by German Lopez
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
5 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
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.
by German Lopez
Local unemployment unchanged, schools could open enrollment, 2013 challenges schools
Facing tight budgets, Ohio schools, including Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), are considering open enrollment.
The move would open school doors to neighboring communities. It was
previously considered by CPS a decade ago, but the plan didn’t have
enough support from the district’s board. It might now.Next year could be challenging for Ohio schools.
Butler County schools will begin the year by implementing a transition
to the Common Core Curriculum, new evaluations for teachers and a new
method of rating and grading schools. The state is also expected to
change the school funding formula.Cincinnati’s
seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate remained relatively flat at 6.9
percent in November, according to data from the Ohio Department of Jobs
and Family Services. The city’s unemployment did not tick up or down
from the 6.9 percent rate in October, but about 1,300 dropped out from
the civilian labor force as it shrank from 145,600 in October to 144,300
in November. Hamilton County also remained flat at 6.3 percent as 3,500
left the labor force. Greater Cincinnati ticked up to 6.2 percent from
6.1 percent, with about 6,900 leaving the labor force between October
and November. In comparison, the state had a seasonally unadjusted rate
of 6.5 percent and nation had a seasonally unadjusted rate of 7.4
percent in November. Unemployment numbers are calculated through a
household survey. The unemployment rate gauges the amount of unemployed
people looking for work in contrast to the total civilian labor force.
Since the numbers are derived from surveys, they are often revised in
later months. Federal and state numbers are typically adjusted for
seasonal factors.Police in Kentucky are now using playing cards to catch suspects.
Trooper Michael Webb says the effort has helped crack three out of 52
cases so far. That may not seem like a lot, but Webb puts it in
perspective: “Two of the cases were double homicides so that's four
families that have gotten closure and have had some kind of ability to
deal with the situation. The third one was a single murder and obviously
that family has been able to have closure. So we've got five families
that have been able to have closure as a result of this initiative.”Another casualty of the fiscal cliff: milk. It turns out milk prices could soar to $7 a gallon as Congress fails to adopt a farm bill. President Barack Obama and legislators are expected to discuss a fiscal cliff deal today.As some companies shift to social media, Facebook may topple CareerBuilder for job opportunities.On Christmas Day, 17.4 million smart devices turned on for the first time. In the first 20 days of December, only 4 million Android and iOS devices were turned on.What does 2013 hold for science and technology? Popular Science takes a look. Expect more supercomputers and less solar activity!Here is the dorkiest, cutest marriage proposal ever.
by German Lopez
End of world today, state unemployment dips, fiscal cliff plan abandoned
Today is the end of the world. Whatever. Life sucks anyway.
Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.9 percent to 6.8 percent in November.
Gains were concentrated in trade, transportation, and
utilities, financial activities and educational and health services,
with losses in construction, leisure and hospitality, government,
professional and business services and information services. Overall,
the state’s non-agricultural wage and salary employment increased by
But could the recovery last? U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is now ditching efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff,
a series of spending cuts and tax hikes set to kick in at the end of
the year. Boehner could not get Republicans to vote on a tax hike for
people making more than $1 million a year, which isn’t even enough to
make President Barack Obama’s demand of increased taxes on anyone making
more than $400,000. If the United States goes over the fiscal cliff, the
spending cuts and tax hikes will likely devastate the economy. CityBeat wrote about U.S. Congress’ inability to focus on jobs here.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich finished the lame-duck session by signing 42 bills into law.
The laws include loosened restrictions on gun control, an update to
Ohio’s education rating system and $4.4 million in appropriations. The
loosened gun control law in particular is getting criticized from
Democrats in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre. The law allows
guns in the Ohio Statehouse garage, loosens concealed carry rules and
changes the definition of an unloaded gun so gun owners can have loaded
clips in cars as long as they are stored separately from guns. CityBeat wrote about the need for more gun control in this week’s commentary.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters suggested arming
teachers to avoid school shootings, but a considerable amount of
research shows that doesn’t work. Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig says arming teachers is a bad idea:
“Certainly we can look at other options, but when you talk about arming
school teachers or a school administrator without the appropriate
training, and training is not just going to a target range and being
able to hit center mass. How do you deal with a crisis? We're talking
about a place with children.” Craig is now pushing crisis training as a
Meanwhile, Sen. Rob Portman says school shootings need a holistic approach. The Ohio Republican says he will consider further restrictions on guns and armed school officials.
