Monday, August 31, 2009

Wal-Mart Supercenter To Open Soon

A little non-CBD news for those of you who think we're too downtown-centric on the blog.

Wal-Mart is set to open its Supercenter in Red Bank Village (on Red Bank Road in Fairfax) on October 28. According to news reports at the time Wal-mart announced the new store, it should have about 200,000 square feet of retail space. At about the same time, the company will close its "general merchandise" store on Highland near Ridge.

For those of you wondering about the employment impact of the new store: the employees and management of the Highland store will transfer to the new supercenter. Wal-Mart will also hire additional associates, though I've not heard how many or when applications will be accepted. My own experience with Wal-Mart (now almost a decade in the past) is that about 50 new associates will be needed, and hiring will be about 30-45 days prior to grand opening. If the company still operates as it did in the past, associates in surrounding stores will be given the opportunity to transfer to the new store (and some from nearby supercenters may be assigned there temporarily to help with grand opening). So in addition to the possibility of positions available in the Red Bank Village store, there may also be a few jobs open at nearby Wal-marts, too.

Yes, folks, I do shop at Wal-mart. Not often, and only for certain things (four-dollar prescriptions come to mind), but I do shop there. And I'm not apologizing.

For what it's worth, I'll give a shout-out to the Highland Avenue store. Five or six years ago, you couldn't have paid me to walk into that store and shop. It usually felt dirty and its in-stock position was terrible (in other words, there were often a lot of items that were out-of-stock on any given day). The last couple years, though, the store has really turned around (at least in my opinion). The store is usually clean and I don't have trouble finding what I'm looking for; the associates all generally seem to be in better spirits than in the past. My guess is the store has benefitted from a new management team. Wait times at the check-outs during peak hours remain a problem, but that seems to be a chain-wide problem the company is willing to live with(I'm not sure the company even pays lip service to the notion of "speedy checkout" anymore.)

So look for the new store, and a few new employment opportunities in the next couple months.

Support Passenger Rail at City Hall September 1st

Come out and support Passenger Rail Transportation 10AM September 1st at City Hall when the City will determine the language of the ballot initiative seeking to prevent any passenger rail in Cincinnati. COAST, the author of the ballot language purposely wrote a deceptive amendment in hopes of fooling people into thinking their effort is only about Streetcars. The goal of COAST is to prevent any passenger rail from being funding in Cincinnati. Say no to COAST and their anti-city movement.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reminder: CEAs For Theatre Tonight @ Below Zero

Just a quick reminder that CityBeat's Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for Theatre take place to night at Below Zero(1122 Walnut Street) and start at 7pm sharp, with a mixer starting at 6pm. Come down and support local theatre!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Rule: No BWI.

Things not to do on a Friday night (technically, I suppose, Saturday morning): post to the blog after having far too many screwdrivers. It can lead to writing inappropriate words that one wouldn't use with any ability to engage in forethought.

My apologies to anyone who was offended by last night's post.

But you really should start coming to the Cincinnati Imports events.

BWI (Blogging While Intoxicated)

Anyone who wasn't at Cincinnati Imports' pub crawl earlier tonight is a pussy asshole loser.

Best kept secret about these things: it's the best male:female ratio (from a male perspective) of any gathering in Cincinnati. This is no sausage fest.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lincoln-Douglas? Nay

WCPO will televise a mayoral debate on October 13th at 8 p.m. I'm not expecting a Lincoln-Douglas quality debate. I think Mayor Mallory is a very capable orator and knows the issues like few others. The challenger, Brad Wenstrup is NOT known for his grasp of city issues, so I don't expect much more than a George W. Bush style performance from him. Yes, that lowers the bar for Wenstrup. I think he'll be swinging for the fence to try and make some impact on the Mayor's huge advantage. He shall strike out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart.

After learning about recent events in Democratic circles, there is some clear advice for one council candidate. If Tony Fischer is going to go fishing with his nephew and his nephew is suddenly not able to go fishing for some unknown last minute reason, then under no circumstances should Tony go out on a small boat in Lake Tahoe alone with Al Neri.

Delay School Funding For Cops?

