Friday, March 28, 2008

Metro Government

Now that the Cincinnati Metro Area has surpassed Cleveland in size, I think the topic of Joe Wessels' latest CityBeat column is very appropriate.

The main debate on Metro government falls on two points: 1) a county wide government would need to be a City (municipality), not a toothless township style government as I believe some on the right would want. 2)Would the Republicans dominate both a new city council and the Mayor's office?

I believe the first point is pretty much a done deal. Except for extreme anti-government ideas, no one wants a city that can't do anything. The second point is an issues to be very concerned about. A city council going Republican would be a city council that would do little to support Downtown. That is a harsh statement, but outside of the few Republicans left in the city today, who in the rest of the county cares about anything outside their own little fiefdom?

Final Friday - Concert: Nova

Enjoy the Arts hosts a special event as part of Final Friday this month:


Concert in ETA's office/gallery space /(1338 Main Street
7:00pm, chamber works by Ginastera, Bloch and Mozart

is a fresh and dynamic chamber music ensemble that blends together the traditional and contemporary with an inspired visual twist to explore a modern, kinetic and powerful new concert experience in Cincinnati. Made up mostly of musicians from the Cincinnati Symphony and Chamber Orchestra, the group aims to reinvent the stage and delve into four and five dimensions to charge the atmosphere with a wide-angled perspective on brilliant works of music.

concert:nova also seeks to show the value and importance of collaboration across an array of artistic disciplines to change and build new creative and expressive channels. By bringing their unique sound and vision to the cities' landscape — its galleries, coffee houses, museums and found spaces — the ensemble wishes to create a presence among audiences in different parts of the city, and invite guests to take step closer for a more intimate and engaging experience. The group is dedicated to producing content that is provocative, compelling and relevant to today's world.


This is a rare musical event, so get down to ETA early as space is limited.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

There He Goes Again...

Larry Gross has decided that CityBeat's annual "Best Of" edition is the perfect opportunity to engage in one of his favorite pastimes: ragging on Cincinnati. Given that Mr. Gross no longer lives in the city, his constant efforts to lob stones across the river at us seem more than a little unseemly. In fairness, he raises (perhaps!) one good point. But most of the rest seems to be part of a pretty tired refrain that he can't seem to shake himself from. So let's take a look at what Mr. Gross "misses" about Cincinnati:

I miss healthy downtown activity at night. I moved here in the early 70’s and I can remember downtown being packed at ten o’clock at night. There were people everywhere and it felt like a big city.
I miss feeling safe. 20 years ago, I would never have a second thought about being downtown late at night, because there was traffic. Now, I’m looking over my shoulder constantly.

Has he been downtown in the past three years? I live down here. I can tell you--there's lots of "healthy activity" at night. There are lots of people around most nights. Yes, things can get a little quiet in January and February. But that's because it's cold. People don't want to be on the street. And as for safety? Where and when does he need to "look over [his] should constantly"? Three in the morning? Probably. Before midnight? I routinely walk around downtown at night, and don't feel the need to do that. And I'm pretty much a wimp.
I miss the live television. It was such a staple in Cincinnati for so long. Ruth Lyons, Paul Dixon, Nick Clooney and others kept the city busy with people wanting to get in to see the shows and it was great for downtown business.

Umm, OK. I miss Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. Well, not really--I'm not old enough to. There is no live, local entertainment TV anywhere anymore. I miss penny candy, too. And lawn darts. Damn you, Cincinnati, for not having lawn darts!

I miss having restaurants that are affordable. Once upon a time, you could have lunch downtown at a reasonable price. Not that I’m a fan of fast food chains, but if a person was on a budget, most of those chains were downtown. Now, unless you want to go to Skyline, you’re looking at close to ten bucks for lunch.
Here, he's got some problems with his definition of "reasonable." I miss being able to buy gas for two bucks per gallon, but that doesn't mean Cincinnati's a bad place because I now pay close to four. Even at Skyline, you'd be hard-pressed (if you sit down and eat) to spend less than five bucks for lunch (unless Mr. Gross hates waitresses as much as he hates Cincinnati). Read Chris's (of Cogitatio) excellent rejoinder. And to Chris's list, I'd add the following places to get an inexpensive lunch: Subway (since we're lamenting the end of chains); Gondola's; Fred and Gari's; Red Fox; Balboa's; Jimmy John's; Sports Page; the All Rise Cafe; Cafe Barista; Cafe Martin; and Silverglades.

I miss winning sports teams. I remember The Big Red Machine days and even when the Bengals would win. This was a sports town. Now we have new stadiums down by the river and teams that are losers.

