Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Splash Dance on Fountain Square

A Cool idea from Cincinnati's Arts Community.

Open Invitation to Council Candidates: 2010 Budget

Cincinnati's leaders will have an even more difficult job setting the 2010 budget than previously thought. Council was informed today that if spending and revenue were maintained at the 2009 level, the City will spend $51 million more than it receives in 2010. This means that the City must find new sources of revenue, cut spending, or both.

The 2010 budget will most likely be the newly constituted Council's first item of business. Most of the current campaign vitriol is about the budget.

So I offer an open invitation to Council candidates--both incumbents and challengers--to tell us what they'd do about the budget. If any candidate wishes, I'll post their proposal here, unedited. But here are the rules (they're simple):

1. Be specific. In other words, I'll not publish a platitude such as "public safety must come first." If your budget solution is cuts, tell us what program you'll cut and how much money it would eliminate from the budget. If your solution is more revenue, tell us which tax or fee you'll increase, and how much money it will generate.
2. Don't mention any of your opponents or their plans or suggestions.

I'm not asking for a line-by-line budget, or even a proposal that entirely closes the projected $51 million gap (though I'd post either if any candidate sent one). Even a partial (specific) plan, though, will help voters understand your priorities.

Most of the people on or running for Council are sincere, well-meaning people who desire the best for the City. Most have given prolonged thought to the budget and how they'd fix it. We don't seem to be hearing about specifics in the traditional media, though.

Any Council candidate who wishes to take me up on this offer should email me. I'll post your proposal within 48 hours and without my own comments or editing (I can make no promises as to what the blog's commenters will do, though).

COAST Hates Public Libraries

COAST wants the Library Levy to Fail. Why? Based on COAST's plan they want the library to charge for use of its materials. So, not only does COAST hate government and want it fail, they also don't want poor people to gain knowledge. Under a COAST society there is no government, the wealthy retain all the power, and the poor just stay poor...or die. We did this during the Middle Ages and it failed. We did this during the 19th Century Industrial Robber Baron Era, and it failed. We tried to do this under Reagan, and thankfully it failed. Vote for Knowledge for all, vote for the Library Levy, Issue 7.

Roxanne Qualls Responds to Ruby

Jeff Ruby could have saved himself some embarrassment if instead of listening to one member of the FOP recite the incorrect talking points, he would have asked Council Member Roxanne Qualls. Jeff didn't do any research at all, therefore his ignorance is exposed with this point by point response to his letter in Sunday's Enquirer Sports Section.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Does He Need This Much Attention?

I understand that Chris Smitherman, President of the local NAACP, need attention. I understand that he will say and do a lot to get the press to write about him. Does anyone else think that camping out to vote just goes over the line?

Also, I hope Joe Deter is there to Check Smitherman's ID and then sends an investigator to validate Smitherman lives where he claims. We need to make sure he's not faking it. We had plenty of money last year to spend from the county budget, so I am sure we can afford it this year. (Cough, Cough)

Ignorant and Careless Action By Ruby

Jane Prendergast has the follow-up on Jeff Ruby's Political newspaper advertisement in the sports section.

In an interview about the ad, Jane reports that Ruby wrote it based on talking to one police officer who obviously had read the talking points from the FOP. So Ruby likely got a copy of the talking points and wrote about them without any validation or analysis of their obvious inaccuracies.

It is too bad that Ruby can't tell the difference between false rhetoric and fact. It is good, however, that he's not going to reach a lot of voters who were on the fence on who to vote for. The sport section is a suburban man's front page, so the bang for the buck was lost, unless the GOP is planning on lots of voter fraud. I mean Joe Deters was all over that last year, and didn't find a wave of crime at the polls, but I am sure he'll be checking this year.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Face to Face Politicking a Waste Of Time?

Is pressing the flesh becoming a waste of time as some political operatives are suggesting in this Howard Wilkinson article?

Are political campaigns just giving up on reaching people face to face? Have we stooped to such a level? I think candidates that avoid getting out and meeting their voters are making a mistake. You don't always need the candidate there, but you need volunteers. You need a presence. If people care about a candidate and can speak to other about it, that personal connection goes farther than a TV commercial. It is hard to do for local elections, since building enthusiasm for a council candidate is difficult. How does one get a team of dedicated volunteers who can communicate one on one with voters, in a positive way?

If on a local level we run campaigns like a presidential race, we further erode the few strands of respect people have for politicians. Face to Face political activity is key to an engaged public. This puts us on a path to politics by proxy, where why have a real person, why not just outsource it to a corporation to act on your political behalf?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Incivility Abounds

Some of you may have noticed that my blogging frequency--particularly with respect to political blogging--has gone down considerably over the past six months. That trend is no doubt partly related to the ebb and flow of business as a solo practitioner. Things are busy at the office, so blogging goes down. But some of it is because of a disturbing trend I've noticed, both here and elsewhere: it seems impossible to have a civil disagreement here--or anywhere.

One of the things that initially attracted me to blogging was the great discussions that can (and should) ensue among the blog's readers. Those used to take place regularly here. Lately, though, any political post devolves pretty quickly into name-calling and nonsense. In particular, we have a couple commenters who routinely refer to poor people as "pig filth" or "human trash." I'm not interesting in trying to engage in a serious discussion with such people.

If this were only happening here, I'd wonder if Griff or I were doing something to foment the incivility. But it seems to happen everywhere. The summer town halls about health care are an example: people were literally shouting down their elected representatives rather than engaging in any attempt to actually have a civil discourse with them. And I don't want to suggest it's just the right. The left, too, is becomingly increasingly shrill. During the Bush regime, anyone who dissented was unpatriotic. Now anyone who does so is a racist. Neither label is true, but both are (or were) bandied about with a great deal of frequency. And I'll admit: Griff and I sometimes feed our trolls, too. Some of my posts may have been more inflammatory then they needed to be, and Griff has lately been as guilty as name-calling as anyone.

But it's not just the political arena where people no longer feel the need to be civil. Last week, Julie posted a mildly critical review of Local 127. Some of the comments it generated were appalling. I can understand and respect being passionate about food. (Heck, earlier this year, when liz posted only a lukewarm review of Adriatico's, I briefly considering calling an IT-oriented friend and seeing what would go into a denial-of-service attack on get in mah belly. (I'm kidding, of course. That's illegal. Don't do that.)) But passion aside, really? People are engaging in pretty vile name-calling because Julie wasn't as effusive with her praise as others would have preferred?

I don't know what the answer is, and I won't pretend to. I don't know how we get back to disagreeing without name-calling, to expressing strong beliefs without raising our voices and questioning each other's motives. I don't know who's to blame and I don't care.

I just know that somehow, we have to get back to a place where we can discuss difficult issues with civility and grace. Climbing that hill isn't nearly so easy as it was to fall down it, but we must strive to find a way.

MidPoint Closes Big

Day Three of the MidPoint Music Festival brought me back to the tent at Grammer's for Eat Sugar and the hot local band's new material is as good as their debut EP. The MC said it best when introducing the group, they will be the next big band out of Cincinnati.