In a new tact some council members are proposing to defer payment of 2.5 million dollars the Cincinnati Public Schools due in October. That would buy some time. I assume the four members of council reportedly pushing this newest idea beleive that if we save 2.5 million dollars, that they CPD is the most important group to retain. They are the most vocal about it, that is for sure, but not all of the jobs affected are more important than keeping more Health inspectors. I'd like to not get sick the next time I eat out.

I like where Council Member Greg Harris is going on this issue. He reportedly is inclined to support the idea of deferring payment to CPS, but he wants the FOP to step up to the plate and make concessions for 2010. We will be having the same fight next year if the FOP doesn't. The FOP president is quoted in the article as basically saying no, cut someplace else. I still do not get how the FOP can be so hypocritical and plain old greedy. Sure some would say it is their job to fight for their members and they need to have a strong negotiating position. Well, sure, but how can anyone in good conscious claim they are moral and doing the right thing for the safety of the city if they willingly take a pay RAISE while other police officers and other vital city employees loose their jobs? We are not talking about pay cuts, just a pay freeze. If there are other departments in the city not taking a pay freeze, slap one on them for 2010. If people are serious about public safety being compromised, then they should be taking these steps, the FOP should not be playing chicken with public safety. If people (like Jeff Berding and Leslie Ghiz) are not being serious about the impact of the reduction of police officers and are doing this to appease the FOP and appear (falsely) to be fighting crime, then they should be ashamed of themselves and be honest about it. Yeah, I know, that is a pipe dream.

Deferring the payment to the CPS is a short term fix. It can buy us some time. It does not solve the problem for 2010. The FOP must step up with concessions or agree that the CPD doesn't actually need the number of police officers it has.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RIP Ted Kennedy: 1932-2009

The Lion of the Senate has passed. His shoes shall never be filled.

Now Deters Is Fear Mongering

I am not surprised by County Prosecutor Joe Deters scare tactics. When you are trying to save your budget, you will say anything to panic the people into supporting you. Si Leis, Jeff Berding, and George Bush are the others who do it often.

Details Take Days?

Why is it taking Jeff Berding a couple of days to produce details about his new 'plan'? If you have a plan, you should have the details down. If you don't have the details down, you don't have a plan. Jeff actually have a plan if he spent his time working on the details instead of going on WLW and trying to put fear into the public, as he did yesterday where he claimed the population of the city would drop because the city laid off 138 people in the police department. We don't need grandstanding. We need leadership. A leader exposes the FOP unwillingness to make concessions to save jobs. A leader isn't a shill for the police union and goes out and cuts jobs in other department to preserve the raises of cops.

Hamilton FOP Steps up

I still don't know how much the Cincinnati FOP leadership pays attention to anything outside their Central Avenue clubhouse, but it would be good if they read this. The Hamilton FOP agreed to concessions:
While the city eyed cuts of more than $4.5 million to balance the general fund, concessions made by both unions saved the city more than $3 million in expenditures for this year and in 2010.
The other union mentioned was the Fire Fighters.

The power is the FOP hands. They can save every police officer's job with concessions. I don't get why they are not willing to protect their FOP brothers and sisters from getting laid off. I am hoping when they lose in court, they will come to their senses.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Police Chief States Excessive Force Used

The video is here on and it is clear enough to put the cop on suspension until a full investigation can be made.

The Enquirer has a good summary here, including the past of the officer under suspension, who was actually fired and then the city was forced to rehire after arbitration. This police officer needs to think about his career choice. He can avoid problems for himself and save another police officer's job if he quits.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Relevant? No.

When an adult child of a sitting council member is arrested by police and is tased in the process, I hesitate to post anything about it. This councilmember, Cecil Thomas, is a retired police , so that adds some level of interest to the story. A clear conclusion everyone must reach is that this has no bearing on the election. If she was a minor and living with her father, this might be more of a relevant story to his character. At this point, this story is really only about the character of Celeste Thomas, age 26, someone who happens to be the daughter of a politician. The police cruiser’s video camera will hopefully shed light on what actually happened. Until then, lets hope this doesn't become an a circus. After that, lets hope it still doesn't become a circus, but let the facts fall where they may.

