Morning News and Stuff

Inclusion becomes mayoral issue, streetcar clears hurdle, state budget cuts local funding

click to enlarge Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls

Following Democratic mayoral candidate John Cranley’s announcement Friday to

increase city contracts with minority- and women-owned businesses

once elected, fellow Democratic mayoral candidate and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls echoed support for the proposals, although she

disputed Cranley’s record on the issue

. One issue in particular is the Croson study that would allow the city to prepare for a broader inclusion plan for minorities and women. Qualls has repeatedly proposed a Croson study during her time in City Council and previous time in the mayor’s office, but she says Cranley failed to publicly raise the issue at all during his time on council between 2000 and 2009.

Cincinnati’s streetcar project

cleared another hurdle

Friday when Messer Construction announced it needed $500,000 to carry out construction work, which is easily covered by the project’s $10 million contingency fund. With a construction contract, new funding and accountability measures now moving forward, the only potential issue is who has to pay to move utility lines to accommodate for streetcar tracks. The city claims Duke Energy does, while the energy company puts the onus on the city. That issue is currently being worked out in court, although the city has already set aside $15 million to carry out the work for now and just in case Duke isn’t forced to carry the costs. Throughout the streetcar’s history, the project has been mired in misrepresentations and exaggerations, which CityBeat covered in further detail

here

.

The recently approved two-year state budget

provides about $517 million less local government funding than the budget did in 2011

, even though it pays for $2.7 billion in new tax cuts. Democrats have been highly critical of the cuts, but the governor’s office says local governments are effectively getting more funding through other sources not particularly geared for city and county governments. CityBeat covered local government funding in greater detail

here

and the state budget

here

.

Some state officials are

pushing to establish an online, searchable database

that would allow Ohio taxpayers to track state spending penny-by-penny. The state treasurer’s office already maintains a

database for teacher and state employee salaries

.

The Health Careers Collaborative, an organization working to increase health care employment in Greater Cincinnati,

has a new leader

.

Amish communities in Ohio are

questioning whether they should take royalties for land that would be used for fracking

, an oil and gas extraction process that environmentalists claim is dangerous for surrounding air and water. For the Amish, the issue is spiritual, rooted in their religious restrictions against technology and many facets of the modern world. CityBeat covered fracking and its ongoing effect on some Ohio communities in greater detail

here

.

Ohio gas prices are

starting up

this week.

Twinkies are returning to store shelves

today.

HD 189773b, a blue exoplanet, may look hospitable, but the planet has a bad habit of

raining glass sideways

.
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