When I got to Grammer's exactly at 6:30 the band was starting and I heard the sound and was confused. There's not current a female lead singer. After some slight confusion and a realization that I was hearing a sound check, I understood that I hearing Micachu and The Shapes, the next band up on the bill. The UK band was another fresh sound that can best described as Hip Chick Brit Pop. The Trio mix an indie vibe with pop and some eclectic instruments include a great use of empty liquor bottles. I didn't get a chance to get their CD, but I will look for it on iTunes.

Next our gang shot down to the Know Theatre and caught Zest of Yore, from Austin. A decent band, they lacked distinction, but were earnest.

Back Downstairs Twightlight Revival filled the Know's cabaret space with a roots tone that had catchy tunes and a subtle charisma.

Another find of the festival is StephaniesID. A fun pop sound with an edge. Stephanie was walking around the Upstairs area before her show in a little bit of a nervous burst of energy. When she got on stage she let out the nervousness with a cheerful attitude with drop of darkness that gave her just a little bit of mystery. The North Carolina based band is a Midpoint Veteran. They should plan on coming back next year right now.

Next up was local masters Wussy who are the top dog in town. They have an experienced connection that is unmatched in Cincinnati. I could go on forever, but the fact that you couldn't move upstairs at the Know during their show, says it all.

The closer of the night Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles lived up to the word on street. Her Americana feel leaned over the county music line enough for a flavor, but held closer to a roots feel.

Another year and another great festival. I'm so very pleased with the event, the crowds where great everyone I went. I think CitBeat should be very proud. I think they made great progress from last year's event, which says a lot with its success in 2008. I think the Grammer's model was perfect, it gave a start and a headliner a place to shine, but then left the rest of the night to other venues and bands and pushed the crowd to explore. At the same time, themed stages and partnerships with local labels and artists gave options to all types of fans. I give this years festival high marks and only with 1 minor exception, everything worked. I look forward to MidPoint 2010.

Let the Ranch Know They Messed Up #mpmf

Send your Civil comments to the Cadillac Ranch management here. Let them know their actions are not what good members of the Business do. Let them know they have lost your business. Please keep it civil, we don't need insults or vulgarity or other negativity tied to the festival.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Super Sucky Cadillac Ranch Kicks Out #mpmf

Reports have been confirmed that the bar Cadillac Ranch has cancelled the remaining shows for tonight's MiPoint showcase. In what can best be said as the worst PR move in recent Cincinnati history, I for one will never again set foot in that location under the current management/ownership. It is classless act to break agreements and ruin the experience of visitors to our city.

If you support local music and local development, then join me in skipping this cheesy bar in favor of other more honorable establishments.

Yeah, you weren't going anyway, but now you have a reason that has purpose.

UPDATE: More from the Enquirer

MidPoint Day Two Recap

So, if you haven't been to the massive tent behind Grammer's, you are a fool and missed a great lineup of bands on day two of Midpoint. I started things off early with Lions Rampant, and I didn't get everything I expected. I was expecting the rough and tumble rock-n-roll band that snorkels in the Tyler Davidison Fountain. Instead a got a 5 piece line-up with a really new and frankly more polished sound. I think a Pearlene influence can be heard, and maybe that's just adding a keyboard. I really look forward to picking up their album. They ended their set with a fake fight, so the costume wearing guys are still there, just a little more polished.

Once I was at Grammer's I was staying for the full line-up so Wildbird was next. There were good, but didn't capture my attention. I guess my local bias played into my take on them, since the Lions Rampant and Heartless Bastards got my focus and attention.

The Heartless Bastards were great as usual and sound fuller with the addition of another guitarist. This was my first time seeing them as a four piece and I was impressed. I was really happy they came back home. The crowd was huge and filled the tent. I only wish my camera battery didn't quit on me, so my iPhone pictures from the rest of the night will have to suffice.

After Grammers we made a quick stop over to the Blue Wisp for the All Night Party stage. A good crowd at a bar I've never felt comfortable at. I was glad to see the support for local music coming from the All Night Party team. I look forward to more events from the in the future.

The Night ended at the Know Theatre for the Pomegranates, who are indie pop at its best. They have a great sound and I finally realized one of the band members works at my favorite coffeehouse. It always adds community when you know artists off stage. Only then can you fully appreciate two things. First, they are real people. Second is that you understand when they go on stage they have so much talent, but are still real people. I loved that about the Heartless Bastards and with Wussy. It makes living in a town with a great music so special, as long as you take the time to respect and appreciate the artists as real people first and talented performers second.

Friday, September 25, 2009

MidPoint Day Two Report From the Field

Lions Rampant sounded new and fresh.

Now on to the Wildbirds.

The Heartless Bastards are up next.

The PBR is flowing at Grammer's.

I am drinking it.

MidPoint Day One Complete

Day One of the MidPoint Music Festival went off with a thumbing of the nose to the rain! I was extremely impressed with the crowds. Thursday is traditionally a slow night for MidPoint, but there were really good last night, especially at CAC for the Seedy Seeds.

My Plan started me out at 8PM to see Serenity Fisher at Coffee Emporium, a fresh song writer with a great voice. (Full Disclosure: She's a friend)

Next up I caught the end of the Messerly & Ewing show, which because of illness, one of which happened just before the show, the four piece became a three with a fill in drummer. The Trio carried on to the cheers of the Madonna's Crowd. Since I knew half of the crowd by name, I had hoped they were all cheering for my arrival, but no, alas, the band was earning it. I hope to have the regular line all healthy and ready to go soon, I think they play next weekend, in fact.

After an hour and a half into the festival, the planned schedule seems a bit to much motion, since I was planning on going up to Grammers. Instead we walked by the Segway Room to catch some of The Daredevil Christopher Wright, but the small venue was packed, so we moved on.

Being in my neighborhood, we hit the Know's two stages instead and caught the end of the Vanity Theft from Dayton. They have potential. The all female band has several good musicians and their music had a mix of fun pop and indie angst. The could be more tight, musically, as a group.

Heading downstairs at the Know Theatre, I was pleased to notice that the next band was one I had heard good things about.

The best show I saw on Thursday goes to John the Savage from Milwaukee. They have an very unique sound the has a massively eclectic mix of instruments: Guitar, Accordion, Megaphone, Piano, Violin, Aux Percussion, String Bass, Drums, Chains, Trumpet, Trombone, Chains, Mandolin, Cello, Bells, and some type of wind-key board. The sharp musicianship gave the harsh and intellectual tone a base to allow the entire group to writhe on stage. A friend purchased their CD, so I am going to have to borrow it a listen, very intently.

After dodging a few more sprinkles we hustled down to the CAC to catch the Seedy Seeds for what ended being the most packed show I'd seen so far. The basement stage at the CAC was a steamy sauna filled with hipsters, aging hipsters, downtowners, arts professionals, creatives, and at least one very sweaty blogger. The Seeds are really a local musical treasure that I really hope everyone can see and expereince live. Their sound has a very popish tone, though they really can't be defined, but live they really pull all of the raw power they can out of their sound. Tonight, however, the sound mixing was not very good, at least in the back. It got a little be unbearable with the heat and sound. That takes nothing away from the band, who as usual gave a great performance.

The night ended with a small crowd at Washington Platform for Brighton, MA. They are a solid band, but rocked a bit too much for the space. WP is a little more suited for a slate of Americana Bands.