UPDATE: Reportedly, after seeing the cruiser video, the Police Chief has suspended the officer who tased Thomas, on grounds that excessive forced was used.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jason Bruffy Leaving the Know Theatre

Unexpected news from Rick Pender, Jason Bruffy, Artistic Director of the Know Theatre is leaving for Utah and a job with the Salt Lake Acting Company in September. I was a bit surprised by this news, but it sounds like a great opportunity for him. I hope to see him back in town on occasion, maybe bringing a show to Fringe?

According to Rick the Know is throwing a Farewell happy hour on September 3rd at 7PM.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

CincyPAC Final Endorsements

The membership of CincyPAC have voted and the final slate of endorsed candidates are:

Mark Mallory

City Council:
Amy Murray
Chris Bortz
George Zamary
Greg Harris
Jeff Berding
Laure Quinlivan
Leslie Ghiz
Roxanne Qualls
Tony Fischer

So in the council race there are 3 Republicans, 2 Charterites, 4 Democrats.
5 incumbents and 4 challengers.
4 Women and 5 Men.

I have many thoughts on this slate, but I am heading down to the CincyPAC event today so I hope to learn more about the voting process and why people picked these candidates. I have a full report forthcoming.

Pro-Lawyer Charter Amendment

When councilmembers are grandstanding for the purpose of gaining attention, they often come with a shortsighted idea that they don't vet its effect in the long run. Leslie Ghiz is trying to get Cincinnati city council to approve a motion to put a charter amendment on the ballot in November that would reduce Cincinnati Council members salaries more than 50%.

So Ghiz is trying to scrimp and save a few more jobs, instead of pressuring the FOP for real concessions that will save all of the 138 jobs, OK, fine. She lacks the courage to stand up to the FOP. Fine, I get that, this is something Republicans generally do in this town (or rather don't do.)

Did she stop and think about who will be able run for council to do this so called "part-time" job in the future? Lawyers like her. That's about it. Who else but a person who does not need to work will be able to find a full time job that would allow them time to take off every Wednesday afternoon, not to mention time off for committee meetings or to do anything else? Well, lawyers like her can, and the wealthy can. So under Ghiz's plan we would all but insure that anyone going forward who is going to run for council will not be an average middle class person, because no one without wealth can sacrifice their livelihood to live on 27,000 a year, along with the headache and expense that comes with being a member of council. This means we would have a council who represent the upper-class or at best the upper-middle-class, looking to make it really big. I think it is in everyone's interest that we don't take steps toward making city council into a House of Lords.

I think instead of this type of shortsighted grandstanding, Leslie Ghiz should just give half of her own salary back to the city and then see can feel good about herself, use it as a campaign issue, but not limit the ability of the average citizen from being a council member and earning a fair salary to do a difficult and often thankless job.

Friday, August 21, 2009

19 Council Candidates Turn in Signatures

The maximum number of candidates for city council in 2009 will be 19 and the list is:

Jeff Berding (D)
Chris Bortz (C)
Anitra Brockman (I)
Laketa Cole (D)
Tony Fischer (D)
Kevin Flynn (C)
Leslie Ghiz (R)
Greg Harris (D)
Nicholas Hollan (D)
Chris Monzel (R)
Amy Murray (R)
Roxanne Qualls (C)
Laure Quinlivan (D)
Cecil Thomas (D)
LaMarque Ward (I)
Bernadette Watson (D)
Charlie Winburn (R)
Wendell Young (D)
George Zamary (R)

The short field is leading some to speculate that there could be some upsets. It is clear there will be one new spot on council, with the term limited Crowly out at the end of this term, but at this point, the question will turn back to GOTV. If Obama voters, who are registered still, get back out and vote again, things could greatly change. One could argue that if the Teabaggers GOTV things could change, but that assumes there are a bunch of Teabaggers living in the City. Well, I think the fact is clear that Teabaggers are not a big group and more importantly they don't live in the city. So, what does that mean? Is this going to be a repeat election of 2007, with all 8 incumbents winning? At this point that is the logical way to think, but this year I don't have a good sense yet of the mood of populace. I think energy will be a factor and the campaign with the most energy will be in the mix.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deception (Exempli Gratia, COAST, Finney)