This is still a sports town. If you don't believe me, wander downtown next Monday. You won't have to look hard for fans. And the Big Red Machine played in a "stadium down by the river." It was called Riverfront.

I miss going to the movies downtown. It was fun to catch a show, then walk to a restaurant afterward to get a bite to eat. Now I have to get in a car and go to a Showcase Cinema? To me, that’s not fun.
This is the only valid point Mr. Gross makes. I, too, wish we had a movie theater downtown. But he could walk over to Newport on the Levee for a movie before dinner. Oops, he can't--he's too busy looking over his shoulder to walk anywhere downtown.

Let me stop here before some start saying I'm throwing a wet blanket on the week.

Too late.

Free Legal Advice

I don't usually offer legal opinions here at the Cincinnati blog. People don't really read this blog for that. And besides, with a co-blogger who's a "biglaw" partner, I wonder if my place isn't to be seen and not heard with respect to the law; I should just stick to streetcar posts.

But there's a complex legal issue that's risen recently in Hamilton County, and it's one that people seem to have a hard time understanding. So I thought I might be performing a public service by offering the following advice:

Don't steal from the blind guy visually-impaired gentleman who runs the deli at the courthouse!

I know it's tempting. After all, those Hamilton County sheriff's deputies you saw on the way into the building must be a good 20 or 30 feet away; surely you can outrun them. But there's some problems. You know the other people working behind the counter? Turns out that they're not blind. And that big thing, right behind the counter about fifteen feet up on the wall above the cash register, that looks like a camera? It's--well, I know it's surprising, but it's a camera. And it's connnected to some sort of VCR or DVR. And you know all those people who have been in the news, caught stealing from the deli? Like this woman? Or this one? Or this couple? Or this guy? Well, if you're thinking about stealing from the courthouse deli, you're probably not smarter or better at being a thief than they are. Which means you'll get caught. That's what happened to this woman earlier this week. (Sorry. The last woman allegedly stole from the deli.)

And by the way, maybe you've got some experience with the criminal justice system. So you're thinking to yourself that theft of a small amount of money or food is a misdemeanor. The worst that could happen, you're thinking, is some time in the Justice Center. Another problem: in Ohio, theft from an elderly person or a disabled adult (like a blind man running a deli) is a felony. You can go to prison. For a year. Ouch. All for a couple of bucks and a licorice twist.
I hope this has been helpful in resolving any questions you might have about the legality and wisdom of committing theft offenses in the Hamilton County Courthouse.

We're #4!!!!

CityBeat's Best of Cincinnati is out, and Cincinnati Blog came in fourth for reader's pick for best blog. came in first and if you haven't checked out their blog, do so now! They are doing great work promoting local retail!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Policing the Police

There's two noteworthy items regarding the current dust-up between the City, Chief Streicher, and the officers he disciplined for goofing off while on duty. The first is from City Beat's Kevin Osborne. He takes an anti-Streicher approach. The second is an editorial in this morning's Enquirer, which sides with the Chief.

The last few months have been, frankly, terrible for the Cincinnati Police Division. The "highlights":

  • In December, Chief Streicher was taken to the mat by City Council for failing to spend about two million dollars allotted for overtime for extra foot patrols. (Porkopolis)
  • CityBeat revealed that the Chief used about $125,000 in non-budgeted funds to renovate the second floor of police headquarters, where the Chief's office is located. (CityBeat)
  • Officer Patrick Caton was promoted to the rank of sergeant. (Cincinnati Blog)
  • (Ex)-Officer William Simpson pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery, charges that arose from conduct that took place while he was on duty; Judge Cooper told him that he had "violated the trust of everyone in the city" and sentenced him to six months in the Justice Center, pursuant to a plea agreement. (Enquirer)
  • Officers were accused of goofing off in a substation; supervisors were accused of not doing enough to stop it; Chief Streicher issued discipline; and the City substantially reduced the sanctions he imposed.
  • Officer Clayton Neel pleaded guilty (after a trial had started) to tampering with records for allegedly intentionally misplacing paperwork pertaining to an acquaintance's OVI arrest, but then withdrew his plea. (Enquirer)

Cincinnati police officers do a dangerous, difficult job for which they aren't thanked enough. But something has to be done to change the headlines that are being generated by the CPD. The good work the officers do--which comprises, by the way, about 99.8% of their total body of work--is getting drowned out by all this other noise.

What's the answer? A change in CPD leadership (should the City, for example, offer Streicher a buy-out that would be difficult to refuse)? Should we just chalk this up to a city that is all-to-eager to criticize its police? Something in between?