Night one was fun. The rain didn't hurt much at all. I do think I need to follow the Scion Streetcar Schedules better, since every time I saw a series of cars go by, I was about a block from my next destination.

Day Two is next!

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir Hurt Traveling to Cincinnati

The main act at the CAC on Thursday, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, was in a car crash in Indiana on their way to Cincinnati for the MidPoint Music Festival. All six members of the Chicago based band were involved in the accident and suffered injuries. One band members, Mark Yoshizumi, suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to a local hospital.

Let's hope for a quick recovery for everyone and we'll see them at next year's festival!

More Here

Thursday, September 24, 2009

MidPoint Field Report Day One

As of 10 pm the best of the festival is John the Savage.

Seedy Seeds up next.

Kings Island Making National News

Kings Island had planned to feature plastic skeletons posed to resemble dead celebrities as part of its Halloween Haunt. WLWT's Karin Johnson reported the story, which is starting to get some national attention (link: New York Daily News). Some of them, I thought, were pretty funny--like Ted Williams in a freezer case. Others--like Steve McNair or Michael Jackson--probably crossed the line between good and bad taste due to how recently the celebrity had passed away. And a Kings Island spokesman was quoted as promising more dead celebrity spoofs, including Ted Kennedy.

The "outrage" over the display has, of course, convinced Kings Island to pull the plug on the whole thing.

I have to wonder: how many people who insist that the plastic skeletons are "offensive" had no problem paying money for entrance to "Bodies: The Exhibition" and examining actual, posed and manipulated cadavers in awe and wonder? I guess the rule is that if a dead person is American and famous, it's taboo to reference his or her death for entertainment purposes, but if someone is Chinese and poor, we can do whatever we want with the body for commercial purposes.

Westwood Concern Run By Right Wing Nuts

Yes, the title states something most people would say is akin to making a grand statement that "Water is wet." That being said, those few hold outs or deniers should read about the insane flier Kevin Osborne wrote about on CityBeat's blog.

To say that the authors of what Osborne calls "Melva's Manifesto" are living in an alternate universe is putting it lightly, assuming they actually believe what they are writing about. They either believe we live in Iraq or are lying to their potential supporters in hopes that fear of the poor and blacks will drive them to get in line and support their insanity.

I am glad CityBeat provides commentary and news facts about this group. Other News Outlets, the rest of them in the city, give these nutcases a free ride. I guess the hate they represent speaks for a lot of Westsiders? I really don't think that is true, but somehow Westward Concern is taken as speaking for more than a few nuts. I hope Kevin's post will convince others

MidPoint is Live #mpmf

And so it begins with What will the flood of tweets be like? Will we read about more than one 23 old women at MidPoint swear she will not sleep with another musician, ever!? Will we read 30-something guys swear that Erika W. remembers serving him a beer the last time she worked the bar at the Tavern? He was the one guy who did not order PBR, and she noticed. Will we find links to naked photos of wanna be groupies in the Lodge Bar bathroom?

Let's hope so! Well, assuming its not a groupie for an all female Japanese Punk Band.

Anyway, this experiment should be interesting where anyone with using the #mpmf hash tag on Twitter will be included in the stream, or if you are a Cincinnati Bell Wireless Customer and text to 4632. I hoping for a combination of the insightful and insane and a little bit raunchy, but actually, no naked shots please, we don't actually need to see your balls. That means you: band members of Lions Rampant!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Star & Micey at Blue Rock Tavern Thursday

I know that blogging the music scene is Griff's job, but I thought I'd infringe for just a moment.

Earlier tonight, a friend and I decided to check out Star & Micey's performance at FB's. FB is the newest downtown club, on Sixth Street between Race and Elm.

First, about FB's: 5ch4r7z has previously photo-blogged about the place, so go there if you'd like to see pictures. Both the club and the clientele were trendy enough that I often wondered why no one had asked me to leave yet. Nonetheless, the place was comfortable and the bar staff was friendly. Wednesday nights the club is open for live music.

I only caught about an hour of Star & Micey, since it's a week night and I have to work tomorrow. But I was impressed by what I saw. Drew LaPlante and Chris Robinson opened for the Memphis-based "folk pop band." I'd not heard Drew before, but I'll definitely look for an opportunity to hear him again. Star & Micey also made the night very much worthwhile. They had nice, tight vocals and some interesting instrumentals (you've got to love a band with a xylophone, right?).

Star & Micey plays again in Cincinnati tomorrow night at the Blue Rock Tavern. I realize that the timing is bad (as most of you will be getting your Midpoint on), but if you're not attending the first night of MPMF, of you're looking to take a break from the festival, then definitely head on up to Northside and check out Star & Micey.

County Government Reform on the Horizon

Last year, I suggested that David Pepper was asking some important questions. What should our county government look like? Which officials should be elected, and which should be appointed? Earlier this year, I wondered if our commissioners had gotten too busy protecting us from the sky--which seems to be falling at an alarming rate--to start answering these questions.

According to the Enquirer, the Commission today voted to form a task force to study and make proposals about County government. The idea is to look at alternate forms of government with the aim of reducing duplication and saving money, with a goal of a something on the November 2010 ballot for voters to consider.

Commissioner Portune is quoted as saying that the task force's goal isn't about metropolitan government. That probably makes sense, as the switch to a metropolitan government would (I assume) require the approval of any cities or townships whose operations would be merged into the "metro" government. Instead, I think the commissioners intend to look at County operations themselves. Are there redundancies? For instance, does it make sense to have a separate Treasurer and Auditor? Could fiscal stability be better achieved if there were fewer independent, elected officials each protecting his or her own slice of an increasingly smaller pie?

As I've written before, I hope that any reform comes with the de-aggrandizement of the county administrator. Our local governments have become too dependent on unelected, professional managers to make policy decisions that are better left in the hands of elected public servants. Permitting a city manager or county administrator to set budget priorities lets the people we elect wriggle out of difficult decisions and hide behind their own appointees.

There's no telling what the new task force will recommend, or whether HamCo voters will approve any proposal that is advanced. But I applaud the Commission for thinking about the bigger picture at a team when the details are all so frightening.

"Scottie Leibovitz"

Scott Beseler of Soapbox Cincinnati does really fantastic work, with this example showing the Seedy Seeds from this weeks edition of Soapbox as a great calling card. It worked perfectly as an eye catcher with this great story from Sean Rhiney about Midpoint and Cincinnati's music scene. I was blown away with that photo and really had to point some attention to it.

Scott's work, as can be seen at his website: illustrates his great work, and great contact with local musicians as well as local "movers and shakers."

I titled this post with a tongue firmly in cheek, but Scott has an amazingly brilliant eye and the Seedy Seeds photograph is worthy of priase I believe in both photo journalism realm, but from a pure art perspective as well. In a certain sense he is the Leibovitz of Cincinnati and he's young, never know what great things he may achieve. We get lots of famous people coming through Cincinnati, maybe he can get a few of them to pose while in town. I hope to see more of his work and a repeat of a showing of his photographs at Final Friday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lite Brite Film Test at Midpoint

Germans may have perfected beer, but they have not mastered the combination of cutting edge film and brilliant indie music. The Lite Brite Film Test moves its annual event to the CAC and in partnership with Midpoint starting on Thursday - Saturday. Films include compilations from the 2008 Ottawa International Animation Festival on Friday and the Best of 2009 International Film Festival of Rotterdam on Saturday.