It is funny when Chris Finney gets hoisted by his own petard. Finney is pissed because he claims the City is trying to make the ballot language a bit more clear, preventing him from deceiving the voters. That is right, Finney is pissed because the forces of good are acting to thwart his efforts at deception. According to Finney's court filing, the city is considering removing the "(e.g., a trolley or streetcar)" part of the ballot language because it clearly is misleading. The ballot initiative will affect all "passenger rail transportation" and Finney (and COAST/NAACP) are knowingly trying to mislead the public into thinking this is just about the Streetcar. The "e.g." which is the abbrevation of the Latin phrase "exempli gratia" means "for example." Well, I just want to make it known that deceiving the voters is wrong, for example, how Chris Finney, COAST, and the Local NAACP are trying to deceive the public into thinking that their ballot issue is not anti-passenger rail, but is instead only about the Streetcar. Let's hope the forces of good will thrwart evil this time again.

Oh, and Finney will be costing the City and County more needless money if he fights this in court. Better ask him how many jobs will be saved if he accepts the clarity over his attempted deception. Oh, right, he wants smaller(None) government, so any government job loss is a positive to someone like Finney.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Donald!

Give a cheer out to the Cincinnati Blog's Donald today. I am one less year older, for a while.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I'm not sure what else to say about the temporary closure of the Corryville Kroger to permit the Pied Piper to wander the aisles for a while.

But if I still lived in Clifton, I'm pretty sure I'd give up shopping there in favor of the Ludlow Avenue IGA. And if I really needed a Kroger fix, I'd probably head to the Kenard Avenue store (UC students: just head north on Clifton and keep going).

Derek Doesn't Like Our Weather...

That's not exactly true. But he has decided he'd be happier in a more "hurricane prone market." (I'm almost positive that only a meteorologist could ever be made happy by increasing his chance of being squashed by a house like the Wicked Witch of the East.) So he's headed to Mobile, Alabama.

I've made fun of Derek a couple times (here and again here, in a post that exposed my own meteorological failings). But in truth, I tend to look for his weather forecast, because I enjoy his on-air persona.

The good news, of course, is the possibility of more Randi Rico. (Yes, I'm a pathetic Rico groupie.)

But even with more Rico, I'll miss Derek. I hope he does well in Mobile, that the city is good to him, and that he doesn't miss too much having actual seasons (like winter and fall). Be careful, Derek: winter weather advisories are a lot safer than hurricane warnings!

GOP Heavy CincyPAC?

The voting is on for the members CincyPAC for the endorsements of Mayor, Council, and School Board. I've seen the CincyPAC Board of Directors' recommendation list and it surprisingly includes 3 endorsed Republicans and 2 very conservative endorsed Democrats. I am surprised this organization's leadership went that Conservative. For members of CincyPAC the voting is open until the 20th and the final slate will be announced at their big event on Saturday. It will be very interesting to see how the voting actually turns out, since the three Republicans have been negative on the Streetcar, but provide a 'maybe in the future' answer that gives a false impression of where their current position actually puts them on the Streetcars, which is against it.

It will be also be interesting to see how progressive the CincyPAC rank and file members actually are. The group I believe is very progressive on social issues, but on an economic front I don't sense an as progressive bent. The vote will tell.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gotta Love Northside

Where else in world can you have your Brunch served by the lead singer of a really great band, then go buy her band's latest CD at the city's best record store?

Boo! Fixxed!

It is not humanly possible for the best bar in Cincinnati to be a bar I've never been to. Someone at the Cincinnati Man has some explaining to do!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cable TV Bleg

Cincinnati Bell came a-knocking today, trying to sell me on their fiber-optic service. Their price for cable, phone, and internet beats Time-Warner.

I'm particularly interested in the television aspect of the service. (I've had Cincinnati Bell phone service before and used Zoomtown in a business environment.) Anyone have any experience with their cable service--either good or bad--that they'd like to share?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

COAST Wrong, Again

The Provost at The Phony Coney details how COAST's Mark Miller wrongly tried to revise history.

Also, 5chw4r7z asks a great follow-up question to Mark (I paraphrase): If John Schneider is wrong and Miller is not the only COAST officer to live within the City of Cincinnati, then what other officers do? My additional question would be: what percentage of the COAST membership lives inside the City?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Has the FOP President Read This?