It seems a housing recovery is well underway. Cincinnati home sales are showing no signs of a slowdown.
Cincinnati is getting six historic preservation tax credits
from the state government. As part of the ninth round of the program,
the Ohio Development Services Agency is giving the city credits for
parts of Main Street, parts of East 12th Street, parts of East McMillan
Street, Abington Flats, Eden Park Pump Station and Pendleton Apartments.
The U.S. Department of Education is looking into whether Ohio charter schools discriminate against students with disabilities.
Overall, charter schools in the state enroll as many students with
disabilities as traditional public schools, but students with
disabilities are concentrated in a few charter schools.
A federal judge upheld Ohio’s exotic animal law, which restricts who can own the animals in the state.
Judith French, a Republican, will replace retiring Justice Evelyn Stratton
on the Ohio Supreme Court. Gov. Kasich’s appointment of
French keeps the court’s makeup of six Republicans and one Democrat.
Genetics is perfecting the Christmas tree. From the Twilight Zone archives comes Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Christmas special.
by German Lopez
Governor reveals turnpike plan, city to approve budget, Kroger could buy Hostess brands
It’s official: Gov. John Kasich won’t privatize
the Ohio Turnpike. Instead, the Republican governor wants to increase
tolls at the rate of inflation and issue bonds backed by the turnpike’s
profits to raise an estimated $3 billion for infrastructure projects — more than 90 percent of which will be in northern Ohio, where the turnpike is located. To
ease the short-term burden of the plan, tolls for local passenger trips
using E-ZPasses will be frozen at current levels for 10 years. In a video
unveiling the announcement, Kasich says the projects could generate an
estimated 75,000 jobs. To most, the plan, which will require approval
from the legislature, probably seems like a fairly liberal proposal: use
a public asset to leverage revenue, then use the revenue on a large,
statewide stimulus program. But Democrats are criticizing the plan
because they say the toll hike will hurt individuals, families and businesses
that use the Ohio Turnpike. Let the eye-rolling at blatant politicking begin!
City Council is getting ready to approve the budget today. The final plan has made a few tweaks to City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposal. Parking privatization will remain, but the budget will provide a
one-year stopgap in funding for Media Bridges. Previously,
all of Media Bridges’ funding was being cut, which CityBeat wrote about here.
The plan will also keep the mounted patrol unit, maintain income tax
reciprocity and restore funding for human services and arts grants.
Will Cincinnati-based Kroger soon own Twinkies? It’s possible. The grocery store giant is considering buying Hostess brands in the aftermath of Hostess’ bankruptcy. CityBeat previously wrote about the Hostess bankruptcy here.
A study found a gap
in Hamilton County’s housing stock. The report suggests the county
doesn’t need any more housing than it already has; instead, it should
build on current properties. The report also found vacant housing that
isn’t for sale and serves no purpose has increased by 107 percent.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has unveiled a new master plan. It’s proposing $450 million in projects.
The Hamilton County recorder’s office will remain open
on Fridays. The office was previously planning to close every Friday
due to funding cuts, but restored funds have made staying open possible.
In its last session of the year, the Ohio Senate approved redistricting reform
32-1. The House could not take up the measure before the end of the
lame-duck session, but the vast bipartisan support could be a good sign
for next year’s legislative session. Redistricting is widely used by
politicians to redraw district boundaries in politically beneficial
ways. The First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, was
redrawn during the Republican-controlled process to include
Republican-leaning Warren County, effectively diluting Cincinnati’s
Democratic-leaning urban vote in the district.
Ohio lost more residents than it gained last year, but the trend might be reversed by a growing economy. Economic improvements have already slowed down what Dayton Daily News calls an “exodus.”
A new Ohio law would increase the amount of auto insurance motorists are required to carry.
A drop in gas prices lowered U.S. consumer prices by 0.3 percent.