Local films include two films by, including Questionable Taste and Robot Love From Another World.

Get the full film schedule here as well as the music line-up.

For another film event, check out the Best of Underneath Cincinnati on September 26th as well. Midpoint 3 day passes will get you into the screening for a discount!

MidPoint: Best Out of Town Bands

There are three ways to know what an out of town band is going to be like: 1) is that you have heard of them or seen them perform before, kinda rare, 2) is listening to their music online, and 3) would be based on the recommendation of others.

Here are my picks of the Best of Out of Town Bands at Midpoint:

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit:
Thursday 9:30 PM at Grammer's
The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir: Thursday 11:30 PM at Contemporary Arts Center
Gay Witch Abortion: Thursday 12:30 AM at Courtyard Cafe On Main
The Wildbirds: Friday 8:00 PM at Grammer's
Amo Joy: Friday 11:00 PM at Inner Peace Center
Micachu and The Shapes: Saturday 8:00 PM at Grammer's
Chairlift: Saturday 9:30 PM at Grammer's
The Dø: Saturday 11:30 PM at Contemporary Arts Center

UPDATE: Gay Witch Abortion is now off the schedule totally. Not word why, but this surely won't be the only change to the line up, as prior year's show: bands cancel or the van breaks down.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Midpoint Locals - Best of the Best

For those looking for the best of Local Cincinnati Music at this year's Midpoint festival, here are my recommendations:

Straw Boss: Thursday 9:00 PM at Southgate House Lounge
The Seedy Seeds: Thursday 10:30 PM at Contemporary Arts Center
The Tillers: Thursday 11:30 PM at Madonna's Bar & Grill‎
The Lions Rampant: Friday 6:30 PM at Grammer's
Heartless Bastards: Friday 9:30 PM at Grammer's
The Chocolate Horse: Friday 11:00 PM at Havana Martini Club
The Kentucky Struts: Friday 12:00 AM at Arnold’s Bar and Grill
The Sundresses: Friday 12:00 AM at Blue Wisp Jazz Club
Pomegranates: Friday 12:00 AM at Know Theatre Upstairs
Eat Sugar: Saturday 6:30 PM at Grammer's
Jake Speed and the Freddies: Friday 8:30 PM at Washington Platform
You, You’re Awesome: Saturday 10:30 PM at Contemporary Arts Center
Wussy: Saturday 11:00 PM at Know Theatre Upstairs
Buffalo Killers: Saturday 12:00 AM at Southgate House Ballroom

Keeping Council Tweet-Backs To Myself

So, I was good. I wanted to reply to a council member's petty school kid tweet, but I didn't. I would have been mean and been snottier than this council member was to another council member. So I didn't Tweet-back. That would have been the cheap and easy way to respond. I am not keen on shooting fish in a barrel all the time, so I will pass. I will keep my fingernails out of it.

I do think that there is one current council member who should just stop tweeting her childish comments about her political foes, it demeans the profession. Ok, I do know politicians are only above lawyers on the social food chain. Would it matter any more if you knew this councilwoman was a lawyer too? I didn't think so.

If You Are Going to MidPoint

Midpoint is a tremendously fun event. That being said, you might want to plan out your weekend before jumping into it, unless you want to play musical roulette with your ear drums.

For the hardcore music fan, nothing will surpass your own judgment. You need to log onto and listen to all of the group’s MySpace pages yourself. Yes, this will take about two days, but nothing is too good for you.

Ok, so if you are not that much of a fanatic about your music and would like some help, well I’ve got some ideas for you. Before I get into some band names, you need to first identify how you want to attend the festival. There are several ways, but lets focus on the most affective methods. When thinking about this I’m going to assume you are getting a three day pass. There are no single day passes this year, so if you plan on going more than one day to more than one venue, you should cough up the $29 bucks for the three day pass. The three main types of fan are the following cleverly named categories:

1. The Floater

2. The Traveler

3. The Focused Planner

The Floater is out to see as much music as possible, and will float around and take chances on bands. The best preparation for a Floater is to plan out your time. Know what bands are playing when, and then catch half a set here, and half a set there. It is nice to have the freedom to hear a few songs of a band you’ve never heard of and if they suck or aren’t of your taste (to put it more pleasantly), then you can hit another band playing near by that you do know and can support. This is great way to see local bands you like and want to support, but weren’t your first option, since you’ll have more chances to see them.

The Traveler has set destinations and a schedule to keep. They have planned to see bands they know or like and worked out a firm plan on who they can see and where. This requires going hour by hour and using something akin to a sextant to map out a route from venue to venue, all while keeping to a time table. If you are smart you will maybe become friends with the Scion Taxis running around town, or maybe hire your own chauffeur if you plan on some trips over to Newport and back. This method is good when you are going to see local bands and only local bands.

The Focused Planner is a person who wants to go one place and stay there. A little boring, but if you are drinking or have a favorite bar, then can work best. This year’s festival is uniquely able to make this type of fan’s experience even better. With special events like the Lite Bright Film Test at the CAC, a fan can spend each night in one place and see a great variety of local and out of town acts, as well as see cool film. The same could be had at various venues where local promotions teams have cooked up cool ways to program certain venues each night. The All Night Party hosts a big night at the Blue Wisp on Friday, and Grammer’s hosts a big tent each night with some of the best known groups, like the Heartless Bastards. Some of these events even work to complement each other, where venues like Fountain Square, end early on Thursday night, allowing you to hit up a second location.

Other concerns: Food! No matter where you are, there are tons of late night food options: Arnold’s will have the full menu available until at least 2:30AM per the owner (Rhonda for those who know her). Other options are Cold Turkey & Shanghai Mama’s on 6th, Lucy Blue on 12th and 7th Streets, and Gilpin’s also on 7th Street.

OK, so now on to the good stuff, who to see….well, you are going to have to wait for my picks just a little while longer. Yeah, I suckered you in, but tough cookies, sweetheart!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oktoberfest Political I Spy

I Spy a Drunk Westwood resident with both a Mallory and Wenstrup sticker on their ass!

That would be worth double points in the game I like to play when at Oktoberfest: What are most bizarre, interesting, or politically significant sights at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati?

This game is totally subjective, has no prizes, and at best if you send in a photo of what you see, I might (keep it clean) post it on the blog.

Mostly this is a way to see what political campaigns are out in force and which ones are absent. Good campaigns treat any festival as an opportunity to meet voters. This is the biggest festival of the campaign season, and the one that actually brings city residents who can vote, as opposed to Riverfest where teenagers make up a high portion of the attendees.

The things I am looking for are simple: candidate stickers, supporters wearing T-shirts, and the candidates themselves. There is no science to this, there is only subjective feeling about the health of a campaign.

Issue campaigns also should be there in strong numbers. I hope to see No on 9 supporters out in force! Those voting for Issue 9, I would think don't go to Oktoberfest or any other event anywhere.

If you happen to get into a discussion about the anti-passenger rail issue, the first question to ask the other person: do they live in the city. If they don't, well, I think you can take it from there.

