MARY RONAN: The superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools deserves a feather in her cap for providing the leadership that’s resulted in the district receiving an “effective” rating from the Ohio Department of Education. That once again makes CPS the highest-rated of Ohio’s eight urban school districts. Perhaps more importantly, only three of the district’s 57 schools remain in “academic emergency” — its fewest number ever. Combined with students’ improved scores on Ohio’s standardized achievement tests, and it’s clear that Ronan is doing something right. That’s quite an achievement in a district with 33,000 students, a large number of which live below the poverty line and face numerous challenges to their potential success. More than virtually any other factor, a strong school system can help improve a city’s fortunes by increasing property values, and attracting new businesses and residents. Well done, ma’am. Keep up the good work.
STEVE CHABOT: The representative from Ohio’s 1st Congressional District might occasionally talk tough on the House floor, but he’s apparently petrified of his constituents. That’s about the only conclusion an observer can draw from Chabot’s supposed “town hall” meeting Aug. 22 in North Avondale. Unlike real town hall meetings, attendees weren’t allowed to directly ask good ol’ Stevie any questions, instead having to submit them in writing before the session began. (A cynical mind would say that’s so some tough questions could be discarded, while staffers helped devise answers to others.) Also, attendees weren’t allowed to use cameras of any type to record the esteemed congressman and his equivocating replies, allegedly due to “security concerns.” To make sure, a Cincinnati police officer man-handled anyone who tried. Say what you will about Congressional Dems, at least they weren’t afraid of interacting with angry voters over health-care reform in summer 2009. How wimpy.
COCA-COLA: The Atlanta-based soft drink producer awarded a $10,000 grant last week to help create a Bike and Mobility Center at the still-under construction Smale Riverfront Park near The Banks district. When completed, the center will offer a wide range of bicycles, strollers, tagalongs, trailers and kids’ safety equipment for rent to park visitors. The grant is part of Coca-Cola’s second annual “America Is Your Park” campaign. Also, the newly emerging park is participating in the firm’s “America’s Favorite Park” contest, an online competition underway at LivePositively.com. If Smale wins, it will receive a $100,000 grant. (Last year’s winner was Bear Head Lake State Park in Ely, Minn., which is using the cash to build a warming hut for winter sports enthusiasts.) Overall, Coca-Cola has donated more than $14 million for restoration and renovation of parks nationwide, including the restoration of more than 260 miles of hiking trails. It’s nice to know that some corporations do good things that aren’t driven by profit.
SHANNON JONES: Pity poor Ms. Faulkner-Jones. The former Hamilton County GOP apparatchik who also is an ex-staffer for Chabot and Joe Deters is getting thrown under the bus by her fellow Republicans. As the state senator for Ohio’s 7th District, Jones was the scapegoat who introduced the bill that restricted collective bargaining rights for public-sector employees. Although she felt it was important, Jones never seemed to able to articulate exactly why. (Maybe she should’ve gotten better notes from her ALEC puppet masters.) Fearful of the repeal of that law that opponents got on the November ballot, however, Gov. John Kasich and Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) were ready to jettison portions in negotiations with union leaders — a far cry from their intransigeant position before it passed. Ms. Jones, though, was nowhere in sight during the last-minute backtrack. Wisely, the union leaders said no. Hopefully, the Senate Bill No. 5 backlash will sweep Jones from office, at some point.