by German Lopez
79 days ago
at 10:14 AM | Permalink
Council to vote on parking, hospitals push Medicaid expansion, MSD upgrades coming
City Council will vote today on the controversial plan
to lease Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati
Development Authority. The plan would give up some control over the city’s
parking meters and garages to generate revenue to fund downtown
development projects and help balance the deficit for the next two
years. Before the City Council vote, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr.
will hold a presentation on solving Cincinnati’s long-term structural
deficit problems, which Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan said was a
remaining concern even if the parking plan passed. CityBeat previously covered the parking plan here, the city manager’s and John Cranley’s alternatives here, Councilman Chris Seelbach’s alternative here and the Budget and Finance Committee vote on the plan here.
Hospital groups are telling lawmakers that the Medicaid expansion is “necessary”
to preserve facilities that will face big cuts in the next year. Under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), hospitals will lose funding from the federal government,
but the cuts were supposed to be made up with the prospect of more
customers. If the state doesn’t expand Medicaid, the hospitals will
still lose funding, and they won’t get many of their potential new customers. As
part of Obamacare, the federal government is carrying the full cost of
the expansion for the first three years. After that, the federal
government’s share is brought down to 95 percent and ultimately phased
down to 90 percent. By some estimates, the Medicaid expansion would save Ohio
money by shifting costs from the state to the federal government and
generate more revenue through increased economic security. Gov. John
Kasich suggested the expansion in his budget proposal, which CityBeat covered here.
Cincinnati and cities all around the nation are facing new federal requirements
to update sewer systems to better handle stormwater runoff, which can
mix with sewage and spill into rivers. Tony Parrott, executive director
of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), says his agency has developed
software to prioritize upgrade projects and make them more efficient. CityBeat previously covered some of MSD’s efforts here.
A bill sponsored by Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, would limit the window
for collecting additional signatures for a state ballot initiative to
10 days if the secretary of state deems the initial petition signatures
short of minimum requirements. Seitz says the bill will eliminate a
loophole that allows politically motivated petitioners to extend and
abuse the state’s petitioning process, and Secretary of State Jon Husted
says the bill “is on the right track.” Opponents are calling the bill
“punitive” and saying it will weaken Ohioans’ rights to take up ballot
initiatives and referendums.
Supporters of Internet sweepstakes parlors are saying that a state ban on the establishments would be unconstitutional
and would potentially face litigation. Luther Liggett, an attorney
representing Internet Sweepstakes Association of Ohio, said a Toledo
appeals court ruling found Internet cafe games are not gambling because
the outcome is predetermined. He also said a ban would violate
constitutional protections against retroactively negating contracts,
which internet cafes hold with employees, real estate owners and
Greater Cincinnati Walmart stores are installing rooftop solar panels
as part of the retailer’s nationwide green initiative to completely
power all its stores with renewable energy. The arrays on 12 Ohio
Walmart stores will generate enough electricity to power 820 homes
year-round and eliminate carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the
output of 1,152 cars.
The University of Cincinnati could get $30 million
as a result of the reported settlement with seven schools breaking away
from the Big East to form their own non-football conference.
The average American severely underestimates
how bad wealth inequality is, according to a YouTube video that went
viral over the weekend. If the inequality trend is truly downplayed,
that could have bad repercussions for Ohio: A previous report
from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found
Ohio’s income gap — the income difference between the rich and poor — is
wide and growing, and low-income and middle-income Ohioans have
actually seen their incomes drop since the 1990s.
How did you fare in the aftermath of the winter storm yesterday? Some southwest Ohio areas were reporting widespread power outages.
Indiana lawmakers are considering changes
to their state’s casinos to make them more competitive with
Cincinnati’s newly opened Horseshoe Casino and other Ohio
establishments. The Indiana Senate already passed a bill that would
allow riverboat casinos to move on shore and racinos to replace
electronic game tables with live dealers. The bill is now going to the
Indiana House for approval.