I'll report in from the festival as best I can. I hope to not break Donald's Blogging While Intoxicated rule set for the blog, but I make no promises!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good News for Tower Place Mall

The Enquirer reports that Tower Place Mall has attracted at least three new tenants: Elegant Attire; Eyebrows LLC; and Sushi at Tower Place. Right now, it looks like Tower Place's owner, Northeastern, is making good on promises to revitalize the beleagured downtown mall.

While I'm not sure I'll be in the market for evening-wear or an eyebrow wax anytime soon, I'm looking forward to a second option for sushi downtown.

POWR PAC Endorsements Are Out

The Westside political action committee has released their endorsements for the City.

For council:
Jeff Berding
Leslie Ghiz
Chris Monzel
Chris Bortz
Amy Murray
Bernadette Watson
George Zamary
Tony Fischer
Cecil Thomas

For Mayor:
Brad Wenstrup

A very mixed group. Funny part, I think maybe one person lives on the Westside?

Guest Post on CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan

Editor's Note: Here's a guest post to the Cincinnati Blog from regular reader Miles.

Give Back Cincinnati had a YP sounding session with Mary Ronan, the CPS Superintendent.

She did her rote presentation, with no changes for the YP crowd. That was disappointing, because it seems like the people CPS needs to attract are those who will otherwise move to the suburbs when they have kids. Instead, it was more of a justification for taxing Cincinnatians to pay for school.

She pointed out the great strides the district has taken since 2000, and the federal and state accolades it's received. She also made it seem like a completely reactionary district that hopes to assuage the Enquirer and its archconservative base.

She said that CPS was trying to rebrand and shed its negative image. When asked about LEED certification, she was defensive and apologetic about the financial investment. CPS is the greenest school district in America, in terms of the number of LEED buildings. Boy, that's an albatross!

She said she no longer saw a need for teachers' unions. I guess, after 30 years in one, Mary got hers, huh? She complained that they prevent her from moving teachers from school to school, without realizing that teachers' unions exists to keep the superintendent from treating them like commoditized capital.

She said she didn't believe in mandatory comprehensive sex ed while bemoaning the fact that there are so many children of poor young mothers in Cincinnati. Guess what? That 17-year old who's dropping out of Mt. Airy because she got pregnant? You're going to have to teach her kid in 5 years! If you want the 5-year olds to be better prepared, prepare your 17-year olds to not get pregnant!

I think she thought we were Republicans. I think she thinks Cincinnati is a Republican city, rather than one that votes 80% Democratic. She can be the superintendent at Colerain if she wants to pander to conservative Catholics.

I understand that I'm about as liberal as they get, but guess what? Liberals have kids too, and there are a lot more of us in your district. Hamilton County shouldn't concern her.

It's kind of sad, because I left the meeting thinking that if I want my hypothetical kid to have a liberal education, with diversity and tolerance instilled in those around her, I'll have to move to another district. After all, I'm not concerned with my kid being liberal; he'll be a DFH. I want to limit her exposure to bigotry and religious conservatism at school, and Mary Ronan doesn't seem prepared to attack those things as vociferously as other school districts do, even those with far more conservative constituents.

Lang Lang at the CSO

Tonight is a special night for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Not only is it the 2009-2010 season opening, it includes a soloist who is the hottest draw in the classical music world: Lang Lang. He will dazzle his piano talents on Beethoven, here's a taste:

After the concert, you can hit the CSO's Afterburn party. Tickets for the concert are SOLD OUT, but the Afterburn party will have room in the Music Hall Ballroom. Tickets for the after party are $30.

Come out and support a Treasure of Cincinnati and a beacon to the world's arts community.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Covington Jim Returns to Blogging!

A big welcome back to the Covington Blog.

Riverfront Park to Have Early Bedtime

Sometimes, it seems that Cincinnati government functions a lot like the Bengals: even when it looks like things are going along pretty well, it manages to shoot itself in the foot. The City may have recently done this with respect to Riverfront Park.

At the September 2 City Council meeting this fairly innocuous-looking motion was on the agenda. Having originated in the Economic Development Committee, it sought to prevent any restrictions from being placed on the use of Riverfront Park (the city-owned and -operated park that will be part of the Banks) as a part of any deal with any developer handling projects on other Banks lots.

Because the September 2 meeting was another chapter in the budget soap opera, I watched the replay on Citicable. Admittedly, I wasn't paying much attention to other agenda items, but my interest became a little piqued when I noticed that Chris Bortz seemed unduly upset about something other than the budget. Thinking it'd be fun to watch Bortz pout, I turned the sound up and started listening. It turned out that this was not just Bortz crying over spilled milk. (Sorry...that was probably overly mean towards Bortz, who I think has acquitted himself well over the past month.)

It turns out that even though the Economic Development Committee had passed the no-restrictions motion back in June, the Parks Department had agreed to place restrictions on the hours during which amplified sound could be played at Riverfront Park. The agreement came in a covenant as part of an overall deal with one of the condo developers planning to build in the Banks. Every Councilmember who spoke on the issue was extremely upset about the contract, which had been signed by City representatives a few hours before the Council meeting. The agreement permits the covenant to be enforced by the condo owners association, which would presumably be formed once the condos are sold.

It never became clear during Council's meeting that day what the time restriction was. Eight at night? Bad idea. Two in the morning? Who cares? And since the last two weeks have been drowned out by budget hysteria, the traditional media haven't reported on this. But I've checked around, and it turns out that the agreement forbids amplified sound in the park after 11:00 at night.

It's an unfortunate agreement that may limit the park's use. On a day-to-day basis, of course, it's no big deal. Who's going to be at Riverfront Park on a Wednesday night in January after 11:00? But plans for the park are still very much evolving. When the park has been discussed here, some have suggested that Taste of Cincinnati (and other Fountain Square events) might move to Riverfront Park. But as it stands now, Taste goes until midnight each night, with live music on several stages. These restrictions would either prevent the move or force the event to end early. One can easily see other events (concerts, music festivals, perhaps even an extended Riverfest or Fourth of July party) for which Riverfront Park will now be a much less attractive venue.

It's not clear why the Parks Department--rather than the City Manager--was in control of these negotiations. It's not clear why the no-restrictions motion wasn't on Council's agenda until after it was too late to matter. And it's not clear how the Parks Department missed the clear direction from the Council Committee. Hopefully, this is an item that can yet be addressed. But as it stands now, it's a step (or at least a half step) backwards for the Banks project.

Vote for Best Chicken Dance!!!!

It is Oktoberfest Zinzinnati week and beer and brats are a mere 5 days away but you can start of the festivities early by voting for the best Chicken Dance video until Wednesday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Good Eats: Cold Turkey

Yesterday, I ate for the first time at Cold Turkey. It's on Sixth Street in the space formerly occupied by Frisch's. And it won't be the last time I eat there. The menu is really straightforward (intentionally so): seven-dollar sandwiches and salads; four-dollar soups, and two-dollar sides. I know some will think seven bucks is too much for a sandwich, but try one and then ask yourself: is this worth two dollars more than a foot-long from Subway? The answer is yes, yes, yes, oh-my-gosh yes.

I had their ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. Three kinds of cheese, molasses-cured bacon, lettuce, and tomato--though I had it without the tomato. The molasses-cured bacon? Amazing. They should use it on all of their sandwiches. Or maybe they should use it instead of bread. Or just bring me a big plate of the bacon.