Hulu is the Devil!

Some time ago, when I first embarked on a solo law practice, I was spending a great deal of time working from my home-office. The problem with that is that it was too easy to find distractions at home to keep me from doing the less pleasant tasks of lawyering. The TV was a particularly devilish distraction. Finding my willpower to be lacking, I made a radical decision: I called Time Warner and had the cable disconnected.

I very rarely work from home anymore; I'm almost always in my comfy office a few blocks from where I live. But I found that I haven't missed the cable enough to warrant having it reconnected. Once in a while, though--say visiting parents, or staying in a hotel--I'll find myself in the midst of a cable TV binge, watching hugely inordinate amounts of CNN, ESPN, and Deadliest Catch. (Oddly, the thing I often miss is Citicable and the ability to watch those whacky councilmembers in action!)

Earlier today, I was engaged in that ultimate procrastination event (websurfing) and checked in on Kate the Great's blog (a great blog--if you're not reading it, you should be, after, of course, you read the Cincinnati blog!). Kate's re-posted something from her archives (a post I'd not read before). I'm not sure why she chose this one in particular, but it turns out that Kate, too, is cable-less, but she's found a remedy: Hulu. It's a site that has both current and "classic" shows available for on-demand streaming. Offerings include shows from Prisonbreak to Lost to WKRP in Cincinnati.

Hulu, if its usage is not carefully monitored, is a terrible, terrible productivity-slayer. In fact, it's the devil. The devil, I say! And Kate is the devil's helpmate! (Of course, I guess I'm no better, spreading the word of mindless diversion even further across the blogosphere.)

My favorite thing to watch right now? Emergency! Bah.

Short Delay of Streetcar Vote

First a note to everyone: this delay is not a big deal. Two weeks is not a big deal. What this gives is time to get the 7 in favor of street cars to agree. The main lone wolf on this issue is Qualls. I believe she wants streetcars. Her approach to transportation is a different one. 6 votes are there now, along with the Mayor, that will get the Bortz plan through. I think the 6 want Qualls on board, so this delay helps that. This is a chance for people to NICELY let Council member Qualls know their views.

I believe I understand Qualls' long term view. The problem is that she is taking what appears on the outside to be an all or nothing long term view. I disagree with that stance. I want a long term all encompassing transportation plan. The trouble with that approach is that it goes far beyond Cincinnati City Council. Any wide transportation plan requires the county and the tri-state metro area to come together. I don't see that happening any time soon. Meanwhile, the City needs the streetcar soon. In the end Roxanne Qualls I believe will vote in favor of the final streetcar plan. Dealing with the anti-streetcar members of council are not winning her many fans, and is losing her many. She has clearly lost much of the good will she had banked after winning her seat last November.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Best. Haircut. Ever.

So lately, I let my hair get too long. Not just rough-around-the-edges long, but unruly, unprofessional, insists-on-curling long. So it was time to go down the street to the barber.

Fausto Ferrari is one of those throwback barbers. You know, the kind of place where a man should get his hair cut. The kind of place where the barber still uses scissors--quickly and well, by the way. And the kind of place where one can still find a straight razor. The Enquirer profiled Fausto a few years ago.

The best part? The brief rubdown (head and shoulders only!) with a vibrating hand-massager.

Altogether, a good way to start the week.

Good News For Commuters

Looks like there's no possibility of a toll on the Brent Spence Bridge in the near future.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Love that Cincy Water

Natilife as a gem of a video link where the mystery will linger as to why Cincinnati's drinking water was tapped for the Colbert Report spoof.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Congrats to H & L

H & L (two friends of mine) are getting married tomorrow, so I thought I'd send a shout out to them and give them a big congratulations. If they are reading this before the wedding, I appreciate their readership, but I think they have more important things to be doing!

In all seriousness: I am very happy for both of you and I wish you happiness and a long life.

Bare Blogging

The Know Theatre of Cincinnati is blogging their latest production: Bare. It opens April 3rd.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Looking Ahead at Music in Cincinnati

Tickets are on sale for the 2008 Macy's Music Festival, July 25 and 26. This is one of the best annual music events in the Queen City (and likely the most praise-worthy effort to be undertaken at Paul Brown Stadium in the next 12 months). Friday night features Patti LaBelle and Earth Wind & Fire; Saturday performances include Frankie Beverly, Jill Scott, and the Cincinnati Choir.