A gay couple was kicked out of a California mall
for holding hands and kissing. Apparently, the security officer who
kicked the couple out paid very close attention to the make-out session;
in a recording, the officer said that he counted the couple kissing 25
A new study suggested Europa, Jupiter’s moon, could have salt water on its surface, which would be good for potential extraterrestrial life.
by German Lopez
80 days ago
Most Americans underestimate U.S. wealth inequality
A YouTube video that went viral over the weekend may have broken the rosy illusions the average American has about wealth and income inequality.
Using data from Mother Jones,
Dan Ariely, ThinkProgress and CNN, the video compares the average American’s ideal distribution of wealth, what the average American says wealth inequality looks like and how wealth is distributed in reality — ultimately showing that the average American says the nation is much more equal than it really is.
The video suggests investment income as one of the drivers of inequality. The top 1 percent wealthiest Americans hold 50 percent of the
nation’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds, while the bottom 50 percent of
Americans only hold 0.5 percent of such investments, according to the
“The average worker needs to work more than a month to earn what the CEO makes in one hour,” the narrator says.
In the past, the United States was a lot closer to equality. As the
video points out, the top 1 percent only took home 9 percent of the
nation’s income in 1976. Today, that number is up to 24 percent.Ohio isn’t immune to the trend. A previous report
from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found
Ohio’s income gap — the income difference between the rich and poor — is
wide and growing, and low-income and middle-income
Ohioans have actually seen their incomes drop since the 1990s.
The video doesn’t make any suggestions on how to fix the
problem — it simply shows massive inequality exists — but there are
plenty of ideas out there. A paper from the Congressional Research Service
suggested the tax system may be playing a role in driving up income and wealth inequality: “However, the top tax
rate reductions appear to be correlated with the increasing
concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. … The
statistical analysis in this report suggests that tax policy could be
related to how the economic pie is sliced — lower top tax rates may be
associated with greater income disparities.”
In December, The Washington Post posted 10 empirically supported ideas, which included funding preschool education, making unions easier to join and promoting trade in highly skilled professions.
In his 2013 State of the Union, President Barack Obama
suggested raising the federal minimum wage to help combat poverty
and income inequality — a policy that economist Lawrence Mishel of the
Economic Policy Institute recently advocated.
Here is the full video:
by German Lopez
93 days ago
Kasich gives State of the State, Dohoney's parking plan, county rejects bridge tolls
Gov. John Kasich gave his State of the State speech
yesterday. Kasich focused on his budget proposal and jobs, and he
urged lawmakers to take up the Medicaid expansion. Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer has a thorough report on the speech here. CityBeat gave an in-depth look at Kasich’s budget in this week’s cover story here.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. proposed an ambitious parking and economic development plan
yesterday. The 30-year plan, which Dohoney called a “public-public
partnership,” will lease the city’s parking assets to the Port of
Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to fund more than $100 million
in projects around the city, including the I-71/MLK Interchange, Tower
Place Mall and a high-rise that will house a downtown grocery store. As
part of the deal, the city will retain control over parking rates,
operation hours and the placement of meters.
The Kenton County Fiscal Court unanimously voted against tolls
to pay for the Brent Spence Bridge project, reports WVXU. County
residents are concerned the tolls will be a financial drain for
commuters and travelers, but finding other sources of funding for the project has been an ongoing struggle.
An Ohio woman claims she was fired after voting for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, reports Dayton Daily News.
Patricia Kunkle’s lawsuit claims her former employer, Roberta “Bobbie”
Gentile of Q-Mark Inc., threatened to fire workers if Obama won election
and that Obama supporters would be first on the list.
John Cranley, former Democratic council member, will
formally launch his mayoral campaign today. The kick-off will be at 20th
Century Theater in Oakley at 5:30 p.m. Cranley’s main opponent will
most likely be Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, a fellow Democrat. The two
Democrats have split on one issue: the streetcar. Qualls supports it,
while Cranley is against it. CityBeat covered the streetcar and how it relates to the mayor’s race here.
The University of Cincinnati is conducting research for how to locate food deserts, reports the Business Courier.
Professor Michael Widener is looking at where people live and work,
with a focus on how many people are able to stop by a grocery store
after a workday.
Failing to yield caused 37,475 crashes in 2012,
according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Altogether, the crashes
killed 187 people and injured 23,353. Young drivers, aged 16 to 25, were at
fault for 30 percent of the crashes — nearly twice as high as those aged
26 to 35, who caused 16 percent of accidents. The full county-by-county
report is available here.