My friend had a different sandwich (I forgot which, but it also came with the bacon, and he concurred in my assessment of its porkiliciousness). He also had a bowl of their turkey noodle soup, which he said was quite good. And the sandwiches came with cajun pretzels, which packed just the right amount of heat.

The restaurant's atmosphere is perfect. To an extent, I think it's filling a void left by the departure of Kaldi's. The walls are filled with the works of local artists, and they (the art) are all for sale. There's also live acoustic music. While we were there, a pianist was performing (I'd assumed it was a recording until we reached the back of the restaurant and saw the piano). The pianist was CCM grad Della Enns, and her performance was quite wonderful.

The service was great, although--apparently to prove that I'm not just getting old, but curmudgeonly as well--I wondered aloud to my friend whether our server's employment was in compliance with child labor laws. (It was a joke--she was wonderful: she knew the menu, was attentive but not overly so, and was very friendly.)

And Cold Turkey's hours are also great: on Friday and Saturday nights, they're open until 6 am (which I believe makes them officially the kitchen open latest downtown). It's too bad I didn't know that a couple weekends ago, or I would have insisted on a pilgrimage following the Cincinnati Imports Debauchery Happy Hour. With a restaurant serving food that good open that late, local Waffle Houses may go out of business.

Next time I'm there, someone remind me to try the brownie. Those looked good, too.

Berding Loses Dem Endorsement

It was nearly a foregone conclusion, but the Cincinnati Dems dropped the hammer on Councilmember Jeff Berding today and revoked their endorsement. Berding knew it was coming and he should not be surprised that when you launch a big attack against your party's fellow elected officials and you use negative scare tactics in support of a police union that takes stances regularly inconsistent with your party, someone is going to be pissed off. The question remains, will this hurt him enough to lose? At this point I am sure people will spin it like mad, but this may be an election where we learn a little about party affiliation, the power of the Enquirer endorsements, and how do conservatives actually vote in city election (or how many of them are actually left?).

Tony Fisher, on the other hand, I hope has seen the light and understands that if you want to have a long term political future, you don't diss your party during your first election for public office. You have to earn maverick status, you don't just decide you are to be one as a campaign tactic.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11, 2001 - What Shall The Dead Tell Us The Living?

By Brian Doyle

A couple leaped from the south tower, hand in hand. They reached for each other and their hands met and they jumped.

Jennifer Brickhouse saw them falling, hand in hand.

Many people jumped. Perhaps hundreds. No one knows. They struck the pavement with such force that there was a pink mist in the air.

The mayor reported the mist.

A kindergarten boy who saw people falling in flames told his teacher that the birds were on fire. She ran with him on her shoulders out of the ashes.

Tiffany Keeling saw fireballs falling that she later realized were people. Jennifer Griffin saw people falling and wept as she told the story. Niko Winstral saw people free-falling backwards with their hands out, like they were parachuting. Joe Duncan on his roof on Duane Street looked up and saw people jumping. Henry Weintraub saw people "leaping as they flew out." John Carson saw six people fall, "falling over themselves, falling, they were somersaulting." Steve Miller saw people jumping from a thousand feet in the air. Kirk Kjeldsen saw people flailing on the way down, people lining up and jumping, "too many people falling." Jane Tedder saw people leaping and the sight haunts her at night. Steve Tamas counted fourteen people jumping and then he stopped counting. Stuart DeHann saw one woman's dress billowing as she fell, and he saw a shirtless man falling end over end, and he too saw the couple leaping hand in hand.

Several pedestrians were killed by people falling from the sky. A fireman was killed by a body falling from the sky.

But he reached for her hand and she reached for his hand and they leaped out the window holding hands.

I try to whisper prayers for the sudden dead and the harrowed families of the dead and the screaming souls of the murderers but I keep coming back to his hand and her hand nestled in each other with such extraordinary ordinary succinct ancient naked stunning perfect simple ferocious love.

Their hands reaching and joining are the most powerful prayer I can imagine, the most eloquent, the most graceful. It is everything that we are capable of against horror and loss and death. It is what makes me believe that we are not craven fools and charlatans to believe in God, to believe that human beings have greatness and holiness within them like seeds that open only under great fires, to believe that some unimaginable essence of who we are persists past the dissolution of what we were, to believe against such evil hourly evidence that love is why we are here.

No one knows who they were: husband and wife, lovers, dear friends, colleagues, strangers thrown together at the window there at the lip of hell. Maybe they didn't even reach for each other consciously, maybe it was instinctive, a reflex, as they both decided at the same time to take two running steps and jump out the shattered window, but they did reach for each other, and they held on tight, and leaped, and fell endlessly into the smoking canyon, at two hundred miles an hour, falling so far and so fast that they would have blacked out before they hit the pavement near Liberty Street so hard that there was a pink mist in the air.

Jennifer Brickhouse saw them holding hands, and Stuart DeHann saw them holding hands, and I hold onto that.

See the Ballet's New Works

Cincinnati Ballet's season opener, New Works, is a great introduction to Ballet for the arts fan who wants to explore an art form new to them. Last night's opening was an extra special event with live music from world class musicians all from Cincinnati. Three of the dance pieces premiered with live accompaniment from the song writers, which included Over the Rhine, Peter Adams, and Jake Speed & the Freddies.

Heather Britt's piece set to the new music from Peter Adams (Bad Vein-esque) and Joy Jovet's brilliant interpretation of Jake Speed's music were my favorites of the evening, along with the stunning mix of music, photography, and dance in "Retrospect" by choreographers Missy Lay Zimmer & Andrew Hubbard set to the haunting and bountiful voice of Karin Bergquist (from Over the Rhine)

The remaining performances will be to recorded music, which is too bad, because the use of live music with the dances added so much to the performances. It was a collaboration that I believe is something that is critical to dance, and art form I will admit I've only experienced a few times.

The next performance is 8PM tonight at the Ballet's Studio (1555 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45214) and the show runs through next weekend, with final show on Sunday afternoon September 20th.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

FOP Approves Deal

Via Multiple Twitter posts it is being reported that the Cincinnati FOP membership has approved the concessions plan, meaning no police will be laid off. A very good move by the FOP. The vote was 565-433.

Fire Him

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on the City. This is a repeat offender, his discipline is clear. If you have been fired from your job as a police officer once for excessive use of force and get your job back via poorly created arbitration rules, then you use excessive force again, I don't think there is any question that you should be fired, again. Let's just hope this time it sticks.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

FOP Voting?

I believe it was reported that the unions, FOP and CODE, were meeting to vote yesterday and today on the city's plan to save jobs through furloughs. I have not seen any news on how the voting is going. Anyone know when the results will be announced?

UPDATE: Expect some results tomorrow.

The Seedy Seeds in the News

A great review for local band The Seedy Seeds. If you've not had the chance to seem them live, do so! They play the CAC during MidPoint.

For more:

Berding Dissed?

Rumors are flying around and credible reports are out there all which indicate that the Union endorsement Berding received for Cincinnati City Council has been or will be rescinded, and Laure Quinlivan shall take his place on their slate.

Based on the poll information included in the Osborne article, Berding is low on the list and still needs the support of Democrats. Does this make him vulnerable?