This summer, the Cincinnati Opera will present Puccini's Madame Butterfly; Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor; Daniel Catan's Florencia en el Amazonas; and Verdi's La Traviata. Subscriptions are on sale now; single tickets become available in late May. A membership in Center Stage, the Opera's YP group (and in opera-world, "young" is defined as under 40), has long been considered one of the best buys in town. The company has also decided to start performances earlier this year: each show begins at 7:30 this summer.

And finally, the Cincinnati Symphony has announced its 2008-09 schedule. Highlights include a performance by Midori, the Cincinnati debut of up-and-coming composer Jennifer Higdon's Percussion Concerto (featuring Colin Currie, for whom the concerto was written and whose performance of it gave rise to rave reviews), and the American debut of a "new edition" of Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection."

Wifi and Metro

Looks like Metro will have WiFi on the Downtown/Mason express line. I'd love to ride this bus (I work in Mason), but the no sidewalks on Mason/Montgomery Road and the lack of a crosswalk (over five lanes of traffic!) are currently preventing me from taking it.

Light rail, anyone?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why Is There a Quiz on a Newspaper Website?

I know this is just supposed to be fun and it is only on the front page of the Life Section, but why have it at all? Aren't newspaper supposed to be 'above' this type of thing?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Open Mouth, Insert Foot?

Last week, I was mildly critical of the Hamilton County Young Democrats for their alleged inactivity.

A recent check of the group's website, though, reveals lots of stuff coming up in the next few weeks, including:

  • A St. Patrick's Day Party at Hamburger Mary's (no, I still can't get myself to call it Universal Grille);
  • An after-party at Below Zero following the Century Club Reception (you need an after-party to make the Democratic prom complete); and
  • The local premiere of Uncounted at the Esquire on March 26th.
Guess I just should have been more patient. Sorry, HCYD.

History Question

As a Cincinnati transplant, one of the things I missed out on was being educated (probably during grade school) about local history. One of the things I've always wondered about is the historical reasons for the Swiss cheese-like appearance of Cincinnati. Why do Norwood, Elmwood Place, and St. Bernard exist as separate political entities?

In most major cities, you could hear an argument over whether a particular adjacent suburb should have been incorporated or annexed. But having small pockets of sovereign municipalities in the middle of a city is a little unusual, even by Ohio standards. What gives?

Not A Good Sign

Question you'd rather not hear a judge asking a prosecutor as he's sentencing you or your client for a speeding ticket:

"How much can I fine him?"

CincyFringe 2008 Line Up Announced

The 5th annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival has announced its lineup for 2008. The Enquirer has more here. is planning on wall to wall, beer to beer, and play to play coverage again this year of the Cincinnati Fringe festival. Keep an eye on The Conveyor's Fringe Coverage for more news and previews of Fringe.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stickland Dismisses No. 2 Spot

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland reportedly told the Cincinnati Enquirer's Editorial Board that he would not accept the VP spot if asked by either Clinton or Obama.

The talk of VP and Ohio brings to mind one big and simple question: How do the Dems win Ohio? Yes, grassroots GOTV is what I think is the main weapon for turning any election, but that is not factor at play. On the surface the tide is pouring against the GOP, but many Ohioans are easily swayed by fear and bigotry. For evidence just look to the election of Bush in 2004 and to the Gay Marriage ban.

A VP candidate isn't going to win a national election. A VP candidate could win a state, and a state could turn the election. Yep, it is elementary political science, but sometimes elections are that simple.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I actually considered not putting anything in the body of this post, as I have a theory that we can generate 30-50 comments just by writing the word "streetcar." But there is news to discuss.

Earlier today, reports the Enquirer's blog, Council agreed, 6-3, to appropriate $800,000 to fund the uptown-link study. The "no" votes were cast by Qualls, Cranley, and Monzel.

It's still unclear (at least to me) what the plan is going forward. Does the City begin funding and construction of the Downtown/OTR loop while the Uptown study takes place? Or do we wait for the study to be finished? And does the "I-want-an-Uptown-connection-now" crowd have enough votes to kill the project if the City can't build the entire proposed system immediately (and it almost certainly cannot), rather than in two phases, as was initially proposed?

Amongst the usual nonsensical comments to the Enquirer's blog (I'm proud to say that Griff has generated a readership that gets us the best comments of any local blog!) are two thoughtful comments by Greg Harris (or at least someone claiming to be him). You can read them here and here. Kind of makes you wish Harris were on Council instead of . . . oh, say, Qualls, Cranley, or Monzel? Kind of makes you wish he had run for County Commission. Kind of...never mind.