UC will spend $2 million on design work for Nippert Stadium, reports WLWT. UC hopes the work will attract an Atlantic Coast Conference invitation.
Popular Science has a demonstration of scientists teaching language to a childlike robot.
1 Comment · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Kasich released a more moderate budget proposal for the 2014 and 2015
fiscal years, but it fails to make up for the governor’s history
of massive spending cuts and the state’s faulty social welfare
by German Lopez
114 days ago
Austerity hurts U.S. economy, voter suppression returns, state income tax benefits rich
Between October and December, the U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank by 0.1 percent — the first contraction since 2009. The downturn was
primarily caused by the threat of conservative fiscal policies,
particularly defense spending cuts. Dropping business inventories also
helped drag down the economy. Otherwise, consumer and business spending
was actually strong.
Some Republicans want another go at reducing voting rights.
Rep. Mike Dovilla, chairman of the newly created House Policy &
Legislative Oversight Committee, says he wants to consider measures that
crack down on alleged voter fraud, including reduced voting
times and a photo ID requirement to vote. But in-person voter fraud is not a real problem. News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found only 10 cases of in-person voting fraud in the United States between 2000 and 2012.
That’s not even one case of in-person fraud each year. The real reason
Republicans want to enact stricter voting measures is to hinder young, minority
voters that typically support Democrats. One study found 700,000 young, minority voters were excluded by photo ID laws in 2012.
A Policy Matters Ohio report found Ohio’s income tax hits the poor and middle class
a lot harder than the wealthy. The numbers from the report: “The top 1
percent of non-elderly Ohio families by income, who earned at least
$324,000 in 2010, on average pay 8.1 percent of their income in state
and local income, property, sales and excise taxes. By contrast, the
lowest fifth, who make less than $17,000, on average pay 11.6 percent.
Families in the middle fifth of the income spectrum, who make between
$31,000 and $49,000, on average pay 10.6 percent.”
Cincinnati is extending its contract
with Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) for a month
despite an ongoing conflict, but the supposed conflict is really much ado about nothing.
SORTA wants the city to guarantee it won’t use the transit fund for the
streetcar, but City Council has already passed a resolution saying it
won’t and Mayor Mark Mallory has repeatedly stated he will not use the
transit fund for the streetcar. Due to the mayor’s race, the streetcar
will be facing another contentious year at the ballot box,
which CityBeat covered in-depth here.
More than 60 percent of Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurs are expecting a net profit
in 2013. Most of them also expect to hire part-time employees,
according to a new survey from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The
survey is another sign of rising confidence in the U.S.
economy.The Dayton Daily News reports manufacturing is driving economic growth in Ohio, to the benefit of more than half of the state’s counties.
When defending Ohio's charter school and voucher programs, conservatives often tout the magic of “school choice,” but a Policy
Matters report found school choice may hurt education standards in the state.
Ed FitzGerald, a popular Democrat from Cuyahoga County, is gearing up to run for the governor's race in 2014.
Scientists have taught bacteria to eat electricity. The trick could eventually be used to turn microorganisms into a biofuel source.
by German Lopez
116 days ago
School funding changes soon, prison union wants more security, drug abuse costs employers
School superintendents will hear
about Gov. John Kasich’s school funding proposal Thursday. The
proposal, which will change how all of Ohio’s schools are publicly
funded, will be released to the wider public Feb. 4. Many school
officials are bracing for the worst, according to Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer. Rob Nichols previously told CityBeat
that the proposal is “a big undertaking”: “Many governors have tried
before. Many states have been sued over their formulas. It’s something
we have to take our time with and get it done right.” Ohio’s largest prison staff union is asking Kasich’s administration to increase the amount of prison security officers
following a late December report from the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction. The report found a correlation
between rising prison violence and a decrease in prison security staff,
affirming a position the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association has
held for years.
A Journal News report found substance abuse comes at a heavy loss
for Ohio employers, including more workplace injuries, higher medical
costs, more absenteeism and reduced productivity. Some experts advocate
for drug testing to lower the costs, while others
argue drug testing can often affect innocent, responsible drug users.