I don't like suggesting reading material for other people, but it would be a good thing for FOP President, Kathy Harrell, to read this new article. She might learn a valuable lesson.

A Plan That Falls Short

I can give Tony Fischer credit for being the only candidate for office to put forth his own plan to save more police officer positions. His play sorely likes in details on how departments are going to cut 10% of non-payroll. Additionally, how does one transfer a whole function to the county without the county paying for it? The translation is that his plan wipes out building inspection in the city, it just will not happen, the county can't pick up the slack without funding, which it doesn't have. If Tony wanted to make the politically difficult choices, like his press release suggest, he might look to trim the fat in the police department. In case people forgot, we survived a riot with fewer police than we have now. The issue is not the number of police, is issue is how we deploy the forces we have.

Additionally, and most importantly, his numbers don't cover the full shortfall. There is another 413,000 needed to reach the level of filled full time positions needing to be cut to meet the 28 million dollar gap.This doesn't even consider if the non-payroll levels listed by Fischer are above and beyond other non-payroll cuts provided by City Managers Plan. Fischer has taken a step, but it falls short and is incomplete. He is trading FOP votes for building safety. I don't see that being a fair trade.

UPDATE: Councilmember Laketa Cole tears the Fischer plan into shreds.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Was There a Blue Flu?

Did the FOP or any of it's members stage a "sick-out" over the weekend? The Chief thinks they did and is pissed and is making it known. It is a widely held belief that in 2001 the FOP staged a work slow down as a means of political and/or social retribution for the black eye they took after the Thomas shooting and resulting riots.

If the police union is conducting any type of blue-flu, then how many layoffs can be preempted with justified firings? If any police officer is not serious about doing their job, they should save us all some trouble by quitting now.

It's Downtown Restaurant Week

I love the idea of exploring Downtown's many varied Restaurants. For the price of $35 you can find some deals at some of the higher-end places. This is a good month to do it, from the perspective of business, where August is generally considered a slow month, where many people travel. I have not made plans of where I would like to go, but I am starting to think about it and would like suggestions on where, likely on Wednesday or Thursday. Anyone have thoughts?

(If you predict how fast it takes for the first snotty anti-city comment, then you may when a special prize.)

Another Place to Watch Soccer

Molly Malone's in Covington appears to be the place to watch soccer in Northern Kentucky, both the US Nation Team and the English League.

Buried Treasure

It would appear that lawyers for the FOP and CODE for some reason believe the City has buried treasure somewhere in city, likely they will claim it's in OTR. I don't know where else they could hide it. I wonder if X still marks the spot and I wonder how long before I see a bunch of cops with shovels roaming up and down Vine Street.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Layoff Battle Doesn't Have Clear Heroes Or Villains

Well, there's one clear villain. But it's not human. We'll get to that in a minute.

This is a rare instance in which I disagree with Blogdaddy Griff. The current fight in Cincinnati over the city manager's proposal to lay off 138 police officers--over ten percent of the uniformed complement--is not one where the folks in white hats are easy to sort from those wearing black hats. There's merit to both sides of the dispute, and plenty of blame to go around for our leaders' apparent inability to handle the current economic crisis in a manner that inspires the confidence of the citizenry.

First, what do we know? Milton Dohoney has announced that he'll order the layoff of 138 uniformed police officers. But he says he has a plan to do so that will not reduce the size of any district's complement or affect "street strength," commonly understood as the number of officers on patrol. In the last few days, we've heard some officials say publicly that the Vortex unit would be effected or altogether eliminated in the layoff. I'm not sure why this is surprising. Anyone with even a limited understanding of CPD's organization understood that if officers were being cut but district force levels weren't being impacted, the layoffs had to be in non-district-based units, like Vortex. I don't think Vortex has 138 uniformed officers (I could be wrong), so you have to wonder about the status of other units, such as Vice, Special Events, and others.