And why can't I get any councilmembers to introduce an ordinance to rebuild the inclines? :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

All Dressed Up And No Place To Go...

You might recall that one of my New Year's resolutions was to become more involved in the community. Recently, I even joined (by paying membership dues) the Hamilton County Young Democrats.

Realizing I might actually have a little free time this month, I went to the HCYD website to figure out how to do something constructive. Luckily, they have lots of upcoming events to keep me busy.

If Hamilton County does "turn blue" this year, it will be despite the local party's best efforts.

Kaldi's Moving?

I'm way behind on this but CityBeat reported on the possible move of Kaldi's to Findlay Market At this point it appears to be talk, but I've heard the rumors are out there. I don't see it working as a bar there. Findaly Market is not a place people go at night.

Discrimination Against Gays and Transgender Persons in Ohio --- I Am Shocked!

Well, guess the Citizens for Community Values crowd will have something new to get worked up about now that several state legislators are introducing legislation in the Ohio General Assembly to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For those of us who work in organizations that already provide such protections in employment and that provide domestic partnership benefits, this legislation perhaps does not seem so revolutionary. But, for the vast majority of gay and lesbian persons who do not work or live in such environments, such legislation is long overdue. Currently, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have laws that currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private employment: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

I guess we all get to hear again about how this is just about "special rights" from people who would gladly remove such protections from women and racial ethnic minorities if they could find a way. There can be little doubt that such legislation is needed in a world where a 15 year old boy in California, Lawrence King, who suffered taunting and bullying by his classmates because of his sexual orientation and gender identity, is shot and killed in school by one of those classmates – a 14 year old boy or where a member of the Oklahoma state legislature can say that "the Gays are the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Breaking News: CincyBlurg Returns!!!

I got the flash email within the hour from BlurgGirl herself announcing the return of CincyBlurg.

Pay for your tap water and help a child-- Tap Cincinnati

I read about the Tap New York project originally in the New York Times and I'm terribly impressed that Cincinnati is on the list to do this before it becomes a global event.

What's happening? 80 restaurants in the Cincinnati area will be asking diners to pay for their tap water-- $1 each. It starts Sunday, March 16 and ends Sunday, March 22.

When's the kickoff? Friday, March 14, 6:30-10:30 at Bang Nightclub

Which restaurants are participating?

20 Brix, Amarin, Andy's Mediterranean Grill, Aqua, Baba Budan, Bar Louie, Bella Luna, Bellevue Bistro, Beluga, BlackFinn Restaurant and Saloon, Boca, Carlo & Johnny, Chalk, Cityview Tavern, Cityside, Daveed's, deSha's, Dewey's Pizza (four locations), Embers, Greenup Café, Honey, Hugo, Indigo, Jean Robert @ Pigall's, JeanRo Bistro, Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse, Jimmy D's Steakhouse, Kona Bistro, LaRosa's Rapid Run, Lavomatic, Mac's Pizza Pub, McCormick & Schmick's Fresh Seafood, Mesh Restaurant, Mike and Jimmy's Chop House Grill, Mio's Hyde Park, Mitchell's Fish House, Mt. Adams Bar and Grill, Nada, Nectar, Nicola's Restaurant, Orchids at Palm Court, The Polo Grille, The Precinct, Red, Riverside, Sake Bomb, Skyline Chili, Slatt's, Teller's of Hyde Park, Tink's Café, Trio, Tropicana, Universal Grille, Via Vite, Village Kitchen Restaurant, The Vineyard Wineroom, The Waterfront, ZaZou Grill and Pub, Zip's Café.

I hope you'll patronize these restaurants during that time, and donate your own dollar. $1 can provide clean water for a child for 40 days. $10 can provide clean water for a child for a year. So little can do so much, and I'm so proud of Cincinnati and the owners and operators of these restaurants for giving back.

More questions? Visit

Media Bias?

I'm interested in the following Enquirer headline:

Stripper Claims Rape Attempt.

Ordinarily, the Enquirer's crime coverage is extremely sympathetic towards alleged victims (yes, this might just be my own criminal defense attorney bias showing). But here, the headline (a) puts the alleged victim's profession front-and-center and (b) marginalizes the accusation by using the word "claims." It's almost as if the headline writer is expressing skepticism about the allegation.

Had the alleged victim been, say, a pizza delivery driver, it's unlikely the headline would be written the same way; instead, it would probably be "Springfield Twp. Man Charged With Assaulting [or Attempting to Rape, or something similar] Delivery Driver." By making "stripper" the subject (gramatically) of the headline, the Enquirer places the focus on the alleged victim rather than the defendant.

