SHERROD BROWN:The Democratic senator from Cleveland is coming to the aid of Greater Cincinnati football fans. Disturbed by the large number of Bengals games that aren’t allowed to be aired on TV stations in Cincinnati, Dayton and Lexington, Ky., Brown has proposed the Federal Communications Commission repeal or revise the “sports blackout rule,” a 1970s-era regulation that allows the NFL to prohibit broadcasts of a local sports game when the event doesn’t sell out. “For eight of the last nine home games, Bengals fans in southern Ohio have been denied the opportunity to watch their team compete,” Brown said. “There’s no doubt that the current economic downturn has made it more difficult for Ohioans to make ends meet, much less afford tickets to an NFL game.” The NFL’s blackout policy requires home games to be blacked out in local television markets if the game is not sold out 72 hours before the scheduled kickoff. In 2010, the NFL blacked out 26 games.
CHIQUITA:After weeks of negotiations, Chiquita Brands International confirmed it will move its headquarters from downtown Cincinnati to Charlotte, N.C., by 2014. The produce giant was offered more than $22 million in incentives from state and local officials in North Carolina, compared to a $7 million package offered by Ohio. (Given his temperament, we always suspected Gov. John Kasich had a small package.) The move means about 375 well-paying jobs will leave the region. Chiquita has called Cincinnati home for the past 24 years, and it’s a shame the firm is moving south. Part of the reason for the shift reportedly is the decreasing number of international flights available at the airport in Hebron, making it difficult for executives to travel to the company’s offices in Switzerland and the Netherlands. At the very least, we hope that with all the money it’s saving, Chiquita will begin paying its farm workers more in Central America and settle lawsuits about its payments to terrorist groups there.
COVINGTON:Thanks to local residents, the Covington Fire Department is getting a $10,000 grant from Liberty Mutual Insurance. That’s because enough residents took part in the company’s “Be Fire Smart” online quiz to learn about fire safety and prevention while also securing credit for their their fire department. More than 1,275 residents participated in the quiz, answering 10 questions to test their fire safety knowledge. Each person to complete the test scored a credit for the Fire Department, helping it become one of six mid-size communities, and one of 10 cities across the nation to win a Liberty Mutual grant. Assistant Chief Brian Bamberger said the money will be used to buy needed equipment. Besides the quiz, Liberty Mutual’s website includes fire safety tips, information on how to create a home fire escape plan and a room-by-room guide to preventing fire hazards. All of these are good to know, especially during the holiday season.
PORTUNE & MONZEL: As of CityBeat ’s Nov. 29 deadline, Hamilton County Commissioners Todd Portune (a Democrat) and Chris Monzel (a Republican) still hadn’t approved reducing the property-tax rebate funded by the half-cent sales tax that funds the Reds and Bengals stadium. Without the reduction, the account for the county-owned stadiums is facing a $14.2 million deficit next year. As Harry Truman used to say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” It’s time that Portune and Monzel put aside their politically based concerns, show leadership and do what’s best for most county residents — and that’s reducing the rebate. No other solution proposed so far will yield enough savings in time. And without a fiscally sound plan, Moody’s has threatened to downgrade the county’s bond rating, which would cause even more problems. As an Enquirer analysis recently confirmed, the rebate mostly favors the wealthy anyhow, who don’t really need the break.