
“The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has, to me, become a little too almost like a fringe group, putting so much pressure
on businesses that they are moving to Canada,” Heckman said. “Things
like air permits, the EPA is taking too long to issue them. It’s not
just power plants they’re affecting, but all manufacturing.”
Heckman said he didn’t blame the president personally but thinks whoever he put in charge of the agency is being too strict.
“I grew up when the EPA was first put in place in the '70s, and they were, in my opinion, doing God’s work,” he said, citing
the cleaning up of rivers such as the Cuyahoga near Cleveland, which
famously caught fire because of pollution in 1969.
“I support the EPA, but it’s driving businesses out of here.”
Speaking ahead of Romney were U.S. House Speaker John
Boehner, Sen. Rob Portman, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, Ohio treasurer and
GOP senatorial candidate Josh Mandel and Republican U.S. House candidate
for Ohio’s 2nd District, Brad Wenstrup.
“This election is all about changing Washington,” Mandel
said. “The only way to change Washington is to change the people we send
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 29, 2012
“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the
voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American —
voter-turnout machine,” said Doug Preisse, chairman of the Franklin
County Republican Party and close adviser to Gov. John Kasich.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 29, 2012
A 10-year-old distraught over smoothie company Jamba
Juice’s use of giant Styrofoam cups created a Change.org petition to end
Styrofoam usage, garnering more than 130,000 signatures and a call from
corporate Jamba promising to phase out the stuff by 2013. WORLD +2
Ohio Democrats say Kasich, Mandel are blowing off records requests
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Rival political parties in Ohio probably
know more about your elected officials than you do. It’s common practice
for the major parties to file open records requests to get everything
from schedules and emails to staff resumes from officeholders.
by German Lopez
Democratic council members call for extended early voting
In a letter to the Hamilton
County Board of Elections, City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld today asked the
Board to extend in-person early voting hours in the county. Council members
Roxanne Qualls, Chris Seelbach, Cecil Thomas,
Laure Quinlivan, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young also signed the letter.
Council members Christopher Smitherman, an Independent, and Charlie Winburn, a Republican, were notified
of the letter Thursday, but they did not agree to sign.
voting will begin on Oct. 2 and run until Nov. 2. If hours are not
extended, polls in Hamilton County will only be open on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. If the Board agrees to Sittenfeld's recommendations,
early voting will be extended to 8 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday
The letter brings home a political controversy that has recently gained
national attention. In recent weeks, Democrats have accused state Republicans of extending in-person early voting in
predominantly Republican counties and keeping shorter in-person early
voting hours in predominantly Democratic counties.
Democrats typically point to Warren County and Butler
County — two predominantly Republican counties with extended in-person
early voting — and the recent actions of Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted. In the predominantly Democratic counties of Lucas, Cuyahoga,
Summit and Franklin, Husted had to break ties in Boards of Election
on the issue of in-person early voting hours. In every case, Husted
voted against extending in-person early voting hours.
Jerid Kurtz, spokesperson for Ohio Democratic Party, says
the move follows a clear Republican trend: "Every opportunity that
presents itself, Republicans take away the right to vote."
referring to Republicans' initial push to end
in-person early voting in Ohio. In 2011, Republicans passed two laws —
H.B. 194 and H.B. 224 — that ended in-person early voting in the state. After
Democrats managed to get enough petition signatures to put the early
on the November ballot, Republicans repealed H.B. 194. However, by not
repealing H.B. 224, Republicans have made it so all non-military voters
are still disallowed to vote the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before
Election Day. Democrats
and President Barack Obama have filed a lawsuit to restore those early
voting days for all voters, including military personnel and families.Democrats
like Kurtz argue that in-person early voting is necessary to
maintain reliable, efficient elections. In 2004, Ohio did not have
in-person early voting in place, and the state drew national attention
when its long voting lines forced some people to wait as long as 10 hours
to vote. After the debacle, a Republican-controlled legislature and
Gov. Bob Taft, also a Republican, passed laws allowing in-person early voting.But
now Republicans seem skeptical of their own laws.
Republicans say the measures are meant to cut costs and stop voter
fraud, but Democrats say the measures are all about suppressing the vote. In
a moment of honesty, former Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer told
MSNBC that the measures are about disenfranchising demographics that typically side with Democrats. Even Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has stepped in to criticize Republicans for what he sees as disenfranchisement.Husted told reporters at Cleveland's The Plain Dealer that he is considering establishing uniform rules. With such rules,
every county would have the same in-person early voting hours.But Kurtz says the talk about a uniform rule is "pure
silliness." He says counties have differences, so they need
different voting times. Instead of worrying about uniformity or what
counties can afford, Kurtz says Husted should worry managing elections
and "empowering people to vote."
The calls for extended early voting come a time when
Hamilton County is facing budget issues. With a $20 million budget
shortfall projected for next year, affording more early voting hours might
be difficult. No official estimate has been released on how much the
extended hours would cost.The Hamilton County Board of Elections will meet Thursday at 9 a.m. to discuss extending in-person early voting hours.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Equality
at 12:45 PM | Permalink
Governor's male staffers earn 56 percent more than women
As of late, the media has been shoving it in my face that being a woman kind of sucks. Yesterday in particular was a painful reminder that aside from women's highly publicized birth control and body woes as of late, our male counterparts still earn more than $10,000 per year more the rest of us working females. April 17 was "Equal Pay Day," a holiday created to illuminate the gap between the wages of women and men, even in the 21st century. We've been "celebrating" the holiday in April since 1996 in order to signify the point in the year into which women must work (on top of the previous year) to earn what male counterparts earned in one year. Jezebel reported it best with a lovely chart illustrating all the things men can buy with the extra moolah they make (I'd pay off my student loans and then buy a modest beach bungalow on the Mediterranean. You?). Political website plunderbund.com recently took the time to dig up some even more grim statistics — ones that bode far more ominously for anyone working under Ohio Gov. John Kasich's regime. A simple examination of public salary records found massive inequities between Kasich's male staffers and female staffers. The findings, which highlight the biweekly earnings of employees working in the governor's office, showcase that Kasich's male staffers earn a whopping 56 percent more than female staffers. The below image shows women's salaries highlighted in yellow, while men's are left blue. Granted, the positions of the people named aren't listed, but the gap exists nonetheless. "Of the 34 people listed as Governor’s office employees, only 4 of the
top 17 paid staffers are women (76 percent are men). And only 4 of the bottom
17 are men (76 percent are women)," reports Plunderbund. If you compute the average salaries earned by men and women in Kasich's office, respectively, you'll find the numbers even more stark; $77,730.88 versus $49,498.52. According to the latest Census statistics, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. If the numbers in Kasich's offices meshed up with that statistic, women working in his office should, in theory, be making about $60,000 compared to men's $77,730.88. What gives? Perhaps it has something to do with Kasich simply not wanting to employ women in high-power positions in his office, instead relegating them to lower positions; it was Kasich, after all, who famously said, "I had a woman campaign manager, I have a woman lieutenant governor, I
have a woman finance chairman, and I’m married to a woman with two
daughters, OK? I’ve said all along, I really wish I could get some guys around me."Either way, the gap in Kasich's office should raise some eyebrows about staffing and salary decisions by the state governor. Critics of the existing pay gap nationwide insist that it continues to triumph because of occupational and lifestyle choices (e.g., not as many women pursue high-paying, elected positions), "rigorous analysis of data by labor economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn found
that over 40 percent of the pay gap cannot be explained by such
differences, concluding that 'there is evidence that…discrimination does
still continue to exist.'" according to this article published by the Center for American Progress, an independent, nonpartisan educational institute.