CONVENTION CENTER: In what’s the largest solar project in downtown Cincinnati to date, 429 solar energy collection panels have been installed on the roof of the Duke Energy Convention Center. The 101 kilowatt installation is expected to receive 1,000 hours of sunlight annually and reduce the center’s greenhouse gas emissions by 57.9 metric tons each year. Also, the panels will save the city-owned facility about $10,000 annually in utility costs. They were installed by Sharp Electronics Corp. and domestically manufactured at Sharp’s Memphis production facility, which is a requirement to receive some federal funding to help pay for the cost. The project is part of an aggressive conservation strategy by both the city of Cincinnati and the venue aimed at making the 750,000 square-foot center a more attractive destination for environmentally conscious groups. This is a bright idea we call can get behind.
CHRIS SMITHERMAN: As reported by Clint Spaeth at the CincyVoices website, he observed a person wearing a “Smitherman for Council” campaign T-shirt Aug. 5 who was collecting signatures for a petition open a CityBeat news rack at Seventh and Race streets, take all of the newspapers inside and throw them into a trash can. The action likely was prompted by a column in that issue that sharply criticized local NAACP President Christopher Smitherman for the overreaching wording on his proposed ballot issue that would block all regional rail projects for a decade or more, and how Smitherman and his followers hid that fact from signatories. As of Aug. 9, Smitherman has remained silent on the matter and hasn’t condemned the action, despite a request from CityBeat. Newspaper theft isn’t just an attack on free speech and free press rights, it’s also prosecutable in many instances. The erratic Smitherman, it seems, can dish it out but he can’t take it.
AVONDALE: In a much-needed reversal of its earlier decision, Cincinnati City Council last week decided to let the Health Department accept a $650,000 federal grant so it can expand a dental clinic in Avondale into a full-service health center. Council’s conservative majority had rejected the grant, fearing the city might have to pick up the tab for the clinic’s operation once the federal funding runs out. But Councilman Charlie Winburn changed his vote after the Health Department provided a written promise stating it wouldn’t ask for General Fund cash to maintain the facility. Opponents, like Councilman Chris Bortz, said it isn’t the city’s job to provide a social safety net. But supporters, like Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, said it keeps people from using hospital emergency rooms for routine needs. We agree; poor neighborhoods like Avondale need more options until there is meaningful health-care reform at the federal level.
JOHN KASICH: Hypocrisy, thy name is Kasich. Even though Ohio’s new governor ran campaign commercials last year attacking then-Gov. Ted Strickland’s use of state-owned airplanes for travel, Kasich already has used such planes more in just 81 days as Strickland did during his entire first year in office. A Dayton Daily News analysis of state records shows Kasich used the planes for purposes like flying to Cincinnati to announce a staff appointment, and flying to Toledo, Akron and Youngstown to speak to chambers of commerce. In his first 81 days in office, the Republican governor used the planes for 16 in-state trips and four out-of-state trips at a total cost of $31,400. By comparison, former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland spent $31,849 on plane travel during his first 13 months in office. The paper reported that, on a daily rate, Ohio is spending $387.65 for Kasich’s state-plane use. Looks like it’s hard for Kasich to give up his free-spending Wall Street ways.