Employers are much more likely to test for marijuana over alcohol, even
though multiple studies show cannabis is less addictive and
The flu epidemic may be leveling off in Ohio. The state
health department revealed the amount of hospitalizations involving the
flu have plateaued, but the department cautions the calm could be temporary.
The women’s sections of county and regional jails are facing higher levels of overcrowding.
The overcrowding is a result of a 2011 law that enables fourth- and
fifth-degree felons to be held at county jails instead of state prisons.
A new online tool reveals the salaries of public school teachers and staff.
The extensive audit of Ohio schools and their attendance information will be released Feb. 11. The preliminary reports found Cincinnati Public Schools were clean. The investigation into attendance fraud began when Lockland schools in Hamilton County were caught falsifying attendance data.
A new poll found an overwhelming majority of Kentucky parents favor raising the school dropout age to 18, up from the current age of 16.
Ohio gas prices are still rising.
Researchers made super-realistic lung tissue with levitating cells. The development allows researchers to better study how toxins affect the lungs.
by German Lopez
122 days ago
Terhar compares Obama to Hitler, Cincinnati unemployment drops, Portman's deficit plan
Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar posted an image
of Adolf Hitler on Facebook that said, “Never forget what this tyrant
said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.”
But the Cincinnati Republican, who was referencing President Barack
Obama’s gun control proposals, now insists she was not comparing Obama
to Hitler. It’s pretty obvious she was, though.
Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate
dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.9 percent in November.
The drop is largely attributed to a decrease in the civilian labor force,
which could imply less people are looking for work or seasonal changes
are having an impact. Whatever the case, the amount of people who are
employed and unemployed both dropped. Hamilton County’s seasonally
unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in December, down
from 6.4 percent in November, but that drop was also attributed to a declining labor
force or seasonal factors. Greater Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted
unemployment rate was unchanged from 6.4 percent, despite 2,600 less
people working. In comparison, Ohio’s seasonally unadjusted
rate was 6.6 percent in December, up from 6.5 percent in November, and
the U.S. rate was 7.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, suggested the Dollar-for-Dollar
Deficit Reduction Act. The plan requires debt ceiling increases to be
matched by an equal amount of spending cuts. Increasing the debt ceiling
is essentially Congress agreeing to pay its bills. During the budget
process and while passing other legislation, Congress agrees to a
certain amount of spending. Increasing the debt ceiling just makes it
possible for the president to pay those bills, even if it means
surpassing a set debt level. If the debt ceiling isn't raised by May 18,
the United States will default on its debts, plunging the country into
depression. But the threat of destroying the U.S. economy has not
stopped Republicans from using the debt ceiling as a negotiation tool to
get the spending cuts they so badly want.
Public employees are avoiding changes to Ohio’s public pension system
by retiring before the changes kick in. The changes make it so any teacher who
retires before July 1 will get a 2 percent cost of living increase to
their pensions in 2015. Anyone who retires after July 1 will not get the
increase until 2018. After that, retirees will get a pension increase
every five years. Experts are also expecting a rush of retirees in 2015,
when age and years-of-service requirements for full benefits are set to
A new report found Ohio’s graduation rate is still improving.
The U.S. Department of Education report found the state’s graduation
rate was 81.4 percent in the 2009-10 school year, higher than the
nation’s rate of 78.2 percent, and an increase from 78.7 percent rate in
the 2006-2007 school year.
A study found a link between hourly workers at Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center and intestinal cancer.
As Ohio cuts back its solar program, Canada is shutting down the rest of its coal-fired power plants by the end of 2013.
The Cincinnati Reds may get to host the 2015 All-Stars Game.
Scientists are rushing to build robots that save lives in disaster zones. Will John Connor please stand up?
by German Lopez
126 days ago
State unemployment drops, GOP embraces redistricting, Cincinnati climate-friendly
Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.8 percent in November, according to new numbers
from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In comparison, the
U.S. unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent in December. The amount of
unemployed dropped from 391,000 to 388,000. Unfortunately, the amount of
employed also dropped, indicating that some people are leaving the
The Republican State Leadership Committee admitted the only reason Republicans kept a House majority was politicized redistricting.