Next, why has this turned into such a mess? Frankly, the process foisted upon the City by its own charter is the real culprit. In this pandemonium, we see the problems with a manager form of government. Milton Dohoney has never stood for election in Cincinnati, yet he's the one empowered to make all the decisions. The Mayor can't do it, and Council's budget votes turn into advisory statements of policy rather than legislation with the force of law. As I've previously argued, Cincinnati should have a truly executive mayor. Under the current system, the real power lies with an appointed (in other words, unelected) official. I don't doubt Mohoney's competence, integrity, or sincerity. But a city our size should be led by an elected mayor, not a politically-insulated manager.

The structure created by the charter created the chaos of the last week. City councilmembers have been free to do anything they want because they all realize that their actions don't matter. That means that the Dems on Council were free to do as they did: shrug their shoulders at the thought of laying off that many officers and and defer to the expertise of the City Manager. Similarly, the Republicans on Council were free to launch bottle rockets in the general direction of Dohoney without proposing any real alternative. An alternative proposal, by the way, does not have to find $28 million in cuts; instead, those who oppose police layoffs need find only an additional about $3 million, the amount to be saved this year by laying off police.

Even within the flawed process created by the charter, though, some of our leaders could have behaved better. Mayor Mallory was wrong to stifle debate at the Wednesday council meeting. That meeting was the only scheduled session prior to Labor Day. That meant that had the mayor had his way, the public would have had no opportunity to weigh in on the proposed cuts before they were enacted. And Council would have had no opportunity to publicly question the Manager about the necessity and breadth of the cuts. That's bad government.

Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel were right to call a special meeting of Council. Their action permitted the public, as well as Council, to be heard on the manager's proposal. Public debate is not grandstanding; it is political discourse, and essential to the healthy functioning of a representative democracy. If you disagree with NAACP/COAST's excessive referendum efforts (as I do, even though I do not support the streetcar), then you must favor a transparent decision-making process by our elected officials. For representative democracy to work, we must have access to our elected officials, and they must have open, public debates that explain their decision-making to their constituents.

Finally, what about the merits of the decision? When I first saw the numbers, I was aghast. 208 full-time positions are being eliminated city-wide. 138 of those--or 66%--are uniformed officers. No one (or at least no rational person) expected the police department to be entirely spared. Had 20, 30, or even 50 police layoffs been proposed, I'd have not been surprised. But the scope of the layoffs was startling, and immediately struck me as the position the administration would take if it were playing a game of chicken with the FOP. The problem with this particular game of chicken, though, is that the FOP has no reason to swerve. They take issues with the priorities the City has set. But more understandably, the City has been unwilling to give them any assurances about the 2010 budget. Why should the FOP give back bargained-for benefits if their members only keep their jobs for the next four months?
And regardless of whether the end result of the current dilemma is 1 layoff or 138, it is (and should be treated as) a sad decision by the City. The officers to be laid off will be young officers, fresh out of the academy. These are individuals who made a decision to serve the residents of the City; many are people who could have done what many others their own age did and left the region in pursuit of other professional opportunities. Their decision to stay and to serve and protect should be honored, and we should not make light of a decision to add them to the unemployed in our region.
As long as we have a weak mayor and an overly strong city manager, Cincinnatians will be spectators to overly dramatic but non-productive political theater. But the players in that theater need to behave like adults, something almost all of them forgot this past week.

Brad's Gone Fishin'

So, the Republican Mayoral candidate, Brad Wenstrup, has time to read the Mayor and Council's emails, but he doesn't have time to provide a detailed budget that fills the $28 million deficit? I mean just last week he was complaining about the need to save cops jobs, but now he is off the deep end with a new attack on the Mayor. It appears Brad can play politics, but doesn't know the first thing about running a government.  He cares more about winning an election, than about letting the Mayor do his job by balancing the budget.  What a complete political tool, being led around by the non-city Republicans who care more about tearing down the city, than helping it grow. To make matters worse it seems Wenstrup is now taking his lead from Chris Smitherman, wow, that's a doozy of a move.

Enquirer Takes Down COAST's 'Poison Pill'

Readers of this blog have known that COAST's effort to destroy any type of rail plan was clear in their actions and their language of the anti-passenger rail charter amendment. The Enquirer has reached a similar conclusion.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Where is the Republican Budget Plan?