UPDATE: A source has indicated Berding is being unindorsed because he sided with Melanie Bates against the IBEW contract w/ CPS.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Does Jean Schmidt Agree?

In this You-Tube video from the Tea Bagger Rally on Saturday at the VOA, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt from the Ohio 2nd appears to agree with a "Birther" claiming that President Obama was not born in the USA, and not eligible to be President.
It is not 100% conclusive what she is doing, but Think Progress reports this is not the first time she's what I might call placated a "Birther." If she's just telling this crazy person what they want to hear, just to shut them up, I can understand the idea behind that, but it is not a good one. If a person is nuts or so emotionally out of control as to not be able to think clearly, having a congressman validate their delusions just makes their condition worse. If that is what Schmidt is doing, then she should be ashamed. If she actually does agree with the "Birthers," then she is mentally deficient.

The Return of Neon's

Kevin LeMaster has a really good story about efforts to reopen Neon's in the Main Street area. One of the coolest looking bars around, Neon's was a sad place to see close. The concept behind the new place sounds very reasonable. It doesn't look to be a hot club, it seeks to be a neighborhood bar that has a unique take on what a bar is. It seems to be more like a space that sells beer and wine. It will take a while to get the place open again, they are shooting for next Bockfest, so don't rush over to the 12th Street location just yet.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Disparate Treatment?

Two days before the 2004 general election, President George W. Bush came to Cincinnati and held a campaign rally at Great American Ballpark. His address to the crowd was carried live in primetime by all of Cincinnati's local news channels, preempting network programming. The event was nothing short of a free infomercial in the heart of a "battleground" state just before Election Day.

Today, President Barack Obama came to Cincinnati and addressed a crowd at Coney Island. Given that even the mid-term elections are over a year a way, it's hard to describe the speech as a campaign event. Instead, it was a presidential address, delivered on a national holiday in Cincinnati. This time, though, only channel 19 carried the speech live. Other channels decided that Montel outranks the president, and declined to break into their weekday programming.

It's just despicable how "in the bag" for Obama the media is, isn't it?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Lactating Women Need Not Apply

Jill's comment a few posts below reminds me that I'd intended to discuss the Ohio Supreme Court's appalling decision in Allen v. totes/Isotoner. (By the way, if you're not reading Jill's blog, you should be--although she's on hiatus until after Election Day, as she's busy running for Pepper Pike City Council.) In its opinion, of which no member of our highest court was willing to claim authorship, a three-member plurality found that an employer could lawfully fire a lactating mother because she took extra bathroom breaks in order to pump her breasts. Two members of the court went a step further, writing that post-pregnancy lactation isn't really related to pregnancy, and thus not covered under Ohio's Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

The decision is now two weeks old, so I'm not sure my own discussion would advance much debate. So instead, go read Jill's excellent posts (here and here) on the decision. I'll just add this: each time we insist that a judicial candidate prove his or her allegiance to "pro-business" interest groups, we demand opinions like the one our court handed us in toner/Isotoner. This is the quintessential "pro-business" opinion, in that it expands an employer's power to fire an employee at the expense of Ohioans' civil rights. It's a stark reminder that "pro-business" isn't always good for Ohio. (To be clear: I'm not implying that any of our Supreme Court justices are inherently biased or unfair to litigants. But when we're willing to accept only a narrow range of credentials for our successful candidates, we wind up with a narrow range of viewpoints on our courts.)

Union Concession Issue Isn't Straightforward

Things on Plum Street have gotten uglier, and they're not going to get better as the campaign season really heats up. But somehow, Council has to begin to work together once again. In all likelihood, 8 of the 9 current members will be responsible for next year's budget. They need to find a way to have a budget process that isn't as driven by rancor as has been present in Council chambers over the past three months. Part of doing that requires that Council actually discuss, in open session, the issues impacting the City.

There's plenty of blame to heap on both the majority and the minority on Council as to how we've gotten to where we are: a last minute hail mary effort to save jobs for the rest of the year. No matter how we got there, the FOP, AFSCME, and CODE now face a difficult dilemna. Do they give up money (for the FOP, a little more than a day's pay each month for the rest of the year) to save jobs this year, but with no promises for 2010?

The FOP is certainly not the first union being asked to make concessions in this economy. A friend who works in the aviation industry recently reminded me of the deep, deep concessions Comair pilots have made over the last few years in order to preserve jobs. But usually, when a union gives up something it bargained for, it does so with some assurance of medium- or long-term job preservation. Here, the City has made explicit that there are no guarantees for next year. And I wonder: if a school board were threatening to fire ten percent of its teachers if the union didn't agree to a pay cut of roughly 4-5 percent for four months, would we on the left be demonizing the teachers' union for its reluctance to agree to the extent the left is demonizing the FOP? I doubt it.

I had hoped Council would find some cuts to fill the gaps in the 2009 budget, and then go to the unions for concessions--perhaps much more significant than those currently sought--as part of the 2010 budget process, as the unions would then have some assurance of lengthier job security. That didn't happen. So the FOP will have to decide how much value it places on its newest members. No doubt some members would benefit financially from the concessions. I haven't run the numbers, but I suspect that some of the sergeants being displaced to patrol by the layoffs would lose less money by giving up 4.6 days' pay than they would by accepting a lesser-paying position. And hopefully, the FOP, AFSCME, and CODE can set aside the bitter taste the process has left and recognize that Council has, in the end, significantly reduced the concessions originally sought and found money elsewhere for the unions' members' salaries.

As Council approaches the 2010 budget process, its individual members will have to strive to be more understanding and more cooperative. In particular, a couple members of Council can--and must--do better than they have the last few months. Chris Monzel's fear-mongering (and perhaps race-baiting) press release early this week was regrettable; using the injury and death of citizens to advance a political agenda is simply unacceptable. And Greg Harris's role on Council has been surprisingly disappointing. When he was appointed, most young professionals were excited. We saw him as a problem-solver, someone who, having come from outside the political establishment, would be a leader on Council and above politics-as-usual. Right now, sadly, he acting as a recalcitrant hard-liner more devoted to party than principle. That may be a way to raise campaign money, but it's not any way to govern a city.

Once the ballots are counted in November for City Council, let's all promise to do all we can to force the seemingly broken Council to come together to work for the common good.

Courthouse Plaza Solution

Over the last month, we've been hearing about the increased number of homeless people sleeping out on the courthouse steps, and the mess that this is creating because some of them urinate on the plaza overnight.

Introducing: the pop-up urinal. Believe it or not, the "urilift" is a device (now deployed by a few European cities) that rest in the ground during the day, but pop up at night for those who can't find a public restroom.

Yes, of course I realize that neither the County nor the City has the money to spend on these right now. (Perhaps, though, the Urilift Company might like to donate one or two in order start attracting business from American cities.)

Initially, I was concerned that installation of these would pose an equal protection issue (can the County supply a restroom facility for men but not women?). Apparently, though, Urilift has resolved this problem by introducing the Urigienic:

I call upon Urilift to supply the County or the City with a couple of these devices at no cost in exchange for testimonials from our public officials to other American cities. It could be a great partnership!