The admission from a memo titled “How a Strategy of Targeting State
Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in
2013.” The report even singled out Ohio as a state that benefited
Republicans due to redistricting. CityBeat previously covered the issue in-depth here.
Cincinnati is among three finalists in the World Wildlife
Fund’s (WWF) Earth Hour City Challenge. The contest judges efforts to
combat global warming. Cincinnati, Chicago and San Francisco were chosen
by WWF and global management consultancy Accenture for
preparing their cities for a “climate-friendly future,” according to a
statement from WWF.
At this point, it’s looking like Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposals will take months for legislators to sort through. The proposals include major changes to taxes, the Ohio Turnpike, education and Medicaid.
Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky signed a landmark water agreement to leverage Greater Cincinnati’s water technologies. The agreement seeks to spur legislation, according to the Business Courier.
The Cincinnati Zoo may need a levy to stay afloat.
Ohio hospitals spent $3.1 billion in free health care in 2010, up from $2.9 billion in 2009, according to an Ohio Hospital Association report.
On the bright side, overall crime is down in Cincinnati.
Bad news, everyone. Chipotle is likely to raise prices this year.
To avoid Obamacare’s health care requirements for businesses, some businesses may begin cutting jobs.
Some in the scientific community want to establish national parks on Mars.
The Catholic Church’s interference with its employees’ private lives is becoming an increasingly public matter
4 Comments · Wednesday, January 9, 2013
In the 1940s, upholding a dainty, proper
nuclear family wasn’t just common — it was the absolute standard for
social acceptance. Seventy years later, that’s no longer the case.
by German Lopez
140 days ago
Streetcar delayed to 2016, unemployment steady, Boehner re-elected speaker
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Cincinnati streetcar is being delayed until 2016.
The streetcar has been delayed time and time again, much to the cheer of opponents. Some opponents have taken
the delay as yet another chance to take shots at the streetcar, but the
city says a lot of the delays have been due to factors out of the city’s
control, including ballot initiatives, the state pulling out a massive
$52 million in funding and a dispute with Duke Energy.The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent in December,
with November’s rate being revised upward to 7.8 percent as well.
Employers reported adding about 155,000 jobs last month, but about
192,000 entered the labor force, meaning the amount of people joining
the labor force outmatched the newly employed. The unemployment rate
looks at the amount of unemployed people in the civilian labor force,
which includes anyone working or looking for work.
U.S. Speaker John Boehner was re-elected U.S. House speaker.
Just moments after securing the top House seat, Boehner said he will
make the U.S. debt a top priority. But continuing to make the debt and
deficit top issues could hurt the economy, as the fiscal cliff and
recent developments in Europe have shown.
Uncle Sam is helping out Cincinnati firefighters. The Cincinnati Fire Department will be getting $6 million in federal grant money to hire 40 additional firefighters. The money will be enough to fund salaries for two years.
Cincinnati’s biggest cable provider dropped Current TV
after it was sold to Qatar-based Al Jazeera. The Pan-Arab news network
has had a difficult time establishing a foothold in American markets,
largely because of the perception that it’s anti-American. But Al
Jazeera has put out some great news stories, and some of the stories won
awards in 2012.
If anyone is planning a trip through New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, Dayton International Airport now has that covered.A small town in Ohio is being accused of covering up an alleged gang rape to protect a local football team.
But KnightSec, a hacking group affiliated with the organization Anonymous, is
fighting back by releasing evidence related to the case.
Despite a solved fiscal cliff deal extending emergency unemployment benefits, Ohio’s unemployed will soon be getting less aid. The decrease was automatically triggered by the state’s declining unemployment rate.
Ohio’s universities are adopting more uniform standards for remedial classes.
The newest Congress is a little more diverse.
In what might be the worst news of the century, the Blue Wisp Jazz Club could close down. The club, which has the greatest spinach-and-artichoke dip in the universe, is facing financial problems.
People who recently obtained gift cards for Rave Motion Pictures may want to get a move on. The theater is being sold to AMC Theatres.
A new theory suggest Earth should have been a snowball in its early days, but it wasn’t due to greenhouse gases.