Is there something to this, or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Are all allegations of sexual assault that are made by strippers subject to increased media scrutiny in the wake of the Duke rape case? Or is the headline a form of subtle editorialism expressing a not-so-subtle bias about whether someone in the sex industry can be believed--or possibly, whether she can be raped at all?

This is in the online edition; I don't know what's in today's print edition of the paper.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

New Blog: Somewhere Over the Rhine

Check out a new blog Somewhere Over the Rhine from a new OTR Resident.

Time Check

If you haven't yet set your clocks and watches ahead, you're going to be an hour late everywhere you go.

Can't wait until October, when we get to make up the hour of sleep we lost last night.

Friday, March 07, 2008


I'm tired of Derrick Beasley. And Steve Raleigh. And whoever the guy on Channel 12 is.

I understand the need for lots of coverage when some small town on the far edge of the viewing area has a three percent chance of experiencing a tornado. It doesn't make me happy (and I turn the channel), but I can at least appreciate the public service involved.

But why is this necessary for snow? It's snowing right now. That's going to be the story for the next several hours. There's no need to take cover. There won't be any siresns going off. The meteorologists add about as much to my knowledge of the weather situation as I could gain by sticking my head out a window. There's no public service in the continuous coverage. Do their ratings actually go up by covering the snow so much?

I like (in principle, at least) the closings tickers at the bottom of the TV screen. It's a good way to get the information out. But does anyone know why Channel 9 need TWO tickers? That drives me nuts.

Maybe what I need to do is walk my tired a-- across downtown and get some much needed beer at Bockfest.

Blizzard and Beer: Never Fear!!!

While many events are cancelled tonight, here's a public service announcement: Bockfest is still on. Festivities begin at Arnold's at 6. There won't be a parade, though (or at least the float portion of it is cancelled; apparently, there's still plans to walk from Arnold's to Bockfest Hall).

Looks like the Bockfest folks are doing a good job of providing up-to-the-minute information on their website.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Continuing Story of Hillary and Barack

Will the continue battle for the Democratic nomination hurt the winner? Some would say yes, this will now become an all out bloodsport. On the other hand, the Democrats are going to get all of the attention as long as the battle goes on, maybe right into the Convention. McCain is not going to get much attention at all, unless he makes news somehow.

Voting Problems?

Did anyone face problems like this Enquirer story reports? I honestly don't grasp how far off Clermont County could be to not have been prepared for this? The Secretary of State of Ohio has been predicting this for days. How did Wulsin do in the same county, were her primary votes up as well?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Voting Obama

The presidential primaries have never been an issue here in Ohio. Tomorrow I am going to do something I have never done before, take a partisan ballot. Philosophically I don't like the two party system. I consider myself an independent liberal. I will taking the Democratic ballot and at least for Tuesday, I am a Democrat. This will not be a big deal to most, since I nearly always vote for the Democrat. To me, however, this is a change. I don't know if I will participate in the primary in the future or not, but it is clear that my vote will count tomorrow. There is a race on in American politics and we have the opportunity for change.

On Saturday, I tried to go vote early, to avoid waking up early tomorrow, but when I got to the BOE, the line to vote was insanely long, I couldn't even get off the elevator to even get in line. That was a great sign. It was great to see people voting. I hope this is the biggest turnout for a primary every for Ohio. Having an impact on an election is good for our state. Lets hope there are no problems at the polls and that we have a quickly tallied vote.

I don't like telling people who to vote for. Instead I am telling you that I am voting for Barack Obama. All you need to do is go vote your conscious.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Local Republican Shakeup?

Kevin Osborne is reporting that HamCo Republican Chair George Vincent will resign in the next few weeks and be replaced by HamCo Common Pleas Judge Alex Triantafilou. If Kevin's got the story right (and he usually does), this would be a pretty big deal for local Republicans.

It's been my policy not to blog on stories arising from the HamCo Courthouse. As a lawyer who appears there on a near-daily basis, when I'm there, I just want to be viewed as any other member of the bar, not some quasi journalist/editorialist/whatever. And my criminal practice relies on maintaining cordial relationships with judges and prosecutors, so other than my typical non-court-related liberal rants, I don't want to create any unnecessary tension or hurt feelings. (That doesn't mean I'm afraid to hurt someone's feelings when I'm advocating on behalf of a client--the key word in the previous sentence is "unnecessary".)

