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Parking plan's final public hearing, officials list Plan B, governor's approval hits highs

Making cash, spending cash
Making cash, spending cash

The tone was negative once again in

the final public hearing

for the city manager’s plan to lease the city’s parking system. Of the two dozen speakers, only four were positive. Tabitha Woodruff, who is with the Ohio Public Interest Research Group, voiced mixed feelings about the plan: “As we feared it provides a short-term solution to a long-term budget problem, raises hours and rates on citizens, and has the potential to incur high transaction costs. … We’re encouraged, however, by the selection of a public entity, the Port Authority and by numerous proposed provisions of the lease intended to insure the city maintains control of details like rates and hours.” CityBeat wrote about the plan in detail

here

.

If City Council does not agree to lease Cincinnati’s parking system, the city manager’s office says the city will be forced to

lay off 344 employees

, including 80 firefighter and 189 police positions, and eliminate Human Services Funding, but critics argue there are better alternatives. Mayoral candidate John Cranley says casino and parking revenue and cuts to non-essential programs could help clear the deficit without the plan.

Gov. John Kasich’s job approval rating has

risen above 50 percent for the first time

, and he’s beating all the potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates in theoretical match-ups, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. CityBeat covered the governor’s budget plan, which will set the state’s policy blueprint for the next two years,

here

.

The Ohio House

will vote

on Kasich’s Ohio Turnpike plan today, which leverages the Turnpike for a statewide infrastructure program.

With the approval of Metro’s operating budget, City Council and Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) have

ended their dispute

over streetcar funding. Council members had been approving monthly budgets as they worked things out with SORTA, which manages the region’s bus system. SORTA filed a lawsuit disputing the limits of the transit fund, but it dropped the suit after the city said it will not use the money for maintenance of streets, sidewalks and streetlights. (Correction: This previously said the city will “only use the money for streets, sidewalks and streetlights” when the opposite is true.)

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) says the state’s schools are making improvement, but they still

“have room to grow.”

In the latest state report cards, Ohio schools improved in 14 of 26 categories and met the state’s performance goal on 21 out of 26, with particularly strong gains in math and science, but ODE says, “The performance of Ohio’s economically disadvantaged students and minorities remains unacceptably low.”

The state auditor

has a problem

with how Ohio’s schools report data through what he calls a “just-trust-me” system.

The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners

unanimously approved a 40-year agreement

with the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) that will lease the county-owned Memorial Hall and provide renovations to the 105-year-old building. County officials have long said the building, which is used to host concerts, shows and speaking events, is in dire need of upgrades, particularly overhauls to its roof, windows, facade work, floors, air conditioning and bathrooms — all of which will now be financed by 3CDC with the help of tax credits.

The commissioners also

approved a two-year policy agenda

, which generally outlines their plans for county finances and taxes, infrastructure and economic development.

The Over-the-Rhine Eco Garden could be

forced to relocate

if the city approves CitiRama’s development proposal. The move would be fully funded by the city’s Department of Community Development, with startup and relocation costs paid for.

Ohio’s concealed weapon carry permits

reached record highs in 2012

with more than 76,000 permits issued.

Fewer Ohioans are

starting their own businesses

, and the state’s level of self-employment is one of the lowest in the nation, according to a report from Dayton Daily News .

With Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino set to open March 4, gambling addiction

could be one of the downsides to the casino’s glitz and job creation

, but extra funds for the state’s treatment programs and special training for casino employees could help combat the problem.

A medical marijuana amendment could be on Ohio’s 2013 ballot, but anti-drug groups are

already speaking out against it

.

Think the 114-year-old Japanese woman has reached an impressive age? Guffaw. Popular Science

lists six much older animals

.
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