The last 24 hours have seen the City Republican council members, candidates for council/mayor, and conservative activists all blatantly Grandstand, stomp their feet like children, over the tough decision, the kind leaders and adults make, to cut 319 city jobs. Where is their Plan? What is preventing any of the Republican leaders sitting down and coming up a list of cuts they would make instead of those outlined, especially the 138 jobs from the Police Department they are apparently claiming they wouldn't cut if elected? The city manager listed in detail how he would reduce the 28 million to zero. There are a few gray areas left to fill, but the big numbers and big cuts are on the table. You don't get that from the likes of Leslie Ghiz, Chris Monzel, Brad Wenstrup or local GOP hack supreme Alex Triantafilou. All of these Republicans are Grandstanding and misleading the public on what these cuts means, which they don't really know, and don't know what can be done to offset the reductions.

So now is their chance: put up or shut up! If you claim you can make things happen, then do it! Post it here, email me, or hell put it up on anyone's website. Just stop making the false claims and promises you know you can't keep.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The New Outlet Mall: Be Wary

Cincinnati's traditional media are agog over tomorrow's grand opening of Cincinnati Premium Outlets (here's the Enquirer's coverage). The media coverage--almost at a frenzied pitch--interests me, largely because I'm in the midst of reading Ellen Ruppel Shell's new book, Cheap: the High Cost of Discount Culture. I suspect that in the next few months, I'll succumb to the temptation and visit the new outlet mall. But Ruppel Shell's chapter on outlet malls ("The Outlet Gambit") should be required reading for anyone who can't wait to grab the kids, hop in the car, and drive out to Monroe.

Ruppel Shell argues forcibly that when we go to the outlet malls, we're not really getting the deal we think we are. There's two reasons for this. First, the outlets tend to use exaggerated reference prices to convince us we're getting a better bargain than we really are. (You know what I'm talking about: those price tags that say something like, "Normally: $1,000, Your Price: $1.50.) Second (and perhaps more nefarious), the merchandise offered at an outlet often isn't the same as what's offered in a department store. Does the price on a bag at the Coach outlet seem great? Sure. But that same bag is probably not offered at a regular Coach store. In fact, Ruppel Shell tells us, about eighty percent of the stuff at Coach outlets is lower quality merchandise manufactured specifically for the outlet store.

Perhaps most interesting is Ruppel Shell's discussion of the geographic placement of outlet malls. They always seem to be a not insignificant distance from urban areas. Doesn't it strike anyone else as a bit cheeky that a shopping center outside the I-275 belt--more than a half-hour's drive from downtown--appropriates the name "Cincinnati"? This is all no accident, but instead helps the outlet perpetuate a certain atmosphere:
Generally [the location of an outlet mall] is a long drive from any particular population center--25 to 100 miles outside the metropolitan shadows, where real estate is cheap and the tax incentives sweet. . . . But the remote location of outlets is not merely a defensive, cost-saving maneuver. It is also a deliberate strategy. In the public mind, convenience is a trade-off for price, and price is traded off for convenience. Inconvenience connotes cheap, while convenience connotes pricey. . . . In a very real sense, outlets are the anticonvenience store. Visiting the outlets demands an investment in time, deliberation, and energy beyond what we invest in most other leisure activities. And because the effort to reach and shop at them is substantial, even extraordinary, the experience of going to the outlet is elevated in our minds to "special occasion" status. . . . The mall has extracted a price, and in demanding repayment, we are in fact taxing ourselves. Our expectations are raised at the same time that our guard is lowered, and in making this bargain we are willing to forgo many things that we once demanded from a satisfying shopping experience: variety, serendipity, aspiration--and fun.
(Cheap, p. 91.) I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't go to the outlet mall. I'm just saying that when you do, go with your eyes open.