I will say this, though: if the story is true, the courthouse's loss will be the Republican Party's gain. As a judge (both in his present position and during his previous tenure on the municipal court bench), Judge Triantafilou has garnered the respect of both prosecutors and the criminal defense bar, as well as civil litigators. If he applies the work ethic he's utilized on the bench to (what appears to be) his future job, it could mean real revitalization for the local Republican party, which has been struggling somewhat for direction these past few years. One has to wonder if Tim Burke would be any match for him.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ringing in March

Finally (for me) for now, an interesting music event at the Duke Energy Center tonight: at 5:00, there will be a free handbell concert. The regional chapter of the American Guild of English Handbell Choirs has put together a concert featuring over 600 handbell ringers. Details, courtesy Channel 12, are here. While you're there, you can check out the main attraction at the convention center this weekend, the Cincinnati Home and Garden Show.

(Geesh--am I the nerd on this blog, or what? Griff just finished posting about how to get Heartless Bastards (of which I'm a fan, actually) and a bunch of bands I'm not cool enough to have heard of to come to MidPoint Music Festival (the ultimate "cool kids" event in Cincinnati), and here I am getting gooey about several hundred handbells. Sorry for bringing down the collective hipness of the blog.)

CityBeat Takes Over MidPoint

The MidPoint Music Festival has a new new boss for 2008. The old bosses, Bill Donabedian and Sean Rhiney, will remain on as advisers.

Overall I think this is great news. There are some big challenges ahead for CityBeat, but if they start work now, capitalize on established partnerships, and build up new connections, I think the festival will be a big success.

The initial thought of the festival each of the last couple years is on where will it be. Many have been whining about where MidPoint should be, specifically wanting it to not on Main Street. It has no other possibilities other than OTR and/or Downtown. Since the press release included an event is at Below Zero on April 9th to announce the new vision of the festival, I would surmise Midpoint is staying at least in part on Main Street/OTR. It makes sense on the level that businesses are picking up on Main and Vine. The negative is that these venues are not currently regular live music venues, like they were in the past. I say that point is moot for a simple reason, there are only a handful (maybe two handfuls) of music venues in town that have regular live original music. Those venues are peppered throughout the area, and have no cohesive force that would draw people out for something like this. Few of those venues, especially those in Northside, have stepped forward to be a partner on MidPoint in the past. They've done that mostly for good reason, the target market for MidPoint shouldn't be the grizzled aging hipster sitting at the bar at Northside Tavern. That person either will never change their musical tastes or they already shop at Shake-It and know many of the acts playing the showcases.

CityBeat needs to start with a definition of the festival. What is the point? Who are they trying to reach? My take would be be to bring 3 groups together, unsigned/small label/up and coming acts, media & music industry members, and most importantly the audience. The musicians would want to impress the media/industry by impressing the audience. The media/industry would want to connect or observe the audience and get the vibe out what people like and don't like in current musis. That makes the audience the key. Midpoint needs a large and wide audience.

To get a bigger audience you have to make get them to get in their cars and drive to Main Street. You do that with a hook. Have a Main Stage, say Sycamore Gardens (Red Cheetah) where you have a mix of bigger local bands (Greenhornes, Pearlene, Heartless Bastards) who would not play Midpoint any more, and then get 1 large act for Friday and Saturday Night. The Greenhornes might be big enough. You might need to start the showcases an hour earlier and then end them at the time the headliner would go on, say Midnight. Let the late night slots be second look spots for bands that stay in town, want to play twice, or are willing to be the alternative to the main stage.

This new main stage would be an additional ticket. I'd establish the following price points:
1. One venue one night, not including the Main Stage
2. One night all access minus the Main Stage
3. One night all access plus one night of the Main Stage
4. All weekend all access minus the Main Stage.
5. All weekend all access plus the Main Stage both nights
6. The delegate badge - access to everything, including the conferences, preview parties, etc.

What you wouldn't do is sell a ticket just to the Main Stage. You also could, if the headliners are big enough, sell out the Main Stage and have the normal showcase schedules. That would be hard to predict and plan for, however.

Another important change to make is to have CityBeat make this a conference in part for music journalists. Target them specifically. Free attendance for any good music journalist! Let the blogs in too! I personally appreciated my media credentials for the 2007 festival and I really liked the gift bag last year!

Other ideas - provide more organized opportunities audience/artist interaction. Get more local business tie-ins like Park+Vine. Increase the team running the festival. Bill and Sean did great job, but they did too much themselves, not letting other take over important functions. This can't be the Dan McCabe dictatorship, Dan needs to build a huge team (not that he wouldn't anyway). The Cincy Blues Festival has a good team structure, look to it for some guidance. Also get WOXY AND the rest of the local radio stations involved, somehow. I think WEBN was there last year. The idea is that all of them would want to sponsor a stage or do live remotes, anything. Don't make them compete, let them all in.