NASA discovered the largest river
ever seen on another world. The river is on Titan, Saturn’s largest
moon, and it is made up of hydrocarbons. The river is still unnamed, so I
encourage everyone to email NASA to name the river the German Lopez
Climate change isn’t just bad for humans. It will also hurt cuddly land mammals.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
If someone turned on the news during the
past few weeks, it would be hard to blame him if he thought the most
pressing issues in the world right now are budgets and abortions.
by German Lopez
Local state senator proposes bill to limit payments to illegal immigrants
An Ohio policy research group is taking offense to a local
state senator’s “anti-immigrant bill.” If passed, S.B. 323, proposed in
April by Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, would require workers to prove their
legal status to work before receiving workers’ compensation, but
Innovation Ohio says the bill reaches too far to solve a problem that
might not even exist.
The bill was the topic of discussion at a Senate
Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee hearing on Nov. 27. At the
hearing, supporters argued the bill would stop compensating illegal
workers who aren’t supposed to be in Ohio to begin with. But opponents
argue that the details in the bill add too many extra problems.
In fact, the bill might be going after a problem that
doesn’t even exist. At an earlier hearing, Seitz, a Republican, said the state does not
collect data on the immigration status of workers receiving
compensation. To Brian Hoffman of Innovation Ohio, this means there’s no
way to know if the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has ever
compensated a single undocumented worker. “It just seems curious that
this bill is being introduced and has gotten three hearings when there’s
no proof that it’s actually even an issue,” he says.
Hoffman is also worried that the bill is imposing a new
regulatory burden on BWC without providing additional funds. In his
view, the state agency is essentially being told to do more without
additional resources to prepare or train regulators. Considering how
complicated the immigration issue can get, this makes Hoffman doubt the
agency will be able to properly carry out the new regulations.
From a broader perspective, the bill imposes regulatory hurdles on all injured workers just so they can get compensation they're entitled to under state law. “Talk about kicking someone when they’re down,” Hoffman says.
But the burden could hit Hispanics even harder and lead to
more discrimination in the workplace. After all, when employers are
clearing legal statuses, who are they more likely to question, someone with a
name like “Dexter Morgan” or someone with a name like “Angel Batista”?
In Hoffman’s view, the state should leave immigration
issues to the federal government and worry about more pressing issues:
“Why is the state legislature even wasting its time on the issue? There
are plenty of really good ideas to bring jobs back to Ohio. Why aren’t
they focused on those?”
The bill is still in committee, but it’s been the subject
of multiple hearings. It’s unlikely the Ohio Senate will take it up in
what’s left of the lame-duck session, but it could come back in the next
CityBeat was unable to reach Seitz for comment
despite repeated attempts through phone and email, in addition to a scheduled
interview that was canceled. This story will be updated if comment becomes available.
by German Lopez
Parking privatization deal reached, rape flier case could be unsealed, casino revenue drops
The city of Cincinnati and its largest city employees union have reached a deal
regarding the privatization of the city’s parking assets. Under the
deal’s terms, the city will give raises and not lay off anyone for three
years, but only if the city’s parking assets are privatized. However,
the head of a Clifton community group is still not happy with the privatization plan. He says the plan is bad for business because it limits the amount of affordable parking in the area. But would laying off 344 city employees be better for business?
The identity of the Miami University student who put up
the infamous “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” flier may soon be revealed. The Ohio Supreme Court
will decide by Dec. 14 whether the case should be unsealed and open to public view. Robert Lyons, the Butler County part-time judge who sealed the case, has faced scrutiny in the past few months for conflicts of interest regarding drinking-and-driving cases.
Revenue from casinos in Toledo and Cleveland is dropping. The numbers paint a bad picture for Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials expecting budget problems to be solved by casino revenue.
A proposal mandating drug testing for welfare recipients in Ohio resurfaced last week. Republican legislators claim the requirement will save the state money, but a similar proposal in Florida added to budget woes as the state was forced to pay for drug tests.
Ohio’s ultra-wealthy population is growing.
About 1,330 Ohioans are worth $30 million or more, an increase of 2
percent since 2011, according to a report from Wealth-X. The news could
shape Gov. John Kasich’s plan to cut the income tax using revenue from a
higher oil-and-gas severance tax, perhaps encouraging state officials to make
the cut more progressive.