Important Ohio Criminal Justice Bill

As this article by Sharon Coolidge explains, an important bill has passed the Ohio Senate, has the support of Governor Strickland, and is now pending before the House. The proposed law, S.B. 77, contains several important reforms for Ohio's criminal justice system. The article focuses on a provision that raises the ire of some of my colleagues, which mandates DNA samples to be taken from all people arrested for a felony. Currently, Ohio law permits DNA collection only upon conviction of a felony. Federal law already requires this for those arrested for federal offenses, but requires the DNA sample to be destroyed if a conviction is not obtained. I've not heard a good answer as to how the Ohio bill handles an acquittal. (Even if the specimen itself is destroyed, the record of it could remain in CODIS, the national DNA database, without a procedure in place to retract it.)

For me, though, there are three other, much more important provisions of the bill (mentioned in the article, but not given enough attention). These would require:

  • that all police interrogations be recorded from beginning to end;
  • that DNA evidence in violent crimes be preserved even after conviction and that more convicted persons have access to DNA testing; and
  • that when line-ups are performed, they are done in a "double-blind" manner, in which the police officer who conducts the lineup does not know who the suspect is.
The interrogation provision is the one that faces the strongest opposition by police and prosecutors' associations. But ultimately, it will prove beneficial to law enforcement. About a year ago on a trip to Chicago, I met a Chicago homicide detective. His department had recently begun taping all suspect interviews, and he explained that it was making his job easier, not harder. He no longer had to worry about a defense attorney insinuating that a confession was coerced or obtained in violation of a suspect's rights. Motions to suppress (a procedural device to prevent the use of an illegally obtained confession) were much less likely to succeed. The tapes proved what police have always contended, the detective said: in the vast majority of cases, the police do things correctly and legally. (I tended to agree with the detective on this.) For more on this topic, check out this report, Police Experiences with Recording Custodial Interrogations.

The identification procedures mandated by the bill are also quite important. Over the last several years, a significant body of scientific literature has arisen regarding the inherent unreliability of eyewitness testimony. The double-blind procedure will help to ensure that line-ups are done in a manner that ensures the greatest possible degree of accuracy.

Republican State Senator Bill Seitz (of Green Township) has been a prominent supporter (and sponsor) of the legislation. On many issues, I often find disagreement with Senator Seitz. But--particularly over the last year--he had an extremely thoughtful voice on criminal justice issues and has been an important leader for crucial reforms in that area.

Riverfest Etiquette

Had I not gone to law school, I likely would have pursued a Ph.D. in sociology (or perhaps in economics, which over the last ten years seems to have expanded to areas that were previously thought to belong to sociology). And if I had pursued that alternate path, I'd likely do some writing on the fascinating issue of space reservation for Riverfest fireworks watching.

The fireworks aren't set to begin until Sunday evening, but since early this morning, people have been staking out their spots along the Serpentine Wall, as well as on the grass atop the Newport levee. As you can see from the pictures, people simply put down tarps (usually secured by duct tape) and leave. The people who leave their tarps make no effort to guard their spot or stay with their claimed space, but instead seem to just trust that they can return tomorrow to watch the fireworks.

This situation presents a departure from the rules governing any other situation I know of in which people wait for a particular event. For instance, when people want to buy tickets to a sporting event or concert, they can't merely show up in line, claim a number, and leave until a few minutes before the ticket window opens. (Yes, I realize that the internet has drastically reduced the camp-out-overnight-for-tickets phenomenon.) People hoping to cash in on limited-supply sales events on "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving) have to physically hold their spot. Golfers hoping to play the famous Bethpage Black course without a reservation subject themselves to a complex set of rules as they wait one or more nights in the course parking lot. And a few years ago when I watched the fireworks from the observation deck of the Empire State Building on the Fourth of July (truly a fabulous experience), we had to stand in our spaces for over five hours; we didn't dare to even take a bathroom break for fear that our group would be forever separated.

So I'm curious: how has the Riverfest tradition developed? Why is it so polite--and, frankly, so easy? What prevents an unscrupulous (or perhaps just eager) fireworks watcher from removing someone else's unguarded tarp and claiming a spot of earth for themselves?

Enjoy the fireworks, everybody. And if you're going to drink down there, have a designated driver or catch a cab.

Miami (OH) vs. Kentucky

About an hour from now, Miami will take on Kentucky at Paul Brown Stadium. There's a good chance that those who attend the game will see the highest quality football to be played at PBS over the next three months. While I'm not going, as a UC fan, I've been trying to figure out who I'd prefer to win.

My inclination is to cheer for Miami. We should support our fellow Ohio schools when possible, right? And perhaps if Miami's season starts strong, UC's BCS standings will be boosted when they trounce the Redhawks on October 3rd. But, still, it's Miami! J. Crew U. Can I really root for that?

On the other hand, certainly I'm not the only downtown resident to be offended by the putrid shade of blue that's invaded our streets over the last couple of days. And Kentucky is an SEC team; no self-respecting Ohioan should cheer on a team from that conference.

I think I'm going to review the rules of the game: is there any way that both teams can lose?

Friday, September 04, 2009

WOW! That Sums It Up

A Christian Moerlein Microbrewery and beer garden at The Banks is a brilliant idea and provides two great elements: something unique and vibrant as well as something the suburbanites will flock to before and after Reds games. I wonder how many of them will know the history of the name and understand it is local? This is a place I will enjoy and I am really congratulate the City and Moerlein CEO Greg Hardman for coming up with a great idea.

Today We Settle All Family Business

Today there will be three council meetings and a deal is close with City Unions. Assuming we get the legal ruling on the Layoffs as well, everything could come together by the end of the day, except for the unions getting formal approval of any concessions.

This is the day to stay out of the way. I would not want to be Ghiz, Berding, or Monzel today. I think the GodfatherMayor may have a few questions for them before he sends them off to Las Vegas with Clemenza.

It is fun when life imitates art.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Local Blogger Exposed By John Matarese!

Well, not really. But I'm pretty sure I saw Kate the Great on the news last night. Matarese did a piece on how the United Way uses donations. (It's a very favorable piece, without even a hint of a scandal; Matarese must be losing his touch.) Katy was United Way's spokesperson for the story.

The WCPO story is online here. And if you've got a few extra bucks, make a donation. (Maybe they'll give Katy a raise!)

City Reportedly Close to Deal With Unions

The Enquirer is reporting that the City, read that as the City Manager, is close to a deal with Unions to avoid all layoffs. The bulk of the shortfall would come from consessions from the unions. In the story I got the impression this was news to the FOP President. I hope she is just playing ignorant and this ends up being all for not.

UPDATE: 700 WLW reported that the deal would include furloughs.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Will Someone Blink?

Layoffs at the city are looming and the details of the impacts are starting to be made more clear. Are we going to see the FOP or anyone on council come up concessions or with a new plan to avoid layoffs? Will one of the parties in play make choices they don't want to make? Will someone blink? Will this remain a big issue two months from now when voters go tot he polls?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

In Memoriam: Erich Kunzel

The Enquirer's Janelle Garland has an excellent obituary for Erich Kunzel, a mainstay of the Cincinnati music scene for decades. I'll not add anything, except to say that I'm extremely grateful that I was able to attend a couple of performances of the Pops under his baton.

I'll leave the comment thread for folks to share their thoughts on this sad day.