Lead By Cooperation, Not Conflict and Blame

I am fairly flabbergasted at the conservative members/candidates of/for city council, at least the one's I was able to follow on Twitter today during the Council meeting.  Honestly I don't know if they are playing ignorant on purpose or are so hot headed to make a mockery out of democratic governance.  Ghiz, Murray, Monzel, Cordrey et al are up in arms about the Mayor shutting down discussion on job cuts.  When the unions are making noises that might consider making more concessions in place of layoffs, why would any City official want to start taking about ideas that the unions could do during an open session?  Why not wait to hear what the Union has to say, or more importantly willing to say, behind closed doors. Then try and negotiate with the unions for a better solution than layoffs.  Getting one’s dander up and putting on a show for “the public” might get you more Westside votes, Leslie (who I single out as one who should know better), it will not reduce the number of layoffs in the police department. Instead, stop campaigning for a little while, and start leading by example through cooperation and team work WITH the Mayor and the rest of Council. Blame is a game used by those who when times are tough, lack the courage to get in the batter's box and take a swing, instead of trying to push the other team under the bus.

City Job Cuts: Over 300

WLWT has the known details on the job cuts, which includes 138 from the police department, but none from the fire department. In his memo the city manager stresses that the number of police on patrol is not being cut. It is not clear what functions are being cut. It would be helpful if sitting council members, council candidates, and activists DO NOT push the panic button. Nothing shows a lack of leadership more than using fear as a political tactic on an issue like public safety. More to come later. If you have facts with valid sources, share them. Keep you rumors and baseless speculation to yourself.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Uncivilized Teabaggers Are Parrots

This article plays down the report I got from an attendee that those heckling Congressman Steve Driehaus were spouting talking points, literally. The "Harassment Policy" as posited in Washington Monthly's Political Animal yesterday sums up the tactics and play book being used by the GOP and its many fronts. This is another example of how the Teabaggers, the new collective term used for GOP activists, are not grassroots people, they are organized by the party and its affiliated groups. The article even quotes one of the so called activists who doesn't even live in Driehaus's district, she from Anderson Township. I guess she is willing to travel into the scary city to spout propaganda. Here is her quote right from a talking point and has nothing original in it:
“I think the bill as presented is going to eliminate a competitive market and the private insurance industry.”
In other words: "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Monday, August 03, 2009

Great Business Courier Editorial

In case you missed it, please have read of a great editorial from the Courier's Publisher Doug Bolton. This gives one of the best layman's take as to why we need the Streetcars. Being bold is exactly what we need and those opposing streetcars have nothing to replace this bold idea, at least noting that will actually have a positive impact on the city.

For those without a subscription, CityKin has the whole editorial.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Just Plain Guts

I stand in awe of the courage and guts on display every time Erich Kunzel conducts the Cincinnati Pops. When I see how he faces the challenges ahead and he still can muster the strength it takes to conduct, then yes as Jenelle Gelfand wrote, I would have had a huge lump in my throat last night at Riverbend. If you are looking for a person to emulate, I don't know if you can go wrong with Erich Kunzel.

2009 CEA: Theatre Awards Show August 30th

CityBeat has announced great news that on Sunday August 30th the 13th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards will be presented at a hip club, showcasing the best of Cincinnati Theatre. The CEAs are Cincinnati's longest running theater awards program, using votes from the public and from established theater critics to determine winners in 20 different categories. Everyone had a great time last year at BELOW ZERO LOUNGE (1122 Walnut Street, Over-the-Rhine, and the 2009 event is back.

The highlights include free appetizers, drink specials and keyboard tunes from musical theater favorite Terry LaBolt. They'll also of course present the 2009 Continuing Achievement Award, named by the League of Cincinnati Theatres, to the founders of Cincinnati Landmark Productions -- Tim Perrino, Jennifer Perrino and Denny Reed.

Here's the Schedule for Sunday evening, August 30:

6 p.m. Mix and mingle with your friends in the theater world - free appetizers and a cash bar.

7 p.m. Rick Pender and John Fox from CityBeat will recognize the nominees and the winners in the 12 publicly voted categories.

Break: Musical interlude by Terry LaBolt

8:15 p.m. Presentation of the League of Cincinnati Theares Continuing Achievement Award for 2009, plus recognition of the nominees and the winners in the 8 critical achievement categories, including outstanding premiere, outstanding play and outstanding musical.

9 p.m. Party on!

RSVP Not necessary -- it's free!

Parking $2 parking is available at the Gateway Garage, one block away. Enter from Central Parkway.

Get out and support Cincinnati Theatre and a great local venue.