Gov. Kasich is ending the practice
of giving so many tax credits to keep businesses in Ohio. The move could
potentially cost the state jobs as businesses move to other areas with
bigger, better incentives, but state officials and the business community don’t seem too worried for now.
If the Ohio government agencies were forced to cut their budgets by 10 percent, the results would not be pretty. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
would have to close prisons, and the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources would have a tougher time enforcing new regulations on
Ohio’s exotic animal law is facing a challenge in federal court
today. Exotic animal owners claim the law violates their First
Amendment and property rights by forcing them to join private
associations and give up their animals without compensation. They also
do not like the provision that requires microchips be implanted into the
animals. The Humane Society of the United States is defending the law,
which was passed after a man released 56 exotic animals and killed himself in 2011.
An Ohio court said a business tax on fuel sales must be used on road projects.
Ohio gas prices are still dropping.
The cure for leukemia could be a modified version of the AIDS virus.
by German Lopez
Environment Ohio touts renewable energy’s health, job benefits
A Dec. 5 report is encouraging Cincinnati to become the solar
energy capital of Ohio and the broader region. The report, titled
“Building a Solar Cincinnati,” was put together by Environment Ohio to
show the benefits and potential of Cincinnati regarding solar power.
Christian Adams, who wrote the report along with Julian
Boggs, says Cincinnati is especially poised to take charge in this
renewable energy front, in contrast to the rest of the state, which gets
82 percent of its electricity from coal. Adams points to
the sustainability-minded city officials and public, a “budding solar business
sector” and the great business environment as the city as reasons why
Cincinnati could become a pivotal leader.
With 21 public solar installations to date, the city has
already seen some of the benefits of solar power. The most
obvious benefit is cleaner air, which leads to better overall health and
helps combat global warming. But the report points out that local solar
initiatives mean local jobs. “You can’t export these jobs,” Adams says.
“It’s a great opportunity for economic revitalization.”
With solar energy comes an array of job opportunities for
solar installers, solar designers, engineers, construction workers,
project managers, sales associates and marketing consultants. That’s
enough to create brisk job creation. The report points out
“energy-related segments of the clean economy added jobs at a torrid
pace over the last few years, bucking trends of the Great Recession.”
Still, there are hurdles.
Although solar energy saves money in the long term, installing solar
panels has a high upfront cost. The cost can make the short term too bleak for many potential customers.
To help overcome the short-term problem, the report suggests
third-party financing. In these financing agreements, customers agree to
give up roof space to have a solar power company install solar panels,
and then customers agree to buy their power needs from the company. It’s
a win for the solar power company because the panels eventually pay for
themselves through new customers, and it’s a win for the customer because
he sees more stable, lower energy costs and cleaner air. Adams points
out that a few businesses and individuals in the area have already taken part in such agreements with great success.
There are also some incentives already in place to
encourage solar energy. Ohio’s Clean Energy Law, which was passed in
2008, pushes utility companies into the renewable energy market with
Solar Renewable Energy Credits. These are credits utility companies must
earn to meet annual benchmarks by installing solar panels or purchasing
them from third parties. Duke Energy has followed the law’s
requirements by establishing its own renewable energy credit program.
Ohioans also have access to some tax breaks — the Energy
Conversion Facilities Sales Tax Exemption, Air-Quality Improvement Tax
Incentives and Qualified Energy Property Tax Exemptions — and loan
programs — the Energy Loan Fund and Advanced Energy Fund — that
encourage solar and other renewable energy sources.
Falkin, director of the city’s Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ),
says the report didn’t have much new information, but he’s glad
it can be used to push solar energy to the broader public. He touted the
benefits of job creation and reducing reliance on foreign energy
sources by moving toward energy independence.
For now, the city is mostly taking the approach of leading
by example. Falkin says the city is acting like a “model” for solar
energy. Cincinnati added solar installations to two city facilities this
year, and another will be added by the end of the month. Falkin’s
office is also working together with different organizations to keep any
Adams and Falkin both attended a Dec. 5 roundtable discussion
that engaged regional officials, including solar businesses,
environmental and sustainability groups, education leaders and the
Cincinnati Zoo. They both said the roundtable went well.
“I think all the right people are coming together and doing the right things to try to move us forward,” Falkin says.