The 800 pound gorilla in the room for CityBeat is how they will get local media coverage. It is touchy because CityBeat is a local media outlet and other media outlets would be hesitant to promote something their competition is sponsoring. MidPoint requires coverage in the mainstream Cincinnati Press. That mens getting the local TV/Radio news to coverage it. It also means getting the Enquirer to cover it. As much as the Enquirer tends to suck and it just has no music coverage to speak of, it has many readers who if they know about the festival could come. I also have to say that includes CinWeekly. The more the coverage the festival gets, the better. It would be nicer if CinWeekly actually asked to cover it, but I fear getting a cover from them might take some prodding. This festival is worth sucking up to your foes. Cincinnati has the talent for a music movement. No matter what all the burn-out hippies and coked out scenesters say, we have the makings for a music scene.

More from CityBeat is here.

Shame On OH-02 Dems!

The Democratic primary in Ohio's Second Congressional District (where Jean Schmidt, a Republican, is the incumbent) has gotten really nasty, really quickly. Victoria Wulsin actually went so far as to launch a website to attack Steve Black for the way he characterizes his house on his tax returns. (He's claiming it as a farm, which gives him a tax break.) Black has responded by buying ad time to criticize Wulsin for her alleged ties to malariotherapy (now widely discredited, at one time a few doctors speculated that for some reason, malaria might kill the AIDS virus); this is a rehash of the rant that the Cincinnati Beacon has permitted to permeate its once-interesting blog (I hear the Dean is going to rename the Beacon "").

I'm disappointed in the direction this campaign has taken. Senators Clinton and Obama have set excellent examples for Dems in the national primary, limiting their criticisms of each other to policy positions, and avoiding the "politics of personal destruction" that has now taken over the Black-Wulsin race. At a time when most Second District voters probably still don't know a ton about Steve Black, he's chosen to spend the days prior to the election attacking his opponent's character. And Wulsin--who will likely win the nomination again--doesn't have the good sense to win graciously, but instead started the ugliness with what seems like a pretty gratuitous personal attack that isn't likely to consolidate or win any support.

If I were a Second District constituent (I'm on the eastern edge of the First District), I think I'd be writing in Paul Hackett in the primary contest.

East Price Hill: Incline Square On The Rise

Griff's most recent post reminds me that I've been meaning to link to an article for the past several days. The Enquirer reports that a plan--and lots of cash--are in place to develop Incline Square in East Price Hill:

Backers of the hilltop development aren't elaborating yet, but they promise that the neighborhood they're redeveloping will also include a steakhouse,gourmet pizza parlor, 24 condos with views, a banquet/reception facility,nightclub with outdoor areas and live music, an upgraded park and a concrete pier on which people can walk for a downtown view.

I'm hopeful that the project (in which John Cranley is heavily involved) could mean a detente between Griff and Cranley with respect to their long, bitter feud over the Bank and chain sports bars. (I don't know if Cranley knows he's part of such a feud, but Cincinnati Blog readers know it.) The article's lede is:

By late next year, developers say, you should be able to have a beer at
Incline Square's new sports bar with a view of the city.

Maybe if Cranley has a chain sports bar to visit in Price Hill, he won't be so insistent on one in the Banks. And maybe Griff won't object to a chain sports bar that's farther from him than the Banks will be. Might there be peace in our lifetime?

Finally, we should talk a little more about the old inclines. One of the most interesting ideas I heard during the last Council election (coming, as I recall, from former CPD Officer and Cincinnati NAACP President Wendell Young, who didn't prevail) was a suggestion to rebuild some of the inclines. I think much of the reasoning that applies to the benefits of streetcars applies to inclines. And if you visit other cities with big hills, inclines tend to be an attraction themselves, bringing development around them. In Pittsburgh, for instance, there's three inclines that I can think of, (the "Mon" Incline, the Duquesne Incline, and the Mt. Washington Incline), and at the top of each is a pretty highly developed area with either restaurants, shopping destinations, or both.

Could inclines be an answer to development for some of Cincinnati's neighborhoods outside of downtown? And with talk of spending lots of money for the streetcars (that would spur development primarily in downtown and Over-the-Rhine), isn't now the right time to raise the issue?

UPDATE: Here's some pretty neat pictures of the old Price Hill Incline. And here's an interesting discussion (hosted by NKU) of the historical link between development and transportation, including the inclines, in Cincinnati.